Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I Hate Exercise
I hate exercise. Okay, so that's not totally true. What I really hate is doing some exercise that I don't find fun just for the sake of exercise. Like running. I only run on the odd occasion that there doesn't seem like a good option otherwise or someone I know is running and I get some strange urge to join them. The last time I ran was not long ago on our beach trip with my friend, Alan. He's a pretty dang good triathlete, so he runs and bikes and swims a lot. He's also a really talented athlete in general, excelling in not only triathlons but in basketball, softball, and probably other sports I haven't seen him do.
Alan and I ran four miles, only stopping a couple times to walk (which was for my sake, not his). That's because I felt the urge to run a pretty decent pace, even though Alan would have probably run any pace I wanted. Alan's a good exercise partner that way. But here's the thing...other than some good conversation and some small amount of getting to address my curiosity on how I might stack up against Alan on a four mile run (like I didn't already know!), I pretty much hated it.
Other than to get some general exercise and to not embarrass myself, I had no real goal. I wasn't training for any sport that required me to be able to run far. I'm not particularly dying to lose weight, though I certainly could stand to (particularly when I didn't do much else in the way of cardio for those three weeks at the beach, and I did have a lot of, err, sweet drinks). So all I could think about is "why am I doing this?"
When I lift weights, I do it with a trainer and have a higher purpose. That is to be a better general athlete. Huh? Yeah, I know, that's not a very specific goal and doesn't seem to better address my hatred of exercise without a goal any better than running with a friend. But somehow it does to me...I honestly believe that I'll be a better basketball player, softball player, mountain biker, etc, if I lift weights with a trainer who is good at what he does (and he is!). And I'll be able to do it LONGER, which is very important to me since I have two young boys growing up fast that I want to be able to beat at sports for as long as I can (won't be much longer, though!).
What the heck inspired all this rambling? Alisa's blog about exercise and her hatred of some forms of it. I think we all need a goal for it that we really want to accomplish to be able to plug through an exercise that we don't really like. Like, I really think that if I found myself really wanting to do a triathlon (hah!), I could actually get into running again. But until then, I have no need for being able to run really far without stopping and I don't enjoy it, so I'm not going to do it. What I am going to do is keep lifting weights. I don't hate it, but I don't enjoy it, that's for sure. (The weightlifting itself, I mean. I do sort of enjoy hanging out where I work out and talking to my trainer, but that by itself probably wouldn't be enough to keep me doing it if I didn't have a higher goal.)
I do love to mountain bike. I don't care for it just as exercise so much, but I love the challenge of conquering the technical aspects of it. I never minded taking a break so that I was "fresh" for the next set of obstacles, though. But lately I've been biking with a group that is in a lot better biking shape than me and they don't need or care to take breaks. So I've had to suck it up and work harder than I'd like, which sometimes means I don't enjoy my rides as much as I would at my own pace. So why do I continue to do it? Well, because I like those guys and I enjoy riding with those guys, and I know there's no reason why I can't be in that kind of shape to keep up with them other than getting it done. So I decided to work harder and get better. It's happening slowly, and I'm glad they've been patient enough to hang back for me when I've been the "anchor." The key, though, is that I still have the "fun" goal out there. I do enjoy even the hard rides, and I know that once I get over the "in shape" hump that I'll enjoy them even more.
So fun can be really helpful in encouraging continued exercise. That means the key for anyone wanting to exercise more but finding it difficult to get motivated is to find things that are both fun and get you the exercise you need. Like Alisa with the swimming thing. Like me with the biking and weightlifting and basketball thing (I play organized basketball whenever I can as that's the most fun exercise to me, but that can be harder to find sometimes).
One of Nike's biggest ad campaigns was "Just Do It." It's simple, but not entirely effective. I like "Make it fun." Nike probably wouldn't find that nearly as cool, though.