[Yes – I forgot to post this early this morning. Sorry!]

April is almost over. Spring has sprung. We have had a chance to recover from a couple of fitness challenges, and now we’re settling into the mundane, day after day challenge of staying active. I had some ideas in mind for my own summer training, but it took me nearly two weeks to adjust to the end of the fitness “challenges.” I have not really done a sustained activity like that before, and, as it turned out, we ended up doing two, back-to-back. On my own, I know I would have NEVER done a fitness challenge. Now that I have tried it, though, I see how a good fitness challenge can motivate you to achieve much more than you ever thought.

The first thing I have learned from all of these recent fitness challenges is that I need a bit of time to shift gears when I’m winding down one training phase and winding up another. After the Kettlebells and then the Burpees, my body decided that I needed time to relax and take a break. But I also needed time to reflect on some new training objectives and come up with a plan for moving forward. I decided that two consecutive pedal-to-the-medal training blocks is a lot (and, since I’m not a professional athlete, I don’t NEED to dedicate my entire life to training). The result was that, after the Burpees, I wandered aimlessly through the next two weeks. I felt a bit restless, but could only muster a half-hearted effort. So I’m now just calling those weeks a training holiday.

That little break was actually very nice. It gave me time to rethink my next training block and mix it up a bit. I even had a chance to try a run and was really pleased that all the Kettlebells, Burpees and Cross-Swim seem to have got me ready for the summer run season. Second take-away: basic core strength training and some cardio can significantly improve your performance in other activities even without “training” in that activity! That was a cool effect.

This leads to the third thing I learned: a fitness challenge really does push you beyond the point where you would stop on your own. I had a Kettlebell target and that kept me focused. The Burpees were a new thing, but once we figured out how much we could do, new targets kept us going. In the same way, when you do a fitness class, you basically put yourself under the coach’s guidance and they push you beyond your personal I-want-to-stop point. Accepting a challenge has the potential to make you better. Having other buddies along for the ride encourages you to keep your commitment. And, at the end of the day (or training block), you have accomplished something fantastic.

Keep up the good work. Take a break if you need it, but don’t stop altogether. Look what you’ve already accomplished!