I have spent this morning preparing the second month of programmes for a number of my online (but usually face-to-face) clientele. It had me wondering how many more such months I will need to prepare in this manner before I am able to spend time doing what I love most about my job - chatting in person and training with my clients.
There seems to be a common theme with a large percentage of my clientele right now - mainly from those used to being involved in competitive sports, or those who normally train with a specific goal in sight - anxiety! I am dealing with a number of messages per week from clients who are afraid that they are losing fitness, losing strength, losing the will to train, losing the desire to eat healthily... and they feel tired ... and guilty for not training more... and wonder why they are feeling like that... and what we can do to get around it...
Simply put, a lot of people are, at least on the surface, currently living the perfect 'training life' (plenty of time to plan meals, train, recover etc) but not feeling it working for them. We are dragging ourselves through our training programmes, session-by-session, feeling like an extra out of Groundhog Day (did I just show my age a bit there or are the under 40s still with me?!) It really is becoming a constant round of eating, sleeping and running (with maybe too much emphasis on the eating!!!!). It was putting on my t-shirt for this morning's run that actually sparked me to write this post...
So here's the thing... we have something of a double whammy messing with our systems here... and we need to cut ourselves a bit of slack!
Let's be honest here... Motivation is tough at the best of times. When life is feeling 'normal' and we have our 'A' races, 'B' races, summer holiday, etc in prospect we can generally just about stay on track, at least for probably 80% of the time. Take that end goal away though, as the current situation has done, completely across the board with our clientele, and the desire to push ourselves can just melt away. Who wants to push that bit harder, that bit further, get up that bit earlier, when there is no goal to work towards?
For the Type A personalities in particular, the current situation can also pile on the added stress of a lack of structure, and can make them (us, actually... I count myself in those ranks!) feel guilty and confused and prone to burnout.
How can I be burned out when I am only doing a fraction of my normal training load asked 'A' this week? Well, by simple science I'm afraid. Fitness is gained when training places an extra load upon the body to which it needs to adapt (weight, speed, volume, whatever). That load causes a stress response which, under ideal conditions, the body adapts to, and becomes fitter (stronger, faster, more enduring). If too much load (stress) is placed upon the system, however, the balance can be tipped and we can become over-stressed, over-trained, injured, or burned out. Makes sense, yes? But the thing is, the body cannot really tell the difference between different sorts of stress - so stress from work, home, family etc can all contribute to that same stress load that the training also relies upon. This is why we like to know what's going on in other aspects of an athlete's life when we are scheduling their sessions for them - so that we try to apply the right amount of stress without pushing their bodies too far. This is pretty important at the best of times (because injured athletes are bad for business!!!), but doubly so right now, as an over-stressed body is not so well able to fight infection. So what do we suggest?
Well, start by being your own best friend... cut yourself some slack! Use this time wisely. It does not have to be productive in the traditional sense... take time out for you. Do things you enjoy. Take time to reach out to friends and family in new ways (via skype, traditional snail mail, zoom... whatever), contact people who have slid out of your life, do jigsaws, read books, have a Netflix marathon, give yourself a manicure or pedicure, have a long luxurious bath with a glass of prosecco and some chocolates, paint, play music, take up a new hobby... or do absolutely nothing!!! But whatever it is that you do, or don't do, don't feel guilty about it! Remove all the pressure from yourself and enjoy just 'being' - we are, after all, "human beings", not "human doings"! If you find your waistline expanding slightly, be accepting that now probably isn't the time to give yourself a hard time over it.
As a basic premise eat well, prioritise sleep, and free yourself of unnecessary anxieties relating to your fitness. If needs be, and you no longer feel like training, remove it from your life completely for few days, then resume with a different focus and a different goal - maybe look to yoga or a stretching programme, or consider 'just' going out for daily walks, making them more challenging by wearing a backpack with a few books in if you wish... Just make sure that whatever you choose is precisely the right choice for you at this difficult point in time.
I will be posting a few links to stretching and yoga routines for runners and cyclists on here in the next few days, so feel free to cruise by and give them a try if you fancy. In the meantime, can I recommend WasGij jigaws!!!
Stay safe and stay (mentally) well folks x x x