The Happy Valley Ironman 70.3 was an exciting event for the Central PA community. Over 2,000 participants from 43 different states and 15 different countries competed in the exciting event, featuring a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. It’s truly an athletic feat to complete an event like that!
I hope you were inspired by these athletes, because I know I was. Perhaps you’d like to get into running, biking, and/or swimming fitness, but you have not been very active in the last several months, years, or never before. If this sounds like you, then here are SIX tips to get yourself back into physical fitness without injuring yourself or burning yourself out.
- First address any lingering injury or chronic limitation. I know, we all want to jump right into swimming, biking, and/or running right away. But if you have a persistent spinal or joint injury that’s creating pain, lost mobility, or chronic muscle tension, then you will struggle to motivate yourself through the pain to reach fitness. Plus, your body is trying to tell you it needs support in reducing an injury. Let our team at Rothrock Chiropractic and Rehabilitation diagnose your injury, empower you with corrective exercises, and perform some therapy to reduce this BEFORE launching into your physical fitness journey!
- Start slow and gradually increase intensity. It’s so important to ease into your chosen exercise. Start with low-intensity workouts, or at the very least shorter durations of high-intensity exercise. It’s going to take time to build up endurance; you didn’t lose fitness overnight, so you won’t gain it back overnight either.
- Set realistic goals. We all want to be the first place finisher in our next race, and we want it to happen right now, right? But you need to set specific and reasonably attainable goals that match where you are right now. Clear goals will help you stay motivated and help you accurately measure your progress over time. Start with setting your short-term goals first, and then add long-term ones as you get going.
- Establish a consistent training schedule. How often have we heard the phrase “consistency is key?” Well, it applies to exercising, too. Creating a calendar and plan will help you stay on task and motivated. Make sure to set a schedule that suits your work and family routine. Don’t forget to mix in some strengthening training weekly, as well, especially focusing on core strength and stability. A consistent schedule will allow you to finally build up that endurance to really succeed in running, biking, and/or swimming.
- Cross-train and incorporate variety. Cross-training is so valuable for preventing burnout, plus it helps to engage muscles in different ways to prevent injury. Incorporating yoga, pilates, and elliptical workouts, to name a few ideas, will really continue work on your fitness while helping to prevent overuse injuries. And don’t forget to work on strength and core stability; that is essential for injury prevention. Also, during your aerobic training sessions, include interval training or terrain change-ups to prevent training from becoming monotonous.
- Listen to your body and rest as needed. It is so critical to take a rest day if you are feeling over-fatigued and worn-out. Pushing too hard without resting will set you up for an overuse injury, such as tendonitis, stress fracture, or ligament tears. Make sure your training schedule has complete rest days. Also don’t forget the crucial value of 7-9 hours of sleep per night, proper hydrations, and solid nutrition. All three of these will aid in your proper recovery between sessions.
In short, it’s important to be consistent, patient, and motivated. These six tips will help you turn from the spectator of this year’s Ironman in Happy Valley into the competitor next time. Taking these steps will allow you to ease into activity without injury. It will also enable you to celebrate your milestones and achievements along your journey of reclaiming physical fitness!