Sunday, April 13, 2008

3 My Return to Exercise: It's Been Anything But Ho-Hum


I've been doing some thinking lately about my return to the CT5K program, especially about how & why it's been so different for me the second (well, actually third!) time around. I know that it's mainly due to the following factors: My motivations are different (still trying to reduce my BF%, but am more focused on the fitness aspect now), my fitness level is different (it's actually much better than when I began the CT5K program the first time around -- Yay!), & the things going on in my life are much different (i.e., much more stress!).

Oh yeah, I almost left off one tiny thing. My attitude is different this time around. Gasp! Oh, the horror! But before any of you jump to conclusions that I've suddenly developed a bad attitude (Please no tidy & pat little lectures on how attitude is everything -- Blah, blah, blah!), please understand that that's not what I mean at all, nor is it quite so simple & black & white as all that. Let me explain:

Only months before, I couldn't wait to run, & now it's much more of a mental struggle to get back into it. I'm fine once I'm running, it's just the getting out the door part that's been difficult. I guess it's just a matter of making it a regular occurrence again, to the point where I don't even have to think about it. That should only take about a month or so. ;-)

Well, I'll keep you posted on how that little battle's going. ;-) But seriously, it typically does take about a month or so to get accustomed to the introduction of new behaviors, generally speaking.

But it's not just that. Lately, I feel like my attitude is like a caged tiger -- it's fierce & unruly & headstrong; and I've got the chair & the whip (i.e., atleast the sensible part of me does, anyhow ;-) ), & am trying to beat it back into submission. ;-) And sometimes it's been a struggle to avoid just sitting in that chair (LOL!) instead of moving my rear out the door. But thankfully, it's been easier with my friend around to help keep me on track. (Right now, we are keeping each other on track, & we both know it too!) The way I see it, once I light the fires of motivation (or rather relight it!), they will burn from within & won't need any relighting from outside sources. ;-) Ultimately, I know I'm doing this for myself, & am going to have to relocate & tap into that "inner fire" at a deeper & more sustainable level. I've done it before, so there's no reason why I can't find that profound source of energy & motivation again.

But lest anyone be tempted to reprove or admonish me with a potential lecture, please realize that the motivational "challenges" I'm facing are NOT occurring because I deep down don't want to move my body or loathe exercise; that couldn't be farther from the truth. Frankly, the lack of motivation is simply due to a bad habit (i.e., my previous prolonged period of inertia) & also sometimes a bit of stress (which ironically can be alleviated through exercise!). And it's that bad habit I'm now addressing & currently working on correcting.

The good news is that every time I go out the door & run, I win points for the "bodies-in-motion-stay-in-motion" team, but that doesn't mean that my struggles are over against the "bodies-at-rest-stay-at-rest-unless-an-external-force-is-applied" team. Sheesh, that's a long name for a team. ;-) Good thing these guys don't play baseball. The scoreboard wouldn't be able to hold all the letters. LOL.

So basically, what I'm saying is that the laws of physics work both ways, & it's up to us to supply the "external force" to undo those bad habits. Like a lot of other things in our lives, if we aren't conscious of something, after a while, it usually changes from a conscious effort to a learned, knee-jerk response. And, as they say, what can be learned can also be unlearned.

Of course, our breaking with the unconscious chains of habit also has to do with our willingness to change for the better. And in doing so, we also recognize the inevitable forward motion of our lives & the world around us. Nothing rarely ever stays the same, & life doesn't just sit around & wait for a person to catch up. A person's life rarely stays in the same static spot, whether or not they are ready to move along with it! ;-) Adding to this complex motion of our lives is the fact that, while our bodies naturally change with time & also by our own efforts, our minds can only change with our own express permission.

And I think that that is precisely is my main struggle right now: My body is ready, but my mind isn't always willing to accept this "fitness mission" that I've given myself. The mind, some levels, is still putting up a fight, because it senses that there are other parts of me that, at present, feel neglected. And that imbalance is wreaking havoc with every part of my life. My sleep schedule is off, my meals are irregular, & I'm just barely getting everything done. I can intellectualize it all, but that doesn't take away from how it all feels. And frankly, it feels rather painful at times. Yes, I already know it's useless to get caught up in the emotion of it all, (especially if one were to get stuck in such a phase), but I also realize that the emotions are also a signpost telling me that I need to pay attention the reality of what's going on around me, & that it's time to change course, and soon.

