Exercising sounds and feels like something you have to do, an obligation. While the outcome is often to slim down, that can be a pretty broad, vague goal and, depending upon how much you have to lose, it can take a long time. Training is inspiring, dynamic and directly connects to some kind of outcome in the near future.
When I started my health and fitness routine, cardio work bored the everliving hell out of me. I love weight training and committed far more time to that than slogging away on a treadmill or elliptical. My cardio work was not dynamic–a prescribed 30-60 minutes on the elliptical. Later I added spin classes and the occasional walk.
In 2009, I decided to do the Breast Cancer 3-Day–a 60 mile walk that occurs over three days. As a result, I had to put together my very first training plan. Then this year, I decided to do a triathlon. I got to put together another training plan–one that was even more dynamic, including a variety of cardio activities over the course of the week, building endurance week-by-week. Not long after, I decided to do the Manchester Road Race, a 4.748 mile run this Thanksgiving. I put together another training plan and recently started to revise it to include interval training so I can work not just on my endurance, but my speed.
I now love cardio. I love the planning aspects of it and the ability to see my accomplishments week to week. I get to see more specific progress and on a faster timeline. A 2 mile run on Monday might be challenging and frustrating, but when the following Monday, I’m able to push it to 2.5 miles, it’s motivating and confidence-building. Additionally, I know with my cardio work that if I don’t do the homework, I won’t be able to complete the test (the race!) as well as I could.
In the meantime, my strength-training routines have lagged. After reading the Giggly Bits post, I realize it’s because I do not see how they connect to my current training plan nor do I have any specific fitness goal associated with them. I struggle to see significant results–sure I notice more muscle definition and toning, but that’s about it. I don’t see its impact on my performance. In fact, my shoulders are notoriously weak. I’m still doing the same 10lb shoulder press I was doing in April 2007. Sure, some of that is related to my lack of consistent training these past two years, but even in the first year that I persisted with a three day a week strength-training plan (alternating free weights with the machine to keep challenging my muscles), my strength did not increase.
So I’m curious… what is your strength-training plan? How do you make it dynamic and goal-oriented? What resources are good for folks who want to increase muscle strength to assist in their endurance and speed in running and triathlons?