When I think of one word to describe my ideal fitness life — it’s balance. No, I’m not talking about getting on top of a Bosu Ball and doing one-legged squats. Though balance-specific training can be very beneficial, I am talking about a deeper balance.
There are a few different ways to approach this concept. The first is to make sure our psychological and mental attitudes are in line with our actions, and vice-versa. For example, when you’re about to start a long run or a difficult training session, do you hang your head in self-defeat before you even start? Is your mind free of distracting thoughts like how upset you got earlier at someone, or countless life issues that happen that are out of our control? This mental clarity is extremely important not only for your mental health, but also your physical performance in the gym, on the field, or in your next 10K race. To get your mind in the right place is to set yourself up for long term success. More on this later.
The second way to think about remaining balanced is in your physical approach to training. It is important to take a step back and have a “global” approach. How many hours per week are you dedicating to mobility or flexibility (mobility drills, dynamic stretching, static stretching, yoga, etc.)? Are you incorporating a consistent strength training regimen that compliments and helps you achieve your running goals? If you notice, for example, that you’re running 5x/week, without any dynamic warmup before or specific cool-down, and have never taken time to dedicate to core training (this goes beyond just “abs”!), then I would say your approach is unbalanced.
Keeping a balanced approach to training methods will keep you training longer and with less risk of injury.
The last and broadest is a holistic (or “whole-istic”, as I like to call it) approach to health and fitness. To be truly “whole-istic”, we make sure everything in our lives outside of training remains as balanced as possible. I like to rank these in this order:
- Eating Habits
- Stress Management
When it comes to muscle recovery, the ability to perform at a high level, and mental clarity, sleep is king. I can’t tell you how many of my clients under-perform in a given session because of a poor night’s sleep. The right amount of sleep depends on your age, but try to get 6-8 hours per night if you can. And listen to your body. If you have time to sleep 10 hours on a weekend–do it!! A good night’s sleep will also help you with stress management. Another way to manage your stress level is building in 5-10mins per day of silent reflection. Spend a short time being mindful, reflecting on your day. A recent Harvard study found that daily meditation can literally rebuild the brain’s gray matter in just 8 weeks. This is not just about good feelings of peacefulness and relaxation (though that is nice!), but the actual re-wiring of your brain.
Get your life in balance–see your training flourish, and start reaching your goals!