The warmer weather is the perfect time to start new fitness routines– from running, to biking, or even just going for walks. I started running 6 years ago, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way! From doing too much too soon, to not listening to my body, to not understanding what will actually give me progress, I’ve learned some major lessons!
Doing too much, too soon: When you start a new routine, you’re motivated, excited, and might start seeing results that inspire you to keep going. Your body is resilient, and can handle a lot, but excessive exercise, or pushing yourself too hard without letting your body recover, can leave you with injuries or too much fatigue. The rule of thumb for running is to never increase mileage by more than 10% from week to week, and is a good mindset for any type of activity. You can’t work out if you end up injured, and your workouts won’t actually benefit you if you are too fatigued. Slow and steady actually does win the race!
Not listening to pain: As you work out, you may feel a niggle here or a little pain there. A lot of times, its not too painful, so you just push through. The problem is that pain means something is wrong. Whether its an overuse injury, a problem with form, or your body saying its too much, you should listen to your body. You should always stop if your exercise is causing pain, and don’t return until you are pain free. Pain will only get worse or turn into worse injuries if you ignore it. When I have pain from running, I change it up to walking or doing yoga to keep my body moving.
Not warming up: Before a hard workout, your body needs to warm up. If I am going to do a hard running effort, I do 1-2 miles of easy running first. It seems counter intuitive to spend energy running before you want to run fast, but it allows your body to ease into the effort. Before I strength train, I always do some walkouts and easy body movements to stretch out my body and get my heart rate up before pushing harder. It’s also just as important to cool down from a hard effort!
Not changing it up: Your body gets used to doing a certain exercise or intensity pretty quickly. If you do the same 4 strength exercises or run the same distance at the same intensity every day, you will stop seeing results. Its important to change up and level up your workouts. This also means not doing max intensity every single day. My training is focused on going really hard 1-2 days a week, and doing easier efforts the rest. The easier days allow me to go even harder on the hard days.
Not resting properly: REST IS A PART OF EXERCISE. Skipping rest days doesn’t make you stronger or more committed. It means that you’re not giving your body time to recover and rebuild, which means you actually won’t be able to keep progressing. Similar to doing too much too soon, not resting is just robbing your future progress by not holding back when you should.
Only focusing on one thing: A lot of my injuries from being a runner have been caused because I have muscle weaknesses. My physical therapist gave me great insight when she said “you need to be fit to run, you don’t run to be fit”. In order to have proper running form, you need to have a strong core and glutes that you will not get by running alone. Changing up your activities– from yoga, to strength training, to cardio, will actually help you be better at all of them! Even though its a very different activity, yoga has helped me build mental strength for running, as well as helping me stretch and recover.
Focusing on all or nothing: Finding a healthy balance is the hardest part of a fitness routine. You can’t possibly work out every single day– because of the reasons listed above, as well as just understanding that life happens. I always try to hit every planned workout, or adjust my schedule of what days I need off, but I also remember that its fine to miss a day and get back at it the next. A lot of people expect perfection and then end up quitting the moment they miss a day or two. Give yourself flexibility and grace!
Not rewarding yourself: Maybe your goal is to run a half marathon or lose a certain amount of weight. Aggressive goals are great, but its also good to celebrate the little victories! Maybe your ran your fastest mile or did a full month of workouts. Have a plan to reward yourself with a new piece of gear or to do something you enjoy. When I train for a marathon is 5 or more months of work for one day, and sometimes it can feel endless. Rewarding myself for smaller goals within this time helps me stay encouraged and engaged with my plan!
Following these few habits will help set you up for better success long term. Remember its a marathon, not a sprint!