I work with quite a few folks, as personal clients and at The Quad, who are pretty out of shape to begin with. Some variation of the usual story is what it always is — fit and active when they were younger, and then college/marriage/work/life happens, and they find themselves here — looking like their younger version’s much older uncle/aunt — a few years later. And I don’t say this in any blasé fashion — this is what happened to me, and this is what happens to a lot of folks. It takes guts and hard work to get out of this situation. Getting into a fitness routine, changing the way they are eating — it is a lot of change to deal with.
They start training, and it is a bit slow to begin with, and they realize how out of shape they are. They stick to the basics, don’t do too much and slowly start seeing progress and results. Their clothes are a wee bit loose, they are sleeping better, and things are going good. This process usually takes a few weeks to 3 months.
And I think this might be where a disconnect first happens.
I think I am going to take up Zumba as well, 7 days a week
Yep, am ready to run a full marathon
Walking 100kms seems like a good idea (Yes! True story)
Now that I can squat X kgs, I think I should aim for 3X in 2 weeks
STOP. Breathe. Take a minute to think. Something’s working, why do you want to tinker with it? At this juncture, you need to continue doing what you’ve been doing. Progression is always built into training plans, and so you will continue to get stronger and more endurant — all you have to do is stick to it. But years of being sedentary, of seeing people around them do things (5K, 10K, and marathons for example) makes you do not-so-smart things. You are about to do something 100% detrimental to you, to the work you’ve put in, and a big roadblock to future progress.
Trust me, I get it. I get not being able to do something you want to do, coz you are not able to. And I know you are excited, and things that weren’t possible suddenly seem like they might be. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. To quote Mark Rippetoe,
You cannot jump off a building for reps
You want some gratification. You want some form of expression. You want to see if you can do something that wasn’t possible a couple of months ago. You suddenly feel all grown up and in control. But wait, you need to hear this
Stop acting like a child
You just needed someone to say it, that’s all.
Stop being so anxious about it. Because the truth is, you are getting gratification everyday! You are looking better, you are feeling better, you are stronger, you can run longer — so many good things are happening. So, just relax, and let the good things continue to happen. No, I dont mean you can sit back and relax, and say “job done”. Continue doing what you’ve been doing, and keep at it.
Here’s what I recommend. Train regularly, train hard for one year. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone else, except you. Prove to yourself that you have got the discipline to do this consistently. And then, off you go to do climb Mt Everest.
I am definitely not saying you cannot go beyond your training plan and try something adventurous. What’s the point of getting fitter if you cannot find a way to express it?
Don’t get “fit enough”. Instead, get fit!
If you are looking only for “fit enough” to do some activity you’ve been meaning to, chances are you will end up back in square 1.
P.S — I am assuming you are on a training plan, and not just doing random things like running some days, doing aerobics some days etc. On a training plan, you will be progressing on all key aspects like strength, speed, endurance, mobility. That’s key!