One of the best things about training, regardless of how you choose to work up a sweat, is the feeling of accomplishment you get on completion. Sometimes, though, even the most devoted among us feels like our routine has become stagnant, or that our progress has hit a plateau. When that
happens, the best way to freshen up your training is by accepting a personal challenge. Infuse new energy in your training routine with a plan to achieve your best.

Establish a Goal

Let’s face it, sometimes the goal is simply to get to the gym and finish the workout. There is nothing wrong with that. Other times, the challenge is bigger. Perhaps you are training for a big race or aiming for a particular pants size. Maybe you want to get through a whole class without feeling like you might pass out, or lift heavier weights. In that case, it is helpful to determine how each training session will get you closer to the overall goal. To borrow a phrase from the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, “begin with the end in mind.” Decide where you want to end up and work your way back. For example, if you can get through the first 15 minutes of class today, aim to improve by three or five minutes each class until you reach your goal. You can accomplish your best when you set realistic, achievable goals.

Set Yourself up for Success

Now that you have settled on a realistic goal, be sure your plan for completing it is realistic as well. Take a look at your calendar and be sure there is ample time for regular training. Also, be sure that you allow for adequate rest and nutrition. When it comes to training, more is not necessarily better. Muscles do need time for rest and recovery. If you are tired, nursing an injury, dehydrated or generally run down, take a day off. Ultimately, you will do better when you feel better.

Keep a Training Log

Each time you work out, record your activities and progress in a log. There are a number of training apps that are easy to use; notebooks are good options, too. Training logs can record things such as the weather, your distance, time, surface, mood, reps and even your perceived effort. Use the training log to compare. Are you more likely to do your best after a rest day? Do you always do poorly on hills? If so, is that where you need to concentrate your energy for improved performance? Is your time better in the morning or evening? Keeping a training log can help you determine where and when you do your best work, and where you need improvement.

Plan a Reward

So you have made it to the gym three times a week for the last three months. You can lift heavier weights and comfortably do more reps. Maybe you finally made it all the way to the end of the class without gasping for air. If you have hit your fitness goal, whatever it is, you deserve a reward. Plan a small treat that helps you stay on track and reminds you why you started all this in the first place. You really do deserve it.