It takes a stubborn place to get going again.

How to Return to Exercise After Downtime

This year, I’m running late.

Here it is April, and I finally feel like I awoke from my Winter hibernation.  It was only this morning that I felt the motivation, for the first time in several months, to get back out on my bike.

Yes, it is true I am a major whiner with cold temperatures, but, no, I did not wait until we saw our first 100 degree day. That was a few weeks ago.

You may relate to how difficult it can be to return to an exercise routine after taking time off.  Without a consistent effort as part of our day, we can quickly lose the habit and drive.

Unfortunately, it seems the older I get, the harder it is to re-energize the habit.

Lately, I’ve had the “helpful” excuses of needing to work on my roof.  This has provided ammo for the little voice in my head; “Gee, I should take advantage of the weather and get out on my bike… but there’s that darn roof I should work on… after I sleep another hour… and have my coffee… and check my email…”

However, this morning, I finally had enough of the excuses.

It was 4:30 AM when I popped awake. For the first time in a long time, rather than listening to the excuses of why I should not go ride, I instead crawled out of bed on a mission: shake off those final remnants of Winter (cobwebs, mothballs, stale fruitcake crumbs), gather my gear, load up my trusty truck, and be on the trail before sunrise.

It was a good plan… in my head.

Whereas, I normally have everything staged to be ready to ride at a moments notice, the time lapse since my last ride allowed my gear to scatter to the four winds. Trying to round up all my stuff was like herding cats.

The good news was that I knew where my truck was. Even I have a hard time losing something that big.

More good news was that I knew where my bike was… bad news was I could not find the front wheel. I keep my bike in my dust room (much like the Eastern “mud room”, except without the mud), but the front wheel and tire are typically in the garage… or the shop… maybe the storage building…

So there I am, before sunrise, wandering around the property looking for all the paraphernalia needed to take a short mountain bike jaunt:

— Camelback pack… check… filled with fresh water… check… and energy supplements… check
— GPS… check… filled with fresh batteries… check
— Cell phone, fully charged… check
— Video camera, with charged batteries… check
— Still camera, full charge… check
— Bike computer (at this point, I am wondering how much lighter I would be without all the batteries) … check
— Multi-tool for bike… which I finally found in kitchen drawer where I keep the bottle opener… which is missing…
(note to self: check for bottle opener in the bicycle tool chest)
— speaking of which, where *is* that tool chest… and my tire pump… and digital tire gauge…

And on it went:

My favorite riding jersey was still scrunched at the bottom of a laundry hamper, a bit ripe, sounding like a rusty hinge as I worked to un-wad it.

With all the gathering, filling, charging, stuffing and packing, I’m surprised I kept my enthusiasm to ride. It would have been real easy, during this period, to simply give up and go back to bed.

I found my helmet cleverly disguised as a sawdust catch-bin, sitting topside down behind the exhaust port of my miter saw.

The gloves were discovered separately; one under the drivers seat in trusty-truck, and the other in the shop, still wrapped around an empty Becks after having been enlisted into service as a Snuggie for a ‘cold one’ .

With all the gathering, filling, charging, stuffing and packing, I’m surprised I kept my enthusiasm to ride. It would have been real easy to simply give up and go back to bed.

But I forged on.

One-and-a-half hours later, I was finally leaving the house. The sun was coming up, meaning, it would be in my eyes part way up the mountain. I knew that once I got to the trail-head, I still had to fill my tires, pump up the suspension, and lube the chain.

This first ride of Spring had become a much bigger ordeal than intended.  But at this point, I was in my “stubborn place” . . .  I am getting on that trail even if I have to carry the bike on my back.

Is there a moral to this story?

Actually, yes.

The moral is that I understand how hard it can be to return to an exercise program after time off, and the longer time away, the harder it is to start.  Sometimes, you just have to find that stubborn place in your head that helps you push forward, even though obstacles and excuses are rampant.

This is where making a choice of doing something you really enjoy helps put the wind at your back.

My over-simplified advice? . . .  Find your own stubborn place, and don’t let anything — or anyone — discourage you.

Also, don’t store your helmet behind your miter saw.  When the sweat began dribbling sawdust down my face, people thought I had a flesh-eating disease.

Thankfully, I didn’t have my shorts stored with my helmet.

[reprinted from Applied Health Journal No.120, by authorization of Bill Evans]

[Applied Health Publications are registered in the United States Library of Congress, ISSN: 1525-6359]