Updated: Dec 13, 2019
This tip is for adults starting to train and wanting to increase their training and intensity.
Getting fit to train is important because it can maximise your enjoyment and make your motivation last for a lifetime, avoiding burnout, injury or periods of down time. Your body is a living thing and living things need time to adapt to new workloads. Even though we live in an environment that expects instantaneous results, you simply can't go from 0 -10 without creating some steps.
Some people judge these "adaptation steps" very well. They instinctively know what they should be and when they should happen. You can tell who these people are because they have achieved a legacy of athletic success from a very young age. However, for the majority of us, we find it difficult to create manageable steps for ourselves. Most of us are too ambitious in our timeframes and unaware of what our body needs to complete effective adaptation. We might get away with an ambitious training plan for a while but long term the body recognises it must protect itself and tightens or seizes up somewhere to prevent further training.
So how do we get fit to train?
It's important to have a starting point to build from – best way is to document where you are at now. It's great if that's a metric number of some kind - like the time it takes you to complete your activity, or how far you're going but it can also be beneficial to document what you are feeling and any other relevant details like wind conditions, time of day etc. This step may seem like overkill when you first do it, but your numbers and comments are going to raise your self-awareness and show you things you didn't appreciate were happening.
As you get used to reading your entries, you will be able to determine lots of things, i.e. weather conditions on the day and your body's response to the variables. The most important point is by doing this step well you are creating a self evaluation process that helps you to make good decisions about your specific situation.
Self evaluation helped Rebecca. Rebecca is a recreational walker wanting to progress to running. She walks 90 mins five times a week. Her walks have bought her weight down and her energy levels up. She also likes events. These are usually running events with a walkers section. Rebecca likes the look of the runners section. Besides she has noticed it's taking more and more time to fit in her walking so she thinks it's time to take on running. Two years ago she tried running but after just 6 weeks her right Achilles tightened and she wasn't able to walk or run for 3 months while she sorted it out. By the time she recovered last time, she'd lost all her fitness and had to start over.
Rebecca agrees to start documenting her training including her running. Her first run was 40 mins about half the time she walks so she figures that's easy enough. She tries this again on Wed and on Friday and definitely feels tired at the end of the week and a bit frustrated. Rebecca thinks to herself "it's going to take forever to get my body to run!" She looks back over her training diary. When she reads her running entries she's written "breathless" "can hardly talk" "legs burning" "even slower today." She then compares them with her walking entries "feeling great", "talking easily", "feel like I could go again."
The entries are so different Rebecca realises she needs to change her training so her running entries sound like her walking ones. She decides to make her runs a lot easier for a while until her body gets used to the new activity. After just a few weeks Rebecca's delighted with her running progress. She says "it's as if my body looks forward to each training and just wants to improve!"
So what did Rebecca do? 1. Wrote down her training and evaluated her efforts at the end of the week. 2. She gained some insights 3. Created some strategies to help her body adapt to her training.
Rebecca's approach to her training is very different now. Whilst she didn't get an instant result she is preparing her body well for running and she is enjoying the process along the way with the confidence that her body is coping and her desired results are on their way.