Friday, June 8, 2012

RandomAbs Wrap Up

Six weeks ago, a fellow Loopster LadyRunsAlot encouraged everyone to join her in an abs challenge. The challenge was six weeks of doing the randomabs workout 6-7 days/week, ending on June 8th. The fact that it ended on June 8th, my birthday, struck me. What a nice way to bookend the challenge! I'm constantly meaning to get my abs in shape; I always hope that having more time in the off season will give me the chance to make strength work a habit. So for the last 42 days I've found a few minutes a day for the designated ab workout. Here's what I've learned.

Lesson 1. The first cut is the deepest. This lesson is two-fold and parallels running. (1)The first few days are the most pain-inducing and (2) each day's first set is the hardest. My abs ached the first three days so much that it hurt to move, laugh, etc. but after that I was fine. Each day, the first set would seem overwhelming and I'd wonder how I could handle another set or two. But the next set was always easier. I'm not sure how that makes sense (shouldn't it be harder?) but the fact that it's reminiscent of running makes it understandable to me. Starting a running program is a rough process, but the soreness of the first days and weeks goes away. Even once you're in shape, though, a run can sometimes seem overwhelming and you wonder how you''ll make it the whole way. But amazingly, after a mile of two it gets easier. 

Lesson 2. Take a picture. I didn't. I don't know if my abs look any different then they did six weeks ago, and while that isn't the main point of this exercise, it would still be nice. I have gained some weight (the few pounds that fly off during 80 mile weeks have relodged themselves on my stomach) and so its hard for me to imagine there was any improvement. Since I didn't take a picture I'll never know. What I do know is that the exercises got easier (see Lesson 1), which is just as important.

I figured I'd better not show a picture of Mr. Perfect Form,
since the other challengers probably hate him by now.
Lesson 3. Get over it. I've always been embarrassed doing strength exercises or yoga moves in front of people. Maybe because my upper body is incredibly weak (more on that below), I'd rather do exercises in the privacy of my own home, with the window shades down, and no one around. I imagine laughing and pointing and I'd rather not risk the embarrassment. I knew there was no way I could do an ab workout everyday in private, so I had to get over it and tell Fiancee what was up. Not only did he not make fun of me, but he was incredibly supportive (as he always is) and now affectionately calls me Ab-by. In Florida this past week I was sharing a hotel room with a labmate, but 5 weeks into a 6 week challenge meant I had to do my exercises in front of her. And of course she didn't bat an eyelash about it. Again, this should come as no surprise, but to someone as self conscious as me, it was a lesson learned. 

Lesson 4. Use somebody. Embrace the goals of others in the quest of your own. Like I said, I wanted to get into an ab routine, but I didn't have any particular desire to do it everyday for six weeks, nor had I even heard of randomabs. But LadyRunsAlot came up with it, and it fit the bill. Sometimes latching onto something someone else is doing can help you accomplish your own goals, even ones you didn't know you had. (Also, telling others about it, as other Loopsters and I did, holds you accountable.)

Lesson 5. Everyday is key. Again this is true for running too. When I first got back into running marathons a few years ago I ran 4 or 5 days a week. When you give yourself days off, it's a lot easier to make excuses. Monday morning: "Ugh, I don't feel like getting out of bed. I'll move today's run to tomorrow." Next day, still exhausted. "Well I can skip today too and then I'll just run every day until Saturday and still make it 4 days for the week." But then the excuses snowball. If you can't get out of bed Monday and Tuesday, it's unlikely Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will all be different. As I've graduated to higher mileage and more days of running per week, there's no room for compromises and no excuses. Monday morning, tired, don't want to run? Too bad, no off days in sight. No way to move things around. Got to get up for that run. In the past I've always tried to do core work every other day or every few days. But then I run out of time and move it to the next day and down the slippery slope I go. This challenge was every single day so there were no excuses and no compromises. It might not seem like it, but that made it easier.

Lesson  6. Stronger abs don't equal stronger arms. It doesn't translate. I thought maybe doing abs would make me better about doing other strength training but my arms still look like (and are as strong as) strands of spaghetti. (I'm tempted to say that I'm as weak as a six year old boy, except six year old boys are surprisingly strong.) Running Times had an article a while back about good goals to have (run every day for a year, run a 100 mile week) and one of them was to do 60 pushups at once. I don't have any particular desire to do 60 pushups at once, but I would like to have a stronger upper body and so I'm embracing Lesson #4. (Besides the benefit this will have on my running, my wedding is next spring and I already checked off the "get in shape box" on the knot's giant list of to-dos. I may not have flowers or save the dates picked out, but I've got this one covered. Except those puny arms, which conveniently are the only thing wedding dresses show.) And so here's the challenge: Pushups every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, until I can do 60. Running Times assures me this will only take a few months, but we will see. At the moment, I can do 15. And, despite what I learned in lesson #3, I'd be embarrassed for someone to witness those 15. The workout is simple: as many pushups as possible at once (with good form!), then take a break and do another 2 sets. I realize I'm breaking rule #5 here since I won't be doing everyday. But unlike your abs (which can handle everyday) your arms (and certainly not my spaghetti strings) can't, so I'll have to go MWF. But it HAS to be MWF. No moving Monday to Tuesday, etc. No excuses.

Who's with me?

Dream big, 

1 comment :

  1. Im with ya Abby! as always, inspiring thoughts I will remember as I try to at least remotely keep make it look so easy to stay motivated! sigh...