Progress isn’t Linear

A fitness routine, just like life itself, is a process. There are good days, bad days, and everything in between. It is not a linear progression. Oh, how I wish life would get a little bit better every day, day after day. But life doesn’t work like that and neither does a fitness routine.

A friend of mine told me she had a really great run last week. She ran her fastest pace ever. Then what did she do the next? She ran the same route again hoping for an even faster time the next day.  She wasn’t faster and she was disappointed. “I guess it was just a fluke,” she said.

Wait… What??? It wasn’t a fluke! It was a great day! Why would you call it a “fluke”?

When you have a great day in life, do you expect every subsequent day to be better than the last?  And if it isn’t, do you just discount the good day you did have as a fluke? Of course not!

Progress in a fitness routine is not linear. A very accomplished runner I follow on Instagram recently posted that it took her three years to shave 13 seconds off her (already fast) pace. Only one year later, she managed to shave a whopping 45 seconds off her pace. Since I’m a recovering accountant, let me break down the math for you: that is more than three times as fast in only one third the time. What she did not post, however, is whether every run after that was at the same faster pace. I am more than willing to bet that it was not. Runners often refer to their PR (personal record) or PB (personal best) time for a certain race distance. Achieving a PR is an awesome feeling. However, once you achieve a PR, it does not necessarily follow that you can always maintain that pace in each subsequent run. That is why it is called a personal record.

Many things can affect your workouts. Just a few include the weather, what you ate the night before, what you ate in the morning, how hydrated you are, how well-rested you are, and even your mood. Each workout is its own unique experience just like each day in your life.  One of my favorite running quotes is

Good runs give you happiness

Bad runs give you experience

Worst runs give you lessons

Best runs give you memories

I have seen this quote many times in many different places yet it is never attributed to an author. This is probably because it sums up every runner’s experience and no one knows who said it first. And if you yourself are not a runner, try substituting the word “workout” or the word “day” for “run”. I bet it still holds true.

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