As you move into your Victory Lap, one thing we continue to preach is the need to be active in your daily life. My business partner and I have taken part in endurance sports for years, exercise has always been a big piece of our lives. We have not always stayed in race shape but one constant we both keep moving. Riding, cycling, swimming, walking or playing other sports are all activities that keep us moving. Exercise gave us time to clear our minds, it was great spending long periods of time on the road or in the pool. Many people have asked “Don’t you get bored exercising?” The answer is no. During our years at work this exercise time was sacred, it gave us time to clear the mind, put things in perspective, dream a little, plan a little, solve the problems of the world a little. Mike calls it active meditation. You have heard us say don’t make any major decisions during your first six months. Let’s amend that slightly, decide to get moving, get out and exercise. Whether you are continuing on a regular regiment or just getting started, get moving.
So here are a few thoughts on starting or continuing an exercise program.
You might think that now you have all this time you can finally exercise like a “mad man/woman”. Yeah, so don’t do that. One rule that has served us well throughout the years, never increase your intensity minutes by more than 10% each week. Training for endurance races meant building your endurance base slowly so you were ready for race day. The 10% rule reinforced the need to go slow and let your body adapt to the increased level of activity that was required to get it across the finish line. The 10% rule ensured that we did not injure ourselves and allowed our body to adapt to the increased wear and tear. So what does it mean for you if you are just starting out, take it slow. Get active, walk before you run. Do something everyday but do not ramp up your intense workouts too quickly. If you have never exercised than walking 30 minutes a day is wonderful. If however you run 5 ks a day don’t start running 10 ks a day. This will lead to injuries and actually be worst for your health in the long run. Bottom line get or stay moving but don’t rush it. Like everything you do educate yourself if you need motivation see point three.
I am late to this party, I wish when I was heavy into my endurance training that I had added this discipline to my routine. Stretching and yoga can do so much for your quality of living and in hindsight would have done so much for my recovery and performance. I would argue that flexibility may be one of the most important attributes we can have as we age. There are loads of books and articles on the subject. In fact sitting beside me as I type is Maran’s Illustrated Yoga book. It is simple and shows the proper technique for each pose I really like it. On the web my favourite is Yoga with Adriene . Adriene provides lots of videos on YouTube and has a great philosophy for those starting out and in fact for anyone no matter what level you are at in your yoga journey. The nice thing about using the web and books is you can practice your downward dog at home before you head to a local yoga class. There you can refine the positions making your work outs even better. After you have mastered or maybe not, you can make your way to a yoga class at a craft brewery or winery, if you are lucky enough to have one in your area, even more incentive!!
Mix it up
Try different activities if you haven’t been active recently and have not had a history with exercise do a little self-assessment. What do you like doing? Do you like being with people? Are you ok learning in a group setting?
There are lots of exercise activities that will get your heart rate up. The Mayo Clinic provides a good guideline, 30 minutes of moderate activity a day. Add in some weight training a couple of times a week, mix it up with another activity like golf, tennis, bowling anything that gets you off the couch and you are well on your way to becoming fit. You may even find an activity you really like and hopefully it becomes a passion.
Don’t be afraid to join a group
Full disclosure I have not been a fan of running or cycling groups. The main reason is in my experience, I have found that there are too many people in the group that are either too competitive or singularly focused on whatever activity we were participating in. Many seemed to think every outing was a race, that wasn’t me I wanted to get better but it was not a competition every night. Also the conversations seemed to be focused on whatever activity it was shoes, marathons they had run, every component on the latest bikes, etc., in many cases it felt like “Hey look at me, look at my stuff”!! That was not me I loved to run and be the best but loved my time to think, I also I did not need the motivation of a group to get me out.
Ok those are just my thoughts, now that I am older, maybe wiser, I can see the benefits of group runs and rides. In fact I just past a group of riders when I was out for my run this morning. Some were leading some were following some were talking but all were moving. The benefits of joining a group include moral support and motivation, if you are just starting out in an activity getting out the door is half the battle. Having a set time and knowing that people are there expecting you might be just enough to keep you going until you get that runners high or feel the wind on your face on a ride. Mike talked about his group swim in previous blogs, he loves meeting people and they keep pushing him. The benefit of social interaction may be very important to you, on every presentation we meet people who feel disconnected, or lonely after leaving work. Meeting people for a run or swim or bike or activity might provide some of that social interaction you are looking for.
Your local running store will have group runs and so will many community centre. The Running Room has a running club and lots of learn to run or walk and race specific programs. For cycling visit your local bike shop they will no doubt have group rides, find out what levels of riders you can expect so you are not intimidated or overwhelmed your first time out. Find your local pool and find a time that works for you and dive in. If there is another activity that excites you research and get out and do it.
What I have learned over the years of running and cycling is people come from different starting points, different body types, different reasons for participating, as long as we are moving and being active, let’s celebrate and support each other.
Just get out there