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The Workout You Don’t Want To Do

February 25, 2010

Post-kids, my brain can retain about 10 percent of what it used to be able to.

To wit: I literally could not remember the street number of our address the other day when I was writing it down for a fellow mom so she could pick up her son after a play date. I always rave about how cute Noah, her son, is–he wears his pants backwards every day and belts them tight around his toothpick waist, and the sight of the pockets in the front just kills me–and I think she probably thought I wanted to kidnap him.

No; I’m not on the prowl for more kids. I just couldn’t remember 3874, so I thought for about 15 seconds and hesitantly wrote down 3748, knowing I had it wrong but not wanting to look like an idiot who didn’t know her own address. (To be fair: we moved about eight months ago. But eight months, one would think, is plenty of time to memorize an address.)

Anyway, long example to get to my point: there’s one line I can’t get out of my head, and it’s been swirling around in there, frustratingly, for months. It was from a Joseph Azze, a really smart coach I interviewed for a story about trail running for the web part of Runner’s World. “Do the work you don’t want to do,” he said, “And you’ll reach the next level more quickly than you thought you could.”

Do the work you don’t want to do.

Really? Do I have to? Because what I like to do is run at a comfortable pace for about 45 minutes 4 or so times a week. I have plenty of other work I don’t want to do–unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the toilets, making my office look like something other than a paper recycling plant–and the logistics of a workout (gathering up gear and motivation) is chore enough for me most days.

For most women, including myself, the no-thank-you work is strength training. Pumping iron is unsavory on so many levels for me: the sweat to work ratio is too low (oh, how I love a soaked sports bra as a sign of my effort!); the post-workout high is too low; the basement at my Y is cramped and generally unwelcoming; I actually have to think (or at least count reps, although I’m pretty sure my Swiss-cheesy brain can still handle that); squats and lunges, because I don’t do them regularly, make sitting on the toilet and climbing the stairs so painful the next couple days; and, finally, because my workout time is limited, I feel like it’s better spent getting my heart rate high rather than my quads quivering.

But, to use a phrase I often use to reprimand my kids, I know better. (Or, more accurately: You’re 37 years old, Dimity! You should know better by now!) I know my bones need to be dense. I know my glutes and leg muscles, not my heart, are the horsepower that allow me  to lumber up hills. I know muscular endurance is key to being able to run for 45 minutes daily for decades to come. Most of all, I know that a strong, solid body can only improve my running.

This morning, I tried to rally to do the work I didn’t want to do, but when my alarm woke me at 5:30 a.m., I mentally gave myself 10 minutes. Somehow, it was 6:30 before I knew it. So tomorrow morning, I’m off–I promise, even if I stay up late to see what happens in the women’s figure skating–to do some PT exercises, which I’ll share in another post, and chase those with a Body Pump class at 6 a.m. (What the class lacks in running-specific exercises, it makes up for in techno-beat energy, momentum and the fact that it’s in the spacious gym, not the shoebox basement.)

A one-two punch on the work I don’t want to do: take that, you all-too-accurate, lingering quote!

What workout don’t you want to do? And how do you force yourself to do it? (Or justify not doing it?)

13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2010 12:07 am

    Dimity – I empathize – with only a couple blocks of ‘workout’ time during the week, I want to sweat it out on a run instead of going to that yoga class. I’m not a big fan of ‘pumping iron’ either but recently I joined a great group of women for an outdoor morning boot camp – push-ups, burpies, medicine balls, soccer sprints (deadly!), TRX, walking lunges, and yes, a little running in between drills and workouts. So fun to challenge each other to push-ups meanwhile socializing. It also makes you realize how much a strength workout can kick your butt – and make you stronger! Have fun tomorrow. Go get ’em!

  2. February 26, 2010 10:34 am

    I don’t really like to lift weights either, but I know it’s necessary! With two boys (2 1/2 and 4 1/2) however, my workout time is very limited. So, I came up with a plan to get my lifting done. On the days that I get up at 4:30 to do my swim workouts I stay just a little longer at the gym to lift. I do my swim workout, change clothes, do my lifting routine, then head home before my boys and husband wake up. It works for me because I’m already at the gym and therefore have no excuse not to get it done. Plus, it’s nice to lift in the early morning because there is usually not a lot of people there and I can get the routine done fairly quickly because I don’t have to wait for the equipment to be free.

