Such preparation is important, but nowhere nearly as important as readying yourself from a mental and physical standpoint. Without such preparation, your boot camp experience will most likely be a miserable one that sours you on the entire idea of physical and mental fitness. That’s clearly not the result you want.
So, much like your mother probably made a packing list for summer camp, here are some ways you can pack your own metaphorical bags.
Clearly Define Your Goal(s)
Some people get into their cars and just drive. But most people know exactly where they want to go, and most likely exactly how they will get there before they put the key in the ignition. In the same way, a fitness goal is essential to a fitness plan. Without such direction, you risk expending all your energy in endless wanderings that accomplish little or nothing.
A vague goal usually will not do. “Boston” may be a more clearly defined destination than “New England,” but it still leaves much to be desired. A plan to “get in shape” is probably too indefinite. Rather, set specific goals in terms of your appearance, amount of weight loss, energy level, and so on.
Set Incremental Goals
When traveling, the final destination is the only one that matters. But in fitness, it’s best to set a large number of smaller goals. That makes the journey easier. “Losing fifty pounds” is a laudable goal, but it’s probably too ambitious. Instead, vow to lose eight or ten pounds a month.
The boot camp experience will give you the tools you need to meet and exceed these incremental goals. The camp changes your mental outlook and helps you prioritize the things that really matter. As a result, you’ll find these goals a lot easier to meet. As your fitness regimen improves, accelerate your goals accordingly.
There is a very healthy debate as to whether it is best to stretch before exercising, after exercising, or not at all. Almost anyone can make a good, evidence-based argument for any of these methods.
The best approach may be a combined approach. When your body is cold, it’s probably a bad idea to do intense stretches. So, before a workout, walk briskly and do a few knee bends. Save the heavy, yoga-like stretches until after your run. Warm bodies stretch a lot better than cold ones. Moderation is always a good rule in the fitness realm. Never overdo anything.
Care for Your Body
Running is great exercise, both all by itself and in conjunction with other activities. Running is also hard on your body. The risks are not great enough to give you second thoughts about your fitness goals and your participation in a boot camp. But, they are significant enough for you to stand up and take notice.
Give your feet a little extra cushion with toe separators. These comfortable and practical inserts address common foot issues experienced by runners. Other ideas include a lightweight ankle or knee brace. Such braces are particularly a good idea if you have pre-existing injuries or are susceptible to such injuries.
Be sure you take some rest time after your run. The cool-down is a very important part of your run that should not be overlooked. It’s also a good idea to rest and ice sore muscles before they become torn tendons or something even worse.
Fitness boot camp is not the start of a new life. It’s the most obvious continuation of a new life that starts with mental planning and ends with a healthier and happier you.