Welcome back to the third instalment of your Kalaw 12k Training Guide. Sooo…. How did you go? Did you manage to stick to the training program, well, a little at least? Don’t forget it’s okay to move around the training days to suit your own needs but remember to follow a similar pattern of training, then recover.
It’s common at the start of a new exercise program to find it difficult to make time to exercise. Let’s face it, our lives are generally pretty busy, and let’s not forget that here in Myanmar, depending where you are living, often going outside for a walk, jog or run, is the last thing you really want to do. But we encourage you to keep going! The KTR Team all know that how hard it is at the start of a program. Finding the time, energy, motivation etc all takes effort, BUT, be encouraged, it will get easier! The more often you deliberately make the time to exercise the more integral or important that time for exercise becomes in your daily life.
7 simple ways to motivate yourself to exercise.
Seek instant gratification - while the long term benefits of exercise on health and well being are generally well known, often it isn’t enough to keep people motivated. Maybe you need to think of some more immediate benefits from your exercise – having more energy, less stressed, time to think away from work and family, being in a better mood or sleeping better.
Set goals - your desire to walk or run the KTR 12k is a great goal! Aiming to meet your training plan each week is also a great short-term goal. Perhaps printing the plan out each week and placing a big green tick (or similar) next to each planned activity once you have completed it, will help show that you are making progress. Some people find the use of a fitness tracker or smartphone app that provides some hard data on time and distance, to also be good encouragement.
Have a game plan – think of your exercise as an important appointment – lock it in! If you can’t fit it in on the day according to the training plan, find another day. I like to run in the early morning – why? Several reasons, but one of the main ones is that whatever else happens during the day I know that I have done some exercise and enjoyed all it offers me.
Make the training plan suit your schedule - as we have said before, don’t be afraid to move the prescribed days of training around to make them fit your week. As long as you follow a similar pattern the outcomes will be the same. You may even need to shorten some of the sessions due to your time availability. Although we don’t really recommend this, doing something is better than doing nothing. You may even need to split a session between morning and evening to fit it in.
Entertain yourself - some people like to listen to music or podcasts while they walk or run. Some like to just soak in their surrounds – observe people, birds, dogs, cars, buildings, signs etc. Me, I often just like to retreat back into my own thoughts or often not to really think at all, but just run.
Train with a buddy or mate (Australian for friend!) – training with a friend can make the exercise more enjoyable but another important thing it does, is hold you accountable. Agreeing to meet up with someone at a given time and place to run together means that you are more likely to do it than if you were by yourself.
Reward yourself for exercising - Wait! Before you rush out and buy J Doughnuts, KFC or other high calorie rewards, can we suggest you think more imaginatively. Why not reward yourself with a massage every two weeks, or perhaps as one study suggests, to give a certain amount of money each week to someone you trust. If you reach your goal, you get the money back with the option of allocating it toward a reward such as a nice meal, massage, book, holiday etc. But if you fail to meet your goal, the other person keeps the money and gives it to a cause (charity) that you don’t like – ouch!
‘To stretch or not to stretch that is the question!’
In times gone by we all thought it was really important to do a good amount of stretching immediately before we started an exercise activity. Well times have changed, and it is now suggested that before we start a specific activity we actually do very little stretching (if any), but gently or slowly go through the motions of that exercise. For example - if your plan calls for a brisk walk we advise that you start at a slow walk for 5 mins or so, allowing time for your muscles to warm up, blood to begin circulating more quickly through your body, joints to loosen etc and then gradually increase your pace to that required for your training session. Likewise, when running – start with a walk, gradually pick up the pace over 5-8mins until you are doing a slow jog then increase the pace until you reach the desired training level. This is called dynamic stretching – it’s basically a warmup using the movements associated with the activity you are about to do.
After your activity is complete (cooldown phase), and your muscles are well and truly warmed up and more agreeable to being stretched (or not), is the time to be doing what we call static stretching. These are those common stretches that you may have learnt at school or when doing some other form of exercise. In Week 4 we’ll include some recommended stretches.
How to Stretch
To get the most out of your post exercise stretching session, simply follow the step-by-step guide below:
It is very important to be relaxed. Physical and mental tension will inhibit your range of movement and prevent your muscles from stretching as effectively. Hence, you will not achieve maximum flexibility benefits.
Ease into the stretch
Gradually move your body or the limb being stretched into the stretch position. Once you feel slight tension in the muscle, (known as the point of bind), which is the limit of the muscle's flexibility, hold the position. Avoid bouncing or any other movements, which could overstretch the muscle and result in injury.
Relax your breathing
Always keep your breathing easy and relaxed because that will reduce all-round muscular tension, which in turn will allow you to stretch further. Holding your breath will tense up your entire body, making stretching much harder.
Hold for 30 seconds
To get maximum stretching benefits, you need to hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. Stretching each muscle for just a few seconds brings no flexibility benefits.
Pain means no gain
Stretching should invoke a mild feeling of 'tightness' or tension within the stretched muscle. Pain when stretching indicates injury or a muscle that has been overstretched. Therefore, never stretch beyond a 'comfortable tightness'.
Rest and repeat
A single stretch for each muscle is very beneficial but if time permits, carry out two stretches for each muscle, separated by a short break of 30 seconds. The second stretch will help extend your range of movement further.
Ideally stretch the major muscles after every walk or run but if that proves too time-consuming, stretching twice a week is a suitable target.