Saturday, February 25, 2017

Five ways to tell if your training is going well

It’s February, the toughest month in many Canadian runners' calendars - when the weather outside is frightful, we've put on extra weight as a result of eating too many holiday goodies, and we're just ramping up our training for spring races.  

When our bodies feel sluggish, we're still getting into a good training groove, and there's little to show for it yet, motivation can be hard to find – which is why it’s important to recognize and celebrate even small shifts that tell us we're training well.  Here are five of my favourites:

1.  I sleep soundly and wake up refreshed.

When my training is going well, I get just enough exercise to go to bed physically tired but not so much that I'm over-training - telltale symptoms of which are insomnia and a failure to recover fully between workouts.

2.  Walking down stairs feels good.

Pushing too hard and not taking time to stretch and cross-train often leads to muscle tightness and joint pain that can make it hard to walk down a set of stairs. Training well means getting enough rest and doing what's needed between workouts to keep my joints and muscles limber and pain-free. I know I've been stretching and resting enough when I can do a long run one day and walk downstairs easily the next. 

3.  I can put on my socks without sitting down or leaning against a wall.

To run well, you need good balance and flexibility, as well as a strong core. When I can balance on one leg to put on my sock, I know my body is balanced, strong and flexible enough to run well. Yoga, stretching and core exercises help keep it that way.

4.  I look forward to being outside.

When my body's revved from training, I like to be outside as much as possible - even in cold, stormy weather! I look forward to participating in winter activities (like skiing, snow shoeing, sledding, and skating) while soaking up some wintry sunshine. Reminding myself that "winter runs make summer bodies" doesn't hurt either. 

5.  I crave healthier food.

My body's smart. When I pay attention, it tells me what to eat so that it's properly fueled for training. Fruits and veggies seem more appetizing, junk food and alcohol far less appealing. I crave healthier options that will make me stronger, lighter and faster.

What about you? How do you know when your training's going well?

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