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Average_Jbob's blog

This week was definitely a challenging week to stick to a workout schedule.  No, I wasn't busier than usual (although that would be a great excuse). . .I simply had a hard time getting motivated to DO anything!  Here I had PLENTY of time and VERY LITTLE ELSE to fight for my attention. . .but my feet ached, my legs hurt, my whole body was sore, and the mere thought of lacing up my shoes and going for a run was down right appalling!  Especially when I had just gotten a really good deal on the video game Fallout 4!  Surely I could benefit from sitting on the couch and exploring a vast digital wasteland!  I mean, those Raiders aren't going to destroy THEMSELVES. . .right?


. . .sigh. . .


It's times like this when I remember the saying made popular by the German cyclist Jens Voigt. . ."Shut up legs!"  That's what he would tell himself when he was competing in races like the Tour de France. . .he would ride until his legs would scream at him that they had gone as far as they possibly could, and when every fiber of his lower anatomy would be telling him that he HAD to stop he would reply "Shut up legs!" and keep going.  I love this phrase and have adopted it for my own use!  I find it to be a very useful mindset where I substitute the meaning of 'legs' to be that voice in my head that tries to talk me out of doing what I know I need to do.

Like this past week when I didn't want to go for a 4 mile run on Monday. . .Shut up legs!

. . .or there was the time on Thursday when sitting on the couch in front of the TV after a long day seemed better than going for an 8 mile run. . .Shut up legs!

. . .and then there was Saturday when it was hot outside, my feet and ankles were feeling the miles adding up and wouldn't it be so much BETTER for me to eat ice cream and play Fallout 4 than go for that silly old 10 mile trail run I had planned?  SHUT UP LEGS!

Let me tell you, I didn't miss a single run this last week. . .and it WASN'T because I have an iron will or that I'm any better a runner than anyone else. . .it's simply because I found enough strength in someone else's resolve that I could cut thru the negativity of my inner voice to tell it to pipe down long enough that I got my shoes on, got out the door, and wouldn't you know it, enjoyed myself.  There's just something about being able to push thru the haze of comfort. . .embrace the discomfort of discipline. . .and complete what you set out to do DESPITE trying to talk yourself into failing.


So the next time you find YOUR inner voice trying to derail you from your fitness goals. . .I hope you'll channel the spirit of Jens Voigt and simply say "Shut up legs!"

For some, running can be a tedious affair. . .trying to put a few miles on your running shoes, for some, can turn into a mind numbing loop of internal dialogue that goes a little something like:


"What am I doing?  I don't feel like I'm very good at this. . .so why am I doing it?  Isn't that new show out now?  I could be watching that!  My legs hurt.  My feet hurt.  I should probably turn back now, I bet I've gone a long. . .IT'S ONLY BEEN 5 MINUTES?"


Unless you're extremely good at self motivation (and if you are I really don't want to hear from you), then you will probably need a way of distracting yourself FROM yourself while you run!  A good trick is a nice set of headphones and an upbeat playlist!  Select all your favorite songs. . .ones that make you want to move, probably not love ballads unless you are trying for some slow-paced ZONE 2 runs (slow jog / fast walk).  For added variety, make sure you put that playlist on SHUFFLE so you don't know what song is next.  Doing this will help motivate you to keep moving AND occupy your brain with something other than what things you COULD be doing or how badly you might think you hurt!  Make sure to overload your playlist with more songs than you could possibly hear during the time you plan on running. . .having songs left un-played can help motivate you to run again just to hear them!


If music is not your thing OR your playlist is getting stale. . .then give PodCasts a try!  Sometimes I find that I might get behind on my favorite PodCasts because I'm too occupied during the day to be able to listen. . .so I catch up by listening while I run!  Sure, it might make me look like a crazy person if I burst out laughing while running at night, but at least I'm getting the miles in I need AND having fun while doing it!  Just try not to laugh so hard you actually pull a muscle!


Audio Books can be a great choice as well!  It's along the same lines as the PodCast suggestion, but it comes with the added benefit that you can pretend like you actually still make time to READ!  Sure, someone else is doing the actual reading, but your buddies in Book Club don't need to know that!  Book Clubs are still a thing, right?  BOOKS are still a thing, right?


Make it a way of connecting to friends!  You can simply use a running app like Garmin Connect (if you have a Garmin running device), Nike Run Club+, MapMyRun, or one of many others to keep track of your miles and routes.  Most of them have ways to connect to friends who are using the same app to compare runs with.  Getting plugged into a social group, even if it's only to compare stats, can help motivate you to keep going.  You're in this together!


