Thinking While Doing

PARISThe past couple weeks I have gotten into spinning and strength training in lieu of my regular morning runs while my IT band gets back to normal. I am definitely enjoying the change in routine and appreciate the challenges of these new work-outs. I’m testing out the Runner’s World training log this month and one of the fields you can complete allows you to rate your effort as well as the quality of your work-out on a scale of 1 to 10 and I’m finding that with these new work-outs I have to put in a lot of effort but am not getting the quality I’d want because everything is so new.

Running for me still remains the ultimate work-out not just because of the calories it sheds or the lean frame it allows me to build, but also because of the mental balance I can achieve when running. Despite the enjoyment of these new work-outs, I miss running terribly for it’s mental stimulation, quiet focus, and creative freedom. On any given run my thoughts would move between concentrating on my form to planning my “to do” list to thinking through poems to simply taking in my surroundings. Every day I could start with a run was inevitably a better day for it because the run would give me time to wake-up my body and my mind and prepare for the day ahead.

While spinning or strength training definitely wakes up my body I find that my brain is so focused on the movements and simply breathing that I’m still fuzzy in the actual “thinking” department. When I’m on the stationary bike all I can think about is pedaling, breathing, and trying to sprint, surge, climb, rise out of the seat, and add gear whenever the instructor says to. The exercise is still so new to me that it takes all of my brainpower to do it correctly and I don’t have time to let my mind wander or plan out the order of my day. I’m hoping that with enough repetition and practice spinning will get “easier” and my body will know what to do with regard to breathing and form without me having to think about it so hard, and I will be able multitask with my thoughts during class.

Lifting weights, doing squats or lunges, and core work-outs require the same amount of concentration for me as spinning. Even in a strength class where someone else is counting the repetitions for me, I still have to put all my effort into simply doing the moves. I know well enough that if I don’t engage my core correctly, or use my legs instead of my back to pick-up my weights, or if I rush through a lift I will devalue the movement and also put myself at risk for injury. I want to get strong, I want to have muscles that support each other and allow me to perform better, and I suppose if I have to give up the mental multitasking in order to tone up and build strength, so be it.

I’ve always been the “learn by doing” type and I never realized how much I also “thought while doing.” I’m not sure when I’ve been doing all the thinking I used to do while running, but I sure can’t wait to run again, if for no other reason than to get that other time back!

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