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By Steven Jonas
To get started in duathlon (a running/cycling race), one first must become a regular exerciser. Over the 30-plus years that I have been a regular exerciser and a writer about the subject I have put together a "Basic Eight of Regular Exercise." These eight rules have helped me to keep on truckin'. They might help you too, whether you are just starting out in duathlon or are not quite as regular of an exerciser as you would like to be.
1. There are many reasons for exercising regularly. Most folks who do it will tell you that the most important ones are that regular exercise makes you feel better about yourself, and it makes you look better to both yourself and others, too. Those are certainly my own principal reasons; however, as a physician who has been in preventive medicine for his whole career, I also know that there are plenty of health-promoting reasons to exercise regularly, too.
2. Indeed, regular exercise can (or at least may) regulate your weight and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, certain kinds of cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis (bone softening associated with aging), and even depression, chronic anxiety, and Alzheimer’s disease. There are no guarantees here, but the risk--that is the chances of getting one or more of the above diseases or negative health conditions--goes down. Regular exercise is also very helpful in managing many of the same diseases and negative health conditions.
3. The best exercise for you is the exercise that is best for you. There are numerous choices. One size does not fit all. This applies to multi-sport racing as well as to training for those races.
4. The hard part of regular exercise is the regular, not the exercise. When starting out, the first steps to take are to set up a schedule that works for you and then to see if you can stick with it. You can find a series of schedules for getting started and staying with it in my book.
5. Gradual change leads to permanent changes. Be sure not do too much too soon, both in your training and in your racing.
6. Explore your limits and recognize your limitations. Duathlon is for everyone--fast, slow, and in between. You just have to find out, through experience, what works best for you.
7. Effective mobilization of your motivation is the key to long-term success, first as a regular exerciser and then as a multi-sport racer.
8. You can never be perfect, but you can always get better.If there is one key factor to becoming a regular exerciser and duathlon racer, this is it.
Now, go get ‘em.
Steven Jonas is the author of "Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It." Read his previous article on the duathlon here. And don't forget to check out his website, www.ordinarymortals.net.