Make running a game!  Yes, a game!  I know of one good example because I use it. . .it's an app called Zombies, Run!  It's basically an episodic Radio Drama in which you play the part of Runner 5. . .Think of it as a Walking Dead type thing where you are part of group of survivors who need 'Runners' to go out into the wasteland to look for supplies.  Each Episode is one of YOUR actual runs. . .as you run you will get updates from your survivors camp about where you are going (character wise) and what they need you to find. . .just run your normal route and enjoy listening to the show. . .and occasionally you will get warned that you need to pick up your pace because a group of zombies are closing in on you!  I suggest running at night since it heightens the fun!    No, I don't get paid by Zombies, Run! to tell you about it (unless they would like to. . .I AM open to it!). . .it's just a fun app I've been using once a week or two in order to change things up!


Explore your neighborhood / city. . .I have found that by running around my city I've actually discovered places that I NEVER would have known about by simply driving around. . .little shops, parks, statues, strangely painted bear statues, perfectly good bear statues that have been covered in a bizarre way that seems to scream 'this is why we can't have nice things!'. . .and actual wildlife.  In my case, I've seen lots of squirrels, rabbits, dogs, raccoons, possums, coyotes, and the occasional fox.  Most of these have been at night.


Whatever you do to help distract your mind from the discomfort and monotony running can be known for, DO keep mindful of your surroundings. . .especially if you are running in a city.  Remember this simple equation: Car + Runner = Car.  I cannot tell you how often I've seen drivers exiting parking lots and not even touching the brakes until they've crossed the sidewalk and started to nudge into the street.  DO NOT assume that they will see you running along the sidewalk or road. . .chances are good that they WILL NOT even be looking!  So make sure you are looking for them!  Just this past weekend I was running at night on a sidewalk that passes a huge parking lot outside of several stores.  This particular parking lot has the GREAT luxury of a HIGH retaining wall with brush at the top that keeps the parking lot somewhat secluded from the busy street it boarders.  Since it was at night I had the good fortune of seeing the sidewalk in front of me suddenly light up as I approached a break in the retaining wall where cars could enter and exit the parking lot SECONDS before I was going to be stepping onto that same patch of sidewalk and was able to abruptly pull up to a stop RIGHT as a car that was exiting cruised over the sidewalk and onto the street before it stopped, completely blocking the sidewalk. . .the driver was looking to her left the entire time trying to see if traffic was clear so she could turn right and never once bothered to look in my direction, where she would have seen a pasty-white middle aged man wondering what it would be like to become a hood ornament!  She never once thought that it might be a good idea to come to a stop BEFORE crossing over the sidewalk. . .or to look and make sure she wasn't about to commit vehicular manslaughter!  The first time she noticed me was when I said, "Excuse me ma'am, but you almost hit me" in what I like to think was a calm voice, but was probably squeaky and shrill from shear terror!  Please remember that even though you DO have the right away as a pedestrian. . .yield that right away to cars that you do NOT make eye contact with, and slow down when you're about to enter areas with little to no sight lines for traffic. . .it's really in your best interest!


So, distract your mind. . .but not so greatly that you lose track of your surroundings!  Be safe out there, have fun, and stay alive to run some more! 


Average_Jbob

It's been a good week for training. . .and by that I mean that I actually got out there and trained this last week!  I didn't have to stay late for work, so that excuse was right out the window. . .I had my plan already set for me, so I didn't have the "not sure what to do" excuse. . .and the weather was, well, it's California so the weather was nice.  A bit hot during the day, yes, but I do most of my outdoor running during early evening or night when it's cooler AND I had a few indoor activities planned out so even the heat wasn't an excuse!  The point is. . .I was able to stick to my plan and ACTUALLY TRAIN!  It felt great!


I'm not going to say that mentally I wanted to train each and every time, but I have found that sometimes the BEST SESSIONS I've had came from when I REALLY DIDN'T WANT TO START!  Sometimes after sitting in traffic for a LONG TIME just trying to get home after work, the LAST thing I want to do is lace up my running shoes and go BACK OUTSIDE, especially when I COULD be sitting down with a nice cup of coffee and eating dinner while watching American Ninja Warrior (oh. . .the IRONY. . .watching someone else do physical exercise instead of doing it myself)!  BUT IN THOSE TIMES when I can fight through the cloud of complacency and actually get outside and begin running. . .that's when I find I have some of my best runs.  It's that victory over that little voice in my head that tries to tell me what my limitations are, wether they be physical or simply a lack of willpower. . .that little victory of being able to get out the door of comfort and stumble into those forced first few steps that turn into a journey. . .when you get a mile down the road and realize that your mind has shed it's fog from the day and your body falls into the routine you've been building it to accept. . .


