Confessions of a Former Masochist

Being a former marathon runner, I'm keenly aware of the term 'over-trainer.' There are times when it's difficult to pay attention to when my body needs to rest because I'm so focused on the end goal (crossing the finish line) that taking a day off almost makes me feel as though I might miss an opportunity to get some good training in.

It's really true for any sport, not just marathon running…now that I'm an avid cyclist, it's hard to stay off the bike. Throw in training for triathlons...I also must run and swim. Of course, hitting the weights is on the schedule so that I continue to build lean muscle mass to burn fat, maintain my strength and of course, continue to 'switch it up' so my body doesn't get used to the same type of exercise day in and day out.

But listening to my body has become an 'acquired skill.' Six months after running 5 marathons in 4 years, I tore the Gastrocnemius (the larger muscle of the calf) in my right leg. I took 3 months off and was only able to do Yoga and swim. But, 6 months later, I tore the same muscle AGAIN!

I didn't need my Orthopedic doctor to tell me that I was an 'over-trainer.' I knew I was and was actually proud of it, it made me feel tough because I could endure the pain and keep going.

I've had the gamut of injuries...sprained ligaments in my lower back, a stress fracture in my foot, IT Band problems, Plantar Fascitis, a torn rhomboid, chronic Achilles Tendonopothy (Tendonitis is acute...Tendonopothy results from years of scar tissue build up) and the above mentioned Gastrocnemius tear.

I now know that the cause of these injuries was over-training. I used to think...if you're an athlete, you're going to hurt.

But there is a difference between the pain of your muscles burning during intervals while running, hill repeats on the bike or getting in that last set of overhead shoulder presses. That's good pain. Feeling my Gastrocnemius go 'pop'? That's bad pain and pain one should never have to experience.

Rest and recovery is SO ESSENTIAL. I can't stress it enough. I wouldn't wish my slew of injuries on anyone. Not having the option to get the workout of your choice in BLOWS!

If the body doesn't have sufficient recovery time, it isn't properly prepared for the next training session.

When you're tired and continue to push yourself, that's when you are more susceptible to injury and/or illness.

The absence of rest and recovery in your fitness routine can result in weak and sore muscles, changes to your athletic performance, the breakdown of your immune system, changes to your appetite, the quality of your sleep and additional health factors.

All of these things can happen to you at one time or another if the pure joy you feel from getting in a good workout over-powers the need to rest and let your muscles recover from a string of consecutive workouts.

Teach yourself to listen to your body and make a point to schedule rest days in your workout routine. Even when you don't think you need to rest, your body needs it and will be thankful the next time you hop on your bike, hit the weights, put on your running shoes, get in the pool or do any type of exercise.

Being a trainer and coach, it is my job to educate YOU about the importance of rest and recovery. I challenge and empower you to incorporate a sufficient amount of rest and recover into your fitness program. My hope is that you never endure the agony of an injury or illness that causes your fitness lifestyle to suffer. Take the time to rest, your body will thank you!

Why Sitting Around Is One Of My Favorite Exercises

Funny how as we get older our tastes and interests change and the things we used to love to do evolve into something new and exciting.

I never used to be a big road trip person, in fact, I preferred flying because it gets me to my destination quicker, allowing for more time spent there.

While I still do sometimes prefer to fly for just that reason, having the right travel companion on a road trip makes all the difference.

It's nice to see new places together and not have to abide by a rigid schedule.  In the past few years, I've driven across 10 different states I'd never been to before…places I wouldn't have had the luxury of seeing had I been on a plane.

Another thing that is a 'road trip bonus' is being able to take whatever you can fit in the car…once all the necessities are packed, all you really need is some good tunes, a cooler full of healthy foods and oh…did I mention the bikes?

How cool is it to be able to park the car, change into your bike gear and just ride…

I used to be a marathon runner and while I still love to run, you just can't cover as much ground when you run as you can cover on the bike.

This is one of the MANY reasons I love to ride.  Sure, I can run in new places too but there are places I can get to on my bike that I just can't go while running because it's too far.

I love the triumphant feeling after climbing a few thousand feet to the top of a mountain, looking down and knowing my body, my legs, my strength got me to the top…

And then…the exhilaration of flying down that mountain at 45 mph.  There is no comparison.