    • February 27, 2010 9:50 pm

      good call splitting it up, aimee. I try to do that too. I have to remind myself a little–even just 15 minutes–is better than nothing. up at 4:30 though? impressive. seriously impressive.

  3. February 26, 2010 11:14 am

    I’m with you on the strength training, and you so aptly describe the experience! But, as a master’s runner, I know it has to be part of the routine. So lift we do–ugh!

  4. February 26, 2010 3:09 pm

    I love this post, Dimity! I laughed out loud about the toilet/stair part…I so get that. And your post is so timely for me because speed work is just HARD – okay? I know I need to do more. My window of opportunity here in South Louisiana is a little, tiny one – the heat & humidity come way too soon. I don’t want to do it, but I do it – not as good as I should, but that’s what I’ve been thinking about. After the New Orleans 13.1 on Sunday, I’m going to make a concerted effort to work on my speed. I think the reason I’m hesitant is because it seems like every time I try, I feel like I’m running so slowly. My Garmin says different, and then I think it must not be working just on the days I force-feed myself speedwork. I hate that feeling. My heart wants to beat right out of my chest, my legs are shaky & for the moment, I despise the world. But, after Sunday, I’ll face that reality again. It will help knowing there’s other running mommas out there doing equally dreaded things!

    • February 27, 2010 9:49 pm

      you’re asleep now, mary–or you should be! good luck tomorrow. I dread speedwork too…stay tuned for a post on that matter pretty soon. but go rip it up at NO 13.1!

  5. sassy b permalink
    February 26, 2010 6:26 pm

    sit ups, crunches, core work of any kind. and that’s why i have the round belly (and poor posture) i do.

  6. Tryna permalink
    February 27, 2010 1:45 am

    I know I should do strength training, but have managed to procrastinate this long, so here’s my strategy. I’m running 4 times a week, yoga once or twice and just added spinning once a week. I’m looking at spinning as the strength training, or cross-training on some level. It helps that I’m going with a friend and don’t ever want to stand her up at 5:05am. But my twins are young now, and they won’t be for long (4 yrs) so I can make time for them now and all the other stuff later, now I’m just doing what I can to keep going. Considering I plan on living to be 100, I figure I can take up weight lifting in my late 40s right?

    • February 27, 2010 9:47 pm

      love your thinking, Tyrna, but classifying spinning as strength training is a little like saying ketchup or grape jelly is a vegetable. not quite. that said, yoga, esp. sun salutations, gets my arms sore every time. but I also like your other thinking: I’m living to 100 too, and friends and kids matter much more than strong quads. thanks for running like a mother!

  7. February 28, 2010 1:21 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. Can’t housework count as strength training on some level?

    Great to see you yesterday. This site is awesome-I can’t wait for the book!

    P.S. Can I continue to read this blog if I’m not a mom? 😉

  8. April 1, 2010 8:39 am

    Okay…I bought the book yesterday after I left a dr’s appointment (for a suspected–and THANKFULLY negated–stress fracture). LOVE IT. I just started running in January and have been on the turtle-track training program… I’ve known from the start -I HAVE TO CROSS TRAIN- (I have exceptionally week calves/ankles). Have I done it? No. And, it almost earned me six weeks on the sidelines, volunteering for the races I’ve already registered for!! THANKFULLY I’m a pansy when it comes to pain and caught it early enough that it’s just going to be one week off—and an appointment with a trainer to learn how to do all those exercises that will help me NOT end up in an air boot!!

    LOVE the book. LOVE the blog.

    My name is Dana, I’m 40 years old, and I RUN LIKE A MOTHER!!!

    • April 3, 2010 2:42 pm

      Dana: LOVE your spirit. Thanks for buying the book–and SO glad you’re not in the stress fracture focus group. Now get on the bike. 🙂

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