It would be hard to overestimate just how much I loved being a part of a team while in college. In retrospect, it does not seem possible, but I ran even less in college than I did in high school and that was mostly because the javelin runway is only 30m long and I no longer had to pretend that I was a hurdler. Javelin was my primary sport, so the weight room became a huge part of my training. We lifted weights as a team, we trained as a team, we ate as a team, sometimes we even studied as a team. Often, we played and partied as a team. Once I graduated, it was incredibly hard to transition from all-encompassing collegiate team sport life to unaffiliated solo workouts with no season to train for and no coach or teammates keeping me honest in my workouts.
And at this point, I shifted directions drastically in my pursuit of fitness. I began taking pole dance classes. And I really did the thing. I was a regular at my classes for years. Sometimes I would train solo running, but only rarely signed up for races or ran with a group. Then I branched into aerial dance, where I trained silks and duo trapeze. Again, a years-long process of starting as a student, eventually working my way to apprentice performer, and ultimately a coach, performer, and show creator with an aerial burlesque company of which I was a founding member. Then the military life took me to new places, where I expanded my aerial and acrobatic practices to include aerial rope performance, teaching pole dance, handstand training, and body weight and gyrokinesis trainings and certification classes. Even though these pursuits were definitely not team sports, the people I trained with and taught were a huge part of why I loved dance and acrobatics. Even if we weren’t a formal team, we trained as a team. Working hard together to attain personal fitness goals, teaching the skills I had learned, and the absolutely wild and immersive creative process of building a theatrical aerial show from the ground up were all projects I undertook during this time. Teamwork makes the dream work! Absolutely none of what I accomplished during this time could have been done solo.
In Monterey, CA, I began running regularly again. I signed up to run a Spartan race and even though burpees suck (you know it and I know it), they are also one of my favorite bodyweight exercises. A couple of friends and I signed up as a team and away we went, running a Spartan Beast at Diablo Grande, CA. It was hot and dry, and because of the California drought we didn’t even have fire to jump. But it was such a fun race. I had raced since I had graduated college; I trained and ran both a half and a full marathon. But it was a bucket list item and while I didn’t hate it, I hadn’t really fallen for running yet. In Monterey, I fell for running. I began running 4 days a week, and putting in long weekend runs around all the other physical training I was also doing instead of working. I was living the dream, truly. I was in the best shape of my life at this time, and also physically the most capable I have ever been. It was at this time that Stroller Warriors came on to my radar, but I never made it to any runs.
However, once we moved back to Hawaii and I had my first child, I immediately joined the Kaneohe Bay Stroller Warriors facebook page and waited for the C25k program to start. By this point, running had become my social event and primary fitness pursuit. We had a fabulous C25k group that round. I made friends, running. I felt better in this new body, running. I had fun, running. I was inspired by these fabulous Warriors, who were so welcoming and giving of their time. When the call for volunteers came, I decided to volunteer as a workout leader. But only for the evening workouts, because the night time is the right time. Anyone who knows me knows I simply cannot get anywhere in the morning on time. I try, yo. I really do. But I am very bad at it. Always have been.
Currently, I volunteer with Kaneohe Bay Stroller Warriors, where I first learned of the joys of stroller running and found so many wonderful people to inspire me. Everything up to this point in my fitness journey has indicated to me just how important it is to have the support of a team. My fitness background is pretty diverse but some of the lessons that apply across all my disciplines include setting goals, using autoregulation, and making it fun! I use these in my own fitness practice, and I hope that I am also able to impart these concepts via coaching, because I strongly feel that they are key elements to a sustainable pursuit of fitness.
Setting the goals is what keeps me coming back, day after day. Even if I don’t feel like it's all coming together. Maybe especially then. This year I had a goal of running a half marathon. Having that goal got me up to running 24 miles in a week, which I hadn’t done in years. It got me out of bed and headed to workouts and even though I was late to most of those workouts, I still went. I pushed that stroller and got the mileage done. When I ran the race, I relied on my training and I accomplished my goal! However, the right goals are important. Too lofty or externally motivated, and I lose interest quickly and then deal with the fallout of feeling unsuccessful. I have found that I need to prioritize one, maybe two goals at a time. No shame in cycling through different goals, but if you prioritize too many goals simultaneously, you really aren’t prioritizing anything. Make them attainable. Make it what you want, not what you think you should want.
Autoregulation is a fabulous concept. It’s nothing new, but I learned to focus on it during my body weight training certification course. Autoregulation is paying attention to how you feel and accommodating your fitness practice to suit that. It is a practice that requires you to be fully present with yourself mentally and physically during all of your workouts. When I am coaching, I always try to find a way to introduce this concept because I don’t know your body or your mind better than you do. In order to get the most out of a workout, your efforts should meet your body where it is. Sometimes, this means that you tone down the intensity of your workout. But it also can mean that sometimes you dial it in and really push! And it is not limited to how you are feeling physically. Mentally, some workouts are tough and if your mental load needs to be shouldered elsewhere, don’t plan an incredibly mentally taxing workout on top of that. It’s a recipe for burnout or injury. We’re supposed to be having fun on some level, right?
Ever since I graduated college, making my workouts fun has been a primary driver in my choice of workout. Fun absolutely does not mean easy. Fun can be anything. Rock climbing, pole dancing, surfing, running with your friends. Fun keeps me coming back, day after day, week after week, etc. Without this component, I don’t see my fitness journey as a sustainable life practice. I won’t keep it on the schedule if I don’t enjoy doing it. And what good is a workout to me, if I don’t do it? Hint: it's not any good. I don’t have the luxury of fun social time, apart from my “intense” fitness time. Right now, I only have time to do them at the same time. Fun is definitely a consideration for the workout, but it also very much includes the social aspect of working out for me as well. What better group of people than the other Stroller Warriors? To be on the Stroller Warriors team is so much more than meeting up for a run. Recognizing this has been instrumental in my abilities to improve as a person, runner, and coach.