Feb 25, 2022
In last month's blog, I wrote in-depth about starting a new exercise program. If you haven't already read that article, go back and check it out!
If you have read it, then you should be all ready to go:
You've done PART ONE: You have planned what activity you are going to do, when you are going to do it, and you've got the right gear to do it comfortably.
And hopefully, you've had a go at PART TWO: you've made a start - any start - on using the time you have allocated to be active.
Keep in mind, if you haven't been regularly active, you still need to pace yourself. If you haven't done much exercise recently (or ever), it will take a little time for your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems to adapt. Hopefully, with your "just do something" start, you have a bit of an idea what you are capable of, and your program has taken this into account.
Working until you are hot, sweaty and out of breath is great - you won’t get fitter without pushing. But working until you are ready to throw up, feel faint or can hardly walk isn't a great thing at this point. If you have struggled with discipline, pushing this far will not only feel bad during the workout, it will put you at risk of injury, and you may be terribly sore the next day (delayed onset muscle soreness). We are aiming for 5 days per week of activity, so you need to be well enough to get out tomorrow.
As you do more, you will get better at recognising how far you can push. As your body adapts, you will be able to push more. Step by step!
Making sure your muscles are warmed up and cooled down adequately will go a long way to reducing both delayed onset muscle soreness and any injuries.
If you worked with a physio, exercise physiologist or personal trainer to start your program, they would have included all of these. If you are going it alone, due to finances, location, COVID etc, then there are plenty of good videos online that can help you. Be sure to use a mirror to do the stretch or exercise as closely as possible to the way the instructor does it.
It may seem like a waste of time at first, but as you progress, you will see the benefits. Warm up will not only get the blood pumping to your muscles, but the routine can help you mentally and physically fire up on a day where you might be struggling with motivation. Cool down and stretching afterwards will help with recovery and go a long way to preparing you for your next workout.
As you start to really get into your regime, you may find that things don't work in the way you originally planned. Maybe the weather is ridiculously hot and humid, or you got home from work late. Maybe schedules have changed or you've been a bit unwell.
This is where that planning that I mentioned last month comes in handy - having a contingency plan means you can adapt easily. It may mean changing times, adjusting intensities, swapping activities to suit. Perhaps you had planned to cycle, but your knee is hurting. A chat to the sports physiologist can help. Maybe you are trying to run and a foot hurts. Time to visit us!
Don't give up altogether; there are so many options out there now, we can find something that will work for you.
There are going to be days when you just don't feel like it. If you are genuinely unwell, or injured, then adequate rest time is not only appropriate but necessary, so don't feel bad about a few days out. However, those days when we just can't be bothered, these are usually the days when we are most in need of exercise, as they often coincide with low mood and energy.
Remember: half a workout is better than none!
If I have a day where I feel I can't be bothered, I talk myself into doing SOMETHING by promising myself half a workout will be adequate. I usually find that by the time I've got halfway through, I'm fired up and charge on to the end.
And on the rare occasions that I don't, at least I don't beat myself up, in fact I feel like I've had a win because I pushed through and still did something.
Count those reps. Clock those steps. Cover those kilometers. Kick those goals, one step at a time.
And remember, we are here for your feet if those steps hurt!
Next month, avoiding overuse injuries and taking it up a notch - hints about how to keep powering on.
Keep moving, friends!