If you read this post, or see me in my natural element (at home and in workout clothes) you know that I'm a big fan of Outdoor Voices. The technical apparel company is one of those brands that has a magnetic magic to it. Between the cool construction of the pieces, unexpected colors and combinations, fantastic quality, and supreme softness - there's not much I don't love about the products. But what really makes the company and their products feel special (and to directly take copy and paste from my earlier post) is that they celebrate fitness over performance. They're into "Doing Things" - whether that means hardcore workouts or walking your dog - and that's something I can get on board with.
Outdoor Voices: "We believe that when you drop the expectations to perform, the magic happens. That flawed is freeing (and often funny). That even the biggest kids want to play."
Reading stuff like that kind of gives me goosebumps. And inspires me to try news things. After being on a workout hiatus since moving to Dallas in September, I used the start of the new year as an excuse to get back into a sweaty routine. But rather than go back to my comfortable barre classes (an activity I can shamelessly say I was quite good at) I decided to really push the boundaries of my athletic comfort zone...I wanted to jump into the Doing Things philosophy and take my fears and expectations off the table. Keep reading to see what I got myself into.
I should probably start off my revealing that I have always been a little insecure about my athletic abilities. I can’t run – a quick walking pace can give me a side stitch. I have no hand-eye-coordination (tennis, golf and field hockey were are all failed childhood and teenaged experiences) and no upper body strength (my dogs don’t even know why I bother with fetch). I lack a competitive spirit (don’t pick me for your kickball team or challenge me to a race) and have said on more than one occasion that if I didn’t need to workout to keep my cellulite at bay than I wouldn’t do it. All sad but true.
But I love (LOVE!) the idea of Doing Things. I can’t run but I dream of being a runner who can hop outside and do three miles with ease. I have no hand-eye skills or upper body strength but damn if I don’t hope I can get into couples tennis once I trick someone into marrying me. I wish I didn’t have to workout but I want to be the person who loves it anyway.
While driving back to Dallas after spending a very relaxing Christmas holiday at home – where the main activities were eating followed by napping – I told my Sally and my brother-in-law Robert that I was going to start Couch to 5k in January. For anyone unfamiliar, C25K is an app designed for invalids like me who cannot run but would like to be able to. There are several versions you can download but each basically the same…a 9 week program where you do three running sessions a week. Each season features walk/run/walk/run intervals over 25-30 minutes. By the start of week 9 (if you’ve made it that far) you’re running 5k without breaks. I tried to do the app around this time last year and only made it to the start of the third week before I came up with a reason to quit. When I was explaining my plan to Sally and Robert – telling them that it was more about achieving a goal and trying to get comfortable actually running (no marathons in my future) – Robert said he wanted to do it too. We decided that we would start the program on the same day and though we wouldn’t be running together (the stress of having the same pace! The confusion of aligning schedules!) we planned on doing our three sessions a week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
On January 10th I did session 1 of week 1 on the C25K app. I texted Robert to let him know and he went later that day. We both concluded that while we felt out of shape, we didn’t feel like it was impossible. Thursday of that week rolled around and Robert did his session in the morning. Getting his text that he has already completed the “to-do” made me want to get out and do my run asap. Our buddy system has now taken us to week 5 (!!) and both of us have said that if we didn’t have each other we probably wouldn’t have stuck with it thus far…because the sessions get harder. This past Tuesday was particularly tough for me. I sent a text to Robert at 11:38am: “Week 5, Run 1. Not going to like. It kind of killed me. Especially the 3rd and 6th running intervals. My confidence is at a low.” He responded with: “You finished – that’s all that matters.” So nice, right? That little boost was all I needed to make my next two runs of the week better.
This week kicks off week 6 and I’m nervous to see how tomorrow’s run goes (3.5 minutes of running with .5 minute breaks between). But honestly, I’m just so excited that I’m two weeks away from being able to run 5k. I’m proud of myself! My pace isn’t award winning and neither is my form, but I’ve learned to be more confident just doing my best and feel good that I’ve done some recreational activity that I’m happy with.
On the days I don’t run, I want to start doing Pilates. I’d never tried reformer machines but went with my friend Mary to her favorite place (Session Pilates) last Monday. I only lost my balance and made a fool of myself once! And even though I didn’t know how to do everything and felt goofy some of the time, I was moving and sweating and having fun. Then I was so sore for the next three days I could barely walk. Win win! My favorite part (aside from feeling like I really got a workout) was that it was all new to me…I thought I would hate being in a class that wasn’t my familiar barre routine but not knowing what I was doing made me focus and honestly took a lot of the pressure off.
While I loved the class, I’m currently putting my future Pilates plans on hold – at least till I finish the C25K challenge – the daily activity I love most is taking Blue and Rosebud on their walks around the neighborhood. I hadn’t been able to take Rosie on walks till she finished her last round of puppy vaccines but a few weeks ago we wrapped the shots and I got permission from the vet to let her venture outside my yard and I swear, I have never been more excited to let two labs pull me down the street on leashes. We had been going stir crazy! Now we’re averaging three short walks a day and I think I love the ritual as much as the pups do. Living in Dallas’ Lower Greenville means that we can choose a loop in the neighborhood or a more lively retail stroll. Seeing Rosie freak out over all the smells, sights and sticks (she’s basically a beaver) she had been missing out on really makes my heart so happy.
I might not always be wearing my Outdoor Voices gear when I go on my C25K runs, or while nearly falling off a Pilates reformer, or during my daily dog walking jaunts – but when I am wearing OV during those moments of movement and activity I envision having a little more pep in my step. Because I feel like I’ve really been Doing Things in this new year and it feels like there’s a silent community of really well-dressed doers that would be proud of me.