Many people believe that any health and fitness endeavor must be a full-on sprint. They start a new diet and don't take into account how they're going to sustain it over the long haul. On this episode, we talk about how to find your pace.
Let's Say Hello
Due to Allan's travel we recorded our hello and wrap up sessions beforehand and did not do our standard hello section for this episode.
Today we're going to talk about pace and how life isn't all sprints. I want to start this with basically two contrasting stories from my life. The first one was my tough mudder training. Now I've told the story in the book, and basically the concept here was that I decided I wanted to do a tough mudder with my daughter. And this was March when we made this decision.
And the race that I wanted to do was in November. My daughter was going to be 21 years old, close to 21 years old. She was a level one CrossFit coach and quite fit. And so in my planning for this tough Mudder, my training for this tough Mudder, I knew I was going to have to push myself pretty hard and pretty fast if I was going to be in shape for that tough Mudder. So going from March, where I was already generally training to November, I still had a lot of ground to make up, and so I did what I call a sprint.
I trained really hard. I worked on my nutrition really hard, and I sprinted, and I got it all done. I got the work done. The results were great. You can see the before and after picture on my Facebook and on my website, 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com.
And when I did it, I felt really good. I got that sprint done. I accomplished everything I wanted to do, so good for me. Right? Well, let's flash forward about five years, maybe a little bit further when I did the Spartan training.
Now I plan to do the Spartan race as a function. We were going to be traveling to Chicago, and there was a spartan in there, and I thought, hey, I could do a Spartan. And so I asked my younger brother if he wanted to do it with me, and he did. So I'm like, okay, let's do this Spartan. Let's go to Chicago and do a Spartan together.
The difference was I was in okay shape, but I needed to be in Spartan shape within about two and a half months. And so I started my sprint, and I pushed hard, and I worked on my nutrition, and I did everything I could do to be ready for this Spartan race until I broke my rotator cuff snapped in the middle of a workout. I was trying to do overhead presses with dumbbells, and the reality was I didn't hurt myself doing the presses. I hurt myself trying to get the weights up into the starting position.
I felt it snapped, and I knew immediately what I had done.
And in fact, it was a very bad tear. But it wasn't a tear that had happened just during that sprint. It was a tear that had been happening over a long period of time. And the only reason I tell you these two contrasting stories, I still did this part. It hurt like heck, I still did this part.
But the stories I'm telling here are really just to emphasize the fact that if we go too hard, too long, we will break. And that's not the purpose of what we're trying to accomplish here. The goal in health and fitness is not a destination. You might approach it and say, oh, I need to lose 40 lbs, and that's my goal. That's my thing.
That's my finish line. But after you've lost that 40 lbs, it's not like honey and roses for the rest of your life. You're still going to want to train and need to train. You're still going to have to focus on nutrition and do the things you're doing for your health. That doesn't change.
So don't feel like there's a finish line. Just like if you're saying you're going to do the couch to 5K and you complete that 5K, hopefully you're not hanging up your running shoes and saying, I'm done nothing more. No more training. I'm out. I accomplished the great thing, the 5K.
That's not how this works. We train to live and be the people we want to be, to be better tomorrow. And yes, while we might have goals in mind of certain things that we want to accomplish, be it a weight loss goal or completing a race or doing something else, those are just motivating goals. Those are just things that drive us the measurement criteria. So we know that we're successful at getting better.
The true goal here is to come up with a sustainable lifestyle and a sustainable lifestyle basically means you can eat the foods you like and not feel deprived. Now, are you eating as much of it as you want? Maybe not. Maybe you used to have pizza every night, and now you're only having pizza maybe once a month. But you're still having pizza.
So you're eating the foods that you enjoy and you're enjoying your foods. You're just not eating as much. And maybe you've changed your palette to a point that some of the foods that you used to enjoy, you don't enjoy as much now. So you've found a sustainable way of eating that you can eat most of the time, if not all the time. And you've also in sustainable lifestyle,
You've built a movement pattern that improves and helps you maintain your fitness without breaking you. So sustainable is something you can do for the long term. And that should be the overall objective of everything we do with our health and fitness is to find the sustainable path that we can stay on the vast majority of the time. It's not that you wouldn't depart from that, that you wouldn't take a detour. But once you take the detour, you know, to get right back on your sustainable path and keep pushing forward.
