An Athletic Rut

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Good morning!  Today is travel-back-to-Charlotte day, and I hear it snowed while we were gone!  Hope it isn’t all melted.


We woke up slowly, and then I munched on a leftover dinner roll and contemplated a run.


It took forever but I finally motivated myself to lace up my shoes and go for a run.  It’s actually pretty cold in Florida today (around 35?!) but the scenery more than made up for it.


Favorite… place… to… run… in THE ENTIRE WORLD.  I am not exaggerating.


I finished 3.0 miles in about 30 minutes.  I barely broke a sweat though because it was so chilly!


Came home, packed up our suitcases, and sat down for a breakfast with the family.


My sister-in-law cooked up this amazing breakfast: toast, fruit, scrambled eggs, steamed spinach, home fries, and mushrooms.



An Athletic Rut


So – I’m hoping you all can help me out, because you always have such good advice.  I’ve really been struggling with being in a workout rut ever since my October 30 Marathon.  I’m sure some of you will giggle when I say this, but I really think of myself as an “athlete” and think this helps motivate me to work out regularly.


But lately, I’ve been struggling to see myself as an ‘athlete.’  Exercising, while I still love to do it when I’m out there, feels like such a chore initially.  I’m not sure if it’s post-marathon blues, my first winter in Charlotte, burnout, a nagging minor IT band/knee injury, or what – but I cannot get myself mentally excited about exercise lately!  I’m still working out 4 – 5 days a week, but my hours have dropped from 5 – 6 to 2 – 3 per week, and I just don’t feel as mentally or physically behind my workout efforts as I have for the past 4 years. 


I’ve tried all my tricks, including:


Sign up for an epic race.  I’m doing the National Half Marathon in March.  One thing I think will help my mental motivation is to create a training plan ASAP.  I’ve just been doing whatever workout I feel like each day, and I think I perform better under a plan, even if that just means planning out a week in advance.


Buy fun new running gear.  I am REALLY excited to try using my Vibrams and explore barefoot running.  I’ve heard that I really need to ease into barefoot running, so I’m going to begin by walking James around the neighborhood in my Vibrams.  I ordered some Vibram socks, too, so I can wear them during the winter.


And last, but not least, I got this awesome indoor bike trainer called the Motivator for Christmas as well.  This will let me ride my road bike inside (while watching television)!  I’m hoping this will increase my motivation because my body doesn’t enjoy running 4+ days a week, and I would love to be cycling more, but it’s just too cold!  I’d like to do another Olympic Triathlon in the Spring, so this is perfect.

Bell Motivator Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer

I’m hoping these tricks will help boost my mental motivation and end my slump.  I’ll definitely let you know if these dial it up!


Any other tricks that I should try to boost the mental motivation? 



  • Liz @ Blog is the New Black December 27, 2010, 11:03 am

    That does like a gorgeous place to run- if i liked running, that is! 😉

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman December 27, 2010, 11:05 am

    I might be the wrong person to answer this since I don’t consider myself an athlete at all, but have you tried enlisting a workout buddy? I always find that having a friend try new and different workouts with me helps snap me out of a rut.

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin December 27, 2010, 11:05 am

    I think its pretty normal to go back and forth with being excited about exercise and thinking of it as a chore. I’m currently in the same “chore” state of mind and am really struggling to get my workouts in. I find that when I set small, very attainable goals for myself, I am super motivated and usually exceed them.

    For example, I normally shoot to workout 4-5 times a week, but because of the holidays I’ve brought that goal down to 2-3 times a week. When I was still aiming for 5x a week, I was barely going at all, but now that I’m aiming for 2-3 times, I’m going 4+ a week. I know its kind of strange to try to mentally trick myself, but it works for me!

    • Ursula March 28, 2011, 3:39 pm

      I think it is the weather for me. I am so burned out on being in the gym 6 days a week. I enjoy my strength training days (3 days per week) but when it comes to cardio I think I will go crazy on the treadmill or stair machine. I want to be outside and in nice Spring weather and instead we have snow and cold… need warmth and change of scenery! Help!

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 27, 2010, 11:05 am

    Wow there are about 898798 bloggers I know and who’s blogs I read that are signed up for that race. Makes me want to go pass out water cups 🙂 Good luck on the race!

    And enjoy the vibrams and vib socks. Cant wait to hear how you like them…I have tempted getting the vib shoes but haven’t…yet.

  • Katie December 27, 2010, 11:07 am

    Hi Caitlin! I can totally relate to exercise ruts. All of your ideas sound great. But I’m wondering if exercising with other people would be a boost? I just discovered a boot camp in my area and I’m loving it. Getting up early (class is 5:30-6:30) is challenging. But there are all these other women there doing the same thing. ANd just like me they have to run off at the end of class to get kids up and to school and then get themselves to work. So, the group inspires me! I never would have thought of boot camp as my kind of thing, but I’m loving it. I think that it is not just feeling stronger each week that motivates me, but being starting to be part of that group. Hope that helps. I’m looking forward to seeing how your new barefoot running goes.

    • caryn December 27, 2010, 11:14 am

      i agree that group exercise classes are great! personally, if i become a regular and get to know the instructors and other people who go, i feel guilty when i don’t go because i know people are expecting me! and it’s always fun once i get going anyway. 🙂

    • Katie (Life... Discombobulated) December 27, 2010, 5:55 pm

      I agree with this one, too!!! I occasionally run with a group of friends. That motivates me to get out the door like nothing else does!
      Also, what about just taking a few days (or however many you want) off completely? Sometimes a little break feels SO good, but it leaves me absolutely itching to get back out in the fresh (albeit cold) air and get myself moving.
      Good luck! I look forward to reading about how it goes for you!

  • Sarra December 27, 2010, 11:07 am

    maybe you should try something totally different than running or biking, like zumba or a kickboxing class. I experienced the same rut a while ago, so I bought the turbofire dvds and it gave me a completely new perspective on exercising and it motivated to do more and try new things 🙂

    • Mary December 27, 2010, 3:07 pm

      I agree with trying something different. I think that is the best way to break out of a slump, and shock your body.

  • Whitney December 27, 2010, 11:09 am

    I love to see people training, but I have to be honest (and certainly in the nicest way possible) that I don’t think training for (another) marathon is the best way to get yourself out of a workout rut. Trust me, I’ve been there.

