If you want to know how easily sports can be integrated into your life and most of all make you feel really good about yourself, read on! If you’re expecting a post on how you’ll finally manage to reach those utopian goals you set for yourself every 1st of January, I have to disappoint you. But first, if you want to know about the featured image: yes, I fell while running with my dog. His enthusiasm, my mistake…
I started running at the age of 15, and I love it! I however once set the bar a little too high, up to the point where I got injured and even lost my motivation. I’ve recently realised I had to drastically change my vision on sports if I wanted to keep myself from giving up: instead of aiming high and pushing my limits, I’ve learned to guard my boundaries.
The first thing I did was to reduce running to a fixed amount of time or a limited distance. At first I kept it to 5k, but that’s down to 3k or 20 minutes now. And I’ll only go for a run when I really, really feel like it. Two weeks ago, I had forgotten to buy my favourite weekend muesli, the crunchy one with those delicious chocolate chips, and at the same time I felt like running. Such a lovely coincidence! I ran to the supermarket, taking a nice 3k detour.
So running’s down to 3k. Remember how I wrote about my 10-minute bursts of clutter clearing? Which I don’t allow myself to prolong? It’s all about not trying to exceed your expectations: you can keep that bar nice and low and still accomplish great things. To me, running 17 to 20 minutes regularly is better than having to give up altogether after a 10k training plan because of either a couple of injuries or extreme boredom.
Now you might wonder how on earth I can be satisfied with that? Luckily running is not the only thing I do. Have a look at the time I spent cycling to work, walking the dog, hiking… over the past three weeks:
If you add it all up, it’s quite a bit (when you compare it to nothing anyway) but it doesn’t feel like I’m straining myself.
On average, I commute to work on my trusty mountain bike 3 times a week. That’s 16k a go, keeping me happy with my calves!
And I don’t even have to force myself: there’s no car to take (only on Thursdays there is, and I loyally take advantage of it) and I will avoid using public transport when I can because it means leaving earlier and having to wait for a bus that tends to come early. Or late. Also, my coworkers know everything about motivational speeches. We had a great project at work in November called Velovember: we challenged ourselves to cycle 3000k for work in one month.
We made it, in spite of regularly being drenched in cold November rain, and I managed not to use the car on Thursdays!
How else do I keep myself both entertained and fit? In Sweden I noticed lots of people skiing in the streets during summer: rullskidåkning (don’t worry, I can’t say it either). Trained men and women move swiftly on skis with little wheels that look like extremely long inline skates.
One day I made my way to the Swedish ‘shöppe’ (no, I’m sorry, that’s a lie: it’s just called a ‘sportbutik’). I’m glad to say that the girl who introduced me to the world of rullskidåkning probably saved my life: she told me she often went skiing during winter but also that she considered summer skiing in the streets as plain suicidal. The next video is not one of mine. Sorry for sharing, but it was the easiest way to make my point.
I know how I can get caught up in things. I imagined myself rocketing off, colliding with the first car that happened by and decided against it. I bought inline skates instead, along with those Swedish sticks. Nice ‘n safe! Just skip through the video and see me float through a wintry wonderland at sunrise, just like I used to when I was 14 years old.
I’d rekindled an old hobby and felt on top of the world… until I got too enthusiastic and burned my knee crashing on the asphalt:
My dog loves running fast and he was accelerating -me happily clinging onto the leash, skates buzzing underneath my feet- when suddenly a whiff of urine settled in his nostrils. He stopped dead in his tracks (at 0:26), I lost my balance and somehow luckily still managed to dive and roll. Lesson learned.
So I still skate, but more carefully now. And I bought a helmet after the accident, which also came in handy when I went mountain biking.
People claim the second best trail in Belgium is located only a few kilometres from my village at “Moretusbos” in Putte. My bank clerk invited me for a tour one day and I loved it! I’d like to offer you a small film, but I’ve only managed to capture my not so interesting handlebars and my friendly guide’s buttocks.
Another reason why I keep doing sports is that my enthusiastic self loves trying new things. So whenever you invite me along to your training, I will say yes. That’s how I started mounting biking and ran 5k in the Ardennes last weekend, but also how I ended up in a spinning class -hilarious but oh so tiring- and in an aerobics class -where I kept going left when everyone was swiftly moving to the right.
The good thing about the aerobics class was that I got to lie down and stretch a lot during the ab workouts at the end of the session: the trainer is also a true believer in not overdoing it. Those sweet boundaries, again! That and the wave of endorphins which engulfed me afterwards are at the moment tempting me to go back. Luckily, the trainer only makes you pay when you actually show up (or rather: allows you to stay home when you’re not up to it). The perfect system.
The bottom line?
If you’re like me, and you’ve realised that striving for perfection in sports can damage your body and long-term motivation, turn your goals into boundaries.
If you’re like me, bored unless there’s plenty of variation, say yes to every friend’s sports invitation you’re granted (yes, it’s a gift!).
If you’re like me, and you love getting home with your undies and socks soaking wet, reeking of effort and exhaustion, have a look at what you used to like as a kid and go for it. Carefully though.
Feel free to share how sports make you happy!