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FEBRUARY 2012 THE RIDER /13 Fitness for Riders: New Years’ Motivation & Setting Up a Simple Training Plan Part 2

huge feeling of potential welling up inside of me, “I want to ride like that. I want to be an ATH- LETE like that!”

By Heather Sansom.

Last month I encouraged you to get your new year started right with a training plan, using some easy rules of thumb for planning your conditioning for the next six months. Getting going in the first week of Jan- uary seems the easy part…keep- ing going by the end of the month or into the rest of the year is where the majority fail. This month, we are kick- ing off the new year with bonus extra content. Get some great tips on staying motivated in Part 1 (article contributed by a client), and then build on your training plan in Part 2.

Part 1: Getting From Inspira- tion to Celebration via Perspi- ration by Lori Albrough (used with permission)

There’s really no shortage of inspiration to be found, is there? I remember watching my coach, a top dressage rider, rid- ing so beautifully, influencing these big amazing horses to express themselves with power and grace. And I would get this

And there’s really no shortage of information out there, either. Fitness articles, tips, videos, and books abound. I would gather all this informa- tion, clip all these articles, fill all these file folders. But, instead of energized, I just ended up overwhelmed. Where do I start? Am I even cut out for this? Who am I to think I could be an athlete? I don’t have the long legs, the willowy build, the good genes, the you-name-it, I didn’t have it.

intention is great, but without action, you stay stuck. Once you start to take action, you will find your intention suddenly grows legs.

2 - Decide. Then decide again. Once I made the decision to contact a personal trainer who specialized in riders, things took off! She made me a program, and I started working it at home. I was feeling amazing!

pace (6 x 5 min cycles) 4. Leg strength exercises 2x : two exercises, one set each

Week 3: 1. Stretching daily

2. Core training 2x, but double the number of sets (ie: if you did 10 repetitions of 6 exercises last week, now cycle through that routine 2x, but only on two occasions)

And you know what hap- pened after that, of course. Three days later (or was it four?) my quote real life came crashing down on me full force. The lack of time, the more

3. Cardio training 30 minutes, 3x: with intervals still on 5 min cycle, but the 2 intense minutes should be made up of 1 minute more intense, and 1 minute very intense.

And it might not be what you think it is! Even though I spent months being uncomfort- able, both from sore muscles and from my brain over-heating as I tried to master new ways of using my body, I felt so happy and alive! I was proving to myself that I could silence all those inner voices that said “you cannot”. Once it became clear to them that I was doing it any- how, they shut up.

4 – Do it imperfectly.

So, how did I go from being inspired, to becoming an actual living breathing athlete? Here are 5 things I learned on the path from inspiration to real- ization.

1- Action cures Overwhelm. Guess what, you don’t have to “figure it all out” in advance. All you have to do is take action. Inspiration is good,

pressing tasks, the excuses, the aches and pains, all reared up to say “See? You aren’t cut out for this athlete business after all.” And that’s the point that you have to decide again. Re- decide every day, if that’s what it takes. Because it turns out ...

3 – There’s a connection between discomfort and hap- piness.

This one is huge if you’re like me and have any sort of perfectionist tendencies. My inner perfectionist, bless her soul, would keep me from doing anything and everything until I had studied it, analyzed it, mas- tered it, and conquered it. Telling myself I was going into the basement to do some “imperfect exercise” gave me permission to just begin, and then tweak as I went along.

5 – You don’t need to go it alone.

Getting support and guid- ance for your journey is not a sign of weakness. It’s smart! Learning from those who are further along the path that you want to follow saves you from a lot of wandering down blind alleys.