    One thing that I have found, at least for myself, is that if I “switch it up” for an extended period of time (say six weeks) I find myself more motivated. In fact, I’m in the midst of an “anti-run” kettlebell/spin switch up and I love it. My metabolism is revved and my body is responding well.

    While I have ran a few times during this anti-run kick, I am getting fast and better without really trying.

    Just my two cents, looking forward to hearing all about the training!

    • Caitlin December 27, 2010, 11:14 am

      It’s a half don’t worry!

  • Whitney December 27, 2010, 11:10 am

    For me, I find myself getting in a rut when I do not vary my workouts. When I was training for Thunder Road, all I did was run, run, run (obviously) and I got a little burnt out. I have now switched up my workouts to doing different classes at the gym including Body Pump, Cycling, etc and still doing some running in case I want to jump in a race. I look forward to going to the gym after work! Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Jen December 27, 2010, 11:10 am

    Maybe trying something other than running and cycling would do the trick? Do you do any home workout DVD’s? I don’t have a gym membership and I’m not a runner, so that’s what I depend on. I have so many now, that when I get bored I can just move on to something new and challenging.


  • caryn December 27, 2010, 11:10 am

    because it’s new year’s resolution time, there may be health clubs or studios offering free or cheap classes for awhile. maybe trying out one/some of those as cross-training could make things more fun. i’m a fan of zumba and turbokick, and i’ve heard that bodypump is a blast. maybe you just need a little newness for awhile to make the athlete in you more excited again. 🙂 good luck!

  • Sarah @ The Strength of Faith December 27, 2010, 11:11 am

    I’m interested to read these responses. This is my first winter back north and I’m having a hard time motivating myself to go run in sub-freezing temperatures. I wonder if we should all do a 2011 winter workout challenge? Maybe it could involve cross-training, lifting, yoga, pilates – stuff that can be done indoors.

  • Sarah for Real December 27, 2010, 11:12 am


    It can seep into your brain and you’ll eventually believe it!

  • Amanda December 27, 2010, 11:12 am

    I definitely try to vary workouts in order to avoid burnout .. my “rule” is usually to avoid doing the same thing two days in a row (good for the body and the mind!) Maybe vary running, biking, yoga … just do whatever sounds the most fun to you that day! I’ve also downloaded a bunch of new music, which always really gets me more motivated!

  • Orla December 27, 2010, 11:13 am

    I totally know what you mean- I get this rut thing about once a year- at the most unusual times. I find that it passes but it is hard to get motivated while waiting for the fuzz to clear. The idea of an exercise buddy is a good one. Another thing I do is think of how lucky I am to be able to exercise and run when I want. I have lost a few people close to me in the last couple years and I always think of how life is too short. It gets me off my butt fairly quickly.
    Love the indoor trainer- enjoy using it to get your buzz back!

  • Evan Thomas December 27, 2010, 11:13 am

    I hope you love the Vibrams as much as I do! I haven’t walked around in “real shoes” since October. The first few days are rough but then it feels so natural. I also go to the gym to strength train with them. I have to admit I’ve only ran in them once and that was, err, not so fun. I probably should have paced myself instead of jumping into 12 miles, and the route I run is very rocky. You can feel EVERYTHING you run on, so find a nice smooth path.

  • Jacqueline December 27, 2010, 11:14 am

    Exercising with a group always helps me!

  • Brittany December 27, 2010, 11:16 am

    Most of my working out involves running, like you, so when I feel like I’m in a rut and going out for a run is a chore I ask myself “What do I feel like doing for a workout today?” I know not working out is not an option so I asked myself what sounds fun. If a walk/run combination is what I feel like doing that’s what I do, if a bike ride is what I’m craving I bike, If a workout video sounds fun, I do that etc… Instead of forcing myself to go for a run when I just don’t feel like it, I find something else to do. Sounds like an easy enough concept, but sometimes when we’re constantly training for the next race we get burnt out and we need a change for just even just a few days.

  • Jennifer@ knackfornutrition December 27, 2010, 11:16 am

    It may sound silly, but I post motivating quotes all over my mirror. They are the first thing I see in the morning.

    Also, I make a playlist of songs that I know will get my butt moving. Songs that I used during my first half when I didnt think I had anything left to give usually do the trick. They make me think about that time and how proud I was of myself.

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:32 am

      That doesn’t sound silly! It sounds very Operation Beautifulish 🙂 Love it.

  • Amanda December 27, 2010, 11:17 am

    Part of the challenge for me in the winter is the [Michigan] cold. I walk outside every morning (hot/cold/dry/wet), but I’m slower to start in the winter. I’m fine once I’m out the door – and reminding myself of that fact helps me get started. The other thing, which you mentioned, is to set your training plan. I work best with a big goal that is broken into bite-size pieces. Social workouts (aka class with familiar faces) and a workout buddy are good motivators since you don’t want to disappoint someone by not showing up. Shouting it to the blog world, too, should help. 😉

  • Elizabeth December 27, 2010, 11:19 am

    I am studying psychology and in one of my therapy classes we learned a therapeutic technique that suggests that many people run into problems because they basically apply the same solution over and over again. All of the things that you are trying are really great, but I would say if none of them work, perhaps try something totally different, such as not running or even working out for awhile (much easier said than done, I know).

    However, there are also other forms of therapy that suggest that we all have a toolbox of techniques for which to solve problems, and that we should rely on these in times of trouble. I honestly think that there is a bit of truth to both schools of thought, and the solution probably really lies into what you think is contributing to the issue.

    Thanks for being honest, we have all been there, I am on confident that you can get back out again!

  • Ilana December 27, 2010, 11:20 am

    Put a moratorium on running and try something new, something challenging. My trick is to try something I don’t necessarily think I’ll be good at.

    • Kristie December 27, 2010, 2:23 pm

      I agree! I switch up my ‘sport’ by the season: running in the spring and fall, cycling in the summer, and boxing in the winter. Each season I get excited about my new activity before I’ve had a chance to tire of my current one.

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow December 27, 2010, 11:22 am

    I’m going to jump in along with the already suggested workout buddy! You need a giggling pal, a guy or gal to chat with, laugh with and motivate with. It makes all the difference in the world alongside what you are already doing.