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So let's talk a little bit about pace. The faster you go, the longer you go, the more likely you break. That's true in everything that we do, particularly when you're over 40. Now, my story at the beginning of this episode, we're about pushing too hard training for an event, and I broke, but the same can hold true for nutrition. If you deprive yourself of a type of food or you eat a certain way, that's really restrictive, the likelihood you're gonna fall off the wagon goes up substantially.
If you tell yourself I'm never going to have another drink, that might work for you. But the reality is for most people, they're going to find themselves at a party, they're going to find themselves at a bar and they're gonna have a drink, and that's okay. There's nothing substantially wrong with that. But the harder you push yourself, the more restrictive you are, the more likely you're going to fail at some point, it's just the way it works. So when I talk about pace, I like to think of them in three terms.
Okay. The first is the sprint or the Ferrari, the second is a moderate pace. I call the pickup truck, and the third is slow, which I call the minivan. And there's reasons for each and every one of these paces that goes beyond what you want to accomplish. So let's talk about sprints first.
When you are ready to do a sprint, there should be nothing between you and the finish line. You want to be able to do straight forward without having to stop. You want to do it as quickly as you can responsibly. And that means there's nothing there to stop you. There's no one there to bother you.
There's nothing that is going to be in the way. So if you're training for something and you want to do a sprint, it's got to be there in your eyesight, in line of sight. And so in that case, it's got to be close enough. You're trying to go from A to B, not A to T. And while it might look from my before and after picture A to T, realize not all of that was really a true 100% sprint.
I wasn't sprinting every day, all day, but I was working toward getting better and better each day. And as I got better, I pushed harder and harder. So it was a sprint, in a sense, but it was an A to B, B to C, C to D kind of approach. I wasn't looking to go A to T. And if that's what you're trying to do, you're probably going to break before you get there.
And then the final bit with sprints, that's really a big one for me is you've got to keep the ego in check. Ego is your enemy when you're doing a sprint, because at that point, you're not looking at your red line. You're not looking at what's going on with the heat and your engine. And if you're pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing and you're not paying attention, snap, there you go.
Honest Truth, the weight I was doing when I was doing those overhead presses was far more than I should have been doing. I didn't need to be doing. I did it because I could until I couldn't. So you've got to keep your ego in check and know what you're doing is building you rather than breaking you. So sprints are important.
You're in your Ferrari, you're rooming down the road, and as long as there's nothing to hold you back and you're not going to red line and break, go for it. Next is the moderate pace. So I was a big fan of tailgating when I lived in the United States, and so I had a pick up truck with a tonneau cover so I could put all of my tailgating gear in the back of the truck to go to Hattiesburg for the games. Now, here's the thing. I couldn't own a Ferrari and take all my tail gaining gear because it wouldn't fit.
And my pickup truck doesn't travel as fast as a Ferrari. So I couldn't get there as fast. I could get in the Ferrari. And other than law enforcement, pretty much be there from Pensacola to Hattiesburg. And I don't know, 3 hours, maybe.
Okay, but that wasn't going to work in a pickup truck. I had to go a little bit slower. I take a little bit longer, not much longer, but it would take longer. So it was a more moderate pace because I had baggage to carry. So what's the kind of baggage that would hold us up in general?
Well, we have vacations planned. We have family members that are around that maybe we need to do some things with them. Maybe we have a job, all those little things you got to carry around with you that might slow you down a little bit. And that's okay. If you're patient, you find yourself a sustainable pace that fits your lifestyle, again
That's the objective here. And then you move and you're in this for the long haul. So in general, you should probably be spending most of your time over the course of the next several years in the pickup truck going a moderate pace, you can carry the things you need, do the things you need. There's a lot of utility there to get things done. You just have to have the patience and look at this as the long haul.
Slow and Steady
And then the final pace that I like to talk about is slow. And that's where you're in the minivan. And so you got the kids and the wife and this and that and you got to stop and go to the bathroom, every other exit. And so these issues, these people, these things, they're all happening. And it's not necessarily outside, outside your control, but it's generally outside your control that these are things you also have to focus on.
Your health and fitness may not be the ultimate number one priority in your life, but it's got to be important enough that you're still moving forward. And that's the key. If you have even more patience and self compassion, you do keep moving forward. And that's the key of moving slow is that you're not sitting still and you're not sliding backwards. So at worst times, you're holding your ground.
But most of the time, there's this little push forward a little bit forward. And while the minivan can't go as fast as the pickup truck or the Ferrari, you're still doing something positive for yourself, and you have to keep your head up and realize that's the case. And so I titled this episode, you can't sprint all the time or something like that. But basically, it's not all about sprints for sure. So what is the right pace for you?
