Sustainable Exercise

With Spring in the air, and a beach holiday not too far away, many people feel that now is a good time to get into shape. Nothing wrong with that at all. If you do feel that you are out of shape, and that you do want to get fitter, faster and stronger, “now” is a good time. It shouldn’t matter that it is Spring.

However, that dream body that you desire; needs to become a goal before you can do anything about it, and conventional wisdom has it that it is as simple as writing your dream down. Step one complete. Pretty easy. Now, let’s flesh out that goal. How exactly are you going to reach it? What are the steps you need to take to get there? And like all of us, if you’ve got to this point, you’ll start making some notes about when you’ll go for a jog, hit the gym, swim, yoga or climb. And then you start getting into the swing of things, and pretty soon you’ll have a week-, month- or season-long plan to achieve your goal. Great. Well done!

But then you pause, and take a breath, and read what you’ve just written. “Oh god”, you think. That’s an enormous amount of work to get through, what if I miss a training day? How will I squeeze in my training when I have to go on the company retreat? What if I don’t feel strong enough to do it? Is my nutrition up to scratch?

And in the face of these overwhelming hypothetical situations, you can lose hope, settle back into the couch, and watch re-runs of a TV series you didn’t even enjoy the first time around, while somewhere in the back of your head, a thought continues to nag at you, until you manage to drown it out with the distraction of TV, and life.

But your goal doesn’t have to end in an anti-climax like this. While detailed plans work for some people, if the thought of having your training plan mapped out for you for the foreseeable future fills you with dread, then don’t have one. That’s right. Rather take it one training session at a time. There is no need to run every Monday, and strength train on a Tuesday, yoga on a Wednesday and cycle on a Friday. Your body doesn’t know what day of the week it is. It only knows how it feels. So listen to it. And if it tells you that today is the day I run, well then, run. Or swim, or lift weights. Whatever. The sense of accomplishment that accompanies any well-meant training effort is usually more than enough to motivate you to do another one. Just don’t over-face yourself. One thing at a time.

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