Reason #1,000,001 to just show up.

Hi There!

I must start this post off with a confession. I was planning on leveraging the poor New England weather to spin this Motivational Monday post for the better; however, it seems to me the Boston weather has changed drastically since I checked last night from pouring rain all week straight to pure sunshine (with occasional clouds) through the weekend. Oh well, spring has sprung in Boston and you truly never know what you’re going to get!

I think, regardless of the weather forecast for the week, you’ll still find this post helpful if you’re looking for the motivation to try something new/switch up your fitness routine or, if you’re simply in need of something to fill your life with pure joy and love again. The only catch? You have to just show up…despite the early morning roll call (6:30am) and despite the weather conditions that day. (See…that’s where my inspirational weatherproof message was supposed to go. Now you’re just lucky and get to show up when it’s sunny out.)

If you haven’t guessed what I’m talking about by that description alone, then I’m not quite sure where you’ve been for the last five years! I’m talking about November Project–the free fitness movement that started in Boston in 2011 and now has grown to 30 cities around the world. Isn’t that wild? What began as a challenge between two former Northeastern crew mates to stay in shape during the cold, New England months and workout, outside, for free, for one month straight (the month of November, hence the name) has exploded into a world-wide movement.

November-Project-group

The best part about NP? The people. NP is comprised of everyone under the sun–you never know who you’ll be working out with: Olympic medalists, professional athletes, marathoners, triathletes, current and former college athletes, fitness rookies, couch potatoes, and everyone in between (even dogs! Dogs just show up!!) who are looking to kickstart a healthier lifestyle. Don’t let any of that scare you though; together we all rise and shine to work out and encourage each other, using the city as our playground.

If the amazing people doesn’t sell you on fitness movement, how about the glorious sunrises you’ll experience? Think of all of the Instagram photos!  Or what about all of the money you’ll save on gym and studio class fees?! I’m personally putting mine towards college loans. And did you see the part above that I mentioned dogs…puppies even?! Who doesn’t love the sight of friendly puppies casually workout next to you…

Alright, back to the important stuff because I can go on and on about the benefits of NP and all of the amazing experience you’ll have working out. For the sake of this post, I will only be focusing on the Boston tribe (known as The Mothership, to some), but if you’re reading along from somewhere else in the world, check out the NP Locations page to see where the closest city with NP is to you and find a way to get there…quick!

In Boston, NP operates on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule:

  • On Monday’s, you run to a specific destination (which changes every week) for a workout. This is more of a wildcard kind of workout-it could be anything from circuit training, core/calisthenics work, to seven-minutes of straight burpees. Each Monday location is a different spot around the city–a parking lot, a field, a dock, or even a little patch of grass in between a highway–and is meant to get you to explore the city in a new light.
  • On Wednesday’s, we wear pink. Just kidding-wanted to see if you were still paying attention! Wednesday is a stadium workout at Harvard University’s football stadium, where we run the 37 sections of the horseshoe building and crush 1,147 large, concrete block steps in one workout…sometimes even more, depending on what the exciting workout is that morning.
  • On Friday’s, we run hills on Summit Avenue in Brookline, MA where the incline varies from 7% to 17%. And, sometimes, we increase intensity by adding a stair workout, wall jumps, and sprints to the usual hill repeats.

Even if you just start off coming to NP once a week, I guarantee you’ll love the energy and people and soon find yourself soon coming two-three times per week, so long as your schedule allows. If I may, might I recommend starting on a Wednesday? The reason I suggest this is because on Wednesday, you’re allowed to be singled out a “newbie,” get a brief introduction by one of the three co-leaders, and start together as a newbie group–it’s easier to meet people that way and to not feel alone or overwhelmed during your first NP workout. I did it and I highly recommend!

I decided to include a little background story for you, in case you’re wondering about how I found myself part of this amazing tribe of humans and if it might be the right place for you. Well, first of all: theres no need to think about that second part-I can assure you that it’s definitely is the right place for you and for everyone you know. How do I know this? Trust me…you’ll see why.

Okay, so back to my story. Before I was brave enough to “just show up” to November Project (NP) on Wednesday May 7, 2014, I remember hearing about it from some friends, being curious and pouring over the NP website, especially reading all of the Boston blog entries. To the best of my ability, I did my “research” on what this free fitness workout group was all about–I wanted to be as prepared as possible before taking part in anything new or showing up and feeling completely overwhelmed by the workout (a very Meg-like thing to do). I remember finding one blog entry, in particular, that made me stop in my tracks: “You Will Find Someone Your Speed” by Elin Flashman.

