Monday, October 8, 2012
Mark Rucker on Getting Fit: Avoid ‘blahs’
by staying active despite the shorter days
I love this time of year. I love the colors in the trees and the crispness of the air. I love the smell of smoke from the fireplaces, the warmth of a glass of hot cider, and the excitement of the approaching holidays.
However, for all of the things that I love about this time of year, there’s one thing that I can’t stand. And that is the shortness of the days. For some reason I always seem to struggle with my mental well-being during late September/early October as the days begin to grow shorter. There’s less time to do things outside after work. Even the weekend days seem different because of the loss of daylight hours. My wife is convinced that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Who knows? She might be right.
But last year I noticed that things were different. (Actually my wife noticed it and pointed it out to me.) As we moved deeper into fall and even into early winter, my overall demeanor didn’t seem to fluctuate as it had in the past. I seemed to be much more energetic. More passionate for life in general. I thought about it for a while and then it occurred to me. I’m active! I’m exercising on a regular basis. And I firmly believe that because of my level of activity I was able to avoid the melancholy that I used to suffer through. So this year I’m determined to stay active through the fall and winter to avoid the wintertime “blahs.” But in order to do that, I need to stay motivated. “How are you going to do that, Mark?” you ask. Well here’s my plan.
First, I’m going to focus on an event sometime in the early spring to keep me focused on training through the winter. Last year I trained through the winter to prepare for my first full marathon in mid-February. And yes, I ran outside the entire time. It was cold but it was an amazing experience. There is something very peaceful about waking up at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning and hitting the streets bundled up in gear with a headlamp strapped around your toboggan to light your way through the snow-covered streets. Just you and the soft crunch of your feet in the snow. It is amazing.
My current goal is to run the Lexington Rock N Roll Half Marathon at the end of March. The race used to be known as Run the Bluegrass. It was just taken over by the Competitor Group this year and next year will be the inaugural running as the Lexington Rock N Roll Half Marathon. It’s a fairly tough course and has lots of hills on it. I’ve run the course in practice and I’ve struggled with portions of it at times. I know that the goal of running the race will keep me motivated to keep exercising through the winter, just as prepping for my marathon did last year.
Second, I’m going to keep training with the friends who I’ve met through the different clubs and groups that I wrote about last week. Last year there were days where I knew I didn’t want to run but I showed up anyway simply because I knew others were relying on me to be there. As I wrote last week, training with a group keeps your level of motivation high. You work together to push each other to become better. You encourage each other to keep going. There is accountability that is not possible if you’re training by yourself. Were it not for the Polo Club Pacers and John’s Striders last year there is no way that I would have been able to do the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I know that I can count on my running buddies to keep me motivated.
Finally, I’m going to maintain my membership at a gym. Last year I joined Urban Active simply because I wanted to take spinning classes. I love riding my bike but because of my work schedule and the shorter days it was impossible to get rides in during the week. Spinning isn’t quite the same, but it’s pretty close. And the added benefit of doing the class with others provides that motivation that I need to keep going.
I also like the gym simply because I know I’m surrounded by like-minded people. Most of the people who go to the gym are serious about either getting or staying healthy. And strangely that knowledge motivates me. It excites me to know that I’m not the only person crazy enough to get up at 5 am to work out. And honestly, as fun as it is to run outside in the winter, it’s nice to stay inside and be warm sometimes too.
So that’s my game plan. I’m gonna tell Old Man Winter to take his “blahs” and hit the road. I’m going to work hard to keep myself motivated and focused on maintaining all the positive progress I’ve achieved on this journey. And I hope you’ll do the same. Stay positive. Stay focused. And stay motivated.
Mark D. Rucker is an attorney from Lexington who spent the majority of his adult life struggling with weight issues. As a result of his unhealthy lifestyle and weight, he suffered from high blood pressure, sleep apnea and was borderline diabetic. In February of 2011, at the age of 42, Rucker weighed over 365 pounds. It was then that he decided it was time to change his life. He now hopes to use his experience to help inspire and encourage others to begin their own journey to health and fitness. By focusing on his “small steps” philosophy, Rucker believes that anyone, at any age and in any physical condition, can change his or her life. Recently, he create a Facebook page called Get Moving Lexington to encourage the people of Lexington to get active.