Some workouts are tougher than others and completing them means digging deep into your reserves for that last grain of willpower. At least when you are done, you can pat yourself on the back and look forward to uploading your workout stats to Strava, for example. But what happens if you are struggling to hit your targets or complete the workout at all?
Have a goal for every workout you do. It is much easier to quit a hard workout if your goals are vague. Knowing you need to do 10 x 300 metre reps at goal pace gives you a start and endpoint. Hitting the track with no real goal other than running “hard” is pointless.
Be realistic about your goals. If your tough workout includes running or cycling, there is no point trying to hit a pace you can not sustain for long enough. You will tire too fast, and the rest of the workout will be a dud. The same applies to lifting weights. Too heavy, and again, you will not be able to do the required number of repetitions.
Build In Adequate Recovery Time
Recovery time is important, whether you are running intervals or lifting weights. You will not hit your targets if you do not give your body enough recovery time. A useful starting point is to allow the same amount of recovery as each repetition. For example, if you want to run for three minutes at 5K pace, give yourself three minutes between reps to recover by walking or jogging slowly.
Take in Enough Nutrition
Your body will likely need to take on extra energy during a tough workout, even if you ate a load of pasta the night before. Most people use up their glycogen stores after 60 minutes of exercise, but it can be sooner if you are working at your absolute limit.
Always carry some form of food with you when attempting a hard workout. This could be an energy gel or a drink, but make sure the energy gels or drinks you buy contain healthy ingredients as well as carbs.
Hydrate Well Before and During the Workout
How much water you take on will depend on the weather. When it is hot, you will need more water. Always drink plenty of water the day before you have a tough workout planned, as this ensures you are well hydrated before you start. Carry water with you and take regular sips. Do not wait until you feel thirsty, as by then you are already dehydrated.
It is a lot easier to carry on with a tough workout if you have some form of distraction from the pain (if you are feeling negative!) and joy of the toughness (if you are feeling positive!). Listening to music or a podcast is one way to prevent your mind from focusing on the discomfort, although it might not be helpful if you need to concentrate hard.
Another useful way to distract yourself is to work out with a friend or other people. Exercise is always a lot more enjoyable in company, and most people find they can go harder and for longer when they work out in a group. Join a club or invite a friend along and see how much easier it feels.
Know When it is Time to Quit
Sometimes, it is better to quit a workout rather than trying to power through regardless. Why? Well quitting is not always a sign of weakness. It is important not to let your ego make all the decisions. If you don’t feel 100% or you are in pain, call it a day. There is no point in trying to finish the session; it could result in an injury and derail the rest of your week/month/year.
The above 7 endurance-boosting tips for tough workouts provides a brief outline of some of the things you can do to help make that next training session feel a little it easier and aid you in achieving your fitness goals.