Monday, April 25, 2011

Ready, Set? You Bet!! - Week #10

Is it just me, or is the hardest part of exercising getting out the door? If I can just do this, I have proven that I can win the inner battle over "Sofa? Blanket? Book? Nap? Chocolate?". Once my legs start moving, my muscles warm up, and I hit my stride, I am good to go, especially when combined with some great self-talk: "I'm doing it!", "I am strong!", "My mind controls my body!", and "I love this!"

"All things are ready, if our minds be so." (William Shakespeare)

Here are a few of my newly-found "secret" techniques for keeping my Four-Times-a-Week-Commitment-to-Run:

1. Decide once and for all that you will exercise on your scheduled days regardless of the weather. Don't allow what you see outside your window to be an excuse! Some of my favorite runs of late have been in shards of hail, dumping rain, or strong headwinds, because I feel SO STRONG when I push through what could easily be a big fat reason to stay inside. A pleasant, sunny day is definitely the exception in the Pacific Northwest at this time of year ... as long as we have a few key pieces of gear, we can brave most yucky days. (More about gear in a minute)

2. Keep on top of laundering your and your family's exercise clothes. Even with just three of us living in our house right now, I have a small mountain that accumulates every other day: my husband and I are both running four times a week, and our daughter is on the school volleyball team and a club soccer team (a combined weekly total of six practices and three games). It helps us to have a two-section hamper in a basket right next to the washing maching so that those soccer socks, shinguards, and running clothes can be dumped immediately upon entering our home. I love Tide Sport detergent with Febreze for washing these loads. Sometimes I will run an exercise load through the "soak" cycle (with a small dose of Tide) first, if the clothes have been hampered a few days too many.

3. I find it the very best to exercise in the morning. When I don't (like today), I have it hanging over my head and it becomes drudgery (like it did). My best system is this: lay out exercise clothes, socks, shoes the night before on the dresser. Get dressed in these as soon as I'm up ... don't leave the bedroom in my PJs! Then, that psychological "first step" has been taken toward conquering the "I don't wannas" that will surely rear its ugly head later in the morning.

4. On exercise days, eat a healthy, hearty, carb-rich breakfast about 45 minutes before you plan to hit the road. This makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE for me in strength and endurance. Trying to exercise on an empty stomach is like trying to drive a car on an empty gas can only go on fumes for so long. Remember, "breakfast like a king!" A couple of my favorite pre-exercise breakfasts are:

Two whole-wheat waffle squares (with flaxseed and cinnamon in batter)
A little real butter and drizzle of real maple syrup
A cup of fat-free milk
Half a sliced banana (on top of waffles)

A bowl of oatmeal cooked in lowfat vanilla soymilk (with cinnamon)
A tablespoon of flaxseed sprinkled on top
Chopped, defrosted frozen peach slices or defrosted mixed berries
A cup of fat-free milk to drink

5. Look at your clock and commit to being out the door 45 minutes after you've finished breakfast. Sometimes I even set my kitchen timer as an extra reminder. Then, spend those intermediary minutes doing something enjoyable: check your email, catch up with a friend on the phone, write a couple of notes, read a chapter in that good book, or even watch part of a TV show you've DVRd. The point is to help yourself look at exercise as a happy, natural part of your morning routine. (My non-exercise days -- Tuesday and Thursday (and Sunday) -- are when I try to shower first thing and hit the ground running with errands / shopping, housekeeping, helping in the office at my daughter's school, church meetings, Visiting Teaching, visiting my parents ... you know, all the stuff that fills our typical days.)

6. Ask your dog: "Do you want to go for a run with Mama with your leash??" Once I ask Harry this Question of All Questions, he will plant himself between me and the door and stare me down with his big, brown, expectant eyes until I go get the leash off the hook in the laundry room. I actually like this little song-and-dance that he and I do on exercise days: it helps keep me honest. A dog's one-track mind and enthusiasm for "going somewhere" is a fabulous incentive to help get us out the door.

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other thing." (Abraham Lincoln)

Now for some thoughts on GEAR from a woman (me) whose husband must surely by now own stock in the local REI. (If you ever want to rock-climb, cycle, fly fish, do anything behind a boat, climb a mountain, do anything on a board in the snow, or even skate on a longboard, come on over...we've got stuff you can borrow.) I have recently been converted to the idea that having the Right Gear for running (or any activity) can make a world of difference. Here are a couple of things that I am liking:

A. Oh, BTW, my husband is also a podiatrist, and he is right-on when he preaches about having good running shoes to avoid potential injury. Our local running store is a great place to make this investment -- the trained salespeople spend a chunk of time with you videotaping your gait on their treadmill, measuring your feet, and talking to you about your running history and future goals. Then they will fit you in a couple different brands of shoes and have you take a lap around the outside of the store to see how the shoes really feel when you're walking or jogging. My recent purchase: New Balance 760 Stability, and I LOVE them.

B. I am a big fan of Nike running pants made out of the Dri-Fit material. Of course, because of "shakeage", I also wear a Spandex layer underneath! (TMI??!)

C. I find that I either throw on my NorthFace fleece jacket on a cool day, or my waterproof shell on a wet day, before I run out the door. Either can be easily stripped off and tied around my waist if necessary. So much better than the old days when I'd work-out in big, thick cotton T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweatpants.

D. Dr. Husband also is a big advocate of polypropylene socks, as opposed to cotton socks. They breathe much better and don't tend to rub and cause blisters. I always receive a couple pair of these in my Christmas stocking from Santa.

E. Other accessories that I occasionally use: a lightweight cap with a brim to shield from sun / rain / those shards of hail, lightweight running gloves for cold days, and a reflective vest / blinking lights for running after dark (only with a buddy!!). I keep these things all in one place, along with my ipod, sunglasses, and the free running watch my husband won recently, to make "gearing up" as quick and easy as possible.

"The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before." (Steve Young)

These are some of my secrets for successful, regular running or exercise. Not all will apply to, or interest you, but I hope that one or two do! How do you "prepare to be successful" in your exercise endeavors? What are your secrets??

postscript. I hit the big 2-0 last week and am holding strong, despite far too much Easter ham and that darn slice of cheesecake. It is just three weeks exactly from today 'til my birthday, and my goal is to have lost 30 pounds. I'm revamping my plan of attack and upping my game this week. I'll report in next Monday and let you know what's working.

Happy running / climbing / walking / working out!!


  1. Awesome that you're finding what works for you!
    If I eat a carb-centric breakfast I'm hungry an hour later. I have to have my protein. My mom too. I think some of it is biology though--genetic makeup affecting our dietary needs. I can get by if I fill my oatmeal with craisins and almonds and sprinkle in some cinnamon...but I do best of all if I have an egg. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing! I especially liked the breakfast ideas and advice about shoes. Where do you run? Where do you find hills?

  3. I love that Shakespeare quote you shared at the beginning and the tips shared throughout. I've been having a struggle just getting out the door to exercise! As you mentioned, that is the HARDEST part. Once I'm out there, it doesn't matter the weather, I enjoy the exercise. It's mind over matter!

  4. P.S. Evan should also own stock in R.E.I.! I have joked since we got married that when we got married, I married half of R.E.I.- The good half! :)