Maybe you have had a workout routine but feel stuck. Or are a gym newbie, green and crisp. Maybe you just discovered a new sport, or simply need a change. Whatever it may be, finding a healthy, active lifestyle is for EVERYONE. At any age, any stage of life, any situation.
Triathletes getting ready to jump in the water. Lake Worth, FL, 2013.[/caption]
I must admit, the idea for this post came to me while reading another article on the same topic. I’m always on a search for new ideas, challenges and motivational factors to increase my fitness or try something new. But the main factors that prevent most of us in working out, besides money and time , which were pointed out in the aforementioned article (and absolutely correct), are according to me -
Creativity will get you trying new things, motivation will get you out of the bed, and organization will help you create and maintain new habits.
I am truly obsessed with running. I love it, I do not by any means find it boring, it gives me the most intense sensation of truly suffering (that’s what workouts are for, right?) and to top it all, it’s a form of de-stressing and meditation for me.
5k Race for Haiti 2012.[/caption]
I have been through my ups and downs. About a year and a half ago, around the time I ran my first half-marathons, I was the fastest ever. And do not get me wrong, I wasn’t _that fast. _Just to give you a number’s run-down, because we all like to know how fast other people are:
My 5k PR is 23min (ONE race. One only. Maybe the course was short :) It happens). So let’s say most of my 5ks were in 24mins, which is about 8 min/mile.
My half marathon PR in January ‘13 was 1:56 and change, just under 9 min/mile.
At that time, I was reading Scott Jurek and dreaming of ultras (it will happen one day), getting into triathlons, and fighting a runner’s plague known as plantar fasciitis (screw that!). And I remember as clear as day, thinking to myself - you are so close to being a real and good runner. So close, you are almost there! I had podium in age group on most shorter races, just because they weren’t that big and females age 25-29 don’t seem to run that much here in south Florida - score! I have a basket full of medals, and at one point I raced at least once a month.
Scott at Badwater (135mile ultra through hellish heath).[/caption]
But things change… oh they do. I finally completed a full marathon and half-iron triathlon in winter ‘13/‘14 season, but it came at a cost of an injury.
Once I passed certain milestones (no pun intended), my determination simply wasn’t there anymore. I was mentally and physically tired, the former being the harder one to overcome.
Instead of feeling bad, sorry for myself, or ‘just-not-there-anymore’, I realized - it is perfectly fine to have ups and downs!
It is perfectly normal, natural and acceptable to vary in your workout habits.
Yes, it would be fabulous if I was marathon ready any given day, now wouldn’t it? But how many people are, really? Not even Ryan Hall to his satisfaction.
Loosen those obsessions and goals and go work out already! Anything, literally anything is better than nothing (unless it’s your rest day). So get creative - that means try new things, meeting new people, and moving your body any chance you get!
You haven’t experienced Down dog till you try it on the water…[/caption]
Here are a few examples of workouts I am using to expand my creativity and comfort zone:
- I just discovered paddle boarding, and I am as hooked as it gets! I’m (obviously) aiming towards teaching SUP yoga. I understand this applies to Floridians and Californians mainly (and Costa Ricans, and Bahamians, etc..), but it’s a perfect example of something fun, outdoorsy, different.
- Being a triathlete is so much more awesome than just a runner, cause low and behold - you have THREE. not One. THREE sports to choose from! Swimming is so low impact and fun (and cheapest compared to other two if you have easy pool or ocean access), and cycling is just as invigorating and competitive as running. You can do at least two of three outside, on your own, and let’s just say in most weather conditions.
- Yoga is an awesome cross-training activity. Contrary to popular belief, you can become crazy fit from just doing yoga, the intense kind that is. And there are tons of styles to choose from. The main benefit is flexibility, which will improve any athletic activity, without a doubt.
- Strength training of all kinds. It’s important. There is no Runner’s World Magazine issue that doesn’t mention it at least three times. It is the optimal way to get that tight tush and (visible) abs. We live in the future and you don’t even need a gym membership for this one. From purchasing a couple of weights to using your condominium gym (seriously, lot’s of homes have these now a days!), you can get your sessions in any time.
- Workout DVDs. I am NOT kidding, I love them! When I first got gym-hooked, I went to spend a summer in Europe knowing I won’t join one there, and I took P90X with me. Boy, do I love Tony! And Shaun T - Insanity works even better on the fly because it’s a bit shorter and doesn’t require weights. Another great option is online videos - I love Popsugar Fitness. Combine a few 10min workouts and you are set!
Motivation is a very personal feeling, and it can arise from various situations and for various reasons. And just like our other two factors, It Fluctuates. But there are ways to spark it and maintain it!
Maybe you got called ___ (insert an attribute you do not like) and you signed up for a gym membership instantly. Unfortunate, but it happens. You can make the best of it (and unfriend that person immediately).
