How I’m Getting Back Into Exercise
Getting back into exercise after you’ve become a parent is hard. Before kids, working out was one of my top priorities. I could easily fit it into my day between work and what I might make myself for dinner (ahhh, those were the good old days when I could have brie, crackers and a glass of wine for dinner). Once I had my first child, working out became a distant memory. I thought perhaps it was something I could do again when they went to college.
It turns out it wasn’t that hard to fit it back into my life, well, after a 4-5 year hiatus. I introduced working out back into my life in 2012. At that time, I wrote the post How I Became a Runner. It was the same year we bought a treadmill so I could run during the snowy months. I continued running for about a year after that but not with any real conviction. By January 2013, I was onto something new: CrossFit. I fell in love with Crossfit unexpectedly and before I knew it I was doing a Paleo Challenge, which is a common healthy eating challenge Crossfitters do. At the same time, I ran my first 5K. I was 38 and I mention that only to make the point that not only am I not really athletic (38 years to run my first 5K), I also didn’t let my age discourage me from doing something outside my comfort zone. For the record, because I started Crossfit in January, I stopped running for the most part so when I ran the 5K in June it was with little preparation – but I did it. I crossed the finish line.
I continued to be a dedicated Crossfitter for 2 ½ years. I wasn’t the fastest or the strongest, but I enjoyed it. I made many friends at Crossfit and seeing their smiling faces in class was great motivation. Unfortunately, some changes at work made it nearly impossible to make a class. I found I was paying a lot of money for something I just couldn’t fit into my schedule. Not to mention doing CrossFit on occasion is really taxing on the body. When you are doing the exercises regularly, the body adjusts but when you are not, I found that after every workout (which I was lucky if it was once a week), I’d have muscle fatigue that would slow me down for 1-2 days. It became more of a frustration and disappointment than something that energized me.
FINDING NEW MOTIVATION TO EXERCISE
I was stuck in this awful rut. In the late spring I had a group of friends encouraging me to run a 10K with them in September. A 10K? I could barely run a mile without pause, let alone 6.2. I didn’t immediately say no, I thought about it, actually for several months. By summer, I had another group of friends encouraging me to do the Diva Dash which was scheduled for the exact same date as the 10K. A 5K for women that was broken up by obstacles and easy enough that people often wore costumes while they raced. They were opposite ends of the spectrum for me as far as races go. One race would really push me and the other would be purely for fun. By the time I had to make the decision, I was feeling as inactive as ever. I knew if I ran the 10K I’d make a fool of myself gasping for breath while 8+ other athletic friends breezed through the race. I choose the Diva Dash and worked with my friends to pick out our outfits.
As the Diva Dash approached and summer came to an end, I ran into a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen all summer. She looked AMAZING!! She was glowing and looked energized and as beautiful as ever. A mother of 3 boys who works full-time, I asked what her secret was. It turns out she too was in her own little rut and finally took control of her physical well-being and kicked off the summer with a Couch to 10K exercise program. She was training to run her first 10K in October. She had simply bought an inexpensive app for her phone and began the walk/run fitness program. At first, she explained, the app had her exercising for 25 minutes – which included a 5-minute warm-up walk and 5-minute cool-down walk. So really 15 minutes of exercise. She went on to explain that her first day of the program was to run for 1 minute, then walk for 1 ½ minutes – 6 times. Her 2nd & 3rd time exercising was the same but instead of 6 times, it would be 8 times. Gradually, and I mean very gradually, her run cycles would get longer (by say 30-seconds) while her walk cycles would get shorter. It was a 14-week program. The first 8 weeks of the program, her workouts were never longer than 35-minutes and the program was set-up for only 3 workouts a week.
I was inspired! How could I not find 25-35 minutes to exercise 3-days a week. On September 20th, just 6-days before the Diva Dash (which ended up being a ton of fun), I started Couch to 10K. I was pretty confident I could run for 1-minute straight, in fact, I was pretty sure I could run 8-minutes straight once or twice, but beyond that, I just didn’t know if it would be possible to do much more. No worries, I had 6-weeks of run/walk combinations before the runs became 10-minutes long and really it may have been snowing by then anyway! I decided to stick with the app for as long as I could.
After a few weeks, I started to think it may be nice to have something I’m training for but with 14 weeks bringing us well into the winter, I couldn’t find a 10K race that made sense. So I just continued to run as the app instructs me too. I recently attempted to run with my friends who are normal 10K runners and it didn’t go so well. They run faster so I was winded earlier than they were. I didn’t let it discourage me but just went back to running on my own. My last 2 workouts have been 5.66 miles (with the same 5 minutes warm-up/cool-down that is standard in the app) so I’m closing in on the 6.2 and while I suspect there will be a 10K in my future, I know next September, there definitely will be when I join them for their annual fall race on Cape Cod.
When I run, I’m blown away every time I get back to my driveway, like I’ve just moved mountains. Really, in my personal world, I have moved mountains. If you told me last year, I’d be able complete 5.66 miles predominantly made up of running, I would have laughed. Really it’s amazing what can happen when you set your mind to something and take it in small doses over a period of time with little expectations. If you’ve been contemplating getting back into exercise, all I can say is try. You never know what will happen. As parents, we deserve this.
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