  • Jodi December 27, 2010, 11:23 am

    Caitlin – i think it’s definitely normal to go through ruts and I’m sure you’ve definitely been through them before. It’s probably partly being in a new place and partly post – marathon blues (it’s not easy to go from being so focused on a single goal and then have the goal be accomplished and essentially “over”) and definitely the Holidays – more food, less time, less motivation! Personally, I think getting yourself another goal will help AND maybe adding some variety to your workouts; strength training and more Yoga and biking. Sometimes you just want something new to chew on! Lastly, give yourself some adjustment time in your new place and to get back on track post holidays. These things usually have a way of coming back around.

  • Camille December 27, 2010, 11:27 am

    I totally understand the rut. For me, the biggest way to break out of a rut is to just accept it. A rut is like a phase and it wont last forever. Just do what you can and don’t push yourself too hard. It was pass, I promise!

  • Carla @ Will Run for Health December 27, 2010, 11:30 am

    I think it’s important to recognize we all have times when our energy ebb & flow. It seems right now, you are just in an ebb. Maybe it’s because you’ve had to shift a lot of energy to your book? Don’t force yourself, be gentle…cut yourself some slack. I’ve found that sometimes my body, mind, soul, I.T. Bands, whathave you just need a “rest”. Your energy will come back naturally. I think you are doing the right thing keeping yourself in a routine. My only other suggestion is to try something out of the ordinary. Rock climbing does it for me.

  • Michelle @ Chasing Ambulances December 27, 2010, 11:32 am

    There have been many times when I did not feel like running, and it went on for weeks. So I dialed back the running big time! If I didn’t want to run, I didn’t want to force myself. It’s ruts and times like this (when you don’t want to run) that make you eventually really enjoy it when you get back into the swing of things! So maybe for a week you should NOT RUN at all. There is nothing like a break that makes you really want to run – trust me – you’ll be itching to run by the end! In the mean time, break out the yoga videos or your 30 day shred. 🙂

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) December 27, 2010, 11:32 am

    We all hit a rut once in awhile. I’m sure you will work your way out of it soon. You have some great things in place to help you. I’m sure once you make up your training plan for DC, you will snap out of it. In the meantime, just go with the flow! 🙂

  • Lacey @ Lake Life December 27, 2010, 11:32 am

    It could very well be the weather. There is such a thing as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” which you may not have in all aspects of life but it may affect your motivation for working out in the new environment in the winter. I think you should adjust your routine to include more indoor exercise activity to make venturing out in the cold less of a chore. Plus with the new year coming up, you could set some new indoor workout goals and plans. The new year always gives me motivation, it’s like a fresh start!

  • bakingnbooks December 27, 2010, 11:37 am

    Have you considered that maybe you just need a break and some downtime?? Seriously. Everybody goes through this stuff. Fighting it and trying to make yourself enjoy something or do something won’t make it better.

    I think just letting going with it and doing whatever you do enjoy or feel like might be a good idea.

    But – what the Hell do I know? 😉

    P.S – Send your in-laws for Breakfast please?!!!! 🙂

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:35 am

      Well I basically feel like I’ve been in downtime mode since October 30. I’m over being down!

      • Baking 'n' Books December 28, 2010, 8:45 am

        Totally get that! Well, in that case, I echo everyone else ;).

        Have you considered something different like swimming or even a triathlon to change it up?

        • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:54 am

          I might do a Duathlon in the spring (bike/run) and I’m thinking about a tri later in the summer but I don’t have pool access 🙁

  • Amanda December 27, 2010, 11:40 am

    I am in the EXACT same place right now so I completely understand how awful it is to get out of the rut. I just completed the Insanity program a month ago and decided to give my body a break and the break has been continuing way to long. I’ve been working out 2-3 times a week but im used to 5 -6 and feel awful about it. My solution is always starting something fresh – I’ve done everything from bootcamps, kettlebell training, running, yoga, fitness classes, Dvd programs, to daily cardio and weight lifting at the gym. I motivate myself with new and exciting goals every little while so I don’t get bored in what i’m doing. That being said, I’ve decided to get back into a regular cardio and weight lifting routine to shed some of the extra pounds I (among many others!) have packed on over the holidays. Good luck with finding your inner motivation – it’s not easy, even for some of the most movitated people out there!

  • JenRD December 27, 2010, 11:41 am

    When I get in a workout rut, I have to mix things up a bit. That exercise bike is a start, but you may want to really spice things up some more–take some zumba or spinning classes, go back to yoga, find some fun workout DVD’s (www.collagevideo is a great resource, which lets you view samples of the videos). Or, take your usual cardio (running or biking) and throw in some intervals to make the time go by faster. Have you updated your workout mix on your ipod at all recently? Sometimes new motivating songs can help!


  • Amalfi Girl December 27, 2010, 11:42 am

    I am so with you on the rut–only mine’s with eating. Running is still fairly new to me so I am still very much excited about it. but seeing your breakfast helped–healthy food is so beautiful and delicious! Maybe visit another runner’s blog and get motivation from them the way we do from you?

    My husband can’t wait to get those vibrams and try barefoot running–I’m looking forward to seeing how you like them!

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:35 am

      That’s a great idea! Off to read Frayed Laces.

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine December 27, 2010, 11:46 am

    I’m running that half too!! It’s going to be a blog party 🙂

    I’ve been in a rut lately too, and I’ve been trying lots of classes at my gym. It’s definitely gotten me motivated to exercise like never before- and even to strength train, which I usually HATE!!

  • Ella December 27, 2010, 11:48 am

    Try doing something besides running or yoga for a change! My school just started offering spinning classes, so I’ve been going to those and I’ve started taking ballet classes again after taking a 2 year break and working out is fun again! You do the same thing day after day, start doing some cross training to help your IT band like lifting weights or doing fun group high energy workout classes. Or try updating your ipod.

  • J.L. December 27, 2010, 11:51 am

    there’s a cutie teacher i have a crush on at work whom i found out is in need of a running buddy. being a marathoner myself, hey, it’s a win-win situation. someone to motivate him to hit the road again, and an excuse to spend time with my crush!

