Like most other people, in January I started doing more exercise and tried to eat healthy. I mainly did it to be fit enough to run a 5k for my Dads birthday as he wanted the whole family to come along. I also wanted to be toned before my trip to Florida in the summer (and so I could eat more food!). Without the motivation of preparing for the run, I probably would have put off training until next year. I'm far from an athlete, I'm pretty feeble myself, but I thought I'd share some advice I have learnt over the last few months!
As an equestrian you probably burn off a lot already at the stables. Mucking out, lifting water buckets and riding are all a work out on their own. However if like me you tend to ride a little less and spend less time up the stables over winter, you might need to find an extra way to work out. First of all, find a goal, or some motivation to start. Maybe a race to train for or an event to look your best for.
I started running using the ‘Couch to 5k’ app which is great when starting out as it starts out pretty easy and builds you up slowly. I started on week 3 because I'm not quite a couch potato (and I doubt you are to!) and also skipped a few steps when I felt I was progressing past then but it did help a lot. The first run was awful, I couldn't breathe and had no energy. After I struggled to walk. But after pushing through the first run it suddenly got a lot easier! It's the same with any new exercise. Think back to when you first started riding. I bet you walked a bit like a crab when you got off right? If you really can't push yourself through it, run with a friend! You'll be surprised at how much support you can get and you might even get a bit competitive (which really works to your advantage). I use the time to catch up with friends I may usually not have time to see.
A few weeks after starting to run, I did my first parkrun. These are all over the UK at local parks and are all 5k in length. They run at 9am on a Saturday morning and there's usually a few hundred people there, ranging from all ages. Their motto is run, jog or walk. So anyone can join in! The atmosphere really pushes you to keep going, everyone there is so supportive. I really struggled with my first run and broke back into walk near the end, but a man ran past and told me to keep going, so I powered on. After running outdoors for a while I noticed my knees and ankles really started to hurt, to the point where I was in a lot of discomfort. So then I decided to join the gym! I thought I could run on a treadmill with had a lot more cushion but could also work out on other cardio machines. Most gyms also run classes like metafit, HIT and legs bums and tums. So if you're struggling to push through, or just don't know any exercises, they are definitely worth going along to! I haven't done any classes yet, mainly because of work and Annie, but I definitely plan on doing more before my holiday.
There's also free apps for any kind of exercises and videos of personal trainers social media profiles. That way, even if you don't have time to go to the gym, you can do these exercises at home. On Instagram there is an account called @dressageridertraining who I have recently followed. They have brilliant work out videos that helps with your fitness, strength and balance – all very important for riding! Although working out was a great hit with me, the healthy eating side never quite lasted. But the great thing about working out is that you can eat more food with a faster metabolism. Just need to pick the right things to eat! But despite that I feel better in myself and much more fit. I definitely recommend it! I can only speak from experience with the workouts I have done but you may find something different that you love doing.
The best advice I've ever been given: “You will never regret going for a run, but you will regret not going for a run” – Vet Ruthie
I hope you find your motivation!