My blog may be called “Canadian Girl Runs,” but if it were honest it would be called “Canadian Girl Runs, Lifts, Spins, Swims, Cycles, Walks, Hikes, and Forces Herself to go to Yoga.” I’ve come to learn that my happy place is balancing a variety of fitness activities, and not focusing on one. I’ve gone through bursts of months of marathon training, where my one and only focus is running, but those bursts made me hate running. I usually came out of those training cycles exhausted, frustrated, injured, and sick of running. Truthfully, I like doing a little of this and a little of that, and while that probably means I will never win a race or become an elite powerlifter… I’m okay with that. I’m happy being excellent at nothing, and average at everything.
I get bored of doing the same thing over and over again, even the same running routes. I like having the choice of figuring out what my body craves that day – a good sweat? a good stretch? – and doing just that. Some days my legs feel like lead and I can’t even fathom running down my driveway never mind running 5 miles and other days I can teach a spin class and then lift weights for 60 minutes and still have energy to spare. I still have lots more to learn about listening to my body, but after a stress fracture and a torn glute in back to back years I have learned that doing what your body wants and not necessarily what your mind had planned is always the better choice.
This “average at everything” has it’s downfall too. By everything, I sometimes try and do just that… EVERYTHING. Last week I did 60 minutes of leg day (weight lifting) at 6am, then walked 5 miles, over an hour, at 3pm, then taught an hour spin class at 6pm, then went to a hatha yoga class at 8pm. FOUR HOURS of activity in one day because I wanted to do everything. It’s why I’m almost always sore and also why I sleep so well at night, but it’s something I’m working on… not doing everything all at once.
My most recent “training cycle” for the BMO Vancouver Half was less intense-training-regime and more a-bit-of-everything-including-running. I had to take into account all forms of stress being put on my body, not just running. I teach spin (and teach HARD classes) so when I sub an extra class I have to consider the extra stress that adds to my body and even cut out a run or just go for a short walk instead of the normal run I would do that day. It served me well, because for the first time in three years, I made it through the start of spring without an injury!
In addition to reducing injuries, making me an average athlete, and creating a sense of balance in my life, dabbling in everything has not only kept me fit – but it’s kept me healthy. What I mean by this is that, like a drug-dose-response, exercise has it’s limits. None of it causes higher mortality rates, a moderate amount of it and it can drastically improve quality of life and extend longevity, but too much of it and the effect is lost or somewhat diminished. One really neat study to show this (if you’re nerdy like me and like cold hard evidence) is THIS study that studied the “correct dose” of running to confer longevity. I like that I don’t have to run every day to be healthy, fit, active, and happy… I can run AND spin AND hike AND do whatever keeps my body moving and smiling.
So, sure I won’t be an elite marathoner, and I probably will never bench press 150lbs. At this point in time, I’m not training to be excellent at anything… I’m training to be pretty damn average at everything.
Do you tend to stick to one fitness pursuit or go through different ones?
What is your definition of “balance” when it comes to athletics?
If you could focus on one goal – fitness wise – what would that be?