Exercise gave me more than great legs

I was recently contemplating the physical goals I want to tackle in 2016 – my first marathon since having a child, Intensity max, that hill that I didn’t make in 2015. I sometimes feel like I’ve digressed in my fitness, but I am still going at it which is what matters. Besides, even if I don’t run like I’m 18 anymore working out continues to teach me about myself and life.

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Sacrifice form, sacrifice results

For nearly everything you do there is the right way and there is the short-cut. It might seem smarter to just take the easy route, but you won’t truly end up in the same place. You miss out on the lessons you didn’t realize would be a part of the journey and lose an opportunity to work muscles and skills you might not have otherwise.

Whether training for a marathon or working on a project at the office there are times I’m tempted to cut corners – skip that long run or pass off the grunt work – but I know that won’t get me nearly as far. If I don’t put the work in I know later I will feel it, either at mile 13 or when I didn’t learn that new technology that could have advanced my career.

What you can accomplish is a combination of mind, body, and heart

I started running when I was fifteen. Athletics weren’t really my thing. You were more likely to find me reading a book than lacing up tennis shoes.

Those first days included lots of breaks and more walking than running, but I kept pushing myself. Fifteen years later and I am still running. I am also pushing myself in other areas of my life because I know if I keep at it I can accomplish more than I ever imagined.

When I started grad school two years ago I doubted I would make it to the end. February marks the end of the program for me and I made it with my sanity (mostly) intact and several new friendships.

You can have too much of a good thing

When I began working out at fifteen I received nothing but praise. As the years progressed, exercise became a part of my daily routine and my go-to for stress release. This is exactly what everyone says you are supposed to do, but in college the good habit became an obsession.

I would spend three hours a day working out and when not working out I was thinking about it. Remembering how unbalanced my life became reminds me that I need balance and boundaries. It is good to spend some time alone and some with friends. I can’t work non-stop or have fun with no care in the world. It is okay to need a break from being a mom and sometimes to drop everything else in the world for a Teddy Bear tea party.

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Interval training for life

March was a tough month. I spent most of the month super excited about a job opportunity at a non-profit. I ended up being one of the top candidates, but didn’t get it. Then a merchandising position with a major retailer came my way and I made in in for final interviews, but didn’t get an offer.

All of this was, however, overshadowed by family changes. My grandfather went in and out of the hospital with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. Scary to say the least. And at the end of the month we lost my Aunt Robin to her battle with brain cancer.
Through all of this stress and change there is one thing I make sure I do for myself. Grab my sneakers. Working out keeps me sane, gives me perspective, and gets the positive energy surging.

Between work, job searching, grad school, being a mom, and traveling back to Illinois time for a long run or a one hour yoga class doesn’t always fit in the schedule. With just some workout clothes, sneakers, and my phone’s stop watch I can accomplish a great workout in only 15-20 minutes.

Shortly after having Olivia I realized my days of hour long runs was a memory (hopefully not forever) and I would need to mix it up a bit. That is when I started interval runs. In a fifteen minute run I can feel like I just ran a half marathon. This can be done on a treadmill or outdoors, but I’ve found I’m more effective on the treadmill. Here is a quick run you can try:
Minute 1-2 easy jog (Ex: speed of 6)
Minute 3 sprint or incline (Ex: speed of 6.5 or incline of 3)
Minute 4-5 easy jog
Minute 6 sprint or incline
Minute 7-8 easy jog
Minute 9 sprint or incline
Minute 10-11 easy jog
Minute 12 sprint or incline
Minute 13-14 easy jog
Minute 15 sprint or incline
Minute 16-20 cool down at easy jog/walk

running

Recently I added Tabata workouts as well so I can squeeze in 4 minute exercise sprints while watching TV or playing with Olivia. String a few of these together and you have one heck of a workout. The great thing about Tabata is it can be done with almost any exercise with or without equipment. A few examples include lunges, mountain climbers, jump rope, push-ups, planks. Pick an exercise and set your stop watch. For twenty seconds perform the exercise at full intensity while maintaining good form. Rest 10 seconds then back at it for twenty seconds. Continue this twenty on, ten off for four minutes. It sounds simple, but by the end I promise you will be sweaty and sore. If you search online for tabata workouts you will find a variety of options.

Besides realizing I can get a great workout in a shorter amount of time I realized that I could use a little interval training for life. Everything might hit all at one time, but those moments of rest will come. I might be sore afterwards, but I’ll be stronger and better for it.

What do you grab when life gets rough?

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