Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Elliptical, The Little Drummer Boy, and Me...

In the gym this morning, I was on the elliptical.  That's really nothing new.  I do that a lot lately.  It has quickly become my favorite piece of training equipment, despite the fact that 4 months ago I couldn't go a tenth of a mile on it without tremendous pain.  This morning, though, I wasn't thinking about that.  I was trying to shake up my workout routine a bit and go for distance instead of speed.

For the past two weeks, I've been focusing on using interval training on whatever equipment I use for cardio workouts.  I love what it's doing to shape my body, kickstart my metabolism, and improve my cardiovascular conditioning.  But one of the drawbacks for me that I've noticed in using it so often is that I haven't been going long distances.  After about a mile or mile and a half of intervals, I'm pooped!  My muscles are screaming at me, and I'm ready to call it quits and move on to strength training.  Today, I wanted to change it up a bit and focus more on distance and endurance, rather than speed.  My goal was to go farther than I've ever gone on the treadmill, elliptical, or arc trainer.  (I didn't include the stationary bike in that equation because I routinely go far distances on that piece of equipment, but it's a completely different workout in my mind and doesn't compare with the work I do on the other three.)  The longest distance I've done to date on all of those machines is a 5K.  3.11 miles.  Today the goal was to go farther than that.

I hopped on the elliptical and intentionally set out at a much more sedate pace than if I were training intervals.  After all, I reasoned, you're going to go farther than a 5K.  Save some energy for later.  What I discovered rather early on, however, is that another of the side benefits of interval training is that my "average" speed is a LOT faster than it used to be.  Going anything less than 5 miles an hour on the elliptical just felt wrong. In fact, that was my average, because I did the first mile in 12:05...without any intentional sprinting.  I was feeling good, solid, really ready to go the distance.

And then I hit the wall at about 1.75 miles.  My energy was nearly used up and although I was trying to stay hydrated, I could feel myself tiring.  I knew it was because I was truly pushing myself, and I tried very hard to back down on the speed, but my legs were not cooperating.  5.5 to 6 mph was just what they were going to do...period.  So my mind started to rethink the distance.  After all, the farthest I've ever gone on the elliptical specifically was right there...1.75 miles.  I did that earlier this week in about 20 minutes after a 9:10 mile of intervals and the remaining time at an average pace.  (I reached that distance in 19:40 today, without any intervals...which should tell you how hard I was going at it.)  So technically, I really could achieve my goal of going farther than I have ever gone...on this one piece of equipment...if I did just a little bit more.

Just as I was about to shut it down and justify it nicely in my head, a song came on that made me rethink getting off that machine. 

Little Drummer Boy.

Rather than listening to my regular workout mix this month, I've been listening to a Christmas playlist as I've been kicking it in the gym.  In general, I don't really care for this song and am not really sure why it's in my iTunes to begin with. I honestly don't remember ever putting it there. But you see, I think it's a God-thing that it came on when it did. 

Most of you know the song, I'm sure.  A little boy...not much to offer the newborn King...certainly not the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the Wise Men were bringing the Child...feeling less capable than others. No lavish gifts to offer.  But he has a drum.  He can play for the Baby. 

"I played my drum for Him...I played my best for Him..."

That song really convicted me today.  You see, on the treadmills in front of me for my entire workout were two serious runners.  They were clearly going for distance, too, and were keeping an impressive pace.  I had a serious "Little Drummer Boy" moment working out behind them.  Their running skills were so much more impressive than mine. Strong kicks, great form.  They surely weren't hitting any walls at 1.75 miles!  I felt like I had nothing compared to them.  But really...I did.

You see, I know that this change in my life is because of a lot of hard work on my part.  I don't discount that...not at all.  But at the very core of this journey I'm on is my relationship with Jesus.  Anything good I've accomplished in reshaping my life has been because He's enabled me and keeps me going.  He has surrounded me with incredible people to support, guide, and encourage me.  He has given me grace and mercy by dealing with my knee pain.  It's all because of Jesus I'm living, growing, MOVING.  I owe it ALL to Him! 

But what was I willing to give back to Him in the gym this morning?  Was I doing what the drummer boy did and giving Him the best of what I had?  You and I both know the answer to that, don't we?

I determined this morning that I was going to go farther than I'd ever been.  Not just on the elliptical.  Farther period.  Suddenly, getting off of that elliptical before it read a number higher than 3.11 miles was just unthinkable.  Sticking to the plan would be my offering of gratitude to Him way of acknowledging that the work He's doing in my life matters to me, is saving me. 

Now, if this was a fairy tale, from this point on, the workout would have seemed effortless to me, and I would have renewed energy and strength as I easily strode on up to the 2 mile mark and beyond.  If it was a Disney movie, some motivating song would be playing in the background as I smiled my way though the rest of that workout. But this is real life, folks.  And I don't lie to you.  Ever. 

That quarter of a mile up to 2 miles was excruciating!  It didn't get much better for much of the second mile, either.  But when my mind got itself wrapped around the fact that I REFUSED to get off the dumb machine until I reached my goal, my body eventually got with the program and caught its second wind...and its third!

In the end, I ran 3.25 miles this morning on the elliptical.  And I want you to know that I did it in 36:10!  That's an average of an 11:07 mile...or about 5.5 mph!  Not only did I go farther than I've ever gone, I did it faster than I've ever done it.  By a long shot!

Was it a fairy tale?  No.  But there sure was a happy ending!  Me and the Little Drummer Boy...we're tight now! We totally crushed it this morning in the gym!  I may have to rethink disliking that song...

Have a great day, friends!  Give the best of what you've got today!  :-)

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