Last Friday night I headed to the gym after work, like any cool cat would do. After taking several unplanned days off due to having the bubonic plague (or something), I was all jazzed to get in some solid training again. I had an interval workout planned, a runner’s magazine in my backpack, and an itch to get sweaty.
This is what I did:
Treadmill Hill Intervals
10:00 warm up: worked my way up to 8.0 incline @ 3.5 speed.
20:00 hill intervals: 2 minutes running @ 5.5, 2 minutes walking @ 3.5 (incline 8.0 the whole time)
20:00 steady run: worked my way down to 3.5 incline (speed @ 5.5 the whole time)
05:00 cool down: kept incline @ 3.5 and worked my way down to 2.5 speed
As you may have noticed, I wasn’t exactly lightning fast. In all honesty I was downright slow. Sure, part of it is because I’m still getting over this flu bug and can’t quite breath normally yet…but mostly, it’s because I’m not a good runner. I don’t have the traditional runner build, and my body does not take naturally to a steady running stride. Running is hard for me, no matter how much progress I make.
Towards the end, I started thinking how glad I was that I wasn’t doing this in my usual gym, where I might be seen by people I know. Then I started wondering why the hell I cared? So what if my friends or former co-workers saw me struggle…I’m not good at everything. And it hit me- I’m not good at everything. In fact, I’m pretty terrible at some things (hello, high school pre-cal class…). But health and training are a big part of my life, I tend to take pride in my abilities in that regard. I tend to base my training around things that I enjoy and things I know I can do well. To risk failure – even on a treadmill – is to risk having my pride banged up.
It got me thinking. I’ve talked about refusing to let fear dictate our actions, but what about pride? How often do we let pride boss us around? This is about fitness, but it applies to life, too. How many accomplishments do we miss out on because we let our pride get in the way? How often do we hold back from challenging ourselves, or trying something new, or going on an adventure because we don’t want others to see us fail or look foolish or appear incompetent? Being prudent and cautious is great, but if we never take risks, we’ll never overcome any obstacles.
Risking our pride is something we all need to get used to, especially at the gym. Fitness is messy. It’s supposed to be sweaty and grimy and hard. If you look pretty or impress folks while you’re working out, that’s great. But it doesn’t count for anything. You grow stronger when you challenge yourself, whether or not you succeed. That’s a tough pill to swallow for perfectionists. (Can I get an amen?) But the more we practice bringing a humble attitude to the weight floor – or the track, or the pool, or the trails, or the barre – the more chance we have of finding success. Pride is a sneaky bastard that will rob us of our potential if we don’t put him in his place. He’ll convince you to stay where it’s safe, where success is guaranteed and limits don’t get tested. (There’s a reason Scripture talks so much about the dangers of pride…) Humility, on the other hand, is like an old friend. He’ll call you out on your weaknesses and remind you where you came from, but he’ll also be cheering loudest for you when you need it most. I don’t know about you, but I know which one I’d rather keep in my life.
And here’s the thing about that treadmill session…I loved it. For as much as I had to struggle, and as physically uncomfortable it made me, I enjoyed challenging myself and meeting that challenge. I was slow as molasses, and if my spherical-leaning shape didn’t give away my non-runner status, my red face and coughing/panting sure did. But even if I was huffing and puffing at a pace that would make most real runners laugh, I was succeeding. I was taking a risk, I was overcoming a challenge, and I was doing something good for my health. Looking at it that way, I don’t give a hoot about who saw.
Anyway, give it a shot. Go about your workout acting like you don’t care if you look slow or weak or silly or chubby. Do something that you might not be good at. Act like you took a big serving of pre-workout “humble juice,” and see what happens. You might surprise yourself…