And while I realize that a "less-than-perfect" attitude can certainly be another bad habit as well, in my case, it's not so much the attitude that's the issue as the sheer amount of stress I'm dealing with right now. But I can tell that the more I am a physical being, the less I have to contend with that particular issue. But I'm not holding myself up for scrutiny on that count, as that's for me alone to deal with, without outside approbation from others. Usually, if I'm in stressed or am in a bad mood, I'm sensible enough to try very hard not to subject other people to it, unless of course they either just can't take a hint or deliberately come after me & won't let it rest. Most people who are smart know when to walk away. It rarely pays to antagonize someone when they want to be left alone. We all need space from time to time to "just work it out." Most of you know what I'm talking about here. ;-)

So, in some senses, the body moves but the mind is staying still. And I don't mean that in a quiet, contemplative sense of the word, but nor do I mean to suggest that my mind isn't growing. Rather, what I mean is that, with all of the balls I'm juggling up in the air at once, the only way I can deal with it all right now is by putting certain aspects of my life on hold for the moment. I don't want to put my fitness on hold, but at the same time, my mind isn't fully engaged in the challenge like it was before. There's a part of my mind that's just frozen, & I know that I've consciously frozen it too, just so I can keep moving forward on other fronts. It's purely a survival technique. Similar to how, when a cheetah's on the hunt but has gone without food for days, its non-essential bodily functions shut down to conserve energy. ;-)

Now, throughout all of this, I'd like to remind you that I'm still getting the workouts done, but of course they aren't being done with the same drive & focus behind them as they were before. I do what's required, the basics & such (i.e., my two runs a week with my friend), but don't really have the time, the desire, or the mental energy, to do much more than that right now. I've put the lifting weights & the sit-ups on indefinite hold, atleast until other parts of my life settle down a bit. Plus, it's not helpful for me to consider ten thousand things at once right now, which would probably cause me to stagger back in horror & immobility. ;-) LOL! I prefer to think of it this way: I'm reallocating my mental energy to where it is most useful right now. This is not a rationalization; it's the reality of my life. I'm doing what I can, ...without dropping all of the other balls I'm juggling. ;-)

Well, OK then..... ;-)

Also adding to the "running reentry" challenge is the fact that the newness & novelty of the CT5K program has clearly worn off by this point. Well, what can I say? Repeating the experiences of running the CT5K program & listening Robert Ullrey's CT5K podcast, both for the third time around, is less... er, well, interesting. Yes, the thrill has gone. I know that might sound jaded to some, but it's the truth.

And, as I've always maintained that I'm going to tell the truth & be true to my experiences here, I'd be a liar if I said otherwise. So, what'd'ya gonna do about it, huh?! ;-)

Maybe there are some other (free!) CT5K podcasts out there to keep the routine fresh, but so far I've yet to find any which are specifically tailored to the program's exact training intervals. (And I don't have the time or the interest right now to make one myself!)

While I'm making my dream wishlists here, let me add that I would certainly like to have the shortened & less blabby versions of the original podcasts right about now. (Sorry, Robert, but it's true.) I do appreciate Robert's efforts in creating the CT5K podcasts, although it'd certainly be great to have a version in which he didn't announce that we are supposed to run shortly, but then ramble on about it for a minute or two more before giving us the cue to start running. Arrrrrgh! Sometimes it's takes him forever to get around to just saying, "Ready, go!"

For heaven's sake, we're expecting to run next, so don't set us up for it & then make us wait around for it, Robert! ;-) Most of us who are in the beginning stages of a running program need to mentally prepare for the running interval itself before it starts & we're relying on you, Robert, to confidently & accurately take us to this point!

