Archive for December, 2011
It was one of those days. I sat at my desk on Tuesday afternoon and looked incredulously at the clock that said 4:36 p.m. It seemed like at least a half hour had passed since the last time I looked at the clock at 4:34 p.m. When time finally dragged itself to 5 p.m., I bundled up, went out in the already dark night, scraped the snow from my windshield using the only thing I had at my disposal (a tennis racket) and drove myself home. Every bone in my body said, “Hot bath, book, bed. Maybe wine.” But while my bones had their own plan, the calendar said “Tuesday,” and Tuesday said, “Run with the Heartland Road Runners After Dark.”
Since I began writing this blog, a frequent question from friends is, “How do you find the energy to do all of these activities?” And the truth is: it’s not easy. Everyone has days like I described above. A year ago, if my motivation and energy were completely gone, I would have probably just put on a sweatshirt, sat on my couch, and called it a night. These days though, I’ve been getting myself out the door even on nights like Tuesday. I’m about to share my secret of how I changed my attitude and learned to overcome crummy nights and get myself out the door.
I got a permanent marker and wrote the word “Adventure” on my foot. True story.
Why? Well, the truth is, I’ve always enjoyed being active. Kayaking, cycling, hiking, frisbee, swimming, running — every single time I try something new it’s been an adventure. And the only thing separating me from having an adventure is getting my foot out the door. The marker was just a way to remind myself that any kind of activity helps me to feel better about myself, improve my health, and make new friends. After an activity, I’ve never thought, “Dang, I totally should have just sat home and done nothing.”
So, though the marker has faded (and I’m still to chicken to get it tattooed), whenever I feel like I can’t Get Out to be active, I think of my foot. If I follow my “Adventure Foot” out the door even one step, I know I’m going to have a good time. One step is hard on days like Tuesday, but one step is all it takes.
I posted a question on Facebook asking some of my other active friends what they do for motivation. They had some great ideas to share. Wherever your motivation comes from, I hope you can harness it this winter and find great ways to Get Out.
Marinan Coons: I remember a cold day that I just didn’t want to run, so I told myself I would just do one lap around the block. Near the end, a guy in a wheel chair saw me jogging, and started to clap and cheer me on, like I was running a race or something. He got me so motivated that I did a second lap. I will pull that memory out when I need the extra kick in the pants.
Brian Pahlmann: I think about my long term goals and how this particular workout will help me to achieve them. I’ll also consider the blank spot in my training log if I don’t go. If that’s not enough, I convince myself to go out and at least do a little. After I get started, I almost always feel better and complete the entire planned workout.
Rodney Hart: If I don’t take my two dogs for their afternoon run, they’ll eat my living room. Plus I always feel better after a long walk. Finding my expensive Snark guitar tuner chewed to bits if I don’t walk the dogs is good motivation …
Justin Busen: ”Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win.”
Dave Poland: On days when I don’t feel like running (or at the very least taking a walk), I usually try and justify some lame reason for not going. Then I think back to the very first time I ran. It was only one block and I thought, “There is no way I will ever run a mile.” Now, I look at how far I have come and never want to get back to THAT starting line again.
Clinton Begley: Exercise is just a byproduct of passion for something; an activity I love and want to do better, a feeling of exhilaration, a drive to be healthy… When it’s for the sake of something one loves, motivation is never a question. And, I’m rarely passionate about my couch.
Sara Martin: I make myself go first thing in the morning and then I will never find an excuse to not do it. Also, I cannot tell you how good it feels to go through my day without constantly having the thought of “when am I going to make time to exercise” running through my brain!
Melissa James: I bring my gym bag with me in the morning so I don’t have to stop at home. I also like to think about how great I feel after a workout. I promise myself I’ll stay for at least 20 minutes – and it always turns into more.
Amy Salamon: I put my exercise clothes on. Doing that and beginning to stretch helps for me, because most days I DON’T want to go out. Actually getting in the gear and going through the motions helps prepare my mind for running.
Ali Berti: It does help to put on the workout gear and get yourself ready, because then you figure “as long as I’m dressed…” and you can get yourself out the door. Being committed to something with a group always helps (like Heartland Road Runners and Walkers Club!). Sometimes I have to “bribe” myself with a nap later or maybe a tasty coffee! I’ve also told myself, just do a mile, then it turns into more!
Jeremy Grootens: Each individual workout doesn’t mean too much by itself, but the continued accumulation of workouts is a great thing. So by thinking of where I want to be, instead of thinking of how I feel on that day, I usually get the workout done.
Adam Duesterhaus: An Active lifestyle is a happy lifestyle! Keeping the body in motion is as essential as keeping the mind and spirit moving as well! Never letting it fall into Limbo. When one fails, the others lack! Also, imagining where you want to be, is beneficial as well! Envisioning yourself on an open road, sun on your face, maybe a smile, it can help establish the right mindset, even though your present body is nowhere near that. Surrounding yourself with active peeps helps too!
Ryan Craven: The reason we love the outdoors is the beauty you see and the unexpected things that happen. You won’t see it or experience it if you don’t go out. That gets me up and about!
