Let’s Get Physical

New year, new you. There is something about flipping that page in the calendar, revealing the new year that gives many of us a new outlook. It’s the ability to begin again, start afresh, become a better version of the prior year’s you. If you are embarking on some sort of resolution, you are probably not alone. Whether it be diet, exercise, quitting a vice, all of the above – hordes of people are starting this year, perhaps even like last year with great ambitions. Some will persist and for some, the novelty will wear off before President’s Day.

Some of my blogging this year will be about fitness. A few people have asked me to talk more about what has motivated me. This, I am hoping, will not only help others, but help me, too. Sharing my own journey helps bring me clarity and hopefully will keep me honest. This year, I am currently registered for the Shamrock Shuffle, the Chicago Spring and Fall Half Marathons, the Solider Field 10 Miler and the Chicago Marathon. I will probably add a few 5k’s or 10k’s. My first event is the Shamrock Shuffle on March 24. It is an 8k run (4.97 miles). I ran it for the first time last year in 44:16 (8:54/mile). My goal is to beat that this year. I am writing that here as a way to hold myself accountable. I have just under 11 weeks to get there. It is possible. But it is not going to happen without work and a plan. If you want someone to help you be accountable for a goal, let me know. I would be happy to help!

I have started 2019 a bit worn out. The holidays as glorious as they can be are also notorious for doing that to you. There is always some bug going around. This year we had the luxury of not traveling at Christmas. My family came to us. Everyone still managed to have some sort of bug at some point. For me, it fortunately didn’t hit until everyone left. I started to feel off on Friday or so. Flash forward to Saturday. It was a gorgeous day in Chicago! Unusual temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s. It was the perfect day for a run! I set out with shorts and a long sleeve shirt. It was my intention to do 8 miles. By the time I had finished 4.5 miles, I was feeling wiped out. I was “chesty” (likely from the cough that I had been developing) and my hips and glutei were screaming for me to stop. I pushed myself a little to determine if it would go away, it often does. It didn’t. I listened to my body, stopped my Garmin and started to walk home. Lesson: There is a difference between giving up and listening to your body. It takes a while to hear that voice. It takes a while to fine-tune what is a “convenient excuse” and what is the right thing to do at that time. For me, walking home, leisurely, spending some of my first time alone in several weeks was the right thing. I listened to some of my mindfulness podcasts. I took in the life in the city. The unusual throngs of people out doing just as I was, enjoying the gift of a spring-like day.

It turns out, my instincts were spot on. I got home, showered, put pajamas back on and had a lazy rest of the day from about 3:30 PM on. Sunday, I did nothing. Well, I did do something. It turns out that I slept 17.5 hours throughout the course of the day. Do you think I really was tired and not feeling well? Yup! Today, I’m still not 100%. I could still sleep some more. I still have this chesty feeling and general malaise. It’s also a rainy day, the kind of day that makes one want to nest. E is back at school. A still has one more day of vacation. I suppose one has to be a school administrator to appreciate this one. Apparently though we were at 17 days off for winter break as of yesterday, why not schedule a Teacher Development Day for today? I have never understood why they don’t add a day to MLK or President’s Day. I can’t think of many families who want more than 17 days off at Christmas. But I digress.

I am going to chill with my little bug today, not my ailment, but my lovebug. Tonight, if I am feeling better, I will go to an OrangeTheory Fitness class (high intensity interval training). I won’t go 100%. I will listen to myself and do what I can. If I’m still not feeling great towards the end of the day, I’ll go to the class that I scheduled tomorrow morning. Lesson: Never be afraid to begin again. Be diligent with your resolution but also be realistic. Better yet, I have heard a number of people suggest not calling them resolutions at all. Instead, consider them intentions. Then give your attention to your intentions.

It is my intention to work out this year six days a week. Some of you may have just gasped. For me, that is both realistic and measurable. It may not be for everyone. Do not set your standards too high. Set a goal that is attainable but challenging. When people tell me that they hate running, I get it. I did, too. I still do sometimes, actually. For the novice runner, the typical mistake is going too fast, too soon. Meet yourself where you are. Running usually sucks because people make it all or nothing. Lesson: The less you make anything “all or nothing,” the better it will be. If you feel like you can’t take a walking break when running and deem it as failure, you just lost. If you feel like missing one workout ruined your whole week, you lost. Never be afraid to begin again.

As I write this is I am further realizing that this exercise (no pun intended) was probably more cathartic and helpful for me than it might be for anyone else. While I know these things to all be true, I fall victim to each of these more than I care to admit. Do you know what? I bet if I polled athletes in general, many of them would say the same exact thing. Most of us are not going to qualify for an Olympic team. The wellbeing of mankind does not depend on whether or not we ran a 7 minute mile or an 11 minute mile, whether we run 1, 3 or 10 miles. You do you. Be the best you can be today. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about next week, next month, next year. It will all happen in time. However, you do need to do it. Nike really nailed it with their slogan “Just do it.” No excuses.

Are you worried that you will look foolish at the gym? A. Nobody cares. B. Many others around you are worried about the same thing. The reality is unless you go to a gym full of a-holes, most people are happy to help. If not, change gyms. Are you worried that you have too far to go? Set measurable goals. Don’t bite off too much at once. I want to lose 20 pounds this year. I’m focusing on the first 10. Looking at it that way, makes it easier, and ice cream harder, to swallow.

Patience, diligence and dedication will pay off. But it won’t happen by MLK Day.

Update: 7:15PM I’m in my pajamas but decided to do the 8PM Orange Theory class because it is a benchmark workout. (I will be able to compare my one mile distance in future classes to tonight’s result.) #justdoit #noexcuses

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At-home dad, husband, gay man, marathon runner, sarcastic to the core, off-center

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