As many of you know, I’ve been injured and not running for a couple of months now. I sprained my ankle in August and didn’t let it rest and recover as I should have, so now I’m having to take the time to really let it get better. I can do lots of things to work out. I can use the rowing machine (which I have at my house), I can bike, elliptical, yoga, walk–just about anything that doesn’t pound on my ankle. I can even shovel snow…which I’ve been doing a lot of lately.
I share this because yesterday I had an interesting experience that involved erging (using the rowing machine) and shoveling. I got up Sunday after a good night of sleep and got dressed to erg. I sat down and did 4 x 20min pieces with varying stroke ratings throughout the 20min. It was good, hard steady state work, to build my cardiovascular capacity and strength, which erging is great for. I felt good afterwards. I ate some delicious food that helped replenish my body. Then I put on my outdoor shoveling clothes and went out to shovel an entire parking spot that took about 2 hours. I felt good afterwards.
The two physical experiences were very different. In one, I was doing a movement that I love–rowing, which has been a beautiful positive part of my life for a long time. The erg is to rowing what the treadmill is to running, so it can be dreadful but it’s an awesome workout and I love rowing. And then there’s shoveling…well, you all know about shoveling. We do it because we have to but we don’t often get out the shovel for a good workout, even though it is a good workout. Yet I felt much more satisfied after shoveling than I did after erging. What? Why the hell did shoveling feel better than erging?
As I stood there admiring my beautiful, perfect rectangular box of space where snow had been but now could hold a car instead, I realized that when I can SEE the impact of my effort, it gives a different reward. It’s satisfying both in physical effort–I can feel how hard my body has worked and how strong I am to sustain 2 hours of shoveling, and also in visual impact–I know I made a difference because where there used to be snow there is clear, empty space. It’s powerful to make such a drastic change in a relatively short period of time.
It’s much harder to see the impact of our efforts when we workout. There are incremental changes that happen, of course, but our regular workouts filled with small movements of burpees, lunges, squats, or snow ball/bag filled movements like we did this morning, or the mile after mile of our runs, well it’s often hard to feel or see how our overall fitness and well-being change after a singular exercise or workout. But cumulatively, with persistence and consistency, we change and grow. Using my snow metaphor, our ongoing workouts are more like letting the snow melt, instead of shoveling. It happens gradually, and sometimes you don’t even notice, but eventually the giant snow piles melt to nothing. Fitness is the same way. When you keep doing it, it truly makes a difference.
I write this as a reflection of my own motivation and drive–which has been difficult for me when I cannot run. I remain deeply grateful that I can still do lots of things, but some days I just want to go outside and freaking run. And because of this lack of ability, sometimes I feel less than motivated to get on the damn erg. Sometimes I even question if it will make a difference at all. But we know better. So, this is my declaration to myself and to the world that it does make a difference. 20 minutes or any minutes on the erg is not a run, but it is healthy movement. My body craves to move, so I will embrace every glorious opportunity I have to move. I will keep showing up. I will keep coming to NP workouts. I will keep showing up for my tribe and my friends. And I will keep showing up for myself, doing the workouts I need to do without running, because it does make a difference.
Thank you for showing up and being an incredible community of accountability and fierce fitness for each other and for me. You make a difference and we make a difference together.
Spontaneous homework for today: go do some kind of movement that you don’t ordinarily do. Squats in line for lunch or waiting for the T, tag in the office, jumping jacks in the elevator (or maybe don’t jump in the elevator since that could be bad for the elevator), take the stairs instead of the elevator…ANYTHING. And don’t do it alone. Let’s build #community #fun and #freefitness today.