Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sticking to the Goal

Its about 4 weeks into the first phase of my Tough Mudder training plan so far and it seems to be working.  As I posted a few weeks ago, I had to be forced to simplify my training plan to running three days a week with strength work on the other two day.  After two weeks of pain and suffering, running 3 miles has become "easy". Not easy in the way that sitting on the couch is easy, but my aerobic capacity seems to have finally woken up and started working for me.  My calves are still shocked that they are being forced to work in this manner on a regular basis, but aside from some mild soreness, they've fallen in line as well.  The strength work has stabilized as well and I've been able to increase load and/or volume on my strength workouts.  

So, in a nutshell, I still don't like running, but its no longer horrible and I'm back to using a barbell with regularity and ease.

So, what now?

Joe Caron sets a national masters 
record with a jerk of 125.5kg
Well, in many ways I am like a dog who sees a squirrel.  I was at Youth USA Weightlifting Nationals this past weekend coaching one of my young lifters and got cornered by a bunch of fellow coaches.  So, I might be attempting to compete as a master's lifter at Master's Nationals next Spring.  And do another Highland Games the following month.  I was hoping my chiropractor would tell me this was a bad idea, but he was enthusiastically in favor of me trying.  

What does this have to do with the Tough Mudder?  Absolutely nothing.  I can't simultaneously train for all three events and I don't need to.  I know some amazing athletes who can do both, but in the grand scheme of things, not being a runner and all, I still need to focus on running as my primary goal.  Training for weightlifting and Highland Games at the same time won't be too bad as they both require strength and power.  I can focus on high volume throwing the month between the weightlifting competition and the Highland Games.  

So, I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about training goals and why we need them.  Its very easy to get caught up in a lot of different training methods and trying to develop a lot of qualities at once.  If you don't have a way to measure progress from time to time or test your strength, endurance, skills, stamina, etc., it can be easy to lose motivation.  What has worked for me as I've gotten older is to take the advice of my training colleagues and set a goal with an event or competition.  

Training for the Highland Games required that
I not do a lot of other stupid stuff guaranteed
to derail my progress.  
Having a date on the calendar very succinctly clarifies exactly what your goals are and what you need to focus on to get you there.  In this way it is a lot easier to get to the gym and get your work done in between caring for children, having a job, doing house and yard work, getting together with family and friends, and/or any other of life's many activities.  Setting a goal helps you streamline what you need and what you don't.  You won't be concerned about getting to the gym to burn off last night's chocolate binge if you already have a training session planned for your 10k run, power lifting meet, Warrior Dash, or your neighborhood flag football game.  In fact, signing up to participate in an athletic event is one of the best ways to get those body composition changes we're always chasing on the elliptical or in a BodyPump class.  The main reason is that you aren't focused on calories, you're focused on performance.  And when you focus on performance, you learn to love some things about your body that you might have previously thought you wanted to change.  

As a trainer, I've retreated a lot from talking about aesthetic goals with clients.   If you want to reduce bodyfat, you need to change how you eat.  I might be able to get you squatting your bodyweight for reps, but I can't control what you put in your mouth.  And the truth is, most of the time, I don't want to.  I've trained a lot of different body types and shapes who were capable of amazing things, but those who focused on body composition only were the ones who were the most unhappy with their training.  I don't believe a six-pack is a healthy training goal, especially for women, nor do I think that most people should concern themselves with looking like a fitness model.  Instead, work on optimizing how your body performs.  Get strong and see what your body is capable of.  With a little attention and praise, you'll be amazed at what it does for you.    

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