“Did you workout today?”
How would you answer that question? Did you go for a run, participate in a spin class, lift some weights? Was it an easy jog, a stroll in the park, or were you exercising until the brink of exhaustion? For most of us, the term ‘workout” refers to doing any sort of physical exercise.
But ask an elite endurance athlete what a workout is and they assume something different.
Just look at Olympian Des Linden’s recent tweet, a week out from the Olympic Marathon Trials, “Last workout in the books.” Does Linden’s tweet mean she’s going to lounge around, not running a step until racing a marathon in a week’s time? Of course not. For runners like Des, a workout doesn’t just refer to exercise. A workout means she did something hard. In the world of running, to workout means doing something that is challenging, perhaps some hard intervals on the track, not just going for an easy or longer run.
Now this difference in verbiage might seem trivial, but I think it serves a purpose that we gloss over. By shifting ‘workout’ to mean the difficult part of training, they’ve put in an entirely separate category. For two or three days a week, they know that training will be a challenge, but for the rest, it’s just normal. The in-between days become something that you just do, like brushing your teeth. Even if “normal” means running 15+ miles. The in-between days are taken for granted, with little mental energy spent on questioning whether they’ll get out the door.
Now consider the layperson who classifies any type of exercise or trip to the gym as a workout. It doesn’t matter if you are going to the well in a spin class or taking a casual stroll around the park, they both fall into the same category. There’s little differentiation. It’s all the same, all weighted to the same value. An unrelenting day after day quest to overcome the inertia of lying in bed and force yourself to get out the door.
When you can normalize easy exercising, making it seem like something that just occurs, it leaves you more mental space to deal with tackling the difficult days. The same principle holds true for other aspects of our life. Don’t jumble all ‘work’ into the same category, and fall prey to checking e-mails for hours instead of working on your next proposal. Categorizing allows you to save the headspace for the projects that truly require it.
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