Every once in a while I like to ramble on. Pardon my terrible grammar in advance!
Part of my fitness journey the past five years has been breaking out of a lot of the endurance and cardio queen type of activities. I used to crave and love the way a good ass kicking felt on a run, teaching spinning, jumping rope or a stair workout. I think what I really enjoyed about my past training days was that I really could mentally escape, and kinda lose myself to my thoughts and let my brain wander on a long run or bike ride. These activities didn’t take much brain power….I could mentally drift and process my day, or think about work, my relationships, my mind would kinda wander from one thought to the next, I felt like a space cadet soaring in what I like to call cardio la la land…. I think back then, I was a bit more calmer, my emotions weren’t as drastic, I had an outlet, a needed escape….
It’s kinda weird cause I have this sort of bittersweet feeling about my training days in the past. Sometimes I get so bummed thinking… urgh if I had used all those hours and miles running, swimming, sitting on that damn spin bike, I’d be so good at my handstand walks, or definitely have muscle ups, or my squat would be so strong, my Olympic lifts would be dialed….
Altough I was far from a well rounded athlete back then- I look back on those days and think how hours and hours of running, swimming, cycling molded me to who I am today. That type of training gave me wonderful work ethic, connections, accomplishments and friendships. Now that I’ve transitioned my training, it’s interesting to see the changes it has made in me as a person as well. I don’t regret my past cardio queen days… that’s why I’m writing this tonight. Interesting enough the idea for this blog came out of a 4 mile run, and made me do a little self discovery on what I miss and don’t miss about my cardio la la land days.
As a cardio queen, I was always hungry, thinking about food, and constantly worried about maintaining my weight, or losing weight. Although calmer with my emotions, my intentions behind my training I admit were shallow at times. I felt fat, so I’d run an extra mile… I wanted to go out for a huge night out of drinking and eating… so I’d really give it a go in spinning class. My focus wasn’t so much on getting stronger, or improving my performance or health… it was to keep in shape and look good.
I started doing cross fit in 2009. I loved the way it kicked my ass when we would met con , but my mind was definitely not there most of the time. I was so used to zoning out in my workouts… it was mentally tough for me to spend 30 minutes working on my clean, kips or double unders. In my mind, I wasn’t getting a workout, and I’d go run an hour after my cross fit class…. I hadn’t really yet grasped what the true meaning of fitness was. Even after coming from my background as a JR Olympian Triathlete and Division One Track and Field athlete … I just wasn’t mentally ready yet to tackle cross fit and strength training 100% I did it for a year… and my athleticism, skills and strength really did improve, but I was still caught up in the way I looked. WAs I too muscular? I was unsure about these ripped arms and legs I had… and so I made a stupid decision to run a marathon and halted my cross fit training and strength regimen….
That year I dedicated to marathon training, was the weakest, most out of shape, tiring year of my life…. I felt like I could do one thing- run long distances really slow…. I didn’t lose any weight, my awesome ripped arms turned to twiggy mush and I came down with the whooping cough…. I was sure able to do a lot of thinking on all those training runs, and yes it felt great to accomplish a marathon and complete it, but boy did I feel so unbalanced physically. I was so un flexible, so weak, so slow and just tired….
I decided to return to cross fit after 2011 and strength training…. this time I came back hungry to learn, ready to focus, and eager to get stronger and skilled. I’m not sure if maturity set in, and I didn’t care so much about looking too strong, or not skinny enough…. but I started to look at my workouts differently. They had more meaning and purpose behind them. I wanted to nail a perfect handstand, do pistol squats, pull-ups, squat a shit ton of weight, do double unders like a boss….. No longer were my workouts a mental escape, because they took a ton of mental focus and energy and human interaction as well…. On a long run, it was just me and my mind…. I didn’t have to hold a conversation or interact with anyone or work on a skill…. all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other…. No longer were my workouts motivated by looks or pounds… I wasn’t exercising to maintain my weight or try to make up for a night out on the town….
One of the things I found interesting along this process is that I’m definitely feel like my emotions are more heightened and sharper…. for some reason hours and hours of cardio kinda dulled me in a way… or maybe I was able to process a lot of things and just let them go. I didn’t even really think about this till recently- actually on my recent 4 mile run ( about the longest I run now) I started to think that quite possibly I need to incorporate a run in my life once a week just to chill the fuck out…. and calm my mind. I don’t miss the hours and hours of cardio, but in all honestly I think I kinda miss the mental vacation I was able to go on…. sometimes you just want to escape and that was what running did for me….
Now sometimes I almost feel overwhelmed with excitement of wanting to master so many skills, lifts etc it kinda stresses me out at times. There’s just such an array of things I want to do, and it’s so tough to narrow it down and focus on just a few things… for example I’m trying with all my fucking might not to have sucky Olympic lifts, but I don’t want to lose my conditioning so I gotta keep getting my met cons in, and at the same time I want to learn so many gymnastics skills and improve my flexibility, I want to get a strong dead lift, I want to further my kettle bell training, I want to sprint faster, row farther, jump higher……. awwwwww!!!! It used to be so simple back in my cardio days… put on the trainers, press play on the iPod and drift off in cardio la la land….
After eliminating nearly 90 percent of my cardio, I’m the leanest, fittest, more mobile and strongest I’ve ever been in my life. My tool box of physical skills is continuing to build and I’m driven to keep learning, and to help others find their inner athlete too. I’m glad that my mindset is where it’s at in regards to training… I just need to chill out a bit on trying to do too many things at once…. and just focus on a few lifts, a few gymnastics skills and not worry that I’m losing my conditioning by doing a strength cycle instead of intense met cons. Isn’t funny how it always comes back to balance?
What I have learned about this whole process and through the years, that it’s finding what works for you and what makes you feel amazing…
I’ve learned to find a mind body connection with how I move, and have purpose that is meaningful behind my training. I’ve also found that I still need a little bit of that mental escape and maybe a run once a week will do just the trick? I’m also in the middle of coming to peace with not being great at one thing… and trying to be focused on becoming a well rounded athlete, a jack of all trades, not worried about being skinny enough, too muscular or better than anyone else… just being a happy athlete – improving day by day.