As a trainer in a busy physical therapy clinic I hear quite a bit about peoples exercise routines. The good the bad and the ugly of it. Unfortunately what I hear most is the bad and the ugly because it is more often than not that we don't succeed in making exercising a habit. Not only that for some god awful reason people seem to choose exercise routines that are more of a punishment to them than anything. It has never made sense to me why many choose routines that make them feel horrible after. Why on earth would anyone want to do an exercise routine or anything for that matter that leaves them crippled for days after. This is literally a recipe for failure every time. If you can only do an exercise routine once or twice a week because it takes you 3-4 days to recover can you actually consider that a good exercise routine. Absolutely not! Do you really like being up at 5:30 in the morning having someone scream at you to jam your face into the sand at your local beach? If no then why are you doing it? There are so many options for exercise out there today that there is no reason to not be doing something that you enjoy. As a runner I hear it all day from patients. " I wish I could run like you!" but in reality do they. Running has become the popular exercise fad due to the boom in marathons and tri's. Running a marathon can be a great goal and it is something that can be very motivating and achievable. Jumping right to a marathon without running other distances is a horrible idea though and sets you up to be a one and done runner. The goal with any exercise routine is to continue it for the long term in order to get the long term benefits of it. That is why choosing exercise you enjoy doing is way more important to be successful.
Now as a runner I will always promote running because I've been doing it for a very long time and it is a passion of mine in addition to a lifestyle I live. My parents, niece's, aunt, and cousins run. We do races together for fun outside of my normal competition. I run local races where yes I try to run fast and compete but am more there for the camaraderie of other local runners and enjoying each other's company and accomplishments. Just this weekend I got the pleasure of going out and running with a friend for the last 15 miles of a 40 mile race he was running, and I got to see other friends competing in the 50k distance at the same time. It was scorching hot and uncomfortable but super enjoyable the whole way to share their accomplishments. I wasn't in it for any kind of prize or recognition. My friend and training partner asked me to come out and run the last loop with him in case he was really hurting so I jumped at the opportunity. Well that friend ended up winning this particular ultra and even better it was his first ever race win. To say I was excited is an understatement. As a competitor I was chomping at the bit to push him more and see what he could do but that wasn't the purpose of me being there it was to keep him company and focused with it still being his race. I didn't cross the finish line with him I stopped and walked it in with 50 yards to go so he could enjoy HIS win, going around the finish area when I got to it. I got out there I got in a great workout running 15 miles and I enjoyed every second of it being front stage to a friend working his ass off for a win. He enjoyed in style hooting like a cowboy through the finish which topped it all off.
I guess the big take away from this is that we have to choose to do exercise we truly enjoy in order to be successful at it. Do I run as my primary exercise absolutely. Do I have lofty goals of winning races and setting course records, without a doubt. As you see though when it comes down to it the competition and being able to do the things I do is secondary to the joy I get from participating in this sport. I run because I love every aspect of it. The good times and the bad. The friends I have made. The joy of going to the local free Wednesday night trail races. Running the turkey trot every thanksgiving with family. Watching friends get excited about their own accomplishments and just getting out to run with them. It's all about the enjoyment.
Well I got a little long winded and heartfelt there. Must have had a weak moment. Back to the stone faced runner I am. The point of all of this is if you're not enjoying it you are not going to stick to it. Pick exercise that you truly enjoy and count every activity as exercise from strolling the beach to running around with your kids or kids in the family. If bouncing on a pogo stick is what you like to do have at it because that's what you will continue for the long term. The long term dedication to exercise is what will give you the true health benefits. Doing a exercise program for a month or two is great but is not giving you the long term health benefits you need. Go out and find that fun activity there are tons of them out there, hey why not try a bunch. Bad-mitten tournament Friday night, Paddle boarding Saturday, and chasing your new puppy around the house that just ripped up your slipper makes for an excitement filled weekend with exercise mixed in. Go out have fun and if your dreading it before you even start try something else.