Here is the scenario, I'm having dinner with my parents and they inquire about what I have been up to recently. Part of my answer involves discussing my mission StrongFast. Included in this is talking about my running highlights, as well as my gym endeavours. In response to my descriptions of the mid-set grind during squats or the struggle and post-session exhaustion of clean and presses, I receive the question of...
"Why would you put yourself through that?"
Multiple answers begin to form as I prepare to respond to a not uncommon question.
I consider explaining the short and long term health benefits of strengthening exercise. In the short term, as I am trying to go faster and farther each week, I need to be strengthening my core, glutes, quads and hamstrings, as well as many other muscles that play a supporting, but very crucial role in injury prevention. By strengthening these muscles, primarily in the form of progressively challenging squats, I am preventing muscle strains by ensuring that the muscles that are propelling me are strong enough for the task. Making myself stronger also helps me to maintain proper running form throughout a workout. This prevents both muscles strains and excessive loading on inert structures, such as ligaments and joints.
The long-term health benefits are many. Included are prevention of osteoporosis and arthritis and maintenance of mental well-being, cognitive function and the ability to carry out activities of daily living. It saddens me when I encounter an individual during my day working as a physiotherapist who currently does not have the ability to get up out of a chair without arms, or get up off of the floor should they fall. This situation can arise for different reasons, but an all too common one is that they did not address the slow decline in strength and activity level until the point that their daily life is affected. This is not to say that people in this situation cannot benefit from strengthening exercise, but I would prefer to prevent this decline. I wish to be forever bounding up stairs, and keeping up my strength will be required to do this.
I also consider talking about how I want to get faster, and in order to do this I need to get stronger. I easily could have rattled off my previous 10 workouts and the next 10 that I am likely to do, pointing out the increased stress and the muscular requirements, but that likely would have ended dinner early due to me boring them to sleep.
The response I went with was this..
Because. It. Is. Fun.
The feeling of having strength is fun in itself. It is fun to progressively challenge yourself and be able to look back at what you struggled to do 4 weeks ago and think, "Wow, I can do so much more than that now". It is fun to hold a weight over your head in triumph.
No matter where you start, if you challenge yourself to do something, even a little bit harder each time, you will get stronger. That is fun.