What do you think about when you work out?
Your Garmin is set. Your laces are tied. Your route is mapped out in your head. After a few minutes (or, in my case, often a few hours) of getting ready to work out and wandering around the house, you’re finally ready to go. Ready to leave the real world for a snippet of the day; to delve into the sweet fields of blankness that will envelope the mind in a long workout.
On a few occasions I’ve been asked the question, “Don’t you get bored when you work out? Especially during long runs or bikes?”
I find this to be a loaded question. Does every second of every minute of every hour of every long workout come with it a sense of excitement and passion? No, definitely not. Of course, there will be times on a rough hill or at mile 10 or 12 of a long run when you don’t feel like you can run any longer that could technically classify themselves as “boring moments”.
But one of the things that keeps bringing me back to tough workouts, specifically those of a longer distance — and I’d imagine is the case with many others — is that a workout is like a specifically designated, carved-out block of time to think. To ponder everything from what you want to do with your life to whether you should change your nutrition in the next workout to why you burst out crying last week to how excited you are for the weekend to thinking about your summer vacation. You get the idea. Workouts are a time to reflect; to carefully the consider the good and the bad in our everyday lives.
Some may disagree with this sentiment; that no tangible thoughts can swim their way through the blankness covering the mind during a workout. And while it may be true that during the final sprint of a race or at various difficult points in a workout that it is arduous to delve deep into the mind and ponder important thoughts, it is possible to use a workout as a time to think.
There’s nothing better than using thoughts and mental functions to your advantage during a workout. For endurance is not only physical; it is also mental.
What drives me up the difficult hills or the final miles — when I have almost nothing left — is the adrenaline. It’s the channeled, pointed positivity or anger; whatever seems to fit at the moment.
The thoughts about that.
The thoughts about you.
Whatever “that” and whoever “you” is for you at the time of the workout — use it. Use them. Use what’s happened, what will happen, what can happen, to your advantage. The possibilities. The sadness. The joy. Use all of it.
That’s the beauty of long workouts.
You have time to use all of your thoughts, your happiness and sadness; to reflect. For you never know what thoughts will carry you through to the finish line until you dig deep.