I was having a conversation with a friend who asked me how I’m able to keep up an exercise regimen 6 days a week.
I exercise before work, setting my alarm for 4:30 and getting to the gym by 5:15 or the track by 6:00 am. So her question is a good one. At least half of the time I am fighting the alarm and trying to talk myself into the benefits of sleeping in just this once.
But I don’t.
Once I’m fully conscious, I’m out of bed, dressed in my exercise clothes, and having a cup of coffee. Everyone has their little quirks in the morning (I hope) and mine is I don’t like the flavor of coffee or freshly squeezed orange juice after I brush my teeth. So I keep an extra toothbrush downstairs so I can brush just before I leave the house.
And that’s it. I’m gone.
What keeps me at it? Yes my running coach sets up a weekly training schedule so I'm not thinking too much about what I'm doing day by day but that's only part if it.
When I’m training on my own at the gym I do a morning read-in on the treadmill to warm up and I listen to several short newscasts while I’m rolling on the mat. If there are a group of us all rolling at the same time, as soon as one person unplugs, the rest of us will begin to engage. We’ll talk about the news, the weather, a movie, a new restaurant.
I call this my intentional community (IC), to quote author and strength coach Dan John. Even when I'm running hard on the treadmill or using every bit of focus on my lat pull downs I am aware of my IC. We acknowledge each other. We catch each other in a moment of frustration but also when we've done something better than we've done before.
We smile when we see each other running or biking on the Capital Crescent Trail on the weekends and we always take the time to catch up with what we're working on in the gym.
Even when I'm training with Nancy in the early mornings we're sharing pleasantries with other trainers and clients. Whatever else we've got going on in our lives we've also got our IC to round things out.
In my experience I've never met a person who did not want to exercise. The big challenge was getting out there and doing it.
I think if you can find the fun you'll be ok.
It almost doesn't matter what you do or where you find the fun.
I remember when I first started exercising in February 2014 all I did at the gym most mornings when I was on my own was walk on the treadmill with a home-brewed great cup of coffee. I was training with Reuel at the time and he had told me that in order for me to begin to see results I needed to exercise several days a week. He was usually there training other clients in the morning but he always took the time to check in with me, to say hello.
At that time the IC was the fun, and it still is.
But you can also find the fun in the cool gear. Or in the carbs you're eating to fuel your workouts. Listening to music. (When else do you have time in your day to listen to music?) Doing intervals on the local high school track or running the bleachers.
You get my point. Go for it.
Find the fun.
I was listening to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, about her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Gilbert's point is that often it takes creativity to take our lives in new directions. To get a better job, to seek a promotion, to meet a life partner and fall in love. Yet what typically holds us back from being creative is fear.
So much of my training has been about encountering my fears and overcoming them. I had not thought about connecting overcoming fear to creativity, but I think Gilbert is on to something interesting.
So often when we've got a tweak in our knees or an ache in our back we stop exercising. What we need to do is figure out what's causing the instability or discomfort and get creative about working around our issues. But it's fear that keeps us from trying out different ways of moving, right?
Apparently Gilbert's book is considered a self-help guide to overcoming fear. I'll pick it up and let you know what think.
See you next time!