Something I have seen a lot of throughout my cycling training is constant talk of following the program, what’s on the program, and I can’t do that because it’s not on the program. I have paid for a couple of programs before and for the #mygoalrox ambassadorship, I have utilised the knowledge of some fantastic athletes I know, and these previous programs, to develop one of my own. But I feel there is a problem…
We are pretty hard on ourselves. I see it among so many women and I know I am guilty of it, almost excessively. The pressure to “follow the program”, that you must trust the program and you will succeed ONLY if you follow the program, is unnecessary and in some respects, I believe quite negative.
Looking back at my first couple of months of following my own program has taught me a couple of things. First, I need to pace myself and really need to get comfortable with rest periods. Our bodies need rest, and taking a couple of days OFF from physical activity isn’t going to result in me magically gaining back tens of kilograms – a true fear that haunts me to this day. I need to take a day off, I sometimes need to take a week off, so that I can recover and be stronger for the next few weeks of training.
The second, and the most important to me, is that the program isn’t a solid and definite thing. We can’t follow our programs 100% (due to injury, illness, life commitments), and if we aim to follow our programs 100%, then recovering from “failures” becomes harder. Just as those who attempt to follow strict diets are more likely to throw the towel in and blow out massively (if I ate the cookie at morning tea, I may as well eat this entire cake and start the diet again tomorrow! Sound familiar?). When you don’t make the program and follow it exactly, you’re more likely to get down on yourself and less likely to do another kind of activity that could be beneficial. It’s made worse when you do follow the program, sacrifice so much, and don’t see the “promised” results that your program creator indicated at the beginning, which in retrospect you realise that the program wasn’t actually designed just for you, nor did it suit you and develop and change as you did, hence you didn’t necessarily see the same results anyway.
Now, don’t get me wrong, programs are great and I think essential to success for our goals. But, I think we need to see them as a guide. We attempt to follow the workouts we need, but if you don’t make them, it isn’t the end of the world. It’s no reason to abandon the rest of the day or week and beat ourselves up about the apparent failure. We are human, we will stumble, but we are following a process and the best way to go forward is to back ourselves. So when we don’t get that ride in that we were meant to do, or we didn’t do that run, no more should we beat ourselves up. We should take a step back, we should look at our progress so far, we should enjoy the journey and not be so focused on just the end. We should forgive the mistakes and use it as a way to learn how not to make that mistake again, or what we should do next time that may make it easier to succeed at following the program as best we can. Of course, if you’re not making any of the workouts listed on your program, it’s time to revisit the program, revisit your goals, and decide what it is you are really wanting from the whole process – but a stumble is not a failure.