Consistent or Consistently Inactive?

The Findings:

After recently returning to full training from a calf injury, that meant not running for 25 days, I have witnessed first hand(again!) what a break in fitness training can do! The great thing about technology is being able to compare data and doing exactly that has shown me in black and white the differences between regular, consistent exercise, to irregular, inconsistent exercise. After seeing what it can do to someone like myself that is in the fitness industry for a living and loves to keep fit, I thought it might be a great idea to share my comparisons with others that exercise a lot less, to show the effects it can have on the body and change a few people’s mind sets towards regular exercise.

The facts:

I run 10 miles at a time 2-3 times a week with 1-2 resistance training sessions in between, consisting of full body weights and core exercises. The last time I ran(when fresh) before getting injured, was Sunday 10th July. Since then I have not been able to do any impact exercise so I’ve been limited to CV on a bike and weight training. Because of this I knew my fitness would suffer but I wasn’t sure how much until I returned from injury. My first run back from injury(without pain) was on Thursday 11th August, 32 days apart. The differences in pace, time, and most importantly heart rate are quite amazing!

Here is the comparison(make sure to click on ‘more detail’ for a thorough comparison):

If you look at the difference in max and average heart rate between the two, the latter run was higher by 12 beats per minute, making the heart rate zone much higher and the body having to work much harder even on a flatter course. If this is what can happen to the efficiency of the heart of a personal trainer in 32 days, whilst continuing other forms of training in that time, imagine what it can do to the average person that neglects their body and the exercise they do to keep it in shape over months or years of irregular, inconsistent exercise. If the heart takes that short a time to become that less efficient, take a moment to think about the strain it will have on other organs of the body and the body’s performance as a whole. Even the smallest jobs could seem epic if the heart has to work so hard to make it happen, so here are a few tips to make sure you keep your body working as efficiently as possible.

The Tips:

  1. When starting to exercise, try to get into a routine that the body recognises. Build it up so that you workout at least 2-3 times a week for an hour at a time.
  2. Everyone needs a rest to let the body recover and as I’ve mentioned before, the rest is just as important as the actual workout, but don’t leave it too long between workouts. As you can see from the stats above, if the gaps are too big between exercise, the body’s fitness will suffer and you will feel like you’ve taken a step backwards every time you start exercising again.
  3. Lastly, keep things fresh by mixing up what exercise you do, this way you will be less inclined to put it off as you are bored of your routine. By doing this you will keep your exercise routine fun, consistent and your body working efficiently for as long as you put the hard work into it.

I hope these three tips help you keep your body fit and healthy. If you have come across the same break in exercise and experienced the same fitness struggles, please leave your stories and let me know if this blog has helped you!

Training Tools

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you may already know that I love to train and keep myself as fit as I possibly can. It’s not just a job, it’s my life, it’s what I’ve always done and what I’ll continue to do until I physically can’t anymore! Weight training has always been very high on my list of priorities and over the last eighteen months running has featured more and more in my training routine. I’m a firm believer that you should use anything you can to make exercise as enjoyable as possible and recently I have found the perfect training tool to make my training fresh and more fun!

Over the last year I have got into a routine of running 2-3 times a week for 10 miles at a time. My times have improved dramatically and a lot of that goes down to challenges I have entered that keep me pushing myself further and becoming fitter. All the challenges were from the same source, the ‘Nike+ Running’ site.

After entering the ballot for the 2012 London Marathon I decided to run a couple of test runs to find a pace I think I can sustain for 26.2 miles. The problem I had, was that slowing my pace meant smaller strides, therefore the distance the Nike+ sensor recorded was dramatically wrong. Being a perfectionist, I found it very hard and quite annoying trying to judge a pace when the recorded distance seemed to be wrong every time I ran a slower, longer run. So, after asking a few questions to some running friends of mine, the unanimous decision was to invest in a watch that would be more accurate for recording my training.

That is when I bought the Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch. Since that day I no longer have a problem with inaccurate readings, such as distance and times, and it also shows me in detail every second of my run, from the route, speed, distance, to the heart rate throughout the run and even the elevation. It also connects to the Nike+ running site so I don’t lose out on all the challenges that are pushing me to bigger and better things! For me, this is the tool of all training tools. It makes running long distances fun and seeing the results recorded on my computer for every step of my run, is incredible. With this new watch I can now train hard and enjoy the results!

Training doesn’t have to be a chore. Think outside the box and find something that can make your routine more fun and enjoyable. One thing’s for sure, if you are enjoying what you’re doing, you will get better at it and want to do it more and more. Why not try a few of the following if you want to freshen your training up:

  • If you have a friend that trains in a similar way you do, why not set a challenge between the two of you as a bit of friendly competition. We all like to be winners and even if it’s friendly, I guarantee you will push yourself harder just to beat your friend!
  • If you do the same exercise over and over again it starts to get repetitive. Try mixing it up and doing something different, your body responds better to variety and when you return to your old routine you will start to enjoy it again.
  • If you train alone, try training with a friend for a change. By having someone training with you with similar goals that can help push you along when it’s tough, it can really motivate you when you need it most. Also a little conversation can make the time pass quicker and stimulate the mind a little more.
  • A lot of people already do this but if you’re not one of them, listen to some upbeat music when working out. Design your own playlist of all your favourite music and see what happens. You’ll be surprised at how much energy you have when one of your favourite song comes on just as you’re starting to struggle.
  • If you train with a friend, how about setting mini competitions each session where the loser does a forfeit, such as an extra sprint or 10 press ups etc. You’ll be shocked how well you step up to the challenge.

There are many ways of keeping your routine fresh and enjoyable, just think about what makes you tick, add it to your routine and keep working hard. As I always say “play hard, work harder!” and you will see the results.