For those who know me, there is no getting around that I am a planner. I love setting a goal and working months and months towards that goal. I would think of myself more of a long-term than short term planner because I like to give myself time to put together all the pieces which help to make my dreams come true. I find that if you rush time with your goals, you will often forget pieces to you puzzle (goal) and sometimes, never find them or take a little extra time to locate them.
What may surprise you is that I am not good about logging workouts on Training Peaks and it sometimes takes a day or two to upload my power meter to WKO for Karel and me to analyze. I also don't make grocery lists and I don't religiously use a calendar to keep track of important dates.
But somehow, it all works. Sometimes I wonder if my head is filled with too much information but I enjoy relying on my memory to recal important dates, facts and information. Because every workout builds upon one another, I do not feel the need to keep track of my weekly training hours or miles. When planning ahead, I just think back to the recent past when it comes to creating my training plan. Sometimes I wish I was better at logging my workouts as it would be fun to look back at weeks in the past (just like I do know for all my bike workouts) but I guess training is truely a lifestyle for me and I know what I want to do every day, not necessarily what I have to do.
But don't get me wrong, I love analyzing files from my athletes, looking at results from VO2 tests and looking at diet analysis results to see the strengths and weakness's in my athletes. I suppose as a coach, I would rather dedicate my time to helping my athletes reach their goals while I lead by example in order to find/try new ways to help my athletes succeed in life.
As for my athletes, I want them to live in the moment and trust that every workout builds on one another. I find that athletes who over-analyze every workout will find themselves not truely appreciating and respecting the human body. Physiological adaptations take time and because we are not paid to train, we must find that special balance to be able to seperate training from exercise so that even if a workout is "off" at least we can feel "consistently" off while letting our body enjoy the gift of moving.
I hope you enjoy my latest article from Iron Girl!
By Marni Sumbal
Great athletes share similar qualities such as motivation, discipline, accountability and confidence. While these qualities are remarkably prevalent in most professional athletes, these traits often extend beyond sport and are demonstrated in everyday living.
As an Iron Girl athlete, to squeeze in an early morning workout or head to the gym after work, it is likely that you have the motivation and discipline to do the “work” that is needed for your upcoming event. More often than not, your training buddies will hold you accountable to attending swim class or a weekend bike ride, but you are responsible for adequately fueling before, during and after workouts as well as focusing on your daily nutrition in order to stay healthy and injury free. Above all, your confidence allows you to succeed in sport (and in life) because you believe in yourself and that anything is possible when you set a goal.
Although there are prominent qualities that are necessary for both the elite and everyday fitness enthusiast (and everyone in between), it is important that you are a good planner if you want to reach individual goals. Better yet, a GREAT planner.
Many people would suggest that two of the easiest ways of planning ahead are setting an alarm and having your workout clothes with you for an after-work, evening workout. Planning ahead is a beautiful thing, but if you consistently slack on quality sleep or forget to bring a pre-training afternoon snack (as an example), a shortage of energy may turn into a lack of motivation and discipline when it comes to meeting your body composition and/or performance goals.
Instead of telling yourself that you are going to do better tomorrow because you feel as if you failed today, it’s important that you gain a sense of active control. The predictive planner not only recognizes what may or may not be working in reaching short and long term goals, but finds inventive ways to create the desired future.
Three easy tips in becoming a proactive planner:
1) Pre-chopped produce – Do you struggle to eat enough fruits and veggies while at work? What about the weekends when you are tired after a long morning workout (or household chores)? Do you find yourself gravitating towards comforting carbs when you get a craving or don’t feel like cooking? How about spending a little extra money on ready-to-eat fruits and veggies (with no added ingredients) so that you will have no excuse in providing your body with powerful vitamins and minerals?
2) Set a bedtime – To be more energized, productive and emotionally balanced, it’s important to have a regular sleeping routine on most nights of the week. Daily habits such as late evening snacks, exercise too close to bedtime, using stimulating electronics and anxiety/stress are often the root of poor sleeping habits. Often, many athletes find themselves skimping on sleep due to unnecessary, high volume training. It is advised to pass on the 5:30 a.m. “recovery” swim and choose a good night of rest for both the mind and body. Secondly, evaluate your current exercise routine to see if you are doing too much exercising and not allowing ample time to recover, rejuvenate and rebuild. Although you may need to experiment to find an optional sleep schedule, aim for 7-8 hours of restful sleep by going to bed around the same time most nights of the week.
3) Create an exercise schedule – Most certified coaches will understand the fundamentals of exercise physiology in order to provide athletes with a balanced exercise routine which ensures gradual physiological training adaptations with the least amount of training stress. However, there’s nothing wrong with being your own coach as you know your lifestyle routine better than anyone. Create your own realistic exercise schedule that allows for around 60 minutes of physical activity every day of the week. Keep your schedule entertaining and realistic based on your current daily requirements. Allow for a 20-30 minute strength-specific workout (followed by flexibility work), two to three times per week, giving yourself at least 32-48 hours between workouts. As for cardio, aim for 3-4 “sport specific” workout routines such as swim, bike and/or run. Mix things up by alternating high intensity anaerobic workouts (+85 percent max heart rate intervals interspersed with recovery intervals) with tempo/aerobic workouts (75-85 percent max heart rate) so that your body doesn’t get bored with the same routine. Additionally, not every workout needs to be the same amount of time. If you have 20 minutes to exercise in the evening, make it the most productive 20 minutes that you can for that given day. When it comes to training, the focus is on balance so be sure to prioritize quality over quantity.
Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N
Marni is a Registered Dietitian and holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology. She is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach, a 4x Ironman finisher and is an Oakley Women ambassador. Marni is currently training for the 2011 Ironman World Championship. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to IronGirl.com.
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