Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Look Back: Making a Plan

I'm home for Thanksgiving to the most appropriate of places: Plymouth, MA. Home of the Mayflower, the Plymouth Rock, and those feisty Pilgrims. And the Glansbergs.

At home I'm pretty good about getting in my workouts. Saturday I did a chilly 6-miler (but had brought home the appropriate gear, so I was A-OK). Yesterday I used my Mom's elliptical during my lunch break so I could watch Ina make Jeffrey a faaaaabulous Thanksgiving for two. And this morning I went this cute little yoga studio downtown -- a new addition since I left home for college. Pretty darn diligent.

And this got me thinking: How did I get to the point where this regular exercise felt normal and not like a chore? How did I start fitting this stuff into my (admittedly busy) schedule without feeling like I was compromising my life? I remember it being so difficult and that there was a lot of tension between the different priorities I had going on, which included striving to attain higher levels of physical fitness.

In early October I wrote about the challenges of getting started. About how hard it is to build up mileage and how -- for me -- it was so much tougher getting from 0-3 miles and 3-5 miles than, honestly, from that point to a marathon.

So, I have dubbed a new series I will write "A Look Back" to get back to my roots. It's important, I think, to remember how I got to be this crazy person who has run two marathons and will be training for a third (!) Not so long ago, I was...well...normal(ish).

I plan to start writing more often about things less Marathon-y and more relevant, perhaps, to people that aren't out of their minds. When I made some changes to my lifestyle my world was changed for the better, and that's why I'm so passionate about sharing that with you! It's gonna be fun.

So, back to my earlier musings. Let's talk today about planning ahead. You're totally busy. I'm totally busy. We're all totes busy. How do you fit in working out -- in whatever form that might be -- into your schedule? Especially when there aren't enough hours in the day for stuff you actually want to do?? My take on it:

Start Today
Not next week. Not after the holidays. Today. There is no benefit to waiting at all unless you literally have a broken leg.

Think Short Term
Make your commitment to your schedule for the next month. I find when I think long-term, it's much easier to justify not doing things. By saying that you are going to achieve X goal in the next 30 days? That's easier. Then you can make another X goal. And another. And soon? HABIT.

So, as an example, it's not, "I want to eventually lose 20 pounds." No, it's, I'm going to work out at least 3 days a week for the next 4 weeks. Boom. Go.

That attitude can translate to no matter what your goals are from working up to a 5K or an Ultra-Marathon. I don't look at my training plan as "wow, I'm running 26 miles in 5 months." Rather it's, what am I doing this week towards my training goal? It's far less daunting that way.

Plan. Plan. Plan.
I'm sure you have at least a rough idea of what your week is going to be like up ahead. You probably have one or more calendars to manage your personal, work, kids, spouse, cat, whatever. I'm not going to tell you howto manage your schedule, but I do highly recommend week-to-week finding a set time to review your plans for the next week.

Actually write these plans down. In a that calendar or that awesome Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper.

I WANT ONE!!!!!!
And hold yourself to it no matter what.

If it was a work meeting you wouldn't skip it, right? Treat this the same.

Maybe Sunday night, for instance, you'll review your exercise plan and commitment for the next Monday through Sunday. Be reasonable about what days are going to work for you to exercise and what aren't. Plan your rest days in advance and what type of workout you'll do (a video at home....weights at the gym...a 3 mile run....) Try to be specific and realistic.

Have a big meeting Thursday? Well, you may not want to plan on Wednesday for a nice night class.

Have nice dinner planned Tuesday night? Well, you're going in the morning or you're not going at all, so plan for that to be a rest day or a morning day.

Have kids? Well, I don't know what to tell you because that's crazy.

Morning? Or Night?
You can read a lot of articles about the physiological benefits of working out in the morning or at night. My personal take on the matter is that unless you're literally going to the Olympics it doesn't matter as long as you do it.

I think it's harder to get into the habit of being a morning exercise person.

However, I also think it's easier -- in the macro sense -- to get up one hour earlier than to give up plans and time after work. Like, you might have kids and therefore be making dinner to feed human mouths. Or -- if your'e more at my speed -- there might be an impromptu happy hour after work and you reeealllly reeeealllly want to goooooo!

Think About Your Paraphernalia
I don't know about you, but once I step foot in my apartment after a long day I'm done for. Done. For. I have to go either in the morning to work out or straight from work. Meaning you have to plan your outfits in advance and carry them with you or put them in your car. I honestly find this to be so helpful, because if I think I'm going home to change and then go back out? No ma'am.

Think about where you will be showering and what you will need. Perhaps pack this bag the night before so you are not packing half a sleep and forgetting, say, pants for work. It's happened.

Included in paraphernalia, I would always, ALWAYS include a granola bar:
I can't emphasize this point enough. I know the dangers of heading towards the gym whilst feeling the hunger (both before or after work). It will thwart even the most stalwart of hearts. Throw a bar in that gym bag and keep it there. You will thank me and yourself when you need an emergency bite.

Find a Buddy to Keep You In Check:
If you know you're meeting a friend at Central Park at 6pm for a run? You're not going to be the jerk who left her there by herself. Friendship > Jerkface. Write that down.

Hope these tips are helpful. Getting started is the worst, but once you're used to the planning (do it!), the bag packing, and the constant carrying-around-of-granola-bars you will thank yourself for the work you put into it. Plus you'll be drop dead sexy.

My Challenge to YOU: What can you do between now and Thanksgiving to get a guilt-free start on this glorious feast-filled holiday? Try to do something tomorrow and Thursday morning in order to create some space to fill with pie. Because that's how stomachs work, I believe.

4 months and 24 days to go until Boston! Support my running for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute here: http://www.runDFMC.org/2014/merig


  1. I am usually SO a morning person for working out. Blindsided by darkness and frigid temperatures though not so much lately. I WANT to get out of bed but the effort is so so great. The only way I make it in the morning is if it is a paid for class...$32 for flywheel will get me up and moving!
    Have a happy thanksgiving and eat all the delicious things! :)

    1. I agree, spring and summer is NO problem for me. Fall and winter I'm like, NO THE COLD AND THE DARK AND THE AHHHHH. I also need to have a class I have literally paid for without a refund option to get me there.