It is the middle of February and many of us are taking a second look at the fitness goals we made at the beginning of the New Year. Maybe you’re realizing that the 5K or half marathon you signed up for is quickly approaching.
Maybe you’re realizing your plans to exercise three to five times a week has gotten lost in the midst of meetings. As you begin to train to reach your fitness goals, it’s important to remember to find a fitness plan that is right for you.
You may have signed up for that race, but what do you do now? Finding the right running plan to fit your experience and your schedule is critical to sticking with running. If you are a new runner, the couch to 5K plan might work for you. If you have run and trained for a race previously, but are trying to stretch your distance, a more complex running plan might be the right fit.
Whatever plan you choose, it’s important to remember that as you run consistently it is easy to push your body farther and increase the mileage that your running plan suggest. You might even be tempted to skip your rest days. It is possible to overtrain, so although it might seem like a good idea to push your body harder, you might end up unable to reach your fitness goals.
As you increase the demands of your body, especially if you are a new runner, take an inventory of your body after each run. Do you have joint pain in a new place? Are your knees, feet or ankles aching? Are you having trouble sleeping at night?
All of these are signs that you may be overtraining. Overtraining can lead to injury, especially stress fractures, which will impede your training plan and the goals you’ve set. There is nothing more frustrating than getting so close to the race date and being unable to run because of an injury.
If you have had injuries or medical procedures in the past, consulting a physical therapist can ensure that you are balancing training and strengthening. A physical therapist can personalize your plan and add exercises to your fitness plan to prevent injury. If you stick to a plan and you look for signs of overtraining, then you will be able to reach your fitness goals.