Three In A Row

Yesterday’s 4 mile recovery run was pretty damp.  Because of the forecast, I chose a figure eight loop, knowing I could get home quickly if the rain began in earnest.  I kept the pace easy, and called it quits at the end of the second loop.  Since I have neglected core training this week, I chose a 30 minute high intensity set to bring myself up to speed.

Today I focused on strength training, doing drop sets for 30 minutes; I finished up the hour with some hip strengtheners and stretches specifically tailored for runners.  Some days I feel as though I can barely keep up with the fitness program I have chosen.  I have to decide if it’s my brain or my body in charge.  If it’s my brain, I talk myself into the workout.  If it’s my body, I pay attention and ease up if it feels right.  That’s also when I think about reassessing my goals, making sure I am getting what I want, with maybe a little extra if I’m up for it.  The rediscovery of my body’s potential,  strength, and capabilities, and reaping the results of cross-training— the energy, endurance, and muscle definition— keep me on track every day.

Today I have three fitness rules to share:

Make realistic goals.

A realistic goal is one you can actually attain.  Long-term goals are great, but breaking them up into smaller, more manageable pieces leads to success.  Write down your goals.  The big ones.  Then look at how long you want to take to achieve these goals.  Divide your time, and write down the smaller goals to get you there.  Give yourself credit— even a reward— each time you make a goal.  Check each goal off as you progress.  When you write down your goals, you can look back at how far you have come, feel good about accomplishing what you set out to do, and be motivated to keep moving forward.

If you want to be a runner, start off with a walk/run program and build up to running over a period of weeks.  If you want to ride in the Pan Mass Challenge  (okay, or just ride your bike on a good long bike path), start riding your bike a few miles each day, 3-5 days per week,  until your body becomes comfortable with riding; add a few miles each week so that when the long ride comes, you are both physically and psychologically prepared.  If you want to lose 50 pounds, break that up into sets of 10.   At the end of each mark, when you have run 5 miles, cycled 20, or lost the first 10, check it off your goal list.

Don’t be afraid to reassess your goals.  They are yours!  If you can run 5 miles and you love it, why not work up to 6, 8 or 10?  If you make it through the PMC and cannot imagine not riding any more, take a few days off and then start training for next year.  Running turned out not to be your thing?  Tired of your bike?  Try swimming, cycling, or an aerobics class.  If you lose 40 of the 50 pounds you wanted to drop and feel great, maybe you’ve lost enough.  If you’ve lost 50 and feel like 10 more would be right, go for it.  Any way you decide to do it, making goals gives you a concrete plan and a way to measure how well you have managed your fitness program.

Listen to your body.

Listening to your body means being aware of how your body feels.  It means taking care to notice if your body hurts, but it also means noticing if your body is getting off too easy in your fitness program.  Every client I have had so far tells me right away if their crunches make their belly sore, or if their back aches from walking too far or for too long.  Sometimes they even look panicky when their heart rate goes up.  I check their pulse to make sure they are okay, and so far, it’s always been well below their maximum heart rate.  No one has ever said, “Elizabeth!  I just did 30 bicep curls and it feels like nothing happened!  Can I try the next heavier weight?”  or “That plank was a piece of cake.   Can we do it again?”  Listening to your body means challenging it to try something harder when what you are doing doesn’t feel like work.   And yes, it also means backing off if you truly have an injury.  It means paying attention to what you ask your body to do, and how your body responds.  If your body is shouting for a break, give it one.  If not, move it!

Sweat.

Sweat as a fitness rule?  You bet!  It’s science.  The breakdown of ATP (adenosine triphosphate)  provides the energy for every biological process.  During aerobic exercise, your body has multiple chemical reactions.  It begins with the oxygen system, which fuels the body for activities lasting more that 2-3 minutes.  Capacity is limited only by oxygen and fuel available to the cell.  It then moves into oxydative phosphorylation, also known as the electron transport system.  Your body takes stored fat and oxygen and turns them into more ATP, carbon dioxide, and H2O.  This last reaction provides the most ATP, thus providing the most energy, continuing to fuel your body.  The H2O?  That’s water.  Coming out of you when you are exercising?  That’s sweat!  If you are not sweating, you are probably not burning fat.  (This does not mean that in August, when the temperature reaches 100 degrees and you are sweating, that you are burning fat.  That’s just your body trying to normalize your own temperature.)   It’s the sweat you produce during aerobic exercise that you need to embrace.

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4 Comments on “Three In A Row”

  1. rundadrun Says:

    Great rules! I look forward to following your blog.
    Happy running,
    Rundad

  2. Craig Says:

    I liked how your “Listen to Your Body” rule includes the self-honesty factor. Realizing that if what you are doing does not seem like work, then extend your goal, rather than become complacent.

    I can see this in your writing as well, because over the weeks your posts have described how much easier running has become for you as you have become stronger, and you have adjusted your goals with that improvement. Not to mention, you seem more happy with running and with your self these last few weeks.


  3. […] we sit down and talk about the different aspects of fitness.  I help them turn their goals into measurable goals, a fitness rule I have already written about.  Measurable goals are ones that have a start marker […]


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