Starting from Scratch

24 Jan

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve never been particularly athletic.  Even so, fitness has always played a role in my life.  As a little girl and into my high school years, I relied on gymnastics and cheerleading to keep me in shape. During college, I occasionally ran with friends but mostly gravitated towards the elliptical or stationary bike.  After I graduated and moved to Chicago, I no longer had easy access to a gym, but was fortunate enough to have a treadmill in my apartment. When I first climbed on that machine, I could barely run a mile. I stuck with it, and soon enough, I was addicted.

 

i may not be athletic...

...but at least i look good!

However, I didn’t realize how much I truly loved and depended on running – both mentally and physically – until I was sidelined with two injuries at the beginning of this year.  My left ankle is more fragile than most, and thanks to some well-hidden ice on one of my December-morning runs, I twisted it and did some major damage.  After wearing a bulky boot for three weeks, I was finally ready to slip on my sneakers again. Unfortunately, that night, I was brushing my hair and dislocated my shoulder (also more fragile than most because of a childhood injury). Needless to say, I’m a bit accident-prone.

Unfortunately, these aches and pains kept me out of the race for nearly a month. Now, I have about two weeks before I begin training for the Country Music Half Marathon, which means it’s time to get busy! After my hiatus from the exercise world, I feel refreshed and ready to go, but I also feel like I’m starting from scratch. I think it’s the perfect time to reinvigorate my workout routine using the strategies below.

  • Lately, my favorite gadget has been the Garmin Forerunner 60 watch (which my sweet boyfriend gave me for my upcoming birthday). Paying attention to my pace and heart rate not only ensures that I make the most of every run, but it also helps me to push myself and do better than my previous workout.

 

my new running buddy

(photo: source)

  • When it comes to running, rather than stick with a steady pace and minimal incline for my allotted workout time, I’m depending on interval runs (like this one or this one from Peanut Butter Fingers) to keep me energized and motivated. Looking forward to my workout makes my 6 a.m. (or earlier) alarm that much more bearable.
  • Speaking of my early running routine, I’ve previously been in the habit of only working out at the start of the day. If I don’t fit it in before work (or errands or whatever’s on the day’s agenda), then it doesn’t happen. This time around, I’m doing my best to listen to my body and exercise when it’s best for me – if it’s best for me that day.
  • As much as I love to run, I don’t love getting stuck in a runner’s rut. To avoid this pothole, I’m focusing on mixing up my routine and trying new workouts. Thanks to Groupon, I have two awesome options to help me achieve this goal.  Back in October, I purchased three hour-long sessions with a personal trainer from Basics and Beyond.  More recently, a friend and I bought five BarreAmped classes. This workout combines dance, Pilates, yoga and deep stretching, providing me with a perfect cross-training alternative during my half-marathon training. I have a feeling that both of these experiences are going to kick my butt, but I’m sure it’ll be fun.
  • Because I don’t currently belong to a gym (having a treadmill makes a gym membership less necessary), I rely on hand weights and workout DVDs for most of my strength training.  The newest addition to my collection is Crunch – Burn & Firm Pilates.  I first attempted this DVD with a friend during a weekend trip in Chicago, and let me tell you, I was cursing at the television screen shortly after it started. For me, a good marker of a challenging workout is when I have trouble completing the DVD during my initial attempts.  Plus, it makes surviving the entire thing that much more rewarding.
  • I used to approach food in the same way that I approached my exercise routine: lots of sameness.  Motivated by Bethenny Frankel’s Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting and my own resolution, I’m ready to change that pattern once and for all! Cooking more often gives me the opportunity to try new things and figure out what eating habits make me feel full, happy and ready to tackle the day. It also means that I pay more attention to what I’m eating, which in turns allows me to feel more satisfied with my food choices.

if all else fails...

(photo: source)

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