Enjoy….true confessions

Today’s Life-Cise Daily Tip is “Enjoy yourself!” It’s a phrase I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. And it’s an idea I’ve been experimenting with in my own workouts.

You know me – I’m a pretty driven, intense exerciser most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it, that’s partly why I do it.

But over the last year, I’ve fallen more and more into an exercise funk. Between family obligations, work, weather, little injuries, I fell off my training again and again. I gave up on various big races I had planned. And then started giving up on small races. It made sense at the time. Training for an ultramarathon (or any big race) takes a big committment – of time, of energy, of focus. And I just didn’t have that focus.

It was a good move. I think my body needed a break after several years of pretty constant training. And my mind definitely did.

But once out of the habit, it is so hard to get back into it. A lot of people have expressed surprise that I know anything about that…Of course I do. Everyone does. Or anyone who’s honest does – athletes, trainers, the most Type A person you’ve ever met.

As I’ve struggled to get back into the habit, I get easily derailed. Two weeks of regular exercise, and then I have a busy week or I fly out to see my parents or I’m just tired, and then it’s just easier to not go out for a run – “I’ll run tomorrow.”

But I’m trying something new. I’m putting all the training plans, the gadgets – the heart rate monitors, the GPS, the clock, the calculations – away. I’m concentrating instead on why I’ve always loved being fit – being outdoors, enjoying the way my body moves, seeing interesting things.

It started while I was down in Brazil at the beginning of the year (I was there for a writing retreat with my writing teacher). Fantastic trip! But I didn’t get as much exercise as I had planned. It was way too hot and humid, I was unsure of where to run that would be safe, and didn’t want to get lost since my Portuguese is VERY limited. But I walked. A lot. And when I got to the fishing village where I stayed for several days, I swam in the ocean every day, I ran barefoot on the beach. I don’t know how far I ran or swam. I don’t know how fast. I just ran and swam.

It was fun.


(my gym for a few days)

And since I’ve been back, I’ve tried to keep that same feeling. I’m not thinking about miles I need to cover if I want to race again. I’m not thinking about how much fitness I’ve lost, how fast or far I used to be able to run. I’m not thinking about my heart rate, my pace, my anything. Just fun. I’ve been hiking with friends. I’ve cross country skied in the blizzard. I’ve been running in the woods. My only thought is how my body feels and what I’m seeing around me. I’ve gone old school, back to what got me out and exercising in the first place – it’s a beautiful (or windy, or snowy, or sunny) day, let’s go out and play.

And it’s working. I’m getting out more regularly. I’m looking forward to it again. My body is starting to feel better. It’s making me happy. Enjoy!

IMG_1739IMG_1744 IMG_1746 (bobcat tracks, spotted on a recent trail run)


(Oh, and the writing went really well in Brazil – got tons of good work done! And if you’re in Iowa, or have access, one of my essays has just been published in The Examined Life, the literary journal of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.)

This entry was posted in beginning exercise program, benefits of exercise, exercise is fun, exercise while traveling, expectations, fun, goals, The Examined Life Journal, trail running, training, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Enjoy….true confessions

  1. Hi Julie, we are cancer researchers at Tufts University, studying nutrition in cancer patients and survivors. I came across your blog because of the common interest we share to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors. Our research team is conducting a CARE survey to understand how we can provide the best nutrition support to cancer survivors. If you have 2 minutes, please post on your social media page about the CARE survey. The link to the survey is http://ow.ly/VZkWE. Thank you for contributing to this important research!
    Please also feel free to contact me directly at fang_fang.zhang@tufts.edu for questions.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reaching out. I’ll take a look at the survey myself, and will post it on my pages. Thanks for your work!


  2. Dear Julie,

    I am happy to tell you that the number of responses reached to 471 as of today – Big Thanks to your help and support!!! We hope to run the survey for one to two months. We greatly appreciate if you can continue posting the CARE survey on your social media account until the end date (http://ow.ly/VZkWE). Thank you for all of the work you are doing to support cancer survivors!


    Fang Fang

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