Weekly Recap – 12.29.19 – Lessons Learned From Working Out Consistently

Lessons Learned from working out

This week was New Years, and while I’m not a huge fan of resolutions, I am a fan of reflection and learning.  I realized during my long run that I have consistently been working out consistently, in some form or fashion, for a decade at this point. As I was running, I started to think about all of the life lessons learned from working out over the past ten years.  I realized that a lot of the lessons I’ve learned, I learned the hard way.  So I thought I would share some of them with you, so that maybe you can spare yourself some of the misery I did not personally avoid.

Related Post: 4 Healthy Habits to Keep in 2020

We didn’t do anything exciting for New Years.  I think we are all partied out from our weeks of travel over the past two months.  We spent most of the week unpacking, washing laundry, and just getting our lives together.  I was able to get all of my runs in outside, which was a nice change of pace from last week.  I spent most of my extra time off work reading “Don’t Keep Your Day Job,” and relaxing, and I have zero regrets.  Friday evening my son had his second flag football game, and it was a nice excuse to get out of the house, without having to be out for too long :).  Saturday, we spent some time at the park after my long run, and outside of those two “events,” most of this week was very mellow.

On to all of the wonderful lessons I’ve learned from working out.  I want to emphasize that I feel like the most impactful and meaningful benefits of exercise are NOT physical.  I mean, yes, being at a lower risk of heart attack is a positive.  But the emotional and mental benefits of exercise and working out consistently are the real reason I have kept working out for the past 10 years (I feel just a little older every time I say that).  I’ve learned so much from running, and I’ve learned so much from CrossFit, and very little of that relates to being in “better shape.”

10 Things I Learned From Working Out Consistently

  1. Weight Will Fluctuate
    And it’s no big deal.  10 years ago, I started working out regularly for vanity reasons.  I didn’t want to gain the dreaded freshman 15.  Interestingly enough, I currently weigh around 10 pounds more than I did a decade ago.  I can also lift about 70% heavier, and I’ve cut my marathon time by an hour and a half.  Clearly the added weight hasn’t negatively impacted my performance, so why would I let it negatively impact how I feel?
  2. Progress Isn’t Linear
    I’ve had years where I PR lifts every 3 months or so, and then I’ve years where I PR never.  I spent 8 or so years trying to run a marathon in under 4 hours, and it’s taken me less than 18 months to take another 14 minutes off my PR.  Growth comes in spurts. Then it plateaus, or it goes in reverse, but it’s never consistent.  Injuries can happen, illness WILL happen, life will throw you some curve-balls (like having kids or moving across the country or losing a job), and all of these things will impact progress.  If you want to have a relationship with working out that lasts a decade YOU HAVE TO BE MORE FOCUSED ON THE PROCESS THAN THE OUTCOME.  Because the outcomes will fluctuate.  But you can always keep showing up for the process.
  3. Someone Is Always Better Than You
    And if you can’t stop comparing yourself to others, you will drive yourself insane.  What others are doing is not your business.  It matters 0%.  Be willing to learn from people who are doing what you want to be doing, but do not try to be someone you are not.
  4. Something Is Better Than Nothing
    When I write running programs for my clients, I always tell them “if something comes up and you can’t run 4 miles, but you can run 2, do 2.”  Working out is not an all or nothing situation.  There’s so many benefits of exercise that have nothing to do with physical performance, and trust me when I say a 10 minute WOD will give you so much more than skipping the gym completely.
  5. Drink More Water
    Because we are all dehydrated. And it sucks.
  6. Time Is Not Something That Is Hiding
    You cannot “find” it.  It is not under your bed.  It is a construct that we have created, and you have the choice to do whatever you wish with it.  If you want to run a marathon, you will have to make time to run.  If you want to stay married, you will have to make time to spend with your spouse.  Whatever you do not intentionally carve out time for will not happen.  If you are older than 25, things don’t happen spontaneously anymore, they happen by choice.  So you decide what you make time for.
  7. Humility Is Important
    The fastest way to screw something up is with your ego.  This is true in the gym.  It is true when you send emails at work.  It is true when you disagree with your significant other.  It is true on the trail.  You have nothing to prove.  The moment you try to prove something with ego is likely to be the moment you realize that no matter how strong you think you are, gravity is always stronger.  And the ground is hard.
  8. Be Willing To Be Bad First
    I have a lot of clients who see my Instagram posts and tell me there’s no way they can run the mileage I run.  But remember, how much someone else runs matters 0% to your running, see point 3.  Also, when I started running, I couldn’t run a mile without stopping.  I had to be willing to be a bad runner before I was able to be an ok runner.  I had to be willing to be a crappy boss before I could be a good one.  You can’t learn things fully by researching or reading or observing.  At some point you have to do.  And when you first start doing, you’ll do it ugly.  And messy.  But if you wait until you can do it pretty, you’ll never do it at all.
  9. Hard Things Are Easier With Friends
    I’m always going to be an introvert, and I will hold fast to the belief that I am my best self when I have to interact with fewer than 7 people per day.  But running a marathon is a lot more fun with a running buddy.  The finish line is sweeter when there’s someone to meet.  The six minute AMRAP from hell goes by much faster with someone dying next to you.  Loss and grief sting a little less when shared with someone.  Parenting is MUCH harder solo (even for a day).  Find your tribe, however small and exclusive, and make sure you bring them along for the ride.
  10. Only Psychopaths Like Burpees
    It’s science.

