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Thanks to the combination of the increasingly cold weather and the end of my second pregnancy, running has been become less and less accessible to me. And when I do manage to hit the lottery of above freezing temperatures and a cooperative toddler, my workouts haven’t been that great lately thanks to the general slowing down of pregnancy.
So in an effort to shake things up and keep moving through my last trimester, I decided to add some dance to my routine. Now, I’m not talking about hardcore ballet or hip-hop classes here—trust me, no one wants to see this eight-months-pregnant lady do that—but I did dust off some old cardio-dance DVDs I was really into years ago and decided to give them a go in my living room.
The result? Not only did I get some great workouts in, but surprisingly, I broke out of my running rut. Here’s why:
It gave me new muscles.
Slacking off on running meant that my legs hadn’t been feeling quite as strong as they used to, so when I did run, it was more of an effort. But after a few sessions on my living room dance floor, I felt the muscles in my calves and thighs perking up; all that bouncing on my toes and sinking down into my quads was a built-in toning session and consequently made running feel more effortless. As a bonus, my endurance also increased a little thanks to all that heart-pounding booty-shaking and helped me breathe easier when I ran.
It reminded me working out is supposed to be fun.
There is no way to do a dance workout and not have a total blast. After just a couple minutes, I found myself singing along to the music and talking back to the instructor while I busted out the moves. When I was telling my husband how much fun I was having working out lately, it occurred to me that that was a big part of what was missing from my running. Going for a run had become more of a dreaded chore thanks to the stress of having to bundle up my toddler, pack enough snacks and toys for him, and worry about having to stop mid-way through if he got restless. So on a weekend when my husband could watch my son, I went out for a solo run and truly enjoyed myself when all I had to focus on was myself and my workout. Since then, I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to run by myself, and when I can’t, I just focus on how good it feels to get outside and stretch my legs, rather than worry about all the little annoyances that used to drag me down.
It taught me how important the right music is.
It’s obvious that you need music to dance, but to really get into a routine, you need happy, fast-paced music with a beat that matches the moves you’re doing. Even the longer DVDs flew by because the music was so upbeat and just plain fun that I forgot I was even exercising. That reminded me that the right music can be everything on a run, and it inspired me to refresh my playlists with music that makes me happy and that I would look forward to listening to. When I popped in my headphones on my next run, I ran comfortably to the songs that match my currently slower pace, pushed myself during a few faster songs I peppered in there, and took the time to do a proper cool down with a couple relaxing songs at the end.