DA Leader Huw is back with another blog to answer one of our most asked questions. Now seems to be the perfect time to answer it!
Hello everyone! Well, what a strange Christmas. I hope it wasn’t too challenging for you and you managed to squeeze out of it a little joy. An adage I have always lived by is ‘tough times don’t last, tough people do’ and the DA clients are tough people, I can certainly vouch for that.
The Covid nightmare will be a distant memory soon, so stay strong and keep your head held high.
This brings us nicely on to our next topic: the future, and more importantly, what you are going to fill it with. I vote for adventure!
I often talk to people who are seeking adventure, but are held back with the enormity of the task, keen but feeling overwhelmed with so many questions. Questions like ‘where do I start?’.
It’s very simple really; start at the beginning. This is a little bit of a cliché and a little cheesy, but the principle holds true. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, feeling nervous and overwhelmed at the start of a challenge. In fact, nerves are good because it means you care greatly about something. It’s your ability to harness those nerves to rise to the challenge that counts. The best way to manage these nerves is to make a plan and stick to it.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a personal example. It was 2011 and I was working for Avon and Somerset Police. I had just been given a new post attached to the drug squad in central Bristol. This unit was full of young, keen, slim, fit youngsters. While still technically a ‘youngster’ at the time, I was doughy, unfit and unmotivated. I decided that I was going to change the situation and I remember the moment clearly. I got home from work and went for a run. I did a 5k and it felt amazing. So, I planned to run 5 days a week for at least half an hour. The plan worked and I was hooked.
Soon after this, I started cycling and swimming. Addicted to the endorphins from regular exercise and the thrill of a challenge, this culminated three years later with me completing Ironman UK in Bolton and numerous ultramarathons. This is not a brag or a boast. It is simply a call; if I can do it, so can you.
My Ironman journey started with one run, one day after work!
So here are my 7 top tips for starting from scratch:
1. Define your reasons for making change
What exactly do you want to change? It’s key not to try to do too much too soon. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to climb Kilimanjaro? Do you want to cycle London to Paris? Once you understand your motivation, you can manage the timescale and the level of training you are going to need to do.
2. Get something in the Diary
Get booking now. Once it’s booked and paid for, you have a plan and something to aim for. In reality, if you have paid good money for something then you are far more likely to go through with it. Head over to the Discover Adventure Website and see what tickles your fancy.
3. Set a goal and make a plan
Start small, but aim high! It’s important not to go too hard to fast as there is a real risk that you will either become de-motivated or injured. The key is to start with relatively short distances and, as you get stronger you can increase the distance, time and inclines. Enjoy the little victories along the way! But do remember, rest is as important as the activity.
4. Involve others
Once you have set a goal, see who else you can rope in. Have you got friends, family or colleagues who would join you? Could you join a club, such as a cycle club or walking club? This can help massively with motivation and can also give you some amazing new friends. Ten miles can feel like five when you’re in good company!
5. Don’t expect instant results
Results don’t happen overnight. When I started hard training for Ironman, I burned a lot of calories, but I also consumed a lot of food as I was constantly hungry. I was desperate to get stronger and fitter but I also really wanted to lose some weight which just didn’t happen at the start. This had a negative impact on my confidence. In the end, I stopped weighing myself and just enjoyed the training. When I relaxed and focused on the effort, the weight did come off, but crucially I got stronger and fitter. I found that once I accepted I had to be patient and ‘keep the faith’, everything fell into place.
I did, however, earn myself the new catchy nickname, ‘the world’s fattest triathlete’ from my work colleagues! Emphasis on ‘triathlete’ of course.
6. Reward yourself
What luxuries motivate you? Is it food, like a slice of cake, a pizza or curry or a tub of ice cream? Is it relaxation, like a massage or an evening on the sofa in front of the tv? I won’t go into my love of decent equipment again in this blog, but I used to reward myself with little bits of kit. I often used to say to myself that if I completed my monthly training goal, I would treat myself to something I needed for the bike!
7. Making stretching and warm up part of your routine
Sounds obvious but this is crucial to not getting injured and to promote healthy fitness gains. If in doubt get a qualified personal trainer to show you how. It should also go without saying that if you are new to exercise and have any medical concerns, always seek advice from your GP first.
One final thought from me: it doesn’t matter how slow you’re travelling, you’re still lapping everybody still sat on the sofa.