Heads Up Francis

Brace yourself big guy, because we’re getting ready to leg back up!!!

With less than a month left until the wedding, I chatted with my trainer about the plan post-wedding, when I won’t have the equivalent of a part-time job wedding planning. And you know what?

I. Am. Pumped.

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We’re not talking too much about any shows just yet- we both clearly need to get back into shape and that won’t happen overnight. Y’all know how notoriously difficult Frankenbean is to get and keep fit. Homeboy has a big ol’ hay belly that he needs to lose.

As we were talking about the best way to leg him back up, I asked if it would make more sense to have me work him harder in December, then put him into a 2x/week program with AT in January. Ultimately though, I also need to get back in shape and I’m going to get tired and sore and cranky in the process. Trainer said we can do whatever I’m comfortable with, but used the phrase “let us help you.” Because she is an absolute gem.

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So after discussing pros and cons of different approaches, Francis is going back in his program in December! I’m really happy about this- Frankie is a million times easier to ride when he’s fit and I know that those 2x a week with AT will get him there much more quickly. She’ll take him out to the hills on the property and get him working and lifting so that I can focus on getting my own strength back instead of carrying Francis around. It’s a total ammy move and I LOVE it.

We’re also getting proactive about his vet care- when he last got his SI done, the vet recommended that we move to a 9 month cycle instead of 12 month. 9 months puts us right in January, but we’re going to have him checked to see if we should make that happen in December instead. We know he’s going to be uncomfortable as he gets back in shape and we definitely want to minimize that in any way we can. If we decide to wait until January to give him the bouncy juice, we’ll likely give him Pentosan to help him out in the meantime.

We’ll also be proactive with his other care- likely add a few massages to the schedule to help combat any muscle aches. If he tells us he needs it, we’ll add some chiro and/or acupuncture to the mix. I’m also intrigued by Magna Wave after hearing Amanda’s account of how much Henny liked it. If other people in the barn are interested, maybe we’ll bring someone in.

So don’t feel too bad for Frankie. Sure, he has to get in shape. But he’s also getting incredible amounts of pampering under the supervision of a whole cadre of knowledgeable pros. Let no one say that I don’t spoil the crap out of my horse.

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He’s basically the horse version of this cat

While we’re not putting any shows on the schedule just yet, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk about that at least a little. There’s quite a few within a two hour drive in the winter months that Trainer said we could likely ship into for the day. I love the idea of getting out there more often for a MUCH smaller amount than all those 5 day long sagas. We’ll see where we are at the end of December/early January and potentially make an outing in the Lows to get our sea legs back. I’m in zero rush to get back up to speed so we’ll see how Frankie is feeling as we move along and let him tell us when he’s feeling good to get back out there.

In the same vein, I’m going to kinda let him dictate what we decide to do this show season. If he’s going great and feeling really good and solid in the Highs, we’ll try a 1.20m to see how it goes. If the amount of support he’ll need at that height surpasses my skill level, or if he tells me that he’s most comfortable at 1.15m, we’ll stick with that. My job is to give him the fitness and tools he needs to succeed, and from there he gets to tell me what that looks like.

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It’s officially time for me to get my workouts in- I may not be motivated to build strength for myself, but you bet your butt I’ll do it for Francis. So excited to get back to work with my bestest beast!!

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A Chunkaroo and a New Helmet

Y’all. Frankie has upgraded from dad-bod status to straight up FAT. Homeboy has butt wrinkles. Literally he had one month of light work and his body was immediately like HAHA PACK ON THE POUNDS. This means he also immediately lost all self-carriage and impulsion. It took a solid 6-9 months of hardcore training and work to leg him up to full fitness, and 4 weeks to completely lose it all. COOL.

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Remember when he was so fit and muscley and beefy in the very very distant past? Me neither.

Anyways, I don’t want a fat horse. It ain’t good for him (though he seems to be enjoying himself) and it ain’t good for me. Once we get past the wedding, I’d really like to have a competition season (albeit with less traveling than I did this year), and that will be hard if I have to spend several months legging him up basically from scratch.

