Friday, May 14, 2010

Fitness and injury

A warning to pushing too hard, too fast by Matt Collins...

As a kid I was very active. As a matter of fact I was pretty active up until only about 6 years ago. Once I started an office job, I simply dropped all physical activity.

Over the past few years I started doing some exercise here and there, but was never consistent. The World Cup, the Tour de France, and even my wife’s races would get me excited to be fit again, but the feeling would only last until I was too tired to work out.

Finally, last year I began training and made it a habit. I successfully trained for and completed three triathlons, a handful of 5k races, and the P90X workout program. I loved the way my body felt and hated missing a workout. Aside from all the training I also did a lot of mountain biking.

Once the winter rolled around, I didn’t really have anything enjoyable to do for a workout. I was occupied with my studies and bored on a bike trainer and treadmill. Nicer weather rolled around and I was ready to pick up where I left off – only, my body wasn’t.

At the end of last year I was running at a 6:30min pace during races and mountain biking for miles. My first time out running I started off just like I used to – pushing hard for my best time. Around the ½ mile mark my back seized up and I was done; I was pushing way too hard too soon and my body told me to stop.

That was pretty painful, but I was able to recover fairly quickly and I had to get out and train for my first race. I didn’t push quite as hard the next time, but it turns out my body wasn’t even ready for that. After only a few times out I developed shin splints and it’s taken me months to recover.

I had three races in five weeks and I had to be ready. As a result I prolonged my injury. I had a goal to accomplish and I let that override my better judgment. I thought that because I was in good shape last year I could simply pick up where I left off with no ramp up period. That’s a mistake I won’t be making again.

From this I learned that even though I am capable of certain things, my body still needs to be reintroduced to the punishment it used to be able to handle. If you are getting ready to start an exercise program back up or even for the first time, remember, your body needs to be acclimated to being worked. That first time out it’s easy to push; however, a day or two later you may find yourself in loads of pain and possibly injured. I see it all the time with folks trying to get fit again after a long or even short hiatus. They start off hard, then quit shortly thereafter.

Whether you were very athletic as a kid (as I was) or even completed strenuous workouts as recent as a few months ago, take it easy and work your way back in gradually – you’ll be better off, trust me.

Written by Matt Collins, OnTrack Fitness ballroom dance instructor. Read more about Matt here.