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Channeling Meb: A 50-Minute Wing-It Workout

Posted Aug 14 2012 7:29am

I recently watched this video of the amazing and awe-inspiring Meb Keflezighi, the U.S. athlete who would go on to run a commendable race and come in 4th during the 2012 London Olympics only days ago.

I was immediately inspired by this 9-minute reel, revealing not only a typical day in the life of a champion marathoner or the hard work and dedication that goes into a single, 24-hour period, but the tremendously personal, solitary nature of his carefully honed routine.

While Meb can be seen here running with a trainer — and, even more adorably, his daughters, by his side, it was his constant flow of movement that really captured my attention. He was rarely inundated by a team of experts shouting at him to crunch this way or stretch that way; and naturally, I began to wonder whether I was capable of such a free-flowing routine.

In the absence of running (for now), I spent this weekend debating whether I should sign up for a few overpriced classes that I had been wanting to check out in Manhattan for a while now anyway. Instead, I decided to channel Meb on Monday morning from the floor of my living room (because that is, after all, one of my favorite venues to exercise).

On Monday morning, I spent somewhere between 45 and 55 minutes strength training — arm and core work mostly — without opening my laptop, resorting to YouTube or turning on any cable fitness programs.

I rolled out the yoga mat around 7:30 and decided to workout while finishing off the last episode of HBO’s Girls which, by the way, I’ve concluded I can live without for the very same reason I tend not to hang out with them all the time. The on-screen drama gets old really quickly, but the incessant yelling and screeching did make the first 30 minutes of Monday’s workout go by just like that.

Like I said, I’m unable to do much leg work at all right now — especially anything that would put even the slightest pressure on whatever it is that’s hurting (including coming down from a yogi headstand — totally learned that the hard way), and so I stuck to mostly upper body movements, crunching my core like never before.

I got started right away and, with the hopes of emulating Meb, I tried not to think about what the next movement would be. Instead, I spent the bulk of my morning alternating from one muscle to the next, using weights and then putting them down, rolling over from my knees to my back and over again, and generally drawing on all the various forms of exercise that I’m already familiar with in an effort to create one fluid routine. Trusting my body, trusting my instincts, and ultimately, trusting myself, I resolved that if I couldn’t channel this great athlete’s running, I’d at least draw from Meb’s effortless attitude in everything else he does.

By the end, I actually discovered a sense of satisfaction from Monday’s free-flowing workout. Plus, I avoided having to shout at the computer for freezing mid-pose, crunch or squat.

Truthfully, there was something liberating about not staring at a computer screen or searching for another video at the conclusion of each 8 to 10-minute sequence. I was exercising on my own watch — creating my own program based on my own strengths and weaknesses. And while I know that there is plenty to be said for a personal trainer or a professional instructor, I truly believe that there is an advantage to playfully finding your own way at times too.

Try it. You never know, and the worst that happens is you never workout sans verbal cues again.

Now, to figure out how to break a sweat for the rest of the week.

  • Do you ever workout without any sort of Blueprint whatsoever?

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