5 Ways Blueberry Picking Will Help Enhance Your Training Program

 

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

This past Saturday I spent the entire morning on a mountain picking blueberries, and I’ll tell you, if you tend to complain about how much they cost, try picking your own and see what you think!

It was hot and humid and the blueberries were scarce. Not only were they scarce but they were some of the smallest blueberries I had ever seen.

Although this may all sound negative, I was able to get out for a day filled with physical activity and I was in the best of company…my Aunt Sue, Uncle Dan and their family are the best!!

And wouldn’t you know, the whole time I was up on that mountain I couldn’t help but think about the amazing correlation between my blueberry picking escapade and training.

 

I bet she is not thinking about training…

Sorry, but it’s just the way my mind is programmed…family and friends first, work second (my athletes, training, nutrition, performance, etc) and then everything else!

So let’s just see what was running through my head for the 6 hours I was trying to top off my berry bucket (which didn’t even come close to happening by the way!) and how it can help you maximize your training program.

 

What Blueberry Picking Teaches You About Your Training Program

1)      Do your research

Before you go out blueberry picking make sure that the picking is good. We were about a week or two late which left us searching for berries that weren’t there!

Before you start a training program, do your research and find the best program for you (one that involves an in depth evaluation and individualized program is best). Make sure the program and/or coach and facility has a great reputation (checking testimonials is always encouraged) and that the program will allow you to maximize your performance potential.

2)      Know that it is going to be hard work

Blueberry picking is no easy task. After you make your way up the mountain you must roam through the brush, which will most likely contain a few pricker bushes along the way. Once you find a respectable blueberry bush you have to pick the berries, sometimes only a couple at a time. It may sound like too much, but if you put in the work necessary the result is well worth it (there is nothing better than wild blueberries for a dollar per quart).

When it comes to your training program and the results you want, after you find the right program for you, know that it is going to take hard work, dedication and consistent effort on your part. But putting in the work will always pay off, even if it is challenging along the way.

3)       There are no short cuts

Blueberry picking takes patience. You may clean pick (berry only, no stems or leaves which takes more time) for an hour or two  only to find that you have gathered far less than anticipated (especially if you don’t do your research…point 1). But don’t turn into a dirty picker (just running your hand down the branch and colleting loads of stems, leaves and rotten/green berries along with the blueberries). You will find yourself spending more time on the back end picking out the undesirables from your harvest. If you just stay patient and continue to pick clean you will actually save yourself more time.

 

 

When it comes to training, stay patient and do it right the first time. Don’t grow impatient and try to force the results by going more intense than you can handle or are prepared for. Refrain from training excessively day after day without adequate rest, going on a crash diet, consuming loads of unregulated supplements, etc, etc. If you don’t, you will find yourself set back by unnecessary injury, illness or some sort of genetic mutation (no one really knows what goes into half of the “latest and greatest super supps”). Stick to the plan, put in the work required and reap the benefits of consistent, quality training.

4)      Something is better than nothing…most of the time

It is simple…If you don’t stop and actually pick blueberries you will go home empty handed. Although you should spend some time finding a quality blueberry bush in order to maximize efficiency, you will have to start somewhere or you will never even begin to fill your bucket. You also have to take note of whether or not you are getting complacent and slowing down, especially when it is hot and humid. Take a break, eat some lunch, hydrate and get back at the picking hard.

 

 

Training is the same way. If you spend all of your time planning on starting tomorrow, or maybe Monday after the weekend, or the 1st of the year, etc. you will never achieve the health, looks and performance you desire. And like blueberry picking, you have to pay attention to your performance during the program. If you start to notice decreased performance / results, you may need a “backoff or deload” week (lighter volume / intensity depending on the individual) to allow the body to recover and then hit it hard again the next week. In both cases, something is better than nothing, even if it seems like small gains (some blueberries or a less achy body).

5)      It’s more about the journey as there is no end destination

From a blueberry picking standpoint, I am confident that I will have a much larger harvest next year for I learned a lot along the journey this year (all the points above). Revisiting and learning from the mistakes I made this year will allow me to modify my approach and make a killing next year, and even better into the years after that (blueberry bushes beware!).  And sometime during the year I will inevitably run out of berries (especially this year!) and will need to go on another trip. It will be a continuous, life long process…get berries, eat berries, pick more berries!

And the same goes for training. You train, learn from your mistakes and modify your program in order to make it more efficient and continue progress and results (or at least your coach/trainer should be able to and if not it is time to find another coach/program!). No matter what you may have heard, a four or six week athletic enhancement program, a 90 day body sculpting bootcamp or DVD and 4 months of Zumba class just won’t cut it as health, fitness and performance are achieved and continued throughout life. Learn along the way and plan to be in it for the long run.

 

 

Plan for the long haul…life is all about the journey!

As you can see, when you are passionate about something you can pretty much draw a parallel between your passion and anything else in life…if you are truly passionate! Although I wish I would have harvested a few more berries, well actually A LOT more, I would do it all over again as I learned a lot along the way, was able to spend some quality time with people I love, and was able to help give you some insight as to what it takes to be more successful with your health, fitness and performance (as well as a few tips about berry picking!).

There is obviously a lot that goes into a training program but it ultimately comes down to getting started. Take the key points from above, seek out some quality help and begin your journey…and one thing I forgot to mention, if you do go berry picking make sure to wear long pants…the pricker bushes can be pretty unforgiving!

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