There are so many ways to surround yourself with support. They don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. I was intim- idated by gyms and gym people, and have a pretty time-crunched life, so I found someone who could work with me in my home via phone, email, video, and Skype.

months’ main goals of your rider fitness training plan: January- get started: extensive stretching, start habit of cardio- vascular activity in your life, start core work

February- establish a base: increase intensity of cardio-vas- cular activity, and times per week, but not duration per ses- sion, steadily increase reps in core work, introduce leg work If you were not able to be as consistent as you wanted to in January, don’t worry. You can still jump on board with plenty of time. With a base of core strength and the beginning habit of more movement of vari- ous types in your week, you are now ready to start to ramp up your endurance by increasing the intensity of your workout. It is not necessary to work out for an hour a day, 5 days a week. However, a basic training plan should contain at least two fairly intense training sessions that combine cardio-vascular inter- val training, and some strength work for your legs. The strength work for your legs will help power your cardio-vascular training, which will increase your endurance both in energy in muscle stores, and in your capacity for oxygen exchange- two very important factors in building the kind of endurance you need.

Having the accountability that a personal trainer provides was so helpful. She not only coached me on technique, she believed in me, cheered for me, and encouraged me. Many peo- ple live and socialize in toxic environments these days. The media is full of fear and doom, and even our own heads can be a source of negativity at times! As you move from simply being inspired to actually realiz- ing your vision for yourself, it pays to surround yourself with encouraging believers who want you to succeed.

February. The exercises are organized in inverse pyramid (higher frequency at top of list, which corresponds to the Rider Fitness Training Scale- see arti- cle link the resources and rec- ommendations section above). If you cannot maintain all the number of workouts suggested, don’t get tied in knots about it. When it comes to improving your performance as a rider and your health as a human being, some exercise or cross training is always better than nothing. I have seen clients take a full year to integrate cross-training fully into their lives with many starts. You just have to get back up one more time than you fall off.

Watch next months’ tip for the March plan:

February- week 1:

About the Author: Lori Albrough is a Fjord breeder, trainer and dressage rider. Lori writes about continuous self- improvement: in riding, train- ing, healthy living, fitness, and positive mindsets. Her weekly eZine “Improve Your Ride, Improve Your Life” goes out to subscribers across the world. You can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at http://improvey-

Part 2: Designing Your Train- ing Plan, Step 2

Recall the first two

1. Stretching: 5-10 minutes daily

2. Core training 15 minutes, 4 days

Here is your plan for

4. Leg strength exercises 2x: 4 exercises, 2 sets

Week 4:

1. Stretching should be a habit by now with commitment 1x in the week to an extended stretch or flexibility time (minimum 20minutes)

2. Core training 2x, but add two more exercises to your routine 3. Cardio training 30 minutes, 3x: intervals in 5 min cycles but 3 intense, 2 recovery

4. Leg strength exercises 2x: 4 exercises, 3 sets. You can effectively combine Legwork days with core days- alternating core and leg sets is a nice way to give one muscle group a brief break, while you are working the other one and saves time overall in your week.

Lori Albrough

This article was also print- ed in the Equifitt Monthly Equi- Tips newsletter. You can sub- scribe for free to monthly rider tips at .

By Heather Sansom, Equestrian Fitness – Balanced Training for Better Riding. Equifitt specializes in helping riders improve their ride through fitness for riders and Centered Riding techniques. Equifitt offers a free tips newsletter, ebooks you can download, clinics and coaching, and even online coaching options- bring your coach to you! Equifitt clients range from amateur to Olympic athletes.

About the author:

3. Cardio activity (any will do) 30 minutes, 3x / week using intervals with increased intensi- ty. (10x3 min cycles) One minute ‘on’, 2 minutes catching your breath (lighter).

Week 2: 1. Stretching daily

2. Core training 20 minutes, 3 x 3. Cardio training 30 minutes, 3x with intervals at 2 minutes more intense, 3 minutes medium

Heather Sansom, Equifitt founder is a certified personal trainer and Centered Riding® Instructor. She has taught on fitness for riders at the U of Guelph, Kemptville, is a colum- nist on rider fitness for Dressage Today and The Rider, and has published articles in several equestrian publications around the world. Equifitt methods draw on many fitness areas and sport conditioning principles. Individualized programs for rid- ers are tailored to your riding priorities, lifestyle needs and other fitness goals such as injury recovery, weight loss, strain prevention. Be the best training partner for your horse that you can be!

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