Enter, the world’s best barn family. With their help, Frankie will get his 6 rides a week from a variety of sources- 2-3 from me, 1 from AT, and 2-3 from some of our TJRs (Talented Junior Riders). I can’t even express what a relief this is- I’ve been feeling so much guilt about not being able to get out as often as Frankie needs, and knowing that he’s getting exercised and groomed and loved on when I can’t be there lifts an enormous weight. I’m so eager to get back into more of a program with him, but I can breathe a sigh of relief that he’ll be ready for me when I’m able to do that. Seriously: world’s BEST barn fam.

In other news, I got myself a new helmet! I’ve had my Charles Owen GR8 for just about 4 years now- it smells like a dead animal, has little to no ventilation, and I’ve now fallen in it twice. I didn’t hit my head either time, but all those factors combined to make it definitely time for a new noggin-protector. And the timing worked out perfectly with International Helmet Awareness Day(s)! I headed over to my local Dover with the plan to buy the Samshield I had tried earlier in the year and loved.

Yeah, I didn’t walk out of there with the Samshield. The girl helping me was FANTASTIC. She knew what to look for in terms of helmet fit, told me what she was looking for, and spent a reeeeeeally long time working with me to try on every single helmet that might’ve possibly worked.

We started with the Samshield- she pretty quickly gave that a nope because they didn’t have one small enough for me #childsizedhead. We tried a Kask and she didn’t even let me look in the mirror. Then we tried a rose-gold-accented One K that I IMMEDIATELY fell in love with, which she gave a tentative thumbs up. And then she destroyed my rose gold dreams by putting me (very reluctantly) in a CO AYR8 plus. Which she then pronounced to fit me the best of everything we tried.

I then proceeded to try on an IRH, a GPA, the new TraumaVoid, and a Tipperary because UGHHHH I DIDN’T WANT ANOTHER CHARLES OWEN. Can’t tell ya why. My CO has served me faithfully for years. I also kept putting the rose gold one back on, and she kept looking at me dubiously. None of them fit nearly as well, no matter how much I tried to negotiate.

Ultimately, we agreed that the safest helmet is the one that fits the best, and it was very obvious that the CO fit the shape and size of my head the best by far. She tried to soften the blow by offering customization which I eagerly latched onto, but then we realized that this model doesn’t offer customization.

SO MANY DREAMS CREATED AND SHATTERED.

So I walked out of there with my new AYR8 Plus, and I’m really warming up to it. It has a removable washable liner, tons more ventilation than my old helmet, and it really does fit like a glove. It’s a definite upgrade.

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It sure is a helmet

So I’m riding less but we’re keeping Francis fit, I have a new helmet for the first time in several years, and I’m ready to just GET MARRIED ALREADY so I can get back to the barn more. Priorities.

Chubby Bunny

Frankie’s mama may be a TB, but Francis is alllll warmblood in pretty much every way.

He is the epitome of the big dumb warmblood gelding ( I say this with love), he’s built a little thicker than many TBs, and he sheds out more on a warmblood schedule (literally still shedding). So while he’s technically only half Oldenburg, I definitely think he takes after that side of his breeding much more strongly.

Including the fact that his natural state is a little chunk-a-roony. Manfriend has gleefully taken to calling him “Ol’ Frankie Dad-Bod.” Francis has a great work ethic, is athletic, but he loses fitness practically overnight when he’s not in a pretty intense program.

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OK fine there’s a bit of a belly there I admit it

His fitness has improved over time- but his job has gotten a lot harder too. As I’ve mentioned a few times now, fitness is our main focus in the lead-up to finals. So that people can stop calling my sweet boy names like “chubby bunny” and start being like “wow what a shredded ripped Hulk of a horse.”

He’s not obese or anything, and is probably slimmer than most show hunters, but still. He’s only 11, is jumping 1.15m with tentative hopes for higher, and he has a total dad bod. A DAD BOD.

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The most flattering picture ever taken

With 6 weeks to go until finals, what are we doing to turn Francis from Andy Dwyer to Star Lord?

