Someone said they were handing out muscles at the gym! Today I went to explore the rumors.
Cardio is life. If you asked me to run for an hour, row a couple miles on the rowing machine, or carry a couch up to the 6th floor of an apartment building; no problem. It’s taken a while to build up the cardiovascular endurance to properly maintain a steady effort for a sustained period of time. But if you tell me to pick up the heaviest thing I can, my arms will likely separate from my torso like Mr. Potato Head.
With winter looming and the 2016 race season drawing to a close, my alarm has seemed less and less urgent recently. I’ll roll over and chuckle, “Hah—no. Not today.” Post-race depression, some may call it. The lack of motivation has begun. With no more races to prepare for, a change needs to be made to prevent this sedentary lifestyle from becoming a habit. How can we mix things up?
Growing up a lacrosse player, and especially in my time at college, I spent a bit of time with the team in the weight room. My college coach, who could be on the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine, insisted on the benefits of strength training. His points argued that it helped prevent injury, maintain fitness while working other muscles, provide explosive short term power and teach you to finish an activity hard. In fairness, he’s right on the money. I still contest that it was so he could assert his dominance over the team, but I digress. On the field my position was in charge of a series of long sprints, often in repeated succession. I was that one kid that lived for the dreaded full-field sprints at the end of practice. But there I stood alongside my teammates in the weight room. All of us huffing and grunting, like a joke that I let go too far.
Regardless of my comedic past experiences attempting to push heavy things around, it seemed like the perfect cross training to give my lungs and legs a rest. At the store, we work with a lot of people that aren’t strictly runners but are interested in “general fitness” shoes and workout gear. Over my time in Beverly, lots of people have mentioned the Sterling YMCA as the place to be! It’s about time I found out what the deal is. I headed over last night to take a tour of the awesome facility and was pretty shocked at the extensive opportunities and classes they offer. It’s really impressive and seemed right up my alley.
This morning I headed back over with a water bottle and headphones in an attempt to do a workout on a rubber surface other than the track. I compiled a few functional movement exercises with dumbbells designed to up the dormant upper body muscles. It started out like any other workout. “Okay. Here we go, I guess. Let’s see what happens!” I thought. Things got off to a great start. The first few sets were even pretty easy! It gave me flashbacks to the form clinics and critiques we used to received from my jacked lacrosse coach.
Perhaps all those rough experiences conditioned the mind a certain way. It’s been over a year since I set foot into a real weight room. Even still, when a good song is pumping through the headphones it’s almost like the horse-blinders go on. That same razor-sharp focus of zoning into a run appears in my own reflection staring back. The slow burn of arm fatigue and muscle failure is something totally different though. On a run you can slow down or walk to ease the strain. You can’t just drop 30-pound weights that are over your head!
For a runner, every day is leg day. I stand before you proudly proclaiming that today I took on arm day! I can’t lift my triumph fist into the air out of fatigue and soreness, but it happened! In order to not overdo it, I stuck with a short arm session today to remind the upper body that there might be a day when it’s needed for activity as well. And it hurt. And it still hurts. But I know that tomorrow I’ll be better for it. It’s fun to try new things, even if this is an old-new thing. This morning was actually pretty scary for me. I don’t want to overdo things or especially get injured, but the benefits of a stronger body are worth the bit of struggle. If you’re also looking for a way to mix up the daily routine heading into the dark days, let’s talk about some gym work. I’d love to chat with you about it, to give and especially receive advice!
Good luck to everyone out there in fall races and staying motivated as the weather gets colder on us. And like Garmin says… beat yesterday!