How obsessive are you about your fitness routine? Is it the most important thing in your life and you would rather die than miss your scheduled run or workout? Or are you okay maintaining your fitness by “just” being active three or four days a week? For many, fitness is an obsession and when it reaches that level, it sometimes is no longer be enjoyable, so perhaps it is time to get off the treadmill and re-evaluate your lifestyle and goals.
We live in a competitive age and peer pressure can be intense. Group exercise, running clinics, and training rides are all there to motivate us and improve our fitness, which admittedly does have enormous benefits, but the environment can be competitive and before you know it you are signed up for a number of events, and you are broke – or even worse injured from over-training!
So it may be time to sit back and think – what do I really want to achieve and can I do that without breaking the bank balance? The answer is that of course you can. We are blessed with living in a place that means we can exercise year-round outside, and there are affordable activities and events you can do while still maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle.
For runners this is a no-brainer. If you are tired of training runs at a goal pace, then just go for a run with your dog and treat it as Fido’s run. If your run is near water and your dog likes to swim, stop and let him/her have a paddle. On a warm day your dog will appreciate it. If you don’t have a 6-year-old lab who loves to run and swim (sorry – have to mention my boy Cash) then find a friend, pick a nice trail and do it!
Finding new places to run can be adventurous. Again grab a two or four paw buddy and explore new areas and terrain. We have abundant trails in Victoria – if you like a challenge, Mount Doug or Thetis Lake are options, or the Galloping Goose beyond Langford is relatively flat and not that busy.
Another tip is to run by feel and not time. Leave that $200 GPS behind and enjoy the actual run itself, not the fact that you have to run 8km today at a 5:30 pace. If you really have to know how long you ran check your watch before you leave and then when you get back, or put the GPS in a pocket and resolve not to look at it while you’re out there.
If you really can’t go a few weeks without running a race, then run some of the low-key community events. The Vancouver Island Running Association (VIRA) put on a series of races from 5k – half marathon every winter/spring, or check out the MEC race series that runs year-long.
So you have been a five-day-a-week runner for ever, and now as you get older want to still run but afraid your fitness level will decrease. That isn’t the case if you cross-train. Substituting a run with a bike ride or a swim is an excellent way of maintaining your fitness. You will still get a good cardio workout without the excess strain on your body that too much running can cause. Cross-training is also a great way to help injury prevention.
The Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails are perfect for cycling and if you like to ride in a group look out for the number of non-competitive rides available this year. MEC’s Century Ride is popular, and this year they are offering two rides, in May (with a choice of a 50K and 100K ride) and October (60K and 100K). MEC’s philosophy is simple: “We want to be able to offer everyone easy access to events that otherwise people wouldn’t do,” says Caitlin Brown, MEC Event Coordinator. Their ‘meet-up’ rides and runs are a great no-fuss option and available to anyone who just want to drop-in. They also offer clinics for those that do need that extra motivation.
Many of us head to the pool when we get injured, but why wait for that dreadful moment? Depending on your weight and the intensity of your swim you can burn many calories, and you feel toned afterwards as you are using every muscle in your body. If you haven’t swum for a while, don’t dive in and do an hour straight off or you will feel very sore the next day. Just like any activity, build up gradually. Pool running is not just for when you’re injured either – it can be a great way to get a no-impact, low-stress, cardio workout.
As we head into the warmer weather this is the perfect time to think about your fitness regime particularly if you do feel you are doing too much, or just want a change. It really is all about quality of life and getting out and enjoying a healthy lifestyle which you can do without being obsessive about it.