I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ –Muhammad Ali
I’ve decided that all the joy I used to feel while trail running is gone. It’s evaporated into the spring air, using my sweat as a vehicle. I’m tired of the trail, the music, the little voice from the app saying “start running!”, all casual like, as if he has nothing better to do but torment me.
I remember back when I was doing spin class three times a week for two hours at a stretch. Best training of my life. Audra, the teacher, never failed to kick me square in the heart-rate monitor. Interval workouts were a blessed torture and I loved it. I love the precision of it. I loved watching my own progress- feeling it every few weeks as I had to push myself a little farther, a little stronger, a little faster.
I’ve gotten lazy over the last 10 or 11 months. I got into a horrible, nasty habit: enjoyment. I stopped running and riding for fitness, and started doing it for fun. ‘Fun’ means it’s less regimented. It’s less challenging. It’s less conditioning. I doesn’t change your body. It doesn’t offer any kind of resistance, or struggle, to prove to you that it’s improving your life in any way, shape, or form. But I can’t seem to escape from it.
This morning I shot out shortly after biking the kids to school. I’ve decided that a little regimentation shouldn’t be too bad for me, right? So I put an audio book on , turned on the 5k training app, and headed to the Secret Stash for my workout. Not play. Not fun. A WORKout.
If you know me, you know a 5k is no biggy. I’d do a 10k trail run right now. So why the 5k app? I’m using it as interval training to increase my speed. So when the little voice says “walk” I jog, and when it says “run” I sprint. Hard. It is entirely unpleasant.
But here’s the thing about suffering- it makes you stronger. It forces your body, your mind, to change.
I can’t claim to know much about the meaning of life. In fact, much of what I thought I knew about where we come from, why we are here, and where we are going, has been questioned to the point of abandonment. And that’s not a bad thing- in fact, for me, it’s very, very good. But this much I know- there is something about improvement that cannot be denied. Whether this is improving our minds by learning, our hearts by understanding, or our bodies by rigorous training; those who seek improvement and attain it are happier and more fulfilled. I know I am.
But that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy the process.
You can see what a typical spin-class interval heart-rate graph looks like here.