November 6, 2008

Running through transitions (alternate title: Getting back on track after you failed to transition)

How perfect that today’s Take It and Run Thursday topic is Running Through Transitions! I’ve been MIA thanks to dealing with the transition of starting a new project. Unlike other fields, in consulting, starting a new project is like starting a new job: new coworkers, new responsibilities, new culture, and even new commutes. Instead of flying to St. Louis on Mondays and returning on Thursdays, eating expensive catered takeout sandwiches, and working out late night and early morning in the 24 hour hotel gym, I’m now battling traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel to drive to Jersey every day (1.5 hours each way – blech), heading down to the heavily subsidized (and therefore cheap!) corporate cafeteria for lunch, and battling traffic again in an attempt to get home to my apartment before the gym closes at 11 PM.

All this means my workout and blogging routines have gone to rot. On Sunday I did a marathon on the elliptical. Okay, so maybe the elites did a marathon and I just watched them… but I was on it the whole time they were running and I did 16 miles! That made me feel better about literally eating so much I felt sick on Friday night. (Whoever brought those homemade pumpkin and gingerbread cookies to Boyfriend’s party is in big trouble.) I haven’t worked out or blogged since.

By the way, you all should try taking a break from blogging for a few days… it’s amazing how many comments your last post gets when you don’t post anything new for a while. Plus, I need to catch up on reading your posts.

Anyway, working in consulting, transitions like this are pretty common, and I’m kind of annoyed at myself for managing this one so poorly. In the past, I’ve prided myself on my commitment to eating right and exercising and not letting a hectic work schedule get in the way. Heck, when I was in Boston, I was bench pressing the hotel coffee table! So how do I get myself out of the rut and back on track? How do you deal with getting in a workout when your life is changing? Here are my tips.

1. Be resourceful. Like the hotel coffee table incident, it’s important to use what’s around you in creative ways. To address my knee problems, every time I take the elevator in my apartment and I’m the only one on it, I do wall sits. It’s only 21 floors from the garage to my floor, but hey – 45 seconds of quad strengthening is better than nothing! (I have to confess to avoiding the doormen since starting this though… even if no one else is on the elevator, they see me on the security cameras and probably think I’m nuts when I come home in my suit and heels at 11 PM and am squatting against the elevator wall.) There is actually a lot of legwork you can squeeze in – try heel raises in the shower, leg lifts while brushing your teeth, or squats while drying your hair.

2. Incidental exercise counts! Park a little farther from the building, or take the stairs. I know this is the same tired advice that many diet/workout programs give, and BELIEVE ME I know that it’s not always possible, especially when there are time constraints, but do what you can. Volunteer to be the one to go down to pick up the lunch delivery when it comes – it’s a totally legit excuse and even just walking to the elevator if you don’t have time to take the stairs is better than sitting on your butt in your desk chair and waiting for food to come directly to you. Also, drink tons of water. Yeah, it cleanses your system, blah blah, but my reason for saying this because it will also force you to get out of your chair and go to the bathroom – more incidental exercise! (Note: do not try this if you are in a long client meeting).

3. Be flexible. So you used to run three days a week according to a set schedule? Just because you can’t do that anymore doesn’t mean you can’t find a new routine (or non-routine, if your life is totally unpredictable) to stay in shape. There is no way I can run three days a week, so I try to just work out as much as possible during the week, and then on weekends, I promise myself one very long run. It’s worked for nine marathons so far!

4. Finally, to completely contradict my last point, set a plan and stick to it. Make it a goal to get in at least 9 minutes of exercise a day. You don’t need to go to the gym – do jumping jacks, jog in place, do crunches, whatever – just do something exercise-related. Why nine minutes, you might ask? Because that’s how long one snooze cycle on my alarm clock is. Two snooze cycles and I’ll give up, but skipping one might just get me moving. Once you start remembering how great you feel when you work out, and once your life (hopefully) settles down, you can set up a new routine for your new lifestyle.

This post was written as a part of Runners’ Lounge’s Take It And Run Thursday, in which runners from all across the running blogging community come together to post about a single topic. This week’s theme was Running Through Transitions.


22 thoughts on “Running through transitions (alternate title: Getting back on track after you failed to transition)”

  1. Great post! Very very appropos for a consultant to talk about transition ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for the tips – I get all bent out of shape when my plan gets derailed.

  2. Great advice ๐Ÿ™‚ Also very realistic– because transitions naturally re-route our tracks or throw us off them. so i think you are right, but not to look at it as failure, but that you’re still transitioning. you have such a solid base of running + hard work + attitude that you can’t be that far away at any given time no matter how out of it you may feel. i think that’s easier for someone else to say, definitely, because i’m right there with you. haven’t run for four days because of things that have “come up”… not okay, but also not the end of the world. it’s just one week. i could feel bad about it or i could go running tonight because i finally can:)

  3. Excellent post, Laura. It really is the little things that count and you offered some great suggestions.

    I don’t know how you do it with that lifestyle of yours… actually, now I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Keep it up!

  4. Hi Laura!

    I just recently discovered your blog and it’s been a real pleasure catching up on what you’ve written over the past several months. This is a particularly fitting post for me–I just got back from a long trip to Europe where my exercise routine AND my diet completely went “to rot” as you so fittingly said.

    Keep up the great work here and keep on sharing your insights!

    Casual Kitchen

  5. I like the elevator wall sits idea, and I also drink so much water during the day I’m sure my colleagues think I have an overactive bladder. Great tips. I also have to thank you for making me feel grateful that my commute is only 2 hours roundtrip– I’m not sure I would even manage a wall sit if I had your schedule.

  6. Gooood tips. It really isn’t that hard to squeeze stuff in here and there. I can’t imagine a 1.5 hr commute both ways every day. uuuughhh. HUGE props to you for surviving that And still being motivated to work out!

  7. I really don’t envy your job craziness!

    I try to fit exercise in all day! I love taking the stairs or walking from a far away parked car, or just taking a lap around the office to move for a bit.

  8. Great post! Being in grad school, each quarter I go through these “transitions” and have to readjust. Writing out both a meal plan and exercise plan ahead of time works for me, but your advice of getting at least a bit of exercise each day instead of giving up is right on. Sounds like you are on top of it!

  9. This is great advice. I’m not so good compensating when my plans get off track! I like your positive approach.

    I can’t believe you can run marathons without a base of at least 3 runs a week. I would never be able to do it!

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