We all want to see results for our efforts, the long hard slog over the hills, running up those annoying steps or pushing ourselves through endless classes are much less satisfying if we don’t see results. We want results and often we want them too quickly, we push much too hard, too early on and collect a bunch of niggling injuries or even worse, end up being sidelined for a lengthy period of time by a significant injury. Once we recover from this injury often our enthusiasm for fitness has dwindled and we find ourselves focusing on other pressing areas of our lives. Of course high intensity training is fantastic in the right environment however this is when your body is ready for it and you have progressed beyond the beginner stage, this also includes those who are advanced but have returned from a layoff.
Of course in the right environment and in the right time in your training cycle, pushing yourself to your limits is a great way to see results. However this is when you are already fit, remember no one can keep pushing their limits endlessly without careful planning and adequate recovery time.
Often we overestimate our fitness levels, we remember the timed 10km run we did last year, or was that the year before? We assume we can put on our running shoes at any time and do it again, when we think back to how much exercise we have actually done in the last month, 6 months, 1 year we may actually be surprised. Remember training involves putting stress onto our tissues (muscles, tendons, joints, lunges, cardiovascular systems) and our bodies respond by improving their efficiency or strength. When you train you have a positive training effect where these tissues become stronger, more efficient or more resilient to these forces. However when you do not train there is a negative training effect where your tolerances will decrease and you become weaker. It is important when getting back into an exercise routine to assess what your actual fitness level is. Once you have ascertained this, then you should begin a progressive exercise programme, remembering that any excessive stiffness or soreness (lasting more than a few days) is generally a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard. Ignoring these signs and pushing hard will often result in unwanted injury.
Remembering that overtraining is pushing your body harder than its ability to recover, sometimes training harder doesn’t necessarily return better results. However the flip side to this is, once your body has adapted to your new training regime then you will cease to have any more gains. In order to continue to improve you need to increase either the intensity, frequency or time that you are training, this is the time when all that enthusiasm that you had at the beginning would be most beneficial.
One last point which we cannot ignore is the realisation that we may be getting older. While some teenagers will be able to charge right into a significant exercise program and may not suffer too many ill effects the older we are the longer our recover periods are and the more carefully we have to progress our exercises.