Using Your Workouts to Ground You

 In Motivation / Mindset

Since I began running 11 years ago, I’ve experienced many life transitions, tough times, and stressful decisions. Running has been a constant through all of my major life periods, providing me with a sense of self that never diminishes or changes regardless of my circumstances. In simple terms, running has grounded me during tumultuous times.  Though most of the year, I train hard and fill my head with times, paces, workouts, and performance measures, during my most difficult times over the past decade, I choose to take a step back from all of the numbers and get back to the basics of why I run – self-expression, health, a fuller sense of life. I ditch the watch and all that matters is my feet hitting the pavement.

When you experience difficult times, what happens to your relationship with exercise? Do your workouts diminish, become an obsession, disappear completely? Do you keep your workout routine but view it as an obligation?

Look back on the past few years. If you notice a pattern where your days in the gym become a burden when life gets tough, consider this question: what is your ‘WHY’ for working out? I’m not talking about your short-term goals, I’m talking about your big picture. Why do you get moving?

I think many of you will discover, like me, that your big picture comes down to health, longevity, or doing something that you know is good for you. If that’s the case, how can you re-frame your workouts to be a force of positivity when you’re going through a bad situation? This positivity could come in the form of realizing strength, finding an escape, or keeping a routine in the midst of chaos.

I’ll give an example: Earlier this year, one of our clients, a PhD candidate, found out that a huge project deadline got moved up by several weeks. She was still coming into the gym despite loss of sleep, and during one of her sessions, I noticed her at the end of the turf, taking her anger out aggressively on the tire with the sledgehammer. After she finished that part of her metabolic conditioning, she gave a big smile and said that she felt much better.

We’re all familiar with the science linking exercise and ‘happy’ hormones. Beyond that, if you’ve made a routine in the gym, or on the roads, or in the pool, let it ground you during times when life gets rough. Sometimes, you go through situations that require your complete focus, and there’s no way you can make time to workout; but, if you can, I encourage you to let go of the numbers and simply move for the sake of moving. It’s a bit of a paradox that constant motion provides me stability in life – but running makes me tough for life, and life makes me tough for running. It’s a give and take relationship that I think you, too, can find with your workouts.

— Coach Emily


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