Don’t Try As Hard

Frequently we’re told that if we put more effort into the things we want, we will get the results we desire. It comes from teachers, parents, friends and social media, relating to jobs, relationships, fitness and appearance.

I see quotes on Instagram and Facebook telling me to work harder for my fitness goals, and go that extra mile to get what I want:

For a few years, I was training (and working) in the red zone, pushing my body to the max most days.  It began when I hired a personal trainer in 2013 to get me in shape for 20 mile obstacle race the following year. He trained me hard, I got results and was as fit as a fiddle. I went from not being able to run 2 miles to finishing in the top 10 females and becoming a sponsored obstacle race runner within 1.5 years.

Sometimes in training, I would even hit the black zone. 
I’m not sure if the black zone is even a thing……. A couple of times, I pushed so hard during training my vision went blurry, my ears started ringing and I left in a state where I couldn’t breathe properly.  Looking back, this makes me laugh – my PT sitting on the floor with me, clutching my hands and helping me relax.

I know training in the black zone may not be considered cool but I am pleased I worked up there, as now I know what it feels like. Despite it feeling like I was dying, I wasn’t. 
And I did also get very good results.

Recently, my fitness goals have changed dramatically. I’m fortunate to be supported by GMB Fitness for my Atlantic rowing challenge.  They have provided me with their Integral Strength Program, which is a foundation level bodyweight training course.  It includes movements such as the pistol squat (one legged squat), push up, handstand push-up, bridge, chin-up and L-sit progressions.

Enter Week 1….
I watch the instruction videos and am told not to push too hard. As soon as I start struggling, losing form or exerting too much effort, I must stop. WHAT!!!????  But surely if I push hard, I will get quicker results?
I’m naturally an impatient person and want results yesterday, however, I am disciplined in following a programme.

I do as I am told, and this results in doing a mere 5 push-ups……… wait for it……. on my knees!  I was so frustrated but I stuck with it.

I’ve been practising pistol squats for what feels like years and made little progress.
The progress I’ve made in just 4 weeks on this programme is remarkable. 

My push-ups, despite only having progressed to 5, are now off my knees and they look and feel strong with the best form of my life.
This has all come from what feels like little effort and absolutely no red or black zone. I just followed the programme and did what I was told.

Alongside this, I have also taken the effort levels of my running and rowing training down too.  Since training for my China marathon, I’ve been using my feet as transport; running into town to get my shopping, meeting friends, mostly with my trusted backpack.  Having lost my GPS watch, I’m running slower and steadier.  It’s difficult to know if my speed and performance have improved, but it feels more enjoyable.

I feel this controlled and consistent, let’s call it green-zone training, has been good for my mind and taught me a lot.

It’s also moved over into my day-to-day life too.  Not rushing around at 100mph, stepping back and assessing situations, becoming more patient and enjoying moments rather than whizzing to the next destination, always wishing for the results now.

The grand goal?  To train myself mentally and physically so I am ready for my Atlantic rowing challenge. Calming my mind, working steadily, making constant progress, thinking logically and practically and enjoying every moment, even in challenging times.

Thank you to GMB Fitness for providing me with your Integral Strength program.  My exercises are coming along well, my rowing has improved due to a stronger motor movement in my legs and my running posture feels great.

I used to be the hare, now I can see why the tortoise gets all the credit.

Since writing this post, I have run the Great Wall of China marathon. Despite not having trained for it, I completed it. It included over 10,000 steps with 3,300m of elevation and took 10 hours and 5 minutes.

I truly believe my GMB shrimp squat practise is what made my legs strong enough to complete this challenge with little running training. Thank you GMB x