Anyone who exercises knows that there are two great feelings post workout. There is the immediate endorphin high that makes you feel like you can take on ANYTHING, and then there’s the next day soreness that reminds you that you destroyed yesterday’s workout. For some less familiar with exercise, the soreness turns you away from exercise. For us exercise fiends however, that soreness is recognized as the breaking down to build up. When you’re sore, your muscles are quite literally torn. Thousands of little exercise-induced microtears throughout your muscles are slowly being repaired. And not even just repaired–improved. The soreness is a reminder that your body is building itself back up to be better, faster, stronger than it was. The soreness is a direct gauge of your workout success. So why then do we focus on numbers? What do the calories really tell us? If I lift heavy weights, or run a distance, or ride a bike, I want to feel my body adapting.
Lately I’ve been doing this thing where I listen to my muscles and not my numbers, and I’m loving it. When I was training for my half marathon, all my goals had to be numbers driven. It’s a fact of half marathon training that you simply must hit certain mileages prior to the race in order to be successful. Since completing my second race, however, I’ve decided to go back to my functional training roots, disregard numbers, and focus on my body.
I make sure I get in some form of exercise everyday (walking, elliptical, sprints, weights, etc) and I judge my workout’s success by the next day soreness in my muscles. If I don’t feel it, I hit everything a little harder the next day. Suddenly, I’m not counting the miles, minutes, calories or pounds. It feels great.
A lot of people are afraid to push themselves to that breaking point of pure fatigue, but I’m here to tell you, you can do it. Throw a towel over the time and calories on your machines and just GO. Turn up the resistance. Pick a heavier weight, and don’t stop just because you get to 10 minutes, or 8 reps. The only way you will ever be able to get where you want to be is to push yourself today. Numbers can help push people forward, but they can also hold us back. They can limit our minds into limiting our bodies. So stop thinking and just DO.