Elin is someone who I mentioned in last Friday’s blog post, when I wrote about the power of accountability and its influence on my life. What I did not mention in that post, is that even before I met Elin, he impacted my life profusely with his blog post. I wasn’t worried so much about keeping up with other people during the workouts and I wasn’t feeling shy about meeting new people (in fact, I was really looking forward to that part!), but it was just something he wrote towards the end of his entry that really stood out to me….so much so that I read it over and over again. He wrote: “I promise you that if you give it a chance it will change your life for the better and in ways that you may not expect.” Call me gullible because, I have no idea why I trusted the words of someone who I had never met before (just as I have no idea why I trusted someone who I barely knew telling me that I could definitely run a half marathon in a few months because I worked out at NP), but that sentence was just so genuine and inspiring that I had to take a chance! Plus, the little teaser of “…and in ways that you may not expect.” I mean, c’mon; who isn’t looking for a wonderful, unexpected opportunity in their life?!  I sure was.

At that point in my life (spring 2014), I was in dire need of something that would light me up inside again. As much as I had wonderful and exciting things in my life at the time: starting my second master’s degree at Boston University and traveling to Italy and Spain for two weeks for work, I was honestly still hurting from the recent and final break of your typical an on-again, off-again relationship and wasn’t quite back to 100% the forever happy and smiling Meg that most people know. So after reading that post I figured, “What the heck–it couldn’t hurt! Nothing else seems to be working.”

Still, at that point, I probably had a million excuses lined up ready to go. Are you starting to build up your own list of reasons to not try? Do any of these sound relatable?

If you asked me then the type of morning person I was, I’d say: “The kind that you don’t talk to before 10am without a large coffee in hand!” Now, I can wake up before the sun rises, eat stairs, hills, and burps for breakfast. And I love it!

If you asked me then what my favorite running style was, I’d say: “A quick, solo run after work to blow off steam, complemented by loud rap blasting in my headphones.” Now, I long for double-digit mile runs with a friend so that we can talk about the highs and lows of training and life…and training for life. And, I can wake up extra early do this before work.

If you asked me then if I would consider running a half marathon, I would’ve laughed and replied: “I don’t do distance. I’m not built to be a runner; I have bad knees.” Now, I can say that I’ve completed three half marathons and am looking forward to growing that list.

Why am I bragging about this?  Because I fell in love. I fell in love with the community that NP created and I fell back in love with fitness and my personal health and wellness. I did just show up on May 7,2014 and NP rocked my world in a way that I never expected it to. I’ve never regretted the early morning wake up, I’ve never regretted the soreness I feel the next day, I’ve never been so inspired by genuine, good-hearted, badass people. I’ve just never looked back. Over the last two years, NP has given me a lot and that’s something that I keep me with in every (long distance) run, every (Harvard Stadium) step, every (Summit) hill I face.

And, just in case you have any other doubts about just showing up, you can reference this other classic, old school blog post by a fellow NP-er, Deniz Karakoyunlu: “The 4 Myths of November Project.”

So…you can be like me and sit back for a few months to research and read all about the scientific benefits of stair climbing or why you need to incorporate hills into your running routine or you can take this as a lesson and just do it.

I cannot thank November Project enough for all it’s given to me along the way: the sweaty hugs, high-fives, the push to keep going when my body told me it needed a one minute rest. Most of all, NP instilled in me the belief that running is more than sprints and internal competition; running is, in fact, a gift and it never takes more than it gives back.

And so, I want to give back to the community who has given so much to me by growing the tribe and gifting them with your presence! To echo Elin: “I promise you that if you give it a chance it will change your life for the better and in ways that you may not expect.” Just show up. Soon you’ll have a story to tell, too.

In the meantime, practice setting your alarm for an earlier wake up tomorrow in preparation for NP on Wednesday. If you need that sense of accountability to make sure you get up and show up, then just know that I (along with hundreds of others) will be waiting for and are excited to meet you and tell you that we’re glad that you’re there. Then get ready for a kickass workout!

Hope to see you on Wednesday at 6:30am,
-Meg

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