A great way to keep motivated is to exercise with other people. On days that we don’t have practice, I go jogging with two of my team mates. If that mood comes over me where I don’t really feel like running, I am more likely to force myself to go when I know that my friends are counting on me to be there. However, I tend to tire out much quicker than my team mates and have trouble keeping up.
Being the straggler can be discouraging. I don’t want to feel that I am holding them back, nor do I want to be left behind. However, I also don’t want an overuse injury, such as shin splits. During a game I am inclined to “work through the pain”, even at some risk to my health. I do not think that this is uncommon in the realm of sports. However, this kind of competitive attitude has no place in your routine jogging. Being the straggler is okay among your friends-your health is more important than your pride. Aggravating an overuse injury, such as going back into the running routine before shin splits have healed, can cause permanent damage. In your workout time, you want to feel the burn, but you don’t want the sharp pain of permanent defect! Stay with your workout partners and set short-term goals for yourself. While it can be discouraging to be behind, it can also encourage you to work hard and reach your goals!
The routine began with us jogging a mile. We would jog half a mile, then walk for 1/8 a mile or so, then jog for another half-mile. When I began this routine with my mates, my long-term goal was to be able to keep up with them and this routine. However, it can be discouraging to have a long-term goal since it may take a very long time to reach it. Some short term goals I made were as follows:
- Jog first half-mile without stopping to walk before break.
- Jog both half-miles without having to stop and walk (aside from break between half-miles)
- Jog both half-miles without having to stop on outdoor track (hills)
Once I had reached these goals, the next step was my long-term goal of keeping up with my jogging partners. Some techniques that helped along the way was to play “The Alphabet Game” with my jogging partners to take my mind off of my legs. Any kind of word game will do (such as 20 Questions), but I find the alphabet game works well because it goes pretty quickly and you can switch topic quickly as well. For example, “animals” or “names” as a category instead of roadsigns. Mind over matter!
In short, if you need to straggle a little bit during a routine with friends, go for it. If your friends aren’t nice about it, explain that you need to take care of your body and you will catch up with practice. Remember that progress is not immediate; you may be doing the same thing for a month before you see progress. This is why it is important to set short-term goals, or checkpoints along the way to reaching your long-term goal(s). Remember to stay hydrated, and don’t take ibuprofen before you work out. Keep mindful of your body and your needs. Don’t increase the intensity until you’ve mastered your current routine. If you do find yourself stuck with an overuse injury, don’t go back to running until you have fully healed. Try other cardio, such as swimming and biking instead.
And, as always:
Heat to relax muscles, cold to decrease inflammation after a work-out!