Well it's that time of year again and many people will be thinking about the commitments that they have recently made, either to themselves, friends or possibly colleagues at work.
2024 IS THE YEAR that you will run a marathon or at least complete the Couch to 5K that you've started, for the last three years, or maybe during the works Christmas do, you all committed to doing a long distance walk for charity. Now you're back at work hoping that everybody has forgotten about it, but of course one enthusiast won't. They won't, because they love walking, they're probably under 30 years old, physically active want to see everyone else suffer, while offering 'strong support' with a slightly mocking tone!
Let's be clear, physical activity is great (sometimes) but it needs to be approached in the right way. As a physical therapist I expect, within the next month, to see a steady flow of casualties who have done damage to themselves trying to deliver on the new year resolutions.
So if you are contemplating putting on your running shoes and hitting the streets, please allow me to make a couple of recommendations. These particularly apply if you don't have a recent training history in the activity you are contemplating.
Recent training history means regular, injury free activity with stable or progressing performance within the last twelve months. If you don't have the above criteria, you don't have a strong data reference point to know what you are capable of and where you should start.
One of the main problems with most on-line fitness programs is that they very often lack sufficient rest and recovery periods. If you are not an active person you may not be aware that the benefits of training actually occur during rest periods, not during the exercise itself. So if you go for a hard run, long walk or beast yourself in the gym, it's the few days afterwards while resting that your body takes on the beneficial training effect.
On-line training programs often lack rest and recovery because the creator of the program (assuming they are competent) have prioritised overcoming motivational inertia and providing ongoing instant gratification. More simply; having prised you off the sofa the way they try to keep you off the sofa is to keep you moving.
Inertia and the need for encouragement is very often needed and this is the prime benefit of having some kind of personal trainer or at least a training buddy. But the lack of rest very often causes injuries that are easily avoided and once the pain and injury settle in, everything is on hold until 2025.
So start gently, rest more than you train and allow longer than the program says that you need. Enjoy 2024 and take it easy.