It’s 1st Jan 2021!! Happy New Year!

I’m sure many people will be thinking about New Year’s resolutions. This probably includes making health and fitness plans or getting back into training for a triathlon or running event. New Year resolutions get a bad press because they often don’t last long and they can be hard to stick to.

But it makes natural sense to make some changes and pick your training back up again after you’ve had a break for Xmas.  Hopefully you feel refreshed, motivated and ready to get back to it.

Many of your goals will involve willpower. Whether it’s sticking to a training plan, cutting down on alcohol, trying Veganuary or in my case foam rolling and back mobility! (2021 will be the year with no injury!). All require willpower!  But do you have enough?

While you’re sitting here on 1st Jan all motivated it doesn’t even cross your mind to consider how long it will last.

Latest research and current thinking shows that willpower is actually a muscle! So just like a muscle it gets tired and weak and its power can fade. This was a revelation to me!

When I worked in an office I could avoid the biscuits for several days. But by the end of the fifth day of torturous meetings at the end of a tough week surrounded by biscuits I’d usually give in and eat the whole plate.

I thought there was something wrong with me and had an addiction to biscuits. But now I don’t work in an office I very rarely want a biscuit.  I realise the environment I worked in meant I was surrounded by biscuits the whole time so my will power muscle had to work pretty hard all the time, not eat the biscuits and eventually it ran out of strength.

I’m super motivated for my Ironman goal! And I love it! I crack on through my training, smashing out sessions in the freezing cold and dark. I get up most days totally ON IT! With a full complement of will power to get it done.

But at least 2 sessions out of every week my will power deserts me! Well no wonder, the training is painful, its dark and I’ve been at work all day using my brain and I don’t have the mental bandwidth for more suffering. Plus there’s a new star trek series on that’s calling me.  My willpower muscle is as tired as my legs! It’s not that my motivation has deserted me, my willpower muscle is tired.

Here are some tips on how to manage your willpower so it’s ready when you need it most.

1. Dig deep into your goals. Get into more detail than just finishing a race or getting a pb or losing 5kg. Really understand what that will do for you and why you want it.  Remind yourself of these goals every day.

2. Have a plan. Think about when you will do your training, how long it will take or what the session will be. If you’re working on eating habits plan weekly menu or work out a list of healthy snacks.

3. Have a strategy for challenges. Think about what challenges will crop up and have strategy for dealing with them. Think ahead about how your flash points. For me a regular one is how I will deal with a 3 hr ride when there’s ice on the road. I hate the turbo for long sessions but if I’ve got to then I have list of ted talks already lined up to watch. If you always have a snack attack at 3pm then have a plan for dealing with it.

4. Make it easy. Get organised and develop some habits and a routine so there’s no excuses when your will power is tired. This includes things like sorting out your kit drawers, laying out your kit the night before, making sure your Garmin is charged, getting a route planned in advance, having a play list ready etc.It could include training at a set time each day or running on a Tuesday, or joining a class at 7am on a Wednesday. My work life has no routine. And with all the various covid restrictions I’m sat at my desk at home a lot without all the normal cues to finish work. But I’ve set a routine to start training at 6.30pm every evening which really helps.

5. Create some accountability. This could simply be keeping yourself accountable. Having a plan that you track and monitor might be enough to help and many people are motivated by seeing all their planned sessions turn green on Training Peaks.

6. Cultivate some training buddies. Having a few people you commit to meet each week for a training session at set times can really help with some difficult sessions because you don’t want to let them down! Plus you share out the motivation rather than having to rely on your own will power the whole time.  I have a 7am Wednesday swim buddy, Tuesday evening run buddy, and my weekend long run partner.  These are all particular flash points for me when my willpower would rather have me on the sofa or having a lie in! So just having those 3 sessions committed each week makes them happen but also helps the rest of the week fall into place!

6. Get a coach. Working with a coach is the ultimate in creating accountability and keeping you on track!  But a coach will help you with all of the above!  The truth is while I’m super motivated my willpower deserts me on a daily basis.  So if I didn’t use all the strategies above I’d never get any training done. Even though I’m a coach – I also have my own coach to help me with all of the issues above!

And on that note – you can keep me to account! 2021 will be the year without injury! So I started the year as I mean to go on with 10 minutes of foam rolling and 10 minutes of mobility. Do keep me to account and check on me tomorrow!

If you need help working towards your fitness and triathlon goals for 2021 – then get in touch.