Step by step instructions on how to schedule your workouts
Have you ever had this: you start to train with enthusiasm, but after a week or two, a prolonged meeting, meeting with friends or bad weather kills the whole mood. Or, gradually, business and problems bring discord into the training plan, and you put off running in the park until better times. From the book Triathlon for Busy People, we chose tips on how to create the perfect training schedule. It will be useful to all amateur athletes, not only triathletes!
First, imagine a complete picture of your life. This is a multi-step process. First of all, you need to estimate how much time you can actually spend on classes. What’s the point of scheduling a weekly program for 16 hours if you only have 12-13? When you understand how much time you will free up for training, begin to create an integrated program. Basically, you need to optimize your time.
First of all, you need a good dose of pragmatism, the ability to look at things realistically and the skill of introspection. These are very valuable skills. Athletes often find it easier to set realistic goals consistent with their life situation than to build on idealistic hopes and aspirations. That is, you realize that, apart from your usual activities and sporting experience, you will not be able to prepare for the Ironman race, which you registered for a week ago. It’s probably best to postpone the goal until next season and practice. It is more correct to realize now what exactly limits you than to be disappointed after several months of preparation.
Step 1: look at your life
Athletes often work almost on autopilot day in and day out. You have to step aside and see what your life is like. An experienced athlete can provide invaluable assistance. But even if you have such a mentor, it is worth evaluating your life yourself. When there is clarity, the athlete is more likely to make informed decisions, stick to the program, and ultimately manage the process.
Analyze the schedule of the day. A source
Start with a regular week. Imagine how you live every day: what do you do at work, how much time do you spend on the road, what family responsibilities do you fulfill at home and outside, where do you usually go in the evenings and what do you do during your free hours? Consider everything, including sleep, diet, eating and resting times. For this exercise, it is helpful to use some kind of physical activity tracking device, especially where personal perception is different from reality. Accurate data, such as the number of hours of sleep, will give a real understanding of the situation. When you write down all the smallest details (when you drink alcohol, how often you eat dessert, when you grab something on the go instead of eating normally), the picture will become even clearer. Examining your daily and weekly activities will be a harsh reality, but it will help you identify areas that need to be tidied up in order to tailor your training program to them.
Step 2. Unforeseen circumstances
Once you have a clear picture of the big picture, look at what circumstances add uncertainty to your daily life. A good example would be a business trip, or a vacation trip, or a child’s sports / dance tournament that you have to attend seven days in a row. This also includes illness, changes in work schedules, and even adverse weather conditions in the place where you live. What obstacles have appeared on the way? Probably, some events unsettled you for a day or a week, and most of them were unpredictable. However, it is helpful to anticipate events that occur more often than others (for example, how often do you spend less time on something due to traffic jams?). Any predictions that can be taken into account in planning will help maintain a flexible approach to training.
Step 3. Learning from our own experience
The next step: think about what difficulties previously prevented you from achieving your goals in sports? What is wrong with general fitness in certain training sessions or races? Was the injury caused? Or maybe you made a compromise trying to fit the planned workouts into the schedule, and it cost you dearly? Have you been sick for a long time or was it difficult to cope with even a common cold? Not confident in your abilities due to missed classes? Have you ever been too tired or completely exhausted after completing all aspects of your workout routine? Now that you can see why previous attempts failed, it is quite obvious where you expected more, where you were overwhelmed, and where you failed.
Step 4. Time for training
When thinking about your training schedule, take a complete picture of your life as a basis and honestly answer the following questions.
- When can you train (almost) always?
- When else can you usually train?
- When do you get the opportunity / likelihood to train?
The answers will help you find time in the week that you can devote to classes in the first place.
For example, you always have free evenings on Tuesday and Thursday,
and also Saturday morning. Sunday mornings can also be unoccupied unless you go to church with your family or to your child’s competition. On Monday evenings, there is a meeting at work, but again not every week, so sometimes a workout can also be put on Monday night. And on Wednesdays, for example, you have the opportunity to come to work later, because the company’s headquarters is in a different time zone, and you can think about training in the morning. Friday nights are packed with family activities, with weekday mornings taking the kids to school and then driving to work. Everyone is different, but maybe there are similar situations in your life.
Before you schedule specific training times on your weekly schedule, look at other important factors. The main one is sleep: the quality of the night’s rest (or lack of it) affects everything you do.
Many athletes are confident that they will be able to find time to train in the early morning. However, if you look at your life as a whole, including the hours that you plan to prepare, you may find that you do not have enough sleep. If you usually stay late at a meeting on Monday, then getting up for training early on Tuesday morning will steal hours of your night’s rest. You might be willing to sacrifice your Friday morning sleep, but doesn’t that mean you won’t be able to spend time with your family that evening because you are too tired to go to dinner and the movies? What is your free time “postponed” for? Have you occupied him with training?
Free time is indeed often overlooked, because it is not always easy to find it, but it should not be missed either. Adjust your class time to match it.
Step 5. Limit desires
After the first attempt to coordinate and schedule everything you need, you must learn to limit your desires. It is easier to gradually find more time to train than to retreat when unforeseen circumstances stand in the way. Whenever an athlete has to cut back on training time, they feel like they’re a failure. Start with realistic and reasonable expectations, and remember that the cumulative preparation time in a given week does not necessarily lead to any success. You will only be able to adapt by maximizing your effective training time and building them consistently in the chaos of life.
Do your workouts as efficiently as possible. A source
All this leads to the same annoying question: how many hours do you need to train? Now that you have completed this exercise, you understand why there is one answer to such a question: I don’t know. Only you yourself can determine how long to practice. The secret to a promising training program is to make the best use of the available time.
Step 6. Adjust the sharpness
If you’ve done the time optimization exercise correctly, the total number of hours available for classes is likely to be less than you thought, or at least what you might have hoped. For some, it is 12-14 hours or even more. Others have only ten. Here is a complete picture of your life: you know how much time you have at your disposal; priorities are defined. You can adjust the sharpness. It is important to realize that the main goal is to make the most of all available time, and not to find as many hours to work out as possible.
Now that you understand why a competent approach to training is so important (which, in fact, means – to your whole life), start planning. You will be able to avoid unnecessary sacrifices, setbacks and low training levels. On the contrary: you will be able to achieve success in all aspects of life. The final lesson plan (taking into account the volume, duration and intensity, as well as the time during which the exercises are performed) should suit you specifically and be tailored to your unique lifestyle.
Based on the book “Triathlon for Busy People”
Post cover: unsplash.com