When you visit a gym, what do you honestly expect to achieve given the work you put in?
Here are two examples of what I mean and I will use a treadmill to illustrate.
You drive to the gym and you’re going to walk on a treadmill at an incline of 10 for 30 minutes and you’re going to hang on because when you don’t hang on it makes it harder but you want to walk uphill because you know the machine will tell you you’ve burnt more calories. You finish and drive home. You do that every single time you go to the gym because you heard somewhere that’s best for burning fat and expending calories.
The other example of a treadmill workout I’ll give is one that somebody might perform who wants to improve their race time over 5 kilometres. This person woke up feeling nervous because they knew this session had to be done today. Everything they ate and drank in the 5 hours preceding was geared towards completing the session successfully and the speeds, duration and rest time had been calculated three days before with the aim of this taking them to a PB in the race next week.
When this person got into the gym they went straight to the matts area to mobilise and prepare. The session was about running fast and so preparation had to be full to reduce the risk of injury. After 10 minutes mobilising they jump on the treadmill to run steady for 5 minutes and then for the next 5 minutes switch between faster runs and slow jogs alternating every 30 seconds. Walk for 3 minutes at the end of that and then the set begins properly. 5 x 1k at faster than race pace with a 2 minute slow walk between each.
The first one is completed and feels comfortable enough. At the end of the second one they know they are in a fight. The third is key because if that is completed then that’s the bulk of the work done. The third is completed but only just because the thoughts of quitting were strong in the last 400 metres. “Get through the 4th and you’ve every chance” says the positive thoughts on one shoulder. “You’re a bum and you’ll quit at 600m” says the demon. It’s a horrible set. It hurts like hell but it gets done. “One more. Just one more and I’m done” they say at the start of the 5th. With 500m to go our runner is flat out, lungs burning, heart pounding, legs shaking!
Boom! Job done! Completed with success. “Damn! I feel fantastic” they pant. “I’m confident for race day.”
Lets now return….
If we return to our first treadmill walker we can look at the risks and rewards for this session. The risks are driving to and from the gym. It is possible that a road accident could occur. Once inside the gym it’s possible there is a murderer in there who hates treadmill walkers. There’s also the risk of building collapse but apart from that I think that’s it. This session gets performed every time this person ventures inside the gym and because of that, the body is completely adapted to it. The body doesn’t worry. It knows exactly how intense it is and has primed the muscles and the cardio respiratory system accordingly. It knows exactly how many calories it burns, it has equipped our walker with the necessary food beforehand and will make them hungry enough to replenish afterwards. And because our walker has done this comfortable (and it is comfortable remember because they hang on to the bars and this limits the max speed of the participant) session so many times they do not experience a physical and mental high or sense of achievement. There is little reward apart from “going to the gym.” Ok I know I’m harsh, you know me by now. Just stick with it. I’ll leave you feeling good like I always do!
Onto our interval runner. All the same driving and building risks apply to this person too but we now have the added risks of strained muscles and sprained ligaments through new stimuli and exertion. We have the risk of cuts, bruises and broken limbs if falling off the treadmill happens and in the most extreme of circumstances I suppose it is possible to explode the heart! But seriously, don’t get hung up on that one. It’s a non exerciser’s wet dream and it never happens! Those are our interval runner’s risks but what are his or her rewards?
Sense of achievement from reaching a personal best. Our runner has never ran this fast for this long ever in their life and they are now a better person because of it. What comes from that? Extra strength, endurance and stamina. Possibly fat loss which could happen to our walker too but less likely.
Kudos. It’s been noticed by others in the gym, especially that one who our runner has been eyeing up recently. It’s definitely noted that our man or woman is of prime physical stock and at least worth talking to!
The best reward in my opinion though is belief and self confidence because with belief and confidence, anything else is possible! What greater reward could you want?
The take home from this then is to dare a little.
Doesn’t have to be great, just to push ourselves out of our comfort zone ever so slightly to reap the benefits from doing so. Whatever your exercise choice is, have a go! Let me know how you get on too if you want.