Usually doing a workout is the easiest thing for me to do. It’s finding time for everything else that is the challenge. With a fairly big change in my schedule and routine a couple months ago I had a difficult time finding a good routine where I was able to get my usual workouts in. On top of that, I had more work to do, extra commuting time, and a few other stressors which just added up to a disaster. Of course the disaster is easy to see in hind sight. Initially the challenges just seemed to be that, and the actual disaster that was happening wasn’t clear. Well, eventually it comes time to actually do something about it. Unfortunately I still don’t have a good exercise routine, so that is the first thing to tackle.

I often tell patients and friends that are looking to start exercise, and I tell them the same thing I am telling myself now. The actual exercise, the quantity and the quality of the exercise is not as important as establishing a routine (initially). This is why it is so hard for people that want to exercise 2 or 3 times a week to actually make it a habit. It has to be a nearly daily thing, preferably during the same time of day. This works really well if the weekday work schedule and routine is the same every day. My work schedule is different every day, so it is a bit more of a challenge. Anyway, having a set routine where you go through the ritual of setting the alarm earlier, putting on the workout clothes, going to the gym or hitting the streets, or whatever the exercise requires, is essential. From this consistency quantity can be built, and as you adapt to the quantity you can start focusing on quality.

I am back to the consistency or routine building phase. Although keeping a routine is usually pretty easy for me, I’ve had to deal with changing routines quite a bit over the past 4 years. Medical training involves “rotating”, where the student, intern or resident rotates to a different service. The typical rotation is about a month long. In my case I am currently changing schedules every 3 months or so, but it involves doing something different almost every day. The challenge is to integrate a new exercise routine into the new work routine.

The last two days I actually didn’t work out at all. When I’m in a good routine, I usually will only take one or two days off per month. Monday I had to go to Los Angeles. I took the train, but even then the commute added over 6 hours to my day. I probably should have gone for a run when I got home, but because I’ve become accustomed to relaxing I just sat around. I’ve had some cold symptoms creeping up on me since last week, and Tuesday I was rather wiped out and coughing a lot, so I didn’t work out at all. Today I started off feeling even worse than yesterday, but was able to get a 1 ½ hour ride in and a 1 hour run. Both were pretty low intensity, but I just need to start doing something.

Tomorrow I have clinic, and I’m going to try to squeeze in some good workouts. I can get an hour swim and 30 min run in before I drive up to Irvine. Depending on what time I get out of clinic I should be able to get another workout in. Last week I didn’t get out until after 6, so I just drove home. Since it was about 8 pm when I got home I just ate dinner and relaxed. Tomorrow I have some deadlines planned. Clinic is scheduled until 5. If I get done early, by 4 pm, I will go to the TCSD Aquathlon. I love those events, and this is the first one this year. Even leaving by 4 I would be pressed to make it there in time, but I figure I would at least be able to do the run. If I get out after 4, but by 5, I will go to the Great Park in Irvine for a 60 minute crit. The Great Park is Irvine’s plan for the old El Toro Marine Air Station. There are plans to convert the closed base into a huge community recreation area. Right now there are some crits going on, put on by California Bicycle Racing. The crits are 60 minutes and are on a 2.5 mile course along the tarmac. It is rather interesting because of strong winds and a rather wide course allows riders to take quite a few different lines through the turns. They have cat 4-5, cat 1-3 and masters races all on the same course at the same time. If one group overtakes another, the overtaken group slows to let them pass and cannot start drafting the faster group. This doesn’t happen very often though because the course is so long.

The crazy thing is that I am at a point where I actually have to make myself go out and exercise. I know though that within a week or so the routine will not have to be forced.

The next phase will be building quantity, which is something I think I’ll be focusing on for a couple months. We’ll see how it goes.

Do you have a difficult time getting into an exercise routine? What obstacles do you face or have overcome to exercise consistently?