  • Training rides. AT will be hopping on 2x a week to put some pro rides on him. We wanted to hit a balance of still giving me plenty of saddle time, but often enough to let the pro rides build on each other. 2x a week it is.
  • A 6 on/1 off schedule. Frankie will be worked with varying levels of activity 6 days a week. We’ve worked this schedule with him before with good results, so we’re getting back into that stricter rotation. It’ll be 2 pro rides (which will vary in time/intensity based on his schedule for the week), 1 lesson, 1-2 days hill work/terrain hacks, 1-2 light days.
  • Hill work. As mentioned above, we’ll be incorporating more hill work in our schedules. Some days will be more dedicated to this- there’s a low-traffic road near the barn with a nice shoulder and gentle slope that’s just perfect for trot sets- and we’ll be searching out more hill terrain for cool-down walks after other rides. I haven’t taken enough advantage of the terrain we have nearby in the past and I’m excited to make use of it. I think this will also help us have a good balance with rides- while we’re upping the intensity, we’re also going to be doing more hacks and trail rides to let him get out of the ring and decompress.
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Ambivalent ears
  • Raising the expectations. My “practice rides” with him often end up being fairly short, and I don’t make him do too much. Especially in the summer heat, my motivation to sweat even harder wanes a little. But enough of that crap. Francis knows how to carry himself on the contact. He knows how to collect with impulsion. He knows how to counter-canter and leg yield and shoulder-in. We won’t drill for the sake of drilling, but I will be asking for more out of our rides- he knows the right answers, I just need to be more insistent about asking the questions.
  • No stirrups. What, you thought Frankie was the only one who needs to get in shape?! I’ll be jumping on the fitness train and spending a lot more time without my stirrups. I’ll also be making more consistent use of the gym during my lunch breaks- with free access within walking distance, I have zero excuse not to go. I’m gonna need to get my own butt in gear to keep up with Frankie.

As always, we’re doing all of this in close contact with a whole team of professionals to make sure Frankie is getting the right nutrition, has healthy balanced feet, and is as healthy as…well, as healthy as a horse.

We ask an awful lot of him and finals will be a real test of that- three straight days of long championship courses. We owe it to him to give him every single tool that we possibly can, so he can perform his job comfortably without exhausting himself.

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Like that one time he literally fell asleep every time I wasn’t actively asking him to move.

I’d also like Manfriend to stop calling him Frankie Dad-Bod, but I think he finds it too hilarious to ever stop saying it.

 

Progression: Jumping

This has been mentioned time and time again in my posts over the last few months, but I’d like to take a minute and devote some time specifically to this:

Frankie consistently jumps much better now than he used to.

I don’t just mean that he jumps prettier- though he absolutely does. I mean that he jumps better- more strongly, cleanly, and powerfully. The “pretty” is a lovely side effect of these improvements.

So let’s take a little stroll down memory lane to see where we started together, and talk about some of what we’ve done to get to where we are today.

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First time I tried him, March 2016

 

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Our first show together, Loudoun Benefit, June 2016

 

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Our second show, HITS Culpeper, August 2016

 

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Working hard over the winter, November 2016

 

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Playing over the bigger jumps, January 2017

 

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NEVER NOT SHARING THIS PICTURE. First big outing in our new division, HITS Culpeper, April 2017

 

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Warming up at Upperville, 2017

 

Let’s go ahead and contrast an early and more recent one together real quick:

The height of the fence isn’t a factor here- in fact, the warmup fence on the right is quite a bit lower than the one in the show ring from last year (same venue, funny enough).

What we had early on was a horse that knew to get to the other side of the jump, but didn’t know how to use his body to do that efficiently.

What I see more recently is a horse that pushes off more powerfully from behind, uses his back and neck more actively, and is tidier with his front end.

And I think this speaks to a couple of different factors: (1) fitness and (2) knowledge.

