Let's face it, getting into workout ruts is inevitable, no matter what kind of activity you're doing. It can come from multiple avenues.
- Going the same route every day.
- Constantly dealing with bad weather.
- Running on a treadmill, or riding on a stationary bike for hours every day.
- Constantly worrying, and watching numbers during our workouts.
- Doing the same FTP (Functional Threshold Power) workout, over and over again.
All this rinse and repeat can take a toll on your motivation. It happens. I've experienced this a number of times during my Ironman training. I can't count the number of times I just wanted to throw my swimsuits, bikes, and running shoes into the trash.
I know a lot of people deal with this, so I figured I would share some of my tricks to help reset my thinking, and get me out of my workout ruts.
Reach out to your coach. If you happen to have a coach, for whatever reason, and they design your workouts/schedule, it's always best to check in with them and tell them where your head is at. Most of the time your coach doesn't know that doing the same FTP workout every week is boring. Feedback is critical, it allows your coach to either lighten the load of that specific activity, or change up the workouts/schedule with different things to help keep it fresh. Also, your coach can just help you in general ... that's what they're there for, and have gone through it as well. There's no harm in telling your coach their workout plans are becoming stale or boring. It's their job to mix things up, and keep things fresh and challenging 😉.
Ignore the numbers. The constant focusing on power, pace, and heart rate can be exhausting and frustrating. You can easily loose track of what makes working out fun. Throwing in a workout here and there where you just don't give a shit about numbers. Allow yourself to just feel what your body is telling you, instead of what a bike computer or watch is beeping at you. Taking that layer of stress out of the equation is very liberating, and you'll instantly feel free. Numbers are great, but having the skill to understand and feel what your body is doing during a workout is important to. So you aren't technically slacking off 😁.
Just ride. This one is similar to ignoring the numbers tip from above, but a little different at the same time. Forget the numbers, and forget about the designed workout for the day. Sometimes you just need to do whatever your want. Just ride. No goals, no numbers, just do whatever you want. This one is pretty much my go to to help get me out of riding ruts. There's days I just don't want to do what my coach wanted me to do, and when you look at the bigger picture, taking goof off days isn't going to hurt your training. For me, it's extremely freeing. It also gets my mind back to why I love riding bikes. Remove all training stress, and just go, letting it remind you how awesome it is. Soon enough you'll be itching to get back to the specially designed workouts.
Go somewhere new. You don't have to be training to get in ruts. Riding your bike on the same bike path every day will put the damper on things. Mix things up. Take a different route. It can be as easy as taking a left turn instead of your usual right. Maybe plan something a little bigger on the weekend, like finding routes in national parks, or other areas of the state you live in. A change of scenery can help keep things interesting, and challenging. For me, last weekend I decided to drive out to Eatonville, WA and ride up Mt Rainier. It was outside of my comfort zone ... unfamiliar roads, different traffic patterns, smaller shoulders ... but it was incredible. The views, the challenge of a long climb, interacting with other visitors of the park. It not only helped refresh my bike ride, but it also helped me overcome some hesitations/fears I have going on roads less traveled.
Hook up with a group. Training can be very lonely for most people, and that loneliness can take a toll on your motivation. This can tie into the 'ignore the numbers' and 'just ride' tips, as most casual riders/runners/swimmers may not want to go 20+ mph, or a sub 8:00 mile, or sub 1:50/ 100 yard, haha! Hook up with friends. Reach out to local bike shops, and see if they have group rides. Or see if there are any local groups/teams that have group rides. We all know riding/running/swimming with other people helps with your motivation. If you want to do your training with others, look for tri or cycling clubs of like minded athletes with similar goals and sync up your training schedule, and needs with them. Having another person there, can help give you that extra boost.
Change equipment. This can either be expensive, or super cheap. Change is always needed, and a simple change on your gear can go a long way. For some people buying a new bike is totally feasible. There's nothing more motivating then having a shiny new bike to play with. But let's face it, that's stupid expensive. It can be as simple as just changing the color of your handlebar tape. I totally changed the same old black colored bar tape with hot pink tape, and it was awesome, and I wanted to go out in the world to show it off. Boom, motivation 😊. Running, instead of buy the same shoe every time, maybe see if that shoe comes in different colors, or try something completely new all together, switch out your laces with a different color. Swimming, get some new fun looking swimsuits, or some fun colored swim caps instead of using old race caps. For me, I wanted to show a little bit of my personality in the pool, so I bought a swim cap that says, 'Do Epic Shit' on it. I loved it! These little changes can help make something old and mundane, new again. The options are really endless.
Sign up for an event. For the people that doing train daily, not having something to look forward too can keep you sitting on the couch. In this case you need something to train for, a goal to achieve to help boost that motivation. Sign up for a local event or charity ride/walk/run/swim/whatever. Put that in your calendar, and start training to reach that goal. You can search online, or just go into your local bike/run/swim shop, they usually have flyers everywhere for the upcoming events.
Rest. Take an extra rest day, or reduce the number of workouts that your burnt out on. Let your body relax, but more importantly, let your mind forget about the frustrations of doing that activity. In my Ironman training, I was starting to hate the bike. I reached out to my coach, and we simply dialed back the bike work. It helped a lot. I just needed the time off on the bike to reset my feelings towards it. Like I said before, if your training for something big like an Ironman, in the big picture, taking a week off isn't going to hurt you or your training. Doing anything in excess is going to result in getting burnt out or hating it. Breaks are important.
Hopefully some of the tools I use to help keep me motivated, and going can help you. Ruts happen. There's nothing you can do to avoid it. What's important is how you overcome them.