Remember training doesn’t happen in a vacuum

If you’ve been hanging around here for very long you already know that I am mostly a runner and occasional triathlete. So that’s what I’m talking about for me when I talk about training. But for you that could be lifting, cycling, dancing or anything else you do to move your body. When we talk about training we could also be talking about your regular most of the year schedule or training for a specific event. Basically this discussion applies to everyone, all the time and whatever it is that you do. Pretty important right? Whatever your thing is I imagine that you have athletes you look up to you in your sport. We all get the idea that we have to be super dedicated, never miss a workout and give it our all every single time. That might be the ideal we strive towards but it’s totally okay if we don’t hit that benchmark. We have lives, jobs, families, bad days and all kinds of other stuff in our lives. All those things can and do affect our training and that’s okay. So today I’m here to remind you that there are really good reasons that it’s okay not to train like a professional every workout and that’s okay.

It’s not our job

For many of the people we look up to training and competing is quite literally their job. That’s true of elite athletes and influencers alike. Many, many people out there selling courses, an image or taking home prizes make actual money working out. I would venture that you probably never made a single dollar keeping fit. For many, me included, working out costs me money in a lot of ways. Yes it costs us in gear, gym memberships and race entries. For some an hour spent exercising is an hour not spent earning. Conversely the athletes that we might look up to make money for every workout they do. That can be in future performances or even on every instagram post. As nice as our legs might look in shorts we’re never going to earn a dollar off of any of that!

It’s not our only priority or even the top priority

I’m thinking a lot about the idea of priority being a singular word and that we certainly can’t have a baker’s dozen of them. Even though working out and racing is important to me, my family, partner and work do come above running for me. On a given day my top priority in my mind could be getting my run in but all the other stuff that comes up in a day can derail that. I can say I’m going to get up early and get my run in the night before but at 6 am I’m in Chester picking up supplies, at the mulch shop at 7 am getting loaded and on site by the time my employee shows up at 8. So much for that morning run. Come the evening it might mean I’m meeting with a new client. Our training programs demand our time in big blocks several times a week but they don’t always tell us how to fit that in.

Work sometimes has to come first

Budget is a concern for most of us

Would I like to be a fitness wife who trains hard most days, fuels my body perfectly and the recovers optimally? Hell yes! So far even in the great resignation I have not seen a job description outlining how I would like to spend my time. I don’t have the cash for regular deep tissue massages, an on demand coach or constant physiotherapy either. We can’t take the time off to train for a huge race every year and the costs that go with it. We also might not feel great about the noise and space a treadmill takes up in our condos. Sometimes we even have to forgo fitness things for our training due to dollars and sense. For us to train to top performance we don’t only need more hours in the day we could also use more 0’s in the bank account!

We can’t live our lives just to train

Some of our customers spend the year chasing 20 degrees Celsius. They leave one country when it gets too hot for another and return when this one gets too cold in the fall. As someone who loves working out in the great outdoors this sounds like a dream come true to me. Imagine getting to wear cute sports bras and matching running skirts all year long! Wouldn’t that just be lovely! No saran wrap coats and swampy pants when you dramatically overdress. So this Canadian runner gets that weather is totally a factor! But there’s other stuff too. We don’t have the budget or the space to have a super cool gym with every piece of equipment somewhere in our house. We might not even live within a half hour’s drive of the gym. Professional athletes set up their entire lives around where they are training and that means they can give their most to their workouts more often than we can. 

Not a bad spot for a meeting

Injuries do pop up

These can be acute injuries or overuse injuries as well. Hell, sometimes I’ve just shoveled too much gravel in one day to run upright the next at all. For most of us what’s really going to get us back out there is time. We don’t have access to the injury rehab the pros do even if we can afford it. There isn’t someone monitoring our data in real time or a hydro chamber to go to. We’re more likely to just have to wait, take it easy and do those physio exercises we know we should be doing anyway. Plus while we’re healing we still have to fulfill all of our other duties as well. We might see the pros bouncing back within the month we’re all going to be off our feet for 6-8 weeks if we’re being realistic.

What does all that mean

I’m glad you asked! It means that not only are we going to miss the odd workout we’re not going to be able to give it our all for every workout either. In other words it’s okay to miss the odd workout in training and still be dedicated. The people that write good training plans understand this and you’ll still be successful on race day. We are going to fall short of perfection and that’s totally okay. Things like the weather, obligations and feeling poorly are going to happen along the way. I recommend accepting that on day one and avoiding some of the guilt along the way. During marathon training last year I was realistic that it was totally okay to miss one run and walk another every three weeks as long as it wasn’t a long run. When it did happen I didn’t feel poorly about it at all. 

Recognizing that our training doesn’t happen in a vacuum and it’s only one part of our lives we can largely avoid some of the pitfalls of black and white thinking. If you set out with the mindset that the only version of success is perfection then when other things do pop up you won’t feel like a total failure and then just give up. Give yourself a break when you need one and lower the stress levels around workouts. Because we all know that that all the other things in life are stressful enough!

The people we might look up to as athletes might have very different lives than we do or at least try very hard to project that image. If you feel like a bit of a failure comparing yourself don’t! We all have so many roles that we need to fill everyday we have to recognize that sometimes training might fall just a little bit short. What most often pops up in your life that most often interrupts your training? For me it’s work and weather but leave yours in the comments below!

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