Remember to go slow to go fast
Recently, I was asked to participate in an adventure race in August in Hamilton called “Hell in the Harbour”.
It is a charity event that includes a 6 km run broken up by 17 obstacles and sounds like something that should be right up my alley! The invitation made me realize, however, that I haven’t done anything like that in ages. It’s been about two years since I last did any kind of running, and, while I’ve never stopped exercising, running just hasn’t been part of my repertoire.
Accepting the invitation means that I’ve got some work to do. Four weeks isn’t a great deal of time to prepare to go to “Hell”.
In planning how to proceed, I was reminded of the old adage; Go Slow ... to Go Fast. From an old Latin expression “Festina Lentle” that translates into “Make haste, slowly”, it is a reminder that moving too quickly to accomplish a goal can actually delay achievement of that goal. Coined by Augustus, the founder of the Roman Empire, the phrase is often used in business, but, it can be applied to any number of disciplines, including health and fitness.
With only four weeks to prepare, the temptation to go all out on “Day One” is great. The danger is doing more than the body is ready to handle, taking too little recovery time and ultimately getting injured. When I was younger, and less experienced, I made this mistake and ended up treating a strained leg rather than competing in and enjoying an event that I wanted to participate in.
Human beings are driven by desire. When we want something, we want it NOW! As a Certified Personal Trainer and Medical Exercise Specialist, my job is to help clients develop meaningful, progressive plans that allow for maximum benefit, while minimizing their risk of getting injured or burnt out before achieving their goal.
Over the years, I’ve seen three different scenarios, repeatedly, where people have gone too fast too soon and failed to achieve their desired outcome. When they contacted me, it was with a great deal of frustration as they had put in an honest effort without experiencing much of a payoff.
1) With the understanding that excessive caloric intake leads to weight gain, people will try to lose weight by making a huge shift in their eating habits. This is a tactic used by commercial diet programs for dramatic early weight loss. In many cases, however, the weight that someone loses by cutting calories or carbohydrates may actually be water and lean muscle tissue. This affects metabolism and can lead to the dreaded weight loss “plateau” and then weight regain in the form of fat.
Make small, sustainable changes in your eating habits that you will be able to maintain for a lifetime.
2) As a lifelong athlete, I get it. Physiotherapy is boring! It’s also extremely important and necessary for recovery. Often, people will skip the “boring” early stages of rehabilitation to get right back to what they were doing before being sidelined with an injury or operation. The danger in this is in developing faulty movement patterns to compensate for weak or sore areas that lead to chronic overuse injuries.
3) Without a solid plan, it is easy to increase training volume or intensity too much before the body is ready to handle it. In my example above, this meant increasing my running time and distance too quickly. I’ve done this in the past and become injured. This time, I am going to put my ego aside and be happy doing the best I can in the four weeks that I have for training. If this means walking part of the course … so be it.
It goes without saying that people want the efforts they put into their fitness to be long lasting. Don’t be seduced by the promise of “quick, easy” plans that will get you there faster. Make haste, by going slowly and maximize your chances of being successful.
Medical exercise specialist Ernie Schramayr, CPT, helps his clients manage medical conditions with exercise. You can follow him at erniesfitnessworld.com. 905-741-7532 or email@example.com