Last Monday I went out for my “easy” two mile jog after work around 7pm. I typically don’t workout that late, but I took a nap that day instead of running mid afternoon. I also don’t typically take a nap instead of workout, but I really didn’t want to run. And this wasn’t just a one day thing. Every week since I incorporated running back into my exercise routine I have disliked it more and more.

Even though I ran track in college I was a sprinter. I ran the 100m dash, 200m dash and 400m dash. That means I NEVER went for 2 mile jogs for my training. It was speed work on the track. Nothing I ever ran was longer than 1/4 of a mile. That is what I was good (or decent) at and what I liked. I dabbled here and there with 2-3 mile jogs in the off season, but never was consistent with it.  Then after college I hit the weight room and that was about it. Any cardio I did was sprints on the track, the rowing machine or random cardio circuits I made up as I went. I hadn’t run 2 miles straight in almost three years.

WOW was my endurance terrible when I started running again.

My goal by adding some jogging back into my exercise routine was to help with my main fitness goal currently. To help me finish the “Murph” workout in under an hour. This Navy Seal and Crossfit workout looks like this:

1 mile run

100 pullups

200 pushups

300 squats

1 mile run

All while wearing a 20lb weighted vest.

So, the biggest thing I was worried about after deciding to try this was my endurance. I had to start a bit of running to be able to finish this in under an hour…or that was my thought. And I also wanted to get out of my comfort zone as I so often say to clients because that is what it takes to make big fitness progress.

The first couple runs were tough, but I was motivated and excited about this new fitness goal. I had never done something like this before.

But, like I said I soon began losing interest in even lacing up my shoes to start a run. My thought was that I needed to be able to run an 8 minute mile on the front end and an 8 minute mile on the back end of the workout to finish under 60 minutes. Well, after two weeks I was running my 2 miles at  a total of 16 minutes (8 minute pace) so I had hit my goal and had no immediate desire to run any faster. Last Monday at one mile into my run I stopped and thought “why am I doing this?” I also did some quick math in my head and figured the way I was completing the pullups, pushups and squats I could maybe get the workout in under 50 minutes.

My motivation to run was gone. I didn’t need to run anymore to hit my goal so why keep doing something I wasn’t enjoying.

Ding ding ding. The point of this post.

Are you exercising for the right reasons? Are exercising for the enjoyment of improving your fitness, getting stronger, gaining muscle, looking and feeling better, getting faster for competitive 5ks? Or maybe you could be exercising because it simply makes you more confident and you want to hang out with family and friends at the gym or  while hiking outside. That works too!

Or are you exercising as punishment for a “fat” weekend? Are you exercising because you “have to balance out that burger and fries?” This is something that is often joked about (Facebook memes for instance), but from my standpoint I see it as a serious mindset issue. Anyone who is exercising to punish themselves or “burn off weekend calories” will never be successful in reaching their goals. That negative mindset just is not sustainable. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with joking about that 2am Ian’s pizza you ate while you walk into the gym the next day, but I have always held the belief that if someone “jokes” about something, some part of them probably actually means it….

Ya see, I don’t see running as a way to get or stay skinny or lean. I see running as a way to improve my performance for a sport. Running will help me complete this Murph workout in the time I want, but I have no desire to keep running distance workouts (2-3 miles for me) unless it helps me achieve a goal. Let’s be real here. Sit back and think about why you do the exercise you do. I 100% guarantee you are going to that class, or going on that jog or bench pressing that weight because you ‘think’ it is helping you reach your goals….otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it! Maybe it is helping you reach your goals, maybe it isn’t, but that fact that you ‘think’ it is helping you is enough to keep you going back for more. No one is going to gym saying “this is a waste of my time, this is actually hurting me.”

I would rather hop on the rowing machine and do sprints or go find a hill and run hill sprints. That is the type of cardio I enjoy doing. Plus I feel like cardio workouts that involve sprints help me reach and sustain my goal of staying a certain  level of “leanness” year round. That is just from personal experience….maybe because I adhere to those type of workouts better though too.

Remember, the best exercise programs in the world don’t mean jack if you don’t or can’t stick to them. I always talk about the 80/20 principle with my clients. 80% of the exercise you do should be enjoyable, stress free and not feel like a punishment. The other 20% should be something that you don’t necessarily love to do, maybe it makes you nervous to do because it is going to kick your ass, but that 20% of exercise will probably give you 80% of your results in the end. For me the past couple months, my 20% has been these jogs. I didn’t like them, but there was a purpose behind them. If there was no purpose for me doing them, then why do them?

If you don’t enjoy running, don’t run unless you have a goal of completing a race coming up.  If you hate your spin class why are you going? Unless you have some performance or race goal associated with biking. If you hate strength training try new exercises….I will never say stop lifting because everyone needs more strength and more lean muscle to live longer.

The bolded points above go back to my favorite word “self awareness” or the ability to know how your actions in the fitness arena will determine your results. If you set a goal of running a half marathon but absolutely hate running, you may have chosen the wrong goal for you. If you go to a zumba class but don’t know how it helps you lose the 10lbs you want to lose, it may be time to find another form of exercise. If your mindset is stuck on losing 20lbs on the scale, but you aren’t ready or willing to change your nutrition habits, you probably aren’t ready for that goal of losing 20lbs. 

I guess what I am trying to get at in a round about way is that exercise enjoyment truly matters, it really does. But, if you are frustrated with lack of results and have set any type goal for yourself, doing some forms of exercise you don’t love, but will get you results can be HUGE for your confidence. And sometimes…not always…but sometimes getting results and gaining confidence with something will be enough for you to start enjoying that form of exercise.

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