Frankie has now spent roughly 18 months in a consistent professional program- he was certainly in training before that, but transitioned to a stricter program when he was put up for sale (which has continued since I bought him). Through that steady increase in fitness, he’s better able to power off the ground by rocking back instead of “pulling” himself over the jump. His back and neck muscles have developed the strength to use them in different ways. I’d still like to condition him further and fitness will be our main focus in the coming months, but the consistency of our program has been good thus far for his muscle strength and endurance.

In terms of knowledge, we’ve tried to build exercises that set him up to jump well- that make it clear what the “right answer” is. This means lots of grids set fairly short- asking him to rock back and collect his stride to carry himself through. This also means lots of lateral work on the flat, to unlock some of that motion and get him stronger in his hind end and over his back.

I think those shorter lines and grids are absolutely crucial for Frankie. He has a naturally big stride- not fast, just big- and it tends to get bigger and more strung out as he gets tired. By building the strength he needs on the flat to carry some collection in his stride, we are able to set him up to carry himself to the jumps. These shorter lines also force him to rock back on his butt to launch off- there’s no room for him to lurch over. And these lines make him fire a little faster to get his front end up and out of the way.

These are not often big jumps- we jack the jumps up 2-3x a month, if that. We only jump 1x a week, and most of the time they’re kept at 3’ or (usually) lower. We spend the time working on more efficient turns, adjusting our stride, playing with our track, and setting ourselves up to make jumping easier for him. So while I think Frankie gives a better effort over the bigger jumps partially because he has to in order to make it over, we have built up his fitness and ability mostly over smaller jumps and on the flat.

I will say that Frankie still prefers to gallop up out of stride instead of riding to the “jumper chip.” Doing that makes his life easy, since he has plenty of time to get his legs out of the way and doesn’t have to shift his weight back as much for takeoff.

The big difference now is that even though he doesn’t love the close spot, he can still give me a powerful effort. In the past, he simply didn’t (1) know that the close spot was the right answer or (2) have the fitness to give me that answer even if I asked (which I didn’t because I also didn’t know what I was doing and mostly still don’t so luckily he does now womp womp). It used to be extremely weak and lurchy and gross and icky.

In the spirit of total honesty- it is still sometimes totally icky. This is a work in progress, and I definitely need to back up all of my asks with a crapton of leg, otherwise he says HAH I CAN HALF-ASS THIS TOO MAHM. Which is fair.

So I definitely think there’s plenty of room for improvement here. As mentioned, fitness is going to be a big priority for us moving forward, to continue building that ability and willingness to rock back, adjust, and power off the ground. We’d like to shift that close spot to more of an automatic answer for him instead of automatically looking for an out-of-stride spot.

I think this is a great example of form following function. We’ve never tried to make Frankie jump prettier- we’ve just tried to get him fit for his job and set him up to answer the different questions he’ll be asked on course.

Hopefully as we continue to build our muscle and endurance, we keep improving together!

Especially for those of you with young/green/inexperienced horses: what have you done to develop their jumping abilities? I’d love to see any progress pics y’all have to share!

Just Workin’ on My Fitness

I have hemmed and hawed and debated and changed my mind about sharing this post, but goshdarnit I’m proud of my hard work and I want to share that with my readers.

Over the last few months, I’ve gotten in shape. Lost a few pounds, toned up my muscles, and I honestly think I’m in the best shape of my adult life.

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Addy actually gives zero effs about whether I’m shape as long as I stuff her face with cookies.

I haven’t really gotten a great reaction to this when I’ve mentioned it to people, and it makes sense. I’ve always been on the slender side, and literally no one wants to hear the thin girl talk about getting in shape. The kinder folks brush me off with dismissive looks and little laughs and the “bolder” people tell me that I don’t understand the true struggle of getting into shape, as if it’s some club that I don’t deserve membership to.

And who knows, maybe I don’t truly understand the struggle like someone else would. We all have our own struggles and approach them in our own ways. But I’ve made some lifestyle changes and worked hard, and I’ve seen the changes in my body.

I really can’t blame them for not seeing the same changes though. They can’t see that my stomach now has real life abs under the squish instead of being pure squish. They can’t see that my legs have gotten more toned and muscular, and they didn’t see me running 2 miles (which is 1 mile more than I’ve ever managed). They have no idea that my leg is more stable over jumps or that I can post without stirrups for a longer time, and they have no idea that when I walk into work without limping from muscle soreness, that is a victory my new muscles have given me.

