This May Be the Least "Fit" I've Been, but It's the Strongest I've Felt

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By now, I would've run one marathon, three half-marathons, two 10Ks, and a smattering of other races this year. But 2020 had different plans. So although my usual training didn't quite look the same, I still did my best to stay active. I tried new workouts, switched up old ones, and even used my workouts as ways to connect with friends.

In some ways, this is actually the most active I've ever been: I now make concentrated efforts to stand up and stretch each hour, I take daily walks, and I am intentional with each and every workout I plan. And yet in other ways, it's the least fit I've felt. My body and attitude have changed toward running. Where normally I'd feel like I could run for hours, now I feel like I am spent after 30 minutes.

But despite that feeling of not meeting my normal "fitness" standards, I somehow feel stronger than I ever have. Admittedly, I was one of those runners who spent all their time planning out their mileage and routes and not near enough time on strength training or strengthening other aspects of my body. But as I've grown farther and farther away from running as I know it, I've learned to embrace a whole other side of fitness: the strength side.

I've tried new workouts that have me concentrating less on how far I can run and more on how many reps I can do in a strength circuit. I've embraced workouts that I had always been too nervous for or felt were out of my league. And as it turns out, they've worked. I went from hardly being able to do a squat series to feeling like I can do them all day. I can now hold several forms of planks, flawlessly. And I've even managed to outgrow the hand weights I've had for half a decade in favor of a heavier set.

More importantly, I shifted my own definition of fit. Whereas I felt like there was one route to fit for me before, I now realize there are many ways to push the body and be healthy. I've proved to myself that although I may not meet last year's or the year before's measures of "being in shape," I'm still pushing myself to become stronger and better in new, powerful ways.

What's more, I've learned that fitness goes beyond what the body can do. True fitness also involves an attention to mental strength and endurance. With that, I began to toss on my UA Infinity Low Sports Bra ($35) and roll out my yoga mat. I even started to embrace a meditation practice that has taught me to be strong in ways that my body will never be.

So while I may not look or feel the way I could've ever anticipated, I've learned there is no one right way to have a fitness routine and bring health into your life.