How to make your training plan stick

Jul 12, 2010 | Training, Training Daze

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Lynne Tapper

I am a lifelong endurance athlete with the dual goal of training and racing until my bones turn to dust and sharing that passion with as many people as possible.

Recently I was talking with a writer from Runner’s World about finding more time to run. As we talked, the conversation evolved into planning more efficient workouts and building them into your weekly schedule, despite all of the activities fighting for your time.  The “just one more thing” syndrome can be deadly to a regular workout routine.  If you find yourself saying “just one more call, email or load of laundry before I go for that run, ride or swim” and then find that run, ride or swim never happens then this article is for you.  
These tips will help you stay on track, literally and figuratively, despite the daily challenges and distractions most of us face.

Lynne’s Top 10 Tips on how to keep your training on track.

1. Set a race goal
If you sign up for a race and have that date on your calendar, you’re more apt to stick to your training program.  With no goal in mind, your morning workout time will be easier to skip (“it’s not like I’m running a 5k in a month!”) and instead get filled up with dozens of other activities.

2. Find a training partner or group
Find a friend or make a friend who has a similar schedule to yours.  Planning to meet someone at 6:00 in the morning, puts you both on the “I don’t want them to be standing out there alone” motivation train.  You won’t want to let them down and vice versa.  Two people’s motivation solved in one swoop.  It’s funny that we’re willing to let ourselves down by hitting the snooze button 20 times, but if you know someone is waiting for you in dark or the cold, you’ll be there.

3. Try waking up 30 minutes earlier
It might not seem like a lot of time, but if you give yourself 30 extra minutes in the morning, you could get in a quick run or do some core/strengthening exercises before breakfast and lunches need to be made.   Imagine, 30 minutes of uninterrupted time before the rest of the house arises.  My husband, a great exercise procrastinator if I ever met one, now has a 9-minute routine he does if he feels pressed for time, but doesn’t want to use that as an excuse to skip a workout.  He picks 4-5 exercises from squats with weights, pushups, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, etc and does them non-stop for nine minutes. It’s not a full workout, but it’s something!  If he can do it, you can too!

4. Fill your water bottles the night before
If you are planning a morning run or bike ride, fill up the water bottles the night before.  Your water will be chilled, which is always nice, and it’s one less thing you need to do before getting out the door.  While you’re at it, pick out your energy snacks too.

5. Keep your running shoes (and other gear) right by the door
Same as #4, keep your shoes by the door. There’s nothing worse than running around the house trying to your gear together.  With any luck, just as you’re scrounging around the house for your hat or sunglasses, the phone will ring and you’re workout window goes “out the window”.   The quicker you get out the door, the better your chances of getting out the door in the first place.

6. Share a babysitter with a training partner
Many people with young children might find it frivolous to hire a babysitter just so you can get in your workout.  Let’s think about this. You’ll pay for a sitter to watch your kids while you go out to dinner or the movies.  But, hiring a sitter so you can workout doesn’t make it on the list?  Hmmm. Well, here is a solution that might make it easier to justify. Find a babysitter that you can share with training partner.  It’s either at your house or your training partner’s house (or a nearby playground).  You get to have your training time with a friend and your childcare is covered.  The cost should be less. It’s a literally, “girls day out.”

7. Share childcare with a training partner
If no babysitters are available or finances are tight, try meeting a friend at a park or playground. You can do your workout for an hour or so while your friend watches the children.  Then, when you return, your friend gets her workout done.  It’s great behavior modeling for the children and they get an instant playdate. Everybody wins.

8. Get your family involved
This is one that got picked up in Runner’s World, just in case you missed it.
It’s one of my favorites. It’s fun to get your kids involved when you can.  Try this: Take a deck of cards. Have your child turn over the top card. If it’s an eight, then you have to do eight push-ups.  The next card is a King (all face cards are equal to a 10) and I do 10 sit-ups. Continue turning over the cards and going back and forth between push-ups and sit-ups until the deck is completed or I fall on my face; whichever comes first. To give yourself a break, take a 1 minute rest when an ace appears. Don’t be surprised if children join you, mine often do.

9. Take turns with your spouse/partner on the weekends
So much of the weekends are scheduled around the kids’ sports or classes.  Make sure to take an hour or so each day for yourself.  This might mean that your spouse watches the kids while you workout and then you switch.  Believe me, the whole family is better off if you each get a chance to work out.

10. Schedule your training window
You probably have family events scheduled like “date night” or “taco night” so why not “workout time?”  Figure out a time in your schedule where you can plan your “training window.”

I’ve always felt that we have so many competing priorities in our lives between family, work and the assorted things that just need to get done, that it is very easy to find yourself somewhere near the bottom of your “to do” list.  That’s assuming that you are even on your list to begin with.  So, make yourself a promise to put yourself higher on your list.  It doesn’t have to be first, but it shouldn’t be 9th either. I feel that the benefit you’ll feel from making your workouts part of your daily/weekly routine will have a broader impact on your mood, health and fitness level than you can imagine.

Some of the tips might seem obvious. You may have already thought of them so that puts you one step ahead of most people.  But, with people’s lives so full of activities, it’s important to understand what stops you from getting your workout done. Hopefully some of the tips will help you keep your training on track.
Do you have any ideas?

Have any other ideas on how to “Make Your Training Plan Stick?” Share them and we’ll post the right here!


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