Training Programs and How to Maximize Your Return

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Most training programs work, it just takes commitment to reap the benefits.

Are you following a training program of some sort? Are you training for a half marathon, your first triathlon, or just trying to loose weight and stay in shape? I’m going to share a little secret with you, training programs and races are the reason I stay in shape. That’s right, it’s that simple. I pick a race, I pick a plan, I stick to it and I’m pretty much guaranteed to stay strong and healthy. Since training and racing are things that make me happy, well, I’ve got that one covered too! Here are a few things you can do to maximize your training programs and create a life of fitness and well-being.

Choose a Goal

The first thing you must do is choose your goal. Without a goal you’ll be wandering around aimlessly lifting weights or jogging for no reason. I’m sure that’s fine for some people, but if you’re anything like me you need a little motivation and a little direction.

A goal could be something as simple as a desire to loose 5lbs, to run your first half marathon, or it can be to finish an Ironman. Your goal is obviously very unique to you, but you must choose it.

Then set a time line for yourself to finish that goal. If it’s a race, that’s already done for you. You sign up for your race and work backwards with your training program. I currently have a sprint triathlon in September and a half marathon in November. That means if I want to do well, I must continue to train on a regular basis to perform well.

Build a Community

Yes, you must get some friends and start training together, it’s the only way to guarantee your success. I know I would hit my snooze button if I wasn’t meeting friends at 6am for a workout. It’s so easy to forget about your commitment and with the obesity statistics, it’s obvious that most people are not self motivated. This is why haven’t a coach or an accountability group is imperative to your success.

Recover Right

There is no way to train hard and race hard without taking into consideration recovery. You must get the proper amount of sleep, enough stretching, proper eating (yes, diet is it’s own category, but is very much part of recovery). I think of recovery in 3 main categories. One is sleep and rest, two is stretching, foam rolling, and massage, and three is diet. I try to get at least 7-9hrs of sleep each night. I stretch 6 days a week. I know there are a lot of people who are against stretching, but I’m telling you that’s going to catch up to them. I’m 46 and I feel like I’m 32 and I know it’s because I continue to stretch, foam roll, and get body work. You cannot put yourself through rigorous training programs if you don’t recover. And for those of you putting on the years, recovery is much more important and it takes a little longer. Make sure you give yourself time to recover otherwise your fitness career will end before you’d like.

Eat Right

Ok, here it is, you have to eat for recovery. It’s very simple, it’s just not easy, especially in our over indulgent culture. We gravitate toward sugary drinks, salty foods, and processed garbage! You must begin thinking about food as fuel. When you’re drinking something is it helping your body run more efficiently? Of course there are times when you’re going to have your dessert or the occasional sweet potato fries, but this cannot be the norm. You must get enough healthy fats, healthy carbs, and proper amounts of protein. When you train, you’re breaking down your muscles and you’ll need amino acids/proteins to rebuild. If you’re training outdoors, you’ll also need to make sure you stay hydrated and replace your electrolytes. There are many diet plans out there, I am a mostly vegetarian, paleo guy myself. That works for me, you have to find what works for you.

Train Mindful

This is one of the biggest categories if you ask me. Really, what are we doing all of this for? Is it to destress? Get strong? Brag and boast? I hope not that last one, though some healthy competition is great among friends. Being mindful and adding mindfulness to your training will allow you to train smarter and last longer. For years, and I’m sure it still exists, people were using that 1980’s machismo gym mentality where they were trying to get strong without concern of longevity. Being mindful simply means paying attention to how you’re feeling while you’re training as not to injure yourself. Making sure you don’t ride your bike into loads of traffic, staying out in the sun too long without sunscreen, etc. Mindfulness doesn’t need to be something esoteric or weird, it’s all about paying attention.

Finally, create the best quality of life for as long as you possibly can! That’s my motto and I hope it becomes yours too because I’m going to need company when I’m in my 90’s mountain biking on the trails of Chamonix, France or trail running in Copper Mountains of Mexico! So choose your plan, stick to it and watch your life change for the better! As always, if you need some help, definitely reach out. This is my specialty! @teddymcdonald on the social webs.

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