Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Key Elements of a Great Training Program

There are as many opinions on what constitutes a great training program as there are trainers and coaches.

Although that may be the case, most coaches understand the importance of a balanced approach to training and put together individualized plans that are best suited for each client/athlete.

1. A great training program takes into consideration that everybody is different.  Every client and athlete has their own strengths and weaknesses, all of which need to be considered in order to put together the right training plan.

In addition, different people enjoy different training styles and workouts so what works for one person may not work for another.

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Above: Photo by Armando Tura

2. It is response-regulated. If the athlete is not making the type of progress that he/she should be making or if the workouts appear to be too difficult (or not challenging enough), then changes to the training plan must be made. The knowledgeable coach will make those changes as necessary and will know what needs to be done.

A response-regulated approach offers the right amount of balance between making the workouts challenging enough to see results over time while at the same time keeps the client/athlete motivated and injury-free.

3. It is balanced. It has the right combination of aerobic, strength, flexibility, and core training which is based on the client/athlete’s goals. In addition, it is balanced in a way that allows for recovery time, as well as treats.

Therefore, it keeps the workouts diverse, interesting and challenging while at the same time allows the athlete/client to enjoy life (and food). ūüôā

4. It’s progressive. The program gets adjusted and becomes progressively more challenging to suit the person’s developing fitness level. It makes sense because as the body adapts, it will require safe, yet progressive overload in order to keep making gains.

5. It’s suitable for the client/athlete’s lifestyle. Not everyone has the time to train 2 hours a day 5 days a week. Work, travel and other commitments must be taken into account when developing a perfect training plan.

If a training plan does not take the aforementioned into consideration, then it will be very difficult for the client/athlete to stick to the program and see results, which defeats the purpose of having the program in the first place.

6. It is enjoyable. Let’s face it, if a fitness program is making your life miserable and you are not enjoying it, then you will not stick to it long enough to see results.

A great training program will consistently remind you why you are enjoying the process, which will make progress inevitable.

In summary, a great training program is one that delivers the types of results that you are looking for because you are able to stick to it long enough. You stick with it because it allows you to balance your other commitments while you keep on working towards your goal. Lastly, you genuinely enjoy it.

If you found this helpful, please pass it¬†on ūüôā

 

Motivation of the Best Kind

People often ask me how to stay motivated to keep on training or to keep working hard especially when results are not immediate.

Why do I keep on running 20 or 30+ km on weekends when watching TV at home or partying is so much easier?

The answer is in not only establishing priorities, but also in being motivated for a deep-rooted reason. Running and fitness are very important to me personally and therefore I’m motivated to do it.

There are 2 types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation is when the reason for doing something is external to the person doing it. This type of motivation is based on doing something because there is either a reward for doing it or a punishment for not doing it.

Extrinsic motivation can also mean “doing something for other people”. For example, some people want to lose weight so that members of the opposite sex will find them more attractive or they want to make more money in order to prove they can do better than their peers.

It can also sometimes be developed out of jealousy towards someone who appears to be receiving positive social feedback as a result of doing a certain activity. Additionally, it’s used as a way to “prove yourself to other people.”

On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is different. In this case, a person’s motivation for doing something comes from the inside. The intrinsically-motivated person’s actions are guided by a deep-rooted desire to do a certain activity because they enjoy it and are passionate about it.

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The road is long…so it’s best to enjoy every inch of it! Photo by IMS FotoGrafix

What other people think of the intrinsically-motivated person and his/her chosen activity is not important to him/her.

Quite often, extrinsic motivation can develop into intrinsic motivation as is the case with fitness.

Admittedly, when I first started running in junior high school, I was extrinsically motivated. I didn’t love running, but I loved getting medals and recognition as well as proving to my classmates that I was an athlete.¬†I feel like most teenagers are extrinsically motivated and thus are influenced by the opinions of their peers.

However, my injury after high school changed me.

I became intrinsically motivated because I fell madly in love with running and fitness in general. Ultimately, I found MUCH more satisfaction in running and working out when I knew I was doing it for me because I loved it. I genuinely enjoy training and tracking my own progress.

Although I still get competitive, neither winning nor losing truly alters my perception of running. I may not always be happy if I don’t perform as well, but I don’t want to quit running all together just because of a bad performance.

When it comes to sticking to an activity long enough to see progress, I believe that intrinsic motivation is the key.

Often times, the people who are extrinsically motivated expect results too quickly but don’t often have the stick-to-it-ness to actually get to see those results.

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Sometimes, it’s an uphill battle with a curve in the road, but you can make it to the top if you keep on going because you LOVE it! Photo by IMS FotoGrafix

Additionally, some people who start out extrinsically motivated end up developing intrinsic motivation when they become inspired to enjoy the process rather than look for the reward or “destination”.

This is why my approach to training clients is slightly different. I ask a lot of questions in the beginning because I want to find out how to best keep them on track and motivated long enough to see results. When training clients, I help them find things they enjoy doing and encourage them to love and trust the process.

Those who learn to love and trust the process as well as those who enjoy the activity that they are doing are most likely to stick to it, which leaves them with no other option than to see the results they are after.

Therefore, when it comes to fitness, it’s important to find a way to move your body in a way that you enjoy.

