How I Changed My Workouts to Actually Make Them Interesting

Once you finally cross the threshold, when exercise becomes a routine , the big question arises: “What next?” the question that comes to mind. For many of us, just getting the job done is not enough. As a cyclist, I needed to get out of my comfort zone to be interesting.

We’ve already talked about making workouts less boring, and most of these tips apply here as well. If you get bored, it’s worth mixing up your regular intervals , gamification , reading, or finding friends to practice with . Although I needed something a little different. I mostly ride my bike because I love it, but enjoying exercise is only part of the battle. You should still make it interesting.

Change location

When you’re doing any kind of cardio exercise, it’s easy to get used to the routine. Whether it’s the route you take every day (or even several of them), sooner or later you will burn out. The obvious step here is to find new routes and change your location whenever possible. We’ve already told you how to create a running route , and cycling works the same way.

Apart from that, I also needed to train my brain to find routes outside of my own home. It was always a little absurd for me to go somewhere to practice. After all, wherever you are, you can find a place to run, cycle, hike or walk. This is great for a typical day of training, but it limits your options.

So, I learned to absorb this and throw my bike in the car so I can cycle to new places. I know that for many it doesn’t really matter, but for me it was always too stupid to even think about it. But Southern California has so many great places to go biking, hiking or running, many of which are beyond my reach from home. Once I expanded my quest beyond my little bubble, I discovered all kinds of crazy ocean rides, through mountains, and more. If you’re like me and avoid driving to go to workout, consider. I have limited my options for no good reason.

If you’re unsure of where to look in your area, Trails has all sorts of itineraries to help you get started with a wide variety of activities. The Strava fitness tracker app has heatmaps , which are also great for finding popular running and cycling spots.

Learn to love gadgets (and sometimes leave them behind)

Even though I work at Lifehacker, I am a gadget obsession. I try to own as few things as possible, and for the most part, fitness trackers have always been at the bottom of my list.

But I found that I love tracking my trips and runs because it offers a set of metrics to help you understand where you are improving . Heart rate tracking, GPS, and more are a handy way to know how hard you are working. While I’ve gotten better at looking for new routes, I still stick with my old favorites throughout the week because I know exactly how long they’ll take. Unfortunately, when you’re on the same route all the time, it’s easy to relax (and therefore get bored) without even realizing it.

The right gadgets can help you avoid falling into this kind of relaxed thinking. When cycling, a GPS device like Garmin can show you real-time stats and track your performance so you know how hard you are working. For sports fans, our friends at Indefininite Wild recommend the Garmin Fenix ​​3 . The same can be done with software like Strava (or whatever you like best ) on your phone. You can see how fast you go, how fast you have moved in the past, and even virtually race other people to improve your time. It sounds so silly to be in imaginary races with people you’ve never met (or yourself), but it’s useful when you train a lot on the same route.

However, it is sometimes good to leave them completely behind. Not every exercise needs to be tracked, posted on social media, or analyzed. Sometimes it’s fun to just go outside and go where your feet take you. Every couple of weeks I try to go outside without GPS tracking and just follow different bike paths until I hit a dead end somewhere. This way I find new routes and from time to time I try to be at ease.

Embrace your stupid hobby

I’ve always been a “cyclist” who would rather ride somewhere than walk. But I’ve never been that cyclist . You know one thing. The guy in the spandex. Bicycles are everywhere in their home. Wide range of helmets. But one day I finally went headlong. As I threw aside my preconceptions about who wears spandex, I realized how useful it really is for long trips. I felt stupid for a while, but eventually I stopped caring. When I embraced it as a hobby and as a way to exercise, I found myself enjoying it even more.

I try not to own a lot of things . Because of this, I have always had a difficult relationship with the hobby. It’s easy to accumulate a lot of unnecessary trash, and cycling is no exception. I have bike kits that I only wore once. I have a variety of socks and helmets that I have tested and found that they do not work. At the moment I only have one bike, but after years of repairing, reworking and manipulating it to suit my needs, it finally needs to be replaced. In any case, I have accumulated more things than I am comfortable with, so I have to remind myself from time to time to donate or give things away.

But this is a compromise when you invest in a hobby. A new bike is something to look forward to and can be critical to reviving your passion. Even new clothes can help, which surprised me because I never cared about such things.

All this means: when you hit that boring plateau, consider whether your exercise is a hobby for you or not. If so, shamelessly dive into it and don’t look back.

Find what you need to train for

Some of us are competitive and some are not. I tend to fall into the latter group, but that doesn’t stop me from finding things to “train” for. Whether it’s a race, a new mountain route, or something else, if you are constantly training for something new, it will be much easier for you to lose your temper every day.

For example, I recently moved from Seattle to Los Angeles. Despite all the hills, Seattle’s bike trails are fairly flat, which means I haven’t climbed anything remarkable in a long time. So I was very surprised when I came to California and found bike routes through real mountain ranges. After years on level tracks, my legs were not ready for the trip to Los Angeles. I spent many days rolling up and down Griffith Park to get my legs in shape before I could head to the mountains for a real day of skiing. I felt like I was training for something important. It was like there was a goal that went beyond the simple exercises so that I didn’t die an early death, and that was much more motivating than I thought.

Runners have 5 km, 10 km, half marathons and marathons . Cyclists can ride all kinds of attractions, from criteriums to centuries old. Most cities have both competitive and non-competitive races, so if you’re as competitive as I am, you can still find something to train for. I’ve always found training to be pretty silly. I thought the fun and thrill of the trip should have been enough, but over the years that thrill has subsided. Now I need a little extra push. Exercise, even if it’s for made-up activities, is enough to keep me going.

Set yourself ridiculous goals

“Set achievable goals for yourself” is a common advice in all types of fitness circles. This is all well and good when you’re just starting out, but to be honest, it isn’t particularly helpful to me at the moment. Instead, I set myself ridiculous, almost impossible goals, and I put up with them with all my might at every step.

For example, my house is at the top of an incredibly steep hill. Now my best time on the rise is about three minutes. I want this to be done in two minutes. This will probably never happen, but every time I clean during this time, I feel like I’m getting a little closer … and that’s cool.

Likewise, last weekend I decided I wanted to climb 10,000 feet. Why? I have no idea. I just wanted to do it. So I entered the San Gabriel Mountains and rode until I reached 10,000 feet. After that, I could barely walk, but I felt great knowing that I had achieved it. Next stop? 20,000 feet. Will I ever get there? Probably no. But who cares? The more absurd I can set goals, the more I try to achieve them. It sounds ridiculous, but ridiculous goals can be as interesting and rewarding as achievable.

Embrace boredom and find “thought-free”

No matter what you do, cardio will always return to normal. This is how it works. It’s not that bad though. To be honest, cycling is pretty much the only time during the day when I’m not in front of a person or a screen. This means that this is also the only time I need to turn off my brain and enter the void of thoughtlessness.

In my book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running , Haruki Murakami talks about “emptiness.” This is the moment when you exercise and your brain just shuts down. Oatmeal uses the same concept in his comic , Horrible and Wonderful Reasons I Run Long Distance . The stresses in your life – your finances, your relationship problems, your sick grandparents, or whatever – just disappear for a few moments. The world is noisy and chaotic, but when you try your best, turning off at that moment gives you a break from it all.

In a sense, this is a kind of meditation. It clears my brain and gives me some clarity. It’s fleeting, but I applaud it anyway. Boredom is not so bad , and exercise is an easy way to allow yourself to get through those moments. Obviously, you don’t want this to happen all the time, but keep track of your workout routes where you don’t need to think on your calendar.

Illustration by Jim Cook.


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