Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Conditioning. Not Just For Athletes.

My son plays baseball, and this year he's pitching. After the first game he pitched, his shoulder was sore. Naturally, I went online for remedies.

Whenever I go online for a "quick solution" to a problem, I get caught up in tangents. One interesting article might feature a link slightly off-topic that I have to read. Before I knew it, four hours had gone by. Yes, I had options to treat his sore arm, but even better, I found ways to prevent it from happening again. Yay!

What I learned did not surprise me. Baseball players need to condition regularly--almost every day--if they want to improve their skills and avoid injuries. Conditioning doesn't guarantee a pain-free season, but it reduces the odds of soreness, and it improves the player's overall performance.

My son and I came up with a workout plan for days he doesn't have games or practices. It's easy to follow, his arm hasn't hurt since that first game, and his pitching continues to improve.

This is what we do on off days:

1. Walk and jog for thirty minutes. We have a great route that allows us to walk 1.25 miles and jog 0.75 miles.
2. Five minutes of "form" exercises to improve balance and overall accuracy.
3. Play catch for twenty minutes.
4. Once or twice a week, my husband or I will have him pitch twenty to thirty pitches to us.

Why am I willing to give up an hour of my day three-four times a week?

Easy! My son and I now have a regular exercise routine that has a larger purpose.

1. In the past when I said, "hey, let's go exercise," I did not get an enthusiastic, "okay!" in return. But my son actually comes to me now with, "Mom, we need to run and play catch." I don't have to nag about watching too much television or playing video games. He's motivated because he wants to be the best and knows it will improve his performance.

2. I spend hours every day sitting and typing on my computer. I need to get out and exercise! Our jog/walk relieves stress, keeps me in shape, and gives me much-needed fresh air. Tossing the ball forces me to develop muscles I'm sure I've never used. Plus, my eye-hand coordination has improved.

3. Making this a non-negotiable part of our day has helped me organize my time.

4. I've always loved being with my kids, and working out with my tween son is a way we can stay connected. As he grows older, I'll continue to look for ways to spend time with him.

5. It's helped me overcome my childhood fear of getting hit by a ball. Two years ago, I could NOT play catch. I was scared of the ball, didn't understand the mitt concept, and cowered when a ball came my way. But I decided I had to get over that--my husband can't be the only one in our house to play catch with our son. My hubby and son taught me how to throw, how to catch, and toned down their laughter at my pitiful attempts. Just this week I got clipped in the knee by a ball, but I shook it off. I've had several nasty bruises due to failed catching attempts. I do not let that stop me.

My son will continue to train and condition off-season. When you get to a higher level in sports, you can no longer afford to take months off between seasons. He understands that winter means hopping on the treadmill and tossing the ball in our basement. The workouts will be less intense, but they will be regular.

I also condition myself for writing.

Every weekday I do writing related tasks. I either write, revise, plot, or study a book on the writing craft. I do this because I know it will improve my performance.

When you get to a higher level in writing, you can no longer afford to take months off between books. A handful of times a year I'll take a week or two off. Christmas, our summer vacation, when I'm feeling burned out--we all need true vacations. But even if I took a longer period off of writing or revising, I would be reading books in my genre, studying craft books, jotting down and exploring story ideas.

Just like my son conditions for a higher purpose, I keep everything writing-related a top priority in my life so I don't fall into a slump or lose the hard-earned writing muscles I've honed. I want to be my best, and that means consistency, dedication, and focus.

What motivates you? Do you condition for anything in your life?

Have a fabulous Wednesday!!


  1. Art is also a contact sport. So I have to practice every day, too. I need to work in getting up out of the chair to make that part of staying in shape fun.

    1. I agree! Art is definitely something I have to be regular with or I lose it!

  2. Wow, Jill, what great points to line out! I'm 6 weeks in to a newer, healthy way of life by eating right and joining Curves. I cannot tell you how great I feel - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The upside is that I'm losing weight, but that's not the goal. The goal is a well-balanced, rounded life - just like what you've described. That is AWESOME motivation, my Friend. I'm keeping this post handy for future reference!

    1. Good for you, Donna!! I love reading your enthusiasm! I'm getting toned, which makes me happy now that shorts' season has arrived. :)

  3. This is awesome, Jill. It can be hard for me to be motivated to work out--especially now that I live alone. When I had a roomie, we made it a regular part of our day. Now it's up to me to motivate me. Haha!

    I condition for writing too. One of the best conditioning exercises for writing, actually, has been blogging. Which surprised me in the beginning. But it's been a great way to keep myself writing, keep exploring my voice, etc.

    1. So true! Blogging does flex those muscles and keep me focused too!

  4. Posts like this are very motivating Jill!

    We had a personal trainer once a week all last year. We'd meet at the local park. The kids whinge for me, but not for him, they'd try really hard for him. Kids always seem keener to impress total strangers than their own parents :)


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