Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Exercise Mantra

Lately I seem to have, or see the same discussion among a lot of friends… The subject of exercise.  When is it not on our minds?  At some level it always is.  Get healthier, get slimmer, get fitter, get faster, get stronger….

I was reading a friend’s awesome blog the other night, 40’s Here I Am and her entry I Heart Triathlon was so timely.  I have known this blogger, Cristen Plummer, since high school.  We spent a few years next too each other in the same high kick line in our school dance team.  We spent many hours dancing, kicking and sweating under the hot Texas sun together.  She is now an awesome triathlete among many other things and has a great blog that I recommend.

I Heart Triathlon resonated with me because she really articulated that she is in a very Zen place with her training.  I am not even training for anything, and I could relate. 

I have another very dear friend in Dubai who just participated in an Ultra Marathon and completed her first marathon in a very brutal Venice this year.  She is also a rock star.

In a few brief emails upon her return, she mentioned she wants to take me to the ultra, and she thought of me when she was in Venice and is encouraging me to get back to my runner self again.   In theory, I love this idea.  In reality, I don’t think I want to.  At least not anytime soon.

In no way am I slighting her amazing achievements, or her thoughtfulness.  As Cristen acknowledges she is in a place that she is happy to focus on shorter tris.  I am happy to acknowledge that I am in a place where I am not focusing on any type of distance what so ever… Insane? maybe.  

A “few” years ago I completed a marathon.  It was one of the best and worst days in my life equating to a life changing experience.  Having experienced both, I think childbirth could be easier.

Back when I was a long distance runner, I always told myself I would complete an ironman when I turned 40. Well, guess what?  I passed that benchmark.  I am sincere when I say that I am equally ecstatic that another friend I know from that same dance team completed an ironman – two years in a row.  And she rocked it.  I have not completed an ironman, or any kind of tri for that matter, and it is okay.  I am so happy for those that have.

My philosophy about exercise today is if everything works and I can function, then that is enough for me.  I don't sit around and let it deteriorate, but this is my mantra right now.  I think a lot has to do with the fact that I always live by a number. 

I live by the time I need to get up.  The time I need to get out the door.  The time I need to drop my son at school.  The time I need to pick him up.  The time the nurses will check his blood sugar.  The time they will call me if something is off.  The time I need to be at this meeting or that one.  The time my son’s blood sugar will be checked again.  The time I need to go to a doctor’s appointment.  The time my friends are getting together for an early dinner that I will not be able to join. The time I need to work later because I break in the day to pick up my son from school mid-day.  The time my son goes to bed.  The time I need to check my son’s blood sugar.  The time he needs to eat so his blood sugar does not go too low later.  The time of that yoga class I will not make because I need to work to finish something before the scheduled meeting the next day.  The time of that cool aerial silk class that is way too early for anyone who works.  The time I need to be at that party.  The time I need to be at that dinner.  The time I should be sleeping.  The time I need to get up the next day to achieve everything else I need to do… the time…tick tock tick tock.  Enough scheduling and racing against the clock.

As a result of living by the watch, I have a new exercise philosophy, which I owe a lot to my previous yoga practice.  I started yoga years ago as the result of a running injury before it was as cool as it is now.  I found something amazing, and I was in the best shape of my life, but the benefits are not only physical.

What it did teach me was to live in the present.  Enjoy the moment.  This is my new training regime.  I am just in the present and enjoy it.  Maybe I will change someday.  But for now, I am just happy to be with it.  Be in it. 

I do not run every day.  I do not do yoga every day.  I am not sure what I am.  I am pretty sure this does not matter.  Shocking revelation: I exercise based on my mood and what I feel, and what time of day it is.  I look at what I need at that time, and do it. 

I do not have any PRs (Personal Records) to beat, or distances to further.  It has been refreshing to not have to train for anything.  I just go out and do what it is I need to do.

I ran the other night.  I love running again.  Why?  Its not the distance, or the hope to fit into my skinny jeans.  I love running because I can run past the Dubai Fountains while listening to the Talking Heads or something else that is not expected.   I can run to meet my friend that is getting her hair colored at the salon nearby.  I can run behind my son as he rides his bike and we stop for lunch. 

I wear no watch.  I know no distance.  Be sure, “Run mommy run!” is the best phrase you will ever hear that indicates you are about to embrace the best speed workout or tempo run of your life.  The beauty is, it does not feel like work.

I really salute all of you amazing people out there accomplishing your fitness goals.  It is never easy, and always admirable.

However, sometimes, there is something indescribable about being in that moment.  That moment which is so amazing that you will never get it back.  I do realize a lot of those epiphanies happen during races and PR’s.  They also happen at other times when you least expect them…

Today I asked my son if he wanted his sunglasses as I ran after him while he rode his bike around the Burj Khalifa past the Dubai Fountains. 

“No mommy.  Everything is so beautiful I want to see it”.

Make sure you see it.  Don’t miss it.

View from a run in Downtown Dubai

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