Every one of us is currently at a different level of fitness; whatever your level may be it is never anything to be ashamed of. Some people are put off from ever starting due to where they are currently at. Your level is your level. Even the best athletes are still looking to improve in one area or another and no one is the finished article. The important thing to determine is where you are currently at, and where you at looking to get to.
Goal setting and monitoring
You first need to establish your starting level. This can either be in the way of a formal fitness test, carried out by a professional, or your own personal assessment. Some methods of assessing your own fitness levels are suggested below:
- Can you run for 10 minutes continuously at a certain level on the treadmill?
- 10 minute time trial on treadmill/bike/cross trainer – 10 minutes to see the maximum distance you can achieve
- 1RM or 3RM lifts - see the maximum load you can achieve in squats or bench (only if you are fully competent in these lifts and have a solid training history)
- Can you run/cycle continuously to work without stopping for a rest?
- What is the quickest time can you achieve your run to work in?
You may also have your own targets you want to achieve so testing can be tailored towards specific goals accordingly. Once you have established a starting point with a formal or informal test, you can start working towards your end goal. It is important to set a goal you are actually interested in, to keep motivation high throughout your training. If you aren’t really bothered about being able to run further, you are unlikely to push yourself very hard in the training to achieve that. Always set a timeframe on your fitness targets, or you become in danger of never achieving the finish line. For example, I am going to get my run to work done in under 15 minutes within 2 months time. Once you have a start and end point, the content in the middle is where the hard work begins!
How to achieve that goal
Always consult a professional if you are a beginner and want to establish a regular training programme. In order to improve in anything, aim to be training towards that goal at least twice per week. Be responsive if training is not progressing the way you hoped after two weeks. Is it time to change your training methods? Is the goal you have set unrealistic in that time frame? Don’t be afraid of making adjustments along your journey; it simply keeps you moving forward rather than getting frustrated.
Keep other activities going
All physical capacities are related. For example, if you become stronger, you increase your running economy, becoming more efficient so you can therefore run for longer. Or by regularly taking part in yoga, you could improve your breathing regulation, which will also aid your running performance. Working on other fitness components not only keeps your training varied, but can indirectly assist in the work towards your goal. Try not to become too single minded in the pursuit of your fitness goal but keep your training varied and full of the activities you enjoy. Repeatedly performing the same actions can also overload parts of the body, leading to increased injury risk. By varying training methods to include other activities, load is spread more evenly throughout the body and no single structures are overloaded.
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