A new year brings new opportunities. I’m happy to move beyond 2021 and map out my next 12 months of health, wellness, work and fun. Looking back at 2021, I learned a lot and experienced plenty of high and lows, peaks and valleys.
A few of my peaks. Hiking the Grand Canyon from the South Rim to North Rim and then back with family, covering 46 miles and 13.6K vertical feet in record heat (114 F). An incredible feat, and experience. Another was running my first marathon. It was the 50th anniversary of the NYC Marathon and the return of the race after Covid-19 shut it down in 2020. I never thought I could run 26.2 miles but wanted to so I joined Team Determination, an American Cancer Society team, and followed a wise training plan and hit my goals; 1) Show up on race day healthy; and 2) finish the race healthy. Bam! I’m hooked.
Now for my valleys. They were tough and they came all at once. I broke my shoulder skiing in March when a snowboarder flattened me on Scotty’s Runs at Mammoth Mountain. Then in the weeks that followed I received a crazy blow in my work life that knocked me off my game for months. That was my breaking point. I was a mess with my confidence and mental health at an all time low. Not easy to share but my truth.
A friend recently asked how I managed to pull myself out of this dark place. It took time and I drew upon my support system. My friends and family were there for me, listening and supporting me patiently. Therapy helped me sort out my feelings, what was reality, what was not, and tools to find my way back to myself. Then there was exercise. The Grand Canyon and the Marathon were big in my mind, body and soul recovery. The effort of setting such clear fitness goals helped me focus on a positive experience daily and reign in runaway thoughts. The training revealed how much I enjoy, and benefit from, endurance fitness.
I discovered that endurance training is my thing going forward. This type of training is realistic and rewarding. I’m an endorphin junky so it is a nice surprise to realize how helpful consistent walking, hiking, or jogging is to my overall health.
This is the inspiration for kicking off my 2022 Zone 2, 30-day FitLife Challenge, #Z2FLC. I’m inviting you to exercise 5 days a week for a realistic amount of time – for you. That can be 20, 30, 45 minutes a day, consistently. Zone 2 is moving at pace that is conversational and over time has significant benefits to your overall endurance and wellbeing.
The big benefits of Zone 2 are the following;
- It builds aerobic base and endurance which enhances ability to sustain sub threshold pace for longer periods.
- It is the foundation to build threshold fitness.
- Allows you to recover more quickly between higher intensity efforts
- By sticking to lower heart rates, over time you will increase your pace at the same heart rate output. This is due to increased aerobic efficiency, and it sets off many positive training adaptations
So join me and focus on consistency over intensity. Start with a 20 min walk or bike ride each day. Once this becomes part of our routine we can increase the time or the effort. Let’s build something simple that we can do daily, and enjoy. Let’s build a personal system.
“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones