You hit the alarm at 5 a.m., fumble out of bed and head to the pool for the 6 a.m. masters group. Then you work 8 hours, bust out a quality run during your kids’ soccer practice, have dinner with your family, and prepare to do it all over again. Does this sound familiar?
Eventually, even the best routine can become exhausting (and dull), and begs the question for new to experienced endurance athletes: how can you physically perform if you are mentally fatigued? And, how do you recognize and address that mental fatigue?
It’s time to fight back—and ensure there’s excitement and fulfillment in your training routine.
A state of mental fatigue is achieved when an individual exerts continuous mental effort on a single task or a number of tasks over a period of time.
Another word we use is routine. A routine is a sequence of actions you repeat on a regular basis. Humans naturally like routines; they give your life order, making it seem less chaotic and conserving your energy for more important things.
These are all very good things! And I’m not trying to say all routines are exhausting us … but, how can you stay stimulated and challenged if you can’t distinguish one day from the next? A change in routine can bring many benefits, including:
Happiness and fun thrive on new experiences, which are hard for routines to inspire. As much as we all love the benefits of sticking to our TrainingPeaks calendar, simply making a small change to your routine can do just the trick!
What if you went to a new pool and jumped in on a new group swim? What about making recovery more of a priority and hitting a spa? Consider catching up with a friend for a ride and selecting a new coffee or lunch destination. The motivational boost offered from new experiences can offset mental fatigue and spark inspired, fun living.
Creativity is like a muscle; it can work and adapt just like our quads and hamstrings. Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations—and is definitely not restricted to artists, musicians or writers.
Think about what gets you excited. It can be sport-related, or not! Is there a hobby or cross-training activity you’ve wanted to try like yoga, water running, hiking, skiing, or kayaking? Maybe there’s something you’ve wanted to research further, or a new skill you’ve wanted to gain. It could be as simple as exploring a new trail or route.
By ‘exercising’ your creativity you’ll avoid the ‘coma brain’ of routine and develop an authenticity and confidence that carries over into other areas of your life.
What happens if something disrupts your routine? Would it be disorientating? Frustrating? Push you to anger? Make you upset? Being married to a routine can make you less flexible when situations are out of your control. But remember, changes are a constant, and being flexible is the best way to deal with unpredictability of life in a constructive way.
Change can be even be empowering if you take the time to reframe your perspective. Look on the bright side, and figure out what good can come from what might at first appear to be a giant mess. The human ability to adapt is amazing. If you trust that you can adapt, then you will. So step outside your routine once and a while. It will do you and your training a lot of good.
This article originally appeared at Trainingpeaks.com.
Lance Watson, LifeSport head coach, has trained a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group Champions over the past 30 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels. Contact Lance to tackle your first Ironman or to perform at a higher level. For more training tips, visit LifeSport Coaching on Facebook or on Twitter at #LifeSportCoach.