Monday, March 23, 2009

Shoes and Shirt Not Required

It was 11:30 am on a Tuesday. Lunchtime cardio day. I saved my work, checked my water bottle, reached for my gym bag, and....where are my shoes? A quick search through the jumble of workout accessories piled next to my desk came up empty. Then I remembered: I wore them home on Friday.

Damn it!

My cardio buddy came around the corner with her bag, ready to go. "I don't have my shoes. I'll have to do Pilates today," I bemoaned to her with a furrowed brow. We sat in a silent moment of bummed-outness and she offered her condolences. I felt like I was watching a busload of people head for the beach without me, and turned back to my computer. Then she turned around. "Hey, if you just do the elliptical or the bike or something, you can workout in your socks!"

I thought about that. I remembered my flip flops shoved in the back pocket of my gym bag. I grabbed my stuff and we headed for the door.

Since my lunchtime gym is actually just a church rec center, I was pretty sure that there wouldn't be a fashion police officer standing at the door demanding that I wear actual shoes. The old men working on the circa-1985 Nautilus equipment didn't seem to notice or care what I was wearing. And seeing that we were the only people on the cardio machines, I could have been dressed as Betty Boop for all anyone else was concerned. But I still felt like I was somehow not showing the gym equipment the respect it deserved. Luckily I got over that pretty quickly.

45 sweat-soaked minutes later, I felt like I should be posing for the next workplace motivational poster touting the merits of determination. I doubt my selfless tale of doing 30 minutes on the elliptical in my flip flops is going to start making the rounds of tear-jerking motivational email forwards, but I gave myself a pat on the back anyway for eliminating an excuse and sweating it out. It felt really good to sweat, and it felt even better to have kicked an obstacle to the curb to do it.

As I look forward to the next eight or so months of training before my November course competition, I know that sheer determination is going to be one of the only things getting me through it. As I practice sprint drills and shuttle runs, I am reminded that this stuff doesn't come naturally to me. I have to train smart, with purpose and focus, not just go to the gym and sweat. But I can't forget the feeling I had when that course kicked my butt: that I can't wait until I am really good at it. I'll have to rely on hard work and determination to get me there, because unfortunately my God-given competitive skills lie more in the category of smack talk and witty comebacks. Still helpful, but not so much with hurdles.

I don't want to work out in my flip flops again, but it was a nice reminder that obstacles are just temporary, and usually pretty flimsy when you kick them hard enough. I hope I can remember that when I drag my butt to the park every weekend and work on getting faster, stronger, and leaner.

Experts say all you need to start a healthy exercise program is a good pair of shoes. Turns out you don't even need those! :)


EDP said...

That can-do attitude of yours is contagious! It's so true that most of our excuses about time and opportunity don't hold up under scrutiny.

Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

Hey Heather,
Thanks for your email. I've totally been there! I arrived at the gym to do some deep water jogging, but the indoor pool was closed due to a thunderstorm. So, I did the elliptical in my Speedo water shoes and got in a great workout.

You have such a positive outlook. Best of luck over the next few months. If you train your body properly, it's capable of amazing things!