    • Amy December 27, 2010, 12:45 pm

      Hahaha well played!

  • christina December 27, 2010, 11:53 am

    I hear you on that one. I ran philly in novemeber and my boston training starts in mid january. I am using this time off to relax a bit and try new workouts- i do gym classes (body pump and body attack are my favorites) and want to get more into yoga (I fell off that boat this summer and have yet to jump back on! haha). I think part of it can definitely be burn out because pushed yourself to the edge physically and your body is probably just asking for rest. I wouldnt worry about it to be honest. just shake up your workouts, take it easy, for now anyway.

  • Tina @ The Shakespearean Tomato December 27, 2010, 12:03 pm

    My biggest thing would be whatever you do, DON’T STOP! Even if the hours drop for awhile or you change things up, at least stick to the habit of doing something. I ran for almost a year straight in 2008, going from being able to run no more than 30 seconds at a time in January to running the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November of that year. But after it was over, my running buddy and I took a break to recover, got hit with a couple of bad illnesses over the next 2-3 months, and then just quit and in 2 years I haven’t been able to get back into a regular rhythm again. I wish I had never stopped, even if I did cut way back from the serious training we had been doing. Now I am going to start getting back into it again (once the snow here melts!) and I am starting from scratch all over again. My goal is to one day run the Disney World marathon, and I think if I get back into it NOW I could reach that goal for 2013. Just keep going, try some different things, but at least keep in the exercise habit so when th motivation does return you aren’t building back up again from the beginning.

  • Stacey December 27, 2010, 12:07 pm

    I think it is totally normal to get into ruts. I live in the midwest and they always happen during the winter. It helps me to switch up my workouts. To help this winter I’ve started trying out new classes at the gym and found a boot camp and spin class I am crazy about! Bootcamp is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life (I am always more sore after bootcamp than I was after the MS150 I did in the fall) I’ve also been able to kick my lifting back into gear since I’m not currently training for any races and I love it.

    I’m sure you won’t have a problem with this, but I think the most important thing is to keep a positive attitude and know you won’t be stuck in the rut forever!

  • Sarah December 27, 2010, 12:19 pm

    I think that going through exercise ruts is absolutely normal! I think, first and foremost, its important to listen to your body (and mind), and respect how its feeling.
    The ideas you brought up, such as making a training plan and using the stationary bike, are all great ideas… like you, I feel so much more motivated if I have a plan and a goal to strive towards.
    I actually really recommend lifting weights, and focusing more on strength training. I’m a fairly small person, and I never imagined I would like building strength, but it is so empowering to me! I also realize that beginning something new gives me the energy I got from when I started running, and its fun to see myself progress.
    I really think that the winter, in general, is just difficult to get out and move… after all, in nature, its hibernating time! I would just keep moving a moderate amount, but really listen to your body, and give it a rest… sometimes resting, even if you think you don’t need it, can be the best rejuvenator!
    But remember: this, too, shall pass! 🙂

  • Briana December 27, 2010, 12:20 pm

    I’m running the National Half too!! We need a twitter meetup 🙂

    I agree with you – I perform MUCH better when under an actual training schedule. In fact, I’m hoping to make up my own this time around instead of relying on someone else’s pre-planned workouts.

    Report back on how much you love your VFFs!!!

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:36 am

      We shall definitely do a meet up!

  • Natalia - a side of simple December 27, 2010, 12:21 pm

    A few months ago I was in a really bad workout rut. I just wasn’t in the mood at all and it was becoming a chore, rather than just another part of my day. I ended up injuring myself and had to take a week off. Although I got hurt, it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I was able to recover mentally and physically and then I got right back into a steady groove. Sometimes you just need to completely take off for a set of days without any “I should workout” ideas. Giving yourself a stop + go day will help you get right back on schedule. I’m convinced that getting hurt was my body’s way of telling me this advice! Don’t worry, though, Caitlin. You’ll get it back!

  • Laura December 27, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Perhaps try something where exercise is an aspect of the activity, versus the full focus. I started taking tae kwon do classes about a month ago and it is awesome. My studio offered a month long trial at a reduced cost (I understand this is somewhat of a norm among martial arts studios). If there is a tae kwon do studio near you, maybe you could give it a try for a month!

    • Laura December 27, 2010, 12:26 pm

      Also, the teacher and other students hold you accountable so when you don’t show up to class you better have a good excuse. 🙂

  • Tanya @ Vegan Faith December 27, 2010, 12:26 pm

    I’m pretty sure you mentioned you don’t attend a gym, but I have to say that it is good motivation for the winter. You may even find that there are some great deals in January you can take advantage of for just a few months until the weather balances back out. I always pick up weight-training in the winter and I love it! We do a fun fitness challenge with a group of women and one of the PT in our group creates a work out for us that we must do 2 or 3 times a week plus a bunch of cardio. If you are interested in joining our group I will send you the next challenge. It starts in January and is two months long. It is great accountability and there are women from all over Charlotte, Davidson, Mooresville that are in the group.

  • Larissa December 27, 2010, 12:28 pm

    listen to your body, make a conscious effort to do nothing at all for a week, you will want to work out so bad by the end of the week. always works for me!

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) December 27, 2010, 12:29 pm

    My advice, as always, is to hit the pool. It’s so peaceful (as long as it isn’t during swim lessons or water aerobics) and clears your mind. You’ll be hooked :).

  • Kelly December 27, 2010, 12:30 pm

    I think that your feelings are totally normal! I think people go back and forth between the feelings of wanting to exercise and feeling like it is a chore. I think the best thing for you to do is to NOT force it. Maybe take some time off. If you continue to force yourself to work out I think you will eventually start resenting it. So why not take a month off. I gaurantee you will feel the urge again and it will be much more enjoyable!!

  • sarah December 27, 2010, 12:35 pm

    maybe after taking a few days to a week totally off you will get restless and have a strong desire to workout again. It makes sense you are burned out after all that you have done in the past year. Maybe it’s your body’s way to saying that it needs a little time off.

  • Paige @Running Around Normal December 27, 2010, 12:37 pm

    An injury can definitely do it. I have a nagging hip pain (almost positive it’s bursitis) so it really throws a wrench in sweating – and squatting! – it out :-/

  • Caitlin December 27, 2010, 12:43 pm

    Try new tactics for improving your running! For instance, plyometrics are proven to increase speed and endurance in runners, I always break up my routine with a day of plyometric drills, they are fun and I’ve seen improvement!