Maybe a high-school reunion is coming up! Or a wedding, or an I-know-my-ex-will-be-there event. It may had been a health scare, yours or in the family. Or you are fast approaching a milestone birthday.
On the other hand, you may have watched or read a heartbreaking and inspiring story that got you off your ass and into those yoga pants.
You may have finished your first 5k and the sheer adrenaline, ecstasy and excitement of the moment feels like it will last forever and you will become an olympian by this time next year (hold on to this feeling as long as possible).
Crossing the finish line at my first Sprint Triathlon.[/caption]
Motivation can arise from unfortunate or very fortunate events, emotions, situations… It can be a revenge thing, or a personal promise to yourself. It is up to you to find yours.
Motivation is a tricky, very personal thing.
The greatest motivation is the one that WILL LAST. Therefore, it has to be associated with a plan that is long term.
I am 28 years old (now you know), but I constantly think of how I want to feel and look like when I am 38, 48, 58… Living in Florida does not help. Slow walking, blind driving, young people cursing inspiration all around me, all day long. I want to be HEALTHY.
I WANT TO FEEL GOOD. Light, energized, emotionally balanced. I want to feel good on the inside (digestion, I’m talking to you) and on the outside - skin, hair, nails.
The motivation that starts and ends with your reflection in the mirror giving you all the feedback, in my opinion, will not last that long. Yes it is awesome to look good. But that’s not all!
I see it constantly - people suffering, torturing themselves and hating every minute of their workout. I see people seriously uncomfortable sweating and experiencing their own perspiration. On that note, way too many people dislike their diets and do it as a chore. It will not work!
Everything is a habit. If you were not born loving running (I wasn’t!), you will learn how to love it once you have actually done it a few times. Everything takes practice. If you were a couch potato for 25 years, it wont take 5 gym sessions for you to get out of your comfort zone.
We are all to used to a quick fix. Pop a pill, have someone else do it, procrastinate… But there is no instant lasting motivation out there.
Connect with your body, listen to it and respond, and you will find your WORKOUT LIFESTYLE that will last.
That means, find a workout that is
- challenging you - I am sorry, but I do not find walking a workout for 99% of the population.
- that is changing you - mentally, physically and emotionally. I have cried at the end of a marathon. It’s a profound experience.
- that is fun, exciting, and can be modified or explored. Yoga - in a studio (there are tons and tons of styles and types), on the beach, on a paddle board, in a almost-sauna… the possibilities are endless.
- that is making you feel great!
- that is reconstructing, but not BREAKING your body. Yes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Know your limits, pace yourself properly, be PATIENT (there it is again).
Once you’ve found various creative workout outlets, and your motivation and reasoning behind your workouts, it is time to organize yourself properly so both your creativity and motivation will LAST!
Writing a workout schedule or following an existing one has Never, Ever worked for me. But I believe it is an amazing idea! It is specially important if you are following a training plan for a race.
I do have a few group fitness events I participate in on most weeks, and they keep me in some kind of order. START WITH ONE DAY A WEEK! It’s more than enough.
I participate in a run club on Tuesday nights, and a triathlon training meet-up on Sundays. That’s it! When those days come, I hate and dread and drag out of bed, but I make it, and pat myself on the back after it’s done.
- Meet-ups (as in meetup.com). I know it sounds like a perfect dating site, and sure you can use it for that, but meetup is my reservoir of fitness groups! I found triathlon training through it and would have never completed a tri without it. I also host Yoga Breeze, my own yoga by donation meetup on the beach (Check us out if in Florida!!!). From Run clubs to bootcamps, you can find it all and you will surely gain great workout (and non-workout) buddies out of it since most peeps that use it are SUPER FRIENDLY!
- Run clubs - check out your local awesome specialty running store for those, and they will either have one or know where to find one! I would know, I used to work at one (and sub for our run couch when needed).
- Group rides - specialty bike stores hold those! The guys and gals working at those places are usually cyclists/triathletes and they will not only train with you but also give you valuable tips.
- Grab a friend and start your own training run date. I for one wish I had more buddies to do this with, that live close by and are on the same schedule. The day I meet a girl runner who can be my run BFF I will be in ecstasy! But till then, I can at least dream….
Ragnarians are best friends, even if it’s just for a night or two![/caption]
Do not be intimidated to train with other people! There is a great, HUGE advantage to it. Yes, specially if the group is competitive - they will make you run faster. I always run at least 1min/mile faster with a group than on my own. It is a fact. They will push you to go further. They will sign up for races and brag about it, giving you the running envy. You will become crazier around them. All in all, it’s for the best.
Now it’s time to go out, explore and report what your experience has been! Do you have any tips to share? How did you start working out or got our of a rut? What is your workout lifestyle?