Have you ever let illness, work or just life’s responsibilities get your fitness plan off kilter? This happens to all of us at one time or another. While modifying your training schedule or even postponing workouts in cases of injury or illness is a wise decision, we have to know when and how to get back into a steady workout schedule and make it a healthy habit again. Learning how to really listen to your body is the best way to not over or under-do things, but this isn’t always an easy skill to acquire and does take practice.
I was just in one of these situations over the past two months. I completed 2 marathons in 2 weeks to qualify for Marathon Maniacs (my big fitness goal for the year), followed that with the Hal Higdon recovery training schedule (including the 0 week), then came a cold (with running a temperature for a week) and a trip to visit family out of state. I went from flying high on the accomplishment of finishing my marathons and joining the Marathon Maniacs (in the beginning of January), to not feeling like going out of the house (in the beginning of February). These are things that just happen in life and once we get over them, it’s time to create a plan to give ourselves a fresh start. Always remember to not beat yourself up over not starting back soon enough or getting out of a good habit in the first place. This just isn’t productive and really won’t help (and may even hurt) in the long run. It’s much better to pat yourself on the back for restarting your training schedule, whenever that happens to be. Also, if you’re dealing with stressful situations (and who isn’t), any exercise will help you release stress too! Many studies have also shown that exercising outside has even additional stress reducing benefits.
I got back from my family get together the last week in February and was still coughing a bit, so decided to give myself a new more days to rest and set my “fresh start” date to March 1st. I started off with a plan to race walk a little less distance and speed than my usual short / easy training walk. I ended up walking 4.3 miles rather than my usual 5.5 miles, at an easy speed. The workout felt great and I feel this is a good starting point for me at this point. From here I’ll choose my next Hal Higdon training schedule and set some new training goals. My first goal will be to race walk 100 miles over the month of March and choose some races to train for throughout this coming year.
Here are some steps that will help you restart your training schedule and create that healthy routine that we’re all know is both good for us and makes us feel better.
Access your level of fitness
Once you’re schedule allows you to get back into your running or walking routine, you’ll want to access your current level of fitness. If you try to begin where you left off, you may be asking for an injury and not be able to train for even longer. Where you start will depend on many factors (how long you’ve been out of the training schedule, were you injured and need extra rehabilitation time/exercises, etc.), so this will not be an exact science.
First go out for an easy walk or run, and see what feels comfortable for you. Initially target for half to ¾ of the time you are used to training, but with less intensity. (If your normal easy run was an hour, start out at 30 – 45 minutes.) Always listen to your body, and slow down or stop if or when you need to.
Building your base
Once you’ve accessed the duration that is comfortable for you. The next step is to make that a routine again. Start out with the duration you’ve decided on for 3 times a week for a few weeks (or until it is rather easy for you). At that point start adding additional days, more duration, or more speed.
Use the rule of thumb of only increasing 10% per week. This could be increasing speed or distance, but not both in the same week. This slow increase may not be very challenging, but it is the safest and healthiest way to build your base fitness level. You will be happy that you’ve built up slowing and trained smart as time goes on and you’ve increased without injury.
Congratulations for building your base and getting back on your training schedule. Now that you’re back, you have to stay motivated to keep it up. Set your next goal and choose a training schedule to get you there. Hal Higdon offers some great training schedules (both free and paid) for all levels and race distances. Even though I choose to race walk rather than run, I prefer using a running training schedule and have seen great improvements in both speed and endurance, since I’ve been doing this.
I wish you the best in both your training and attaining your goals!
Photo credit: Joe Zlomek on stock.xchng
As we head into 2012, many people have already set or even broken their New Year’s Resolutions. According to USA.gov, the 5 most common resolutions for this year are Drink Less Alcohol, Eat Healthy Food, Get a Better Education, Get a Better Job and Get Fit. Walkers and runners are often focusing on (or adding) their fitness goals; targeting on goals geared around Mileage, PR times, Number of Races Completed or Competing in a Race at a New Distance.
Often we set a goal and at the end of the year are not able to tell if we have even attained it. For example, Get Fit can mean different things to different people. To make it easier and even possible for us to attain our goals, we need to set goals that fulfil SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) criteria. By writing down each goal and making sure it fits these five criteria, we will be setting goals that we know are possible. At the end of the time period you’ve set (year, month, or whatever you choose) you can review your written goals, and truly know where you stand, what you’ve done well and analyze where you can improve next time.
SPECIFIC: Each goal needs to be specific. Some people will set a goal to get healthy this year or eat better. These goals are not specific enough to be able to tell if you’ve attained them. Instead of these consider the following: exercise 3 days per week, lose 5 pounds, eat 5 servings of vegetables per day or quit smoking completely.
