Ask the Trainer – What can I do to make my running workout routine more consistent?

Richard Pine is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, has been with Metro Run and Walk since 2004, and currently coaches the MRW Training Programs.

Richard Pine is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, has been with Metro Run and Walk since 2004, and currently coaches the MRW Training Programs.

Every year, the cycle repeats itself – holiday mayhem, lots of great food, New Year’s Eve celebrations, New Year’s Resolutions, which last for a few weeks and if you’re really diligent, maybe a couple of months, then back to the status quo – until it repeats itself the following year!  At about this time, many of those resolutions have a remarkable effect on the fitness industry so much so that bets have been taken on how long it would take before the “New Year’s Resolutioners” will stay at their new fitness routine before quitting the gym.  The key to tipping the bets and sticking to your workout routine is simple: making fitness a lifestyle and not simply a “New Year’s Resolution.”  Here are some ideas of what you can do to stay fit and active all the way through the year!

Set manageable goals.

Whether or not you are an experienced athlete or if your sneakers are still wrapped in their original packaging from a year ago, the importance of setting manageable goals is equally critical and key to your progress at whatever fitness level you find yourself.  The human condition has the universal flaw of believing we can do more than what our bodies are actually capable of.  As a result, if the goal is to run a 5K, whether or not rubber has hit the road ever, many people go out, run a 5K, realize that everything hurts, and then remember why they don’t enjoy running.  It takes time for the body to adjust to the new movements, the added stress, the impact of the activity, and to build strength and endurance.  By allowing yourself this time to adjust, you’re more likely to enjoy what you’re doing as it will not hurt to the same extent (it’ll still hurt, not in the same way!), you will stay consistently challenged, and you’ll notice marked improvements.  As an example, if you are beginning a running program, make it a run/walk program where you set for yourself very specific time intervals of walking and running such as 2-minutes walking/2-minutes running for a total of 20 minutes.  After a couple of weeks at this schedule, re-adjust your time intervals incrementally to make it more challenging.  If you are a more avid athlete, manageable goals are equally important, as it is still necessary to take specific steps towards a greater fitness level, all of which takes time.  Additionally, more than simply feeling miserable if you take on too much too soon, a greater consequence is the potential of getting injured.  If you are uncertain of how to best pursue a structured workout program, take the time to not only work with a personal trainer or join a training program, but use that time to learn the how, why, and when of what you’re doing so that you can train smartly and injury free.  Be responsible for your own fitness.

Train in community.

Everyone is familiar with the old adage “misery loves company,” but that exhilaration of reaching a goal and being challenged when experienced with others may be arguably more motivating.  Exercising with others definitely allows you to commiserate, but it also allows you to challenge each other, distract you from your workout, and give you the opportunity to spend time with other people that you may not necessarily have time for otherwise.  Often times, training with others comes in the form of a training group whether that is a group fitness class, a local athletic club, or team sports.  The benefit of joining one of these groups is having a knowledgeable trainer or coach to help ensure that you’re staying on the right track.  Additionally, there are a number of events that allow you to participate as a team with your friends such as relay triathlons, relay running events, or even simply entering as a team in your favorite event!

Do what you like – like what you do!

To borrow from the Life is Good guys, the simplicity of enjoying your workout simply makes it more fun!  Many people approach fitness with this apprehension and dread such that they have to bully themselves into the workout and more often than not, the workout simply doesn’t happen.  Find something you enjoy doing and quit doing what you don’t enjoy doing.  It sounds simple and it is simple.  Though running may be a great way to build endurance and shed the pounds relatively faster, rather than simply avoiding running and inevitably all physical activity because you don’t enjoy it, take a spinning class, put on your zumba shoes, hit the pool, play some racquetball, go rock climbing, and keep going until you find that something that you can’t get enough of.  During that process, be sure to pursue activities that you can realistically do on a regular basis.  The goal is to make fitness a lifestyle and when you find something that you enjoy doing, that fits into your schedule, and that you enjoy doing with other people, the workout is no longer a tedious and exerted effort, but something that you can’t wait to do.  So even when your schedule becomes hectic and life gets in the way as it tends to do, when fitness is part of your lifestyle, you will be able to pick up where you left off and keep going.

Just do it.

Nike got it right and that’s the final step.  The best laid efforts amount to nothing if you don’t follow through.  Decide in advance that your new workout plan is not going to just be a resolution, and then put a date on your calendar of when you’re going to start, join a training program, get involved in a local club, meet with a personal trainer, and don’t just be another number to add to the bets taken on those “New Year’s Resolutioners!”

Don’t let your New Year’s Resolution for 2011 be the same for 2012!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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