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How to Manage the Highs and Lows of Fitness Training

 How to manage fitness training stress.

You're tired? Time to train a little harder...

Growing up with a father who was a two-time U.S. Olympian in Rowing (68' Mexico City Olympic Bronze Medalist and 76' Montreal Olympic Men's Rowing Coach) was a very interesting experience. I thought it was routine workout was normal, and it made sense that my father would go out for a 3-hour workout and train 7 days a week. I didn't really appreciate or come close to understanding how truly hard and mentally tough it is to win an Olympic medal, let alone make it onto the Olympic Team until I rowed was recruited to row for UC Berkeley.

All of a sudden I found myself to be the weakest and slowest rower on the team as we went on to win three National Championships and four PAC- 10 Championships in four years along with international rowers that were recruited from all over the world. It was my introduction to the next step of my rowing career as I rowed alongside recruited rowers from Sweden, Norway, Germany, England, Serbia, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and Croatia.

I remember days where I would could barely stay awake during practice in the early mornings, and then have barely enough time to recover in between practices. Our coaches made us do fitness tests every week to see how fast we could row 10,000 meters on the Concept 2 Rowing Machine. One year we accumulated 15 tests every week of 10,000 meters and about 10 fitness tests of 6,000 meters! My overall best Concept 2 times were 33 min 20 seconds for 10,000 meters (1:40 split avg) and a national team qualifying time of 19 min 2 seconds for the 6,000 meter test (1:36 split average). With these times I was still ranking on the bottom half of all the guys on the Varsity Team At Cal.

It tested my strength, endurance, and mental toughness as an athlete and I sought pride in myself to never give up and never give in to the pain. However, we all go through tough slow days where our bodies don't want to preform at the highest level. It is impossible to peak and/or get your personal best time every time you race and/or compete. Our bodies go through stages of highs and lows and you need to listen to your body to help control and manage these feelings. The thing I love most about training for an Ironman are the long and steady workouts and its similarity to the sport of rowing.

While rowing at Cal Berkeley throughout my four years, I only raced 24 times total in college sanctioned events. That works out to only six races in one year over a season that lasts nearly nine months. My coach Steve Gladstone always told us, "If you are here to only race these six races a year, you are crazy! If you are here for the love of the sport of rowing and to compete and go head to head every single day in competition with each other than that is the type of individual I want on my team!"

Basically stating that rowing is a perfect application to the similarity of life and the daily struggle that it takes to be the best you can be. The journey to #1 starts with the first practice of the year all the way through the last race in the final for the National Championship Race. He stated "Races are not won on race day. Races are won throughout our months and months of training leading up to the National Championship. When we get there, we will be so prepared that it will be like just another practice on the Oakland Estuary or on the Reservoir at Briones."

Preparation is key and having a mindset that success in any kind of way does not necessarily happen overnight is your first step to fulfilling your fitness and nutrition goals. Train your mind and body to take things as they come and keep on your schedule. While I was training for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics my father would always tell me that "Anyone can train and race on the good days, but not everyone can push through and train on the bad days." Try to be as consistent as you can be with life and fitness goals. There are always ups and downs and some days go perfectly and some days don’t.

There are days when you feel like you could go forever and have all the energy in the world and then there are days when you can hardly get out of bed and have the motivation to step out the door. Try to challenge yourself on days like these and have a plan of action. Push yourself in anyway possible through these tough days and you might find yourself having some of the best workouts overall. When I get tired I get annoyed and angry at times and have this attitude that says "I'm not stopping and I'm going to push this thing into high gear!"

I believe most things happen for a reason and by not making the Olympic Team as I feel this constant urgency to keep training hard and push others so that I can motivate them to accomplish their goals. I feel like I'm constantly fighting through each day to be the best that I can be, just as I was in college whether it was a good day or bad day. I have learned to fight my way through life and be consistent with whatever the task might be. Fight for your life and live it to the fullest!

Throughout all these experiences I have realized several things that allow me to bring my passion of fitness and my identity as a rower/athlete to others:
It made me reflect upon what it’s like for someone to start an indoor rowing or cycling class or any type of fitness who has never trained before. It made me realize how difficult it can be to stay positive about exercising and that has taught me to be very understanding and patient with all my members' goals here at Powerhouse Fitness!

During this recent low in the last few months after the new year, I struggled to stay positive. In life and training, you will also experience ups and downs. Things don’t always go as planned. Here are a few tips to help you manage those highs and lows:

1. Expect the Unexpected

While rowing at Berkeley our coach always made us usually row in the afternoon when the water was rough and speed boats would put up massive wakes. Rowing is a sport that is generally known to people that you must wake up at 5AM everyday to get the best water possible. On the contrary our coach knew that 'race' water was rarely ever flat and calm. On race day we would usually compete in the afternoon and the water would be as rough or windy as any other day and so we were much more prepared and 'expecting' of these types of conditions. This is just one example as in life that you realize that every day cannot and will not be perfect. When faced with adversity and challenges day in and day out you will be able to brush off the bad days much easier. I tell my members at Powerhouse Fitness that the 'Journey Is The Reward' and to have tremendous patience when it comes to transforming your entire way of life when applying new fitness and nutrition goals to an already very busy schedule. If it were easy ... everyone would do it :) Above all respect the difficulty of some workouts you do as they will challenge you in every way and know that 'Rome was not built over night.' Good things come to those who wait and want to change their lives for the better. Don't be complacent and take things for granted and try to focus on the good workouts, races, and performances because that will build confidence in the long run!

