(One armed kettlebell swings are hard. Releasing and catching at the top is even harder!)
Yesterday’s post (and Facebook discussions) got me thinking. I don’t know if, from the outside, most people realize what goes into doing what I do, or the methodology (if you could call it that) involved. So here’s what I’m doing now, what I’m planning to do over the warmer months, and how I go about doing that.
Since December, I’ve been lifting 4 days a week. I’m doing a program called 5-3-1 by Jim Wendler, and it’s working for me in ways that weightlifting never has before. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m on my way to being really strong. I love the simplicity of the program, and that it doesn’t entail spending hours at a time in the weight room or leaving completely exhausted.
I just started doing weekly interval running workouts with the 5 Rivers Running Team. It’s a group of absolutely fast runners, led by a coach with national credentials. The team meets twice a week, but for now I’m only managing to be there on Mondays.
When the weather’s good enough (and sometimes when it’s not), I’m also getting out on my mountain bike or my new road bike. I also do a little indoor conditioning, and try to find ways to keep that interesting.
When winter finally decides to loose her grip on our lives, the plan is to lift 3 days a week, run 3 days a week, and be on a bike at least two days a week. Plus a rest day. You may have noticed that that’s more days than there are in a week, which means I’ll be doing 2-a-days at least twice a week. Woo!
But here’s where it gets a little crazy.
I work a rotating schedule, presently. My job requires 24/7 coverage. What that means is that I’ll spend a month at a time on first, second or third shift. Within that schedule, I work 5 days on, 2 off, 3 on, 4 off. It works out nice because I get every other weekend off, and that weekend is a 4 day weekend. It’s not all that bad, once you get used to it, but it’s hell for what trainers call “programing.”
Most programs have you lift on certain days, cardio on certain days, and rest on certain days. With my particular flavor of chaos, that doesn’t really work. They also recommend that you time your workouts to fit your competitions. For instance, if you’re getting ready for a big race that happens on a Saturday morning, you’re supposed to time your simulation work (i.e. a long run if you’re doing a long running race) accordingly, and do it on a Saturday morning. You might’ve guessed that that doesn’t work out for me all that often, either. And consistent, 8-hour sleep nights, that everybody says you have to have? Never gonna happen. Sometimes my “night” is four hours, between noon and 4pm.
What I’ve had to do, in order to get where I’m trying to go, is improvise. All the time. Sometimes that means I’m in the weight room at 0300. Sometimes it means I push dinner back an hour to get a run in. Sometimes it means I’m out pedaling a bicycle when the windchill is 12°F. Sometimes it means I go to the gym, do as much as I can in 25 minutes, and leave. And sometimes, it means that, as hard as I’m trying, I just can’t get it in that day.
But all of that is okay. It might not be optimal, but neither is life. It might not be a professional regimen, but I am not a professional athlete. And that leads me to my final point.
Nobody reading this blog should ever get discouraged by what I’m doing. I work as hard as I do because I have goals that require a fairly elite level of fitness. If you don’t want those things, that’s totally fine! Wherever you might be on your fitness journey (ugh… I tried so hard to avoid that cliche…), embrace it and do what you can. If it’s more than you were doing before, there will be progress.
All of this started because I was tired of (among other things) being completely smoked after a single track day, so I bought a mountain bike off of Craigslist to help myself train. One thing led to another, and now I’m pushing myself to do more, because I can’t get enough. Whatever your current state, and wherever you’re trying to go, go do that. You’ll never regret it. It won’t be simple, it won’t be easy, and if your life is anything like mine, it won’t at all resemble a routine. But it will be worth it.