When I went on my first run 11 years ago, I could barely make it one mile. Out of breath and defeated, I walked home and woke up the next day aching from the waist down. I never thought that I would run the Boston Marathon only five years later.
Beginner exercise mistakes can be difficult to acknowledge because you’re up against a number of physical and mental challenges. Not only is it emotionally daunting to try something new and stick with it, but it’s also physically challenging to build strength and endurance when you’re starting at square one.
To this day, I insist that some of my toughest runs of all time were during my first few months as a runner — because I knew I wasn’t good at running, had nobody cheering me on and was constantly sore and slow as I struggled through every mile. I felt out of shape and crushed. It’s easy to stay fit when you’ve mastered a sport, but it’s difficult when you’re just starting out.
If you want to start a new workout routine and stick with it, avoid these common mistakes. Exercise for beginners isn’t easy, but if you have a strategy in place you can succeed!
Setting Unrealistic Goals
One of the reasons I love running is because it’s simple — you just put one foot in front of the other, and eventually you’ll make it to your destination. If I’m training for a marathon, I don’t walk out my door and run 26.2 miles as a training run. Instead, I start at 10 miles one week, then 11 the next and so on.
If you’re new to exercising, don’t expect to become an Olympian or develop a six-pack overnight. Not only will you end up defeated, but you’ll likely end up injuring yourself by pushing too hard to reach an unrealistic goal.
Whatever your end goal is, whether it be a certain amount of weight you can lift, a pace you can run or a number on the scale, make sure you set plenty of mini goals along the way to help you stay motivated and make safe, healthy progress.
Mistake: Getting Caught in a Comparison Trap
If you’re at the gym or out on a jog, it’s easy to compare yourself to others and get discouraged. Remind yourself that you’re exercising for you and nobody else, and that by taking time to work out you’re already stronger than you were yesterday.
Instead of getting caught up on how far behind you are from others, think about how far you’ve come since last week or last year. Comparing yourself to others won’t get you anywhere, so channel that mental energy toward your own workout instead.
Forgetting to Plan
It’s easy to say you’re going to start working out five days a week, but it’s a lot harder to put those words into action. Instead of hoping that you happen to stumble on an hour of free time for exercise each day, intentionally schedule your workouts and plan ahead.
I prefer to work out early in the mornings — that way there’s hardly any chance that something will interrupt or distract me. If you have trouble staying motivated, find an accountability partner to keep you on schedule.
By avoiding these common beginner exercise mistakes, you’ll be on your way to an improved workout routine in no time. Good luck with your new fitness adventure — it will only get better from here.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.