Monday, December 27, 2010

Working Out by Feel

I spent several years of my life "in training" for the sport of running. I also dabbled in cycling and was eventually led to the sport of triathlon.  I took a brief gander at some of my old logs from the 90's when I was in full on triathlon training mode.  The logs noted tallies for each week in individual hours of running, cycling, swimming, yoga and strength training. I also tallied what percentage I spent in each HR zone during each phase of the year.  Crazy.  I'd average 15-23 hours of training per week .... and I was a minimalist compared to the other pro triathletes. I have notes upon notes of my training, how I was feeling, goals, etc ..... I can't imaging putting in those hours now, nor do I have the desire. 

I no longer keep a log on a regular basis, although I have for a period of months when gearing up for a half IM event in recent years. Of course I encourage my athletes to keep a log not only for their review, but for mine as well. Often times we can see patterns or trends that lead to great performances .... or sometimes illness (getting run down).  It's also a reality check of consistency of training and volume.  These days, I train by feel and by listening to what my body and spirit needs. Sounds corny, I know.  There has been a bit of a shift in my approach to my own training .... which has become more "fitness" based.  My motivation to workout has nothing to do with a race schedule or performances.  I workout purely to feel good, move my body and nurture my spirit.

One of my top 5 all-time workouts, occurred recently while I was in NJ, and now officially what I call my home away from home. Who would have thought I'd become a Jersey girl?  I am happy to say that I firmly believe that my achilles tear that has plagued me for over a year is finally and officially mended!  With that being said, I am very tentative with running these days to avoid any set-backs.  Heck, after months and months of no running, what's the rush to get back into it?  My recent run workouts have been more a combination of walking and jogging.  I have yet to go out for a full on run ... and frankly, I'm scared to do so even though my heel will probably be fine.  My top 5 workout consisted of a 7 minute walk to the boardwalk followed by another 3 minutes once I hit the boardwalk. I then alternated 5 minutes of jogging with 5 minutes of brisk walking.  It was cold outside however the sun was shining and I was able to stay close to the boardwalk shops and feel the heat of that sun.  I spent one hour of jogging and walking while looking at an amazing ocean view (much like the picture).  I was the only one on that boardwalk with the exception of one or two other walkers, some just out walking with coffee.  I did not care about pace or heart rate.  It was all easy but it felt so good to move and breathe that fresh ocean air. In this case, as with many of my workouts lately, the goal has been to just move in whatever way feels good. Sometimes it's in working out with weights, sometimes it's just walking (or walking and jogging combined), sometimes it's getting in the pool and swimming long, but easy. I put in a couple of 3000y workouts lately and was in the moment of each lap versus thinking about what came next or how many more yards remained of the workout.  I workout once per day, usually getting in 45 min to an hour or exercise. I mountained biked with friends a few weeks ago, spending 90 minutes or so on completely wooded, single track, mostly up or downhill terrain. It was a blast .... pure joy and a great workout. 

I've been tired for the past several months for reasons that I can't really explain but can say it has to do with some changes going on in my body.  I'm in the process of having things checked out and figured out.  So, my motivation to TRAIN, is almost non-existent however my motivation to EXERCISE is a constant.  I choose my workouts based on what feels good that day or what my spirit needs.  If I've been in a negative environment or been in situations or conversations that drain my own energy, my spirit needs fresh air and time alone.  If I'm feeling like I want to work hard and really sweat, I'll get it out in my own spin class, or take a class. Sometimes a brisk walk with the dogs serves as my workout (they walk fast). 

I did my one hour walk/jog workout again on Christmas morning.  I read an article in the local paper about a 53 year old guy who has made it a tradition to surf every Christmas morning. He's been doing it for years. I set out to look for him .... and I found him out there in the ocean waiting for a good "ride."  My guess is that surfing fuels his spirit and being out there alone, in the cold water on Christmas morning served as his spiritual ritual. Something that is very personal to him.  

My recent "shift" in how I view my workouts seems to encompass just that .... each, if not most workouts serve as something personal. Today, I'll go out for a walk in the snow with the wind whipping around. There is something about being out there in the elements that brings renewed energy.  I can't say if or when my motivation to TRAIN for races will make an appearance. My guess is that it probably will for a short period of time this summer.  For now, I enjoy "exercising."  It's a joy I'll never take for granted!