We all say it every year, “Right I’m lossing weight this year and getting fit”. But we soon find out that their is a lot more to it then just the odd run. Setting that realistic end goal is the first step. For alot of people getting to a point where they can run again is the goal. Wheather that be so they can have a game of football with the kids or run a marathon to raise money for a charity close to their heart. Goals are important.
Improve that personal best.
At first, beating your personal best is easy. From being a couch potato to racing snake, you have the pleasure of watching the bathroom scales topple further in your favour. Every time you head to the gym, or hit the road, you beat the last time and are over joyed. Faster, stronger; you are on an ever rising peak of performance, you feel unstoppable.
But then one day, the bathroom scales don’t move…. You still train just as hard and continue to eat well, however you find you have plateaued.
Whatever your passion, from running and cycling, to hill walking, swimming or climbing, we have a few suggestions that will have you beating the stop watch and those scales once again.
Long Term Goals With Short Term Aims
It’s important to recognise that you are only human. You will find that over the course of a weeks, months your performances will naturally fluctuate. It is more about keeping active, keeping a regular and engaging level of variety and above all, having fun when your training. As that big event or target nears, these activities become more serious and you step up your training in order to hit your peak just at the right time.
Take The Stairs, Not The Lift
You may go running a few times a week, or head out to the countryside for a walk or ride at the weekend, but the chances are that like the majority of people, your time is spent being relatively inactive at work, as more and more of use sit in front of computers all day. There are many simple things like using the stairs rather than the lift, or going out for a walk at lunch that can add towards a more active lifestyle. It may feel minimal, or even pointless, but the more active you are, the better. There is new focus on this simple form of exercise and it’s being called; Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (N.E.A.T).
N.E.A.T treats every physical movement performed in the day as a valuable source of exercise. From going to make a cup of tea, to stacking shelve, walking to the train station; these are all part of your N.E.A.T workout. If you can consciously increase your N.E.A.T movements then the accumulation of these actions can increase the amount of burnt calories and is considered exercise. Although going to make a cup of tea is unlikely to raise your personal best, it does highlight the value of a consistently active lifestyle, as opposed to a stop-start approach.
Get The Right Kit On
When we feel comfortable in ourselves we are free to concentrate on really pushing yourself. Rather than feeling trapped inside sweaty, poor fitting clothes or the pain of bad footwear. When comfortable, we are able to focus on our bodies and enjoy the activity more.
Get the right kit for the job. Good kit will make you want to stay out for longer, help you have a more enjoyable time and reduce the risk of injury or discomfort. It will keep you warm and dry in the winter, or cool in the summer.
Mix Up Your Sports
In order to achieve your goal it is important to put in the hours of training. Practice does make perfect as they say. There is no substitute to going out and practicing and refining your technique whatever the sport. However, it is possible to do too much of one good. Constaintly repeating the same activity can over-train certain muscles and leave you vulnerable to injury.
Try to treat your training as a varied training plan, this will not only help you improve faster and more effectively but keep you intersted for longer. If you are a runner or cyclist, swimming will complement your training brilliantly. It’s low impact, and is great for cardio, but it removes the impact from joints and gives them a rest, while still training the muscle groups you need. And most important, remember to stretch after all activities!
Work Harder On The Weaknesses
If you really want to improve you need to work your weaknesses. Your fitness and performance will only ever be as good as your weakest element. So stop skipping that excerise you hate; it’s time to understand where the saying “No Pain, No Gain” comes from.
Avoiding a particular hill during your run? Well you guessed it, you and that hill are going to get to know each other very well. The point here is relatively simple, if you really want to get better at something; you have to focus on the stuff you are bad at. It may be demoralising to start because you can’t do it, but it is a sure fire way to improve.
Train with People Better (& Worse Than You)
As with alot of people, it’s possible that your training schedule will be by yourself. It is the inevitability of a busy modern life.
But every now and again try to train with somebody who is considerably better than you. It is a remarkable thing, but somehow it fast-tracks your development. You painfully force yourself onwards, but notably improve with every failed attempt to match them. Additionally you can return the favour by helping a new starter. It’s a great way to be (constructively) critical of technique which forces you to reflect and improve your own.
Do Your Homework
Recovering during rest days actually forms part of your training routine, so on those afternoons when you can legitimately sofa surf, why not do a bit of brain training. With thousands of websites and magazines, they are a great way to get inspired about your sport. Reading about the world’s top athlete’s is a sure fire way to get motivated for that next training run.
No matter how hard you train, many of us are never going to reach the heights of the professionals and that is absolutely fine. The important thing is to be passionate about it and most of all, have fun. That way training hard becomes an enjoyable activity and your elusive personal best is no longer a time, but simply the great feeling of doing the best you can do.
If you have any training questions please feel free to ask them and I’ll do my best to answer them.
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