Each year, millions of adults discover that exercise doesn’t have to hurt. I know that this runs counter to experiences in physical education classes, but with the right combination of pacing, rest breaks, muscle manipulation and warming down, workouts can be the most joyful part of the day.
In fact, the rewards of exercise can lead one to doing too much. Running, for example, delivers a series of psychological benefits that are virtually unique: a significant boost to vitality with a positive attitude being the ones most commonly praised. The after-exercise glow is such a wonderful lifestyle change that many beginners assume that going faster and farther will increase the good feelings. Unfortunately, this often leads to aches, pains, and fatigue.
Over the 35+ years that I’ve been coaching, I’ve developed a pattern of training elements that has allowed most of my individual coaching clients to enjoy the experience as they benefit from the physical and psychological enhancements from exercise.
Start slowly. Most exercisers know that they need to warm up. I have my runners walk for 3-5 minutes, and then alternate a 20-60 second run with a 60 second walk for 10 minutes. At that point, most can ease into the pace for that day.
Insert recovery breaks before fatigue builds up. On long runs and races, I have my runners continue to insert walk breaks, usually every 1-4 minutes, to the end of the run. This reduces fatigue, speeds recovery, and can almost eliminate injury. My surveys surprisingly show that the walk breaks allow runners to run faster. Cyclists have “gliding” breaks, and those using exercise machines can reduce the level of exertion significantly for a minute, every 3-5 minutes to achieve the same result. The continuous use of the muscle at a high level of exertion will exhaust muscle fibers and break them down quicker.
Pacing. Most exercisers can work too hard in the beginning of a workout without realizing that it is too hard. It is always better to start more slowly. Whatever is saved during the first 10 minutes can be used during the important mid-workout exertion. Even better, if you ease into your workout, you can feel good to the end.
Warm down gently. Muscles recover better if they are not pushed harder and harder to the very end. By easing off during the last 10 minutes, damage can be significantly reduced, and blood flow can help to remove some of the waste products that accumulated during the workout. Continuing to walk after a run, for example, will allow the muscles to help pump blood back to the heart. Standing around after a good workout can put a lot of stress on the cardiovascular system. Keep moving!
Manipulate the muscles. I melt into my Human Touch massage chair after I’ve had my post workout warmdown. Tired muscles have always felt better after a session, and especially the next day.
Over a million runners and walkers have attended Jeff Galloway clinics, running schools, wonderful retreats, training programs or read his books. To subscribe to his free newsletter and/or blog, visit http://www.JeffGalloway.com/