SO this weekend I did my first - and hopefully last - marathon. More pertinently for this article I did it very, very badly.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. A couple of positive things came out of the experience.
First, it gives me a nice anecdote for this article on the importance of exercise adherence. Second it gave me respect for those people – and this is not only marathon runners – who force themselves to do the things they don’t want to do for the simple reason that they know they should be doing them.
The main reason I performed so badly is simply because I didn’t train enough. And the reason I didn’t train enough is that I find running incredibly unrewarding which means I have no enthusiasm when it comes to training - or ‘wasting’ two or three hours of my weekend/life as I usually refer to it.
In fact the only way I could motivate myself to run was by running to something, such as gymnastics, or work.
This shameful lack of adherence ties in with a question that I’m often asked by clients, namely: "What’s the best type of exercise?"
My answer has always been - ‘the one that you will do on a regular basis.’
And this weekend proved it. Annoyingly it proved it very slowly and for an inordinately lengthy period of time.
While of course there are advantages to every types of exercise - weight training is without doubt better for you than slow state cardio - the point remains that 10 missed weight training session will never be better for you than 10 cardio completed sessions.
So while I am not a big fan of running, or Body pump or Zumba classes, if you enjoy these sorts of things and you can make the time in your life to do them, then do them.
Better than nothing
Of course if you can find some time to force yourself to do a structured weight training session then even better. But just make sure you do something.
This adherence also applies to diet. While it’s fantastic to be able to eat a nutritious, whole-food diet this only works if you can actually stick with it. If you know that you are the sort of person who will crack under this sort of strictness and go on a binge that would clear out a Tesco-local’s confectionary stand then perhaps ease off on the strictness until you feel comfortable about not rebelling quite so bad.
If you feel that you need carbs in the evening try and have them from natural sources such as potato or rice, and try and have less during the day to even things out.
The important thing is to do this regular and stick with it.
And it’s worth pointing out that sticking with it doesn’t mean every day for the rest of your life. Again there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a week’s holiday from the diet after a couple of months, as long as you know that you are not going to go crazy and undo all the good work you’ve done.
The second thing I learned this weekend is admiration for people who exercise when they don't really want to. I think a mistake a lot of trainers mistake is to forget that most of their clients just don't like exercise. In fact this dislike of exercise and a reluctance to partake in it is the reason they are in a job. So when we hear that a client hasn't managed his five prescribed visits to the gym that week it's all too easy to think that they are not committed to their training.
But the reality is that 'wasting' precious time doing something you don't like takes a
tremendous amount of will-power - something I recently learned the hard way..