This Fall, Train Like An Athlete

Photo Courtesy of lululemon athletica

The concept of training like an athlete has shaped the way that I work out. I like to think of training like an athlete as an everyday state of mind. In my “sport” I have my event date, I have the proper equipment, I evaluate my score along the way and ultimately I am training to win. You don’t have to be an athlete to train like one, but once you start to take on this new mentality I can assure you that it will start to grow on the way workout.

How does an athlete train?
Make a clear cut statement of your goal and a deadline: Write down exactly what you’re looking to do and your realistic timeline (call this your ‘event date’). Twelve weeks should be your minimum- anything less than this and you risk disappointment. Athletes do not attain their goals overnight; some runners practice for years before completing a full marathon.

Decide what will get you to the finish line: Make a full schedule of your training program each month; this way you have a plan. Training without a plan is like going to the grocery store without a list- you’re going to buy things that you don’t need and you will forget what you came for in the first place. Make your schedule in the form of a calendar with allotted days off in the week. Depending on your goal and timeline, you may want to take 1, 2 or 3 days off a week. Review your training each Sunday so that you can take a look at what’s coming up and switch the days if needed depending on what else you have going on in the week.

Acknowledge the things that you will need to get you there:
-What’s the minimum amount of sleep that you will need each night?
-Do you have your food plan and is it adequate for your training (is there enough fuel for your engine)?
-Should you consider grocery shopping in the beginning of the week and making your lunches/breakfasts ahead of time? Ex: I make enough steel cut oats to last me the week for breakfast.

Photo courtesy of lululemon athletica

Gear up!- Every athlete needs the right equipment for their sport. As silly as it sounds, a new workout outfit is extremely motivating to me and so are new runners. Take a look at what you’re training in. Lululemon makes these great fitting tops that are loose around the tummy but that you can actually feel good in. Personally, I don’t like to train in tight fitting tops so these are great!

Assess your weak points & identify all saboteurs: In other words, who or what is standing in the way of your gold medal? If you’re aware of what might cause you to fail for your big event, then you won’t be caught off guard when presented with an obstacle. Your weak points could be something like: skipping meals resulting in slowed metabolism or staying up late to watch your favourite show and missing your morning training session. Saboteurs should be identified as the worst enemy in your training, these could be things like: Birthday cake at the office, keeping food that is bad for you in your cupboards or that friend who tries to convince you to stay for “one more drink” every weekend. Every problem has a solution, so write down ways that you will avoid getting distracted in completing your goal.

Measure your progress each week: At the end of each week, take a look at your action plan and tweak what may need to be changed. Maybe you underestimated yourself and are finding that some of your planned days are too easy. Maybe you’re finding that you feel hungry at a certain time in the day and need to add more components to your food plan. With my current goal being to add muscle, I measure my progress by taking photos (1 front, 1 back) of myself every Friday morning. Looking back at my photos from 12 weeks ago is a reminder of how far I’ve come and motivates me greatly.

Switch it up: Don’t plan to train for your sport six days out of the week; while doing this may show quick results in the beginning, you will soon find your body will get used to its routine which will not benefit you in time for your event. For example, depending on what your end goal is, dedicate one day a week to hot yoga day and another day for sprints and stretching. Swimmers don’t only train in the pool in order to beat their personal records; they take on other forms of strengthening to improve themselves like running, weights and plyometrics.

Choose a motivator: Everyone hits a slump at some point in their training, so what’s your vice going to be? Try reading a new fitness book to give you a kick start. Maybe planning to meet with someone who is an expert in your sport will give you the kick in the butt that you need. If food is your motivator, allow yourself a cheat day in the week where you can indulge in your ultimate craving.

Enter your sport in “attack mode”: Be sure to visualise your training session before you hit the gym, pool, field or whatever it may be. It takes 10 seconds to run through a plan of attack in your head. I find that doing this gives me the right mindset and added focus which makes me perform better. Another strategy that gives me a jumpstart is to pump my IPOD up with new playlists every couple weeks with music that makes me move!

Be accountable & cut the excuses: Keep a journal of your progress and stay on top of your weaknesses. No matter what I have going on throughout the week, I make training for my sport my priority; there are no excuses. This week, I know that I have to travel for work and instead of kyboshing my program; I’ve already adjusted my routine so that it jives with my schedule. If you are dedicated to something, there are ways around any obstacle to make it work.

Photo courtesy lululemon athletica

The big event.

Completing your big event is not the “end all be all” to your training; it’s a milestone to a healthy lifestyle. Once you’ve completed training for your sport, take a couple days off to create a new and exciting (12-week minimum) program and get back into your training.

It’s a new season; challenge yourself and see how far you can go!
See you at the finish line.