The Working With Podcast | Episode 30 | How to Maintain an Exercise Programme When Working a Full Time Job.

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In this week’s episode of The Working With… Podcast I answer a question about how I have manage to maintain a running and exercise programme despite working a full time job.

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Hello and welcome to episode 30 of my Working With Podcast. A podcast created to answer all your questions about productivity, GTD, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

In this week’s episode, I have a question about health and fitness. This is an important question because we all know being fit and healthy and doing some exercise regularly is vital to our long-term health. We are living longer and expecting more, yet if we don’t look after our health in our early lives, it will come back and destroy the quality of our lives when we get older. What we eat, how much alcohol we drink, whether we smoke and how frequently we exercise are all important factors if we want to maintain our health and vitality long in to our lives.

Before we get to the question though, thank you to all of you who have enrolled in my Ultimate Goal Planning course. I will be updating this course regularly, as I do with my Your Digital Life 2.0 course, so keep you eyes open for additional classes coming through each month. If you haven’t enrolled yet, you can enrol in the course from the link in the show notes for this podcast. The whole purpose of the course to get you thinking about what you want, rather than spending too much time worrying about what others want from you. This is your life and you get to decide what you want to get out if it, if you just take some time out to decide what it is you want. 

Okay, let’s get on with answering this weeks question. Unfortunately, the Mystery Podcast Voice has lost her voice this week, so I shall be reading out the question:

This week’s question comes from Bjorn in Norway. Bjorn asks:

Hi, Carl, I have just started running and would like to know how you manage your running programme. I’d also like to know if you have any tips on equipment and training that you could pass on. Thanks.

Thank you, Bjorn, for this wonderful question.

Firstly whenever starting any exercise programme you need to decide when would be the best time to do it and how often. Usually, when someone starts out on an exercise programme they haven’t exercised for many years and so just deciding you are going go out running or to the gym every day is not realistic. Your muscles are going to be sore, in some cases very sore, and you need to allow time for your body to adapt to this new stress you are putting on it. My advice to all newbies is to go for three times a week for the first month. Any more than that and you are likely to find it so painful you are going to want to give up in the first week. You don’t want that to happen, so go for three times a week to allow your body time to adapt.

Next up, is to decide when you are going to do it. I found asking the question am I a morning or night person? Was a great question to ask. There’s a lot of advice out there that tells you to exercise early in the morning and in general, this is good advice. But for me, I hate exercise in the morning. I never look forward to it and I feel very uncomfortable. I prefer afternoons for exercise and because of the nature of my work, the afternoons work perfectly for me. Find the best time for you and the type of person you are. We are not all morning people and some of us prefer evening times. If you are one of those people, then do your exercise in the evening. 

The next thing to do is to schedule your exercise time on your calendar. Block out one hour. Even if you only exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, you will still need to shower afterwards. So block one hour. This time is sacrosanct. You must decide never to allow anything or anyone take away your exercise time. This is why it is important to schedule that one hour at a time you know will not easily be stolen by something or someone else. I schedule 2 to 3pm for my exercise days. This works for me as I have classes and meetings in the morning and I teach in the evenings. The afternoons are generally free for me, so this time works. It is on my calendar and what goes on my calendar gets done… My golden rule. 

While on the subject of blocking your exercise time on your calendar, I would also suggest you do the scheduling of your exercise sessions on a week to week basis. This means you can look at your calendar and see which days are very busy. On those days you may find you are not likely to have the time. Don’t schedule sessions for those days. Wishfully thinking you will exercise on exhausting days is a sure fire way to lose your commitment. Only schedule sessions when you know absolutely you will be able to do them. 

When scheduling your sessions, don’t just write “exercise” be more specific. For example, write “run 5km” or “Do 30 mins gym session”. The more specific you are the more motivated you will be. On my light days I usually write “do 20 mins circuit training” I find this is much more motivating than having a vague term such as “gym” or “run” on my calendar. 

