FitnessFitness Tips

The “Aha!” moment that shot me off my fitness plateau

A few years ago I had a huge realization about fitness that totally changed my mental and physical health.

I’ll explain this realization by sharing a story, so let me set the stage…

In the Fall of 2012, I was training for my third marathon. I had run Boston and Chicago, and now I was training to run the New York City Marathon. I had been wanting to run NYC ever since I crossed the finish line at Chicago, and I was so ready for it.

I had months of training under my belt, and I was hoping for a PR. My hotel was booked, my bags were packed, and I was ready to rock…Then this happened:

Image result for hurricane sandy new york city

and this…
Hurricane Sandy killed hundreds of people, incurred billions of dollars worth of damage, and completely destroyed parts of New York and New Jersey. Mayor Bloomberg rightfully canceled the Marathon so that the city could focus on healing and recovering, much of which continues to this day.This drastic turn of events was a bigger moment for me than I realized at the time. It was the trigger of my big “aha!” moment.

My first reaction was the inevitable “holy shit, life is short and unpredictable” feeling that comes after a catastrophe like Sandy. After that sunk in, I started to think about the Marathon and I realized how relieved I was that it was canceled. I was totally dreading it because I had been running like crazy, training incessantly, and I no longer got any enjoyment from running.

I pushed so hard during training that I had several painful injuries. I continued to run through those injuries, which ended up causing some permanent damage that I’m still struggling with today (you can read the details of my injury here if you’re interested).

I realized that my body was not meant to be running long distances- at least not all the time. I also realized that running didn’t make me happy anymore. I was only doing it because I was scared to stop…I wanted to classify myself as “a runner”, I needed the stress outlet, and I was certain I would get fat if I dared to stop.

It took time for me to actually take action on this realization because I wasn’t really sure what to do about it. I knew I wasn’t going to attempt to run NYC again, so I finished my running career with the NYC Half-Marathon in March, and after that I stopped planning for any new races. I finally took the time to see some doctors about my running injuries, and they all confirmed what I already knew- it was time to stop running.

Ironically, the cancellation of the NYC Marathon was one of the biggest blessings I’ve had on my fitness journey.

Not only would I probably have sustained even worse injuries if I had run it, but I wouldn’t have learned so many valuable lessons, to name a few:

  • Exercise should make me feel good and healthy, not injured and exhausted
  • Running longer does NOT mean that I will be more fit
  • Jogging for miles every day is not the best way to lose weight or keep it off (Not even close, actually.)
  • If I want to change my body (fat-loss, muscle tone, physique change), I have to stop running and start strength training

^ All of this ^ took time to sink in…

I certainly wasn’t happy about giving up running at first, and I really did love the first couple of marathons I did. It was cool to watch my body reach such limits, but those limits came at a cost. Now that I’ve seen the mental and physical benefits of strength training and metabolic conditioning, including the fact that I haven’t had any new injuries in years, you would have to pay me big bucks to run another marathon.

You don’t have to run for hours to get in shape and if you do you’ll probably be disappointed, especially if you’re trying to escape a fitness plateau. Short, efficient, cardio-strength workouts are the way to go if you want to start seeing real change in your body and your fitness.

I challenge you to take 10 days off from running and try something new (for free). Join me for the next round of the Triple Threat Bootcamp! Click here for details and sign up.