Starting Over


It is easy to talk about and read about fitness when you are actively involved in fitness. However, after college, after kids, after a new job, many of us no longer prioritize nor engage in fitness activities beyond a walk to the coffee shop during our lunch break.

I am writing on this topic because it is something I am struggling with as well: Starting Over.

A bit of background about me: I grew up active. I played baseball (yes, baseball), basketball, and soccer regularly, and I swam, skateboarded, biked, and played tennis for fun. Back then, it was easy for me to excel in gym class because it was in my nature to be doing something.  In high school, my focus switched to soccer. Even as a goalkeeper,I felt it important to keep up my fitness because I hated finishing last in things related to fitness - after all, I was supposed to be an athlete.

Four years ago, I found myself on the women’s soccer team at a major Division 1 institution. At that point, there was a very focused goal for fitness - summer fitness training for fitness testing in the fall and the fall was for maintaining strength and speed (endurance wasn’t exactly at the top of my list). I stayed fit throughout my years at college….well, I got fit again AFTER the freshman took me two years to shake that. The point is, I’d been running around since I was four years old.  After my final collegiate game in October 2017, I committed to play three more games with a semi-pro team in Peru before officially “retiring” in January. I haven’t really worked out since.

I’ve come up with all kinds of excuses - I don’t feel like it, I did my time, I’m too tired, I’m too full. I say all these things because I know how it is - starting over sucks. In college, when off-season started I’d take three-week stints off of training, and getting back into the fitness routine felt impossible. Now, it’s been eight months. The thought of going through another strenuous workout sounds terrible to me. Besides, for the past eight months, I’ve had nothing to train for. I believe there is no reason to work out unless you are training for a goal. I hadn’t found mine yet.

Here are some reasons why starting over sucks:

  1. It only takes three days to break a routine and 18 days to form.

  2. After 7-10 days, cardiovascular fitness drops. The number of alveoli (the gas exchange centers in your lungs) decrease, VO2 max can decrease by as much as 20% after four weeks.

  3. After only two weeks, muscles can lose 10% of their peak strength, after four weeks muscles can lose 10% of their size and  20% of strength.

Yes, starting over sucks, but Storm will be opening on September 1. And with that, I will start over. I’m not training for soccer or to fit into new clothes, or to be able to go on runs. I simply don’t know what my next long-term endeavor will be.

But, with this post, I am committing to train for the 5-mile, 13 obstacle ToughMudder coming to Atlanta in October. On September 1, I will be giving myself six weeks to train for the October 21 event. I am inviting everyone who wants to start over to join me. Join me in having something to train for again. Join me in having a community of “fresh starters” ready to take on a challenge

Sarah Cullen