Many Faces Profile: Claire Thielke, Keep it Simple for Exercise and Life
Many Faces Profiles are the true stories of real-life Armitron wearers; this one is about Claire Thielke. Are you an Armitron wearer with a great story to tell? Tell us at ArmitronWatches@armitron.com.
At 6:15 a.m., Claire Thielke wakes up and decides how to complete the day’s first run. After a quick email check and a glance at the weather, she decides the day’s schedule is light enough to ditch her car. She throws her laptop in a running backpack and leaves the house to begin her commute. After a neighborhood loop it’s a three-mile run to work.
After arriving at work she stops into her company’s gym for a quick lift, showers and begins her duties as an investment manager for a global real estate firm in Houston, Texas. Later, if she doesn’t have a lunch meeting, she stops back in at the gym for a quick stretch. “You can do a lot in 20 minutes,” she says. And if it’s still light out when she gets home, she’ll pump out another set of miles before sunset. On a good day, her total distance could equal 6.5 miles.
With mileage like that, it’s no surprise that four years ago Claire was training for the U.S. Olympic trials with an eye to compete in the Summer 2012 London Games (See her feature in the Wall Street Journal for more). That dream, though, was cut short by a routine physical in March of the same year that she said saved her life. She had thyroid cancer. A blurring two months of treatments from diagnosis to surgery — and a longer period of subsequent follow-ups and recovery — kept her from the qualifying rounds and, like it would anyone else, physically exhausted her.
“The day I decided to try and go for a run — after my surgery — I probably ran the length of four houses on my block. It was a shuffle. I turned around and walked halfway back and ran the last two houses home,” Claire said. Just getting outside was tiring, and the distance was nothing, but it made all the difference.
Claire was never a walker. “Why not just run?” she asked, laughing. “But when I couldn’t run, I realized what I liked about it all was the breeze, the trees, the birds and seeing people. Suddenly walking wasn’t so bad because that still gets you 90 percent of what you like.”
Claire retired from professional running in 2013, but her love for the outdoors remained constant. To her, exercise is exploration of the world around her and she brings that adventure to her everyday routine. In terms of work-life balance, running to work or working out through the business day isn’t always practical, but when it is, it’s a treat she takes advantage of to keep it simple.
“Forget what didn’t go right and feed on the positive for next time.”
Keep it Simple: Exercises for Anyone
But how? Easy. Get outside! “Once you’re outside, so many possibilities open up to you. You want to be outside, it’s our most natural state, right?” Claire said. “If I’m going somewhere that doesn’t require me to be in my car, I prefer to get there by skateboarding, running or biking.”
Keep it simple and the activity fun. Claire likes to listen to podcasts when she runs, and she’ll often mix things up by using the environment around her. “I can turn anything into a pull-up bar,” she said. Or when she goes biking she likes to go barefoot, if possible. “It sounds like a weird thing, but there’s something freeing about riding like you would when you were a kid. It keeps things fun, playful. It’s the little things.” And like a kid, she tries to spend the entire weekend outside. “If you have kids, that’s great for them. If you’re taking them to do an activity, see if there’s a way to do it outdoors. That way you’re much more likely to be active instead of sitting down and becoming sedentary.”
Change your Environment
Often this translates into leaving the desk behind, getting outside or exploring a new location, but Claire takes it one step further with business travel. “Working out is my favorite part of traveling,” she said, and she’s adamant that it can be for others, too.
No matter the destination, she always asks the hotel front desk about must-see-sights in the area. “Every place has a thing. People are only going to send you to see the best of their city,” she said. “If I’m running to a weird location? We live in modern times, Uber back.”
Claire used a recent business excursion to Belfast, Ireland, as an example of exercise through exploration. Her planned eight-mile run turned into a 31-mile adventure. Curiosity took her through old winding side streets and then through the shipyards of the former headquarters of the White Star Line, where the Titanic was built. Her only pieces of equipment included her running shoes — never leave home without them, she says — a flipbelt, watch and phone (keep it simple!). At the end of the day, she had used her workout to tour a city for business and pleasure.
“As long as you listen to your body and you’re in tune with that, you’ll be fine.”
Claire’s mileage is a product of her training. It’s all relative. “Everyone has barriers, you just have to start,” she said. “Forget what didn’t go right and feed on the positive for next time. Now you’re improving on something you’ve done instead of putting off your activity.” She used her four-house jog following her surgery as an illustration of that mentality. “If I had tried to picture doing that from the couch, I wouldn’t have been so motivated,” she said.
“At the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen?” Claire challenged. “I stop and take a break. As long as you listen to your body and you’re in tune with that, you’ll be fine.”
Five Ways to Keep It Simple:
1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Get out there, try it and build off of the positive for next time. Listen to your body.
2. Mix it up. Have an errand to do? Pick up a run or hop on your bike, skateboard or longboard. Do some pull ups on a bar or tree branch you come across or complete some box jumps on a bench you pass by. Take advantage of your environment.
3. Add something you love into your workout. Be it podcasts, music or simple uninterrupted “you” time. Look forward to it!
4. Stay spontaneous and always have a contingency plan. ‘Keep it simple’ means if you can’t do one thing because of other responsibilities, it’s easy to do something else later.
5. Get outside, stay outside and never say no to physical activity.
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