Friday, 12 December 2008

8 Ways to Get a Jump Start on Next Season

i love gale bernhardt she wrote the swim workouts binder that i use to motivate me each time i jump in the pool. she wrote an article for "active" that i think deserves a posting here. it is written to cyclists and parts are sports specific, but you can modify that stuff to fit whatever your sport of choice is. i have much more to say about this, but i need to keep reading about woman, vulnerable girls, and HIV/AIDS

It's December and you're racing around like a caged hamster with ADD. For many of you, shopping, holiday parties, time with family and friends, and cold, short days are contributing to your health and fitness program death-spiraling directly toward ground zero.

Don't wait until January 1 to begin working on next year's goals, get a jump start now. Here are eight tips to get you on the right course toward a positive new season:

1. Set a fitness goal that is six months into the future. This can be a racing goal or an event goal—such as completing your first century ride or besting a particular time from last year. You can also design your own event. Write that goal down using positive language. For example, "Complete the Best Ever Century Ride on June 15th." Characteristics of good, challenging goals can be found here.

2. Set at least one, but no more than three, sub-goals for each month that supports your ultimate goal. For most people, it is easy to scheme up a grand goal or two on January 1 to be accomplished later in the year. The journey to reach that goal begins with high energy and enthusiasm the first two or three weeks of the year. As the challenges of day-to-day life squeeze us, goals can begin taking a back seat to other issues. Before we realize it, our goal is slipping away.

At the beginning of each month, sit down and evaluate what successes you achieved in the previous month. Find ways to celebrate those accomplishments. Celebrations take any form, but must be meaningful to you.

The beginning of each month is also a good time to look forward to the next month. Are your sub-goals still appropriate? If not, make some modifications. It's OK to make course corrections as you move through the year.

3. Address tight muscles and any lingering injuries now. If you have been tolerating discomfort that is ever-present, do something about it early in the season. Depending on what your issue is, it may be as easy as scheduling a regular massage.

More serious issues may require a trip to the doctor, athletic trainer or physical therapist. You will never reach your full potential as an athlete if you are constantly in pain.

4. Work on balancing your leg coordination. Most of us have one leg that is more coordinated than the other leg. One way to work on better coordination for both legs is to do one-leg drills or isolated-leg drills.

To do one-leg drills, put two chairs next to your indoor trainer. After a good warmup, alternate putting one leg on the chair and while the other does all the pedaling for 30 seconds. Make the pedal stroke perfect by imagining that you are scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe at the bottom of the stroke. Pull up on the back side of the stroke and then drive your knee and toes forward to complete the circle. Try to remove any dead spots where your foot stalls out. These typically occur on the top quarter of the pedal stroke.

5. Work on balancing leg strength. In addition to having one leg that seems smarter than the other, most all of us have one leg that is stronger than the other one. In some cases the strong leg is also the most coordinated, but not always.

You can work on single-leg strength balance by doing one-legged strength training. You can do step-ups, leg press, knee extensions and hamstring curls single-legged. When you begin one-legged work, use a light weight until your form is perfect.

For example, when doing a one-legged leg press, keep your toes, ankle, knee and hip in line for the entire movement of the platform—up and down. Do not allow your knee to buckle in or out, away from that line. Keep the line drawn between your pelvic bones parallel with the leg press platform. In other words, do not dip or skew your pelvis to lift heavy weight.

6. Analyze your current diet. It is best to have a good sports nutrition expert do it. If you do not have the resources to access a sports nutritionist, you can utilize online software to analyze what is going down your gullet. From there, you can decide to do nothing or make changes.

7. Take a look at your equipment and clothing. Often, new equipment purchases serve as great motivation for getting fitness goals back on track or accomplishing new ones.

If you decide to purchase new gear—or someone surprises you with new equipment for the holidays—consider donating gently-used gear to junior development programs or other programs for kids.

If you are not purchasing a new bike, you can give your current bike new life by taking it into the shop for a full overhaul. Replacing worn parts or upgrading some of your components can often make you more eager to ride.

Go through your closet and do something about clothing you can no longer wear for one reason or another. If the clothing is worn (Can I see your skin through those shorts as I ride behind you?) or stinky, throw it out.

If the clothing doesn't fit your current fashion taste or your current body type, consider donating it to a good charity. Giving gifts of fitness to other people adds to the motivating mojo.

8. If you have not had a complete physical in the last year (or 10) get a physical that includes blood work. Having baseline health measures when healthy can be very valuable in diagnosing any issues in the future. At the very least, the tests confirm your health status.

Because you're an endurance athlete, I know you can do a great job of pacing yourself through the holiday season. If you are beginning to feel like that hamster I described at the beginning of the column, take a breath and consider what you can do to make your health and fitness program successful for the remainder of December.

No comments: