After a long hiatus and many excuses I have started taking baby steps into a renewed fitness journey. There is no point in dwelling in the past when I lost weight and was fitter and etc. it is now time to look at the present and gradually in the future about where I want to be with regard to my fitness.
Most people take up sports like running or cycling or swimming separately or together when they hit middle age when either under threats from their doctors or close family members or a clear mirror they decide to huff and puff their way to a sleeker new version of themselves. While the intent is good, there are many grey areas that often get overlooked in these fitness journeys.
One of the first challenges is finding a good group to do these activities. Chennai has seen a rash of running, cycling, triathlon and other fitness groups and their growing memberships prove that more are seeking to get fit through a mob. Yes the mob mentality runs through these groups where mindless peer activism tends to lead people wrong. Every individual is unique and every ones fitness status is different therefore using a one size fits many schedule and plan may not always produce the best results.
Groups may not have the structure to allow a new comer to discover himself / herself gradually and then evolve step by step. The standard term is “How much?” Meaning how much are you doing today.
For a new comer it may be acutely embarrassing to admit that their PB or personal best is probably half a kilometre at best. A better option would be to simply say let US run and let us focus on the time we run rather than how much we run.
Then there is this mysterious number called PB. Mysterious because of the value people attach to it, you will find at least one in most groups who cannot stop himself from displaying his PB each time forgetting that it does not mean anything to the others. Worse sometimes this may cause fool hardy imitation by a rank newcomer at times leading to injuries since these displays are usually commended by a few others. A PB is personal best, meaning it is a personal number and ideally it should be personal. I wonder if people run just to post on Facebook for the likes.
Injuries are a given for sports and prevention is better than cure. One way to prevent injuries is to avoid sports altogether the other way is to be careful. The best way to be careful is to carefully listen to one’s body. A mandatory requirement for most sports activities especially if the person is unhealthy is a clearance from the individual’s family physician, an annual Master Health Check-up after the age of 30 for every one can be a life saver. Many join up for such endurance sports with scant disregard for their current body conditions, these sports can be extremely stressful to the heart and therefore a stress test like a Treadmill will help alleviate any fears and also make the individual aware how much he can push himself. Life style diseases are on the rise and sports can be a killer rather than a panacea for the ills.
One more peer related issue and this has a connect to the PB is the accessory standards. Running or cycling clothes, shoes, the cycles and then the gadgets.
GPS trackers, Heart Rate monitors, Fitbit bands the options are endless and sometimes it becomes a simple "Mine is better". The activity at times revolves around the gadgets and not the other way round.
Keeping it simple may not be a bad thing and the chances of a heart burn due to non syncing of a device after a grueling activity is less.
The final challenge in this fitness journey is in one knowing how much is too much for him. This is another personal number and is best known by the individual or maybe his doctor. Group activities can make this number become a variable quantity. The best fitness plans will factor in adequate rest and recovery however unless the individual is clear and committed to his personal plan these two crucial elements are often given the go by. Since most groups are heterogeneous and people come from different work styles fitness plans can never be standardised.
So should one give up all these? No. It all comes down to balance and knowing oneself. A fitness activity will lose its edge the day when the person no longer enjoys it so it may be a good thing to mix it up and vary the intensities. A game of badminton or Frisbee or even a walk may be the need of the day and the moment. The challenge therefore is to understand and act accordingly. Groups serve a limited purpose, they will make it fun, they will provide the buddy network, they will give the social cushion but optimum fitness is down to the individual. A buddy usually helps, so it may not be a bad think to work out with a buddy or more than one buddies but the challenges that one takes up every day are with oneself after all it is a personal milestone.
So get out start running or cycling or swimming or any other sport, it is fun, it is healthy and it is worth doing, just be responsible along the way.
P.S. In case you are wondering, i have completed a MHC last year and my next one is due in a few months.
Images courtesy Google Images.