May 27, 2012


If one knows anything about exercise, it’s that flexibility and stretching are important.  Some people work on their flexibility before a workout, presumably to prevent injury.  Others focus on stretching and flexibility at the end of the workout – to gain the best stretch by capitalizing on warm muscles.  The idea is that improved flexibility will help prevent injury.  Flexibility is essential to a good workout plan.

For me, training has forced me to improve my flexibility….not just my physical flexibility, but my mental flexibility as well.  I always like to have a plan and it stresses me out if the plan is changed at the last minute.  I am learning gradually to be prepared and ready for change.  Importantly, to not let a change of events sabotage my training.

Training for flexibility:

After work, I had originally planned to ride my bike outside for an hour.  One look at the sky, which looked ominous, convinced me to go inside and take a spinning class and then swim afterwards at the YMCA.  Not exactly what I had originally planned, but still a great workout.

I usually attend a running group once a week at the Y to do a speed workout – last week, my schedule didn’t match up with the group so I convinced a friend to do the speed workout EARLY in the morning with me.

I’ve also been attending a Time Trial occasionally with a local cycling club (ride as fast as you can for 11 miles).  The other night I arrived and found that I had a flat tire!  The only other time I had changed a tire was for practice and it was the front tire which is so much easier (when it’s the rear, there are intimidating gears and the chain with which to contend).  I stood and looked at that tire and contemplated my options for several minutes…..1) to quickly throw the bike back in my car, drive off, and ease my fear of bike maintenance with an ice cream cone; or 2) tackle the flat and conquer my fear that, after attempting to change the tire, I would be left covered in grease with an inoperable bike.   I chose to change the flat…..and, of course, bargained with myself that if I was successful, I would still get that cone.  In changing that tube out, I somehow remembered to check the tire for the particular hazard that caused the flat in the first place.  I found the tiniest filament of metal had punctured the tube (picture something the size of a bristle on a hairbrush!).  It’s amazing how something so miniscule can create such difficulties!  A fellow rider took pity on me and assisted me when I was struggling with the chain.  Baby wipes took care of the grease smeared everywhere and I was still able to get in my workout.

I have become more flexible, less rigid in my plans.  I start out every week with a training plan but, at the end of the week, the completed plan rarely matches my original plans.  It’s uncomfortable, but I have forced myself to adjust to the curveballs that I’m thrown.  It’s getting easier – I jokingly told someone this weekend that I’m the “Excuse Eliminator” – instead of getting uptight when plans change or problems present themselves, I challenge myself to find a way around them.  I now refuse to let something the size of a hairbrush bristle derail my plans.  Flexibility is essential to a good workout plan.