A sprint workout leaves senior editor Courtney Lewis Opdahl breathless.
Since last October, I’ve been going to Life Time’s T.E.A.M. Boot Camp two to three times per week. Save for a week in December, I’ve made it most weeks. I have skipped a session, I’ll admit — trainer Shane called me out, and I confessed my date with the couch that trumped a workout — but the times I do miss I regret it. Usually because of days like today.
Highland Park’s Boot Camp team is the best. The people are friendly and motivating, and when someone is clearly pushing past their limits, an encouraging “You got this!” is often proclaimed. Tonight’s workout, enjoyed outside during Minnesota’s unseasonably warm March, involved sprinting to the end of the block and back in between push-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, lunges and flutter kicks. That’s right: sprinting before and after each exercise that we performed for 30 seconds. Before and after burpees.
I’m not a fan of burpees, and there’s definitely no love for sprinting. Really running of any kind. That’s not me. I love lifting weights, swinging a kettlebell, even holding tree pose in yoga. But running has never made me light up.
Usually I shut down. Maybe I improve, like when I went from the 15-minute mile to the 11-minute mile in 5th grade (oh yeah!), but generally not without complaints. Last fall, Shane had us run a mile on the treadmill. My walk/run was about 18-minutes long. (I was taking the scenic route.) So when he said sprint, I immediately started to doubt myself. I even glanced at the door and thought about counting myself out before we began.
I kept up for a few rounds, then took a few rounds off to do burpees or jumping jacks instead. By the time we got back to running fartlek-style around the building at the end (we started with it to warm up, and I was able to keep up longer than when we did the same drill in the fall), I was wiped out, but gave it one good hard push to race to the front of the line. I told the group to go on without me while I jogged at a slower pace behind them. Soon, they were gone.
As I rounded the building, one of my teammates met me to run alongside for the final stretch. When I caught up to the group at the finish line, a few of them cheered for me, “All right, Courtney!” For a brief moment, I started to feel defeated. I thought, they aren’t cheering because I just made an awesome time and blew everyone away by my speed — they are cheering because the fat girl finished. It’s a horrible thought, and thank goodness it was fleeting, but it’s the voice I battle in my head. The teenage girl who was curvier than the rest and picked on for having “thunder thighs” or who was told by her gym teacher in 5th grade that her weight “wasn’t where it should be” — in front of all my female classmates as we got weighed in together (what kind of medieval torture was that?!). Of course, I know that’s not what they were thinking, and I hope what they were thinking, what was behind their cheers, was the positive message I quickly sent myself: I finished. I did it. And I’m getting better each time we run.