Whether you’ve always been athletic or don’t think you have an athletic bone in your body, we all share the same insecurities and frustrations when you get started. I went to my very first spinning class last night since the NYC Marathon and I almost passed out. I’m not saying I “almost passed out” in a passé kind of way, I’m saying I pushed myself WAY to hard, got light headed and almost fell off my bike. One of the hardest parts about getting active or getting back into it after a little break is starting at the level you are at. For me, right now I am having a hard time adjusting. I’m used to riding or running intense and fast (for me) so last night when I was riding in what I thought was my “normal” resistance and speed, I forgot that my fitness level is different than it was the month before the marathon.
It reminded me of a woman I spoke to this past Saturday at the SIX:02 ‘It’s Your Time 6K.’ We were talking about our stories and hers really resonated with me. She was a successful High School and College athlete and being athletic was second nature to her. All her life she had drive, passion, and structure. When she graduated she decided not to pursue an athletic career and opted instead for what she described as a “stable” life. She got a job doing sales at a company, did well for herself because of her competitive and confident nature, fell in love, got married and started a family. But she missed running, being physically active and taking that time for herself. She would try to start where she left off and would get frustrated and give up a week or two later. Recently she realized she needed to start at the level she was at. But once an athlete always an athlete, right? Absolutely! But I also believe that some athletes aren’t born, they are made.
Anyone can relate to how hard it is to get started regardless of whether you are an Olympian or a brand spanken new Physical Exerciser like I was. But for you athletes, knowing what you once were capable of can be a huge deterrent. I don’t care if it’s been a few weeks, a few months, a few years, or a few decades, it’s never too late to get started. I don’t care what your fitness level was or how you got to where you are, getting started can be tough or discouraging, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. There’s No Quick Way to Get Fit
You know all those articles about getting fit really quickly? You have to work your tail off to get fast results, and honestly in my opinion that’s the quickest way to burnout. It’s going to take work and it’s going to take time. But that’s ok! Enjoy the journey as much as you can. That pain you feel is just a physical reminder of the beast you are becoming. I know it hurts just keep repeating all those cheesy sayings, “No pain no gain.” “The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow.” “I’m a fighter not a quitter.” ETC ETC ETC Yeah, I know, cheeseballs but they are kind of true…for me, the soreness and pain were a draw for me. I was hurting so much emotionally that having pain be associated with tangible strength and a goal was a welcome change.
2. You’re Not Starting Over, You’re Getting Started
This may sound a bit like pa-tay-toe/pa-taw-toe but I give you this piece of advice: hold on tightly let go lightly. I am struggling accepting where I am. It’s hard to take time off after a marathon because you want to pick up right where you left off. BUT YOU CAN’T! And because I am not some incredible beast, I really do need to dial it back a bit and start where I am. Whether it’s been weeks or years, you’re not starting over, you’re starting where you are and that is exactly as it should be. I know it can feel a little disappointing because you want to be at the top of your game. But no one starts at the top of your game! Take “I used to be able to” out of the mix. So what if you used to be faster, lift heavier, or go longer! You’ll get there! Patience!
3. Find Balance
Getting active again is a balancing act. Life is going to happen and you are probably really busy. Between work, family, school, friends, you probably don’t have a lot of free time. If you have a tiny window of time, then give yourself realistic expectations. Start slow! Don’t let it take over your life. Make sure you find a healthy balance and forgive yourself when speed bumps arise. You’re busy, that’s ok!
4. Set a Goal
Nothing will help you more than a goal date. I can’t just go to the gym, I won’t enjoy it and I’ll spend a good 4 hours every day trying to convince myself to go. But if I know I am training for a half marathon that is 3 months way, I find time to make it happen. It’s the best way to establish structure and advocate for your success. Training plans are the perfect way to start slow and ease into a routine. It takes the thought process and “will I be ready?” out of the question.
5. Fight Frustration and Believe You Deserve It
Support is wonderful and so very helpful, but the truth of the matter is you may not get what you think you deserve or need. Believe you are worth the work, believe you can do it, and know that you are doing something incredible. When I first started training for a marathon, no one really understood why. They would say the same thing, “Oh my god that’s amazing!” Then a few weeks later when I turned down offers to hang out or go out, “Why are you even running a marathon anyway? We never see you.” Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Sometimes it feels like you’re doing it alone. Yeah it would be so much easier to have a constant cheering section or people who go the extra mile to make you feel incredible, all you need is you. Do it for you.
It is going to take work, your body is going to hate you, you will probably hate you, your dog will probably hate you, but keep going. Don’t give up and start slow. If you’re not laughing you’re doing it wrong. Laugh your way through the pain. Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.