2. One Small Step at a Time

It's New Year's Eve 2011 and you want this year to be the year you get in the best shape of your life... for real this time! Sound familiar? The fitness industry booms for a reason in Jan. Feb. and March. It is all of those New Years Resolutions trying to come to life but then before you know it plans, events, parties, and life happen. If you think about it there are a ton of things that get in the way on top of what you are already doing throughout your own busy life. Super Bowl Sunday, St. Valentines Day, Oscar Night, Coachella, Stagecoach, St. Patrick's Day, Easter (Spring Break), and then Cinco De Mayo just to name a few. These are all great holidays but be sure not to steer off the path to your own goals for fitness and nutrition! It is important to write down small goals and steps for someone who is starting a new exercise program. Recognize that not every day will feel great; some days, it’s just about plodding ahead. Plan a fitness event, race, or competition to take part in about a few months out and train for it to in order to stay motivated. Working out with a friend is another great way to keep you honest throughout your daily workout routine as you can encourage each other to maximize your workouts!

3. Ready, Set, Ride and Row!

Indoor cycling classes are an ideal place to work on the proper cycling technique and provide a traffic-free environment that can go a long way toward replacing the on-the-road experience. It’s a great place for cycling novices to improve at least ten aspects of cycling that will quickly make them a better rider. Indoor cycling is also a great place for the veteran cyclists to refresh their technique as long as they remember not to ride an indoor bike the same way they do their outdoor bikes. Whether you are training for an Ironman competition or just trying to stay in great shape be sure to incorporate indoor cycling into your weekly workout routine in order to improve muscle endurance and cardiovascular health. Tons of calories can be burned in just one cycling class and the best part is you can do it anytime anywhere. Powerhouse Fitness in Long Beach offers specialized EVO indoor cycling classes at various times during the week to lean and tone the whole body and work on high intensity calorie burn to maximize your workout time.

4. Group Exercise is the Best!

Who has the time to workout, train, and be disciplined on fitness on their own? Studies show that we are motivated to work harder, show up more often, and push further past our perceived limits when training in a group. The results of one study suggest that endorphin release is significantly greater in group training than in individual training; this seems to be the case even when the individual’s power output, or physical exertion, is the same. Not only is it more fun to exercise with others, but it is safer and more efficient to exercise under the leadership of a good coach. With the help of our amazing instructors you are sure to have a great time in any of our four class programs that we have to offer.

5. The Glass is Half Full

'Things in life could always be worse.' This quote has helped me get through all of my hardest obstacles in life. If you can change your mindset to be positive about everything and not take anything for granted you will always be happy :) Be open and let everything inspire you in the best way. Follow what you love to do in life and go for it and don't let anyone bring you down and tell you it is not possible. What you think is possible... is possible! Associate yourself around healthy positive people and let the negative people be negative and try not to be around them. I remember in High School I heard a few teammates talking about me and saying the only reason I was going to Cal Berkeley for rowing was because my father got me in which was not true at all. It made me angry and I wanted to push even harder to be the best and went on to make the boat which became the first Cal Freshman Rowing Team in history to go undefeated. When I created Powerhouse Fitness over 2 years ago I was told in my face that I would fail in this business and it made me work even harder and defy all the naysayers. My motivation was to prove to myself and others that I am for real and I'm going to push even harder if you say I can't do it. I CAN and YOU CAN do anything you put your mind, body, and soul into! When things don’t go as planned, remain calm. It’s easy to freak out and focus on the worse possible outcome, but controlling your emotions will help you face adversity head on. Cut out the drama and change your perspective on life to be as positive as can be so that you can work wonders on your motivation and confidence.

Author Information:

Jack Nunn, Powerhouse FitnessJack created Powerhouse Fitness after winning numerous medals in various events on the international stage. He was a gold medalist in 2007 at the first ever Concept 2 Team Indoor Rowing challenge, held in Essen, Germany. In 2006, he took silver at the Masters Nationals Open Single Event. As a member of the US Rowing National Team from 2001-2004 he placed second at the 2003 Pan American Trials in double sculls and had an outstanding 2002 that saw him claim a gold medal in Senior 8 and a silver medal in the Elite Double at the US Nationals. He was also a silver medalist in 2001 in the Nations Cup (now the U23 World Championships) 8 in Ottenshiem, Austria. Find out more.