Well, the reality of it is it's probably at different points in time going to be all three. There are going to be times when a sprint makes sense. So you say, hey, I'm going to sign up for a 30 day challenge to do this thing, and that can be an awesome motivator. You can sit down and say, when we get to next spring, I want to be able to run a 5K, and now you're moving at a moderate pace, taking a very cool or easy couch the 5K program to get yourself to a point where you can complete that race safely.
And then there's going to be times when things are going on in your life that you just have to slow it down and get in the minivan.
So having the self awareness to know which one makes the most sense for you, and using that as a tool where you're moving forward, you're sprinting when you can. You're going a moderate pace most of the time, and occasionally a slower pace, so that self awareness gives you kind of the gist of all of it. So again, find the pace that you don't break yourself. Find the pace that keeps you moving forward and not going backwards and stay at that pace until it makes sense to change and do something different.
You have health and fitness goals. You know what your vision is, of what you want to accomplish. You have to go the right pace or it's not sustainable. So again, the overall objective of your health and fitness should be to find a sustainable lifestyle and understanding pace and being self aware are key components of making that happen.
[00:16:18.293] – Allan
Hey Ras. [00:16:18.860] – Rachel
Hey, Allan, while you're talking my language now. We're talking about paces and life is not a sprint. [00:16:25.820] – Allan
Life is not a sprint in and of itself, but it should and probably will include some sprints. And so that's really kind of one of the cores of this. There's kind of three areas. And one is that so many people want to skip to the end. They come back and say, Well, I want to be able to run a marathon or I want to lose 75 pounds. And so they want to go from A to T and they want it now. It's like, I want it now. Just give it to me now. [00:16:57.290]
And the reality is that's not how things work. If you push, you're going to probably break yourself, particularly in fitness. And then with weight loss, you've got to do sustainable over time. And so we got to go and we got to tick all the boxes, A B C all the way through. And then it eventually. If we keep at it, then we'll get to T. [00:17:18.490] – Allan
And so it's just that function of we didn't get here in a day. For some of us, it was 40 years ago for some of us, it was 50 years ago. For some of us, it was more years than that that we weren't doing the right things all the time. And as a result, we have something to work on. [00:17:32.610] – Rachel
Right. [00:17:34.020] – Allan
And we work and we gradually get there. [00:17:37.290] – Rachel
Well, we all want the short, quick, easiest way to lose weight or get stronger or whatever it is. We're always looking for the right diet or the right exercise modality. And the fact is that it's different for everybody. And there is no shortcut to success. It just takes time and hard work. And you mentioned if you push too hard for too long, you'll get injured in the running world. We call people like that weekend warriors. Were you think you can go from the couch to a 5K in a weekend? [00:18:10.690] – Rachel
And in reality, it takes weeks to adapt. I mean, if you haven't run a mile, you need to start with a quarter mile or ten minutes or 15 minutes or 20 minutes out there and ease your way up. Otherwise, you'll get injured real quick. And how disappointing would that be? [00:18:25.040] – Allan
So just realize that there needs to be a process. You've got to go through the hoops, you got to get from A to T the right way. [00:18:34.880] – Allan
And the next piece of this is part of the reason why that happens is people just aren't patient enough. They think the process should be faster, they think that it should be consistent and that you should know if I lifted £100 yesterday, I should be able to lift 105 today. And it's like that's not how it works. It's seldom any of this weight loss, strength, endurance. [00:18:59.330] – Allan
It's never linear. You're going to have days when you go out and run and you just feel like you've got all the energy in the world and you have this great run. And you're kind of like, wow, I did that run and I probably could have done it again. You know, I felt that good. And then another day you go out there and it's just trash. And then what happened? I was at this mileage and I had to stop and walk. What's going on? And so just recognizing that the human body was not built for linear change. [00:19:31.450] – Allan
And so we've just got to have the patience to realize that if we have intelligence behind what we're doing, well, nudge ourselves to where we need to be. And we have to care about ourselves enough to say, okay, I'm not going to break myself by being silly. And then I'm also not going to punish myself for not being what I thought I was going to be. You just have that patience for sure. [00:19:56.820] – Rachel
And we all hit these plateaus. I had mentioned a few episodes ago that I had a lot of weight to lose after my first child was born, and I gained a lot of weight over those nine months. And it took longer than nine months to take it off. But I also hit a few plateaus, which meant that my body was hitting like a homeostasis. My body got used to what I was doing, and it was time to switch it up. And sometimes you need, you know, a trainer or somebody to kind of guide you to try something else or do something different. [00:20:27.140] – Rachel
