September can be a difficult month to keep your momentum going, even if you have an A priority race still on the calendar. Many athletes start out the season in April or May, and if you haven't taken a good break somewhere in the season, you can start to lose your steam. There are several steps you can take to keep going through this time of year.1. Mix it up. Those same training routes can get boring so try a new one. Take a left where you normally go right, or drive to park and start your run somewhere else entirely. Or go further and hit the trails for a run or mountain bike. A change of scenery can be a big boost for your morale. You can also mix up your routine by trying workouts at different times. If you normally run in the morning, try going for an evening run before dinner. For swimming, join a Masters program if one is available. Again, a small change can be enough to revamp your motivation.
2. Find a training buddy. Most towns have a local run or cycling club that are happy to accept newcomers. Get out of your normal comfort zone and show up for their group workout. Hang at the back to start, get a feel for the group chemistry, but when your comfortable, join in and make some new friends. Training wise, it can be great to provide a completely new type of stimulus to your routine. After doing long runs every weekend a good speed session at the track will challenge your legs in a whole new way.
3. Sign up. Find a fun event to train for. There are plenty of Oktoberfest runs coming up, and the fall is one of the most popular times for trail running events. You don‚Äôt have to make it an A priority race, just put it on your calendar so you have another reason to keep getting out the door. If possible, find an event that will allow you to train a weakness. For instance, if you are not strong on the run, pick a hilly course that forces you to train your weakness. Fun events like your local short course triathlon or an XTERRA event would also be good choices. You can even choose to shoot for a PR in an event that you haven‚Äôt done before. Most triathletes haven‚Äôt run an all out 5k without swimming and biking first. Focus your training on a single sport and see just how fast you can go.
4. Get a friend started. Most triathletes know someone, a neighbor or co-worker, who has expressed interest in going for a run or bike or even taking on their first triathlon. While training for an A race, you likely pushed them off for worry that they would slow you down. Now is a great time to encourage that person and get them involved in a healthier lifestyle. One of the most rewarding aspects of coaching is taking what I have learned over the years and helping others succeed. Triathlon can be a very selfish sport at times, and you can give back by helping others. We all started with little knowledge of the sport and we were all beginners that benefited from someone taking a little bit of their time to help us along the way. Return the favor and mentor someone into the triathlon lifestyle.
5. Shut it down. The last option, but one that may help you in the long run, is to shut down your training for a week or more. When your mentally not prepared to train and you are forcing yourself out the door, you are simply prolonging an inevitable crash. Before you get too far in the hole, mentally and physically, call it a season. I‚Äôm sure there are plenty of other items on your list that need tending to. Finish that home project you started in June or spend a lazy Saturday with your family. You may feel guilty about not getting in a run, but remember that every athlete takes breaks. Motivation will come and go, but inspiration will always be there.
Coach AJ Johnson has an understanding that no two athletes are the same ‚Äì even when their goals are. He views each athlete as a puzzle with unique abilities, motivators, lifestyle and potential. There‚Äôs nothing I enjoy more than helping someone incorporate the individual pieces to get the results they looking for ‚Äì because when it all comes together, it‚Äôs amazing!