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Monday, September 10, 2012
Importance of Following a Training Program
Training programs were developed for a reason. If you're new to any form of exercise, it's a good idea to look at programs designed by experts in their field and take their advice on how far and how fast to train towards a particular goal. Doing too much too fast can result in minor injuries that can sideline you, or worse.
Someone who is overweight and/or has lived a sedentary lifestyle should (with their doctor's blessing) be able to do some form of exercise and work towards getting faster or going a longer distance, but it's much better to start off slow and increase in small increments. Training programs work for the majority of people, and they also keep you on track with mini goals at each level.
I've recently started back up with SparkPeople and signed up for the virtual 5K Trick or Treat Trot at the end of October. I'm overweight and haven't done more than a short walk in years and no jogging at all, so when I saw they also had several fitness plans, I jumped on board with that too. I know I can walk 5K, but I want to work towards jogging a portion of the distance, so I chose the four week plan designed for that very thing. There are other programs available for those who just want to walk the entire distance, or who are more fit and plan on running.
The first week of training for my particular program calls for 4 min walk/1 min jog for three days out of that week. Got that covered. The week starts new on Sunday, so I did my first day of week two yesterday, and did 4 min walk/2 min jog for about 32 min (program calls for 30 min). I carry my cell phone with me and set the stop watch which allows me to easily see when I need to switch gears from walk to jog and back. Being able to see those seconds ticking away works well for me; I tell myself just a few more seconds, you can do it! and it keeps me going. I figure I can endure just about anything for two minutes.
What prompted this blog post is that I was looking over my charted exercise for the last few days and realized that I got ahead of myself - week two is supposed to be 4 min walk/1.5 min jog for a total of 27 min. Oops.
Did I hurt myself by jogging just a little bit more than the program called for, and completing an extra couple of minutes? Probably not, but I do need to be more careful. With the added weight, I'm putting much more strain on my knees than I did during my fitter days in the Marine Corps, and if I do too much, I risk the chance of injury, which would set me back on my road to fitness. I'll back off the rest of the week and on training days, do what the plan says and move up to the 2 min jog for training week 3.
Will every plan be right for every person? Of course not, but it's a good place to start. Fitness experts design these plans as a starting base for the average person, but if your body is telling you different, please listen. If at any point during your workout you experience pain, stop and regroup. You might be able to push through a bit of discomfort, but anything more is risking serious injury and isn't worth it.
Disclaimer: I am not a fitness professional, so any advice I give is based purely on my own experiences with 21 years of Marine Corps physical fitness under my belt, my more recent experiences, and the advice of professionals. As always, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, and listen to what your body is telling you.
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