Sunday, August 29, 2010

Work and Play

Yesterday I had my first long run since last January - a 15 miler. It was kind of a kick-off to marathon season and the start of a build-up to the Richmond Marathon in November. I wanted to gauge where I am so I pushed it and it was tough (especially the hilly parts....ughhhh Brooksfield) but it felt fresh and interesting. Dare I say it was fun!

This got me thinking about the importance of fun and playfulness in my workouts. I'm not one of those who can just gut out time doing the same workout on the elliptical or treadmill, day in and day out, on sheer willpower and dedication alone. Workouts are to me are as much about having fun as they are about being healthy and working toward competitive goals. But fun and work don't have to be mutually exclusive in workouts. Having elements of both produce better results and sustain motivation.

Here are some examples of how I have "fun" in my workouts
  • being challenged by the trainer to see how many pullups (or other exercise) I can do
  • changing up strength training exercises, e.g. doing them on the Bosu, which adds in balance and stability challenges
  • looking for and reveling in that sense of "flow" and "lightness" on a run
  • learning new things - e.g. a basic boxing workout, new exercises, new pieces of gym equipment
  • on a long run, seeing how close to a goal time I can come on each mile to work toward consistent pacing
  • knowing the freedom of swimming in open water
  • enjoying the feeling of smooth pedaling on a great piece of road, when you feel like an integral and effortless part of your bike.
  • doing a bike trainer ride and seeing how close I can stay to prescribed cadences (makes it very game-like!)
  • running barefoot strides, makes me feel like a kid again
  • enjoying aerobic bike rides and runs on beautiful back roads
  • completing interval workouts in which pace and duration change up and keep things interesting and my brain occupied
Like everything the fun levels ebb and flow a bit. July was a little tough for that, I guess it was a mid-summer slump. But with fall approaching, the end of triathlon season near, and the start of fall marathon season, that feeling of change seems to be translating to a sense of adventure and fun. I'll take it!