Tuesday, August 27, 2013
There Is No Professional Here
Lately, I've had a lot of people asking me about running and working out. They ask me how I do it- how I drag myself to the gym, how I got started running, how I get through tough classes without feeling like a schmuck.
So, here are my tips/tricks/nuggets of truth:
*let's also remember-- I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL and certainly not a lifetime athlete. Yes, I swam in high school but I wasn't particularly awesome, I couldn't run a mile without feeling like dying until I was almost 30, but I guess I've learned a couple tidbits over the past couple years.
How I started running:
Anyone can do this. I swear. Start with a playlist of music you enjoy. Walk the first couple songs to get going. Maybe 2 songs? Then simply run one song, walk one song, run one song, walk one song.
Which leads me to my first running mantra: You don't have to run fast, you just have to run
Follow this pattern for a preset distance or time. Maybe it's a good idea to start with 20 minutes? Maybe 1 mile? Whatever feels like a good goal for you. Follow this routine until you think "ok, I'm going to try to run ONE more song." and then do it! Run 2 songs, walk one song..etc...
Basically, I worked up by following this pattern. I ran 2 songs, walked 1 song until one day I thought, 'ya know, I feel pretty good! maybe I can just run 1 more song"...if I remember correctly, it was a day when I was just about to finish my last run portion of my workout and instead of walking that last song I ran it.
This was also the point when I realized that *for me* running 3 songs equaled about 1 mile. So from that point on, I ran the first mile and then finished the workout with the run 2, walk 1 routine. Slowly, I added songs together until I was running 2 miles. I can't tell you how long it took me to work up to it but it wasn't a fast process.
Again-- I cannot reiterate this enough-- You don't have to run fast, you just have to run!
There are days when your "run" is just barely different from your walk and that's ok. I don't pretend that I'm a distance runner. I sign up for races fairly consistently but I've yet to try to push it over 6 miles. I do races because they're fun! There are people cheering, plenty to look at while I'm running, a goodie bag, and a reason to celebrate when it's over! I've got a slight desire to do a half marathon but NO interest in a marathon at this point. I don't run because I love it and it feels amazing every single time. Honestly, I only like it about 1/3 of the time. The rest of the time I do it because it's a good workout and I feel like a more well rounded healthy person when I'm able to jog for a couple miles. It's a lot easier for me to squeeze in a run than it is for me to convince myself to drag myself out of bed at 5:45 for the only class at the gym I can make it to that day.
When I do have the days that I'm on the treadmill, hating every single step, the 3 songs= 1 mile thing comes in really handy. I have a lot easier time counting down songs without losing my mind than I do counting down remaining miles. Yesterday, during my 4 mile run, I got halfway through and the idea of 20 more minutes or 2 more miles seemed like it was going to kill me. So instead, I focused on the fact that I had 6 songs left (give or take half a song) and sang along to each one of those songs. Three more songs sounds a lot less painful than 1 more mile. It also helps if those songs are loud, upbeat, and fast.
Other workouts and gym visits--
I go to the gym because I want to fit in my clothes
I go to the gym because I didn't want to be fat anymore (I weighed the most I'd ever weighed when I joined Equinox)
I go to the gym because I like hitting my goals
I go to the gym because I can still do the things I want to do AFTER the gym (happy hour is still going on!)
I go to the gym because I really like my arm muscles
I go to the gym because it's fun to wear new workout clothes
I go to the gym because guilt feels much worse than exhaustion
I go to the gym because people notice the difference and I'm a sucker for compliments (who isn't??)
I go to the gym because Andy says I'm happier when I do
I go to the gym because, at points, I feel antsy if I don't
I go to the gym because I LOVE food and don't want to give up cheese, milk, ice cream, or anything else
I go to the gym because I also love beer, wine, and cocktails
I go to the gym because I want to be healthy for wherever the rest of my life takes me
To do this, I've had to remind myself of a couple of things that I think other people should know:
*Feel NO shame!
-Going to a new class can make me feel awkward and embarrassed when I can't do things as well as the woman next to me. But if I keep going and remind myself that no one cares what I'm doing, a month later, I realize how much I've improved.
*Feeling tired, embarrassed, and defeated will happen no matter how hard you work.
-There will ALWAYS be days when your body doesn't work the way you want it to and it will be frustrating. But if you do it again tomorrow, you might have a completely different day! I'll be honest, today was not one of my best days at the gym. My class was super hard and for some reason I had a difficult time keeping up. To top it off, I also happened to end up being front and center in the class so I spent a decent amount of time feeling really bad that people behind me might be influenced by how tired I was. I almost apologized to them and the instructor after class-- the girl who's really struggling to get 8lb weights over her head might not be the best choice for the front and center position. But at the end, I looked at the women around me and thought "screw it. I worked as hard as I could and I'm not going to feel bad about that"
*There is no diet or gimmick that will give you the results that working out will
-I've done Weight Watchers for a number of years now and I really like the structure and awareness that it gives me. I would be perfectly happy to eat fish sticks, frozen pizza, and quesadillas for dinner damn near every night if I wasn't aware of how much that would defeat my hard work. I've also lost weight previously just following WW and not exercising. But the bottom line is that my body looks better, I fit my clothes differently, and the weight largely stays off even if I do eat and drink too much over a weekend. Because I've gotten my metabolism crankin' and it's working overtime. Don't tell me to cut out booze, dairy, or treats. I can lose the same weight if I go to the gym and come home and enjoy some wine with my Cowgirl Creamery. Will I lose it more slowly? Maybe. Will I sit around dreaming of chips and dip? Hell no. I'd much prefer a night out with my friends where my legs are tired but I'm enjoying a glass of pinot noir than legs that are refreshed and a glass of sparkling water.
*Workout 3 days a week to feel good, 5 days a week to look good
-No explanation necessary. It's the truth and that's all there is to it. Granted, will I get a workout in 5 days a week every single week? No, but I'm going to try and most of the time I'll end up around 4. I plan them out on Sunday night and try and stick to my plan as closely as possible. I might decide to run instead of a class or I might decide to do yoga instead of a run. But I'll try to do something. p.s. yoga only will not cut it. It is better than nothing but consider it a more intense stretch session...
*Set goals but don't put a time limit on them
-I set a weight goal of 155 a year and a half ago. I weighed 178 at the time that I joined Equinox and in the first 6 months, I lost about 15lbs. I sat at 162 for another 6 months. I was mainly running and doing some harder training but not as much. Then last January, I started going to a hard plyometric/weights class 1 day a week and the weight started falling off again. I hit my goal of 155 a couple months ago and I've now set a new goal. The point is, it takes time. Sometimes you find a routine that works and the lbs start falling off. Then you hit a plateau and just get stuck. It's frustrating. But give it time and TRY SOMETHING NEW!
The final thing I have to say is that it's hard. You need to push yourself past your comfort level. It's ok to not be able to do it by yourself. That's why I go to classes! But however you do it, you need to push yourself to the point where you are just flat out uncomfortable. Not hurting! But to the point where you think "Ugh! I can't do this anymore." Then go 5 more minutes. I once commented to the instructor of my hard class that "For once I just want to be able to make it through class without feeling like I'm dying! I feel like a loser!" and she said "If you make it through this and you don't feel like dying- you're not doing it right. The point is to push your body to failure. Once you do that, you've accomplished something."
That's what I reminded myself of today.
and I feel pretty damn good.