I think the first thing to be acknowledged is that my spirit animal is the Hulk.
I’m not sure why that’s important, but I’m certain that it is.
I digress (probably). Recently I decided it was time to start lifting again. I’ve shied away for a couple of reasons. First, it’s been a long time since I’ve lifted regularly (3 years). Second, there’s the issue of scheduling. Because it’s the Super Awesome Year of the 5K, I have to run. I try to run at least twice a week, three if I’m on my game (I’m rarely on my game). I also try to make yoga a priority, for reasons that I’ll elaborate on later. I try to do that twice a week, three if I’m on my game (I haven’t been on my game since I started running). If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 4 days already accounted for.
I know what you’re thinking, “But Q, can’t you do more than one of these a day?” Probably, but I’m lazy. Very lazy. I spent 5 minutes thinking “I’m thirsty.” I was about 15 feet from the sink that gives me water. It took 5 minutes for me to work up the energy to stand up and get water. And that felt a bit hasty.
The other issue is that I don’t want to overdo it and hurt myself (I’ll tell you the weightlifting story in a minute, and maybe my crossfit story if you’re lucky).
So onto the heart of this story. I’m now back to where I was a long time ago. I’m running, lifting, and doing yoga. I’m sure I will be an athletic specimen to be marveled at by scientists across the globe.
Or not. Whatever.
I’m sure we all know what running, lifting, and yogaing (just go with it) are. I’m sure you know the benefits. Each has research articles out the wazoo talking about the benefits (and how they can go horribly wrong).
But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about what they mean to me. I have a favorite, but I recognize each as having their value. Sort of like the kids from Captain Planet.
No one really appreciates the girl producing wind, but it serves a purpose.
And without further ado:
Have to start with the theme of the blog. In terms of my overall fitness, running is the most important. Easily.
I got winded walking around one day. Casually. Winded casually walking. That’s inexcusable for someone under 200 pounds.
And so I started running. Conditioning is still the weakest thing for me. Always has been, always will be. There’s no getting around that. But running at least makes things more manageable. And I get to run for 15 minutes and people will thinking I’ve been running for 10 miles based on how tired I am (and I occasionally tell strangers I ran 10 miles; I’m not above lying).
In terms of time commitment, I can get a lot of calories burned over a manageable period of time. Running out of doors, my workouts go 30-60 minutes. That’s 400-800 calories. That’s almost a good meal. It’s not a quick commitment, but at the same time, it’s a lot of bang for your buck.
Running also benefits the other activities. Like I said, I get out of shape easily. Things like yoga and lifting, which I don’t do either in a cardio-intensive manner, leave me short of breath. Running has made it so that my muscles are fatigued, not me.
The problem with running is that it takes the worst toll on my body, even when I’m being careful. A good run can make me feel like I’ve survived a car wreck. I’m not built for distance, and my body likes to remind me of that when it can.
6 months into running, and I still feel like my legs have been shot after running. My back isn’t taking the toll it used to, so there’s that.
Yoga is the most important for my overall wellness/wellbeing. Seems counterintuitive to say one’s good for fitness and the other’s good for wellness, but stick with me here.
Yoga is what allows me to function. The main reason I started doing yoga was pain management for my back. I didn’t really understand at the time that strengthening your core would help back pain; I just knew that yoga is supposed to help back pain. I thought it was just the stretching.
After doing yoga just about every day for a few weeks, I saw lots of benefits. The back pain went away, but my knee also started behaving better, too. I also noticed my posture was better.
In relation to the other activities, yoga makes it possible for me to keep running and lifting. All the crap the other two put me through get taken care of, mostly, through yoga. There’s not really a whole lot to say about yoga except that it’s like maintenance.
But yoga has its drawbacks. One, I’m terribly inconsistent if I’m doing it on my own. I’m lazy (see above). I started going to a studio to help with that, but the studio’s not a perfect option. I still do it some at home, but I’m usually not in the mood to push myself through a good session. In a class, I always go at least 60 minutes. At home, it’s usually 5-15. At my best, I’ve done a 45-minute session. This inconsistency means I don’t get the most from my sessions, though it’s still better than doing nothing.
The other downside is that yoga, while awesome overall, doesn’t do much for calories. In a class, I’m looking at about 200 calories burned over an hour. At home because I’m a slacker, it can get all the way down to 20. It’s hard to justify bingeing afterward, and I so enjoy the bingeing.
And last, we get to my favorite. Lifting is the one that produces the most visible results the quickest.
A good session of running leaves me drenched in sweat and exhausted. A good session of yoga leaves me feeling like every piece of tension has vacated the premises. A good session of lifting leaves me drenched in sweat and feeling like the Hulk.
I knew the Hulk reference would make sense later.
I get some strength from yoga. I get some strength from running. But I get a lot of strength from lifting. And there’s muscle memory sticking around for years that helps me fall back into form much more quickly than I can in yoga or running.
And again, the changes are more visible more quickly. If you want a lifting hack, focus on your back, chest, and shoulders. That’s where changes show up the easiest through a t-shirt. Just don’t skip leg day.
The Hulk is all over the place today.
The other big benefit that lifting has is that I can get my best workout in under 30 minutes, whereas running and yoga can run up to 60 minutes.
Even taking on all the stations I can really take on, I never need more than 30 minutes, assuming I’m not dawdling. I can 8 to 10 stations easy (though not easily).
There are a couple of drawbacks. Because of the nature of tiring out muscles, yoga and running results will take a dip in the short term as I adjust to the new addition to my routine. The other drawback, comparatively, is the lower calorie burn. A full workout is only about 120 calories. That said, I simply become a more awesome, fuel-burning machine in the long run, so we can view it as an investment.
In an idea world, I’ll be able to balance all of these and would somehow make doing each three days a week and including a day of rest work. Problem is that I’m still lazy. It’s not going to happen. I don’t really want to do more than one a day. At best, I can lift and run on the same days, but I feel like I’d be biting my running routine if I put in a full weight session, at least right now (I used to run 2 miles before lifting, so it is sort of plausible).
Here in the real world, 2 X 2 X 2 is more realistic, with a day on the weekend to rest. The trick to making this fully work is finding a good routine of it. One of the days for the weekend has to go to running. I’m going to binge on the weekend anyways, so I might as well feel like I’ve earned it. I can just balance in my second run some time during the week. Weights are also easy (for now) because I can just throw them into the morning to start my day (and jumpstart my appetite in a way that I can’t even fathom when I’m only running).
Yoga’s the real trickster. I really need to be in classes, but the studio I go to is on a lightened schedule, so the class I like is only offered sparsely, and I don’t know if the classes at my gym will work (this will be investigated in the near future). Worst-case is that I keep doing lighter yoga at home. If nothing else, it’s a stretching routine, even if it isn’t full-blown yoga.
But we’ll find a way. If I can’t make it up those stupid effing hills from the last 5K, I can make this routine work.