Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Perseverance

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope your week is shaping up to be an awesome one filled with successful runs, workouts, and all good things. It’s 51° here in NYC and if that isn’t reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

I am inspired by recent events to highlight Perseverance as this week’s BTAT theme. No one worth anything got anywhere in life by trying once. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world were told “no”, “it’s not good enough”, “go away”, “you’ve failed”, and “quit now while you’re ahead” more than any of us have ever been told. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Helen Keller, Hillary Clinton…the list goes on and on of trailblazers who heard the word “NO” and kept on trying anyway.


Do you think Kara Goucher has never lost a race? Or Ryan Hall? We’ve seen them lose, fail, and quit mid-race in very public arenas. And then we see them at the next one, like the one last weekend in Houston that determined who is going to represent our country in the marathon at the London 2012 Olympics. Guess who made the team? Goucher and Hall.


It’s easy to give up, especially when you have a great reason. Only you’ll know if that great reason really is a reason for giving up or if it’s an excuse. You know what’s harder than giving up? Persevering is harder. It’s a gut-wrenching, pride-swallowing, frustrating thing to do but you owe it to yourself to try to Persevere. To go on when it’s impossibly hard. To fight back when you’ve been knocked down. To try again after such devastating disappointment. It’s hard. But you’re worth it.

Try. Fight. Work harder.

Did you have to DNF (Did Not Finish) a race? Do it again. Are you recently diagnosed with an illness? Work with it. Did you fail a test/semester/drop out? Go back. Did you get hurt training last time? Train smarter this time.

Why Persevere?

Because success might be within your grasp, only you won’t know until you try.

Because you owe it to yourself to put in your best effort every single time, not just the first time.

Because you’ll get better with practice.

Because there is help if you need it.

Because someone out there is looking up to you.

Because you’ve come too far and worked too hard to give up.

Because you can.

Because at the end of the day, don’t you want to say with confidence that you gave it your all? And for that matter, if you have the opportunity to try again and to Persevere, that is a gift in and of itself. The alternative is what? No second chance at your dream? At your race? At life? Not everyone gets the second chance to succeed that is standing in front of you. Come on. You can do it!

I am in awe of those around me who Persevere day after day. I see them and I am inspired. They encourage me to keep working hard, to keep trying. And when Perseverance gives way to success, I am only that much more inspired to keep at it. Thank you to all who show me the way. And that is what makes today Better Than the Alternative.

“Opportunities are disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them” -Ann Landers

Now go out and run!

Who/What makes today Better Than the Alternative for you today? Tell me about it. Oh, and in other news: I GOT IN! I am officially a doctoral candidate at NYU’s Steinhardt School for Physical Therapy beginning this summer. Woohoo! 

Yeah, baby! I'm a Violet...or a Wildcat, whatever. Wooohooo!

Know Thy Self

As a personal trainer, my job often entails helping individuals lose weight, start a fitness routine, or reach a personal fitness goal, among other things. One of the problems I usually come across (especially in Manhattan!) is that overly-ambitious starter.

You know these people. After a long hiatus from the gym or never having ever worked out before, they come out of the gates full blast, ready for everything. They sign up for a month of boot camp classes, 3 days a week of workouts with me, promise to run 5 days a week and double down with yoga every other day.

That’s a lot of working out, even for a seasoned veteran. But no, the overly-ambitious starter is gung-ho and ready to go.

And a three weeks later, they drop right off my radar and are never to be heard from again.

You see, these people don’t know themselves at all. Not their fitness selves, anyway. You have to start with the truth about you, about your schedule, about your goals and about what you’re ready to commit to in the fitness world. Without honest answers to the following questions, you will not have a successful fitness routine.

  1. What do I like to do for exercise?
  2. What do I need to do for exercise?
  3. How many days a week and hours a day can I commit to working out?
  4. Do I prefer to work out alone or in groups?
  5. What are my fitness goals?

I guide people through these questions and then we come up with a fitness routine that they can stick to in the long run, not the short term. I also find that they are far more successful if I start slowly and add on as we go along. Usually, every 3-4 weeks I try to make a change to their fitness routine. I add a class, provide a really challenging high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout in our sessions, or change their cardio routine just enough to keep them challenged.

The point is, you can’t expect your life to change overnight. If you have a new baby, you’re probably not going to be able to work out at the same intensity or for the same amount of time that you did pre-baby. You’re tired. Give yourself a break. Maybe workout twice a day for only 25 minutes each so that you aren’t trying to squeeze a full 45-50 minute workout in when you’re also breastfeeding. Do you hate to run? Don’t do it. Swim, walk, cycle. Does working out in a class setting deter you from going to the gym? Get your sweat on one-on-one with a trainer or grab PX90 videos and do it at home.

Know thy self and work with what you got. Set yourself up for success, not failure.

Now go out and run!