  • Krista (kristastes) December 27, 2010, 12:50 pm

    HIIT workouts are my current fav…after my marathon, I was so sick of running long distances and I wanted to get my strength and speed back. The HIIT treadmill workouts definitely motivate me…4-6 miles go by extremely fast. Also, it’s fun to do cross fit-inspired workouts, completing x number of reps/sets and seeing if you can beat your completion time a few days later. And when all else fails, take a rest 🙂

  • Theodora December 27, 2010, 12:51 pm

    Oh man. I’ve definitely been feeling some of this since my marathon, too. For me, signing up for two halves (halfs?) helped. I’m focusing on breaking 2:00 for the first one, so working on spped is helping me with my workout rut. I’ve also signed up for a bootcamp for runners to work on my strength. When I’m *really* in a rut, though, and don’t want to work out, I try to either do a lot of yoga, because it doesn’t always feel like a workout to me, or take group exercise classes so that I don’t have to think about it and can just do it.

  • molly December 27, 2010, 12:53 pm

    So, I’m a total wimp and rarely go outside in the cold north east winters for my runs… yes, I realize its doable, but not for me. However, to make the treadmill or elliptical exciting for me, I plan my gym workouts around a show I want to watch. I actually got rid of my tv a few years ago, so if I want to watch, I better get my butt down to the gym. It works great because every night I can watch House Hunters from 7-8 or catch the news in the mornings (or sometimes just watch VH1 and listen to new artists on Jump Start). I could go on with shows, but I love to use that as my reason to get excited. I compromise and tell myself if I really hate running, I’ll walk on the treadmill for an hour and cover 4 miles, usually I end up running by the first commercial, but its great knowing I can watch tv and feel like I’m getting something done at the same time. Good luck!

  • VTMama December 27, 2010, 1:00 pm

    My advice is to give yourself a break. A phase is just that; it will pass in time and you will wonder where it ever came from as you breeze thru a 10 mile run. Stop and smell the flowers.

  • KitKat @ Pursuit of Happiness December 27, 2010, 1:02 pm

    This happens to me every few months. While usually I can pull out similar tricks recently none of them seemed to be working. I even got a new gym buddy to change up my routine. I just wasn’t *excited* about exercising.

    I took a few days off completely from exercise around the Holidays. Partly on purpose and partly because I was so busy. Now I swear I can’t WAIT to exercise again. I miss it and I’m craving it!

  • stepf @dailyspark December 27, 2010, 1:13 pm

    I also signed up for the Capital Half!!! Can’t wait to run a race with you. 🙂

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:41 am

      Yay it’s going to be epiiiic stepf!

  • Amber K December 27, 2010, 1:15 pm

    I don’t think I can add anything that people haven’t already said, but so many good tips!

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous December 27, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Have you tried a class like CrossFit? I find that whenever I do a totally crazy-hard workout, I get excited to workout again. Pushing myself gets me out of my humdrum workout mode.

  • D December 27, 2010, 1:19 pm

    since you’re experiencing “burnout”, wouldn’t it be better to ride it out and wait for your motivation to come back naturally? i find that if you have been exercising regularly for years, and then experience a small period of burnout, that your motivation will eventually return on it’s own, since it’s ingrained in you to enjoy exercise and training.

  • Joanna B December 27, 2010, 1:21 pm

    Have you ever considered working with a trainer or coach? I used to think I knew everything about exercising until I starting working with a coach for triathlon training. My workouts completely altered and I was able to complete 6 races in a year. Now I work with a personal trainer. What that has provided me with is an expert to hold me to account for what I say I am going to do in the gym.

    The truth about being an athlete is not how you feel about training, motivation and excitement are not required. What makes someone an athlete is that they go on even when they ‘don’t feel like it.’ They go to the gym or hit the track when they’d much rather be doing something else. They let their commitment drive rather than the feelings. It may be cheesy, but in the words of Nike ‘just do it.’ Do it for no other reason than you said you would, put the feelings and lack of excitement aside. Sometimes you’ll be motivated sometimes you won’t.

  • john December 27, 2010, 1:23 pm

    There will be times when you are going to have to cut back, for what ever reason. You do so much now I can’t beleive you get it all done. Quality not quantity comes to my mind. Love you.

  • Juli D. December 27, 2010, 1:26 pm

    Maybe switch it up a bit – have you ever thought about joining a local sporting league? Try your hand at a group sport – softball, tennis, dodgeball, flag football, etc. Or try taking some different classes if you’re a member of a gym. Run less but make it worthwhile – go down to 2 runs a week but make it a long tempo run and an interval run. Fill the rest of your week with some variety – it almost seems like you’re bored.

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:42 am

      I would definitely love to try kickball!!!

  • Joanna @ Drizzle of Sunshine December 27, 2010, 1:30 pm

    These are all great motivators that you listed and are definitely what I use to motivate myself. I am by no means anywhere close to an athlete but it’s something I strive to become one day. I think what motivates me the most right now is reading other bloggers. You are one of my favs and others like you motivate me to push myself. I often times read bloggers old entries and see their progression and remind myself that even they, had to build up to where they are now. Don’t push yourself too much and love what you do. Don’t make it a chore or it’ll be a chore. Good luck Caitlin!

  • Rochel December 27, 2010, 1:32 pm

    I had the same problem when I first moved from Florida to DC. Winters are cold here, days are short, and motivation lags. One thing that works for me is doing weight lifting and/or cardio drills in my living room while watching TV. Perhaps you can bike during the show and jump off and do pushups, crunches, or other strength work during the commercials?

  • Heather December 27, 2010, 1:34 pm

    what about just taking a break? a couple weeks off from running, usually that kick starts me to get going again!

  • Cindy Robinson December 27, 2010, 1:35 pm

    Hmm all, my suggestions involve outdoor activities. I love to rollerblade and play soccer. They help me workout without really trying. Perhaps signing up for a team sport? Learning something new and different could be fun!

