The resolution: improve cardio (1/4)

A new dad seeks fitness and mental gains via running

Athletes know accountability matters. Committing to a specific plan and regularly assessing progress is crucial to success. But too often, goals go rogue in January, falling under the category of lofty (often unrealistic) New Year’s resolutions that end up unmet. That’s why we introduced the antidote:The Resolution Diaries. Each week we follow three Equinox trainers on their personal journeys through the first 30 days of resolution season. They pen both progress (and pitfalls) in working toward change in a meaningful way.

Get to know all the participantshere.

The fit pro: Matt Berenc, CSCS, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute

Week one update: “I came into the New Year with the resolution to commit to three weekly runs. However, being under the weather myself as well as having a sick four-month-old has made for a less than an ideal start. That said, I still successfully completed my goal by running the first two days of the week and finishing the third on Friday.

Given that I wasn’t feeling great, a big point of focus was to listen to how I was feeling and keep the difficulty level to a six or seven out of 10. It wasn’t the time to push it and put up great numbers. Part of sticking to the goal is rolling with punches and not getting discouraged.

With the third run behind me, I feel better. It was an opportunity to put forth a bigger effort. The first two runs were both three miles each, with the first acting as my baseline. I tracked average pace (eight minutes and 28 seconds), fastest mile time (eight minutes and 12 seconds), and average heart rate during the run (172 beats per minute). Having run a marathon at an eight-minute per mile pace in the past, this was humbling, but challenges also show me an opportunity for improvement.

My secondary goal is to get back to eight minutes flat by the end of the month. Since my watch has GPS, I can see my pace in real time and set pace targets for all of the runs. Each week, I’ll split them up into high, moderate, and low intensity. For me, intensity will be defined by my target pace—higher intensity means going for a shorter average pace time.

The biggest surprise is how tough running has become. I could feel my stride wasn’t as smooth as it once was (the word “clunky” comes to mind). I was breathing harder than expected and afterwards, my legs were pretty sore. That last part was to be expected—my training previously has solely focused on working with kettlebells, heavy clubs, and maces. Running is a much different stress on the body and I will need some time to adapt. Part of this process is having a growth mindset; that means confidence that my stride will improve, breathing will be easier, and mile time will go down. It’s just going to take work.

Moving forward, I’m looking at my travel in the coming week. I’ll be in New York with a hectic schedule and a new environment (running in the extreme cold), which might make getting outside tough. To prep, I’m planning to get my miles in on a treadmill at the Flatiron club after work. I’m also going to need to counter hours of sitting on a coast-to-coast flight, so targeted stretching of my hips and multidirectional bodyweight movements like the bretzel, crab reach, and rotational lunge will be key.”

More Resolution Diaries: Cynthia Martinezand Bethany Snodgrass