And frankly, sometimes we don't even always get the "Ready, go!" cue to indicate that we're supposed to begin running. Sometimes he just starts saying stuff like "OK, well, it's time to run again," without following it with the expected verbal cue of "Ready, go!" This is especially inconsistent, unsettling, & confusing to listen to while you're running, because he began his initial podcasts by setting up the precedent of giving you both verbal cues -- i.e., the heads-up cue & the "start-running" cue. Try following along with the podcasts for several weeks, & you'll see what I mean. ;-) While the podcasts are certainly very useful as a whole, our CT5K podcast hero could've done a much better job setting up consistent verbal cues. 'Cause it's just not right to be messin' with our expectations like that. ;-)

I mean, I basically get WHEN I'm supposed to run most times, but when I'm gabbing with my friend & have got the podcast in one ear, it can be rather annoying, as I have to then tune back into the podcast to hear some rather uneven & softly-spoken cues, which aren't always straightforward & obvious. And well, OK, I'll admit that sometimes I'm just not that interested in paying attention to the various verbal cues on the podcast, as I've heard it all like, 500 times before. ;-)

It'd be great if he could just ring a bell (or how about a gong! Hahahahaha!) in his podcasts every time we were supposed to start running. Now why didn't he just think of something easy & straightforward like that?! ;-)

It's inevitable that if you listen to the same podcasts over & over again, they are going to get boring after a while. OK, there, I said it. If you listened to the same music & the same dude over & over again, I bet you'd find you'd get bored out of your gourd too. And most people would have even far less patience than I've shown.

Just think about how many times I've used the same podcast by now. That'd be three (3) times now, people, in less than a year. Count 'em. Three. There's once back in Summer 2007 when I first ran the program, another time later in that same year when I ran it again to help my friend, & yet another time with the same friend, as we're both starting the program from scratch, after several-week hiatus from running. Ugh.

Anyhow, I'm trying really hard not to get an attitude about this (yes, it is wise to accept what we cannot change & move on), but at the moment, am probably not succeeding in that endeavor. (It's called venting for a reason, people!!!!!! OK, deep breath. Sigh. OK, much better now. Anyhow, as I was saying.....)

The good thing is that I am actually enjoying the running itself, even though I wish that I could just fast-forward to the more interesting part where we're running for a consecutive period of time. But as a mature adult, I'd like to think that I've cultivated some measure of patience, so I'm holding back my horses & reminding myself that a person can't walk before they can run. Patience is a virtue, & all of that good stuff. Yeah, yeah. Lord help me, as I trudge through the podcast once more. Heheheheheh.

OK, well now that I've shed some light on all of the current challenges I face, there's nothing else left to do but face them. Not all at once of course, but gradually taking them on, one by one. That's the whole point of this little venting exercise -- to see what's going on by putting it all out there, & thus get some necessary distance from it (& release its hold on the mind!), & then of course, get down to the business of doing.

And on that note, I think I'll go out for a run. Hopefully I won't need a crane & a pitchfork to get me out the door. ;-)


Daniel Terner said...

Hey, Corey! If you are tiring of Ullrey's podcast, you could make your own with minimal effort using your own songs. I posted instructions on my blog a while back, here:

The instructions are verbose, so they seem more complicated than they actually are.

The weather here has been fantastic lately - I really need to get back out there and start running again.

TexasTesla said...

At least you are headed out the door. Step one accomplished!

If you find a good alternative CT5K, please be sure to share! They can be so useful, but as you mentioned...they can also drag when not NEW anymore. (Also why my ipod playlist gets rotated often)

cyberpenguin said...

Thanks, Dan! I really appreciate your suggestion & will definitely check out your blog for these great tips. Sounds like you've got some glorious weather to run in -- What a great reason to get outside! 8-)

Hi TexasTesla,
Thanks for your support & encouragement! If I find any alternative CT5K podcasts, I'll be sure to share them here. Of course, it's a lot easier once you reach Week 7 of the program, because, from that point on, you're doing consecutive periods of running for all 3 runs & don't necessarily need to rely on the CT5K podcasts. ;-) Of course, then you can use whatever music you like, & just turn on the timer on your iPod to do a 25 minute run or whatever. ;-)

Just out of curiosity, how many times have you the run the 5K distance so far? And how many weeks? Since you mentioned you were doing a marathon, what training programs have you decided to do, in order to get you in shape by your marathon race?

Hope your training is going well. Look forward to hearing from you again, as always!


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