  • Laura December 27, 2010, 1:35 pm

    Boy do I know the feeling… You’re already utilizing my main tricks – new gear (By the way, I’m so jealous of the Vibrams. One of these days I’ll justify the expense and try them out myself.), and a goal race with a training plan. And you even bought a MOTIVATOR!! That’s got to work, right??

    You could also try mixing up your runs a bit. Do some speed workouts on the track, different types of tempo runs or find new routes. Or make a weekly workout appointment with a friend.

  • meagan December 27, 2010, 1:36 pm

    What about taking a break? Do some yoga regularly, stretch and let your injuries heal. Walk a good half hour most days, enjoy the scenery and just let your body rest. Svasana is done at the end of yoga for a reason, and that principle can apply to your life as well. Sometimes just one day of “rest” isn’t enough.

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss December 27, 2010, 1:46 pm

    I heard thosxe shoes are great for running but take a lot for your body to get use to. My friend has some and it took months for his shins to stop hurting! That could have been something he was doing through..I’m not sure. Hope you enjoy them!

  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing December 27, 2010, 1:46 pm

    I’m not crazy athletic or anything but I think doing “athletic” things that are also fun is key to keeping myself motivated. I’m talking about things like yoga, hiking, walking, climbing, etc., where you can see new places and try new things while under the disguise of exercise.

  • Errign December 27, 2010, 1:47 pm

    I like to set goals for myself & then reward myself when I accomplish my goal! If that doesn’t work, my suggestion is trying to take a break from the feeling that you’re not exercising & instead turn to activities that do not feel like exercise, like walking, hiking, or going for bike rides around town to run errands. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Hannah December 27, 2010, 1:59 pm

    I don’t know how bad your injury is, but at least you can work out! I’ve had a groin pull from obsessive exercise since last February and literally can’t do ANYTHING. Some upper body stuff, but not even abs or any strength. I need to get an MRI, and who knows what happens after that.

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:43 am

      I’m really sorry about your groin injury. 🙁 That sucks.

  • Laine December 27, 2010, 1:59 pm

    Try just walking around the neighborhood. I get in a 50 minute walk in the evenings, around my quiet neighborhood. I love it.

    Find a hill or mountain and climb it! Hiking rocks.

    Do you have snow near you? You could snow shoe. Or kayak. Or swim.

    Those are the things I love to do, that never need motivation to get me to do them.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 27, 2010, 2:07 pm

    When I’m in a rut, I like buying new clothes! 🙂

  • Christy December 27, 2010, 2:09 pm

    For me, music is my motivator. So whenever I download new songs, my workouts get that extra “oomph” they need. And playing sports helps too. Once you start playing tennis, for example, you will notice you could play better if you worked on speed drills. So then it gives you a new goal to work towards!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit December 27, 2010, 2:19 pm

    I feel the same way, I’m losing my drive to exercise deliberately for the first time in about 7 years. It happened after I ran my first half marathon last month. I’m trying to just roll with it, and work out when I feel like it.

  • Cara December 27, 2010, 2:23 pm

    Workout ruts are the worst, but we all find ourselves there from time to time. Generally, I will take a few days off in a row then ease back into my mileage. Say take 2-3 days off then go for easy 2 mile run or short relaxing bike ride. After this short break my body is often dying to run and the shorter mileage allows me to ease back in to it. I hope this helps!

  • Meredith December 27, 2010, 2:32 pm

    I hate workout ruts! They are terrible, and it’s so hard to get out of that funk. I usually go to some fun group fitness classes, usually something new. What about trying Nia, Zumba, or a tap dance class? Something totally out of the ordinary that might not feel like it’s working out, but it definitely is.

  • Katherine December 27, 2010, 2:41 pm

    I’m sure the colder weather isn’t helping you get out of your workout rut. If it was warm outside and you could run in a tank top and shorts and there were lots of other people out there running it would be very easy to get out there and do it! I can’t stand working out indoors so at these times I think exercise classes or hot yoga are lifesavers.

  • Lisa December 27, 2010, 2:45 pm

    I don’t remember when Girls on the Run restarts but since you enjoyed it so much, you might find it motivating to find another cause like that. Maybe volunteer for a local Achilles running group, or if there is some kind of rehabilitation facility around where someone wants to begin to run – maybe even someone from Sparkpeople who lives in the area? Work with them to get them ready for an upcoming Spring race?

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:43 am

      GOTR restarts in Feb and I am sooo looking forward to it.

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table December 27, 2010, 2:54 pm

    I have been going through the same thing – ’tis the season I suppose.

    I’ve been inviting people to workout with me – I can’t back out if it was my idea! I’ve also been using my P90X DVDs more to shake things up.

    The biggest thing is not pressuring myself to do workouts I don’t feel into. Like right now the thought of running is terrible, so I’m focusing on alternates.

  • Samantha @ The More I Run dot com December 27, 2010, 3:00 pm

    I look athletic magazines or websites and envision myself looking like they do. Gets me out of the house within minutes. 😉

  • Michelle December 27, 2010, 3:08 pm

    Those vibrams look really interesting! I’m going to go read about barefoot running now!

  • Courtney December 27, 2010, 3:09 pm

    I got into a running rut in September (and I have been running for years) and just decided to stop. Really. Then I decided to try and challenge myself with something that I had tried before and never liked -yoga. And you know what? I LOVE it now. It’s a complete 180 for me in terms of the mentality of it, and I love that. So now I try to walk my dogs an hour every day and get to 2-3 yoga classes a week (I would go more often but it’s hard to work it around my husband’s schedule for him to be able to watch our son). I figure if I feel like running again some day, I will. If not, that’s okay too.

  • carlee December 27, 2010, 3:13 pm

    Gahh! i COULD NOT go running in that cold of weather! It would hurt me! lol
    and I’m loving those bright colored fruits! So tropical and pretty lookin!

  • Julia December 27, 2010, 3:14 pm

    Whenever I am on a run and not particularly enjoying it I start thinking to myself how fortunate I am to have legs that work so well and allow me to run; how great it is that I have lungs that control my steady breathing; how blessed I am that I have access to trails or to gyms. I think about how lucky I am to have fancy running shoes and nice workout clothes. And I think about the sun shining down on me or the birds chirping above me. All of a sudden I am just completely filled with gratitude and I smile the entire run.

