Switch up your training program and refresh your motivation with tips from Nick Elson and Kylee Ohler...
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As athletes that train running or skiing practically year-round, Kylee Ohler and Nick Elson know a thing or two about training and motivation. If you're feeling stagnant in your endurance training regime, switching gears or simply gaining a new perspective might be all you need. Here, Ohler and Elson outline a few refresh tips to put some new life in your training:
Get Out of Town. Take an adventure trip; plan a hut trip, go camping trip, jump in the car for a road trip—for the weekend or longer. Experiencing a new area and terrain will be more interesting that your usual trails, and a change may allow you to notice new things about your old haunts when you return. Can't get away? Check out new running or skiing routes in your vicinity.
Mix It Up. Cross training is an endurance athlete’s best friend. Ohler's training implements running, weight lifting, and mountain biking as cross training for skimo, while Elson alternates between running, skiing, and climbing. As long as you are working your muscles and achieving your heart rate zones, occassionally subbing in different training activites provides a necessary mental break. Playing around with intensity and intervals is another option for giving your mind a break from the consistent slog.
Tune Out. Leave your watch, phone and training plan at home for a change. "As cheesy as it sounds, it is super refreshing to go for a soul skiing day or run. Just go for however long you feel, at whatever pace you want," recommends Ohler.
Elson adds that while "social media can be a great way to get inspired, it can also make you feel inadequate about your own training. I try to keep in mind that most people (myself included) are projecting something of an idealized image of their own training and their lives in general. Strava can be a useful tool but I try not to let what other people are doing affect my own training. In particular, a lot of the most important training for endurance sports is best done at a relatively low intensity. These easy workouts probably won't get you a lot of kudos, but are the foundation of success on race day."
Find Welcome Distractrions. While there are ways to change up your training regime, and work-arounds for flagging motivation, some days you might just be tired, and have to suck it up and force yourself to get out the door when you really don't feel like it. On these days, make plans with a friend or a group advises Ohler, "it's amazing how quickly time flies with a fun group of people!" If he can't find a training partner, Elson also turns to audio distractions, "I generally don't train with headphones, but that makes it seem like a treat to listen to an entertaining podcast on days where I'm feeling particularly unmotivated."
Focus on Your Goals. Why are you training? Revisit your goals and let them help you refocus and motivate you. And while he doesn't always have a specific objective in mind, Elson says that even distant goals can provide direction, "Obviously having a goal that you're genuinely excited about is a good way to stay motivated, but I would say that I don't think you always need some crazy goal at the forefront of your mind. However, I find that at least having some vague plan for the future helps me direct my training and feel like it has a purpose."
Get Specific. When you do find an inspiring race or personal objective, tailor your training plan to reflect that. "I think specificity is really important in training," says Elson. "This means that a lot of your training is going to look a lot like your goal event. So if you can find a goal that seems exciting and fun, then hopefully you'll mostly enjoy your training as well."
Know that Training Doesn't Happen in a Vaccuum. Acknowledging that other potentially stressful or tiring elements in your life can have an impact on your training and motivation is important. Elson notes that most people have other things going on in their lives aside from training for endurance sports; "I've slowly come to acknowledge that things happening in your life outside of sport can have a remarkable effect on your performance even if they're not physically tiring."
Some people seem to be perpetually motivated— "I'm definitely not one of those people," says Elson, but adds, "I don't think this has necessarily hurt my performance as an athlete. For one thing, I don't have any compulsive desire to push through the warning signs of injury, and as a result I've managed to stay largely healthy. This has allowed me to put in consistent training over a long period of time which is really important to developing as an endurance athlete. Likewise, a lot of training for endurance sports is at a relatively low intensity. You don't need to push hard all the time—in fact it's likely not sustainable."
Photos: © Studio Dialog