Used to be, I'd go to bed Sunday night without any sort of exercise plan for the week.
Oh, I knew that I had yoga the following Saturday and Friday was usually reserved for my long run (well, long for me), but other than that it was just kind of up in the air. I had this goal of running three days a week, but aside from that Friday run I would have no idea what the other two days were. There were factors involved, I'd tell myself, like weather and how I was feeling. Factors that were really just excuses in disguise.
Inevitably I would always wake up early Monday morning and my first thought upon opening my eyes was "I should go for a run." That would last for maybe half a second before I'd tell myself, nope, I'd rather sleep in. But I should really go for a run. But there are still six days left in the week to fit a run in. But if I go now it'll be out of the way. Yeah, but at this point you can only fit in maybe twenty minutes so you might as well just wait a day.
I would seriously lay there in bed and mentally argue with myself for fifteen or twenty minutes, fading in and out of sleep, until I'd realize that I completely missed the window and now I have to get up and get ready for work. I would then spend the next twelve hours telling myself that I should have just done the stupid run because then I would have gotten it over with for at least a day, but now I have to wake up early tomorrow instead.
Let me tell you, if you're gonna spend half an hour in the morning doing something, you should either be sleeping or running. You should not be spending thirty minutes debating between the two.
Finally, I wised up and for the past few months I've been planning my exercise for the week in advance. Sunday night I figure out which days I'm going to run and I stick to that plan. I can't even begin to tell you what a difference this has made. Now I look forward to exercise days and appreciate rest days. But more importantly, it's become habit. I don't even think about it anymore. These are the days that I exercise, these are the days that I don't. It's like second-nature.
Find Your Fitness Goal
It sounds rather obvious, but you can't plan for something unless you know what that something is. So if you're going to plan your workouts, you first have to decide what your goal for the week is, be it certain amount of days you work out or miles you log, etc. Once you have that single goal in place you can start building a workout routine.
Decide On Deal Breakers
NO MONDAY RUNS. Once I decided Monday was automatically a rest day, planning the remainder of the week became easy. Now I don't have to have that annoying half hour conversation with myself Monday mornings, I can use that time to sleep in a bit and go about my day. By the time Tuesday morning rolls around and my alarm goes off at 6:30, I'm just itching to lace up my Scott shoes and hit the ground running. Literally. Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable, so figure out what won't work for you before you figure out what will.
Check The Calendar
We don't always have the luxury of planning our life around our workouts. Professional and Personal commitments often take priority, but just as we write down important meetings and special events, we should also write down our workouts. You're more likely to stay on task if it's written down somewhere. Plus, just like you do with meetings and such, if things come up later in the week you can fit them in around your workout schedule. Like, Monday nights I sometimes do karaoke. I also run Tuesday mornings. This isn't an either/or situation, it just means that as much as I'd love to stay out until 2am tonight singing my heart out, that's not realistic. So I'll go, sing, and get home in time to get plenty of sleep to be well rested for tomorrow's run.
They Call Them Rest Days For A Reason
If you build rest days into your schedule -- as you should, your body needs time to recuperate -- then make sure you actually rest on those days. They are there for a reason, so take advantage! Not only do they give your body time to process, they give you a chance to look forward to your next workout. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
Do your plan your workouts in advance? If so, what are some of your tips for someone who might not be a fitness planner?
Love from the ashes,