Updated: Jan 1, 2022
I coach a lot of hikers and the path to prime hiking fitness is pretty predictable. I call the first phase of fitness Great Expectations. With the start of the new year, a lot of hikers find themselves in this phase right now. You're excited and full of adrenaline as you plan out your spring and summer adventures. Your New Year's resolutions have you bursting at the seams with energy and excitement. You're the rocket I speak about in my free training on How to Crush Your Hiking Goals in 2021.
However, there's some common mistakes that will derail you from your grand plan - so much so that most people forget their resolutions by the end of January. Here's some tips on how to succeed as you start your fitness program.
Commit to the long haul - It is likely that your fitness journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Understand that this is not going to be a 30-day quick fix. While you can start to see positive gains in a short amount of time, set your mindset for the long-term so that you can make real lifestyle changes.
Start small - I've seen so many crazy New Year's challenges like the 300 push ups a day for 30 days. These kind of grand attempts at getting fit will leave you sore and discouraged. My method for clients who are just returning to fitness is to start small. The best way to start an exercise program is with gentle exercises that get your body moving, reconnect you with your muscles, and loosen joints.
Make it quick - Again, starting off with grandiose goals like spending an hour and a half in the gym or running five miles every day is completely unrealistic. If you're new to exercise or returning after a long time, keep it short. Find a time frame that you can consistently commit to - say 20 minutes- each day. You can do effective and efficient workouts within that period if you're focused.
Set short-term goals - Sure, we all want to lose 20 pounds or backpack the AT, but those are long term and somewhat overwhelming goals. Break it down into weekly or bi-weekly goals. Think about what you can realistically accomplish in a short amount of time. At this stage of fitness, focus less on the results and more on establishing the habits. For instance, if you've decided to commit to 20 pushups every morning before you get in the shower, then stay focused on the action of doing the pushups, not the changes that you see when flexing in the mirror.
Reward yourself - Think of some healthy rewards for reaching your short-term goals. For example, if you consistently exercise every day for 20 minutes for two weeks, buy yourself a new pair of good hiking socks, give yourself a home-spa day, set aside time to watch a backpacking-related movie, or indulge in research on your dream park or trail.
Easing into fitness sets you up for success more than the sledgehammer approach. If you need help setting up your new fitness plan, shoot me a message! I want to hear about your goals and challenges.