Greetings my MAD COOL FITNESS CREW and Happy Monday! What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday was a total white out, last Sunday was slip and slide, praying to Jesus to save my dumb ass as I drove like Mr. Magoo to the gym (what?! I thought the roads would be clear, notsomuch!), and then Monday the great dig out really began in earnest.
This past Saturday I was able to run with my track club down in Highland Park, New Jersey, who swear up and down there are masters (old folks like me) runners who run with the club. I’ve only been three times this month but every time I’ve been, I never see my contemporaries; I’m running with high school and college kids. Literally I could be their mama! I feel like Miss Jane Pittman.
The first two times I went to practice I tried running with the sprinter group vs the distance group. That was a mistake. I wasn’t really ready to run with that group just yet. I’m just not use to doing balls out speed. I’ve never really done it fresh (i.e., not coming off of a bike or long run or weights etc) and I’ve never done it in the cold.
Also, although there were 1 or 2 other chicks out there, I was running with (or waaaaayyyy behind a bunch of high school and college boys). Oh and did I mention my still slightly tweaked hamstring that was like “What you talkin’‘bout Willis” the whole time??? A hot (cold) mess.
So this past Saturday, not giving up on my goal to become a sprinter, I decided to take a different approach. I ran with the distance runners. This was MUCH better. We did a 2 mile warm up (this I can do!) then we did 3 sets of 500 meters. All of the girls in my group were in high school (some were freshman, like really??) except one, Laura (in the pic), a lovely young woman who is in college and a very talented elite runner. I’m literally 20 years older than she is.
Even though we were supposed to hit it on all 3 500’s, I decided, old Bessie here better not jump out there like Zulu warrior princess and jack myself up. My first 500 was abysmally slow. I was dead last. Like hella last. Like so last that I almost got stampeded by the next wave of sprinters that were rolling through that joint like it was the Kentucky Derby.
Yes I looked like a total doofus. And yes I felt like a total doofus but I just hung in there. The second 500 I was second to the last and the last 500 (this was when my body was like, “Yeah, chick. We’re like, running!” I was third from last, still waaaaay behind Laura and the fast people but at least this time, they hadn’t gone and come back for coffee by the time I finished!
Laura, and the other girls, were so friendly and full of energy, it energized me. It was a pleasure to run with them.
Next Saturday I’m sure I’ll still be at the back of the pack but my goal is to be a couple secs closer as I watch these girls blaze a trail from behind.
What is the point of my “Granny Jen Does Track” story? My point is, I’m not the slowest 41 year old on the planet. I’m sure I could run with some women where I’m actually considered “fast”. But that’s not the point. I don’t care about propping myself up. At this point my ego can take few hits and my competitive side likes the challenge.
I want to get BETTER. I want to get FASTER. I want to see how fast I could actually get. In the end, it may turn out I’m not fast at all and it is what it is but at least I will have tried and gotten better in the process. But you can’t get better if you’re running (or training or working with people) who make you feel like the tallest of the short people.
YOU’VE GOT TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE (AND SOMETIMES FEEL LIKE A DOOFUS) IF YOU WANT TO GROW.
I want to caveat this by saying, the above statement depends on where you are in your fitness journey. If it’s early in your fitness journey you need to not be uncomfortable and put yourself in environments where you “win”.
When I first started 17 years ago, I felt like a doofus in the gym. Totally uncomfortable, picking at my clothes, wondering “Do people know these shoes are my L.A. Gear cross-trainers from the 7th grade?”. In this stage, it was very important for me to build up my confidence, my fitness “self-efficacy”, get some fitness success and quick wins under my belt so I would have the confidence to keep going.
Building confidence is CRITICAL in the early stages of your fitness. It’s the confidence you get in successfully taking the first 3 steps that will support you in taking the next 3. If you don’t gain that confidence, that “I can do this!” early on, there is a high probability you will bail on exercise altogether.
So this week, if you’ve been doing this fitness thing for a while, ask yourself,
“Do I want to be the tallest of the short people, or the shortest of the tall people?”
There’s a big difference. We rise to the level of the environment that surrounds us. This goes for fitness and in life.
Go get ‘em.
Jennifer and Your MAD COOL FITNESS CREW