A lesson in mindful measurement.

It occurred to me this week that in order to get into a steady training routine that will be consistent, rehabilitative, fat burning, mood enhancing, and also provide a strong foundation to begin a new round of marathon training in late May or early June, I need set up an environment that supports enjoying exercise and training. I have been speeding along in the wrong direction and am looking for a U-turn permitted sign.

When working out, I usually try to maintain a focus on my body, the in-session goals, and my performance. I typically do not employ distraction techniques unless I am really crunched for time and need to multitask during cardio (usually this involves reading articles for school). In which case I usually use a gym-boss to keep my intensity high (it vibrates every 2 minutes and I check and correct my performance, based on HR).

This morning I decided to set no workout session goals other than to enjoy the act of moving, sweating, and breathing. I cued up “Stranger Than Fiction” on my DVR and hopped on my spin bike. While watching the movie I rode for about 30mins, then did 12 sets of lower body exercises, got back on the bike for another 25 or 40 minutes, then did a short core circuit, then stretched as the movie finished.

I did indeed use my HR monitor, but my target was to stay BELOW 145 bpm. Typically my goal is to warm up in the 130’s, then remain ABOVE 145 for the duration of the session. My calorie burn for 90 minutes of activity was 550. In a typical spin class (50mins) I burn around 500. So in term of efficiency, this would be a terrible workout. But, I enjoyed myself. I feel refreshed, and I am looking forward to the next time I can workout again.

Can you really ask for more?

clicking the image will take you to amazon.com (I am not affiliated)

The idea to maintain an element of joy in training is not something that struck me from nowhere. I began reading Ryan Hall’s book about 5 weeks ago but stopped about half way through and likely won’t finish it (exuberant religiousity really turns me away). His main point is that to be successful an element of pleasure (joy) and passion is crucial and fundamental. I recommend the book, and I admire the work he and his wife are doing to supply clean water sources to those who lack access.

The lesson I would like to share with you all is that selecting when to focus on a particular goal is an underestimated element of success. There is a time to focus on strength and power, on speed, on form and accuracy, on weight loss, on further goal setting, on intensity, and there is a time to focus on the moment and yourself and on the joy of action. The pleasure of having a body that can do so many different things, and a mind that can wander or be wholly present, and that can create.

For the past year I have been working on creating systematic ways to help people select what to measure and how to measure it in their fitness and healthy living programs. My own experience today only further encourages my drive to continue working toward my dream of opening and operating a behavior analytic training facility. Because without that perspective I would never have realized that for the last three weeks I have been selecting the wrong measures. I have been under the impression that I was failing because I was gaining some weight back and losing fitness and motivation, but what I was gaining and should be measuring is a renewal in my love of sport, my love of working out, the joy of movement, and that my injured foot is growing stronger each day, even if I am not able to plug high mileage numbers into my charts.

Running in the woods always makes me smile, so as soon as my foot is strong enough I am going to sign up for some of the Chicago Trail Series races. Is there an exercise that brings you joy?

-AB

2 responses to “A lesson in mindful measurement.

  1. Well the only one that truly brings joy is running. I’ve done cycling and it can be very painful in some areas as well as putting my fingers to sleep. I lift weights as well and enjoy it, but its not joyful.

  2. I agree, there is nothing like running at full tilt to bring on the butterflies!

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