What do you think is affecting your desire to exercise, as well as how well you follow through with workout plans? True, some of it can just be attitude. Wrong or discouraging attitudes are a problem in life. It could be thinking about it too much, instead of just doing something every day. It might be that you are pushing yourself too hard, thinking you need to advance at a certain pace, and it is exhausting you. However, there are other things that may not be as obvious, but are actually easy to fix.
One of these things might be how you schedule things on certain days. Specifically, what was working before or seemed like a good way to try things might not be working now. For instance, for the past couple of years, it was working best for me to run my longest distance on Monday. I was well rested from an easy day on Saturday and no exercise on Sunday. I felt good about starting the week with the long run, and it set the week’s workout schedule nicely into motion.
Then, since about Christmas time, I noticed feeling more stress about my long run. I tried overall rest, which was good in and of itself. I cut back my distance a bit, and I allowed myself a less intense schedule for the middle of winter.
When I got back to more running, the long run was okay on Mondays for a couple of weeks, but then I noticed feeling stressed by it again. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, since the distance itself didn’t seem to be the problem. One Monday, I finally decided to just run 6-7 miles instead and save the long run for the following Thursday or Friday.
At first, though I felt relief about that Monday, I was worried that I might not be up to a long run later in the week, or that life’s overall schedule might get in the way. When Friday rolled around and I was able to successfully run the current long distance of 12 miles and felt good, I was pleased.
The following week, I used the same schedule, and when everything was workable again, I began to analyze why it felt so much better to be doing things this way. What I came up with was that for me, the long run was weighing too heavily on my mind all of Sunday, because it does take a little bit more mental preparation for a long run. This meant I simply wasn’t relaxing on Sunday, my rest day. I don’t know why this had changed so drastically from before, but it had.
Moving the run to later in the week relieved me of the stress. The shorter runs earlier in the week, which I was concerned might tire me out for the long run, were, in fact, functioning as part of my mental preparation. A shorter run on Monday also meant I could get a better start on other activities for the week, everything from house cleaning to a good start on my swimming routine for the week. I know. Adding the swimming to Monday might seem counter to the goal, but it isn’t. The swimming is very relaxing and therapeutic. Running longer at the end of the week meant I could look forward to my easy Saturday workout and Sunday rest day much more.
My attention to nutrition over the weekend was another factor that I figured out was affecting my Sunday. I have to be more attentive to how much and what I eat before a long run, so this was making Sundays less fun. It’s not that I wanted to binge or eat badly. It is actually that I tend to eat less on Sunday, because it is a rest day and we don’t have big meals. Again, I had obviously been doing well with this previously, but whether I have learned things about my digestion that I now know I need to apply or my hormones are affecting this, I cannot say. It is enough for now to know what I can do to deal with the issue.
Now, I also feel that I am better set up to begin gradually increasing my longer distances again. I didn’t feel I could designate a larger chunk of time on Mondays to do this. Doing a long run on the weekends doesn’t work because of family activities.
I’m not suggesting this is THE magic formula for everyone’s running or workout schedule. I’m only pointing out that there may be relatively subtle factors affecting how you feel about certain aspects of your exercise plans on certain days. For me, being able to rest on Sunday was being adversely affected by the pending long run. I needed to tune into that and adjust.
I’ve talked before about how just changing your route or clothing can impact your enthusiasm for a run on a given day. Habits are useful, but it is also useful to know how to fine tune and be creative within the habit, to make it most enjoyable and give the best possible results. If you are struggling with your workout schedule or expectations, give yourself permission to experiment with some of the seemingly unimportant factors. You may hit upon something that brings new vitality to your workout schedule!