After the long winter months of limited or no real strenuous activity, everyone is itching to get outside and train as soon as the weather breaks. You might also be tempted to resume exercise at the same levels you were at before winter. Though you should get an ‘A’ for inspiration, this enthusiasm usually leads to injury. If you backed off your normal routine during winter, you need to return to those same levels slowly. Here are some spring training tips for athletes to help you get back to your optimal levels.
Slow but steady
Don’t fall into the weekend warrior trap. Try to work exercise into your weekly routine three to four times. Also, alternate days you exercise. One of the sure-fire ways to get injured is to go hard all weekend and skip exercising all week.
Increase your training slowly
When getting back into your exercise routine, rushing it can lead to injury. Slowly increase your exercise levels by about 10 percent per week until you are back to pre-winter levels. This applies to all exercises, including mileage, time, or amount lifted.
Don’t exercise in pain
As you resume exercise in the spring, you will likely encounter minor muscle aches and soreness. However, if you experience sharp pain or persistent aches that will not go away, pay attention. Your body is sending you a warning that you are well on the way to a more troublesome injury.
Avoid all-out efforts
As you work your way back into your routines, avoid trying to top your personal bests. It could take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to establish a foundation and even start to think about challenging where you left off before winter. Slowly increase your intervals while ensuring you incorporate enough rest periods, at least 48 hours long, between training days.
Follow a plan and keep records
If you are serious about returning to your pre-winter glory, stick to a training plan. Document your progress to have a log of where you are and how far you have to go. Those logs serve as a great motivator and make sure you don’t do too much too fast.
Cut yourself some slack
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Realize that you have been out of your exercise routine for at least a couple months. You will eventually return to your previous levels. Don’t expect it to happen in a week or two.
Don’t forget to have fun!
Remember why you do this. You don’t exercise to punish yourself. You exercise to better yourself and for enjoyment. Don’t get bogged down in numbers. Get out there, enjoy the beauty of spring, and remember… slow and steady wins the race!
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