Four years ago I made a plan to get serious about triathlons after a period of sporadic (at best) fitness. I planned my comeback in detail over three years and got to work. As good as my plan was… I ran like a fat squirrel.
A fat squirrel is the one that you see running across the road just before winter hits. They have been doing a lot less running around and a whole lot more eating. The problem with this is that the squirrel remembers what it use to be able to do:
- Cut cars off
- Jump from tree to tree
- Get away from that Hawk
When I started my triathlon plan I ran a little faster than my body was able to and spent the first few months suffering between aches and injuries. Luckily, things worked out for me better than it does for most fat squirrels.
There are lots of us out there guilty of running like a fat squirrel. I’ve learned some valuable lessons as a Physical Therapist and Coach over the years, and I want to help others avoid running like a fat squirrel.
My first piece of advice is simple…You can always do more next time, but you can’t do less than you already did. This sounds easy, but I see way too many athletes not follow this advice and wind up injured. The simplest way to follow this advice is write out what you plan to do. Whether it is your plan for a day, a week, a month, or a year it is much easier to see if you are progressing too quickly once you write it down.
I hope this helps, and if I get enough interest I will write up more posts on topics related to getting in shape. Running will be the primary focus, but the concepts are applicable to any fitness activity. Leave a comment if you’re interested in my “Fat Squirrel Series” and also let me know if you’re interested in any of the topics below or if you have topics of your own that you want to learn about.
- “Do I look like that?“– How to tell when your form is off
- “Am I going too hard?” – Understanding exercise intensity
- “Plenty of time to cross the road” – Exercise goals and timelines
- “Let’s do it again tomorrow” – When and why to rest
- “Do it for the right reasons” – How motivation works for long-term success
- “Have my nut and eat it too” – How nutrition may be holding you back
Good luck and have a safe and happy New Years!
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