I've just done a video about my strava data from 2021 and thought it would be useful to go through a few ways that helped me to stay consistent and motivated during the tougher months ... Winter. After all, a lot of the base work and preparation for the race season, happens then!
I'm acutely aware that not everyone can aim for 1000 hours of training a year. It's just not realistic if you're an age group athlete with other life commitments. However, it's all relative... if last year you did 10 hours of training, you can aim for 50, 100 aim for 200, 500 aim for 600 etc...
So... my best piece of advice for age group athletes trying to do more consistent training is to get it done first thing in the morning... before work. This way you don't get stuck at work in the evening, unable to do your scheduled exercise.
Here are 4 ways to make that morning easier and therefore enable you to stay consistent and up those numbers!
1. Your morning routine actually starts in the evening...
What will get you out of bed easily? Is it avoiding the discomfort of going from a nice warm bed under the security of the douvet? Or having had enough sleep throughout the night? This is where it could be important to set up the next day the night before. Simple things like putting timed heating on to warm up the house / room prior to waking up and laying out your clothing... that way it will be easy to get out of bed in the morning.
Be sure to get to sleep on time and avoid being too tired to get up! Set an alarm and be consistent with the time you get up... don't vary it. Consistency is key and your body clock will thank you... Don't mess it around.
2. Wake up early
Now i'm not suggesting that 7am isn't necessarily early... it's all relative. What I mean here is wake up with plenty of time before you have to leave the house. I tend to wake up at least an hour before I have to leave. This will make your morning routine a more relaxed affair, give you the opportunity to get a few bits done, and prepare you for leaving and looking forward to getting going.
Again, once you've sorted your body clock out to adjust to this new timezone many of us are unfamiliar with, you'll feel a lot better about it and yourself and feel as though you've jumpstarted your day.
One tool for this that I've used in the past is an app called sleep cycle. It gently wakes you up within a time period that suits the stage of sleep you're in (waking you up nearer the lighter sleep phase) and makes it easy for you to not snooze that alarm!
3. Make it a ritual
I look forward to waking up every single morning as I enjoy my morning routine (am I crazy?)! From slipping out of bed into comfy clothes, wading down the stairs and firing up the coffee machine for a good brew. The separate ritual of making the coffee (cue the quarrista (quarantine barista...))... a luxury pre swim breakfast... i'm currently obsessed with peanut butter and jam (luxury to some and not others). Then relaxing in front of some 'good' morning tv, whatever that may entail.
Sometimes I then even pick up the laptop and start doing some admin or work... / I always pick up the laptop and do something productive. Habit. When do you think I write these posts!
Like I said, I look forward to all of this (I'm a simple soul) ... my ritual suits me. I do this every single morning without fail, and I don't have to think about it. It's automated... I just do it, and enjoy it. Make one that suits you and allows you look forward to waking up.
The next step is 'chunking' your morning ritual with the drive to the session or whatever form of exercise you're doing. Just make sure there is something to look forward to, all the way to the point that you're enjoying your warmup in the pool! Make it fun. Make it enjoyable.
Does this mean putting on your favorite tune for the drive, listening to a podcast, look forward to the poolside social drones pre session, and have a warmup you enjoy doing for one reason or another.
Essentially, if you can look forward to and enjoy the morning routine and not dread it, then you'll find it easy to do day in day out. Is it tricking the brain? Maybe... but it's just part of my day that I look forward to... and once you've done all of this and finished the first form of exercise by 9am, you're well set for the day ahead.
So... make a routine that suits you, start looking forward to training, and jumpstart your day ahead.