  • Charlotte December 27, 2010, 3:19 pm

    Hey Caitlin! I think it’s important not to give yourself any anxiety over the workout rut, and to avoid creating a regimen just yet. When you wake up each morning ask your body what it wants to do – whether it wants to dance, walk, rest, yoga, run, or whatever – try indulging it and playing around with your physical activity until you can get excited about your workouts again. This may mean a long-term shift from one kind of exercise to another, but as long as you’re happy and healthy, that’s all that matters!

  • Kristin December 27, 2010, 3:29 pm

    thank you SO much for writing such an honest post…the words in this post are a mirror image of my thoughts right now. i am in a complete running/exercise rut. i am still going to the gym and attempting to run outside but my body just feels uninterested and my mind is totally unmotivated. i, too, place a lot of value in being “an athlete” so i am simply not satisfied with accepting it/taking a break/waiting for it to pass. after thinking about it, i really think it’s a mental thing. when i feel good about myself, my diet, my body, and my every day life…i am naturally motivated and positive. because i’ve been feeling a little down and have been feeding my body more processed, sugary foods lately, i think it is affecting my body and my mind. for this reason, i am going to concentrate on eating better, spending more time with God, and doing other things that i truly enjoy. hopefully if i make these other changes, exercise will become desirable and enjoyable once again. just a thought?

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:44 am

      Sorry you’ve been in a rut, too! It must be the weather.

  • Kaitlin December 27, 2010, 3:29 pm

    Wow there are some great comments here! I would echo everyone else– try switching it up and challenge your body in a new way. Thanks for your ever-ending motivation and discussion on training and working out– you’ve changed the way I view exercise!

  • Ellie December 27, 2010, 3:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing Caitlin! For me, it’s basically most about balance in all aspects in life. For example, not trying to focus on the image aspect (which isn’t always easy), but working at my best so that I can serve the Lord Jesus to the best of my abilities. I’m not sure what motivates you spiritually really, but definitely God is an inspiration for me and I hope you get to experience that too :). Also, I think of something verryyyy practical! Although I’m not married yet–I constantly think about my future children! hehe 😛 and I get inspired by ‘them’ so that I can have a safe pregnancy, birth/labor, and after labor health! Not to mention, to be able to stay up and take care of them etc.etc. Hope this helps Caitlin, and have a beautiful day~ <33

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:46 am

      I think this is a great motivator!

  • Jamie @ Food in Real Life December 27, 2010, 3:53 pm

    I think your tricks will work! I was thinking of running the sun trust marathon but personal things are in the way- I keep seeing people sign up and it makes me jealous! My personal goals are just to maintain 13 miles a week, and explore winter running. I joined a running group too because I wanted to challenge myself and make running more social. I’m also focusing on weight lifting again. Just switching it up a little bit makes things more fun!

  • Maureen @ A Healthy and Active Life December 27, 2010, 3:56 pm

    I know how you feel! I felt like that over the summer- it was just much easier to skip that run or not go to the gym than it was to get the motivation to go.

    One thing that worked for me was getting a new music mix. I am not sure if you run with music, but maybe downloading a new album will help!

    Hope you get out of your rut soon and are back to feeling like your normal self!

  • Mizzy December 27, 2010, 3:57 pm

    I may be in the minority here, but i don’t think thinking of yourself as an athlete is a good (or very smart) idea. Athletes get paid to compete. sports are their lives. they devote their lives to practicing a specific craft, and spend countless hours perfecting it. This all amounts to a great deal of pressure on someone who is not actually an “athlete”. Here is a better way to think about exercise: it is something that is GOOD for you. It will improve your health, increase your metabolism, and boost your self-esteem. On days when you don’t feel like working out ask yourself: If I skip my workout today, will I feel better or worse afterwards? I guarantee you will feel worse if you skip it.

    I am only saying this from experience. I was recently diagnosed with a genetic kidney disease, and my doctor told me that if it wasn’t for my running, I would be much worse off right now than I am. Now I exercise for my life, not to be a self-made athlete.

    Just my two cents….

    • Cathleen December 27, 2010, 8:24 pm

      You make a good point that exercise has many health benefits, but I disagree with a number of the sentiments expressed here.

      If Caitlin and those of us who call ourselves “athletes” devote the time, energy, and thought to becoming better at our sports of choice, why shouldn’t we consider ourselves athletes? The “pressure” I place on myself is a very positive thing — it helps me hold myself to a higher standard and prevents me from feeling aimless and complacent in physical activity.

      Secondly, since when must one be paid to compete in order to be considered an athlete? By your definition, collegiate varsity athletes aren’t actually athletes either.

      “Athletes get paid to compete. sports are their lives.” — this sentiment seems to devalue paid athletes as people. A doctor gets paid to be a doctor — does it mean being a doctor is his whole entire life? Paid athletes are individuals with other hobbies and talents just like anyone else in this world.

      • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 8:50 am

        My husband also thinks athletes are only paid professionals! He agrees with Mizzy 🙂

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) December 27, 2010, 3:57 pm

    Caitlin, you have got to change it up. Have you ever tried kickboxing? I LOVE it! It is so much fun and it goes well as a counterpart of yoga (which I know you love). I have to change things up or I get so bored. I love interval training too. I love the cardio blasts and then the rest intervals. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  • Ellie December 27, 2010, 4:09 pm

    Oh, and doing really short(about 15-20 minutes) but harrrrd intense workouts is key to staying in shape, and not dreading hours of long exercise

  • Kylie @ A Hungry Spoon December 27, 2010, 4:22 pm

    I recommend getting a few circuit training workout DVDs to spice up your routine–running can get mundane over time, so it’s always fun to switch it up with something new to challenge your body. I love Jackie Warner’s power circuit training, Bob Harper’s new Cardio Conditioning DVD (WOW! This one will work you HARD!), and any of Jillian’s Michael’s circuit training workouts. They keep things interesting and do great toning work.

    Glad you enjoyed your Florida visit! Have a great Monday 🙂

  • kell December 27, 2010, 4:30 pm

    . . . i vote for giving up cardio for a couple weeks and focusing on weight training. It’s really empowering to get stronger and does amazing things for a body without zapping so much mental and physical energy as mundane cardio can.
    whatever you choose to do, im sure you’ll find your groove again and rock it!
    good luck!