It's not always easy to figure that out on our own. [00:20:29.700] – Allan
That is one of the things having clients and talking to them, and they're setting their expectations and setting it at the right level. And then, yes, when those inevitable plateaus and they're good, you actually want plateaus to exist because that's your body protecting your body. And so we need that. If you're not getting enough food, your body is going to tell you, if you're trying to do too much work, your body's going to tell you. And so we have all these great feedback mechanisms to say, okay, what we were doing was working, but it's not going to work now. [00:21:02.240] – Allan
And so what does that actually mean? And what can we do about it? And one of the core ones. And that's why I wanted to talk about these different paces of sprint and moderate paste and slow is that those are your tools. And there's going to be times when you say, okay, I've plateaued. I've been at this wait for now for a month and a half, and I'm ready to do something about it. So you say, okay, I'm going to do the sprint, meaning I'm going to try something a little different. [00:21:31.570] – Allan
And I'm going to do the sprint for a period of time and see if that doesn't jump start things to coax my body to do something different. And so it can be something as simple as saying, okay, no alcohol for six weeks. Okay. And before you were having a couple drinks on Friday and a couple of drinks on Saturday and still losing weight, just say, okay, I'm going to try cutting out the alcohol for six weeks and see what happens. I would call that a sprint going from some to none is a sprint in the nutrition world. [00:22:06.270] – Allan
And so you do that now. You don't do that with the expectation this is going to be my forever life. But some people do they actually get to that point. They're like, you know, I really didn't need that in my life, and I'm better off for it. And some people don't go back and they don't go back to drink. And so that's there. I think a lot of people get stuck in something comfortable, and particularly when it was working for a period of time and they're like, Well, I can have my cake and eat it, too. [00:22:31.380] – Allan
And then eventually, maybe you got to forgo the cake a little bit more often because you are carrying that cake with you and you're not able to get rid of the weight you want to get rid of. So finding different paces when it matters. Like kids are going off to stay with grandma's for a few weeks instead of turning that into a holiday for you. Adult staycation stuff. And you guys are having mimosas and martinis and all of that. Maybe you say this is a great opportunity for me to do something a little bit more aggressive. [00:23:04.470] – Allan
I can get out. And maybe I do two workouts today because I have this extra time that I don't have to worry taking care of children or taking them to practices or whatever I would have to do that would take up my time. Now I can dedicate more time to myself, self care and use that as an opportunity to sprint. So you come out better for it. But don't just do one pace. Don't think you're locked into one pace for the rest of your life. Your life will change, and that will give you opportunities to go faster. [00:23:33.740] – Allan
And then there's just going to be times when you have to take the opportunity and go slower. My vacation. I took it slow, you know, they got out and did some things that played volleyball. I went for walks on the beach. I did some things, but I just told myself it's like, okay, I'm not going to stress out. This is a vacation. So I slowed down. I got out of the Ferrari. I got out of the truck and I walked over and said, oh, here's my minivan seat belt and I'm ready to go. [00:24:02.270] – Allan
And then as I'm traveling, I know that I'm doing research. I can figure out where different things are. I know there's a YMCA in Asheboro, North Carolina I can go to. They charge $5 a day. I know where other gyms are along the route. Unfortunately, I don't have my anytime fitness gym membership anymore, so I won't be able to use that as a way because that was a key way that I would always find a a gym where I was going. So I have to pay some more drop in fees. [00:24:30.220] – Allan
And I know that. And I know my progress won't be as fast because I'm driving and I'm going to be in the car a lot of days. But anyway, I know that I'm going to have to have a different pace at that point in time. And then when I get back, I get back in the fast lane. You know, it might not be a Ferrari. At first it might be the pickup truck until I feel like I've got my legs under me again. And then I'll go a little harder. [00:24:53.860] – Rachel
That sounds great. Allan. I hope you enjoy your vacation and all the different places I can enjoy. Where all the cities where you get to spend some time. At least you can hike the trails or walk through parks and enjoy the different foods that you'll get to experience in all these different areas as well. It sounds like a wonderful time. [00:25:14.270] – Allan
Yeah, Pensacola, I'm coming. I'm going to eat all your oysters. [00:25:21.390] – Rachel
Well, enjoy that when you can. [00:25:23.980] – Allan
I will. All right, Rachel, I'll talk to you next week. [00:25:28.040] – Rachel
Great. Take care.
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