Friday, 9 January 2015

Get Fit Quick: It's a State of Mind

I've decided that I'd like to blog a little more frequently this year, if at all possible. That does mean that some future posts are likely to be a little shorter than the norm, but I don't necessarily think that this is always a negative trait in an entry. I guess we'll just have to see how it goes.

To keep the ball rolling, I thought I'd share a few quick thoughts on my newly devised training programme. Schedule. Whatever you want to call it. For those of you who are interested in the specifics, I hope to publish three similar pieces - one for each activity - so look out for those, but for now I'm just going to give you a brief overview of the timetable itself.

*SISC simply refers to our local swimming club's training sessions that I attend, whilst 'swimming' is public lane swimming.

Just in case you're viewing this on a mobile device and the embedded sheet doesn't show up, you'll probably have to have a look at this post again on a desktop web browser.

As said in my previous post, the foundations were taken from a typical Royal Marines training plan but I've adapted it slightly in order to suit my needs, such as fitting sessions in around school. Free periods and lunchtimes can actually serve to be more productive than simply lounging in the common room or hopelessly poring over homework and revision in the library whilst getting distracted every five minutes.

Once you get into a routine that you're comfortable with, it becomes a routine that you find hard to break. Momentum is an extremely powerful tool. I think that's the most important point to take from this post, even if nothing else is of any use to you. Exercise is a proven method of relieving stress, but if it's instead causing you to buckle beneath the metaphorical barbell then you ought to reconsider what you're doing.

I've now learnt that once you enjoy training, long for it even, the process is far more effective. It had been a mere four days when I began writing, and yet I'm already seeing noticeable improvements in more than just one area: cardiovascular fitness, strength, muscular endurance, focus with regard to learning, motivation, happiness and simply general well-being. You name it. It works absolute wonders. Admittedly I had trained eight times this week already, now ten, but it's a plan that suits me perfectly.

I've also been contemplating entering the Perkins Great Eastern Run once again this October, however I'm not sure the 5km fun-run will be too much of a challenge - especially since the route Seb and I take is definitely greater than 6km in distance. I want to aim for something bigger, and it just so happens that my friend James is up for testing his limits too...

We're going to attempt the half marathon! It may sound crazy to some of you, which I'm sure it is in reality, but I'm actually rather excited. We may not finish it particularly quickly, but I am certainly determined to finish - that's for sure! Sub-two hours would be nice, even if that's not an entirely realistic estimate for a first half marathon. Either way, in my case it will all be in the name of a great local cause - the MAGPAS Helimedix Lifesavers.

Last but certainly not least, I've got a few secret top tips that may also help you if you've got exercise and fitness goals of any sort:

1. Water, water and more water!

For me, the most important thing is to remain permanently hydrated. There's just nothing quite as revitalising, and it's an extremely important factor for good bodily function too. I personally prefer to drink water whilst exercising, but Vita Coco coconut water can make for a great post-workout beverage. Oh, I've never consumed a protein shake either, and don't intend to any time soon.

2. Get out of bed, and get moving! (That's an order)

Aside from being regularly topped up with human fuel of the liquid type, the way I (and maybe you too) feel after completing a cardio set in the morning is just as energising, if not having more of a positive effect. Make an effort to go running especially! There's no sensation quite like the cold morning air rushing through your hair and cutting into your skin to make you feel more alive and ready for the day ahead. I've also experienced a noticeable improvement in concentration levels throughout my day at school as a result. It really gets your metabolism going too. Not to mention your bowels! Just trust me. And please, don't ask.

3. But be sure to get 40 winks

Let's face it, none of us are anything compared to Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen, and we do need an ample amount of sleep if we are to function properly, believe it or not. It can be difficult to fit everything in in the day whilst still getting at least eight hours per night, but I learnt the hard way just how important rest and recovery actually is. If you struggle to get out of bed, you'll definitely struggle to suppress the fatigue when exercising.

3. Always eat after exercise

Some people may disagree with this point, and that's fine, but in my opinion, eating a meal of any sort (yes, breakfast too) is always best done after exercise. It may be slightly psychological, but I can almost feel my metabolism sky-rocket like one of those roller coasters that sends you hurtling vertically upwards, and the calories being burnt off within minutes of stuffing my face with a technique likened to that of Bruce in the film based on Roald Dahl's 'Matilda.'

4. More is more

Forget less is more, I believe that the more frequently you train, the better. This doesn't necessarily mean training for longer, but I do feel much better for doing some form of intense exercise every day. Not only are you continually challenging your body, but I feel that this also aids in making long-term progress, as your muscles are always engaged.

So it wasn't so short after all! I have a tendency of doing that; attempting to write a personal statement for an Oxford summer school the other night is one of many examples - I exceeded the character limit before even completing my introductory paragraphs! I haven't got the faintest of ideas about how I'm possibly going to express my passion for physics in a generous two characters. I won't even get started on application pages that clear all your progress despite having already saved the form details!

But enough of my ramblings. I really hope you enjoyed this post and found it at least a little insightful/inspiring/motivational/applicable/helpful (delete as appropriate). And please feel free to drop me a line! Feedback is greatly appreciated, plus I'd love to hear anything you have to add.

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