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It’s March, three months into the year. How’s your New Year’s fitness resolution going? If I had to choose a word to describe my fitness routine last year, it would be consistent. I have been an exerciser for many years, but last year I trained with purpose. This month, I thought I would share with you the things that I did differently in 2018 and give you some suggestions for making this year your best training year ever.

Sign up for an event. For me, signing up for an early season race forced me to kick my training into gear. My race was a sprint triathlon held in March. I chose a destination race and completed it with friends to give me a little bit of an extra push. I followed that with another at the end of April and then did a longer distance race at the end of September. The races gave me a little something to push toward and motivation to work out on days when I really didn’t want to do it. The triathlon was really good for me because it took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to train in more than one sport.

Choose a training plan. I chose plans from the app Training Peaks, but there are a lot of free plans that you can find, regardless of your sport. You can also create your own plan. It may be as simple as deciding to swim two times per week, bike two times a week and run two times a week. A training plan will give you a framework and keep your workouts from being aimless.

Allow a little flexibility in your plan. For me, flexibility was key. I really enjoy cycling outdoors and so I would look at my plan at the beginning of the week and then check the weather to make sure, if possible, that the days listed for cycling were days when it was not raining. I also had a backup plan and used the Spin bike or treadmill at the gym on days when the weather didn’t cooperate. If friends were available to cycle or swim on a day when I was scheduled to run, I switched out days.

Make sure you have the gear and a convenient place to workout. Let’s face it, it is easy to make excuses for not working out. I keep a swim bag in my car, so there is no excuse not to hit the gym. If you primarily exercise outside make sure you have gear to keep you warm on colder days. Use an app or DVD or go to the gym if it is raining.

If you miss a workout or two, don’t sweat it, but don’t allow it to become three or four! My rule of thumb is never to go more than two days without exercise, unless I am ill. This way my workout becomes a habit.

Do allow a day or two each week for rest. When you are training hard, your body needs a bit of a break.

Allow variety and fun. There were days when burnout hit and I just couldn’t do my planned workout. I allowed myself to occasionally deviate. Perhaps, take my mountain bike into the woods on a day that I was scheduled to run or take the kids paddle boarding instead of swimming or simply take a walk or hike with my husband. I’m not out to win races, I just want to stay in shape and live my fittest life. It has to be fun!

Write it down. This was the first year that I have written down my workouts. There are a lot of ways you can do that. There are journals written specifically for recording workouts. There are apps that allow you to keep up with it. Strava is a good free app for recording and tracking workouts. I used that combined with a simple 12-month calendar where I hand wrote all of my workouts. At the end of the year, it was fun to be able to look back and see how far I had come!

Regardless of your fitness goals, there’s still time to make 2019 your healthiest year ever.

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