If you’ve been training for any length of time, it can be helpful to ask yourself, "What's stuck?"
There are a couple things to evaluate with this question, and the first one is, as you’ve trained, what has stuck? Hopefully there are some habits you can think of. Things that are now part of your lifestyle that once weren't. Maybe you used to struggle to eat enough protein and now that’s second nature. Maybe getting to the gym three times a week used to feel difficult and now it’s not a question. What used to feel challenging or difficult that now feels easy or non-negotiable?
It's important to note that some things might feel easier over time and some things might never. But there can also be the transition of making habits non-negotiable. Maybe it used to be something you did when you *felt* like it. But now whether it’s easy or not doesn’t matter. You do it because it’s what you do.
Celebrate the things that have stuck and give yourself credit for establishing these habits.
Then, ask yourself again, what’s stuck?
This time ask it in a way that questions what feels stagnant and unchanging. Where are you stuck? Jot down whatever comes to mind. This can look a couple different ways too.
Maybe training three times a week isn’t happening regularly. Maybe you still drink alcohol regularly, despite your performance goals. Maybe your meals lack nutrition and protein. In these ways you may feel stuck.
Or maybe some things have stuck, like you train regularly and eat protein, but you feel stagnant when it comes to seeing progress.
Dig a little deeper and ask yourself why you might be stuck. Be honest. Are you truly stuck? Is it that you really don’t know what to do to move forward or make progress? Or, is it that you don’t want to face the truth and reality of what you’d have to do to move forward or make progress in that area?
If it’s the first one, reach out.
If it’s the second one… you get to make some decisions about what’s most important to you.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to proceed. But you do need to make sure that what you want and what you value align. If what you say you want doesn’t match what you truly value there will always be tension and you’ll always feel like you’re failing.
It’s better to be honest with yourself. Admit what you really want and make decisions that align with that. This might mean needing to move the needle a little. You might need to evaluate where you can handle a little more discipline or a new habit.
One of my overall training goals is to increase my capacity.
I want to be able to lift heavier weights, run faster, go longer distances, and do it all more often.
However in order for that to happen, I need to be able to do the basics first… well and consistently.
From there, I can build. When three days of strength feels good, I can add in more aerobic work for a while and adjust to that. When my body is handling that load well, I can up the ante again. Maybe it’s with the amount of weight I’m lifting. Maybe it’s with the distance I’m running. Maybe it’s with the number of strength days I’m hitting.
But one of the main concepts to grasp here is that you need to earn it. A huge jump in volume without having established the baseline can lead to illness and injury.
Training in general can lead to illness and injury if you aren’t being smart. It’s a stressor. You need to eat properly to fuel yourself and you have to manage other stressors. If other life stressors are high, an increase in training volume without recovery protocols in place is a recipe for disaster.
Any time you decide to make a change, know that it’s going to cost you something. It might cost you time. It might cost you temporary pleasure. It might cost you comfort in that you need to try something different. It might require some re-organization of things or extra communication to make room, time, etc. for it.
Think about these things. And if you want to make changes, do! Or if you’re liking the way things are or don't have the capacity for change, then take a deep breath and relax!