Ok. . .I'm realizing now that this post is getting a bit too far up its own backside. . .I don't have a ton of massive physical endurance accomplishments to brag about or anything like that. . .I simply went outside this week and ran when I didn't feel like doing so. . .I went to a few new classes at my local Gym (new to me) to try and broaden my training routine. . .and it turns out that I enjoyed all of it!  I wasn't sure about doing the trail run I had scheduled for Saturday because my wife had asked me to join her at a new class at our local Gym. . .I went and it was way more intense that I had planned for, so spent a good deal of the rest of the day mentally telling myself it would be fine to skip the trail run. . .and maybe it would have been, except for the fact that I had made it part of my training plan and didn't want to cross it off my list simply because it seemed like it would be difficult to do when I felt 'worn out'.  Finally, in the late afternoon I silenced the inner voice, grabbed my trail shoes and headed out.  I'm glad I did.  I saw so many wild rabbits hoping around it was like the opening to a Disney movie!  I caught up on a few podcasts I hadn't been able to listen to, broke a good sweat, got some good hill climbs in, and at the end of my run, was treated to one of the better sunsets I've seen in my area.  I would have missed all that if I'd simply stayed home because I'd already worked out that day. . .I would probably have been justified for doing so, but there was an extra reward for me in knowing that not only had I stuck to my original plan when I didn't have to, but I proved to myself that I could do the extra workout as well, and that's honestly something that will pay off for me in my next Spartan Race (there's always some extra effort required you didn't know you needed!)


This post might have rambled a bit. . .but if there is anything I'd want you to take away from having read it, it would be to realize that most of the time when you are dreading doing a workout, HONESTLY, the hardest part of that workout will be simply STARTING.  Once you do that part, the rest will take care of itself.


Average_Jbob

Ok, so if you are like me, you sat down, looked at your upcoming race schedule, charted out a training plan that would make you BULLETPROOF for your next event, and then promptly got saddled with a project at work that required lots of overtime and missed almost all of your first week of training!  That's right. . .I just went from completely mapped out for the next 2 months to completely off-track in 1 week!    Luckily it's not the first time this has happened to me. 


"Luckily?  What do you mean?  Sounds UN-lucky to me!"


I'm glad you asked. . .you see, I say "Luckily" because I've learned that it's not the end of a training plan when you get de-railed, it simply means it's time to pick and choose what you CAN still do and continue to move forward.  Remember, you've already signed up for your up-coming event and that Starting Line isn't getting any further away. . .you simply now have the opportunity to get as ready for it as life allows you to be.  Regardless, you are going to show up, toe the starting line and find your way to the finish. . .how well you perform between those two lines is up to you (and life).


SO. . .this last week was SUPPOSED to look like this:

Monday:          Swim Laps at Gym

Tuesday:         BootCamp at Gym

Wednesday:     Yoga Class at Gym

Thursday:        Running, Medium Distance, 6 miles, ZONE 4

Friday:             REST

Saturday:         Running, Long Distance, 10 miles, ZONE 2

Sunday:           Weight Lifting at Gym / Bucket Carry


But due to my work schedule it turned into this:

Monday:          Swim Laps at Gym (this was on a Company Holiday)

Tuesday:         WORK LATE

Wednesday:     WORK LATE

Thursday:        Attend son's 8th Grade Graduation

Friday:             WORK LATE

Saturday:         Running, Long Distance, 9.83 miles, ZONE 2 & 4

Sunday:           Weight Lifting at Gym


As you can see, I missed 3 out of the 6 planned workouts in my first week of my new schedule, I didn't quite hit my full 10 miles of my planned Long Distance day, and I cut the Bucket Carry completely.  I only did about 40-50% of my plan, which statistically speaking, would be an 'F'!

HOWEVER. . .I've learned over the years that this will happen and it DOES NOT mean that my training is wrecked!  Training is simply preparing yourself for something. . .and when you get 'de-railed' in your schedule, try to take it as an additional challenge.  Sometimes life doesn't go as you planned it would, but that shouldn't mean that you no longer can succeed. . .it just might change what success looks like.  What I should see from this past week is that when it got difficult to continue training I was still able to manage 40-50% and count that as a win.  Too many weeks of that and I know that I will not be at my best for my next event, but it also means that being successful has just been re-defined to finishing the event instead of getting a PR (Personal Record).  Also, it gives me the chance to practice the ability to ADAPT.  

I didn't get my medium distance run in, but I still had the opportunity to get my long distance run in so I took it. . .it was supposed to be 10 miles but i mis-calculated and only got 9.83, but I got the bulk of it done. . .it was also supposed to be a ZONE 2 run (slow jog) but by the time I was able to start it was already 8pm and I didn't want to take the full 2.5 hours so I changed it up to a ZONE 2 & ZONE 4 Interval Run (slow jog & race pace). . .I didn't do the Bucket Carry but I was able to get the Weight Training in and decided to make it a Leg Day since I missed my medium distance run.


I adapted because LIFE called for me too. . .and it looks like I might have to do that again this coming week if work stays as busy as it looks like it might be. . .but I'm not going to quit my training. . .I'm simply going to keep as close to the plan as I can and ADAPT what I have to. . .it will all work out in the end because regardless of what happens between now and then. . .come August 4th I'm going to be jumping over the Starting Wall for a Spartan Super in Asheville, NC. . .and sometime after that I'll find my way to the finish line.  Then it will be time to re-group, plan for the next event, and see what life brings!


Aroo!

Average_Jbob