“There is no one giant step that does it, it’s a lot of little steps.”
— Peter A. Cohen (American investment banker)

Many of us here are struggling to get back in shape after the holidays, including yours truly. Some of us are still enjoying our respective off-season break after participating in grueling races such as the Singapore Marathon last November 30, the Cebu Marathon on January 12, and the Milo Marathon National Finals on January 19. As a result, we become guilty of procrastinating and overeating until we become out of shape.

Shredding the excess baggage until we become in great shape again is impossible in a short period. It takes a lot of patience, dedication, and consistency before we achieve our desired goals.

Before anything else,  I have a disclaimer that this list is based on research, personal experience, and a few athletes I interviewed. I would recommend for you to consult medical and fitness professionals before undergoing a diet or training.

So, here are the five ways to return in good running shape after the Holidays:

Drink Water Every Morning

– It all started after a few research and a friend’s recommendation last December. Ryan, a 40-year-old international lawyer mentioned that “Drinking at least a liter of water right after waking up helps you not just to flush out toxins. Also, to avoid cramps and feel sluggish when running in the morning.”

For the past four weeks, I made it a habit of drinking 2 large glasses of water right after waking up. It resulted in better digestion, I became less acidic, and my joints became more lubricated. According to a 2017 article on USA Today, an average person must take 60 to 100 ounces of water per day. The more active the person is, the more fluids the person needs to replace sweat loss.

Start a Fitness Journal

– You can choose a training program from different apps and websites based on your goals. For example, if you would like to break your record, you can download Coach Ani de Leon’s 10-week program or you can follow various training programs from Runners World UK if you’re planning to run your first marathon. Marathon programs usually last for 16 weeks.

I would suggest using the traditional notebook and pens rather than digital apps and Excel files, not just to unleash our creativity, but also for easier backtracking purposes. Besides, handwritten training programs are easier to follow.

Since January, I started a bullet journal where I wrote my weekly program, tracked my progress, gear check, and later on, race reactions. My bullet journal consists of a plain A5 notebook (210mm x 148 mm) and two fountain pens (one with black and one with blue ink) to indicate when to run and when to cross-train. Bullet journaling sounds intimidating at first but, it will be therapeutic because we can easily see our progress by turning the page. I will feature my very own bullet journal here before the end of the year.

A Little Bit of Variety

– Raffy, a 28-year-old physical therapist said that “Adding exercise variations will reduce stress and fatigue which leads to getting injured before the race day.”  Cross-training is important to achieve better athletic performance. You can try yoga, boxing, weightlifting – the list goes on. Make sure that the intensity level increases gradually. Never EVER increase your exercise intensity drastically without the advice of your professional trainer because, it may lead to chronic fatigue syndrome, injuries, and muscular dystrophy.

Join a Running Group

– Running is largely an individual sport. You can achieve the best results without the help of everyone. However, there are huge advantages to joining a running club or a small group of running enthusiasts because it establishes camaraderie and they can help you acquire additional knowledge. It’s like joining a flock of seagulls aiming to fly as high as they can.

Rino, a 53-year-old businessman and TBR Dream Marathon 2019 alumnus mentioned that “You will pick up so many lessons with an open mind and you can keep from there what applies to you personally. So, one piece of advice from me is to surround yourself with the right people and all else will follow. Most importantly, just like in life, develop your own pace.”

If you’re looking for a running club, please check out the official adidas Runners Manila Facebook account.

Have a Clear Mindset

– Do not forget to ask yourself what motivates you to run. Whether you are training to break your current record or to achieve a beach body this summer and beyond, it is important to have your mindset clear until you reach your end goals. Lucian, a 19-year-old college student, and triathlete said “Let physical fitness be part of your lifestyle. A lot of times we get tired working out especially after the holidays but it’s all about mindset.”

Unfortunately, a lot of people experience clutter in their mindset. The solution is to read your journal again and fix those errors before going back to the gym. The more we train our bodies, the more we train our minds.

BONUS: Self-Affirmation

– Self-affirmation includes reading a Bible verse, a chapter of an inspirational book, a Tweet of an influential personality, listening to uplifting podcasts, and watching YouTube channels of your choice (not those memes, please!) will help you to realize why you love to wake up early and get fit.

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