Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Injury. New job. Moved home. Starting a family. For many, these are simply another step and a learning curve in life. But for a vast number of people, including myself, they perceive these things that should be considered as a natural experience of life as excuses preventing them from their fitness and aesthetic goals that we set ourselves, or that media sets for us. It may seem superficial, but with mental issues on the rise, it's a genuine problem. This self-defeating mentality is not uncommon, and makes many feel that they have to choose between keeping fit and other aspects of our lives. You are not alone. You should want to make yourself better. Why not? But is the pressure of keeping fit worth the expense of your happiness?
As a boy at school, I took my fitness seriously. It wasn't ever about aesthetic, it was about performance and improving my times as a runner across a variety of distances from track to cross country. But as I went to Uni, I fell victim to injury for the first time, and, upon graduating, I found time wasn't freely available with work and the pressures of maintaining a relationship and a weakening social life. My fitness drained quickly and I slowly felt like a disappointment to my former self.
A lot of people will have peaked in their physical form in their youth, but now look back and wish they made more of it, or wish they still had the fitness they had back then before life took them on the roller-coaster of a journey called adulthood. But they don't know how and many become to feel that they have passed their best and can't motivate themselves to reclaim that goal.
So what do you do to get out of this dark abyss of self-pity?
1. Change the goal. Life changes and so your goals should adjust to match the demands on your life. The stresses you face today will be different to what they were a few years ago. What is it you actually want to achieve?
2. Make a plan. You know what you want to achieve, now set a plan that gets you there. Start off really easy. Allow plenty of room for growth, mentally and physically! Training intensity should increase by no more than 10% a week.
3. Work out what's stopping you. Inevitably, there will be barriers. Try and make your fitness flexible so it can meld around other plans. If it's stopping you doing the fitness, and you don't enjoy it, then take a step back. Can you remove this restriction, and if not, look for a compromise. Life does get in the way, it's the same for even the best athletes - they are human beings just like us after all!
4. Find people that support you. Don't let anyone get in the way of your happiness. Indulging, having fun and looking yourself aren't mutually exclusive. You have this life to make the most of, and no one is that important to get in the way of your ambitions. Plus, you need good friends and family who will be there to show off your fitness milestones to ;)
Having reviewed my goals, I realised my objectives were waaaay to ambitious. I was forcing my body to train at the level I was at my peak and I knew all that would achieve was injury. So I've stripped my training right back into bite size chunks. I've started 'The 1K a Day' plan. As it says on the tin, I simply have run 1km a day for a week. It takes me all of 5 minutes, but I feel like I've accomplished something. And next week, I'll begin to slowly increase the mileage, and, in turn, so will my confidence.
I will begin a blog series about my fitness journey as I build myself up to race again, whilst trying to run a business! So you can learn from my mistakes and experience so you don't have to find the same problems! Watch this space!