fitness and nutrition

Follow My Lead

I’d been on this mountain many times. I grew up in its shadow. One summer I worked at a restaurant near the foot of it and climbed it every afternoon when I got out off my shift. In peak shape I would scramble up then jog down. My fastest round trip was 28 minutes back then.

I don’t do it nearly as often or as quickly these days. I live 30 minutes away and my life practically never sends me in that direction. But I try to do a long bike ride every Sunday, so I pegged Stone Mountain for today’s ride.

There’s a hilly 5-mile loop popular with bikers that circles the bottom of the mountain. I pushed through that loop more than once before my legs begged me to stop, or at least to make a change.

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I still had time, so then, in a crazy last-second heat-addled decision, I decided to climb just like old times. I had my AirPods in, I was in the zone. A bit slower than I wanted, but I already had some miles on those legs so I wasn’t too mad. Just one foot in front of the other.

It’s not too bad a climb until you hit StairMaster hill. Suddenly the granite just kicks up from manageably rocky to sheer and steep. Like lean-forward-at-a-45-degree-angle-while-you-shuffle-up steep. I passed several people on the hill, taking breaks. My steps were small but I just kept going.

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Maybe 20 yards after the hill I needed a minute to catch my breath. I don’t usually need breaks on the mountain, but I listened to my body and stepped aside well off the trail under some trees for a quick breather.

I turned to look back at the view and was stunned when, instead of hazy skyline, I see 4 people walking directly behind me. They all stopped suddenly and looked up at me. I had never seen any of these people in my life. Two men, two women, staring. But from their pull off the trail and stunned looks, it was clear they had been following my lead. After about 10 seconds of awkwardness, they moved back into the path and continued toward the top of the mountain in two separate pairs.

It’s not surprising that I was oblivious to the people hot on my heels. Music on, mind adrift, solo exercise is my zone-out time. What I couldn’t understand is why? Why follow me? It’s a clear path with dozens of people on it. I do have that nerdy, friendly librarian look where people ask me questions all the time in all kinds of contexts. But this was a no brainer. Just keep going up.

Maybe it was my pace, I thought. Maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing. I will never know.

What stayed with me is that there are times when we are leading but we may not know it.  We may not ask for it.  We may not see ourselves as leaders.  But, at times we are leading nonetheless.  

Maybe it’s not a literal mountain.  Instead, it might be going public with struggles, with triumphs, with progress, with challenges. Just living your life on purpose is leadership. No title needed. A neighbor stopped me the other day to tell me I inspired her to get moving because she sees me out walking the neighborhood. My daughter’s childhood youth group leader recently messaged me from out if the blue to ask about CrossFit, after watching my changes.

The people following you may not know your whole story.  They probably have their own goals, even agendas.  It could be they just like your pace.  Or you look like you know what you’re doing.  

You’re leading even if people don’t tell you. Near and far, people are watching. Think for a moment. What are you leading them to?

fitness and nutrition

Sore vs. Soar

Oh how I love a twist on words or one word vs. another. A simple competition for me to challenge myself to think. Is it word wizardry?

Who knows! For me I used this word wizardry to unmask my current challenge relating to fitness.

In order to soar in my personal fitness goals I must first be willing to be sore. That’s easier said than done on most days.

I went back to the gym after a long 69 days away from the box. Yes I counted to be sure. It’s been about 5 years since I missed even 5 days in a year. That makes this a big break. I worked out during isolation however I never pushed myself to new limits. I never held myself to the same standard I would in a competition or even a metcon.

No real reason other than I just didn’t do it. I had other priorities at the time. I had background noise pulling at me and a bit of stubbornness. Not really excuses just choices. So here I am in the now. What’s happening now.

I’m recommitting to my fitness at a high achiever level. A competition level. I have more time. The pandemic regulations are diminishing in my area. It’s a good time to shift priorities and mindset.

First obstacle to overcome or being generally accepting about is soreness. The kind of soreness that makes it hard to walk/sit on some days while it’s hard to just giggle on others due to ab tightness. No matter what the pain, it’s progress.