MEASURABLE: Each goal needs to be measurable. Losing weight or being more active is not a measurable goal. Instead of these you will want to write your goal to lose 5 pounds or exercise 3 times per week for 1 hour each workout.
ATTAINABLE: Each goal should be attainable. Do you have the resources to complete the goal? For instance, taking a cruise around the world is not attainable if you don’t have the funds to pay for it or the time off work to take the trip. Create goals that you can actually accomplish. There’s no reason to set yourself up for failure before you even start!
REALISTIC: Each goal needs to be realistic. If your goal is too aggressive and not doable you will only get discouraged. This is not productive (which is the whole purpose behind writing down your goals). If you have never run before, running a marathon next month may not be attainable. You may want to choose a shorter race as your initially goal as you work toward your marathon goal (longer term); or set the marathon as a goal for next year or a few years from now.
TIMELY: Each goal should be timely or have a time frame attached to it. For instance, I will complete this goal by the end of the month of February or by the end of the year.
Each year I write down a few goals for myself in different categories (Fitness, Home, Work, Financial, etc), and make sure they fit these criteria. I find it helpful to review my goals each month or quarter, and analyze my progress. This way I can focus on any items I need to and stay on track for success.
My three fitness goals for 2012 are:
- Race walk 1000 miles.
- Improve my marathon time (Current PR 5:40:25). I’ve chosen my training schedules for the year, which work on both speed work and distance to attain this.
- Complete 100 consecutive push-ups by following the workout in the book “7 weeks to 100 Push-Ups”. Note: I’ve tried this before and had to stop with some shoulder pain. I plan to try it again this year by including the arm and shoulder stretches in the book, which I didn’t do last time.
What are your fitness goals for the year?
I’ve now finished the first three weeks of the 100 Pushup Challenge, and believe this half way point deserves an update.
The first week of the six week program began well. I had completed 25 pushups in the initial test so I could skip to week 3. Knowing that it had been so many years (about 30) since I’d done sets of pushups, I decided to begin with week 1, and chose level 3. It started out with some tightness in my core after the first workout on Monday, which really sold me on the program. Monday was 10, 12, 7, 7 then maxing out at 14, with 60 seconds rest between sets. Wednesday called for 10, 12, 8, 8 then maxing out at 18, with 90 seconds rests. Friday was 11, 15, 9, 9 and then maxing out at 20 with 120 rests. By this time I’m feeling confident and like I was back in high school.
Week two progressed well also. Monday included sets of 14, 14, 10, 10 and maxing out at 15, with 60 second rests. This is the first day I was able to only complete the minimum on the max out set. This is getting a bit harder. Wednesday was 14, 16, 12, 12 and maxing out at 20, with 90 seconds rest. Friday called for 16, 17, 14, 14 and maxing out at 23, with 120 seconds rest. The last two workouts were a bit easier than Monday. I felt like the longer rest periods helped quite a bit. Saturday called for a progress test, where I completed 30. After two weeks of these workouts I was able to complete 5 more pushups than the initial test. I kind of expected more, but am happy to see improvement. This will allow me to move on to week three, and I will be continuing at level 3.
The third week wasn’t quite as kind to me. Monday was quite challenging with sets of 14, 18, 14, 14 and maxing out at 20, with 60 second rest periods. This was the first day I wasn’t able to complete more than the “at least” number on the max out set. Wednesday included sets of 20, 25, 15, 15 and maxing out at 25, with 90 second rest periods. Again I did the “at least” amount on the max out day but was even more discouraged at needing more than the allotted rest time. Friday consisted of sets of 22, 30, 20, 20 and maxing out at28, with 120 second rest periods. This was quite a disappointing week as far as this program goes. It’s ended up being more challenging and I’m not progressing as easily as I expected to. On the other hand, I’m doing more than when I started, and there are some muscles in my back I didn’t recognize before. There is definitely some improvement. I briefly read through the program again and noticed it saying you could rest longer if required. I’ll just keep plugging away and see how things go, while I try not to beat myself up over the extra rest periods.
Get the book:
As for most racewalkers and many runners, the right shoes are often difficult to find. And when you’re addicted to the longer distances, they can be even more crucial. Blisters and other injuries can impede training or even in extreme cases stop you in the middle of a marathon.
During my first marathon in . . . → Read More: Racewalking Shoe Dilemma
As a high school swimmer, I used to easily pump out the sets of 20-25 pushups. Needless to say, that was quite a while ago. I’ve always liked lifting weights and strength training, but since I started racewalking that has been my focus.
I read about the hundred pushups program and decided to join . . . → Read More: Taking the 100 Pushup Challenge