Many people utter these words when starting some kind of cardio regimen. I remember I did it, too.
I was 29 years old and had just had my second son. I realized I had to do something to get into shape. I looked skinny, but didn’t fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes. I was also weak. I joined a gym and decided to run for 10 minutes on a treadmill. I huffed and puffed, and about a dozen times, I almost turned it off, thinking, “I HATE THIS!” But then I realized, hey, I can just RUN MORE SLOWLY.
What a revelation!
You don’t have to run like you feel your heart is going to burst out of your chest. Just shuffle a little bit so your heart works a little harder. If you’ve had enough, take a walk break.
Over time, it gets easier.
That initial 10-minute treadmill slog turned into a decade of road and trail racing. I’ve raced distances from 5K to 50 miles (yes, 50 miles all at once.)
However, it is important to note that while I enjoyed running, I do not enjoy all kinds of cardio.
I tried to like swimming. I entered triathlons, bought tri gear, and made swimming part of my regular weekly regimen. But I dreaded every swim session and could never manage to like being wet and with the feeling of water pressing on me.
I tried to like cycling. I bought a good road bike for the triathlons, but I’m scared of going fast on a bike. I also hate biking uphill. When I’m pumping hard, I can’t help thinking, “I could RUN up this hill just as quickly, and I would only be lugging my own body, without a bike!”
The road bike has sat, unridden, in the attic for over a dozen years now.
However, sometimes you need to try something again. Last summer, I decided to try kayaking. I had always hated rowing any kind of boat, so I was not optimistic. My first day on the water, I realized the reason I hated it before was because I was working too hard. Once I understood that paddling didn’t have to be a grueling feat, it was pleasant to lightly paddle my quiet kayak, pausing to take pictures of the local scenery and wildlife. I wound up rowing 73 miles during the summer. My longest trek was about 6 miles (round-trip) to a place I had never been except in the ski boat.
I’m glad I tried all these different activities because I learned what works for me, and I’ve also learned that what works evolves over time. I’m glad I gave kayaking a second chance.
On a recent blog, my mother posted a picture of a coffee cup with a saying: “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” Who knows what I might be doing for exercise 10 years from now. There are still activities I haven’t tried yet. Could this be me someday? You never know!
(Note: She is Jean McKenzie Baldwin - Britain’s oldest female kickboxer - nicknamed “The Beast.”)
If you'd like to see a short 2-minute video about her, here it is!