Alternatives to Running

If you’re anything like me, when you hear the word “exercise” the first thing you do is think about running. And the second thing you do is groan. Running is definitely my most common form of exercise, but let’s be real here, it isn’t always fun.

Now that the weather is heating up, the sun is shining, and spring has sprung I’m all about finding alternative ways to exercise. There are so many outdoor activities that will get your heart rate up and provide a solid cardio workout without your body even realizing that it’s working!

I thought I’d share some of my favorite non-running exercise ideas in case anyone needs some extra motivation to get moving:

Hiking

I went hiking for the first time in a loooooong time the other weekend and my legs were killing me for DAYS! I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, so I was surprised at how tired my legs felt after the 6 hour hike and at how sore they were for the next three days. I could barely even walk! That’s when I realized how great of a workout hiking is: I climbed, crawled, and sometimes even jumped off rocks; my body didn’t even realize it was working that hard…I was just trying not to fall!

Sports

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Duh, organized sports are a good workout. That’s a no-brainer right? But they can be somewhat of a time commitment that many adults are not willing to make. You don’t have to join a team to get a good workout though. You can easily work up a sweat by just kicking around with some of your buddies. If you are all particularly as bad as I am, you will get plenty of running in as you’re chasing missed shots that soared 100 feet past the goal!

Swimming

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I am so, so excited for the pool at my apartment building to open. Okay, okay, mostly I just like to lounge around outside and tan, but occasionally, I’ll do a few laps in the pool. Did you know that swimming is actually a great aerobic activity? And for the most part, you don’t even feel that fatigued because the pool is wiping all that sweat right off your forehead. Awesome!

Dancing

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Have you ever come back from a night out on the town with your feet aching and your legs burning from dancing so much? I definitely have. Now, I’m not the most coordinated dancer in the world, but I’ve been told that after 2-3 drinks I turn into Chris Brown…or maybe that’s just in my head. Either way, I love to dance and it’s actually a great cardio workout too. Double win!

Golf

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When I polled my male friends about what they thought a good non-running exercise was, golf was a popular answer. I can’t really speak to this since I’ve never been golfing in my life…unless we’re counting frisbee golf, which I’m told we aren’t. I have been told that you can walk 10+ miles (maybe an exaggeration), while carry a 30lb bag, and stopping every five minutes to swing a club. I’d imagine that’s hard work. I’m sure most of those calories burnt are offset by the exponential amount of beers that are also consumed. But hey, who’s really counting?

What are your favorite non-running exercises?

Challenge: Weigh-In #1

I’ve been working really hard for the past two weeks. I just want to throw that out there before I tell you all my results.

I’ve been running during my lunch breaks, after work, and pretty much whenever I feel that I can fit in a solid 4 miles. Somehow, I’ve managed to squeeze in a workout 4-5 days per week which is 4-5 more days per week than I was exercising during December.

I’ve been replacing food like this,

with food like this.

And it was all going really well…that is, until this weekend.

I had a bit of a relapse this weekend when my old college roommate came to visit. I took her to my favorite burger place in DC, Good Stuff Eatery (if you have never been there, seriously go. It’s SOOOO good). I pigged out on a burger, fries, anddddd a milkshake. Then we watched movies and pigged out more. I didn’t count my calories, nor did I give two hoots about portion control. I thought I would be able to fit in one or two runs during the weekend, but Mother Nature had other plans when she decided to ice all over the place! I won’t run on ice, I don’t think it’s worth the risk of breaking a leg.

Last night was my mom’s birthday, so my family went to the Melting Pot. I have a slight addiction to fondue because, let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love cheese and chocolate? I probably ate more than my fair share and left the restaurant feeling uncomfortably full. This, in addition to the burger from the day before, the cookies, sour patch kids, and beer from that night, and the breakfast sandwich I had earlier in the day, sent me over the edge.

I thought I owed this pig-out weekend to myself considering I’ve been doing so well lately. Which I suppose is why I felt like complete and utter crap when I woke up this morning. My body isn’t used to all that terrible food that I was putting in it. It made me think…is this how I felt all the time prior to two weeks ago? No wonder I was gaining so much weight and feeling so terrible!

Did I feel the effects of the food I ate this weekend? Yes. Did I regret eating those foods? No. I do regret it now? Still no. I don’t think that health=deprivation. If I want a burger every now and then, I’m going to eat a burger. Sometimes I think it might take a pig-out weekend like this to remind myself that I don’t want to feel this way. As long as I don’t fall back into these habits long-term, I will bounce back.

All of that being said. I took my weight this morning. First time in 2 weeks. I was apprehensive considering the weekend I had was less than stellar in terms of eating. So, I was shocked when I saw the results:

Starting weight: 175.0
Current weight:
169.2
Loss this week: -5.8
Total loss: -5.8

SAY WHAT?! I lost almost 6 pounds in the past 2 weeks? Almost makes me wonder what the number on the scale would have read had I eaten well this weekend. I am beyond thrilled!

I know that the first 10 pounds come off pretty easily with an increase in exercise and a slight change in diet. It’s the last 10 that will take more dedication, but I feel like this is a solid start. I feel lighter too and like my jeans finally fit a little better. Plus, yesterday was the first day I had stomach ache in just about 2 weeks. I feel so much better already, but I know that I have a long way to go. That number I saw this morning has motivated me even more. I am on my way, and I am not giving up!

The Post-Marathon Slump

What is the post-marathon slump, do you ask? My fellow runners can most likely relate to me on this. The post-marathon slump is a period after any race (it doesn’t necessarily need to be a marathon) where you take a physical and mental break from all things running. It’s like, “Hey, I just ran 26.2 miles, so I probably don’t really need to run again for another month or so, right?”

Wrong.

Yet this thinking prevails. At least it does for me. Ever since my marathon I’ve been struggling with finding motivation to run. I don’t have anything to strive for, so what’s the point? Since my big race, I’ve only run once and it was painful. It’s crazy how quickly I get out of shape! The 4 miles I did on Saturday morning hurt worse than the 26.2 I did last month. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. There is a huge difference between my fitness level now and when I completed my marathon 3 weeks ago. All of my hard work is going down the drain. It’s kind of sad.

You want to know the worst part? It’s that despite everything, I have zero motivation to get out there and change. I know that I should. I read so many other blogs written by such motivated runners and I know that I should lead by example. But I’d much rather go to BDubs with my friends or catch up on episodes of How I Met Your Mother (best show EVER, for the record).

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For me, exercise is an absolute necessity. It really isn’t an option. Thanks to my luck (or lack thereof) in the genetic lottery, I failed to inherit any kind of metabolism. It’s not that I think weight loss/gain has everything to do with metabolism, but how can you explain the fact that my male roommate (who doesn’t exercise) can eat the same exact thing that I do and stays super skinny while I blow up like a balloon? It’s just not fair. If I stop exercising completely, I gain weight pretty quickly. I may or may not do a longer, more detailed post about my (and my family’s) battle with weight and genetics, but I have yet to summon up the courage. This blog is supposed to be me exposed, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to be that honest with you (and myself) yet. Soon. Maybe.

I digress. What I really need are motivators for getting back into running. How do I kick-start this exercise routine again? Now that it’s dark and dreary out by 5pm, how do I muster up the energy after a long day’s work to go for a run?

I’ve already decided to sign up for another race. I’m going to run the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. But I’m worried that a half still won’t be motivation enough for me to brave the cold, and I’m not ready to run another full just yet. It’s a Catch 22 at its finest.

Have you ever experienced the post-marathon (or any race) slump? Any tips for overcoming it?