Consistency Is Key When It Comes To Safe Exercise For Better Health


Hi folks,

Moon rising over a local farm at the end of a 4 hour spin on the bike. Taken with my Blackberry.

Moon rising over a local farm at the end of a 4-hour spin on the bike. Taken with my Blackberry. Click on image for a better view; return to come back to narrative.

Last weekend I had a 4-hour bike ride scheduled by my coach, but I just didn’t want to do it. Then I did it anyway, in spite of myself. For the first hour my legs complained, my brain complained, and in general I complained. The complaints didn’t do any good because I was out there on my own. If I had said any of this stuff to a riding buddy (which I never would, as I learned that lesson years ago), they would have cracked on me mercilessly and then picked up the pace. It doesn’t pay to be a whiner. One time I mentioned that I was tired during a training camp, and my coach laughed, saying, “This is training camp, not complaining camp.” Sucking it up is all part of endurance training, or any exercise program for that matter. Some days you just don’t feel like it. Interestingly, by hour three of my ride my legs had settled in, and even though the temperature was dropping fast and it was getting dark, I was having a blast, to be rewarded with a lovely view of the moon rising over a local farm on my way home. The trick is, “do it anyway,” and you never know, you might just have a great time. Think consistency.

There is, however, a difference between disciplined consistency and rigid obsession, which can be dangerous. Working out regularly is not the same thing as doing a set of proscribed sets or training exercises exactly as instructed day after day, with no regard to how you feel. It is important to have some exercise pretty well every day, but you can have at least one rest day per week. In fact, recovery time is a critical component of any effective training program. Sometimes you need even more recovery time, so listen to your body and learn to distinguish needed rest from laziness. They actually do feel different.

The right amount of exercise is more of a mental than a physical challenge. If you listen to your body you will know how much more or less will be good for you today.

Here are a few guidelines that help me with consistency of training:

  1. I try as best I can to make it fun, even to the point of thoughtful mixing and matching of workouts or substitutions based on the weather and how I feel. It will not be fun every time, but that’s life.
  2. I try to have a goal or focus for every workout, because one can only really learn one thing at a time. For instance, in the swim you might try to stay high in the water or improve your catch, on the bike work on optimal posture or cadence, and whilst running explore shoulder relaxation or high foot turnover. There are an endless number of things to work on, and I find it fun. This type of analytical approach to training is not every one’s cup of tea, so maybe they can just enjoy the wind in their hair if they have any.
  3. I imagine having to explain to my coach that I didn’t follow his instructions. Not good!
  4. I imagine how I’ll feel after the workout has been completed – just great, almost every time! I apply this technique to early morning swims.
  5. You can keep a diary of your progress, noting completed and missed workouts, which I do on when reporting back to my coach.
  6. I schedule workouts with training partners because they keep me honest and ‘my feet to the fire.’
  7. And sometimes, I just grit my teeth and do it.

I hasten to add that most of the time I go off happily to my workouts, in which respect I am very fortunate.

Happy training!

-k @FitOldDog

My workouts today:

WorkoutPLAN Coach: Chris Hauth
Duration: 01:30:00
up to 2 hrs. – nothing hard here – just steady Z2 cycling
Duration: 01:00:00
3000 – 400 warm up – 24×100 – 8×100 with 30 sec. rest stretch out and some drills, 8x 20 sec rest add some stroke, 8x 10 sec. rest – steady, solid freestyle. 200 warm down

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.