Why Are Exercises Called Activit-Ease When They’re So Hard?

I joke, but it’s true. Exercise is work. That’s why it’s called a work out. Used to be, you could only do it outside. Then some lazy people said let’s invent air conditioning, and then the exercise fanatics said let’s work in. But that term never caught on so they called them Jim Nayseeums. To not embarrass their founder, they spelled it differently, to make people think it was the Greeks. Oh, I’m just being told that is really was the Greeks. Never mind.

Last week I bicycled 140 miles, which if math ain’t yo thang is 20 miles a day. On top of that, I did my daily half hours each of yoga and walking 1.5 miles, sometimes more if a friend Bryce joins me. Granted those are far gentler movements than the violence of a 20-mile bike ride, but some days it’s still difficult to fit them in and make myself do them. I’m also mowing the yard where I live about once a week; that’s another mile of walking plus the pushing and bagging of grass. Like that insurance ad with the Salt ‘n Pepa song, I push it good — real good. I also went to my storage unit to put in some shelves I got and spent a coupla hours moving boxes around.

So yeah, that’s like 24 hours of movement, or 14.28% of my week. No wonder I’m exhausted! That would explain why sometimes I just did not feel up to any of it. Heat and humidity, a job, and not feeling great all contributed to the challenge. And yet somehow through naps, or long periods of resting, and just suffering through, I did them. Simple maybe, but not easy. Such is the life of a fathlete dude without a car.

No one’s holding a gun to my head to do any of this. And I’m well aware that any day could be my last, either due to the pandemic, a car crash, job, or some other health issue. It seems like at some point I would be improving either my strength, endurance, power to weight ratio, speed, or other metrics. But I don’t seem to be getting better, at least not in ways that I can see or feel. My weight is down a little bit, ’cause of the ‘rona. Otherwise, I’m just maintaining, albeit with some more mileage. That’ll have to do, pig.

The toll on the body has manifested in several ways. One is knee tendon pain. It doesn’t hurt enough to take medicine that has side effects. I should be sitting here with an ice pack on it, actually. I’ll mostly be addressing it with physical therapy that I was shown over a video chat. Ideally I would rest, but then how would I get anywhere? The bus is really slow and requires walking to it. Then there are interminable connections and then even more waiting. Unless weather is bad, I bike.

Mentally, I find biking is healthy, interesting, healing and invigorating for me. But when my brain is tired, usually from too little sleep, the body finds it hard to mount up and ride. Usually I eventually do somehow manage to get in an evening or night ride if I haven’t had errands or appointments. If I did go out early I may still ride again. The distance goal I set for myself seems in reach but biking is starting to feel a bit like a job again. Riding daily for eight months is truly exhausting, even if I’m not tearing up huge Alpine inclines in the Tour de France or the Hill Country of West Austin. Again, while all the bike use is wearing on the muscles joints and such, the psyche can also suffer.

What’s a dude to do? That’s a very good question, I’m glad you asked it. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll get back to you on that…. OK, we’re back. The science of sports psychology is complex. I’m no academic; I can only share my experience. And I’ve learned that it’s very individual. What motivates one person can totally not inspire another. Even the same person may need something else on a different day to help get them out the door on the bike, on the mat, or to the gym. It could be caffeine, a supportive partner, a workout buddy, wanting to lose pounds so you feel like you have a shot to ask out that cute woman who walks by where you live — with her little dog, too. Whatever works for you is how to do it.

For me, it’s numbers. But on those days when I just can’t even, and my streaks — Don’t Break the Chain — are in danger of being broken, I do what I must to get ‘er done. Sometimes that means napping before yoga. Or walking slowly and not caring about my stats. My biking often is a few rides spread out through the day to reduce heat exhaustion instead of one big hilly ride. Maybe I even write this blog in two half-hour sessions and it comes out late. I guess I could be more gentle with myself and cut myself some slack. There must be slack. I’m a slacker in Slacktown, USA, after all, the place where the 1990 move Slacker was made. Fortunately, I have more time than many, although less money.

So I’m going to keep on going, and when the body rebels, I better be listening. I’ll do my exercises and try to strengthen things that biking doesn’t. And work on the other things that go into being a fathlete, namely diet (though I am down eight pounds since the pandemic began). Sleep is another, and improvements to the bike won’t hurt either. So yeah, my activities are not that hard by themselves, but added up over time the soreness and muscle exhaustion tends to accumulate. I may have to foam roll, use a hot baths, ice, topical pain gels, fish oil and tumeric, massage and acupuncture (when they return safely) and whatever other modalities work. PT is supposed to, but we’ll see about that. Color me skeptical.

It comes down to a trade-off, an opportunity cost, or just a choice. Would I rather be a person who can say to himself “I did that!” (or at least tried). OR am I the guy who defeats himself by not even getting out of the starting gate? Because if there are a few important lessons I’ve learned from all my activi-ease (that are really hard), it is this:

  1. You can be your own worst enemy and your own best ally. Try for the latter more often than not.
  2. Give yourself rewards, but when they become more important than the work, you’re just kidding yourself that you’re progressing.
  3. Be gentle with yourself, kind to people you don’t know, and grateful to people you do know who help or support you.
  4. It’s fine to be inspired by others, but don’t try to be them. Be more like the best version of you. That in turn will inspire others.
  5. Be realistic. You didn’t get where you are in a month or two, and it will probably take longer to get back to where you were, if that’s even possible.
  6. Have fun! Even a workout can be entertaining. It better be a little bit, or you probably won’t keep it up for long. Music helps (but no headphones on the bike, please!)

Well, that’s today’s post. What do you think? How do you get through a rough patch in your workouts?

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8 thoughts on “Why Are Exercises Called Activit-Ease When They’re So Hard?

    1. Thank you and you keep saying that but it goes both ways. Sorry about the pains you are having. There are tips for cyclists to strengthen hips, quads and abductors which help the knees.


    1. Good for you for takin’ :er easy, and sorry you’re feeling meh.

      When you’re me and you decide to keep rasing the goal the meh just gets worse and powering through it even harder. Someday I’ll learn. Or not

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I ended up running only three times this week, which is still three more times than I might have done if I let my mood dictate things, so there’s that. A meh week still involved keeping active and busy, and I’m grateful for that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’ve found the key there S. Do it when you don’t feel like it and you’ll feel better. I’m on the couch watching Brit Marling be her badass angelic self in The OA, and yet the mileage calls. Instead of 33, 15 will do just fine.

        Liked by 1 person

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