I’m a pretty competitive person. Most times to my own detriment. Over the past few years, I have had
the goal of running a half marathon in 1:50 or less and I came very close (1:51) at the St. Louis Rock and
Roll run in 2012. I got a little cocky in 2013 and went backward (1:56) but all that was going to change
in 2013 at the MO Cowbell half marathon. I decided to use a VERY high intensity training program that
pushed my limits each training session and it was going along swimmingly until I pulled a groin muscle.
Like, REALLY pulled it to the point my training hit a screeching halt. I ran the event but finished in 2:02.
Now, I think most people would be okay if they could run 13.1 miles pacing between 8:21 and 9 miles
per hour but not me. I didn’t run again until January mainly because my motivation to train (for racing)
was gone. I lifted weights and rode the upright bike but couldn’t find the motivation to run again until
the Spring. Even then, I didn’t have the mojo to work myself back into competition shape. I also use
the Nike+ running app (which is awesome) to keep track of my runs but found still myself competing
with myself from run to run. And then it happened: running wasn’t fun anymore. It was just work and
I hated it, but I still did it. Realizing something needed to drastically change, I racked my brain until the
idea, so simple and effective came to me. On this one particular day, for no particular reason, I decided
to go out for a little run (yes, this is from Forest Gump)...with no phone, music, apps or goal.
I just went running. And I loved it!
I ran 3 miles through Forest Park and enjoyed the scenery, the sounds and the fact that I was not trying
to beat a clock, keep a certain pace or achieve a goal. I simply listened to my body and enjoyed the fact
I was out exercising, taking a mid-day break from work and soaking in a little sunshine. Two days later, I
did it again and all of a sudden my mojo was back!
Does this mean you shouldn’t have goals, use fitness apps or strive to run races in certain times?
Absolutely not, but it does mean that sometimes, we can push ourselves to the point where we no
longer enjoy physical activity and the simple joy of movement. The groups I see this happen with
the most are people trying to lose weight. They are so focused on the end goal (losing weight) that
it consumes them and no matter what physical changes happen, if they don’t lose the weight they
envisioned, they are disappointed and defeated.
I still have goals, use fitness apps (a lot) and push myself, but at least once a week, I go out and exercise
with no clock, objective or goal other than to break a sweat. This incredibly simple process has
completely changed the way I get and stay motivated and it can do the same for you.
If you feel pressure from your workouts, pressure to perform or define your success by a number or stat,
I challenge you to take one workout a week where your only goal is to break a sweat. Get back to the
basics and just enjoy the movement. This could be a light jog, an evening walk or a Zumba class with
your friends. Just have fun and take the pressures out of your workout!
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