Sitting is the new smoking . We sit and look at our phones and the downsides mount. Many of us clearly recognize the effects that our inactivity and the foods that we eat have on our bodies. We know the implications of this with respect to our life expectancy. We want to change, but change seems to hard.
- Maybe your goals have been too lofty?
- Maybe your activities led to too much pain too quickly and you hung up your running shoes?
Let’s change that !
How can you approach this differently in 2016 in a way that will make your lifestyle changes stick.
The US Government recommends 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. There’s a reason that less than 30% of people achieve that. It’s hard .. at least it seems so! Did you know that there are a few quality research studies which show that simply walking around the office or standing at your desk and doing calf raises every 30 min can lower your blood pressure, minimize blood sugar spikes and provide a sound start towards your goals of minimizing your risk of heart disease?
Setting goals are difficult. Setting lofty long term goals are often a recipe for failure. Most of us stress about big projects because we look at the finish line far off in the distance and we are not sure how we get there.
Enter the concept of chunks … little pieces.
Break up your goals into bitesize chunks. That way realizing the goal isn’t some day way off in the future, it is a week from now. Make the goal achievable. The thought of losing 60 pounds seems daunting … but do you think you can lose one pound per week? Seems easier, no. New runners suffer the same lofty goal related failures. You want to run 26.2 by December and you hit the streets today and struggle to break an 11 minute pace on your first mile. How about a goal of running 2 miles at a 10:30 pace in 1 month. As long you your heart is “healthy” – we can get you there… and it’s only a month away.
Your goal at the beginning of any journey towards a healthier you needs to be achievable. Enter the concept of Making Your Day a Little Harder. This was started by a brilliant Family Practice doc in Canada -kudos to Mike Evans. The concept is simple. At home… move your printer far away from your computer. Park in a spot at the back of the lot. Walk those two flights of stairs. No elevators to go up 2 or down 5. Ever have a walking meeting? Try one. Ever go out for a walk with you young children? They’ll love the time alone with you.. and you’ll be amazed what they share when both of you aren’t buried in your iPad or phone.
Ready to move beyond simple, science proven lesser activity goals and start a running program?
Your long term goal is to run a 5k in 6 months. Your first (really) short term goal is to go upstairs and put your exercise clothes on. Your next goal is to be able to run 2 miles in under 22 minutes. That doesn’t seem so hard? Right?
Let’s do it…
Street is better than a treadmill.. but a treadmill is fine.
Your first few weeks you might be walking. How old are you? Subtract your age from 221. That’s your maximum heart rate. You never want to get close to that. Now, what is 70% of your maximum heart rate? That’s (221-your age) * 0.70
70% of your maximum heart rate or LOWER is your target heart rate as we begin. Any higher and the effort will be too painful and too stressful. You don’t have a heart monitor? Many do not- no problem. If you are walking fast or running and you are able to carry on a conversation without having to catch your breath then you are under the 70% threshold. That’s where you want to be. If you are trying to run, but you are short of breath then you need to walk for the first few weeks until your heart and lung capacity are built up enough for you to be able to run and still be able to talk.
We are “base building” … we are getting your heart and lungs ready to begin an exercise program. Base building actually takes months. Do not plan on increasing your mileage until your base is built. Even elite professional runners go through a base building process!
Whether you start by walking one mile 3 days a week or 2 miles 4 days a week, just make sure that the intensity is set to easy mode :-) Again, that means that you could carry on a conversation during the entire walk. If you become short of breath slow down or stop and recover.
Once you have walked a few miles at a brisk pace and controlled your intensity then you are ready to try to run the same distance. The same concept of an easy intensity applies. When you transition from walking to running you might find that you need to run-walk-run-walk, etc to keep your heart rate at 70% or below and be able to carry on a conversation. As the days go by you will find that you are running further than you are walking ! :-))) And within a month you have hit your goal of running two miles at an 11 min/mile pace or better. Be content… be proud and let’s move on.
Even though your walks/runs do not exhaust you and are relatively easy to accomplish you will still get a “runners high”. You will feel great and you will be able to stick to your new program.
Next goal is to build your mileage 10-15% per week. That seems to be the number that your heart, lungs, bones and tendons can handle.
At this stage of the game we do not perform any more strenuous runs or walks until your base is built and your mileage is up to 3.1 miles or 5k !
See .. that 5k goal isn’t too far away. In later posts we can explore how to improve your time, and how to add on more strenuous runs. But until this becomes something that you look forward to, and find enjoyable — if you turn up the volume too fast you might set yourself up for failure.
Those of you with a personal history of heart disease or a family history of heart disease or sudden cardiac death — please check with your doctor before starting any strenuous exercise program.