After the soreness becomes tolerable then the frequency adjusts. The number of days I can endure the constantly varied workouts.

Once both of these areas are buttoned up, a routine is established. A healthy manageable routine of fitness. That’s where the beauty lies. The beautification process to some or the achievement gratification to others. Either way transformation is visible.

As I wrote this fitness update I was outside or more like near a window. As I wrote in flew a butterfly. Not the most attractive butterfly but one that sat patiently with me as I wrote. Flapping the wing span like it winking at me. Just hanging around like my faithful dog Teddie does.

A sign for me to soar. To spread my wings and soar to new heights. Let go of the achy sore in search of the ability to soar as an individual. A healthy fit individual.

Recently I’ve used photos to aid in my story telling. This may appeal to some while annoy others. Whichever category you fall into let it be known that I am ever so in tune with my surroundings and environment. I choose to listen, feel, smell and touch the world with my uniqueness.

May the coincidence of this butterfly cause you to take in your surrounding a bit more and see if any signs give you clarity for obstacles you are facing in your life.

Perspective is a valuable tool to use in life. Words are also equally valuable. Words can hurt or words can make you smile.  That is just the case with the two words I selected today.

Enjoy today.

fitness and nutrition

The Extra Mile

I’ve been kinda foundering with my home workouts at times.  I get bored, restless.  I don’t do warmups well.  I can easily get distracted. I stall when it’s time to get going. I’ve been doing hero WODs but that’s only on Mondays. So when a friend suggested I run a mile every day for a month, I grabbed on.  It was a goal to fuel me for the next little while.  Plus, running many miles is part of my goal for this year. Why not?

Then, as part of a fundraiser at my school, I told everyone who registered for a literacy charity race that I would run an extra mile for them.  That in itself was about 20 miles.  Suddenly I had multiple purposes to run each day.

Well, I’m reporting in on Day 26 and I am over it.  The miles get longer and longer.  Ok, so a mile can’t really get longer.  But, I can run it slower.  It can certainly seem longer. I don’t look forward to it. I actually actively dread it.  But, because I am stubborn and hard-headed I am going to get to 30 days.

Why has this become harder?

First, my mornings have gotten more hectic since I am going back into my physical workplace each day.  So, it is a bit of a scramble to add that 15 minutes in after a workout.

Second, I’m annoyed by my speed. A couple of weeks ago friend mentioned that after practicing each day, I should probably be running faster overall.  Honestly, I am not.  My attitude is bad about it.  But when I took on this task it was more about doing it just to have something to do.  My running pace has gotten quicker through my years of fitness, but I’ve never actually concentrated on my pace. It’s just been a side benefit of better overall fitness. So really, in this case, I didn’t have much of a goal beyond completing it.  Not really a very good goal to be honest. I have learned that my goal needs to have a bit more purpose than this one. And a purpose I really desire or believe in.

I guess I didn’t fail but I don’t feel like I succeeded.  And so there’s a lesson about goals in here that I am learning. My fear is failure, but I am still figuring out what failure means and how to embrace it when I need to.  I will finish and know for sure that I am not a daily runner. So I’ve learned that at least.  I like to run twice, perhaps three times a week if I am training for a specific race.  But doing it every day is not something I really enjoy. And if I don’t enjoy it or at the very least feel successful and satisfied when it is done, what’s the point?

Sometimes going the extra mile isn’t all that fun.  But, we do it because we need to, we said we would, because it is the right thing to do, or sometimes because we are just too hard-headed and stubborn to quit.

A few more days and this will be a memory, happily.

 

fitness and nutrition

Mondays are for Heroes

In my life, Monday are for Heroes since the pandemic lockdowns began.  Every Monday morning, bright and early, I complete a CrossFit Hero WOD.

I started with Zachary Tellier.

Soon after I completed Chad, which left me with a lot to reflect on. 

Then I moved to Loredo and Maupin and MA3 Oscar Temores.

