No, Seriously, You Shouldn’t Hate Working Out
I don’t run long distances. Every spring during college, friends of mine would sign up, train for, and run the Indy Mini, a mini-marathon of 13.1 miles. I was the girl who lived in sweatpants and running shoes and worked out almost daily — but I never joined them.
Because I hate running long distances. I like short and fast. Set me up with sixteen rounds of hundred-meter sprints, and I’m golden, but ask me to run anything longer than a mile all at once — on a treadmill, track, or concrete — and I’ll make a note to not ask you for a workout ever again.
Might sound harsh. Here’s the thing:
I enjoy working out. I like pushing myself physically in all sorts of ways: hiking, swimming, bicycling, sprinting, lifting. But long, drawn out cardio makes me bored and impatient. If I were to run five-plus miles on a regular basis, yeah, I might get used to it, but I wouldn’t enjoy the exercise.
I have a theory. Most people either love or hate working out, and my theory is that those who hate working out, hate it because they’re doing the wrong thing.
If it wasn’t for my sports background (eleven years of soccer starting at age 7), I would think of running long distances and lifting weights as The Ways to Exercise. Getting myself into shape would have involved running, and running … and running, and picking up weights over and over again. And I would probably hate exercising as much as other non-runner exercise-haters out there. As Albert Einstein (might have) said:
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Even if you’re not in shape, your particular physical build will lend itself better to some forms of exercise than others. If you have a meatier lower body and not much on top, sprint intervals could be a snap for you. If you have broader shoulders and narrower hips, you should join Michael Phelps in the pool. If you’re lithe and lean, go ahead and run.
Start by working your strengths. Gain an appreciation of what your body can do naturally. Push yourself in those areas and chart your successes. Find out what you’re good at — and get even better.
Target your weaknesses.
Just because cardio is a natural weakness for me doesn’t mean I can get away with never doing it. I still want (and need) the heart and lung benefits of endurance work, so I need to make sure some form of aerobic exercise is in my fitness regimen.
For me, this means using my mid-week rest day to run or row or bike for a solid ten minutes (I know it’s not long, but it is for me). It also means, when I’m doing my CrossFit workouts, pushing to do the movements quickly so I don’t just get anaerobic benefits.
To play any sport well — whether, basketball, football, soccer, tennis, volleyball, etc. — you must be in shape. But if you lined up the best of professional athletes and fired the shot for a 13-mile foot race, Serena Williams and Tim Tebow would perform very differently from ultra runners and triathlon athletes.
My point: There are a lot of different forms of fitness.
So identify your strengths and weaknesses. Set personal fitness goals that center around what you actually want to be able to do (don’t just follow cultural trends that push marathons and obstacle course races).
Then, go do a workout you actually like.