Welcome to the first Mile 27 blog.(Previous blogs were imported from my personal blogger site).These blogs will be a mix of informative articles, my views on the latest in health and fitness and what’s happening in my own life relative to health and fitness that you might find interesting.
Today’s topic is not something I have had to deal with on a personal basis very often, but after travelling for 6 months my fitness has dropped dramatically. As some of you are aware I am an ultra marathon runner so not running for 6 months was always going to have a big effect on me.
I’ve had many clients who have gone through a similar experience losing their fitness for all kinds of reasons; recovering from surgery, having a baby, a travel break similar to mine or they’ve simply fallen of the fitness wagon and decided it was time to get back on.
Getting back into an exercise routine after some time off can often be a challenge. You feel frustrated that your fitness isn’t where it used to be and everything seems so much harder and less enjoyable than it used to be. It can be very demotivating struggling through sessions that used to be easy, and the path back to your previous fitness levels can seem like a very long one.
I thought I’d share some of the strategies I use to make the transition a whole lot easier.
1. Have no expectations.
The biggest challenge for most of us is mental as it can be very frustrating not being able to do what you used to be able to do. Have no expectations in your first month in terms of what you should and shouldn’t be able to do and how hard it should or shouldn’t feel. Just enjoy the feeling of your body moving, lungs working and heart beating more than usual.
2. Take small baby steps
When I left London in February running for 2-3 hours at a time felt comfotable. For my first run back after 6 months off I ran for a total of 15 minutes this was broken every minute by a 1 minute walk!
I didn’t care about speed, time, heart rates or distance I just wanted to get my legs used to running again and enjoy the experience. I probably could have run the 15 minutes non stop but I’m pretty sure my legs would have complained bitterly the next day. As it was I could feel I had done something the previous day but wasn’t stiff or sore.
I’ve gradually increased that by a minute each week so am up to 7 minutes and I’ll dispense with the walking soon.
3. Do something different
There is nothing worse than running over the same routes you always run to find that you are significantly slower or to go back to the same gym routine to find you are significantly weaker. Try something different. It doesn’t mean you have to give up running and go swimming, or give up the gym and take up ballet dancing (not that there is anything wrong with that if you did). Simply run different routes to your normal routes and try a completely different routine in the gym.
I’ve been lucky in that moving to a new city means that every route is a new route and running along the inner north shore of Sydney Harbour through bushland and parks with views of the Sydney Opera House and the harbour bridge has made it very enjoyable!
4. Create time in your daily routine
When you resume exercise after a period off, the amount of time you can exercise for is usually greatly diminished. This means it is very easy to fit into your daily routine. However it is also at this time that you are the most motivated to exercise and therefore more likely to find the time in the day to fit it in. Since we are creatures of habit use this motivation to find time for however long you plan to exercise for once your fitness returns. So if you normally run for an hour but you are only running for 10 minutes at the moment spend the other 50 minutes walking. Or if you normally work out in the gym for an hour but now 30 minutes will be enough, use the other 30 minutes for some easy cardio training or stretching.
My first run back was an hour long – 45 minutes of walking and 15 minutes of running, now its up to 42 minutes of running and 18 minutes of walking.
5. Make it fun
Since you probably wont get the same endorphin rush as you normally do when exercising find a way to add some fun into your routine so you look forward to the session beforehand and enjoy it during. That might be discovering a new area – even if you haven’t moved cities like me , you could always make the time on the weekend to drive to a different park, trail or beach and run around there. Alternatively convince a friend to join you, take the dog out for a run or finish your run at a new café you haven’t been to before.
Ok all this talk about exercising – its time for me to head down to check out a local park to do some resistance training. One of the joys of living in Sydney is there is so many nice parks around in which to exercise!