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Weighty stuff


Haruki Murakami wrote a book called "What I talk about when I talk about running" - never one to avoid pinching a good idea, this is what I think about when I think about exercising...

They say that exercise is 50% mental and last week’s blog got me thinking about the gym – ironically, I did a lot of this thinking at the gym.  As I thought about it, I realised that over the years that I’ve been going, I’ve picked up a few lessons that apply equally well outside the gym.  So here are my top three – you can count reading this blog as your twenty minutes strenuous exercise for today.

It’s not the weight, it’s the duration

It’s a mistake to think that weight training is always and only about bigger and bigger weights.  In the gym – as in life – what matters is not so much the weight but what you do with it and, in particular, how long you have to hold it.  If you’re not sure about this, pick up the heaviest book you can find.  Then hold it out at arm’s length, so that your arm is perpendicular to your body, and see how long you can keep it there. That book, so easy to pick up, suddenly seems a lot heavier, doesn’t it?

In life, we can often handle intense pressure for short periods of time; however, lower level pressure, over long periods of time, can be very difficult to bear.  Don’t just concern yourself with the size of the difficulties you’re wrestling with; think about the duration, too.

Don’t judge the other guy’s weight

I made this mistake early on in my gym career; I noticed that another gym member was using weights that were much lighter than mine and I felt a bit… well, let’s be honest, I felt quite superior.  However, over time I realised that what I didn’t know were all the exercises he’d done, with much heavier weights, before I saw him with the little weights.  He was actually working much harder than I was; he’d exhausted his muscles so much that those little weights were all he could manage and he was still working!

In life, what looks easy to some people from the outside is actually very difficult to bear for those going through it.  Don’t judge the other guy’s weight – you don’t know what else he’s handling or the other things he’s had to put up with.

90% of life is just showing up (but that doesn’t let you off the other 10%)

Let’s face it; there are times when we’d all rather just stay in bed.  As tempting as it is, you can’t lift the weights if you’re not at the gym and you won’t get the benefit if you don’t lift the weights.  Consequently, there are times when there’s no substitute for a little mind-over-mattress discipline.  However, getting to the gym isn’t enough; you actually have to do something when you’re there, otherwise the effort involved in getting out of bed is wasted.

Woody Allen said that 90% of life was just showing up and there’s a lot of truth to that.  However, once you’re there, choose to truly show up and give as much as you can – make that 10% count.

So there it is, some gym wisdom.  Now give me three laps of the field and then hit the showers…

One Response

  1. More lessons from running

    Yep, I loved the Murakami book too and even wrote a blog about it myself a while ago.  So what are the lessons from running that Murakami mentions in his book and which I feel also apply to me, to corporate and working life (even personal life) in general?  Some of them closely reflect yours.

    1. Don’t compete against others, only against yourself.

    I’m not interested in being better than others. I am just keen to constantly learn new things and improve myself.  It’s all to easy to blame others for your lack of success, but the real enemy lies within: procrastination, laziness, no focus…

    2. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

    Things happen, life is unfair, plan A bites the dust, change will occur with or without us – it’s how we choose to respond to events that makes all the difference.

    3. Muscles are hard to get and easy to lose.

    Our brain, our creativity, our achievements, our relationships with clients, our brand, our reputation – everything takes so long to build and to get right, and it can all be lost in just a few thoughtless seconds.

    4. I have only a few reasons to keep on running and a truckload of them to quit.  All I can do is keep those few reasons finely polished.

    It’s much easier to NOT do things than to take action.  It’s much easier to find excuses as to why you can’t do things than to find reasons to do them.  Yes, it’s easier to motivate yourself when you feel passionate about something, but even so you need to dig deep to find motivation every single day.

    5.  You’ve done everything you need to do.

    It’s too late to start training for a race the day before, or even the week before.  It’s also pointless to worry about all the things you have or haven’t done.  Enjoy the race, enjoy life, enjoy your big moment in the limelight when you are presenting…  you have done your very best to prepare, now is the time to reap the rewards.


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