Training Tuesdays: Combating Gym Fatigue

Gym Fatigue: it’s a real thing. Not everyone suffers from it, but for those who do, it is a troubling mental state.

gym fatigue: the insufferable and soul-destroying boredom that arises when one is forced to do increasingly more workouts within the walls of a gym versus in the outdoors. *

This is how I feel at the gym...well, actually, I mostly want to curl in a fetal ball and cry.
This is how I feel at the gym…well, actually, I mostly want to curl in a fetal ball and cry.

I suffer from gym fatigue, to the point that I have defined that my own personal limit for the number of indoor workouts that I find acceptable in a given week. That number, if you’re curious, is two–potentially three if the weather is legitimately heinous (for example, a week’s worth of -25 or colder when I lived in Alberta).

When I first got injured a number of people told me I’d learn to love a good gym workout. Those people were wrong. It is not the activity that I have an issue with, it is being indoors while doing it. It makes everything feel harder and seem like it’s taking about ten times as long. If you need evidence, I urge you to run five minutes on a treadmill with the time clock covered with a towel and tell me it doesn’t feel like it’s been thirty minutes. Try running five minutes outside and chances are it felt like five minutes, ten minutes on a bad day.

But I am not here to persuade you that indoor workouts suck.  It’s a matter of personal preference. For those of you who identify with me but are perhaps suffering from an injury that prevents you from engaging in your normal outdoor activities, or who want to incorporate more strength training, here’s what I’m trying to do to combat gym fatigue:

1.Focus on what I can do that’s outside: When I couldn’t run or hike, I sometimes opted to just walk or to walk up and down stairs. It sounds boring, but I promise you it was better than a stair machine inside the gym or–shudder–walking on a treadmill.

2.Take the inside workout outside: This isn’t always possible and relies more heavily on using your own body weight as resistance or investing in your own weights/kettle bells, but a lot of my strength activities can be done unweighted anywhere. While it may not be as intense, I am way more likely to stick with it for a longer period of time.

3.Test my limits: I have all sorts of people telling me to hold off from certain activities. In the gym, it’s easy to follow orders because, quite honestly, running on a treadmill is one of my least favourite things.  But when the lure of the outside becomes too strong, I fight against the naysayers and am more likely to give things a whirl. You know what? Sometimes it shows me I’m ready for things I was too afraid to try.

4.Consider alternate activities: I have come to the point where I’m considering taking up cycling. This is big for me, as for years I held firm to a belief that running and hiking are the only suitably epic, multi-hour cardio activities that can yield fitness for me.  The thing is, cycling doesn’t involve impact and impact/jostling seems to trigger my SI.  Suddenly, it seems appealing to consider cycling.  And, without question, cycling would create year-round (well, where I live) potential for epic outdoor workouts. I haven’t bit the bullet yet but even considering it is huge for me.

*likely this expression was not invented by me, but this is definitely my definition

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