The heroes behind a hero WOD may be widely known, or they may just be memorials within a specific community. Last Monday, I did a WOD programmed by 20 Mile CrossFit  to honor one of their community who succumbed to COVID-19. They shared it on their instagram page and I was glad to be able to participate and remember. Reading the stories, thinking of the rounds and reps and how they relate to the person’s life makes the movement more meaningful for me.

Every Monday morning, another challenge.  Every Monday morning, another hero. Every Monday morning, another chance to reflect, to endure, to overcome.

I’m not sure why it feels right about doing a hero WOD to start the week. They are usually long.  They are taxing.  They often leave me sore the next day. Saturday would make more sense.  But….

Maybe it’s because I do cardio training on Sundays, so my muscles are usually ready for something brutal on Monday.  Maybe I am just restless, looking for something each Sunday for programming.  I like to know what’s coming and hate waiting until late the night before. I like feeling settled on Sunday night with a solid expectation of how Monday will begin. And it needs to begin well.

Even more so, these days Hero WODs get me thinking about the frontline heroes that are working for us every day in risky situations.  I am focused and in the zone. I want to start the new week kicking some butt.  Hero WODS always give me a sense of accomplishment.

I will keep on with the Heroes.  Mark Klement and Hey Buddy are on deck for future Mondays.  I’ll continue through the yearly completion of Murph on Memorial Day.

After that is summer and anyone’s guess.

 

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Virtual Fun

Well this weekend I should have been in Nashville, TN running the Wonder Woman 10k race with some of my gal pals.

Unfortunately, pandemic distancing rules made that trip a no go. Instead I got my shirt, medal, wrist bands and instructions by mail. For the record I loved the shirt but had to give it away because it was meant for a tiny 12 year old who hadn’t developed their bust yet or maybe the manufacturer assumed thick girls don’t run?!?!

The task was to complete a virtual 10k. Seems simple enough as I have done many but then you have to decide where to run, when to run and and and. We opted for the same date, Sunday, May 3rd. Then we opted for an area that we knew was a set distance to and from. The plan was in motion. The gal pals were on target.

Additional friends heard what we were doing locally and jumped in on the fun. Oh but the day came and I forgot many things. Planning my food intake before. Going to bed early. Gel packs for the race. Best shorts to avoid chaffing. And best of all no water on the trail and I didn’t pack any. Guess I was too excited for the coffee reward after.

Another pandemic glitch was no bathrooms to potty at. Even though Starbucks serves coffee it’s only drive through so no potty breaks along the way was tough. My stretching before was lacking as well but I made the attempt. The little details matter and I guess that’s why you pay a race fee for all the extras.

Another missed sidebar was the noise. No crowds cheering to push you. No people in front of you to follow. No funny signs to read. Completing a virtual 10k was harder than I expected. I didn’t get my best time but I wasn’t planning for a best time. I was just aiming to complete what I had set out to accomplish. 6.2 miles in heat, no water, no bathroom and old playlist playing in my ears. Just me and the pavement. A lot of boring and a lot of reasons to give up.

I finished the task. I might have even dodged a few golf carts on this trek which is not something I would not normally see in a race. My first virtual race is full of memories and mental milestones. I will cherish the time and reflect on what I accomplished while many pass judgment on my actions of exercising outdoors.

I also completed the event with about 8 people I knew who jumped in on the adventure. We kept our distance which was easy since we are all varied paces. We celebrated seeing each other in person. We even got bullied at the end by an elderly man wondering where our masks were. Oh the irony as this senior was supposed to be quarantined by his age alone. I guess this confirms my note above about people passing judgement. It happens every day. Nobody is immune to judgment. My first virtual run is one and done. Proud of myself and my Sunday Funday runners.

The next day is here and I am not sore which is good. I’m on to my next adventure which is slated for a triathlon in July thanks to my annual summer 10k race being postponed until November. Still not sure if the triathlon will take place but I’m staying optimistic and I’m training as if it’s on the calendar.

Look out world. I’m running, biking or swimming your way.