Weekly Workouts

Lessons Learned From Working Out

Total Miles: 46.4
Hansons Marathon Method, Week 5
How the Runs Felt
This week was a little rougher for me than last.  I survived all of my prescribed workouts, and wasn’t exactly close to dying, but my legs did feel fairly heavy towards the end of both of my speed workouts this week.  I have a feeling part of that is a result of some interesting nutrition choices I made during the Christmas break last week, and the whole running a marathon less than a month ago.  It’s not surprising, at all, but it also reminds me that during the hard runs the lows almost always pass. 

You just have to wait out the low and let it pass.  It’s not easy in the moment, and I’ve definitely given in to the lows more times than I can recount.  But the times that I have fought and held on until the low passes, it’s been magic.

My long run this week actually felt really great.  I’m trying out a method that has worked well for me in races where every mile, I give myself a short pick up of 30 seconds of faster running.  I want to write a post where I explain a little more of the reason behind this, but it’s something I want to make sure I practice if I plan to use it in my next race.  This week it worked well, and I felt strong during the entire run.

Lessons learned from working out running

How the WODs felt
Surprisingly, my workouts actually felt really good thing week.  I normally workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but our gym was closed for New Years Day on Wednesday, so I moved my Wednesday workout to Tuesday.  I also prefer to run my tempo run on a day where I’m not going to workout after, so I switched my rest day to Wednesday and did my tempo on Thursday.  The deadlifts on Tuesday were pretty tough for me, so I was very happy to have Wednesday off after.  Friday I PR’d my 3 rep back squat, which was really exciting.

People ask me fairly often if I see any progress in my weight lifting while I’m marathon training.  Lifting PR’s do still happen, but they are less frequent than time periods where I’m not running 40-60 mile weeks, which makes sense. I almost never expect to PR in the last 6 weeks of marathon training, but I have had a few random PR’s every once in a while.  While the progress isn’t linear, it does keep coming as long as you are consistent.

Lessons learned from working out CrossFit
All smiles after my PR lift

What I’ve Been Listening To
Organized Crime is still cracking me up on a regular basis.  The Night Owl Podcast released a really interesting origin episode that got me through my tough tempo run.  I am really looking forward to the next season of this podcast.  I finally finished Murder in Oregon and Urge to Kill; I’d recommend both podcasts for any true crime junkies out there.  I plan on starting a new series called Why So Cold that presents multiple cold cases in a shorter format.  We’ll see if it’s love over the next couple of episodes.

People ask me fairly often if I see any progress in my weight lifting while I’m marathon training.  Lifting PR’s do still happen, but they are less frequent than time periods where I’m not running 40-60 mile weeks, which makes sense. I almost never expect to PR in the last 6 weeks of marathon training, but I have had a few random PR’s every once in a while.  While the progress isn’t linear, it does keep coming as long as you are consistent.

What Went Well
I was able to spend a little more time recovering this week, since we didn’t have to travel.  I was able to take care of a few things at home that I normally push off with the random day off in the middle of the week.  And my workouts felt good.  My kiddo had his second flag football game this week, and it was fun to see him have a little more of an understanding of the game this week.

What Went Shitty
I felt a little sluggish this week, and I’m honestly wondering if I have been getting more sleep than I need the last couple of weeks.  Getting good sleep is really important for recovery, but I know that for me it’s a fine line.  If I sleep too much, I end up feeling more sluggish.  I think getting back to a regular routine might help a little.  My legs felt pretty tired this week, but I was still able to hit my goal paces.

Plans to Improve Next Week  
Next week will be back to regular schedule, and I’m hoping this helps me feel a little more energized.  I’m planning on continuing with the Hansons Plan with a 3:25 marathon goal for the time being.  This week’s nutrition was a little more consistent than the past couple of weeks, and I plan on continuing to get back to my normal next week.

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