Spring is here! I know this as I just saw the first Robin. He was frozen in a bird bath but nonetheless, he's here.
Spring means the end of "excuse" season. No more justifying our inactivity with reports of coming snow or record breaking low temps. That ship has sailed and with it, any reasons to remain on the couch. No sir, it's time to do an honest assessment of our fitness and what needs to be done.
To those of you who managed to work out and stay active throughout the winter, well done. By staying fit and finding activities that kept your body firing on all cylinders, you're ready to slide into the next phase of your program. When the coming warm weather invites you to shed those winter clothes, you'll be ready to proudly show off that lean physique. Life is good!
I would dare say, however, there's a fair amount of you that didn't feel compelled to get out the door this winter. The theory that if hibernation is good for bears, it has to be good for you seemed quite sensible these past few months. It would be hard to argue with the soundness of that logic but it probably means that pile of innertubes with ears staring at you in the mirror looks familiar. There's nothing left to do but brush its teeth and resolve to change things.
An honest assessment of your fitness level should be just that, honest. Just because you were cracking out 5K races throughout the summer and fall doesn't mean you're ready to hit the ground running if you haven't maintained your conditioning all winter. Coming back too quickly is recipe for injury which is hardly the way to kick off the season. If you've remained fit all winter, by all means keep it up but always remember to build your workouts gradually. Even going from a treadmill to the roads requires a bit of adaptation as the change of surface will stress our legs differently.
After assessing your conditioning, it's smart to look at the condition of your shoes. Running shoes that have a couple of hundred miles from the Fall followed by a couple of months of inactivity should probably be replaced. The foams will dry out and lose their responsiveness which means your legs will be bearing more pounding than they'd like. Unhappy legs will make the rest of your body unhappy. Who needs that?!
Above all, keep this in mind; nothing will derail or otherwise defeat a fitness plan quicker than unrealistic goals. You set yourself up for failure when you set goals that you have little or no chance of reaching. Let's face it, the vast majority of goals center around weight loss which is all well and good but when the scale is your only gauge of success or failure, you walk a slippery slope. Instead of telling yourself you want to lose X lbs per week, commit to losing a sensible amount by the start of summer. If you exercise smartly and eat right, you WILL lose the weight but as important, your commitment to doing these healthy things will improve your sense of self while benefiting things like blood pressure, cholesterol and sleep quality.
Look at Spring as a second chance for healthy resolutions. Instead of a "new year", it'll be a "new you" resolution. Even better, this resolution will take place in the warm weather instead of January and February and that's a good thing right?
-written by Jay Russell (visit Jay on the weekends at Miles Ahead!)