7 Ways to Break Out of a Training Rut
Wouldn’t you love to be able to bottle up your training motivation and have it on tap for whenever you need it? To be able to remember all those times when you felt so good about your training that you were bursting with energy and commitment?
When training gets hard and motivation evaporates, it can be hard to find it again. [Photo credit: Rx'd Photography]
Unfortunately, even the most motivational moments don’t last forever. There are times when your motivation evaporates and you feel like you're going nowhere. During these times of feeling in a rut, it can be hard to know how to climb back out.
The good news is all the motivation you felt during those previous moments is still there. You just have to remind yourself how to tap back into it. Ruts are normal. No one achieves their goals without experiencing some periods of reduced training mojo, whether it be emotional or physical. The challenge is not to let these negative feelings derail you from getting back on track with your training.
With this in mind, here are seven strategies to break out of your training rut.
1. Pinpoint Why You’re in a Rut
The first step to climbing out of a rut is figuring out why you have fallen into it. Take a long, hard look at your training goals and ask yourself whether they really are what you want to achieve.
How does it feel when you imagine yourself achieving your goals? What are you missing out on by not achieving them? When you reach your goal, how will things be different? Provide honest answers to these questions. They'll help you identify whether your lack of motivation stems from inappropriate or mismatched training goals.
Next, ask yourself if you are truly paying attention to your body. Have you pushed yourself too far in your training? Are there signals you are getting inadequate rest or recovery? Is your lifestyle working against your training goals?
Take the time to listen to your answers and clearly define what you really want. View your rut as an opportunity to get reacquainted with the reasons you started training in the first place.
2. Be Clear About What You Want
The next step is to narrow your goals and make a clear decision about what you want to achieve in the future. Identify goals that will give you the motivation required to take action. Examples may be competing in a race, completing 20 push ups, having enough energy to play with your kids, fitting into your old jeans, or completing a triathlon. Once you are clear on your why, you have something to refer back to when things get tough. A true ‘why’ will be your ultimate and most reliable motivator.
3. Picture Yourself in Action
Imagine yourself doing what it takes to be successful. Mental practice can boost confidence, improve motor performance, and increase your state of flow. Visualise your success as soon as you wake up and before you go to bed.
You may have heard of the experiment by Australian psychologist, Alan Richardson. Richardson took a group of basketball players, split them into three groups, and assessed each player’s ability to make free throws. The first group would practice 20 minutes every day. The second would only visualise themselves making free throws, but no real practice was allowed. The third group did not practice or visualise.
Interestingly, the group who visualised showed significant improvement. They performed almost as well as those who actually practised.
4. Believe You Can
Know that anything is possible. Not only can you do it, you deserve to do it, and do it well. As the famous American industrialist Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.”
5. Enjoy the Small Steps
In my early days as a fitness competitor, I focused on turning professional every day. I lived and breathed the goal, but when that day came and I stood there getting my medal, I actually felt a bit deflated and wondered if that was all there was to it. It wasn’t until I reflected back that I realised what I enjoyed the most had been the training, the discipline, and the personal growth I’d experienced along the way.
The lesson here is while you’re taking action towards achieving your goal every single day, always remember that it’s not just the end goal that matters. The small steps along the way all contribute to your overall success. Take value from each one and enjoy the journey.
6. Recognise What Works and What Doesn’t
You don't have to keep doing things the way you’ve always done them. Sometimes we can be so committed to getting there that we stick to a process or a system like a safety blanket, even if takes us nowhere. If your approach isn’t working look at how it can be adjusted and fine-tune it. Don’t wait until boredom and frustration sets in. One secret to success is being able to learn from your mistakes and adjust what you do along the way.
7. Take Charge of Your Mind
Taking charge of your mind is an important step to successfully driving your motivation. Your mind and body are linked in a constant state of communication. How you move, speak, stand, and sit has a direct link to your emotions. Think about what state of mind you need to be in to succeed in achieving your goal. Do you need to stand up straight, smile,and have open body language? You might be surprised at what else you can achieve simply by changing your thought processes.
Work the Feelings Out, Don't Fight Them
Next time you hit a rut, stay positive and be prepared for the negative feelings it brings. Try and avoid fighting all the associated feelings of being in a rut. Instead, accept the feelings are normal and learn from them. Work out why you have lost your motivation and use the above tips to break out of your training rut and get right back on track.
Ready to saddle up and train again? Read this first: