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There’s No Shame in Modifying a Workout

I may be walking from obstacle to obstacle at the upcoming Dirty Girl Run, but there's no shame in that!

I may be walking from obstacle to obstacle at the upcoming Dirty Girl Run, but there’s no shame in that!

About a year ago, FBG Kristen posted about her “normal,” and it’s a post that’s always stuck with me. Perception and our experience is everything, even with workouts. And lately, my normal had been a little yoga, tough, high-intensity workouts and running.

In fact, in the month before getting a stress fracture in my foot, I accomplished three big feats for me: I qualified to not just complete but to compete in this, I was able to do three handstand push-ups in a row (overcoming my fear!), and I finally built the strength up to do a couple of dead-hang pull-ups. And I felt pretty invincible—and deeply proud and confident in my ability to work toward something and achieve it. And then the stress fracture came, limiting all of my activity to low-impact with minimal toe flexion. Which means no Throwdown in the compete category (I’ll have to modify many moves) and no real training for the upcoming Dirty Girl Run (by the way, still plenty of time to sign up for our team and run with us—DGKCBLOGGUEST1 is the discount code!)—and maybe no running or certain obstacles for that either. Bummer.

But it got me thinking; the only reason I’m bummed about this is because my perception of what I should be able to do is different than my current reality. My “normal” has changed, and I’m the one sitting here and judging that it’s not as good as my usual normal. But is that really the case? Not in a million years would I ever tell someone to NOT listen to their body, modify or walk if they needed to. I mean, goodness, we blast workout DVDs all the time for not showing modifications or making things beginner-friendly or giving low-impact options. So, why the heck am I not taking my own advice?

Like Kristen said, your normal is your choice. And right now, I’m choosing to see this break as an opportunity to cut through my own notions of what it means to be “fit” for myself. Modifying and walking these events doesn’t make me any more or less awesome, nor does it make me any more or less of an FBG. After all, we come in all shapes, sizes and abilities—and I’m reminding myself that that mission applies to me, too. Walking or running, box-jumping or step-ups, we’re all being active. There’s no “right” way to do it—just do the stuff you love and that your body allows you do to, no matter where you are on your fitness journey.

I’ve committed to loving myself and my body no matter the number on the scale for years, but now I’m learning to do the same, injury or no-injury. And it’s a process, but through seeing my new normal in a new light, I’m looking forward to these events. Who knows what I’ll notice while walking that I wouldn’t see when running or what new walking friends I’ll make and be inspired by or how my inner strength will change by being more flexible to life’s little challenges. So, yeah, this new normal, is becoming more “normal” and lovely by the minute.

Have you ever had to step back and follow your own advice? Ever adapted to a new “normal?” Would love to hear your experience! —Jenn

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7 Comments
  1. Silas Vega says:

    Okay Dirty Girls of Wisconsin, I’ve got some insider information for you that’s going to make the WI Dirty Girl Mud Run in August even better. You’re probably asking yourself, “What? how could it get any better?!?” Well, let me tell ya — I had the chance to tour the grounds at Milford Hills last week and, in one word, it’s AMAZING. After seeing the course we’ll be running/walking/jumping/crawling through, I’m even more excited than I was before. And, I think you’re going to agree. So, I thought I’d share some information about it, the people I met and some pictures I took. I’ll probably need a couple of blog posts to do it. This is part one. And, this is what it’ll look like when you park at Milford Hills and make your way up the driveway to the starting line (if you choose to walk, because there will also be a shuttle/tractor that’ll take people from the parking areas to the starting line as well, which is pretty cool).

  2. Edward says:

    This is some really good advise. Personally, I’ve realized that the older I get, the less strenuous my workouts can be. But it’s something I’ve come to terms with; I just modify my workout routine and keep going. If people had the kind of outlook outlined in this article and realized that “normal” inevitably changes, they’d probably be a lot happy with modified workout routines.

  3. Andreas says:

    This is such an important piece of writing. Injury is an inevitable part of any path to better health. Luckily, our bodies are resilient and if you slowly re-introduce activity you are likely to heal and be back to achieving your goals in no time. Going slow is key but not completely withdrawing from projects you love. I hope you feel better soon.

  4. Victoria says:

    You just have to modify your workouts according to your age, your strenghts etc.. nobody can expect that anyone can workout with 45 as he did with 25. Modifying is a good thing and nobody should be ashamed for that.

  5. Yep, I’ve had to change my exercise routine many times. Three pregnancies, including one where the only exercise I could do is swimming, various injuries requiring PT, and just being over 50 will all do that. I hope it’s many years before I have to step away from my sport of figure skating, but I have changed to where I spend much more time working on footwork and ice dance, and less on jumping, which is hard on my knees at this point in my life. I still do jump, though :). And for you, a stress fracture? Classic overuse injury, yes? Probably a sign to mix up your routine a little more, too.

  6. With growing age everyone loses stamina to do workout. So modifying your workout is always a gentle decision. Surely, 50 year age person cannot do the same workout as done by a 20-year-old guy. As all other things change with age workouts should also change otherwise it will harm your body.

  7. Sara says:

    Good for you, Jenn. I’m sure being injured is really frustrating, but it’s so important to set expectations for yourself in CONTEXT of where you are at each moment in life. It’s something I’m working on myself—and something all y’alls at FBG have been helping me get better at. 🙂