Jason Asmann: Personally, if I don’t feel like working out either due to a lack of motivation or that the weather is bad, I always remind myself that all the time and energy I’ve put into training this past year or two. It is the one motivating factor that tells me to put one foot in front of the other, get out there and just do it!!
A friend I knew from high school named Lydia Morris was in town last weekend for Thanksgiving and participated in the YMCA’s Turkey Run with me. I love hearing her story and seeing the positive affect being active has had on her life. Each time I go to a race, I’m amazedat the myriad reasons people run. Some people are working to get in shape or to lose weight. Some are taking positive steps to fight heart disease or diabetes. Many people enjoy the sense of accomplishment that running gives them and the camaraderie of the running community. Some, like Lydia, make running part of their life to have time to themselves, to fight stress and to gain energy. I know that my own motivation contains a little of all of these reasons. I hope you enjoy Lydia’s race recap, and I hope you each can find great reasons to Get Out and get active!
- Laura Sievert
A Newbie to Running Tells Her Story
By Lydia Morris
“This is the first time I’ve ever been able to see my breath when running.” I said to a fellow 5K jogger the morning of the Quincy Family YMCA Turkey Run. I made a commitment to running this past June, and where I live in Atlanta, GA, a typical summer day is pretty hot and humid. Thanksgiving morning was my first time running in sub 50 degree weather, and I loved every minute of it!I didn’t start running to get in shape or to lose weight. After high school, my history of working out had been sporadic at best. I just didn’t care much about physical activity. That changed when after six long years of graduate school with no end in sight, I had settled into a routine of too little sleep, an unhealthy diet and very little free time. Though I did carve out a little time for church activities, dinners with friends and play dates with my little cousins, I had mostly forgotten about the world outside of school and work. My life was completely unbalanced, I had no energy, and to say I was stressed out would be an understatement.
Completely overwhelmed and burned out, I was desperate to find a way to effectively relieve stress. I decided that whatever it was needed to be cheap, fun and not take up too much of my time. I did a little research and decided to start running because it isn’t expensive, it’s not very time-consuming, and I heard from others that it can be enjoyable.
I started out slowly with the popular 9-week long Couch to 5K (C25K) program, which allowed me to ease into the workouts without wanting to immediately give up as in the past. For three days a week I alternated between treadmill workouts and walking/running around my neighborhood in the evenings after it cooled down.
I did start to enjoy running, and I also began to do a little research. I read yoga would help to prevent injuries, so I started going to a yoga class on Saturday mornings. I also read that healthy eating, getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water are also important habits for runners. As my running improved each week, I slowly adopted these habits and noticed a substantial difference. I dropped about ten pounds over the past five months, but I am also more focused, I have much more energy and I feel much happier. Running helped me make both my physical and my mental health priorities.
Just a few weeks of running had improved my mood and motivated me to make some healthy lifestyle changes. At that point I wanted to continue increasing my running distance, and I needed a goal other than just to finish the C25K program. It worked out that in August the cancer center at Emory University, where I go to school, announced it would holding its first annual 5K fundraiser (Winship Win the Fight 5K) in October. I formed a team with a few of my co-workers, signed us up, and continued to run weekly.
Before the race, I only made it through “week six” of C25K, which ended in a 20 minute run. For me, that’s about two miles. I figured if I could run two, I could run three. I tested my theory by looking up the course online and trying it out a week before race day. After about a mile of jogging I felt like I might pass out! It was much hillier than I was used to, so I ended up stopping and walk-running the rest of the way. It seemed the course was pretty much either flat or on a slight upward incline the whole 3.2 miles. Though I was pretty discouraged by all the hills, I set two goals for race day: to finish in 30 minutes and to not walk at all.
I noticed something interesting the morning of the race. The start/finish line was set up in the opposite direction from how I had practiced a week before. So the course would be mostly flat and downhill. Yes! With the excitement of the crowd (~2,000 runners and walkers) and my adrenaline going, I was sure I’d be able to accomplish my goals. I ended up running for the entire race with an unofficial time of 31:22, according to my wristwatch. I was really proud of what I accomplished in terms of running the whole race and contributing to a worthy cause (our team raised $1,250). I was actually happier than I’d been in a long time.
Getting back to the morning of the Turkey Run, in our family we usually hit a holiday trifecta every several years. I was born on November 24th, which is also my parents’ wedding anniversary. This year it was also Thanksgiving Day! I used this to my advantage when I signed up for the run and added my younger sister, Regina, to my team for the 5K leisure walk. I knew this was a little early for her, especially for a non- work day, but I figured I could convince her using the old “but it’s my birthday” line. It worked, and we were out of the house by 7:30 a.m. to go pick up our packets. I’m glad we arrived early because it gave us a chance to catch up on sister time since we don’t see each other very often. I also happened to see Laura who was running the 10K, and we chatted for a bit before the race started. She truly is an inspiration to anyone wanting to be more physically active!