I’ll agree with those who have told me that I can’t take credit for some of this- I’m genetically predisposed to be fairly lanky, and I still have my early-20s metabolism. But I’ve been cooking healthy food for every meal instead of ordering take-out, staying super active, and drinking tons of water, so I will take some of the credit. To the people who have told me to “enjoy my metabolism” or that it’s “just good genes,” I’d like to point out that my healthy choices have made a difference in my body. It can’t all be metabolism and genes. I’ve chosen to make healthy choices even when it was easier to take the unhealthy route, and I’m thrilled that it has shown in a tangible way.

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Although the genes likely do explain my propensity for ridiculous flailing in any given situation. Probably also explains the pit-stains.

I honestly don’t know what I’m hoping to get from this post- I’m not asking for congratulations or kudos from you all, because Addy has clearly shown her happiness that I’m not as floppy as I once was. I’m not really asking for encouragement either, because I’ve gotten that from manfriend as I’ve kept up with him on a run, and from my trainer as she’s seen me wrangle the Beastly Unicorn around more difficult courses. I’m especially not asking for anyone to diminish what I’ve worked hard for, because I’ve gotten plenty of that in real life as well.

Forgive me if this sounds defensive. It’s not meant to be. I suppose that the real reason I’m sharing this is because I have made such amazing connections with so many of you, and friends celebrate their accomplishments together.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to talking about the ups and downs and successes and setbacks of a working ammy. But today I’m going to take a deep breath and smile at myself a bit and eat a GIGANTIC freakin’ bag of Doritos because GOSHDARNIT I’M SO SICK OF CHICKEN. And I hope you’ll be eating Doritos with me in spirit.

PS- Thank you times a million to Jenn from Stories in the Saddle, who encouraged me to celebrate and write whatever the heck I feel like and forget the haters 🙂

Don’t tell me what to eat!

I hate being told what to do. Hate it.

Growing up, my parents rarely made demands- they expected me to respect their authority and in return respected my right to question. On the rare occasion that Mom or Dad said “Do this now!” it was clear that it must be too important at the time to question. As I was a generally good kid, this system worked well for us and kept us away from any major blow-up fights.

But an unintended side effect of this is that I absolutely cannot tolerate demands. This is quite selective- I’m more than happy to receive assignments at work or be told what repairs my car needs or that the course I’m riding goes like this not like that. Pretty much anything else? Nope. Will not respond. Even if I was about to do what you just told me to do, I will now do the opposite.


source: giphy

Admittedly this is childish. There is no harm in doing what I was going to do anyways just because someone told me I need to do that. It’s just this knee-jerk reaction to the assumption of authority that rankles. Even my own parents- the ultimate authority to a child- didn’t assume total supremacy, so why on earth should some other person order me around? Manfriend learned this very quickly and (bless him) never tries to boss me. He knows it simply wouldn’t work. Suggestions, advice, anecdotes are all welcomed but I tune out as soon as it crosses the line into demand territory.

Just wait, it gets worse.

I can’t even tell myself what to do. As soon as I say “I NEED to get this done right now,” I head off on a tangent. Or I get paralyzed and don’t do anything at all. Or I come up with a thousand reasons I don’t actually need to get it done. Demands are unacceptable from any quarter, even my own brain.

This especially carries over into my food habits. The very instant that I swear off junk food is the very instant I get in the car to grab a dozen doughnuts. As soon as I forbid candy, I load up on Reese’s and start stuffing my face. Even when I was using a calorie tracker, I got rebellious and started eating more just so I could punch stuff into the app. You don’t have to tell me  how insane this is- trust me, I know.

The only way I can keep myself from eating junk food is by letting myself eat junk food.

