The goal? Better endurance. The time frame? 1 week. The results..?
About a week ago, I decided to change my workout routine. I used to do a lot of strength-based exercises with pilates, yoga, ballet, etc., and even though I was getting stronger, my endurance wasn't where it used to be. I turned red more easily, which was embarrassing enough for me to want to make some changes. Sure, I get cardio through dance, but it’s definitely not the same as preparing for a competition and turning into a tomato after every practice. Since everything is closed right now, I decided to take matters in my own hands and do something I’ve been trying to do for ages:
Jumprope every day.
I tried doing that in college, but I wasn’t diligent enough to do it every day. So, for this quarantine, I made it my goal to become more diligent. Especially since I have more than enough time on my hands and plenty of stress to let out through exercise!
FYI: The mission took a turn halfway through the week because the weather was so darn nice. I decided to go for a run, which is something I haven't done in MONTHS. So, I updated the goal:
Jumprope or go for a run every day for at least 10 minutes.
Ever since I was little, my grandma would lecture me on the benefits of jump rope. I never listened, choosing to rely solely on ice skating and dance to keep me in shape. I wasn’t conditioning my body properly, and I was putting it through jumps, spins, and high-intensity steps... in skates and in heels! So naturally, I got injured. Since then, I've gotten really passionate (maybe a little emphatic) about keeping myself healthy in order to avoid injury.
I don't believe in pushing yourself to the point of pain and exhaustion, but I also think that with exercise, you have to step into discomfort. Discomfort does not mean pain!! Discomfort means embracing your tomato face and sore muscles because you're getting stronger. There were many times while I was running that I wanted to walk the rest of the way home. Instead, I mapped out a destination point and sprinted until then. It's important to step into discomfort, or rather, sprint into it.
Another thing: I admit I challenged myself for vanity purposes. Not because I want to look like Beyonce, but because I hated how red my face turned after a workout. I was turning red so quickly, and I wanted to change that. I knew it was because my endurance wasn't where it used to be, so that was the focus of this challenge. Forget a six-pack! I wanted to dance longer without getting all red in the face.
Here's what happened:
1) No more tomato face!!
At the start of the week, I'd turn red after the first 3 minutes of nonstop jump rope. By the end? I'd only turn red after the first 5 minutes! I consider that an accomplishment: jumping nonstop for 10 minutes is harder than it sounds, especially if you're doing single jumps. I also stopped getting so tired after the first few minutes of running, which meant something was working. Whoo-hoo!
2) I learned how to pace myself
Doing cardio for seven days in a row with the same level of intensity is too much. So, on the days I really pushed myself I'd give myself a break the next day. When I was first running, I used to try to sprint right away, and I think it's why I had a lot of lower back and hip pain. For this challenge, I pushed myself when I knew I could go the extra mile (see what I did there?), but if I was breathing really heavily and sweating up a storm, I'd walk the rest of the way. Yes, I was challenging myself, but I was also listening to my body.
3) Developed a habit... for better or for worse
After the week was over, I didn't run or jump rope for two days and I felt extremely guilty. I hate that about exercise! Once you get into it, you feel the effects immediately if you take several days off. But, this dependency might be a good thing--after the week was over I continued incorporating more cardio into my routine. Even if I had five minutes, even if I was taking breaks to catch my breath, I did some jump rope. These "week-long" or "thirty-day" challenges are no joke. Be warned: you may be stuck with a habit... for better or for worse!
Thanks to my ACL injury, my right side is a little weaker than my left side, but after this, I noticed less of an imbalance. Mostly because I was trying to change my mindset. I used to exercise and focus on my weaker muscles, imagining them getting stronger. This time, I would imagine both sides getting stronger. I'd run and focus on my entire body as a whole--not just my weaker side. I really noticed a difference! It's true: a lot of exercise if mental. If you think something is going to be really challenging, it will be. If you focus on your weaker side, you'll only perpetuate the reality that you have an imbalanced body.
So, overall? Not bad. Maybe even good.
Hope this inspires you to stay healthy! What's next? I'm gonna take a nap. I've had enough running and jumping... at least for today.
Until next time <3