January 19, 2005

Working out

I go trail running to have fun. It's never a matter of "willpower" for me. Sometimes, though, I like to try something else. Today I spent some time on this contraption:

This is a Concept 2 rowing ergometer, and anyone who's used one will understand why I call it the Machine of Death. Sure, the first few minutes are tolerable, but things quickly descend into a miasma of exquisite pain and suffering.

If this was the only way I could get a good workout, I'd probably let myself get fat and slobbery. Oh, I hurt just as much on some of my hilly trail runs, but it's different. I'm concentrating on the trail, seeing the land pass underneath me--it's almost meditative, and it's always fun.

For people who haven't found an activity that they can do for the pure fun of it, "working out" is more than just a physical challenge. You need as much mental energy as physical energy to force yourself to do something boring. Many people's New Year's resolutions to "exercise more" peter out after a few weeks because they haven't found a workout that they think is fun.

If I was a personal trainer, I'd level with people: if you're not having fun when you're working out, you need to try a different exercise, or you're doomed.

Posted by Carey at January 19, 2005 06:59 PM

Those are torturous! I'm so impressed you can make yourself do it. I've been trying all sorts of crazy things to tide me over until I can run again. Tonight I'm going to try Bosu, which is supposed to be a painful 45 minutes of intense core strengthening. I can't wait!

Posted by: Julie at January 20, 2005 12:14 PM

Sadly, since you just advised me to avoid this, I'm going to have to admit that my parents have one, and I deeply love this machine. If I had one of these in my room, I'd be deeply fit.

Posted by: A. Rickey at January 20, 2005 04:12 PM

You should note that many people are not going to find anything traditionally considered "exercise" to be fun. But there are many other ways to keep fit. For instance, a lot of people enjoy going out dancing. This can be very good exercise. Also, there are many ways to incorporate fitness into your daily life (such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator). If you were a physical trainer, you couldn't give this advice because your livlihood would depend on people doing your particular workout. But you aren't, so you can.

Posted by: Larry at January 21, 2005 01:50 PM

I have one of these (Model C) in my garage, use it 4-5 times a week, and consider it fun. My alternatives, though, are a bit limited as I'm bone on bone in one knee.

Yes, a workout on this machine can be very excruciating within a minute or two. However, that is only going to be the case if everything is done at max. But: runner's, even sprinters, do not do all their training at max. Good trainers suggest that no more then 2-6% of your training volume should be at or below your race pace.

Last night I did a 45 minute workout (11 minute warmup) that required a lot of effort but did not involve any excruciating pain. Saturday I will do a 60 minute piece at a slightly lower pace as I build toward a half-marathon PR in about 6 weeks.

And yes I do do workouts 1-2 times a week that involve some high intensity intervals.

I save the excruciating pain for 2-3 times a year that I do a 2000 meter test in the range of my 2k PR.

The point of all this is that you can get into and maintain excellent conditioning without much excruciating pain.

It is a lot more fun!

Posted by: Steve at January 21, 2005 03:36 PM

I have tried just about every exercise gimmick out there and the only two things that I find that work for me are competitive sports (racquetball or tennis, as two of my favorite examples) or a personal trainer who stands right over me keeping me going (I love the idea of dancing, though). I used to run when I was in the Navy and I hated it so much (I was forced to run 5-6 miles, 6 days per week) that when I got out, I've never done it again. I don't think I'll be investing in one of those machines. I just need more partners!

Posted by: Denise at January 22, 2005 07:23 AM