Despite how nonsensical that sounds, it’s how I work. Defiantly cutting out all junk just makes me focus on and crave it more, so I have to give myself a free pass at all times to eat whatever I want. When I’m not thinking about it, I eat the way I’ve always eaten: pretty lean with the occasional splurge. Isn’t that a “healthy” diet? I tend to stick with foods that make me feel good physically; I know that too many carbs makes me feel sluggish, and I really like chicken and veggies. Sharing meals with health-conscious manfriend helps too- he’s an exponentially better cook than I am so he keeps us healthy and full. Then when I get the 4,000 calorie cheeseburger from Cheeburger Cheeburger one day during lunch, I don’t feel bad. When I say “it’s just one day, it won’t ruin me,” I can actually mean it because I know the next day I’ll be having my usual lean burrito and yogurt for lunch.

Overall I eat pretty well- low in carbs, high in veggies and protein, not too much salt or sugar. But I have a desk drawer of Hershey’s Kisses at work and never miss an opportunity for doughnuts. Manfriend and I are ignoring Valentine’s Day, but you can bet I’m taking this as a perfect excuse for a salty, sugary, bacon-y brunch of epic proportions. After all, I told myself I couldn’t.

How do you try and eat healthy? Anyone else stupidly stubborn like this? (It can’t be just me)

Why I don’t work out, and why I won’t start.

Reader, the gym is not my happy place. “Work out more!” is never a New Year’s Resolution, and just the thought of running more than half a mile makes me cringe (though you’ve read about my recent foray into the jogging world). Working out at the gym simply does not work out for me.

I’ve tried in the past- I used the circuit machines with my best friend in high school, rocked the elliptical a couple times a week in college, and once I moved down to VA I would go down to the tiny apartment gym with my roommate.

Photo evidence that I even worked out on senior year Spring Break with my gorgeous roommate. Who works out on vacation?!
Photo evidence that I even exercised on senior year Spring Break with my gorgeous roommate. Who works out on vacation?!

But that’s all come to an end and I don’t plan on going back. No matter how I approach the whole venture, I feel like a hamster on a wheel when I go to the gym. Like I’m stuck in this cycle of “I need to put the resistance up so that I can put the resistance even higher.” I’m not knocking people that love the gym- my dad, my brother, manfriend, and most of my friends really enjoy it. They find it energizing, relaxing, and invigorating, and that’s fantastic. But when I go, I get none of those things.

So my “gym” resolution this year is to stop trying to force it, and to stop beating myself up when I inevitably don’t go. There’s nothing about it that feels enjoyable- why should I make it happen? I don’t like the gym and the gym seems to reciprocate the feeling.

Working on my fitness level is a whole different matter. There is nothing I want more than a toned body that will do what I tell it to do. If I need to chase the dog when we’re playing outside I want to be able to keep up; if I need to help someone move I want to be able to haul the big furniture; if my trainer tells me to drop my stirrups I want to last more than two laps around before collapsing into a heap of jelly-muscles; I want my back muscles strong and flexible enough to stave off the back pain I get from falling off my horse so many times when I was younger.

How can I do those things if I’m not at the gym? We’re talking cardiovascular endurance, weight training, and stretching, so how does that work without a designated time or place?

Easy: I’m constantly moving. I’m lucky enough to have a convertible desk, so I stand for most of the day at work. Fidgeting and bouncing and moving around the entire time, or stretching out my legs and arms. The time that I do sit is usually on a stability ball, and I’m moving around then too to engage my core or stretch out my back. This doesn’t work on days with lots of meetings when I have to pretend to be a grown-up that sits still, but on any given day I’m standing up and moving. Hooray for multitasking!

When I’m not at work, I’m still moving. That parking spot out in the boondocks is mine! I ignore elevators and take the stairs. I do all those “simple tips to lose 10 lbs in a month” that are always on the covers of tabloids, but I’m doing it to keep myself moving rather than lose weight. My FitBit inspires me to walk more and when the weather’s nice manfriend and I love to go hiking. He even gets me running sometimes.

Workout: unhappy (though Manfriend seems downright gleeful at my pain). Hiking: happy!
Workout: unhappy (though Manfriend seems downright gleeful at my pain). Hiking: happy!

