When planning out a workout...or workout schedule...don't be afraid to undershoot. Set the bar a little lower. Plan to do less than what you consider the ideal. Take what you want to do and reduce it a bit. Instead of a two hour run, you might make the goal 90-100 minutes with the qualifier that if you are feeling good, you will go a little farther. In this example, you make getting to 90 minutes a success and everything extra a bonus.
The perfect time to utilize this strategy is when you feel a workout is particularly daunting. You won't have to do this all the time. It's for when you are starting to dread the workout so much that you can feel the weight of it before you've even started. In these cases, just cut the goal down to something more manageable. But then...and this is important too...be ready and willing to forge ahead and do a little more if all systems are "go."
Obviously, if you are training for something in particular, you may have to really hold yourself to completing certain specific goal workouts. And if you are the kind of person who is always backing down from a challenge, you may need more practice following through to a definite, set-in-stone goal.
But for the most part, it's best to stay flexible and avoid biting off more than you can chew. My favorite method is to set a range for what I want to accomplish. The low end of the range is the minimum and high end is the ideal...with anything over the minimum being a success. You can plan running workouts with a time range such as 30-45mins rather than just 45mins. You can plan 8-12 repetitions of 400 meter repeats instead of fixing on 12 x 400m repeats. If you are doing circuit training you might say you'll do 3-5 rounds of the circuit depending on how it's going.
The absolute best test for whether or not you've planned a workout that is simply too much is if you are considering not doing it...or you are simply procrastinating. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a 10 minute walk or a 100 mile bike ride. It you are finding it to daunting...cut it down...or set an easier minimum.
It's always good to remind ourselves...it's what we actually do that matters...not we say we are going to do. Writing big fancy training schedules down on paper doesn't mean much unless you actually do it.
Therefore, avoid the psychological trap of continously planning workouts that are too much. Much of successful training involves a soft coaxing of your body to cooperate. Again...it's a gentle tenacity.
You can use this method to accomplish virtually anything that involves work.
All the best...
"Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice."
from the Tao Te Ching
Written by Lao-tzu
From a translation by S. Mitchell
Last updated 20 July 1995