Working Out With Purpose

Let’s talk about purpose.  The reason for which something is done.  The intention we set.  I have to admit, when I left college athletics, I was left without a coach for the first time in my life and didn’t really know the direction that I wanted to go with my fitness.  Surely I didn’t need to be in pole vault shape to be healthy in the “real world” while also being able to feel good about the way I looked.  I spent at least two years wandering around gyms all over the United States just going through the motions of exercise.  You know, going to work out because it was something I just did every day.  I didn’t know why I was doing any exercise other than I felt like I needed to each day to feel good about getting on with the rest of my day (it was essentially a routine).

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After taking almost five years off from real competition, I got married and found Flywheel.  It was the first technology driven competition workout that I could do as cross training to my running.  It was in the first year of riding, that I got my competitive edge back.  I also got back into incredible shape.   The biggest advantages of the workout were that I could get numerical information to tell me whether or not I was getting better over time, I could see the impact on my running speed off the bike, and I was in and out in less than 45 minutes. Money can’t buy time.  Time is everything.

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It was over the next 3 years that I had two children and I lost all concept of time.  Fortunately, I was able to exercise through the birth of both of my children, however, the birth of my second daughter had wreaked havoc on my body.  I now had a reason to begin to exercise with purpose.  I always work better under pressure.  My husband suggested that I sign up for a Spartan Race.  With three months to prepare, I opted to completely revise the way I worked out (solely for the purpose of competing in the race).  I focused on strength, only because that was something I had focused less on since leaving the Virginia Tech Strength and Conditioning Room.

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For the first time in my post-collegiate life, I started doing less cardio exercise and picked up some weights.  With the purpose of regaining strength, it came back quick.  I started with just doing 1 pull up.  Over the next few months, I could do 10.  Some days, I couldn’t do any.  You see finding a fulfilling purpose requires having setbacks.  You learn from each setback.  I sure did.

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I did great in my first competitive race post baby number two.  However, I still hadn’t mastered mobility, stretching and recovery.  As such, I found myself at the end of 2015 sitting mostly immobile in my upper body after a freak partial shoulder dislocation doing an obstacle race.  I renewed my purpose.

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Seeing a trend in obstacle racing towards the “runner”, I changed my purpose to getting better at my run.  I have never described myself as a runner.  Sure, I have run every distance up to a marathon, but I spent most of my life building strength to run as fast as possible over less than 90 feet and being able to jump as high off my left leg as possible.  The goals was to build fast twitch muscles. Definitely not slow.

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Prior to this year, my average mile pace during runs or races was somewhere in the 8-9 minute range.  With a renewed, focus on running, I spent 2-3 days a week doing cross conditioning workouts.  What is now my OCR (obstacle course racing) program.  I ran just 2 days a week and I rode the bike at Flywheel 3-4 days a week.  That’s right, even with my renewed focus on running, I didn’t run a lot.  When I did run, I ran with purpose.  One day a week I focused on interval workouts (think speed or hill training) with a group.  I was consistent.  On the other day, I ran longer and slower.  Instead of paying attention to pace, I watched my heart rate.  Always trying to keep it below 160 beats per minute.  I was always trying to keep it aerobic.

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My 2016 race season is officially OVER.  What a ride.  I set several goals at the beginning of the year (see post here).  That said, I could never have imagined how the year would play out for me athletically.  As a recap, see results below:

  • April 2nd – Cooper River Bridge Run (10K) – 46:18 (7:20/mile) PR
  • April 9th – Charlotte Spartan Sprint Race – 14th overall women’s elite
  • June 4 – Charlotte Warrior Dash – 4th overall woman
  • August 6 – Asheville Spartan Super Race – 34th overall women’s elite
  • August 27th – Yiassou Greek Fest 5k -22:12 (7:08/mile) PR
  • October 1 – Lake Tahoe Spartan World Championship Beast – 100 overall women’s elite
  • November 23 – Charlotte Turkey Trot (8K) – 35:34 (7:10/mile) PR

The biggest takeaway?  I didn’t get injured.  I also began sharing my purpose with others.  I guess you could say the biggest things I learned are:

  • Setting a purpose is the first step to achieving a goal.
  • You are never too old to set a goal.
  • Your purpose will almost always change.  Embrace that and enjoy the ride.

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Your reason doesn’t have to be a quantitative.  Let me list a few things that my clients are striving for today:

  • I want to be healthy.
  • I want to look good in a bikini.
  • I want to do a push-up.
  • I want to do a pull-up.
  • I want to lose weight.
  • I want to complete a Spartan Trifecta.
  • I want to live longer.

So what is your purpose?

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