  • Kathy in Chicago December 27, 2010, 4:31 pm

    “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Yesterday it was 25 degrees in Chicago, and I went for a wonderful bike ride. I usually ride in a long sleeve T & a heavy sweatshirt, & a turtleneck scarf that is made of something like polar fleece. My bottoms are these awesome super warm athletic pants. The only thing that pulls me back inside are my cold hands, but I use cashmere lined gloves & I’m toasty. I can ride in this outfit for about 45 minutes even when the temperature drops to 10 degrees.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 27, 2010, 5:03 pm

    I get motivated by reading biographies or blogs of athletes. That always helps me push myself to do my best! 🙂

  • Kerry (Running on Faith) December 27, 2010, 5:40 pm

    When I had a tight iliotibial band, I decided to vary up my workout. Truth be told – realizing that running would have to be put on hold for a bit really stunk, but it was necessary. Decreasing the exercises that put repeated strain on the hips to more core strengthening (PILATES!) has helped tremendously. I now try to balance out the running with pilates to prevent that burnout and injury. I second what many have said and spice things up a bit!

  • Melissa December 27, 2010, 6:20 pm

    Definitely get a workout buddy and maybe try something other than running. Someone above mentioned boxing which sounds totally fun! I also like the idea of taking off for a week or two. Your body will be craving it soon enough. Good luck!

  • Rachel December 27, 2010, 6:20 pm

    I’ve found that reading running magazines helps me. I read about other people doing amazing things and/or struggling with similar motivation/injury problems and it inspires me to get out there and run!

    I also always find winter to make running or exercising so much harder. It’s cold outside and nice and warm under a blanket. Hopefully once the weather starts to get warmer you’ll back to your athletic self!

  • Amanda (modernation) December 27, 2010, 6:45 pm

    I have been feeling the same way since my Dec. 5 marathon and have enlisted some of the same tricks. I signed up for a February 5K and have a few half marathons and an Olympic tri on the calendar. I also set up my indoor trainer and find it helps so much. Knowing that I don’t have to get out in the cold motivates me to ride hard!

  • Katherine: Unemployed December 27, 2010, 7:15 pm

    Those bike stands are awesome! I can’t wait to see more pics. That was a good present

  • Winnie December 27, 2010, 7:40 pm

    If you’re not on a super tight training plan for an important upcoming race or anything, then I suggest simply not run for a while. And not feeling guilty about it – just give yourself a good break from any sort of exercise for maybe 3-4 days. Before you know it, your body will be CRAVING for physical activity and you’ll feel new and recharged! This always works for me.. but then again, it doesn’t apply to everyone since some might not be able to pull themselves back out of that lazy state…

  • Gracie (complicated day) December 27, 2010, 7:45 pm

    Maybe you need a running/biking/yoga break. Maybe you’d be all thrilled about roller skating or body building! Woohoo! (Trying to engender excitement…)

  • Diana December 27, 2010, 8:03 pm

    Why not try something new…like Zumba?! 😉 Michelle, Jen and I will go with you!

  • Lee December 27, 2010, 8:10 pm

    I almost always sign up for a race when I feel like I’m in a rut. Once you get a plan in place, I bet you’ll feel better. It helps me a lot.

  • aubrey @ italktofood December 27, 2010, 8:15 pm

    i think workout ruts is a signal from your body saying “i just need a little break, please take it easy for a little while”.

    and after your big event and injury, your body really does need a rest. There will be a time naturally that you begin to have more motivation. Just take a deep breath and go with the flow.

  • faith @ gracefulfitness December 27, 2010, 8:34 pm

    Exercise videos! I have been using Exercise TV online lately and love their 20 minute strength and cardio workouts. Sometimes I do 20 minutes, sometimes I do three in a row. Also, Collage Video offers great dvd’s at good prices.

  • Maryann December 27, 2010, 8:42 pm

    35 is SO cold! My trick is switching it up: different types of cardio, lifting, or a hike…it also helps to prevent a plateau. If none of that works, taking a few days off usually makes me get my exercsize “itch” back.

  • Ashley December 27, 2010, 8:46 pm

    That “Motivator” thing looks so cool! And only 80 bucks – so not too bad! I’ve never even heard of such a thing before, but now I wanna try it! You should do a review once you start using it!

  • Ann December 27, 2010, 8:50 pm

    Thanks for this post! I also ran a marathon in October (my first) and feel exactly as you do…..I am in a rut and can’t seem to get motivated! I do think it might be our bodies saying they need a break!!

  • 'Dee December 27, 2010, 9:03 pm

    Two thoughts:

    1) Why do you think we might giggle at your calling yourself an athlete? You ARE an athlete! You are an endurance runner, a triathlete, and a distance cyclist. You didn’t get to be those things unless along the way you transformed from a casual workout person to an athlete. So there 🙂

    2) I think you’ve already landed on the points (and possible solutions) to your rut. You are used to warm weather and now living in a real winter — even for those of us who do it every year, that’s enough to go ‘eh, not today!’ I think switching things up plus the ability to ride your bike in indoor comfort while watching movies, TV, etc. will add a nice, non-stressing way to get your fitness time in. It snowed here in St. Louis over Christmas and I really, really wanted to go run outside, but it was cold and icy. I voted against possibly landing in traction from a bad fall and instead hit my treadmill and watched “Christmas Vacation”, LOL.

    Hang in there and do what you like at your own pace! Good luck.

  • zoe (and the beatles) December 27, 2010, 9:54 pm


    i’m pretty sure the winter days do a number on our motivation to work out. it just happens. during the winter the lack of sunlight affects our levels of serotonin. i think it’s okay if you just simply take it easy — maybe that’s what your body wants. you can still most definitely be an “athlete” and work out only three times a week. i think you’re being too hard on yourself. sometimes ruts happen. but we always push past ruts in the end 🙂 no worries, caitlin! it’ll all even out.

  • Sarah December 27, 2010, 9:57 pm

    It should probably bother me more when my “workout rut” starts, but I just embrace it. If that means I go a week without working out, so be it. Forcing it makes it so much less enjoyable and I have found I come back to it naturally if I give myself some time. Oh…enjoy your Five Fingers. They take some getting used to, but are fun!

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