I have a split personality when it comes to exercise.
I’m the first one to advocate for rest days and taking it easy when it comes to workouts. I savor lazy mornings that don’t involve waking up before the sun to run. I love leisurely bike rides. I enjoy a simple, non-heated yoga class.
But at the same time, I like challenging my body. Nothing makes me happier than finishing a Saturday morning long run. I love sprints on a hill during a Spin class. My favorite yoga studio earned its title for offering many hot power vinyasa classes.
I suppose this is a good problem to have, as I’m not on either extreme, and I’m grateful for this so-called balanced perspective that I’ve gained. However, this does not mean that I don’t occasionally lean toward one side of the spectrum.
When I get into any sort of routine, it’s hard for me to break it. (Any new readers out there…just know that routine and I have a love-hate relationship). Take last week for example: I didn’t run or do any cardio, I preferred easier, low-impact workouts and was lazy at home mostly every day (truth). When the break ended I decided to ease back into cardio with a slow, un-timed run.
It. was. hard. But the good type of hard. The kind that we need sometimes, in exercise and life.
It made me think of two types of people: 1) Those who are just starting to workout and 2) Those who workout every day.
Group 1 might think exercising is hard and give up. Group 2 might be thinking exercising is so easy and not want to slow down/do less.
Here’s my opinion: Workouts should be hard some days. But they should also be easy (or non-existent) some days. I don’t think you should be sore after every workout. I don’t think you need to be sweaty or sore for it to qualify as a workout.
We can’t be completely on either side. Sure the endorphins and aesthetic benefits are great, but hard workouts are taxing on our bodies…even if we can’t feel it. On the other hand, we need a challenge sometimes. We need to get our heart rate up, for health purposes and, let’s face it, getting faster/lifting heavier/nailing inversions/etc. doesn’t happen in our comfort zones. We need to learn when to push ourselves and and when to back it off.
Where does this leave us? Since there’s no magical formula, I think if we attempt (because we aren’t perfect), to balance the hard days with the easy/restful days, we can maintain a longterm, healthy relationship with exercise. In turn, we can maintain a longterm, healthy relationship with our bodies.
Because that’s why we exercise, right?
P.S. This probably isn’t the last you’ve heard from me on this topic….