As anyone with children or a pet knows, bribery is very, very effective. Even the littlest incentives can help a lot.
Last post I spoke about the drop back week and how it is a great way to refresh body and soul before another onslaught of physical and mental stress during training.
With my week ‘off’, to make sure I was was left thoroughly refreshed (and because I’m lazy) I also cut back on my strength training. While the running got back on track with no problems whatsoever, as always, getting back into those darned squats and planks et al proved elusive.
On this blog I repeatedly talk about the techiques I use to get myself to cross train and/or strength train. Trust me, I know how important it is to build strength in areas running can’t get to, but if you have been paying attention I think it’s fairly obvious that if I don’t make a huge effort to strength train then all I tend to do is run.
Well sue me. If I was perfect this blog would be bloody annoying right? Or more annoying anyway.
One thing I have learned is that even when you can only make a habit stick for a few days, or only when all the stars align, hubby does most of the cooking and there are no crises to deal with so you actually have a spare 20 minutes in the evening, even then, those efforts are not wasted.
Because it does kinda end up sticking. A little bit. Then a little bit more. And the more often you try, the quicker it builds into something concrete.
But it’s like a delicate thread that needs more strands to become truly strong. And I think my week off broke my thread.
(i.e. Translation to the above: geez, it didn’t take me long to screw that up!).
And more like this:
Okay? Good. Let’s start kicking some goals
Top tip number 1:
The Star Chart.
Now some people might think that bribery of this sort is very childish and pointless. I mean, do you want to achieve this goal or not? Then do what you have to do, right? What’s so exciting about a gold star anyway?
Well maybe, but I say forget being an adult and do whatever works. And this works for me.
I find it very satisfying to line up my little gold stars. Tick my boxes. Check off rounds of pushups and squats and planks and colour in my spreadsheets.
I can look at them when I feel like I’ve done bugger all that week and know that I am actually achieving something. It’s also a great way to give tenuous goals such as ‘improve core strength’ a concrete presence in my life.
Top tip number 2:
Keep it short and sweet.
Boot camps have become de rigeur these days in everything from knitting to baby sleep training. And there’s a reason for that; it works. A concentrated bout of discipline – one that’s short enough to enable you to complete it if you put your mind to it, but not so long that your willpower slowly ebbs away, leaving you laying on the couch with a bag of chips in your lap berating yourself for being pathetic – is also often just enough to change your behaviour and/or mindset, so that next time you try it’s a little bit easier to keep going. And the next time. And the next…
Top Tip number 3:
30 day challenge
Similar to a boot camp in the results you get (mentally as well as physically) 30 day challenges have been popping up on my Facebook feed a lot lately.
There are abs challenges, squat challenges, lifting, pushups, you name it.
If you are a major extrovert then it’s possible one of the things stopping you from getting into a regular strength training routine is lack of social stimulus.
I’m not particularly interested in socializing while I do my squats. To me this idea is like a star chart that everyone can see and comment on which makes me shudder, but you do you.
So join one of these challenges, or better yet, start your own and get everyone else to join you, and you can discuss it every day if you like!
Top tip number 4:
You might be someone else’s inspiration and not even know it.
I would be over the moon if my daughter decided to emulate my love for all things fitness related, but alas, she is of the artistic strain. If it dances, plays music or puts you on stage she is there front and centre, singing away at the piano. For pretty much any other physical activity she will use every trick in the book to avoid it. Up to and including feigning injury/starvation/urgent homework.
But if I get down on the floor while we’re watching the Simpsons and start my routine she’s right there with me. Plank competitions, crunch clinics and stretching challenges keep her occupied for as long as half an hour, and my strength work is just as helpful for her gymnastics class as it is for my running.
Hopefully I’ve given you (and me) a few new ways to get stronger in the leadup to your next race. These final few weeks are always a bit of a carrot to my donkey if you catch my drift. Nothing like an impending morning of pain to remind you to get those pushups done!