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FOMO - Fight or Embrace?

If you've got a goal in mind rather than just trying to maintain fitness, a training plan is great to have. A plan can carefully give you progressive guidance towards your goal, but it clearly lays down what you need to complete on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. There are lots of factors that can influence how accurately you can follow a training plan, and going into one, everyone should be realistic and expect some weeks will be easier to complete as prescribed than others. Obvious affecting factors include motivation, energy levels, quality of sleep and commitments.

But we've all been there, you're tired but the weather is amazing and you've just got to get out there, or you're meant to be on a rest day and you can't stop seeing your pals posting their runs and workouts on STRAVA...The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) kicks in, but what are the consequences or succumbing? Here I attempt to lay out some of the Pros and Cons that may apply to your your training week...

The Saturday - Helvellyn for Sunrise

Let's start with the Cons...

  1. You're meant to be resting! You only have a finite amount of energy and as we've stated many times, recovery is key to getting fitter. If you soak up some of this time training again, you're left in a more fatigued state with less time to recover. This said, if you can make adjustments such as getting solid (and probably additional) sleep and replenishing all the depleted calories, you may be able to limit the impact of this additional training on your recovery time. More info on recovery can be read in our 'Rest and Recovery - When you actually get fitter' blog

  2. You could be Overtraining. As the name suggests, this is when you do too much training and the body quite simply can't handle it. It will lead to extended recovery times, plateaus in your performance and potentially. The big risk here is that additional session you simply couldn't miss out compounds into putting you back for two weeks, maybe more.

  3. You 'do it for the gram' Is it a case of not wanting to miss out on the chance of training, or is it a chance of missing out on that chance of looking awesome in a photo? Is it worth derailing a training week for the sake of a photo op?

  4. Something else gets missed. This isn't a scientific answer from my PT manual, this is a real-world answer from a man who has a family and a busy job. Do you really have time for the extra training? If you're out grabbing some extra KM's or hitting the gym again, what should you have been doing that now needs to be done at a later date? Will you now be responding to work emails until 11pm when actually you should be getting a good night of rest (which will aid recovery and get you set for the next day.) Is life so hectic that it'll have a negative effect on your mental health?Granted, this point really won't apply to everyone's lives, but if you've got a solid training routine sometimes you may have to accept you can't grab every opportunity at the mercy of rejigging everything else to suit.

And the Pros

  1. It makes you happy! No-one likes missing out, so not missing out will make you happy! A weather window is a great example of where sometimes it's just too good to miss, especially here in the UK where we can have so much poor weather strung together. If you're into mountain sports, then I'm sure there are fewer people who prefer to be out in grim weather compared to a fine day.

  2. It's free motivation. If you don't want to miss out, then you're clearly getting fired up to train. You don't have to do a hard or intense session, but sometimes take the easy wins and go with the flow of your motivation. Motivation can fall as easily as it can rise, so as long as something is getting you 'out the door' then maybe it's worth rolling with it...

  3. It could push your fitness. Unless you're working very regularly with a PT or conducting fitness tests often, then a training programme can only be so individualised. A programme cannot predict how you will recover week on week, or where your energy levels will be, or even how fast you will gain your fitness (this is where a programme is best to be individualised and fine tuned as you go). There is every chance that doing that unplanned session because your pals are heading off for a 10km run that you don't want to miss out on could be an extra dose of stimulus for your body to make a big jump in fitness gains.

  4. Live for the Now! Just say 'Yes!' It could be your best session of the week and not even feel like training as it wasn't in the programme.


The Sunday - Skiddaw for Sunrise


The motivation to write this post was born out of what occurred to me this weekend just gone. Here in the Lake District we've been experiencing some very unseasonal weather for December, with days of cloud inversions and warm conditions. I've been upping my training these last few weeks and my weekend looked like this:

Friday: Fell walk with the kids - basically a weighted hike with 15kgs on my back.

Saturday: 6am alarm to get to the summit of Helvellyn for sunrise. An 18km run with 1200m ascent.

Sunday: A last minute decision on the Saturday evening to head up Skiddaw for Sunrise on Sunday morning (Had to be early due to family commitments). 14km and 900m ascent. I hit this pretty hard.

Monday: Weather was meant to be good on this day (wasn't) so made plans on the Saturday to walk with another family and get out. Another Fell walk with the kids - another weighted hike (15kgs). Glutes felt pretty knackered on the steep bits and overall I was pretty tired. Kids were pretty stressful all day too. Monday evening out for a meal with friends, went to bed at 11:30pm.

Tuesday: Out of bed at 6:20am thanks to our two year old getting up. Feel rubbish and had to accept I wasn't going to get my planned upper body workout done - last upper body workout was now 7 days ago.

So, basically FOMO hit me hard and I experienced pretty much all of the above eight points. There was no way I was staying in and missing out on the amazing conditions, and three of the four experiences were pretty awesome and I felt great in myself. But then things clearly got a bit much for my body and it forced a rest day out of me. There was a brief moment today (the Tuesday above) when I felt perkier and I considered completing the session but I thankfully opted to sit on the sofa instead and write this blog. I quite rightly listened to my body and I hope to be able to complete a high quality session tomorrow instead.

This is most definitely not a 'How to' guide on dealing with FOMO, nor a judgement on any decision you make, it is simply a display of my personal findings. Each bout of FOMO will be different from the last and different to the next, but from time to time you may be able to apply some of these thoughts and question what it means for you and whether you fight or embrace .

Good luck with yours!


The Friday - Weighted Family Hike up Low Fell

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