Author: VIDA editor / member Mekita Rivas
You don't have to be a runner to achieve your current goals. For many people, just starting out can be half the battle. Fortunately, VIDA Fitness U Street personal trainer Jeff Horowitz is here to help. To say that Jeff enjoys running would be underestimated – he has finished nearly 200 marathons in his lifetime! If someone can upset you (literally), that's the type.
We came to Jeff, who is also a professional running coach, to learn the art of setting running goals. Whether you are a newcomer from the couch to 5K, an experienced professional or somewhere in the middle – these are tips that everyone can use.
Are there any common mistakes people make when setting their current goals?
Runners try to get back to where they were too fast, or new runners become a little too ambitious. You really have to wait for your body to adjust – if you rush to exercise, you can get much more injured.
What is a good starting point for setting your goals?
In the run, we have a basic guideline for you to move forward: the ten percent rule. No matter what distance you cover – thus the longest ride of the week and the mileage of the whole week – the safest way to move forward and allow the body time to adjust to prevent injuries is to increase their number from week to week by no more than 10 percent. It may not seem like much and you can only move for five minutes a week, but you should not rush this process. There's plenty of time to just sit back and wait for you to finally get injured. If you take the time, progress will come quickly enough. Just be very patient with your body.
People can definitely swell a little, especially at the beginning of the year. How to tell customers to meet their expectations?
Here in Washington, D.C. area, a couple of big competitions are coming up. These are popular world class events. People sign up for them, put them on the calendar and thrive that they have that great goal. But the most important thing is training – and this applies to everything you do physically – is to learn to be in partnership with your body, instead of dictating to your body what to do. When I have a racing goal, I always think, “OK, that’s my goal, but it’s not a definite deadline. This is not something that has to happen no matter what. "
Set a goal that inspires you, develop a sensible training plan on your own or with help – preferably with a VIDA trainer – and then see how it develops. If all goes well, move on to that goal. But sometimes it requires you to change your goal. You may not be ready for this race or you may not be able to do it as you originally planned. But your body tells you this and you need to listen.
If someone is essentially a total beginner or hasn’t run for a long time, what do you usually tell them during your first workout?
This is interesting because we learn how to run when we are maybe two or three years old? You don't think of it as a skill that you need to hone in the way you approach tennis, rowing, or any other sport. But there is to run the right technique. It is helpful to have a professional work with you, who knows what they are looking for, who will put you on the treadmill and give you data analysis, and who will see what you are doing and whether the mechanics are right.
It is still much more effective and the probability of injury is much lower. It also helps you move faster. One of the basics I will tell people in my first session is that you know the sound of your run in particular. I tell my customers: if you can run calmly and make as much noise as possible, you reduce the risk of injury. Avoid hitting a strong foot – by exerting this pressure and tapping on your body – is one of the main things you can do to make it healthier, and you should do it from day one.
If your goal works, there is sometimes a misconception that this is all you need to do. What is your answer to that?
I get it. The runners who came to me love to run and they don't want to do much else. But if running is all you do, you are leaving other muscles weak that can haunt you. Ninety percent of running injuries are due to weak areas, which causes some sort of compromise in your form. It puts stress on an area that can't handle it, and it causes injuries.
So even if you enjoy running or maybe your goal is just to become a runner, it means that by ignoring all the other things you need to do in the gym, you will open yourself up to injuries. The more diverse, the healthier you are in general. VIDA has so many different types of cardio training, strength training, classes, machines and free weights and cables. You should be able to constantly challenge your body in different ways, and this will make you a stronger, more resilient athlete. And this way, too, it's just a lot nicer because you're less likely to get bored.
We’ve talked about newcomer runners, but how do their workouts differ for more experienced runners who may have specific goals for setting a PR or registering a certain mile each week?
This is a fun situation because now you have exceeded your core competencies and you have specific goals. Of course, this requires a more complex type of training. We would include running opportunities in our trainings, such as speed races and speed training. Maybe we would do plyometry and explosive movements to build some of that strength and speed in our bodies to go beyond just running.
What are the pros and cons of treadmill between indoor training and running outdoors?
The main goal is to go with everything that suits you. It's continuity, just going there and doing it. The differences are not so great that one way is worse or better than the other. Whatever makes you happy, go ahead and do it and make the most of it.
Would you like to mention that we haven't covered it?
It should be fun! Sometimes you can get stuck in data and details and you can be so performance-oriented that you forget it should be fun. One of my great mantras, especially when we go through the winter season, when people get sick and run into colds and illnesses, is to be smarter if you are brave. Even if you are sometimes brave enough to do a workout when you probably shouldn't, it would be wise not to do it. If you're sick, if you're injured, and if something else happens in your life that needs attention, make sure you go for it. VIDA is still here for you when you're ready. Be smart in your trainings, enjoy it and celebrate the whole of 2019!
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