“Every day presents a new day to reset the bar!” – David Goggins
Most of us are creatures of habit. We get up around the same time everyday, exercise around the same time, go to work, and aim to be in bed at a reasonable hour. We thrive on routine, but there are times when we must break from the norm.We can adjust for anticipated training interruptions including downtime after a goal race, an off-season, travel, or holidays. However, unplanned interruptions, like injury, illness, weather, or other unexpected life events, can throw unforeseen and unwelcome wrenches into our training schedules. Following are a few ways to get back on track after we’ve lost our training momentum.
“Don’t let life hijack your brain.”– Navy Seal, author, and ultrarunner David Goggins. I see this often. Training ends due to a hectic life schedule or long-lasting injury, which, in turn, leads to guilt, frustration and, sometimes, deep depression. When we stop moving, our flow of endorphins, the hormones that trigger good feelings in the body and mind, also cease. Get out of this negative cycle by retraining your brain. Take this opportunity to hone your mental skills. In lieu of exercise, read a book. For example, check out Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me, researcher Brad Stulberg and coach Steve Magness’ Peak Performance, or sports psychologist Stan Beecham’s Elite Minds.If you want something more hands-on, tackle a house project or dive into your neglected to-do list.
Re-establish routine. Loss of normalcy is the biggest challenge we’re presented with when hiccups occur. Most of us exercise at certain time(s) each day. When this doesn’t happen, our whole day can be turned upside down. Re-establish your routine as soon as possible. Ensure your run or exercise session the following day becomes a priority. If you’re following a training plan, pick-up the schedule as it’s written. Don’t make up workouts, but fall right back into your training rhythm as soon as possible.
Do something new. If you’re unable to run, find another avenue for exercise and stay active. Redefine yourself not as a runner, but as an athlete. Try a new sport or work on the strength training you’ve been neglecting. Coach Ian Torrence and sports psychologist Dr. Stan Beecham discuss this in Ian’s iRunFar article “Head Games.”
Make no excuses. Rising up to meet a challenge may entail getting creative or embracing something you may not enjoy as much. For example, weather has been a frequent training roadblock to many runners recently. Resilient athletes find a way to get the work done by using a treadmill or elliptical, skiing, snowshoeing, indoor cycling, or swimming.
Make a date. Like any important work meeting, if we schedule an appointment, we’ll be more apt to show up. Set up your next workout with a friend or significant other—you’ll hold each other accountable.
Make time for yourself. It can be a dangerous trap—filling the hours we normally exercise with work or other obligations. Sometimes this is inevitable, however, our runs may be one of the only hours of the day we’ve set aside for ourselves. Don’t neglect your “me” time. By scheduling your workout first and early in the day, other commitments will fall in to place around it.
Reaffirm your goals daily. Keep your running ambitions front and center. Don’t get sidetracked. Write your goals down on paper and place them on your bathroom mirror or on your fridge. You may go as far as to make your aspirations your computer screensaver.
It’s ideal when training cycles go smoothly and without interruption, but the reality is that life happens and disruptions are likely to occur. It’s how we handle these disturbances that determine how we can still make the most of any situation.