Training: Autumn Motivation
With the nights drawing in the mornings distinctly cooler, next summer’s races can seem a long way away. Race calendars are however pretty full all year round, making it easier to scratch that adrenaline itch whilst we wait for the sun to re-appear. However this coin also has two sides. Seeing others racing through social media every week can also lead to you believe that you should be doing more, so it’s a careful balance.
It can be hard to find motivation through the winter months, so I thought I would write a few ideas down to help anyone struggling to find that autumn mojo! Some of the below may be obvious to you, they may not be for others- but hopefully there will be at least one decent take-away in there to try out.
1. Strength & Conditioning
Autumn is a great time to work on your strength, both in your legs and the rest of your body. Race season often sees key areas such as core and glutes neglected, so now is the time to work on areas of weaknesses or muscular imbalances. A strong foundation built through the winter will also help stave off any injuries come next year. If you’re struggling with ideas, start with good basic compound movements such as squats, lunges, press-ups and chin-ups. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there, make sure you use proper form or take sound advice from a certified gym trainer to avoid injury.
2. Change your run
Change is as good new goes the old saying, and it’s the perfect time to trial this out. Usually a long distance trail runner? Set some sessions down your local track. Avid 5km roadie? Why not give the trails whirl. Anything that helps switch up your regular routine and creates a new stimulus will help bring some new motivation. It doesn’t have to be a race, it can just be built into your normal training. You get the added bonus of meeting some awesome new people, and who knows- you might just find yourself a new favourite route!
3. Reward yourself
After a long week at work, late night up with the kids or just a generally packed schedule, sometimes a workout is the last thing on your mind or to-do list! Believe me, I spent the entire morning the other weekend procrastinating about whether I could be bothered to get out the door. Inevitably we all know that we feel better once we have been out, and the old carrot trick can work wonders. Promise yourself a curry for dinner, buy a new running shirt or enter a race to reward yourself for a particularly tough session. I wouldn’t suggest this after every run otherwise you could quickly find yourself rather skint, but the odd treat here and there can be just what Hungry House ordered.
4. Data overload
We all know that if its not on Strava it never happened right? Well not exactly. I am massively guilty of this one and often find myself ensuring that my run is tracked through my Garmin, automatically uploaded to Final Surge and Strava, then uploaded to Twitter all the while ensuring that I put up a few aptly timed Insta-stories before, during and after to ensure the whole world knows I have been for a run. Not forgetting to set up a cracking mid-stride self-timer photo that I can upload once I am home. Sounds exhausting right? Well it can be, especially if you’re already tired at the thought of getting out the door.
Try going to the gym, or out on your workout with no technology. No heart rate, no GPS, no selfies. Enjoy the surroundings and breathe in some fresh air- enjoy the break away from your devices. We all like to track our data, it helps us on our fitness journey and allows us to track progress and share our experiences. But try every once in a while going without. Once you accept the idea that a run is still a run regardless of whether it is on Strava or not, you will find it very liberating, I promise!
This is supposed to be a piece about motivation right? So why am I telling you to do nothing? Rest is a vital part of recovery; we all know that without rest, all those hard earned miles can be rendered useless. Worse still, overtraining can lead to burnout, injury or illness. When you rest, your body adapts to the training load from the previous days and weeks, allowing you to grow stronger and fitter. Aim for a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep per night (more if training heavily), eat a healthy diet rich in alkaline foods (think anything green!) and rest. This doesn’t mean a rest day down the boozer with 9 or 10 pints of ‘recovery’ Guinness, or spending the time you would have otherwise spent working out in the office instead. I mean proper rest- read your book, get into a new series on Netflix or get out for an autumn walk. This helps de-clutter the mind and allows you to approach the new working week refreshed and ready to take on new challenges. The main thing is not to let external forces create a feeling of anxiety. I often find myself with itchy feet when I am supposed to be resting, perusing an endless list of amazing races and achievements of people I follow on social media. You have to remember that just because others are racing doesn’t mean you should be too. Everyone has their own training and racing schedule so don’t feel guilty for kicking back or racing less frequently. Believe me, they are thinking exactly the same thing when they see you post about your most recent session. Have a plan and stick to it.
Hopefully the above is useful, like I say, they may not all be relevant to you but try just 1 or 2, and let me know how you get on.
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