Frequently we are told that if we put more effort into the things we want, we will get the results we desire. It comes from teachers, parents, friends, social media, relating to jobs, relationships, fitness and appearance.
I see quotes on Instagram and Facebook telling me to work harder for my fitness goals, and go that extra mile to get what I want:
For quite a few years, I was training (and working) in the red zone, pushing my body to the max most days. It began when I hired a personal trainer in 2013 to get me in shape for The Rat Race Dirty Weekend the following year. He trained me hard and I got results and looked good. I went from not being able to run 2 miles to finishing in the top 10 females and becoming a sponsored obstacle race runner within 1.5 years.
Sometimes, I would even hit the black zone. I am not even sure if this is a thing, but I called it the black zone because a couple of times, I pushed so hard my vision went blurry, my ears started ringing and I had some kind of attack leaving me unable to breathe properly. Looking back, this makes me laugh, as my PT ended up sitting on the floor with me, holding both my hands and helping me relax.
I know it’s not cool and some might even tell me off for pushing that hard but I am pleased I worked in that zone, as now I know what it feels like and despite feeling like I was dying, I wasn’t. I did also get very good results.
Recently, my fitness goals have changed dramatically. I have been very fortunate to become supported by GMB Fitness for my Atlantic rowing challenge. They have provided me with their Integral Strength Exercise Program, which is a foundation level bodyweight training course. It includes movements such as the pistol squat (one legged squat), push up, handstand push-up, bridge, chin-up and L-sit progressions.
Enter Week 1 – I watch the videos and am told not to push too hard. As soon as I start struggling, shaking, lose form, exerting too much effort, I am to stop. WHAT!!!???? Surely if I push hard, I will get quicker results? I am naturally an impatient person and want results yesterday, however I am disciplined in following a programme.
I do as I am told, and this results doing a mere 5 push-ups……… wait for it……. on my knees! When a friend saw me doing them on my knees, he was shocked. In fact, it was like he was trying to work out a quantum physics equation by the look on his face. I felt a little dumb but stuck with it.
Considering I have been practising pistol squats for what feels like years, the progress I have made in just 4 weeks is remarkable. And my push-ups, despite only having progressed to 5, I am now off my knees and they are looking and feeling strong with the best form of my life. This has all resulted from what feels like little effort and absolutely no red zone. I just followed the programme and did what I was told.
Alongside this, I have also taken my running and rowing training back in excursion too. Since training for my China marathon, I have been using my feet as transport. Running into town to get my shopping, meet friends, mostly with my trusted backpack. Having lost my GPS watch, I am running slower and steadier. It’s difficult to know if my speed and performance has improved, but it feels more enjoyable.
I feel this controlled and consistent, lets call it green-zone training, has been good for my mind and taught me a lot.
It has also translated into my approach to life too. Not rushing around at 100mph, stepping back and assessing situations, becoming more patient and enjoying moments rather than whizzing to the next destination, always wishing it would happen now.
The grand goal? To train myself mentally and physically so I am ready for my Atlantic Ocean rowing challenge. Calming my mind, working steadily, making constant progress, thinking logically and practically and enjoying every moment, even in challenging times.
Thank you to GMB Fitness for providing me with your Integral Strength program. My exercises are coming along well, my rowing has improved due to a stronger motor movement in my legs and my running posture feels great.
I used to be the hare, now I can see why the tortoise gets all the credit.
Since writing this post, I have since run the Great Wall of China marathon. Despite not having trained for it, I completed it. It took 10 hours and 5 minutes, included over 10,000 steps with 3,300m of elevation.
I think my shrimp squat practise most days is what has made my legs strong enough to complete a challenge like this with little running training. Thank you GMB x