Once you have committed yourself, how do you start a running programme? This is much easier than most people think. Always start with what I call a run/walk session. What this means is you run until you feel uncomfortable and then walk until you feel recovered enough and then run again until you feel uncomfortable and repeat the process. If you are new to running you will find you do not run very far. Don’t worry, that is perfectly normal. 100 to 200 metres might be all you can manage. That’s fine. Remember, it takes months and months of regular running to run a half-marathon. It takes time for your body to adapt and the right muscles to develop. So don’t expect to run 5km without the need to walk in your first few weeks. It might even take you months before you can run 5KM without stopping for a walk. It all depends on your physical condition when you start. The important thing is you keep going out on your scheduled runs. Over time you will find you can run farther and require less walking. 

A quick tip here is you can use lamp posts to measure you progress. If you can run 3 lamp-posts when you start and at the end of the month you can run 5 lamp-posts without stopping you are making progress. 

Just a quick word on muscle soreness, you are going to feel it. You are going wake up in the morning and feel very sore and stiff. That’s normal when you start any kind of exercise programme. After a few weeks that soreness and stiffness will disappear. It is just your body repairing itself and making your muscles stronger. You need to go through that process. It’s good for you. It makes you stronger and you join the same club millions of new runners and exercisers have joined. The pain of starting the journey. Enjoy it, it does not last long!

One thing I would add here is that as time goes by and as your programme develops you will find you start to feel so much healthier and more energetic. It inspires you to look at all areas of your life from your diet to the amount of time you spend sitting down each day. I found after a few weeks I enjoyed the feeling of losing weight (I lost 10 kilos that’s 22 pounds in 3 months when I started running again ten years ago) This inspired me to change my diet and make it healthier. I cut down the amount of sugar I put in my tea and coffee, I started eating salads for dinner during the week and only allowing myself things like pizza on a weekend. Over a few months my whole lifestyle went from a slow decline in physical abilities to energising my whole lifestyle with increased strength and energy. It was an incredible transformation, not just physically, but mentally too. 

Now as for equipment and training.

For running the most important investment you make is in your running shoes. Go to a proper running store (not an online one) and get advice. I find buying running shoes that are half a size bigger than I normally wear is a good tip. Exercise socks are usually thicker than everyday socks and your feet will expand quite a lot when running. Another piece of good advice is change your running shoes every six months. The shock absorption abilities of your running shoes declines as you build up the miles you run. You need to take care of your knees and shins. So don’t be economical with your investment in running shoes. These are you most important investment. 

As far as clothing goes, just wear something that you feel comfortable in. If you are running long distances (10k or further) then the lighter the better. And on those sunny days, don’t forget the hat! 

As for training, the best advice here is don’t increase your distance (or weight in the gym) until you feel comfortable with what you are currently doing. When you push yourself to go further, faster and longer too soon you are just going to get injured. Slow down. There’s no rush. Remember, once you decide to get fit it is a lifetime commitment, not just for a few weeks. So, don’t rush things. 

One final tip for any new runners. Set yourself a goal to run a 10k race in six months time. 10k is a great distance because you will need to have a reasonable level of fitness to complete it. But don’t just set it was a goal. Enter the race. Pay your entrance fee and get it in your calendar. That way you are committed. It gives you a purpose beyond better health and fitness. It makes it feel more important every time you go out for a run. 

Running for me has been a real pleasure. It is a great form of exercise because it not only improves my overall fitness, keeps my weight down and gives me bundles of energy every day. It also allows me periods of time to be with my own thoughts, listening to my favourite music and just to be out there off the online grid and be with nature. It’s not just physically good for you, it’s also mentally good for you. 

Well I hope that has answered your question, Bjorn and again thank you for your wonderful question. I also hope these words have inspired you to at least start thinking about beginning an exercise programme. I can promise you the transformation you will see in yourself in just a few weeks will inspire you to make some incredibly positive changes to you life in so many other areas. 

Don’t forget, if you think this podcast will inspire others, please share it with as many people you know. Together we can be part of a movement to help one million people to learn the wonderful benefits of being better organised and becoming more productive.

Thank you very much for listening to this podcast. It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week.