Routine Wreckers

Right now, it’s 5:15 am on Monday morning. Five days per week, I am heading out the door at this time.

Since I no longer work on Monday's, I don’t have to be awake right now. But Monday morning is when I write, before taking the rest of the day off.

Previously, when I had a day off I would sleep in to ‘catch up on sleep’ but no matter when I woke up, I would feel awful and tired.

I was advised to try getting up at the same time every day – even on days off – as it will help stabilise sleep patterns. I had done this for the last three months, and it made a world of difference. I was waking up five minutes before my alarm every day, my brain was firing on all cylinders (all four of them) by 5:00 am, and it felt hardcore.

It was working well – 87 consecutive days of 4:40 am wake ups and I was feeling great!

Then two weeks ago, I got sick. The flu (worst flu ever) turned into bronchitis and I was out of action for nine days. It wasn’t that serious, but it did require some rest and extra sleep. My 4:40 am alarm was silenced, albeit after a couple of day’s defiance, and my new sleep patterns favoured quantity, not quality.

Once I recovered, it was back to work and early start, last week. Every single day, I was woken by an alarm that seemed to interrupt the deepest sleep I ever had. Instead of jumping out of bed straight away, I lay there hoping I had set the alarm two hours early and I could go back to sleep.

My second alarm - which hadn’t gone off for three months - was working overtime. Without that alarm, there could have been a few coach-less training sessions last week, although maybe some people wouldn’t have minded that.

Getting back into the routine has been tough – a lot harder than I expected. My plan was to jump back in and simply grind through any tiredness, but then last night (day seven) I fell asleep reading a book at 5:00 pm!

I work well with routines and find repetition enjoyable. I am sure there are times this impairs my ability to help people establish their own routines, even though this is something I do a lot.

Routines are vital for implementing training and nutrition changes, as they provide the structure and stability that free up mental energy for discipline and adherence (the hard stuff).

My routine deviation has reiterated to me how challenging it can be to implement a new routine or get back into an established one. Having empathy, and acknowledging inevitable frustration, are import factors as both a coach and individual.

There is a saying along the lines of 'good players don’t always make good coaches'. Because they were able to perform a certain skill, or at a high level themselves, sometimes they struggle to see why other’s cannot do the same.

Playing is all about skill execution to the best of your ability, whereas coaching is about helping others do so. Coaching is also about understanding different strengths and weaknesses, within individual’s and across a team, and how that can contribute to performance.

This is a concept I often bring myself back to, because what works for me as a player, doesn't always work as a coach. Empathy the key to understanding people, getting on board with them (instead of getting them on board), and helping direct our growth.

I am not this training and nutrition deity that has all the answers, and if you don’t follow my rules you will fail. My role is to best-apply my knowledge and experience of body recomposition to your goals, experience, and lifestyle.

If done well, you will get results. But your program and results can look very different to someone else’s.

Even as a coach, it can be easy to compare clients and say ‘well if YZ lost 2kg this week, why is AB not getting a similar result?’ But that the 'great player/poor coach' mindset – wondering why people can’t perform like them (or others).

Developing and re-instating routines is a challenge, as I have been reminded this week. But it has been a great reminder of a vital lesson that is the difference between playing well and coaching well.

I find there’s a fine line between sharing lessons I encounter and trying to enlighten everyone with every experience you have (ie. I ate a doughnut today – everyone needs to eat flexible). I think the former provides context and insight, while the latter shows neediness.

Hopefully, this article falls into the first category!