rise to the challenge
Believing you can change is a hard thing. I’ve been doing the same workout routine for years, and I *hate* having my schedule disrupted. But I started noticing that I was kind of stuck on a plateau. I wasn’t getting weaker, but I wasn’t getting stronger. After having had five years and four pregnancies, I was used to seeing that dramatic change of weight loss or toning up. Now, done having kids, my body hasn’t really caught on to the fact that I’m not about to get pregnant again. It’s still hanging on.
My pants fit fine, the number on the scale is okay, but I was hoping for more. I’m not looking to be 0% body fat but getting rid of the baby pouch would be awesome. I know it can happen. I’ve seen friends who have had multiple children rid of it with their own exercise routines, so I know it’s doable. I just have to actually sort of care and not just go through the motions.
A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I started getting into running again. Not just a once and a while thing, but actually making it a plan in my day. I would often tell myself that I workout enough; why would I need to add more, and won’t I be tired?
Turns out, no. No I won’t be. In fact, I feel so much better. So on Thanksgiving, I started a challenge where you must run a mile or more, every day, until Christmas. And I have. Every day.
Funny thing is, it has actually made me a better athlete all around. How so? Well, when I run before I teach spin, I’m already warm, so I can put on a lot more resistance, therefore getting a better workout. I’ve noticed it in my teaching style, that when I’m working even harder than normal, the members in turn work harder. If I give a little extra, then it makes it easier for them to want to also give a little more.
When I run after I teach Pump, my legs are ready for me to go faster. I don’t have to go through that first mile of my muscles groaning with effort. It’s effortless.
I’ve done this challenge all completely on the treadmill so I could see definite progress. I wanted to have actual facts to back up my work. When I started, I would start out running at an average 9:30-10 minute pace, gradually increasing it until I got uncomfortable. Now, as of today, I start out at a 8-8:30 pace, and usually do my last mile or half mile in the sub 7 range.
What does that mean? It means progress.
On Wednesday and Fridays, I run after Pump and usually there’s this delightful senior named Carl, a retired school teacher, who is walking on the treadmill at the same time.
A few weeks ago, I was complaining that my legs were tired, so I jogged at an easy 9 minute pace for the 20 minutes that we typically are at the treadmills for and chatted about his wife’s upcoming surgery. Last week, I put it on my new regular speed, and Carl looked and said, “Well, you were looking for improvement. I think you found it!” And then we chatted about her recovery from surgery.
He’s definitely been a good cheerleader. Especially when he wasn’t there one day and instead of doing my usual 20 minutes, I cut it out when I hit the 2 mile mark at 16ish minutes. Could I have run for another 4 minutes? Probably. But my biggest downfall is my weak mind during physical activity.
I suppose, when looking at the big picture, that’s why I enjoy group fitness so much. I need the motivation of others to really pull me through a hard workout.
I find that I’m not alone in this. One of the biggest things I’ve seen when teaching is people not trusting themselves and being afraid to try a little bit more. Especially in spin. For anyone that has never done a spin class before, let me just say, of all the cardio I’ve ever done in my life (and I’ve done a lot) it’s the hardest. For me, it’s hard because I hate to fail, and so if my legs find muscle failure and I slow down, I feel as though I’ve failed the instructor or members. But in reality, to find that muscle failure or at least that burning fatigue, is a wonderful thing to achieve. I’m constantly preaching to anyone who will listen that it’s good to fail. It’s good to find that awful, uncomfortable, takes your breath away, muddies your brain and makes you want to yell feeling once and a while. For me, it reminds me that I’m alive and strong and capable of almost anything.
There’s a person who takes RPM with me every Monday night. She’s exactly the kind of person you want to have in your class; energetic, hard working, motivating. She works out front and center and watches my feet and speed like her life depends on it. And because she’s there, watching, working, I work twenty times harder. She’s been in the game a long time, and she knows when/if an instructor doesn’t have the proper resistance on. She knows if you’re slacking. She watches your form, she watches your speed, and she watches your face.
In the beginning I thought it was because I was being judged, but in reality, she and I are very much alike in that, we need someone to be honest and kicking ass to really find our own peak potential.
And maybe a little judgement. But whatever.
So basically, I found something in my life that was stale, I had to get a little uncomfortable, but here I am, a few weeks later looking out from the other side and I’m happy I suffered a little bit to get here. Nothing worth having is easy, I’ve noticed. Kids, marriage, dogs, health. But I suppose when I see the effort that I’ve put forward into all of those things, I appreciate it that much more.
Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone.