Quit Trying To Get Into Shape And Just Be The Shape You’re In, Better

Be the Shape You're In ... BetterMarathoners and other endurance athletes talk about “hitting the wall,” when their body has done all it can do, burned up all its energy and just gives up. For a fine tuned athlete that could happen 15-20 miles into a 26 mile race.

For most people I hang out with “The Wall” happens somewhere between the couch and the table we left the remote on.

Getting started is the hardest part and I can’t tell you any way to make getting started any easier, but I can tell you one 100% guaranteed, sure-fire way to make it simpler and I can tell you 3 reasons that keep most of us from doing just that.

We’re trying to be what we’re not

The odds are pretty good that none of the olympic athletes in Sochi right now are taking the time from their training schedule to read my little blog post on personal performance and fitness. None of the players from the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago have called me asking for advice on how to drop a couple of pounds.

So I’m assuming you’re not a world class athlete trying to shave a hundredth of a second off your personal best time. Quit worrying about them, what they do and how they train. You’re not playing in the same league. You’re not even playing the same game.

Same for your friends who are running marathons or working out 5 days a week alternating cardio days, leg day and upper body days. They have no useful wisdom to share for those of us just struggling to get off the couch.

I’m fat, out of shape and clinging to middle aged by the thinnest of demographics margins. 15 months ago, I couldn’t run to the mailbox, much less a marathon.

Accept who you are and concentrate on being you better.

We’re trying to do what we can’t

I used to play hockey with a guy in Nashville who started playing at the age of 30 and decided he wanted to make it to the NHL (most of us hockey players aren’t terribly bright). He booked an appointment with professional coach and wanted to discuss a training/coaching regimen that would get him league ready in the quickest time.

The coach told him he should build a time machine and start playing hockey every day at the age of 3. Play your way up through pee wee, bantam, midget and Juniors. And try to be born in Canada.

Now maybe with hard work, dedication, proper nutrition, professional training and a little good fortune, this guy was the one in a billion guy who could make it. It’s not likely, but maybe. I do know this, if he’d have just set out to play old fart hockey a couple of nights a week, hang out with his friends and be a better middle aged beer leaguer he’d probably still be playing hockey and having a blast today. I haven’t seen him around the rink in 10 years.

Maybe you can run a marathon if that’s what you really want to do. And maybe you can swim the English channel and hike the Appalachian Trail. But if you’re hitting the wall somewhere between the couch and the remote, running a marathon isn’t what you need to be thinking about.

The no pain, no gain bullshit

I started out walking a couple of years ago and eventually got to where I could run, first a mile then 3 or 4. And the thoughts started popping in my head that maybe I should train harder, really push myself to run a half, maybe even a full marathon. And maybe I should.

But I found out when I ran farther and faster, a lot of the times, I felt worse. I didn’t have the energy left to do things I really wanted to do. And I watched a lot of my friends push themselves harder than their eighth of a ton middle aged bodies could handle and they ended up injuring themselves and going back to the couch where it always feels safe and warm.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Nashville – 56 degrees and sunny after weeks and weeks of freezing, drizzling and cloudy. I went outside, ran 2 miles and it felt glorious. I felt good all day, I had more energy all day and I’m not sore today so I’m good to go play hockey with my buddies tonight.

I could run farther and faster. I could push myself harder. I could lose more weight. But that’s not why I run.

I run to feel better and I’ve figured out that if I just concentrate on the that, everything else will take care of itself.

Quit trying to be something you’re not

Quit trying to do something you can’t

Quit trying to get into shape, into better shape or into some other shape and just start, today, being in the shape you’re in, better.

Starting is the hardest part.

The answer isn’t easy. But it is as simple as putting down the remote, getting off your ass and doing something, anything really… today.


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Terry LancasterTerry Lancaster is the VP of Making Sh!t Happen at Instant Events Automotive Advertising, father of 3 teenage daughters and a Beer League Hockey All Star, as if there could ever be such a thing. You can connect with Terry on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.