The Training Paradox

The Training Paradox


You know the feeling. It's Sunday night and you've had a fairly big weekend. The last thing you want to do on a Monday morning is set your alarm for 5:30am so you can get up and hit the gym. It's winter - cold, dark and.... cold! You just want to stay in bed. It's pouring rain outside and just getting to class has you soaked. 

But, because you are a legend that is focussed on bringing about a change to your health, you haul your ass up. A two minute, warm shower gets blood to your otherwise frozen feet but not before your butt goes numb on a chilly toilet seat. You slam down an espresso, slap on a beanie and head off to the class. The local F45 fitness centre, in case you are wondering. 

The instructors turn up and sympathise with you...kinda. "Freezing init!" they say, almost as a parting shot before they torture you!

The session starts with a warm-up; it seems your joints need some oil. And with some creaks and cracks, we're away. First station you're thinking, "ahhh, this is easy!" but three stops ahead is that bloody horrid rowing machine! Surely rowing should be an olympic sport ONLY but instead, old mate instructor's yelling at you to push harder. The lactic is burning and the little voice in your head is telling you to stop! "Why am I doing this when I actually have a choice not to?"

Halfway now and despite the fact that it's minus 42 degrees, you've got sweat on your brow. It's somewhat sadistic and this sweat is a mark of you paying your dues. Onto the chin-up bar, "I can do a PB today" you proclaim to yourself... incorrectly. Three full pull-ups in 45 seconds isn't much to be proud of. You think to yourself, "I've been training for 20 years, how can I still only manage three?"

But despite the pain, you're now in the zone. You're on the run home and there's only seven stations to go. "Seven times 45 seconds equals not much" you think to yourself and you begin to lift your intensity as the class comes to a close. You're now pumping out burpees like a man on a mission. There going to need a a traffic cop to slow you down. 

You turn to your buddy - "come on, two sets to go man!" He looks back at you thinking "shut up, don't remind me." And then together, you punch out those final two sets. Again, hauling ass, but now jubilantly as you hit the finish. You fall to the floor like a legend of your own olympics. You got out of bed and then conquered the class! 

Brekkie tastes great, like a victory meal, you earned it. Lunch comes at 10am because you're in front of the crowd. The endorphins continue to pour through your veins; you're addicted to the pump, to all of the gains. The belly is shrinking and your confidence builds. You're feeling inspired, until 5:30am tomorrow where it all starts again...

That is The Training Paradox.


With the explosion of fitness bloggers on social media, all posting photos of themselves "enjoying exercise", it would be reasonable to think that they are loving every minute of it. I can tell you, that's not exactly the case. You see, the key point about The Training Paradox is that you love the way exercise makes you feel afterward. You love the benefits exercise brings. But that's not to say you always enjoy putting yourself through the pain. Or getting up early for that matter. 

Here are my top tips for making it work in your favour:

  • Don't be surprised when you wake up "tired" and question whether you have had enough sleep. When you come to expect that you'll feel rough for the first 10 minutes, then it just becomes a matter of process you have to go through to get moving. 
  • Go to bed at a normal time. My belief is that not much beneficial happens after 10pm. It's when most people feel the most flat mentally so if you aim to be in bed around 10pm, getting up between 5 and 6am guarantees you a good 7-8 hour sleep. 
  • Don't set multiple alarms. It's like having a bet each way - you're setting yourself up for failure. Instead, set ONE alarm and put your phone out of reach so you have to get up to turn it off. 
  • Have a shower. Some people think it's better to get up later than have a shower when you wake. Not me! The shower is absolutely your friend in conquering mornings.
  • Make exercise a habit. Choose your days to workout and the days to rest in advance. Once you are in the habit, you no longer say "hmmmm, should I go to the gym tomorrow?" You just do it because it's a training day. 
  • Have a shot of black coffee. Well, it's not rocket science but it works. Wake yourself up. 
  • Allow yourself 10 minutes to stretch out. I love using the morning as a time to work on my flexibility and since doing so, it's paid dividends. Stretching not only helps me prepare my mind but has clearly improved my range of motion. 
  • Find a friend. A workout buddy is the best for keeping you motivated and accountable. When you tee up a partner or even become part of a larger workout group, fitness becomes social, not just healthful.
  • Reward yourself with an awesome breakfast. My standard is a half avocado on two slices of soy and linseed bread, a shake of lime juice and some cracked salt and pepper. Yum!

On your way to work, mindfully watch others that are trying to pull themselves together at 830am when you've already been away for 3 hours. Doing so reminds you that you are creating time that others do not have. That feeds your ego with contentment; it strengthens your resolve to make exercise truly habitual!

Comments and thoughts?