Wednesday, January 28, 2015

If You Do One Thing You Can't Do Another

This post is inspired by Pumpkinmommy's comments on my last one. She asked Why Boxing? and also noted that I wrote about cutting back on running. I started thinking about both so much I decided I should just go ahead and write it all down.

Which I did. On paper. And then it sat in my writing folder. A week later I'm finally getting it on the screen.

I'm still figuring out my morning routine - what I want to get done and when I want to get up - vs. what I can get done and when I can consistently get up. Everything takes longer than I expect... and now we have added commute time (mostly from having the kids in two different places) so less time to do things at home, personal- or household-related.

My long-term athletic vision has changed over the last months and so I have been reorienting my exercise towards that. It's in part driven by my new-found love of boxing (which has re-awakened my long-time interest in martial arts), and in part driven by wanting to find a more sustainable running practice and goals. Basically, I want to get more out of the time that I do have for training, and I want to make sure that my body can handle it as well. I love the long distances... but I just don't have time for them in my week, every week... and especially not the recovery time I would need for them (and that time increases as I get older).

So I've changed up my strength training to include more weights and explosive work, and changed the focus of my runs to include more short runs at higher intensity.

I can't entirely give up some long runs, but I don't plan to do as many or as long as I used to. I do want to be able to be able to pick up and train for a half marathon or ten-mile race when I want to... but probably not more than once a year.

This change in focus has been making me faster, that's for sure (even with the long break over the holidays). The pace on my mid-distance cruising runs has dropped significantly, and my short runs are coming in consistently below 10-minute-mile pace. It will be fun to try some shorter races this spring.

But why boxing? I've been asking myself this since I started last May. I like the mix of strength, speed, endurance, technique, and eventually, strategy. Physically, last fall I felt in the best shape of my life. I like feeling well-rounded and with boxing (vs. swimming or rowing) I feel like my workouts have practical purpose. I don't mean that I expect or want to get into a fight anytime, but the movements are applicable in a variety of situations, rather than just being repetitive. I think that's also why I like trail running and hills, rather than just running on a treadmill or track.

Mentally, I like the challenge. Boxing scares me  - even just heading down to my basement - can I do this? Can I endure? Can I stay focused? Can I stay strong, and not just go through the motions? Add in working with a trainer - having someone pay such close attention to and evaluate me - and that's a whole other set of emotional challenges. Never mind hopefully someday sparring.

(A note to that: my current goal is to remain in basic good shape and eventually be able to train in a boxing-focused gym. No expectation of competing, but I would like to spar. I used to when I studied Indonesian kung fu and while it terrified me I also loved it.)

I also like being able to learn the history of boxing, and to follow the sport. I saw my first bout on TV recently (professional but not the ridiculous pay-per-view extravaganza) and have hopes to go see it live later this year (the Chicago Golden Gloves, which is amateur boxing). I didn't know how I would react to seeing it live and not just as part of a movie or historical footage, but I was fascinated and had learned just enough already to have half an idea of what was going on. I wanted to see it better! So boxing engages me physically and mentally, as a participant and as a spectator (over the years there has also been some really good writing about boxing), in a way that running doesn't always do. (I cannot get into reading about running technique or watch it for long, as much as I love doing it.)

I've been working with a couple of books by Mark Hatmaker in lieu of having a trainer (thanks for the recommendation, Hillari!). One is for conditioning and strength training and the other is of standard boxing technique. I made little tweaks to my form and was quickly able to feel a difference in my power. My challenge continues to be getting myself started in the morning - not up, I can get up - but started, and on boxing rather than any of the other things that also call for my attention.

And then there's that whole notion of cutting back on running... not so much the miles, but the number of days a week that I run. I miss running four times a week. So I may have to keep tinkering with my schedule.

Longing for just another hour in the day,


  1. OK you let on that you cannot do what I do (alter dress jackets) but you are clearly doing what I cannot do. I cannot even watch boxing, much less box. But I now understand why it interests you. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Ha, I meant more that since I want to return to some of my other interests (painting, quilting) I have to cut back on training. And that I've had to cut back on my fluff reading / TV watching now that we have the longer commute to deal with. If I say yes to one thing I have to say no to something else.