A trainer friend of mine said he's running like a Kenyan. This particular training method, it seems, comes down to running for exactly as long as you want to run, not timing it, laying down and counting to sixty - if you're still awake, running again, and if you nap, you nap. He said they're so in-tune with their bodies, this is how they run.
What I find odd about it all is the idea that training intuitively is an advanced method. Shouldn't it be the best method for all of us? Or is it only for people who have already developed the will and desire to work hard? Or does that will to work hard numb us, does that actually bring us out-of-tune with our bodies?
I've been working on a post about the will and desire to work hard. But I'm not always sure it's good - or at any rate - it's also good to work gently. I think I'm grappling with the notion of contrived vs genuine training. And of course, you develop what you train - so the more you train, the more you develop the ability to train - and the more you train poorly the more you develop the ability to train poorly. Which has nothing to do with intensity, or working hard, or not.
How hard should you train, and why should you try to force it? Why is training intuitively impressive and advanced when athletes do it, and lazy when un-fit people do it? How fit do you have to be to justify stopping when you want, simply because you want to, without people accusing you of laziness?
It seems to come down to the same old shit. If you're thin, you can train as much or as little as you want, but if you're fat, you're supposed to be doing more, damnit! Intuitive training is only for thin, athletic people. Everyone else needs to suck it up and do what they're told. Or do they?
Being fat means you forfeit the right to have an opinion, apparently. It means you don't get to choose how hard to work, it means you have to pay penance, and do what you're told. Hmm.
Training is intimidating because our idea of what we should be doing and what we want to be doing are not in accord. That's why it's no fun.
Why the disparity? Because you've gotta train hard to burn the most fat? And if you're not burning fat, it's a waste of time? Gimme a break!
Why not start training intuitively now, work to your own point of satisfaction - no more, no less, and stop worrying about how much you should or shouldn't be doing? Stop worrying about what is and isn't 'effective'. What's satisfying is what's satisfying. Like all things, it'll change in time, and depending on the variables of the day it might change significantly from session to session.
As one who developed the skill of working extremely hard a long time ago, I naturally find myself overtraining quite frequently. And as in-tune with myself as I can be, I only really notice I'm overtraining when I'm already fairly fatigued.
So I'm paring things back at the moment. I'm trying to be aware - as I'm training - why am I doing this particular exercise? This repetition? This set? What is it going to achieve? Is it helpful, is it necessary, or is it just more fluff and padding - is it just more of the same exercises I'm used to doing that aren't really contributing to my development? Or is it productive? Or, more to the point - is it satisfying? Rewarding?
Am I stimulating development, or am I merely exhausting myself? Am I training good movement patterns, or am I too fatigued and only training poor ones?
The thing is - run when you want to run - stop when you want to stop - why would this be a bad training method for anyone? To my mind - to train in any other way is to train poorly. It's to get out-of-tune with yourself. If we're to be true, and if we're to believe (as I do now) in the free physical expression of the self through movement - why be contrived? Why do anything other than that which feels genuine?
For rehab? Maybe. There's something to be said for investing in a process, and not all training that is good for you, is going to be fun all the time. But it's still your decision whether or not, when, and how to engage.
But the idea that you need to work harder, the idea that working hard makes you somehow special - look around. Wearing hard work like it's a badge of honour is very common. It doesn't make you unique, and it doesn't make people thin. Working truly, however... that's rare. And if you're progressing, you're progressing. If you can do more, if you have the desire to do more, that's good. And, if you don't have the desire to do more, that's good too.
Because the reason to train is not so that you can brag about how hard you work, and neither is it to burn calories. Exercise doesn't make you better, and a lack of exercise doesn't make you worse.
Read Part Two.
Read Part Three.