I’ve been struggling recently. For one reason or another, I’ve missed a lot of training sessions. I’ve not been eating so well, put some weight on and lost a chunk of fitness. When I do train or run, I go berserk for a few days, then do f*ck all for a week. This has been the cycle of the past month or so.
Life’s got pretty busy recently. I’m getting married in a month and preparations are in full swing. A great venue became available and we have had about 3 months to get everything sorted. My language classes have started again and every Tuesday or Thursday there just always seems to be something else.
Whenever I think about creating good habits and making progress. It always comes back to one thing – consistency. You don’t have to go crazy and do some extreme training regime. You just have to regularly get some exercise in 3-4 times a week. If you want to improve your running fitness, running for 30 minutes 3 times a week will get you to a good place. All the clever stuff can come later.
With the evenings drawing in and the recent clock change maintaining consistency can get tricky. Here are some things that could help.
Check your goal
For many in the UK, it will be the London Marathon next April. I didn’t get in through the ballot but have a chance for a spot via WaterAid through work.
What is your goal? Achieving a particular distance, a PB/PR, getting rid of the muffin top or spare tyre, working on your strength. Wherever it is, remind yourself of it and why.
Recognise that it does take time
This is a major problem that I have. A couple of focused weeks are not getting me back in comfortable PB territory. It’s going to be a couple of consistent months, probably 3 or 4. You need to make yourself aware of this and how it ties into your goal. It’s a slow and steady climb to where you want to be.
Use the spare 5 minutes
Sometimes 5 minutes is all you need. If you’ve not made it to training or out on your run, use a spare 5 minutes to get some work in. Press-ups, tricep dips, some core work, squats, ski sits, lunges or some stretching.
Change your day up
I asked a girl at work why she arrived at work so early. She said, “So I can go to the gym when it’s not busy and still be home at a reasonable time”. I thought Wow, fair play, that’s a good idea and very dedicated.
It’s a good example of changing your day up. Making your day fit to what you want to achieve and get your training in.
I could do with doing this. Without a fixed session with other people, running solo in the evening is not really happening. I can run before work (if I can drag myself out of bed). Running at lunchtime is definitely an option. I can always run to work. If you think about your day, you can think about how you can work better for you.
Sort one thing at a time
Many are guilty (including me) of trying to change 10 things all at the same time. Spreading our focus around and ending up not focusing on anything with enough consistency to make any good progress.
Currently, for me, this is getting my base physical strength and aerobic fitness up to a reasonable point. This is why attending BMF regularly is important. The mix of arm, leg, core strength work and the cardio from the running is a great all-round way of getting fit.
I have to look after myself in other ways (e.g. food/recovery), but once that base is there and the consistency is there, I can start focussing on adding in some other elements.
Work towards making it routine
Where I can, I train every Tuesday and Thursday. This has become routine. I wake up on Tuesday, realise what days it is and pack my kit without thinking about it. Saturday mornings are the same. Unless I’m out the night before, (which is rarer and rarer) I end up getting up earlier than I do in the week to head out the door.
Regularly training on the same day at the same time creates this routine and soon its automatic and there’s no wavering about whether you going or not going. This can work for some of the other elements you want to incorporate into your day.
Get some accountability
Humans really don’t like to let others down, especially people they don’t know too well. I mentioned above about possibility of running at lunchtime. Finding someone in my office who also wants to do that and then us agreeing to a day, time and frequency will create some accountability. I would almost be forced to do it, as not to let the other person down.
Join a running club, start group training (e.g. BMF or F45), join a sports team, start a training plan with your partner or a friend. Are you going to be the one who gives up first?
It’s okay to miss a session
It’s not the end of the world to miss a session. All the hard work up to that point has not been wasted. It’s not a reason to berate yourself and jack it all in. If you’re not feeling the best, or there is another engagement that day, it’s all fine. The next session or run on your plan will be along in a few days and you’ll be back on it.
Put the work in
This one came to me tonight, as I doing the plank in the dark with my elbows in what was probably deer pooh. I thought – How do I expect to get a stronger core if I keep dropping to my knees?
I have to agree with a friend of mine who jokingly says about exercise “Its shit and it hurts”. Yes, it does hurt, but you have to put the work in. If I really put my mind and body to it, I could hold that plank for another 20 seconds. And next time I’ll be able to hold it for 30 seconds more. You get the idea.
Did you know – The longest time in an abdominal plank position is 8 hours 1 minute. Insane!
If you’re struggling with the getting out running or training and don’t seem to be making any progress. Check in on how consistent you are. It is likely the key to success.