Regina ran into a few of her friends — one was walking and the other was running the 5K. She‘d have a walking buddy and I’d have a running buddy! When the race started I was determined to beat my time of 31:22. My sister’s friend blew by me and as I watched her pass me up, but I decided to just go with my own speed. At my usual 10 min/ mile pace, and with some of my favorite tunes blasting in my ear buds, the first few miles were easy. I was reminded why I enjoyed my first race so much. I love jogging next to so many people who all have the same goal, and it’s nice that the traffic is cut off to allow us to do so.
Around mile three I got a pretty intense stomach cramp that didn’t go away with the controlled breathing I read about, so I walked for about half a minute. I quickly remember my goal of beating my previous finishing time so I started running again and managed to power myself up the last hill to the finish line. Gift to self: my official time was 31:09! On my 28th birthday I saw my breath while running for the first time, I ran my second 5K and I continued on my journey toward a healthier lifestyle initiated by a new found love of running.
My favorite running/fitness/motivation quote: “You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.”
I’d been meaning to Get Out to try a class at the NuFit for You facility at 4480 Broadway for a few months. Several of my friends from the Heartland Road Runners Club and the Quincy Bicycle Club take classes there, and they all have had very positive things to say, so I figured I’d go take a class and see for myself. I hopped on their website to look at a class schedule and one class name stood out: CycleLates. Moments later, my Facebook status read: “Going to CycleLates class Monday night. I can only assume we are making delicious espresso beverages on a machine powered by bicycles.”
The NuFit CycleLates class is actually a combo class with a half hour of indoor cycling (also called Spin Class) and a half hour of Pilates. The combination of the cardio workout of the cycling class and the core workout of the pilates class makes this one of the most balanced hour-long workouts a busy person could ask for. Personally, though I’m an avid cyclist, I’d never done an indoor spin class or a pilates class, so it was going to be a fitness adventure for me!
Your first class at NuFit is free, and you register online for the class you’d like to attend. The remaining open spots in the class are listed on the web, so you’ll know right away if there’s room. I showed up about 10 minutes before the scheduled start time, and was immediately greeted by owner Angie Asmann and my instructor for the night, Lindsay. They showed me around the immaculately-clean and inviting facility and I changed into my cycling shoes to get ready for the cycling part of the class.
Lindsay explained how the bikes work and how the class would progress. I was able to adjust my seat and handle bar height to fit the way I’m used to riding, and there was a small screen in front of me that displayed my cadence (strokes per minute) as well as the gear that my cycle was in. The class is tailored to your fitness level by the gear you choose. You start from a place called your Push Point. Your Push Point is the gear that feels most similar to a comfortable ride on a flat road. Everyone’s Push Point is different; therefore the class is individualized for each rider’s ability.
After a warm up, our instructor called out for us to shift up 3 gears above our push point and to try to maintain a cadence of about 75. Shifting on the bike is very easy and just consists of moving a small lever up or down. The music matched the intensity of the ride, and I was having a good time and quickly working up a sweat. We moved on to “rolling hills” where we would gradually increase our gear and hold it in intervals, and then we would move down gears to simulate the downhill portion of the ride. I kept imagining we were doing a real stretch of rolling hills out on Ellington Road. I know if I keep doing cycling classes at NuFit, the real Ellington Road will seem much easier on my real bike next year!
After a cool down on the bikes, our class of about 15 people all retrieved pilates mats. The facility has mats to use if you don’t have your own. The lights were turned down and the music shifted to mark the change from high-energy cycling to more focused pilates core work. Our instructor Lindsay did a wonderful job of explaining each exercise and demonstrating it before we started each set. Many of the names of exercises were at least vaguely familiar to me- exercises like scissors, planks, downward dog, etc.
I very much liked that some of the toughest moves could be modified for beginners. For example, one of the exercises called a “teaser” had 3 different ways of modifying where your legs were placed to make different difficulty levels. I started on the middle level, but on the last set I needed to drop my legs down to the third level to make it a little easier.
Many of the pilates moves emphasized balance- something I am certainly not known for- but I did my best to keep up and never felt self-conscious or behind the class. After the class was over, I said something about how tough some of the things were and our instructor said, “Good! It wouldn’t be much of a class if you could do all the moves your first day.” She was totally right, and I am actually looking forward to getting better at some of those core exercises. I can tell that no matter what activity I’m participating in, the strength and balance that you learn in a pilates class will be a huge advantage.
Overall, I very much enjoyed my class at NuFit. I’ve just scratched the surface of what the facility has to offer, and I think that the CycleLates class will be a wonderful cross-training piece for the half-marathon I am training to run in March.
Besides the CycleLates class, there are also Indo-Row Classes (Rowing machines), PowerCycle, Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, CrossFit, and more. They also offer classes at Quincy University and at Riverside Spa in Hannibal. In addition to fitness classes, you can sign up for individual nutrition counseling or group classes held at Steamboat Cooking Store that can help you get the most from your workouts. Most classes work on punch cards which are 5/$50, 10/$75 or 20/$120. Your first class is free and you can see the entire schedule by clicking here.