8.5 Weeks till Showtime: Cardio, the bane of my existence.

Edmonton SummerI hated running.  A few years ago, I’d whine, complain, scream, yell, and fake-cry every time someone tried to coerce me to go for a run.  I have  a great appreciation for people like Amy that look like graceful gazelle gliding for kilometer after kilometer.  I look like a gorilla clambering my way through the bushes on four limbs.  This body isn’t meant for long distances.   I wrote a blog a while ago on the genetics of body types and how not everyone can excel at building muscles or running long distances.  We’ve been preset with a different amount of both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibres and the ability to grow big muscles or lean ones.  The types of muscle fibres we are composed of define if we can excel at endurance sports like long distance running, or if we excel at power sports like weight lifting.  Last year, I decided to challenge my limitations and start running.  I wanted to explore whether I was just psychologically limiting myself or if there was some actual truth in the body composition theory.  I never listened to rules anyway and quite frankly I don’t like being told that I have limits – yeah I’m a stubborn mule sometimes.

Blitz 5km run

I made it a goal in the summer last year to run until I liked it.  It sounds both sadistic and non-sensical but I figured if I ran enough I would somehow force myself to begin appreciating it.  Well after logging over 200 km in 3 months, running a half marathon with Steven, finishing a 5km race for Breast Cancer a shy over 20 minutes, and running tens of thousands of stairs, I can say that running isn’t my most favourite activity, but I’ll tolerate it.  There’s something about putting the shoes on, and just heading out for a jog that is both mindful and relaxing.  I’m maybe the worst running partner a person would ever have because I don’t talk when I run, I just go.  I force my body to move forward and then after 5 minutes my body finally accepts that I’m not stoping for a long time.  After the mental battle is over, I settle into a pace and ignore everything around me.  I was very relieved when it began getting cold outside and I moved my cardio back inside focusing more on body weight interval training.  My bodybuilding coach knew that I was running a lot during the summer but he thought it was because I loved doing it.  When we started the mass building phase of my training program he hesitantly asked if I could stop running, thinking it would offend me.  We had a little chuckle when I told him about my lukewarm relationship with the sport and that I’d gladly abandon it for the next while.  I still did whole body workouts for both muscle development and cardio, but it certainly isn’t anything like an hour long run.

I was given the marching orders from my coach last week to start adding more cardio into my exercise regimen.  Whether it’s running, biking or swimming, it’s back again.  It’s 8.5 weeks away from the competition and we’re in the first phase of the process of dieting down for the show; caloric restriction, and burning away more calories with cardio to show all the muscular development that I’ve been working on in the past few months.  I put on my running gear last weekend and hopped on the treadmill and for some reason this wave of excitement swept over my mind.   That liberating feeling of human powered movement is something special.  It’s the feeling that I can go anywhere I want and nothing can stop me.  I realized that the distaste for running disappeared and was replaced with an appreciation for it.  I’m not breaking any world records for running but I know that it’s a part of my life now.

I have tried this “do it until you love it” practise with other things like swimming, public speaking, and being more open about my feelings to others, and it seems to work quite well.  My advice to anyone who is reluctant in trying something new: shut up and do it.  Don’t let the mind make excuses, or find ways to avoid the situation. Try it, not once, but many times before drawing conclusions about it.  Whether we grow to like, hate, or maybe something in between, it’s far better than not experiencing it at all!

About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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