Chances are, some of you are kicking off your training after long break last year. With that in mind, here are 4 tips that you can take advantage of to make sure you set off on the right foot!
4 Tips to Kick-start Training
1. Start with Strength
After a long break, our muscles weaken and our movements become inefficient. Basically, it means your body is unprepared. This is a huge cause of concern especially since a lot of people get overzealous with restarting their fitness journey. This results in injuries which demotivates them further. We don’t want to take one step forward and two steps back.
The answer lies in proper strengthening. I know that some endurance athletes don’t usually like lifting weights thinking that it will make them heavier/bulkier and that it doesn’t translate to real-world gains. However, having a strength and conditioning routine is important in any training program.
First of all, it helps address and muscular imbalances and weaknesses that might cause problems later on. Injuries such as ITBS, Achilles tendonitis, and runner’s knee can easily prevented with proper strengthening (together with other things such as form/technique adjustments).
Secondly, it can result in larger gains in speed and endurance down the road. I always preach that having a solid foundation is key to racing success. Strength is one of those pillars that should never be neglected. Strength training will allow your muscles to be more resilient to fatigue, more efficient with movement, and can even help you improve overall technique.
2. Keep Volume Low
It’s easy to get caught up with the volume trap. We usually measure our training programs in terms of hours or distance. However, there’s more to it than that. Yes, volume is important but it’s not the only metric you should be measuring. Since you’re restarting training, don’t expect yourself to perform your previous workouts the same way. Instead, wipe the slate clean! Give yourself a fresh new start and with that in mind, reframe what you think is “short” or “long.”
For example, if you’re used to running 2hrs every weekend previously, consider doing 45mins or less. With this, run those 45mins progressively with better quality. Your goal now, is not to run longer but to gradually run faster. If you add too much volume too soon, you’ll be running longer but might end up running slower. We want to be able to run progressively faster now so we can have an easier time adding volume later on. Keeping Volume low (for now) can also result in more consistent, gains, that you can bank on long-term.
3. Look at the Scale
A lot of us gained weight during the long off season, and it’s a larger problem than we think! Not only are our muscles weaker than before, our body is also overburdened with the excess weight we’re carrying around. This will not only make things harder for us, it can also lead to injuries such as plantar fasciitis and knee problems.
The answer lies in managing your weight. You need to look at the scale and keep an eye on your diet. Aim to lose an average of 1-2lbs per week until you’re back to your race weight. Trust me, it’s easier to do this now rather than later on when the season is in full bloom! When training volume is high, we want to focus on recovering rather than weight loss. It’s a smarter approach that will lead to larger jumps in improvement. Remember, our sacrifices now will pay dividends later on!
4. Have a Plan
Having a concrete, structured, and well-designed plan is a no brainer but not a lot of athletes put an emphasis on it especially early in the season. Consider doing this as soon as possible because not only will you accelerate your progress (and allow yourself to kickstart your gains), it will also help you stay committed to your goals. If we don’t have any specific routine, it’s easy to procrastinate and deviate from the goal. A sense of accountability is important. The “guilt” we feel from missing out on a session or indulging too much on junk food can be useful to keep us locked in. Think of it as a way for you to reach your goals faster and perform better!