Throwback Thursday: Can’t do downward dog? Do downward “puppy dog”!

Or, in other words, just do whatever you can do, for as long as you can do it.

This is the cutest picture of puppies (well, toy puppies) that I could find on short notice this morning. (Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
This is the cutest picture of puppies (well, toy puppies) that I could find on short notice this morning. (Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Can you sense a trend in the last few posts at Every48? I sure can. September was a funny month for being active: I didn’t exercise the way I wanted to, and had a layoff from running due to a fairly serious cold and cough. It’s taken a little more than a little effort to get back out there (and I’m not 100% yet in the health division, so I’m doing whatever I can do, however I can do it). I love the idea of just doing whatever you can do for exercise. Whether you call it the Better Than Nothing workout, “doing the workout you’re actually going to do,” or “downward puppy dog,” the concept is really simple: Do what you can do. Right now. Today. Don’t put it off. Your body will like it, and it will tell you by asking you to do just a little bit more next time. And the time after that.

And that’s how we get stronger, day by day.

Can’t do downward dog? Do downward “puppy dog”!

[Originally published on June 30, 2014]

While traveling recently, I took in a Weight Watchers meeting in White Plains, NY and heard the leader give a great example of how to get a workout in, no matter how much (or little) energy you have, no matter how much (or little) enthusiasm you have…and probably even more important, how much (or little) time you have. This is what she said:

“If I can’t do downward dog, I do downward ‘puppy dog’!”

And I instantly loved her, because that is so completely what this whole staying-active thing is all about.

A variation on "downward dog." When you can't do downward dog, try a variation - whatever variation will get you to just get out there and do it. (Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
A variation on “downward dog.” When you can’t do downward dog, try a variation – whatever variation will get you to just get out there and do it. (Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

If you can’t do the thing you’re used to doing…or if you can’t do what “everyone else” is doing (in your yoga class, or your social group, or whatever “group” you’re suddenly comparing yourself to)…or if you can’t do something you used to be able to do…just do what you can. Build on that.

When I’m really pressed for time, or energy, or confidence, my version of “downward puppy dog” looks like this: I do something that almost feels too easy, just to get myself moving. Here’s an example: I was traveling last week and had to fit in a speed session for my marathon training. And there just wasn’t time to find a track, or, well, time and energy. So I made my way to a hotel treadmill and did the world’s easiest speed session (for me, right now, at my current level of fitness): walking to start, and then four repeats of a half-mile each at the pace I want to run my October marathon. Which, by definition, should feel pretty easy by then, if all of my training goes well.

Guess what? By the fourth 800-meter repeat, I was feeling much better and ran it quite a bit faster. And I was tempted to do more…but I didn’t. I left something on the table for next time. I gave myself permission to just have an easier day, and to wait until “next time” for the badass workout. And I got in my workout for the day.

That’s my version of “downward puppy dog.” What’s yours? Find it whenever you need it, and put it in your workout toolkit.

[And back to real time: October 9, 2014.]

Yesterday’s #Every48 workout: A great TRACK session with my running buddies. I’m still coughing a little but I really wanted to get out there. Best news: a 7:23 mile time trial, even though I got a side stitch halfway through. That means healthy Nicole might just be speedy Nicole later during my fall marathon training. We’ll see!

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