Building a Winning Athlete Routine
Nothing is more important to an athlete than routine. Improving your skills and mindset can only happen through consistent practice. Motivation can be a problem for all of us throughout life. A routine can help you stick to your training. This may mean waking up at a specific time each morning to practice or train. It could be giving a certain portion of every day over to meditation. It might be planning your diet and meals in advance so you don’t have to decide what to eat each day.
Chart Your Progress
In establishing a routine it’s helpful to have a calendar or at least a notebook where you can chart your goals and progress. This way you can see if you’ve missed too many workouts or if you’re not increasing your mile time. Without goals, it can be hard to know what you are working towards and you may lose focus. Writing down what you want to achieve will lower your stress because once you have a plan all you have to do is follow it.
Everyone knows that children thrive on structure. They like to know what is happening and when. This is true for adults as well. It can be hard to fit in a run or a weight training session around work and family. But if your workout time is already penciled in, you can confine the juggling act to a planning session instead of letting it become a constant battle.
Stay In The Zone
An established routine will help you stay in the mindset of a competitor. If you skip a few days you will notice changes in your attitude and mood. Our brains and bodies get used to routines and come to need them after a while. This is why the hardest part of starting a routine is starting. After two or three weeks you’ll notice that the routine gives you energy and it’s hard to give it up.
Let’s get into specifics. Your routine has to be particular to your goals. Perhaps your goal is to become a better long-distance runner. The goal, “I want to be a better long-distance runner,” is not specific enough. A practical goal is one that is measurable, with milestones along the way to mark your progress. A better goal might be, “I want to be able to run three miles in under twenty-two minutes by the end of the month.”
This is a more helpful goal because, with the specifics, you know whether you are on the right track or not. If you get to the end of the month and you can only run two miles in twenty-two minutes you may want to change your strategy. Remember though, that your goal could have been set too high. It is possible that two miles in twenty-two minutes is exactly where you should be. It can take a while to get to know how to set goals for yourself that are attainable but tough enough to push you.
Don’t Burnout Though
Perhaps the most important thing to avoid in establishing a routine is burnout. Burnout is when you begin a routine with too much frequency or intensity. If you’re starting from zero you need to be careful in order to avoid injury.
If you haven’t built up a stamina for running then going out and running three miles is not a good idea. Our bodies react differently to exercise and until you know your body better it’s important to start slowly. The idea of a routine is to begin and maintain a course of exercise over a long period of time. So don’t worry if you are only starting with fifteen minutes of exercise a day.
Stress is Stress
Getting injured can be a serious problem but emotional burnout will hurt your routine just as much. It can take two or three weeks for your body and mind to get accustomed to a routine. So during this time, it’s crucial to stay positive and not push yourself too far.
If on your first day you go out and run five miles you may come home exhausted. The next day you will be sore and won’t want to run. The next day you remember the pain of running the five miles and don’t want it repeated so you take another day off. Now you’ve had an overall negative experience so you’ve lost your motivation.
Instead, on the first day, go out and run one mile. The next day try to be a bit faster. Have a time in mind, say eight minutes. Try to work up to an eight-minute mile. Once you achieve this, run a mile and a half.
Before you know it you’ve been running consistently for two weeks and it’s an unshakeable part of your routine. If you’ve been recording each milestone, an eight-minute mile, the first two-mile run, you can look back at your progress and feel a sense of accomplishment. Then it’s time to write down the new goal and keep pushing forward.
Every great athlete has his own personal routine that has gotten them where he or she is today. Talent is important but progress is impossible without consistency.