Thursday, February 14, 2008

Exercising your mind muscle

If you've ever done a Body for LIFE challenge and tried Bill Phillips' 20-minute aerobic solution, then you'll know just how important strength of mind is when it comes to getting through a serious cardio interval workout.

It's one thing to be strong of body, but entirely another to have the will to push yourself harder and harder, and then, when you know you can't possibly last another second, to reach deep down inside yourself and find that tiny bit of oomph you need to push harder still for that final 1-minute killer interval. Actually, I swear something weird happens to time during that final minute, and it begins to go backwards or something, because I'm sure that 1-minute interval takes at least 10 minutes.....

For me, every cardio workout is a battle. I don't want to do it, I dread it and I begin to look for excuses to quit early, every single time. Especially with running. Mostly I overcome the urge, but a lot of my cardio has been lacking the mental focus (and therefore intensity) that I had back in 2004 when I was doing good old BFL. Until now.

I had to do treadmill intervals today, before my upper body workout, and I was feeling a bit blah about it, as usual. Cardio... *yawn* something you have to endure - just get through it, and then you can move onto the fun stuff in the weights room. BUT. Apparently there's been a shift in attitude in my brain, because I clipped on my heart rate monitor transmitter (which I normally forget), stepped onto the treadmill and thought "YEAH! Bring it on!" I almost looked over my shoulder to see who said that before I realised that, oh, that was just me thinking....

The first set of intervals was hard, and a little negative thinking started to sneak up on me. I can't do this. I'll just do 15 or 20 minutes, instead of 30. That kind of thing. Then I began to do what I used to when thrashing myself with Bill's 20-MAS: I talked myself through it. I told myself that I COULD do it, that I only had to get through this interval, this cycle, only X minutes, and then I could recover. I skimmed over the bit where after that, I had to run my arse off again.....I'm selective about what I tell myself. :o)

So onto the second set and I began telling myself "Only 3 more cycles and I'm done". Three doesn't sound so bad, somehow. By the time I got onto number three, I could say there were only 2 left.....ignoring the fact that I'd barely started the third. No getting technical here. The 4th cycle was almost easy, because the end was in sight. I was watching my heart rate go up and down and started to push myself harder - let's see if I can push it over 165....170.... Is it crazy to compete with yourself?

By the final set, I was feeling great. My sense of achievement was high, the endorphins had really kicked in, and even though my legs and my lungs were tiring, I knew I'd get through it. In fact, I pushed the speed up just a little on each interval, and on the final one I busted my butt trying to get my heart rate to go over 180. Try as I might, I only got it to 178, even though I increased the speed AND went an extra 30 seconds. Oh well, there's a challenge for next time.

It's taken me quite a while to get back to this point of mental fortitude(?) ....strength(?) (insanity?) ....whatever the right word is, I'm happy to be here!


Debstar said...

I love/hate those BFL intervals too.
Last week I seriously considered going for a spew after I finished that last minute.

Its definitely a mind game. Helps if you have good music.

LizN said...

Loved reading this post Kek :)

You go girl :)


Kathryn said...

But cardio's the fun bit! Although if I had to run on treadmill, I'd be bored stupid. You *have* to do intervals to keep it interesting.

I did a session on the exercise bike the other day - the 8 secs fast/12 secs slow intervals with speed & the bfl intervals with resistance at the same time. I dunno if that was due to incredible boredom or just insanity.

Kek said...

I vote for insanity.

And no, cardio is NOT the fun bit. Not for me, anyway. Gimme something heavy to heave around and I'm happy. :o)

Shauna said...

i'm with you kek, cardio blows! unless it's kickboxing, but that's mostly violence.

i've been thinking about getting a HRM, do you think they're a good thing? always wonder if i could push harder on intervals and see if my heart could explode right oot of my chest :P

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