I hated running all the way back in junior high school. The actual process of running was not bad, just the last mile or so. I would get the familiar twisting in my gut and the burning in my chest. Just when I think my eye balls were about to explode, I would be at my finishing point.
The act of running for long distances was never fun for me because it was long, drawn out and boring. The advent of the Walkman turned a lot of us around because we could get amped on our soundtracks and get inspired. The glory days of audio cassettes made fitness much more bearable.
I still hated the prospect of that last mile every time in spite of the sexy sound of Monty Norman and John Barry’s James Bond theme finishing my run. It never failed that last mile would twist my gut and burn my lungs to ashes. That was then..
In my mid thirties, I switched to cycling and found that I could get the rush of endorphins without the heartburn of the last mile. My legs still got the pump I wanted to burn the fat from my body and my shoulders got a workout from working the handlebars for hours on end.
If you can reminisce about the good old days of being young, single with eight to ten percent body fat, you know that life makes some drastic turns by the time you reach middle age. There are ways to get back to that level of activity if you can dedicate a portion of your day to getting fit and staying fit.
If you are getting back into shape, you’ll need to take it slow at the start. Middle-aged bones and muscles are a bit different than those of teenagers. As Dirty Harry said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
If you want to safely get started with cardio again, here are six tips to get you going:
Pick your time to work out.
Keep it flexible but try to do it around the same time each day. Your body will likely feel more comfortable and your mind will be more willing to get started. Everyone who works out regularly knows that getting started is the hardest part of working.
Make your schedule realistic.
If you work out in a gym and you are a traveling sales person, you’ll want to find alternate means of working out. Plan your running around your lifestyle in order to avoid conflicts. Those conflicts soon become excuses why you can’t work out enough to stay fit.
Warm up properly.
We’ve all at one time or another hastily jumped into our workout gear and started our program without thought of the consequences of warming up. After a day or two of regret we get back to normal and resolve never to do that again. But we do any way. Make warm ups a five minute habit.
Cool down and deflate after your workout.
Just as important as starting slowly; finish slowly. Gradually bring your heart rate down and let your muscles return to normal over a three to five minute period.
Don’t go crazy and over do it.
Think progressive when you work out. Running, cycling, jumping rope or any other cardio workout is great but don’t over train. You’ll want to stay fit and burn fat but not injure yourself in the process.
Track your progress.
Keep notes and measure your improvements. That’s the way to compete with your last best results. It will keep you young, strong and eager for that last mile.
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