Training for Tuesday: Training in the New Year

Well, it happened again. This little linkup has only been in existence since September and this is the second time that I've planned all month for one post, then completely flipped the script when it came time to actually write it. I will say that I'm still training for Rock n Roll DC and Shamrock in March, but what my training over the next few months will look like remains to be seen. I'd share if I knew for sure, but honestly, I don't.

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In lieu of a real update on my training, let's talk general training for the new year. It's just about that time when we all vow to do amazing things and to be the best versions of ourselves, or at least to try for a few weeks or months. We start out with the best intentions, but maybe we set our sights too high or didn't have a good game plan to start with and so inevitably all those aspirations start to fade away. I'm totally guilty of doing the same thing, but if there's one thing I've managed to get the hang of, it's a consistent fitness routine.

I've consistently run 4x per week for the last 2.5 years. I could probably count on one hand, maybe two, the number of runs I've missed since the summer of 2012. It's a habit now. It's as routine as brushing my teeth in the morning or doing my laundry. It's just a thing I do - rain or shine, busy or not, tired or not. It took me a while to develop a strong sense of dedication that ultimately led me here. It definitely wasn't an overnight process, but over time, it happened. I think a lot of people crave that kind of consistency but just don't see how they could possibly get there, so today I want to share a few things that helped me along my journey.


Prioritize. Figure out what your fitness goal really is. Do you want to start running? Want to try a different sport, like cycling or swimming (or combine them all and do triathlon)? Maybe you want to start practicing yoga or get into Crossfit. Maybe you want to do all of those things! While each is beneficial and they can complement each other, you probably have one that interests you most. I recommend picking one or two big things to focus on and using whatever else you might want to try as secondary activities.

Be realistic. If you've never run a day in your life and you want to complete a marathon this year, I would say that's not realistic. Sure, people have done it, and it's certainly not impossible (although I think they're asking for injury and/or disappointment). But just because something might not be totally impossible doesn't make it a great idea. Be realistic about your abilities, your time, your dedication, and your life outside of fitness. Understand the commitment that whatever you want to work toward will require, and be honest with yourself if you're willing to put in the work. It's not a big deal if you're not, but if you don't admit that to yourself up front, you're probably going to end up unnecessarily disappointed and no one wants that.

Se a concrete goal. Find a goal race you want to run. A swimming or biking distance you want to hit. A yoga pose you want to master. A weight lifting benchmark. Whatever it is, make it specific (just make sure you allow yourself at least a few months to work toward it). I didn't start running regularly and consistently until I trained for my first half marathon. That date was always in the back of my mind, and the finish line occupied my thoughts on almost every training run. Just having something you know you're working toward does wonders to make it more tangible and help you remember what the point of all your hard work is.

Schedule your workouts. I like to be pretty structured in accounting for my time, and I understand that not everyone works that way, but hear me out. I found that having a few months worth of workouts planned (via a training plan) helped me see the big picture and keep my long-term goals in mind. After following a few training cycles to the T, working out 6 days a week became second nature to me. It may take a while to establish that routine, but if you stick with it, you'll get there. Need help putting a plan together? Lucky for you, the Internet is chock full of them - I started running by following this Couch to 5k program (I seriously can't say enough good things about it and owe it all the credit in the world for turning me from a non-runner to a runner), and Hal Higdon has been my main man for half and full marathon training. Even though I have no formal training in this area to speak of, I am full of anecdotal expertise and enthusiasm for running and scheduling and am happy to share plans that have worked for me if you drop me a line!

Treat your workouts like an appointment. If I had to pick one piece of advice that has been most beneficial to me, it would be this one. You wouldn't just bail on an important doctor appointment because it's raining, right? Well then don't bail on your training. If you wait for the perfect time to complete your workout, you won't get much done. I can come up with a million excuses not to work out, but I avoid giving in by not giving myself the option to skip them. Sometimes it means shuffling days around, but once I've scheduled a workout for a certain day and time (based on how my week is going to be), I try to stick to it. 

Never give up on something you can't go a day without thinking about. This isn't even close to a concrete piece of advice that you can easily implement, but it's just as important. I know we all have goals and things we all want to achieve, but we also all have these things called lives. Families. Jobs. Friends. Other hobbies. Things that in no way contribute to or serve our fitness goals. It's good and important to have balance, but it's also easy to let these other things cause us to lose sight of our goals. Ultimately we are the only ones who can make those goals and dreams come true. If it's really important, it will be on your mind; if it's on your mind, go out and make it happen. One of my favorite quotes is, "Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." This time next year, 2015 will have come and gone whether you achieved your goal or not. Do you want to look back and wish you had done it, or do you want to look back and be proud that you did it?

