I wrote on Monday about getting inspired by watching Ironman Boulder. I didn’t necessarily get inspired to do an Ironman, but I did get inspired to start swimming and generally making more time for the fitness activities I love.
I have never really been a big proponent of following a training plan, though I understand how beneficial that is if you’re training for a specific race. But for me, I’m just “training” to get in better shape – and I think it works best when I do what my body feels like that day. A lot of people talk about “intuitive eating”, but I’d like to propose extending that to “intuitive exercising.”
Some nights I go to bed thinking how fun it will be to go for a run the next morning… and then I wake up and just feel like all I want is to do a barre DVD. Other mornings I have yoga on the plan, but I wake up wanting to do a kickboxing workout. A plan is really great for keeping me on track, but I think there’s something to the whole doing-what-feels-right in that it probably helps me avoid injury. If I’m sore from lifting, that’s usually when my body is craving yoga or some mindless cardio – and I think that works a lot better than sticking to whatever I had planned for the day.
The trick, of course, is to not let my body get lazy about it. “Oh man, that fifteen minutes of walking around the neighborhood yesterday was rough… better call it a rest day!” Nope. In the past, I’ve been able to mitigate this laziness by making a rule that I have to do something every day – but the specific activity is TBD. And if I’m making time for it anyway, chances are I’m going to do something good.
Lately, though, I’ve been so swamped with work that I haven’t been able to commit to working out every day. (Okay, fine, that’s an excuse because I know I could have found twenty minutes somewhere in my day… but I haven’t been getting enough sleep so haven’t wanted to set my alarm any earlier than I have to. You know it’s bad when you’re literally having nightmares about Power Point versioning and word choice!) I’ve had a lot of days where I don’t work out at all, and at the moment, I’m okay with that. (Not thrilled, but okay with it.) However, breaking my “you must exercise every day” rule means that it’s really easy to make “every” day become the “other” day… and then not work out at all. Ohhh, I know that game all too well.
Enter Plan B: my workout checklist.
I’ve decided to take an a la carte approach to scheduling my workouts, and also to focus on those that I like best. I looooooove hiking (though how weird is it that I moved to Colorado thinking I’d never be outdoorsy and now it’s my favorite activity?). I honestly don’t love running lately, but I’ve found that it’s more that I dread the idea of getting myself out the door to start a run; the middle is sometimes great and sometimes sucky but I always have a huge sense of pride and accomplishment when I’m done. And although I just started, I am really enjoying swimming laps in my pool – after doing it a few times, I’m discovering that heading to the pool isn’t nearly as much hassle as I expected. Plus, I end up working hard without even trying, and I feel like it’s easy to get my heart rate up. (Yes, I know that means I suck at it, but evidently I enjoy it anyway.)
So my new “plan” is a checklist. One day a week of hiking, one day a week of swimming, and one day a week of running – at a minimum. I like that a checklist approach doesn’t force me to specify which day is which, so I can fit my workouts in when I can and do what feels right. But just the idea that I “have” to run and hike and swim each week gets me out the door on days that I otherwise would be lazy.
This week, I went swimming on Monday, when I was working from home. I reached a good breaking point in my workload and so headed over to the pool at 11:45am for a slightly early lunchtime swim. It only took me five minutes to walk from my house to the neighborhood pool, and about twenty minutes for me to do the Daily Burn beginner-level swimming workout. I hadn’t swum with a kickboard since I was a toddler learning to swim, and it actually turned out to be a pretty good leg burner! But otherwise, I found the workout fairly easy (and definitely too short), so I’m looking forward to giving the intermediate level a try next week. On the plus side, it was great that I could go from desk to pool to shower back to desk in under 40 minutes!
On Wednesday morning, I headed out for a run in my neighborhood. My pace has been incredibly slow on the two runs I’ve done in my neighborhood so far, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s due to the hilliness of my neighborhood or the fact that I haven’t run in a very long time and am not in any kind of running shape. (Let’s pretend the former.) However, I’ve discovered a nice running trail that runs around the outside of my development and offers gorgeous views – so I can’t really complain too much. Now I just need to get in the habit of using it more.
Finally, this morning I went for a hike before work – my favorite short little summit, Mount Sanitas. I woke up feeling like crap from lack of sleep over the last week, and it definitely showed on the hike. While just two weeks ago I had summited Sanitas in 38 minutes, today it took me 45 minutes – and I was really feeling it the whole way up. Plus, I slipped on some gravel and fell on the way down, scraping my skin on my butt open even though I was wearing thick capris! Yuck. Bright side here, though, was how beautiful a day it was, with pretty views and white puffy clouds. Summiting a mountain before work just makes me feel like I’m on top of the world! (In the metaphorical sense, though I know I am literally as well.)
So this week, I am three for three on my workout checklist – hooray! I think at some point I will be adding to my list of requirements – maybe adding a day of weight lifting, maybe specifying the number of miles required for my run instead of the measly 3 I am doing right now. For now, though, I’m following a “WYCWYC” approach (what you can, when you can) – checking three different workouts off is a reasonable challenge that’s fun, too.