Running or training after work can be a real struggle. You get home tired and just want to eat and relax. This can be even harder if you have a physically or mentally demanding job role. I used to struggle with my tougher or longer sessions and either completely bail out or opt for a much shorter and easier option instead. Now I train regularly, and successfully, after work… so what changed?
Don’t spend 8+ hours a day working for someone else without spending time working on yourself
The biggest change that I made was to my attitude. I used to come home tired and just want to sit on the sofa and browse Facebook. Now I try to look forward to my workouts, or my runs anyway. I know that I always feel better after a workout and that even a “bad” run is better than no run.
I have adopted a new mantra and method. The mantra, “don’t spend 8+ hours a day working for someone else without spending time working on yourself”. The method, when I walk through my front door that is the start of my day. My work day doesn’t count and the nuisances of earlier are left on the doorstep. Since following this, I have managed to start training after work in a more consistent manner. The only two sessions that I have missed were down to injury.
When I get home I no longer allow myself to sit around or get caught up on social media. Instead I get changed and get straight into my training. Occasionally I may put some food in the oven to cook during my workout, but I try to ensure that I start my workout session as soon as possible.
Enforcing a routine can help make exercising after work feel more natural. Your body adapts and it eventually becomes a habit. To make things easier, get everything you need ready and prepared the night before. If you are going to the gym after work, pack your gym bag the evening before and put it by the door or ready in your car. Preparing your workout gear beforehand minimizes the risk of getting side-tracked or changing your mind.
Fuelling the body correctly is a big part of performing well. You can’t expect to perform at your best if you don’t consume adequate nutrients. I have increased my protein intake to help with muscle recovery. In addition, I pay attention to what I eat and am working on consuming less salt and sugar.
Another big change was switching from simple to complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs take longer for the body to digest and also don’t spike your insulin levels. The result of this is that you feel fuller for longer and crave less sweet or high carb snacks. I have replaced white pasta with wholegrain, and white potatoes with sweet potatoes. I feel less sluggish and don’t crave more food straight after eating lunch!
Water is important for helping muscles to repair and replacing water that is lost through sweat during exercise. Increasing water intake can help reduce fatigue and just makes you feel less sluggish in general. I still don’t drink as much water as I should, but make a conscious effort to drink more water now that I am training more seriously.
Getting enough sleep is essential to ensure that your body is well recovered and able to perform. Work can be mentally and / or physically demanding. Ensuring that you are getting enough sleep is essential in helping you perform at your best, or at all. 7-8 hours sleep per night is recommended.
Remember why you started in the first place! Set yourself some goals to aim for. Goals help to keep you accountable. As such, you are less likely to skip sessions. It can be easy to take the easy way out and just watch TV after work, but is that going to get you closer to where you want to be in the long-term?
It can be hard when first starting out on your fitness journey because you don’t see the results as quickly as you would like. A lot of people give up training after work before they see any real results. It’s important to track your progress, but to also give yourself time to see results. The way I approached my weight loss was “I didn’t gain the weight overnight, so I’m not going to lose it overnight either”.
Since putting more effort into my training and making changes to my lifestyle, I have been seeing results. My race times are improving and I recently ran a personal best with a sub-30 minute 5k. I can run further non-stop, I have lost weight and I feel better overall. These results help to keep me motivated to continue because I can seethe progress and benefits.
Find A Training Buddy / Join A Class
Sometimes external motivation is required! Sessions can seem a lot harder when training after work as you are already fatigued. It is easier to train at a harder intensity when in a social environment. Training with friend or as part of a class can give you more accountability to train. For runners, a running club may be beneficial as it adds the social element. It also adds variety to your workout as you get to chat with people who you may not see often or at all outside of training.
It’s important to take care of yourself and to prioritize your health and wellbeing. Approaching your training with a positive mental attitude can go a long way. There are a number of small changes which can be made to help boost your motivation and performance when training after work. It is essential that you find what works for you and establish your own routine. Remember why you started and set yourself some goals to help track your progress. Of course, if training after work still doesn’t seem feasible, you could always try getting up earlier before work to fit in a workout.