ARTICLE: ADAPTING WORKOUTS & STAYING MOTIVATED WHEN INJURED, PREGNANT OR UNWELL
Being injury free and feeling one hundred percent fit and well are of course the optimum conditions we all want to train under! That way we can give it our all with no stress about causing any further injury or illness, but unfortunately that is not always possible. Sometimes we need to adapt our training due to injury, illness or even pregnancy. Under these conditions there is a tendency to give up on training entirely, partly because we are unsure about what to do and partly because we lose our motivation. So how do we adapt our workouts and stay motivated when our performance and results are compromised?
I will say it is not easy! Thankfully, I have only experienced injury once after the Dublin marathon, when I hurt my quad, but it was incredibly frustrating. I was on a real high from finishing my marathon and, whilst a little jaded with running, I was keen to get back to my strength and conditioning training and looking forward to making this a priority again as I reduced my miles on the road. However, I was too over zealous and after just 3 days rest I got back to full training and hurt my quad. I went from feeling on top of my game to barely being able to put weight on my leg, there is nothing more demoralising. I took a few days of complete rest, which was well needed, and had a think about how I was going to approach the next few weeks. This is the other issue with injury, the healing time can be very varied and you have to mentally prepare to be out for at least a few weeks. Luckily, I was only out about 2-3 weeks and I think the healing process was definitely aided by the fact that I did completely rest the leg. Not wanting to give up training though, I focused on my core, arms and hamstrings. The good news is that no matter the injury, you will always be able to work around it. Perhaps, if you are unsure how to do this, you may want to seek professional advice from an experienced personal trainer that will help you.
The same applies with pregnancy. I have trained many pregnant clients over the last 8 years and am currently 16 weeks pregnant so I do understand the limitations that it can put on training. However, it shouldn’t mean that training is not possible. There are still plenty of things women can do to stay fit and healthy over the course of their pregnancy. Naturally, core work is out of the question and there are other specific exercise I would avoid, like plyometric work or extreme cardio, but largely, you can train similar to how you used to before. At the moment I am trying to stick as closely to my pre pregnancy training programme as possible. Again, if you are unsure of what to do or are worried about training during pregnancy, just seek some advice from a professional and they will help you. I am finding the issue is not with my training though, it is with my motivation and we will get onto that in just a second. Before that I want to talk about training when you are unwell.
Training when you are not feeling well is the most difficult to manage and is the question I actually get asked about the most. As frustrating as it sounds, my general advice would be to rest if you are unwell. The body needs all its energy to fight off infection and get back to full strength. Pushing yourself when you are not ready will only lead to a longer recovery time and it is just not worth it. My advice would be rest, recover, ease yourself back into training and then, when you are sure you are feeling one hundred percent, go for it! Always listen to your body. If it needs rest, allow it to rest. I always rest when I am unwell, I never try to train and in the end I recover quicker and feel far better for it!
Now, with the training taken care of, how do you stay motivated when you cannot train exactly as you would like? This is the toughest part for me and I did struggle to stay motivated when I was injured and am struggling at the moment in my pregnancy. I am used to pushing myself to the limit, focusing not on weight, but on performance and enjoy the challenge each workout gives me. However, when injured and during pregnancy I cannot do these things! To stay motivated, I had to find different goals and different ways to get the most from my workouts. It is now not about performance, but sustainability. When I think about post pregnancy, I don’t want to regret letting my fitness go completely and feeling as though I am starting again and it was the same when I hurt my leg. I didn’t want all my hard work to be undone by this injury and taking too long off. So, whilst it can still take a little more self discipline to train now than it did before, I am determined to keep as close to the top of my game as I can, for as long as I can, making sure I am starting on the front foot post pregnancy, instead of from behind. Everyone needs to find their own motivation through injury or pregnancy, as our original goals will just not work, so be sure you find some new motivation to keep going as there is no excuse to just give up!
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