A number of years ago I remember attending a conference and the presenter asked everyone to imagine two scenarios. The goal was to make your way across a crowded room that you had been in before to the opposite side exit.
The first scenario involved staring down at your toes and not lifting your head to see where you were. In the second scenario you could look up and ahead as far as you could see.
Obviously the second scenario would work better. You could plan your route more effectively. You could anticipate bottlenecks. You could side-step groups of people standing around and not moving. You could take larger steps and proceed more quickly. And the whole time you could keep your eyes on the end goal. And you’d have an idea of how you were progressing and how soon you’d arrive at your destination.
With the other scenario you wouldn’t be able to take as direct a path. You might end up trapped behind a group of people or at a dead end. You would have to walk more slowly and cautiously. You might be surprised if someone stepped into your path forcing you to stop or adopt a new course. In the end getting to your final destination would be more stressful, would take require more resources in the form of time and energy. Not a fun way to travel for sure.
Consider using the same analogy to your health and fitness. Do you stare at the ground and have no idea what is coming up on the horizon? Or are you looking ahead to plan and anticipate your strategies?
Let’s look at a few examples to see how looking ahead can help you get a better result.
Do you have a set time to go to bed? Do you have a night-time ritual? Do you wake up at the same time every day? Do you do some of the morning tasks the night before to free up some time in the morning? Do you know which days will be longer for you? Do you know what days will be harder to get to sleep early enough? Do you know which factors lead to a good night’s sleep? Do you know which factors impaired a good night’s sleep? Do you know which days take a bigger toll on your energy?
If you can answer these questions and look to apply the answers to your sleep routine you’ll be more in control and less affected by the occasional late night or poor sleep.
Do you know which days you’ll train this week? Do you know what time you’ll train? Will you train with someone or alone? Will these be regular or new workouts for you? Will these be normal intensity or more challenging than normal? Do you have a competition or event coming up? How has your body responded to training lately? Are you getting fitter? Stronger? Leaner?
Try and look ahead at the coming week and start planning out your training now. If something is scheduled and planned for it is more likely to happen. Adding a training partner makes you even more likely to stick to the plan.
Do you have groceries for the week? Do you know what you’ll pack for lunch? Do you know what you’ll eat for breakfast? Do you use something to fuel your training? Or to enhance recovery after? Are you typically eating eating enough calories? Do you drink enough water? Do you eat out frequently? Do you skip breakfast? How many of your calories do you drink?
These are some of the areas many people struggle with when it comes to nutrition. Giving some thought to these questions will allow you to have solutions at the ready when you face the same challenge next time.
A number of people do great at home but everything falls apart when they go on the road. If this sounds like you than consider the following questions to help improve your health when you travel.
Where will you workout? What will the weather be like where you’re travelling? If your normal training routine gets disrupted what will be your back-up plan? Will your hotel have a gym? A pool? Running trails nearby? What will you eat when you travel? What will you drink? Do you prep some meals and snacks ahead of time so healthy options are available? Will you have a kitchen in your room? What restaurants will be in the area? Will there be a grocery store close by? If time zones are involved how will you deal with jet-lag?
You can make great gains with your training when you travel. Don’t waste this opportunity and simply give up assuming it’s not possible to stay healthy on the road.
Going forward look to have a plan for the elements that play a role in your health and fitness. Once you have a plan look to follow it as closely as possible. After the fact do a review to see what worked and what could have been better. Repeat what worked and find new solutions or contingencies for what could have been better.