Life Can Get in the Way of Training Plans, Here are 3 Ways to Stay Motivated

Woman Running Up Stairs

Life is full of twists and turns: a change in the weather, forgotten gym shoes, traffic. These detours don't need to derail your fitness plans.

To follow the training plan or not? Do part of the plan or nothing at all, these are the questions. While it is important to have a training plan, it is almost impossible to follow it 100%. Last week a client asked, “do you have a plan when you train yourself?” In the same week another client, who runs ultra-distances, and I were discussing the delicate balance between using technology and our own sense of self to monitor training.

Training is very different than working out. A workout is a single session that doesn’t really have a plan, a focused goal for the session or even a long-term goal. Many people work out and that is fine, but if you really want to reach specific health or fitness goals start training!

Training is the deliberate course of practice, exercise and diet with a specific goal in mind. 

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Training Plan versus Daily Actual

There are two components to training – the plan and the actual. Before all of that, you first need a goal to keep focused and moving in a single direction. A training plan is next. Training plans are written series of deliberate training sessions that are to be followed on daily, weekly and monthly basis to reach the desired goal. Think of the goal as a new restaurant you want to go to while the plan is the road map to get you there.

​How detailed can you get? Very. Online software programs like Training Peaks give athletes and coaches the ability to plan and monitor with quite a bit of detail including food intake, body composition, sleep habits, and stress levels.

The actual is what is accomplished on the day. From the example above, we know the name of the restaurant and we have a map to get there, but on the way there is construction on the desired route. Now what? Turn around? No, find an alternative way to get there.

How to Adapt Your Training Plan

How detailed you get with the plan really depends on you. Athletes training for the Olympics have detailed four year training plans. Either way, have a written plan as the road map to the goal. Each week and each day should be planned, but be adaptable to changes.

Each day you train earns compound interest. Think about incremental progress towards goals. - Alfred Ball

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Sometimes the plan doesn’t come together. Today, I forgot my runners at home – oops! My plan was to run for 20-30 min then strength train. I could have turned around and called it a day. Since my preference is to complete weight training sessions without shoes for better foot control I decided to instead warm-up differently. A well-executed strength training session was still completed. Finishing Seek the Peak on June 15th in under two hours is still attainable.

1. Life's Schedule Hiccups

We all have them. Something comes up in our schedule that prevents the training session from happening on that day or our desired time. Find an alternative day or time. A couple of weeks ago I was at a conference for three days and this week my parents are in town. My training schedule was adjusted accordingly.

2. Life's Stresses

Training places stress on the body! So does life. Perhaps a family member falls ill, a big project is due tomorrow or there is an final exam to study for tomorrow. If stress levels are high then it isn’t the right time to complete a high intensity or high volume training day. Flip it for something less intense and shorter duration and do the previously planned session on another day.

3. Feeling Fatigued or Full of Spirit

Maybe you haven’t slept very well for a couple of nights and have lost the spring in your step. Dial it down a notch. Other days the engine is ready to go full-tilt; that is the day to have a breakthrough session. Listen to what your body is telling you. It is very smart!

"Daily training = compounded interest. Ask  'am I moving at least 1% closer towards my goals'?." - Alfred Ball #quotes

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So, to answer the original questions. Yes, I do have a plan in mind when I train; each session also has a mini-goal. A training session is a stair on a staircase to the next storey while a mini goal is like a footstep on that staircase. A mini goal is the focus for one planned training session. Heart rate monitors, GPS devices, training diaries and listening to my own body help me monitor each training session. Sometimes the plan changes due to one of the four above factors and that is ok!

Think of the effect of compound interest. It can multiply up! Each day, are you making progess towards your goals?

Alfred Ball

CEO | Practicing Kinesiologist | Certified Fascial Stretch Therapist. He founded Lifemoves in 2007. He has been a Practicing Kinesiologist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with the NSCA for over 15 years. When he isn't helping people regain their strength and confidence to move with ease he is hanging out with his wife and young son, writing, or training for his next endurance running race. His big audacious goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

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