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Back to Basics

Earlier this week I tried an app called Zombies, Run!  Don’t ask how I found it.  It certainly didn’t involve neatly typing in zombies + running, but instead a meandering journey into the black hole we call the Internet (Yahoo! Mail –> click on newsletter –> view recipe for how to make your own power bars –> click on link at the end of the homemade power bar article –> find some random list of “cool fitness apps” –> get curious about zombies).  Lured by the promise, “Get Fit.  Escape Zombies.  Be a Hero,” before I knew it, I had spent $3.99 in the app store to install Zombies, Run! on my phone.

Shortly thereafter, I went for a run along a rural Wisconsin road, trying to take in the spectacular wildflowers in between urgent “alerts” from the British woman in my ear buds telling me to watch out for the landing planes and people in basements and of course, the zombies.  My music was messed up and the British woman was relentless, and I was so distracted by all of my buttons and instructions that I missed a key turn and barely made it home in time to take my son to the play we had planned to go to.  The takeaway?  Zombies don’t make me run.  I make me run.  The old-fashioned way.

It’s so easy to get distracted by the sea of flashy apps and tracking devices that we lose sight of our best compass…our most reliable training companion: our own body. Getting fit starts with the basics:

  • Find something (or a few things) you love to do — running, walking, swimming, soccer, zumba, yoga, pole dancing, whatever — and commit.  Let the things you don’t love to do fade away.  Life is too short to spend precious workout time doing things we think we should be doing, but don’t really love. I fall down almost every time I take a step class, so I don’t take them anymore.  Period.
  • Make time.  Getting fit takes time.  There’s no getting around it (even if zombies are involved).  So figure out when in your day you’re most likely to make it happen.  I know that if I don’t get my workout in before noon, the odds of me getting it in at all are not in my favor.  So I find time in the morning and block it off, just as I would any other important meeting.  Find your time and stick to it.
  • Find a workout partner.  A real one — someone who breathes air and drinks water.  This can be a person, a team, or a class at the gym.  But find someone who can motivate you and keep your workouts fun.  For me, these are my Tuesday morning spin mates and a handful of friends I schedule workouts with.
  • Listen to your body.  Our bodies are smart.  If we learn to listen to them, we can gauge when to work harder and when to back off.  We can figure out if our diet is helping our performance or making us drowsy.  We can figure out when to rest and when to sleep and when to go for it.
  • Design a life with room.  I think this one sounds extreme, but if exercise is important to you, make sure you design a life that has room for it.  For example, a few years ago I interviewed for a job and someone asked me what my biggest concerns were.  I said that I needed to eat dinner with my family most nights and get in a solid workout most days.  He told me not to count on it.  And I didn’t take the job.
  • Be grateful.  Workouts are a great reminder of how amazing the human body is. Find peace in that.  On tough days, I try to remind myself that at the core, I RUN BECAUSE I CAN.

Once you’ve got the basics taken care of, go ahead and layer on trackers (I love Strava) and music/podcasts and devices and even zombies, if they get you out the door.  But just remember, you don’t need any of these things.  You already have everything you need.

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