I work my muscles too- taking two trips to bring in all the groceries is for lesser mortals. Moving workbooks and textbooks at work, carrying my giant bag of horse stuff around, and attempting to roll manfriend over when he falls asleep on the couch all help me build strength (seriously, manfriend is 6’3″ and impossible to move).

And of course- I ride. I won’t even get into the classic “riding is a sport too!!!!” thing, ’cause we all know it is. I couldn’t even roll over in bed after my first lesson this last fall (the sheets were too heavy and my muscles were too sore. True story). Getting in the saddle three or four times a week IS my gym time. It gives me that energy, that relaxation, and that invigoration my peers get from the gym, and I’d argue that it’s a better overall workout- it engages every major muscle group, works on balance, and anyone who’s huffed and puffed after a tough course knows it counts as cardio too.

Since I made a conscious decision to keep up my non-workout habits, I’ve gotten into the best shape I’ve been in since I was 15 and riding 3-5 horses a day. This approach might not work forever, but it works for now- everyone at work says to take advantage of the early-twenties metabolism and maybe that’s what I’m doing. I ain’t complaining.

After all the angst and guilt about not going to the gym, I’ve realized something about myself: I don’t work out, and that’s OK. I don’t plan on starting, and that’s OK. I’ve got my non-workout habits going strong, and I’ve got this covered.

Don’t even get me started on my non-diet.

What are some ways that you “non-workout”?  Are you a gym-lover or do you prefer to get your sweat on in other ways?

What’s worse than a worm in your apple? Running.

Manfriend did a bad thing. Or maybe it was a good thing. Or maybe it was me who did the bad good thing.

Let me start over.

There are two things you need to know about me: (1) I hate working out of any kind, and (2) I think running is the worst form of working out ever invented. My view is that maybe I’d run when I’m chased, but finding a good hiding spot would probably be more useful.

Sure I like the idea of running, in the sense that people are always saying what a stress buster it is, and running clothes are totally cute. But in execution? I start heaving after a half mile. You can just forget about a full mile; it’s not happening.

But I read an awesome blog post over at ShannonFromScratch the other day and it got me thinking. She didn’t try to make running sounds like some amazing problem solver, but instead as a challenge and an accomplishment. I could really relate to what she was saying and that’s what sold it to me. I don’t have to drink the Kool-Aid and become a marathoner. I can find my own balance that works for me. And maybe it really would be a good thing for my health and my riding (as an added bonus, it would shock Father Dearest when he heard that his oft-sedentary daughter was moving on her own two feet voluntarily).

So here we arrive at the good/bad thing I mentioned earlier: manfriend asked me to go running with him on Friday. And I said yes.

Kicking and screaming and bargaining over how far we’d go, I said yes. He had too many arguments for why it would be good for me (get me in better shape for riding, help me sleep better, get those dopamine levels up), and when that seemed ineffective he told me that he hates running alone. Guilt trip, ticket for one. His persuasive powers combined with the perfect timing on that awesome blog post sold it.

Sneakers donned and rarely-worn workout attire on, we set out the door. My commentary started up as soon as we hit the sidewalk:

“Aren’t we supposed to walk for a while? To warm up or something? I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to walk more. And we’re definitely supposed to walk around corners. Blind spots and center of balance and such. Do lungs normally make that sound? High impact activities aren’t good for my knees. My hands are cold. My nose is running. Are we almost done?”

All that before we even hit a quarter mile.

With the patience of a saint, manfriend pushed me when I slowed down and encouraged me when I kept up. He kept me out there just past what I thought my limit was and then let me catch my breath. Seriously, he’s the best. And you know what I thought about the whole thing?

It was just as bad as I knew it would be.

Nah just kidding, it was fine. Despite the wheezing and the cramps and the goshdarn freezing air in my lungs, I survived to blog another day. Did I love it? No. Did I feel like I had accomplished something really cool when we were done? Abso-frickin-lutely.

I might even go run again with him sometime.

Are you a running aficionado, or do you loathe it entirely? Any tips to make this whole “running” thing more bearable?