So the glorious summer of 2014 is behind us, the fall is with us with cooler temperatures and the magnificent autumnal colours. Days can still be warm but the mornings have a dampness about it and since the clocks went back, the evenings are getting darker earlier, but still pleasant enough to get out and do things.
Over the last few months we have talked about all of the diverse activities that can be enjoyed during the summer and I do hope some of you have tried some different sports and workouts. There is no reason not to continue these into the fall should your schedule permit, or you may want to take a break and reflect on what you did in the summer, and plan more fun and challenging activities over the next few weeks.
Fall classes at rec and fitness centres are now in full swing so you may have already set your next challenge. Or you may be waiting for the New Year to really plan and set that one goal that has eluded you. Fall is a popular time for class sign up, but January far exceeds that. Rec centres traditionally hit a spike in January as we make those resolutions that we never break (right!) But let’s not move too far ahead of ourselves – we still have three months to go in 2014 so what are you going to do with that time?
This time of year is a good time to head back into the gym and work on your strength and core. If you are a runner you may have run or about to run that fall race that was your target goal. So now is the time to reflect on that, and enjoy the down time. You no longer have to get up on weekends at the crack of dawn to get in the miles. You don’t have to do those weekly hill or speed workouts any more. You can certainly keep up the running but not the intensity. So consider a twice weekly visit to the gym. Why? Building a strength and conditioning base will make you stronger and will reap huge benefits when you decide to set your next running goal. When we say strength that doesn’t mean bulk. Maintaining two sets of 15 reps of a chest press at a moderate weight, for example, will strengthen and tone. If you want more intensity – lower reps at a higher weight will do that. It really depends on your goal. We are all stronger than we think we are, so just go with the flow and see what works for you.
Regardless of what you do – maintaining form and a strong core is important. I do my chest press and pec flys lying on an exercise ball. That way I engage my core. Similarly, bicep curls and triceps dips I do standing on a Bosu – this is great not just for the core but balance. Adding these props also make workouts more interesting and challenging. Strength workouts (including warm up and cool down) don’t have to be long: 30 – 45 minutes, twice weekly is quite adequate for maintenance, particularly if you are new to this type of training.
Prior to starting your strength training warm up first on a bike, rower or treadmill for ten minutes. Gentle stretching can be your cool down afterwards. If you haven’t used a roller, and your gym has one, use it! Gentle rolling out your quads, hamstrings, even your back can have a therapeutic effect on your body. It’s rather like giving yourself a massage. Most gyms have sample exercises posted so consult those, or talk to the fitness consultant on its proper use.
The gym is also a great time to do those exercises that your physio, chiro and massage therapist gave you that you didn’t do. (We have all been there and find excuses not to do them). So take a few minutes at the end and work on those areas that were niggling you during your training. Again, this will only benefit you later.
So regard these next few weeks before the silly season starts, to reflect on your achievements over the summer and if you did a big race, give yourself a pat on the back. Then before you dive in headlong into your next challenge, consider the gym – it is an ideal way of complementing your current regimen while giving your body a well-earned break from hi-intensity training. And you know what? You might get to like it and want to continue it when you do ramp up the miles again.