Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the reasons I exercise. It turns out that my “why” is very different from what I kept telling myself. The recent lockdown has only helped with distilling my views.
For starters, when I don’t move, I feel sluggish and tired. The more prolonged the inactivity, the harder the first step back. What’s worth of mentioning, I never regret the training session.
I have noticed that in general, the unhealthy choices have a very low starting threshold, they tend to be easy to begin, but they never feel good at the end (fast food?). The healthy ones are a pain to start, but in the end, you feel terrific.
Recently, I have also learned that although it helps to have a goal and the training plan to follow, this is not the main reason I lift weights, run and swim. I still love the haze of racing and the thrill of competition; but they are only a great addition, not the primary motivation.
My WHY, which changes slightly from day to day, oscillates around enjoyment and sense of well-being. One day I take my bike out to clear my head after the long day in office, the other day I run to feel the wind in my hair and the warmth of the sun on my face. And I lift weights to feel badass!
When there aren’t many things I’m scared off, this particular thought keeps me awake at night.
I’m alive, but I am not able to do things I love. I cannot walk. I cannot run. I’m weak. I need assistance. I’m a liability.
Good health is essential to me, and I believe that you cannot reach and maintain optimal health without daily exercise.
You need to be careful tho. Not enough exercise is bad, but too much or the wrong type is not good either.
I’ve studied human physiology long enough to know we need all; strength training, cardio workouts, and mobility, and flexibility. In the past, I made the mistake of focusing too much on one aspect of fitness, neglecting others. Not too smart. As a coach, I should know better.
What is a point of breaking marathon PB if the price is a knee injury which will bother me when I’m 79?
Do I really need deadlift that much, or its just ego playing tricks on me?
Maybe because of that mindset, I have never reached the top in sports. That there was always a line, I didn’t want to cross.
I remember faking injury when I thought I had enough during the training. Sign of weakness or smart self-preservation? I don’t know.
Some of my more determined and driven friends, who have finished their long and fruitful sports careers, will have to deal with bad knees, dislocated shoulders and back pain till the end of their days.
What’s it worth?
If 20 years ago someone offered me a swap with one of them, I would take it on the spot. No question asked.
Give me a similar opportunity today, and my answer might be completely different.
Same applies to some popular fitness programmes, those who offer high-intensity training and excellent results in a short time. Because your body can adapt very well and has amazing healing ability, for some time, you will see amazing improvements. And then you will break.
Trust me, it is not worth it. You have only one body, and you need to take good care of it. ”Go hard or go home” slogan must have been coined by an evil and money-hungry physiotherapist.
So what should I do instead you might ask?
Learn the basics human moves; squat, hinge, press and pull. Practice them often, under different loads and different angels. Come up with 34 methods of standing up from the floor, sit very little and walk everywhere, always take stairs. Start running in the morning or cycling to work. Break a sweat every day. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable but learn what enough is and how to recover well. Yes, it is that simple. Yes, it takes years of practice.