Five things exercise has taught me.

My 5th-grade Target teacher (what they called the gifted program back in the day) told us that experiments allow us to simulate conditions in the real world in a controlled environment. For some reason, that popped into my head this morning as I worked out. I think it’s because my one-hour bootcamp is my daily experiment for daily life. It allows me to test myself and my philosophies. It gives a morning “gut check” to see what I’m made of and how much will I possess. Some days, the results aren’t that great. But I can always come back the next day and try something different. I can get stronger both mentally AND physically.

Here are a five things I’ve learned from my morning experiment that help me get through the tough times:

1. Stay in the moment. When you going through a particularly rough exercise, you don’t look down the field at another station. You don’t think about the last one. You focus on what you are doing at that particular second and try to do the very best you can. When your mind wanders (What will I eat today? Why is my wife mad at me? Will I make deadline today? I about puked at that last station!) you lose focus and make mistakes. The past doesn’t matter. The future doesn’t matter. You focus on the now.

2. Break every exercise into small sections. That makes it easier to survive when it gets really tough. Think, “I can do this for another minute,” instead of “I can’t do this for another hour.” I’ve survived many of crappy days that way. The other day, I was about to pass out while pushing tackling dummies down the football field. I kept telling myself “I can make if five more yards.” I was right. If I had said, ” I can’t do this,” I’d have been right too.

3. Everyone around you is in pain too. Everyone around you is going through something. Focus on helping them and it will help you get through your pain, too.

4. Don’t allow mistakes to rattle you. I used to be the king of allowing screw-ups to yank my chain. Now, I breathe deeply, listen to the coach (if I am being called out) and try to do better. You just keep moving past the error — not reliving it.

5. How to work through fatigue. I used to be a bear when I got tired. Now I am tired most all the time — I don’t have the option of being a bear anymore. By the end of 12 weeks of grinding it at 5 a.m., your body and mind are very exhausted. But you learn you can push past both pain and fatigue. My back hurts today. There were a couple of times I thought, “I can sneak out and head home early.” But then I thought, “I made it this far, I can make it 20 more minutes.” And I did.

There are more, of course, but those are the ones that popped into my head this morning.

How has exercise helped you?

About Marshall Ramsey