What goal are you going to rock in 2015? How are you going to get there? Link up and share 'em!

10 comments :

  1. These tips are amazing!! I think starting a new year is motivation enough to keep up with healthy goals, but the winter always puts a wrench in it!! xo, Biana - BlovedBoston

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  2. I seriously cannot tell you how much I love this post and how much I needed it. I know that when I get into a routine, it becomes a habit like you said, and everything in my life improves - I'm happier, I sleep better, I make better food choices. It's just getting into that routine that kills me every time. I'm lazy, I don't want to wake up earlier, I just want to go home after work, But what do I do when I get home from work? I eat, read, bath and bed. There's plenty of time in there to exercise. And when I get up in the morning - It's only one hour of sleep I'm missing out on, which truthfully I'm gonna get so much back and more because I sleep so awfully when I don't run.
    Your line about don't give up on something you can't go a day without thinking about? woah. that's what I needed to hear. there is not a day goes by where I don't think about my weight, my heart, RnR, among millions of other things that are all related to fitness.
    I guess my main 2 issues are a) getting into the routine - how do I give myself the kick up the butt for 2 weeks until it feels routine? What to do when things happen (getting sick, injury, holidays?) that throw you off? and b) how do you fit it all in without feeling like you're doing too much? When I try and organise my workouts - I want to run, strength train AND do yoga - just writing it all down and what I want to do each week, I feel like I'm trying to accomplish too much but just running once a week or yoga once a week really isn't beneficial. How do you fit it all in?
    Chalk this down as THE longest comment I have ever written. Jeepers Kristen.

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  3. These are such great tips! I agree with them all. I think what finally got me in a fitness routine was making an appointment. It makes a big difference.

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    1. Absolutely! I hate to advocate forcing yourself to do something you don't want to do, but sometimes it's necessary.

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  4. I totally agree about setting a concrete goal. For me, it's always registering for a race. Once I've committed the money, I'm in it to win it. This is the first year where I've taken training really, really seriously and I have to say that it has become a habit. My runs are like appointments for me that I have to keep. If it's raining or cold or whatever, there's always the treadmill. I feel super guilty (like mean to myself guilty!) if I do miss a run and usually end up making it up. Fitness - it becomes a sickness, I tell ya!

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  5. I *love* this. If I'm being honest, no matter what other goals I have this year with races or yoga or whatever, overall, I want to do better at prioritizing running. I did really well for about 8 months and then between moving and my race recovery, I lost the part of me that said "Alyssa, you're running today. No, that excuse doesn't count. Trust me, you'll thank me for this in 30 minutes." I think that's part of why you inspire me so much: You never simply skip a run. And the thing is, I *know* I never feel better for skipping a run, and yet I do it anyway. And I dearly pay for it next time. So that ends now with RnR training and 2015.
    Anyway, these are great tips. I've used a couple of them and they do work! When I first started running I didn't think I'd race.. ever, let alone after 3 months. But setting the 5k goal was huge to keeping me motivated, and then I realized how much I love racing. Oh and that last part, about the time passing anyway? I've heard it a million times, but only consider it sometimes. That's gotta change too. Wonder what I'll think of 2015's training wins and woes when I look back this time next year...

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  6. Girl. You are so right about this, and this post couldn't have come at a better time for me. Thank you!

    I really want to up my yoga game and get back into running this year, but with my muscle atrophy, I also really need to be realistic with my goals. I may not be able to run my marathon (again) this year. I need to reevaluate, and make a plan.

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  7. Love these tips especially be realistic! Listen I was NOT realistic when I started. Now I so am and I look forward to my runs because of it!

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  8. I feel like you wrote this post just for me. Finding a way to make exercising part of my routine is where I keep failing! I need to do pretty much every single thing you listed up there if I want to get serious about making a routine/schedule work for me. Thank you for sharing this!

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  9. That's awesome that you have made running 4x a week a habit!! That's how I feel about working out in general now--I've done that for 3-6 times a week every week since November now and I feel bad if I miss a day now. It's a great habit to have!

    I love these suggestions for goals and making something a habit! I agree so much with 'treating it like an appointment'. I have my workouts typed in my weekly blog posts, written in my planner, and occasionally I write them on my dry-erase weekly calendar if I get around to it. The more I see it, the more I know I need to do it. And it is SO helpful!!

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