How many of us have signed up to a challenge without thinking twice? Our friends or colleagues have decided to take a challenge so why not join them too for a bit of fun?
Sporting challenges are a great way to motivate yourself to get active, start training, achieve your fitness goals and to fundraise for a charity. The problem arises when you jump straight into all-out training without taking into consideration what type of physical activity you have been doing, how fit you are at the time and if you have any injuries or niggles that you need to address. This is when the risk for more or new injuries increases as rather than building up to the day we start with maximal effort from day 1.
First thing you need to do is to find out how many weeks you have to train for the challenge. After that set your goal for the challenge be it to just finish it or to achieve a specific time, and be realistic about how many times a week you can train leading up to the day. This gives you a clearer idea of when and what you should be doing. Make sure that your training is specific to the event you’ll be doing but it is always advisable to vary your training to work on different energy systems as well as muscular strength and endurance and injury prevention. Variety also creates an environment for better adaptation to your training, it allows your body to recover from the session that you have done and prevents staleness. For instance, if it’s a 10km running challenge, make sure to do long runs, shorter runs and even sprints or hills; you do not need to be running 10km every day. Although running is your priority, if possible, resistance training in the gym is ideal as the stronger your muscles are going to be, the more efficient your running will be and therefore the less energy you need. On the other hand, if it’s a though mudder like challenge you need to be doing a variety or strength training, circuit based training with a number of obstacles, strength endurance, stamina and running.
Moreover, you need to be eating the right food for the amount of training you are now doing. This might mean that you increase the amount of food you’re eating due to the increased energy levels that you need. Do this in moderation and try and eat good whole food with plenty of protein for recovery, carbohydrates and good fats for energy and veggies and fruit for vitamins and minerals while dirking plenty of water for hydration. You might find that you need to supplement as well. Lastly, don’t forget rest and recovery. This is crucial for any sort of training because if we are not recovering well from our last session we are not going to be able to keep pushing ourselves as the weeks go by. If for example, you are under the weather or had a few long days at work or with your family and you feel very tired, it’s okay to take a day off instead of training but make sure that you don’t make it a habit. At the same time remember that your body is able to do harder things that you think is possible.
It is also a great idea to find out if there are organised sessions in preparation for your event near you and to train with your friends and colleagues at least once a week. And if you do get injured see a physio, movement specialist, trainer etc to get you back on track as quick as possible.