Of course, there is the 'runner's high' which I also love but until you're a cyclist, you don't understand the unbelievable FREE feeling you have while you're on the bike. 

…being able to ride to places you wouldn't even consider driving because there's simply not as much reason if you're not on the bike.

I never knew when I bought my first bike (5 bikes ago, mind you - it becomes an obsession) that I'd be so completely fulfilled by it that I'd rather go shopping for new bike gear or something new for my bike instead of shopping for a new pair of jeans.

In fact, just as I'd now prefer to drive across the country instead of fly, I'd rather be on my bike than do almost anything else. You might say I'm 'sitting around'... sitting around the world, that is.

I never thought running wouldn't be my exercise of choice, never thought I'd evolve into the cyclist I am today. 

Biking has changed my life.  Not that my life was bad before, it's just richer and more well-traveled than before.

Try it…maybe it will do for you what it has done for me...

How Do You Reward Yourself?

The other day I was at the Mall of America and I couldn’t help but overhear a child arguing with her mother.

The mother could not get her child to do what she wanted so she said, “How about we go find a doughnut?”

I got to thinking, why do we bribe our kids with food?  And, especially food that is so incredibly bad for you?  Doughnuts should be outlawed...TRANS FAT of the worst things you could possibly eat. Why can't it be a healthy orange or some almonds and a piece of cheese? 

But why does there even have to be a bribe? 

I thought about this some that just naturally what we all do?  Even to ourselves?   When things are going rough and we get through something tough, do we reward ourselves with some type of indulgence?

For me, after a rough day the best reward is a rigorous workout when I can sweat out all of my aggression.  Follow that up with a healthy meal and perhaps a great that's what I call a reward. 

But what is it about "rewarding ourselves" that seems to make things feel better?

Isn't it reward enough to just be good to ourselves everyday and have the reward of living a happy, healthy, serene life?

In the United States, where one third of the population is obese, the leading cause of death is heart disease and 8.3% of the population has Diabetes...why do we center our lives around food?  Aren't these statistics alone proof that the majority of people are more concerned about what they put in their mouths than with being healthy?

That could make me sad and truly...sometimes it actually does.  All I can do is try to be a healthy example for those I come in contact with... and do my very best to make a difference in other people's lives sharing my knowledge and experience...I hope that I may touch at least one person who will in the same.

How To Start Small For Big Results

I consider myself to be a relatively motivated person.  But EVERYONE procrastinates SOMETIMES, even the most motivated person. 

For example, I love a clean house but dusting is one of my least favorite household I can be easily distracted by something more appealing. 

And...there are just things that if I know I can put them off for awhile I just may do so.

I mean...I'd put off just about anything I was doing if a friend called me to go for a run or a ride.

Maybe that's not such a great example because I'm a rare breed,  I LOVE to work out, l LOVE to feel the burning sensation of my muscles while I push my body to the limit.

So I'd take some type of exercise or physical activity over...hmmm...just about anything. 

But, 20% of people are chronic avoiders of difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions which unfortunately...are increasingly available.  So is procrastination just another way of making excuses to avoid those things we SHOULD do but really don't want to do?

For most people, working out falls into the category of 'difficult tasks.'

Most people would rather sit on the couch, reading a good book or watch their favorite show on TV instead of going to the gym or doing some type of activity that works their body to intensity. 

The problem with putting off exercise of any sort is the longer we put off physical activity…the more difficult it is to start.

One thing I recommend (and sometimes do myself) while watching TV, during the commercial break…get up and do jumping jacks until the commercials are over. This way your body gets used to exercise and you can increase your activity little by little until it just becomes something you naturally enjoy doing because it makes you feel good.

Or…turn on the music and dance while dusting the house or...when going up the stairs run or take two stairs at a time. 

When there is something in my life I want to change and I keep procrastinating, I find that if I start small…do one new thing per day…eventually it gets easier for me to stop putting that 'something' off. 

Physical activity shouldn't be in the category of 'difficult tasks.'  I want to help people LOVE to do their body good, make working out fun, something they look forward to because in addition to making them look better on the outside, it increases their longevity and who doesn't want to live a long healthy life?

I know I do...

So try something new today to get your heart pumping and live a longer, healthier life!

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