Love what you do and the results will follow.

6 Ways You Are Sabotaging Yourself

When it comes to getting fit, there are many obstacles that can get in your way if you let them.

For those who are just starting their fitness journey, as well as those who have attempted to get in shape but did not reach their goals the first time, the whole process can be daunting.

Stepping into the gym for the first time or at any time when you don’t feel like you belong there can be scary. I got some news for you: YOU BELONG THERE just like everyone else who is already there.

It shouldn’t be scary and this is why I do my best¬†make sure that everyone feels welcome when they¬†come to¬†my gym.

While it’s possible that some unforeseen circumstances beyond your control can derail your progress, you can avoid sabotaging yourself.

Fortunately, most of the things that will get in your way are things that you can control and change.

However, in order to make those changes you have to be honest with yourself and identify all the different ways that you are setting yourself up for failure.

1. You think: “What’s the point? I’m going to fail anyways.” This type of mindset sets you up for failure, giving you a reason not to try in the first place.

How are you supposed to succeed when you think you will fail before you even start?

2. You also think: “I’ve tried it before and it didn’t work.” Just because it didn’t work the first time, it doesn’t mean that it won’t work now, especially¬†if you take a different approach.

So, try something different to help you reach your goals. You might also have to give yourself a bit more time because good things come to those who are both patient and work hard.

3. You allow external negative influences. We all have that one or two friends who are constantly putting down our efforts without truly meaning to.

They are the people who use the terms “realistically” and “that’s impossible” a bit too frequently, especially when you mention your goals.

They also have an apathetic attitude towards trying new things and give you reasons why you won’t be able to do it. They are the people that you need to slowly disassociate from.

4. You expect results too quickly and beat yourself up when it doesn’t happen fast enough. If you love and trust the process, progress will become inevitable, but¬†in due time.

The problem with expecting results too quickly is that you don’t end up sticking with it long enough. See point #2.

5. You are not consistent enough. Whether it’s clean eating or exercising, if you are not doing it consistently, you will not get the results you are looking for.

Yes, there will always be challenges and other things to do that will get in the way of your goals.

The trick is to make your goals a priority and make time to do the things you need to in order to reach them.

6. You are doing the wrong types of workouts. Not every body responds the same way to different types of workouts.

Based on your goals, you need to do the right combination of strength training, cardio, flexibility and core stability.

In other words, if you are looking to lose weight, doing 2 hours of walking on the treadmill won’t help you much (although it’s better than not doing anything at all)

Wishing you all the best in reaching your fitness goals.

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Top 5 Things That Will Help you Be a Better Runner

Are you looking to become a better runner? Do you feel like the only way to become a better runner is to simply run as far as you can as fast as you can?

Although running enough miles and doing high quality speed work will help you improve as a runner, there are other things you can do that will help you achieve your new personal bests.

Running as far as you can as fast as you can is actually not conducive to continuous improvement. This type of training will just wear you out and you will begin to hate life. I know this because I’ve been there.

I used to feel like I had to always run hard or else it was a “wasted run.” Clearly, I wasn’t recovering properly, felt tired and anxious all the time, until, finally, I got injured. ¬†It was very frustrating because I was depleted and feeling completely worn out.

If I knew then what I know now, things would have been different and maybe I would not have had to take 2 years off from training.

However, what I do know is that 2 years gave me enough time to recover and learn as much as I can about training, thus making me a better coach and athlete than I would have been if I had never experienced a setback.

Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to feel the joy of many personal bests in distances from 800m to the marathon.

So, what did I learn? How can I sum it up in 5 easy to read and understand points?

1. Run slow to get fast. Do approximately 80% of your training at an easy pace where you are still working aerobically. This will give you more time on your feet without the stress of having to go fast. It will also help you achieve an excellent level of fitness while you are enjoying running. You will also gain the ability to run long distances with ease and at a comfortable, steady pace.

2. It’s always better to undertrain than overtrain. Overtraining can have severe negative consequences on your fitness level because it does not allow you to recover properly. Therefore, overtraining can often leave you feeling extremely tired, miserable and anxious. Additionally, it can take the joy out of running and, worst of all, possibly leave you injured.

3. Strength training is important.¬†No, I don’t mean trying to bench press 300 lbs or squat 400 lbs (although there is absolutely nothing wrong with having that goal, it won’t really help you with running if that’s what your focus is). I mean functional weight training that helps improve core stability and muscle balance around the¬†joints to help prevent injury.

4. Stairs, skipping and plyometric workouts are good for you. ¬†Stairs simulate hills, as well as help you build strength and power in your legs. Stair climbing also helps strengthen stabilizer muscles in your legs which don’t get used as much during regular runs. Skipping and other plyometric workouts provide¬†the same¬†types of benefits in addition to¬†taxing your cardiovascular system.

5. ¬†Timing of the workouts is important. In order to properly prepare for a race, you must know when and why you’re doing each workout leading up to it. In addition, you must know how to taper properly.

The trick is to find out what works and what doesn’t work, in any given training cycle, in order to do better next time. Your body will tell you all this information if you listen to it, both during workouts and on race day.

What are some things that helped you become a better runner?

 

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