Saturday, January 25, 2014

Workout Partners are Awesome

I typically like working out alone and have always looked at those Find a Workout Partner articles and thought, not me, I don't really need a partner, I'm cool working out on my own. Well, maybe I was wrong, because over the last few weeks I have come to really appreciate my workout partners and I've learned that a love for exercising alone is not incompatible with having workout partners. So here I am writing my very own Workout Partners are Awesome post, because my workout partners are definitely making my road to Louisville easier and I think they're pretty awesome!

Besides making exercising more fun, exercise partners also significantly increase the likelihood that you'll actually work out. Maybe it's the fact that you don't want to disappoint your partner, or maybe it's just better to run 10 miles if you know someone else is doing it too. Either way, having a partner limits your lazy side's ability to win the battle of to do or not to do. A partner also pushes you to work a little harder than you would on your own. When you work out alone it's easy to slack off or convince yourself you've reached your max, but with a partner you'll push yourself just a little harder and longer, because your partner might be motivating you or maybe you're secretly trying to show off your skills or compete with your partner.

My partners have done all of the above for me this winter and I know I'm going to depend on them as I get ready to tackle the Ironman and possibly some other athletic endeavors this year!

Let's start with the Pacers Fun Runs. Like I said, I like exercising alone and that applies specifically to running, so I have been hesitant to join Pablo on his weekly runs with Pacers. Two weeks ago though, I changed my mind. Why? First of all, I've noticed a significant increase in my completed runs when I run with the group and second, the beauty of a group run is that you can make it whatever you want. Feeling social? Run with a pace group. Feeling anti-social? Run the same route as everyone else but on your own. You start the together and end up at the same place and if you're in Alexandria on a Tuesday, you get to wine taste together too. The results: you push yourself a little harder and in my case do a 4 mile run at a 9:25 min/mile pace (I'm a 10 min/mile runner on a good day on my own!)

Another awesome example is actually the incident that prompted me to write this post. A few days ago we woke up to 9 degree weather (-22 Celsius) and I was not in the mood to leave the house for an hour in the pool. I had a snow day from work, it was brutally cold and my warm bed was calling my name. Pablo let me sleep an extra 30 minutes and then he started nagging me to get ready to go to the pool. I was super tempted to tell him to just go on his own, but I knew it would not only disappoint him (this Ironman journey is after all a journey we decided to embark on together), but I'd also disappoint myself and probably kick myself in the butt when I would either have to own up to skipping a workout or have to venture out to the pool by myself.

So there I went in the cold and when I first got to the pool, I just was not feeling it. I felt slow, my arms hurt and my lazy side announced that I would just swim for 30 minutes, maybe at the most 45. As I continued my laps however, those complaints and negative thoughts slowly melted away....I remembered how it usually takes me about 750 meters to get in my groove and by 900 meters I felt like I had grown gills and my arms were gliding much smoother through the water. I was even practicing flip turns and before I knew it I had completed my planned 2000m workout.

I could go on and on sharing examples of the ways Pablo, Emily (my yoga buddy), Pacers and the DC Tri Club have helped me, but the main point is they're awesome and I highly recommend finding workout groups and partners. My internal motivation to train for this Ironman is definitely there. I want it and I know what I need to do to get there, but sometimes when it's cold and miserable outside or when it feels like the couch is calling my name, it sure is nice to have training partners to keep me on track!

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