Some of you may be aware, but in case you aren't, toward the end of last year, I decided to join the military. Skip ahead roughly 32 weeks, and here I am, out of shape. I guess I should clarify: I'm out of shape compared to where I used to be.
I don't know what conceptions there are regarding fitness in the military, but the reality for me was that I was in significantly better shape than I needed to be (thanks to hundreds of hours of OCR training) coming in to "boot camp". As a result, the limited amount of PT we did, in comparison to what I was doing previously, and the very limited access to equipment and gear for maintaining a very high and broad level of fitness resulted in a very noticeable atrophy of my overall fitness. Trust me when I say that I did what I could to stay in shape, but the time, equipment, and ability to actually program did not exist.
Sometimes life gets in the way. For you, it might be a busy stretch at work. It could be taking months off of training to allow an injury to heal. It could be family emergencies. Whatever it is, at some point, you have to get back to work on your fitness goals. But where to start?
Tip 1: For myself and everyone else who needs to rebuild their fitness, the first thing you need to remember is that you can't start back at the level you were previously at. It takes a long time to reach a high level of fitness. Unfortunately, it doesn't take very long to lose that level. As such, you need to start back at a much lower volume of work than you were at when you had to stop or when you were forced to slow down. Going back in at full speed will almost always result in either burnout or injury. It never ends well. I've seen it happen over and over again.
Tip 2: Another important thing to remember is to be patient with your progress as you begin to build back up. Mentally, all you want to do is be back where you were, but you simply aren't there yet. Work hard, work smart, and allow your body the time to get back to where it was. For someone in my situation, that could mean upwards of 6 months of very hard work. It all just depends on where you were and how much fitness was lost. No matter what though, be patient.
Tip 3: Don't forget those things that you used to struggle with. Perhaps running was your weakness. Maybe it was power movements or your grip strength. This time of rebuilding is the perfect opportunity to focus on turning some of those struggles into strengths. This will make you a much better overall athlete.
Tip 4: This is also the perfect time to evaluate your goals and programming. Don't just assume that the program you used to do is the perfect program and can't be improved upon. There is always room for improvement. Take some time to evaluate your goals and make sure that you have the best programming in place to reach those goals.
Ultimately, yeah, it sucks that your hard work for such a long time may not be reflected in your abilities anymore, but you built yourself up before, and there is no reason why you can't do it again. Put your head down and put the work in day in and day out. There is no reason why you can't realize your previous fitness levels and surpass them as well!
For me, my goals are different than previous years due to my job and goals in the military. In my case, different means far more challenging than anything else I've ever undertaken. My training needs to change from a strong focus on longer distance to a much broader spectrum of physical ability. As such, you'll see me at a much wider selection of competitions than I was previously attending. It's going to take a massive amount of work and focus, but I can do it. You can do it too! Never Stop!
Bellow is my current race schedule for 2021 (work dependent). I hope to see you all at some races!
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