Losing weight isn’t a quick process (well, unless you go under the knife, but I don’t recommend that for anyone so…). Neither is getting fit. I had to be patient and persevere to achieve the weight loss goals I had set for myself, and the same is holding true for my fitness goals. I know I won’t reach my ultimate fitness goals by the first weekend in August, but I am doing what I can to be as far along in the process as possible.
I had to take four weeks off from running. The first two were taken off while I was fighting a bad head cold and taking Sudafed. My cousin, a PA, advised against any strenuous cardio exercise while taking the medicine. Then, I had two weeks of annual training (AT) in the National Guard. Those days were long and hard, but nowhere near the level of physical activity I usually engage in on my regular cardio days. So, the net result was no running for a solid month.
Getting back into it last week was tough. I could only do 2 miles before burning out. As for my run times? Atrocious. Let’s not even go there. But, by the third run, I was able to go 2.25 miles and at a decent pace. Last night I went 2.5 miles, and while the pace was very slow, the temperature was 97 degrees, so the workout was actually very hard and good. I knew I was going past 2 miles, so I didn’t run my 2-mile APFT pace. I was satisfied that with over three weeks left to go, I’m making the progress I want to see. I’m not fast enough yet, but I’m laying the foundation to get there.
Taking my time and being careful goes against everything I was trained for as a Marine. In the Corps, it’s all, “GO-GO-GO; GIVE 110%!” Well, if I were to do that at this point in my training, I would exercise to failure and be unable to continue for days. I had to think back to boot camp and realize that even then, at MCRD San Diego, the process was a slow but steady increase in distance and pace. We didn’t start Phase 1 at a 6 minute/mile pace. We started slow. Painfully slow. Even for me, at the time, the runs were very easy. And they stayed easy until the very last PFT we took. That slow and steady progress allowed me to continue to function normally and without pain in my muscles or joints because we were building reasonably.
Lots of people returning to fitness after long absences try to re-enter the process at the point they left off. If you take a week-long break, this will be possible, albeit a little difficult for the first few workouts. The longer your absence, the lower your entry level needs to be. My wife had admonished me numerous times leading up to my re-entry into my fitness regimen to be careful, to be slow, and to be methodical about how I plan my training. I heard her, and I am following her advice.
Today, my shins feel good. My shoulders and arms feel a bit worked from my push ups, but they are not spaghetti arms. Tonight, I will begin work on my pull ups (FINALLY!) and I will work my core. I will adhere to the same principles as I have been for my runs: slow and steady with regular increases and no workouts to failure.
So, right now I’m slow, but I won’t stay that way. I continue to push myself, but not to failure or absolute exhaustion. Making progress, good solid progress, doesn’t require that. All it requires is time, repetition, and effort.