Archive for May 11th, 2009

Resistance Training

If you were expecting a post on strength training, this isn’t it. My thoughts today are more about “resistance” in general and why we resist the things that are good for us and don’t resist those things that we should. Are we hardwired to sabotage ourselves at every turn?

After a week of groaning and turning back over to go to sleep instead of going to the gym last week, I finally got back on track on Saturday. I could give a million excuses…I had a cold, allergies, it was raining…but mostly I just wanted to sleep. And the “feel good” exercise aftermath wasn’t enough to get me moving at 5:30 am.

But Saturday, even though it was still raining—even the weather is resisting here on Long Island—I got out of bed, threw on my workout clothes and went to the gym to go running…on the treadmill. Maybe that’s what got me out of bed? In the rain, I get to run on the treadmill. And unlike other runners who love the road, I love the treadmill, because I feel like I’m actually accomplishing something. Running on the road is still really hard for me, although little by little, I’m making progress. Maybe someday, I won’t like the treadmill anymore either, but I digress…

I had a really good 3.5-mile interval run on Saturday. Sunday, a beautiful but windy day, I went for a 3-mile walk. This morning, I went for a swim, which is my favorite exercise. I noticed though, in the beginning of each of these workouts, even though I’m motivated again, my body resists, my muscles groan and I contemplate just stopping and going home. Today, I thought the first six laps of my swim would kill me. My body felt like lead in the water and my arms felt like creaky wheels. Once warmed up, I swam my usual 800 meters, and I swam some of it good and hard and I was pumped when I got out of the pool.

But I wonder why the beginning of the workout is always so tough, because I’ve noticed that with everything that I do. The first minutes of a run, the first miles of a bike ride, the first set of any strength training exercise. Why do our bodies resist something that is so good for us?

And why when we are so resistant, physically and mentally sometimes, do the bad things in life have the opposite effect? I can’t, for example, resist a piece of chocolate cake. And that’s only going to make me feel like crap later on.

I guess the key is to keep my focus on the aftermath. When I get to the gym or hit the road and get my exercise in, my entire day goes better. And even though I resist getting out of bed and grumble through the beginning of my workouts, I know it will be worth it in the end. When I give in to the resistance, I usually regret it later.

On the other hand, that piece of chocolate cake is going to make me feel guilty and bloated, and even though I really, really want it, I need to resist that.

Embrace the good stuff. Resist the bad. Doesn’t sound too complicated. Then why is it so damned difficult?