I’ve been pondering inspiration recently. I’ll be writing more about the concept in the future, but basically, I don’t believe in it. Or at least, I’ve never gotten any value from anything “inspirational”—posters, Facebook memes, people without limbs, that kind of thing.
Which has led me to ask myself, what does inspire me? And I’m not so much talking about big-picture things—I’m talking, in the middle of a workout, when I’m cranky and tired and cursing whoever set the task and whatever idiot chose this weight, what keeps me going.
I may be strange, but…
Wait, let me correct that. I most definitely am strange. But one of the things that works is simply numbers.
Training running got a lot better when I figured out how to make the app alert me every mile. And better still, when I figured out how to change its measurements so it alerted me every kilometer. Having that clear progress—knowing when I have finished one kilometer out of five—is hugely valuable.
Although, really, not enough. And here’s where things get weird. Because… I count steps.
Not all the time, but when I’m in a cranky, not-so-much-in-the-mood-to-run kind of mood, I’ll count the steps down. 90 steps with each leg is about a minute. 540 steps each side is a kilometer, and 2700 a 5K. It doesn’t work out that precisely, but it’s close enough.
I don’t always just count steps either. Sometimes I’ll break up the count. Counting 100, then 90, and so on down to 20 happens to hit 540 as well. Going from 100 down to 1 by 1s will tally 5050, which should be great once I’m doing a 10K. And so on, et cetera.
What else do I obsess about? Well, when we do stair climbs at the gym, 138 steps gets you to the top floor. When I’m on a treadmill, I usually break things up by time—either tallying 10% segments of the total workout or counting down fractions of the total time. (10 seconds is, of course, 1/180th of a 30-minute workout!) On a rowing machine, I’m more likely to go by stroke count. 35/minute is a typical clip, so I’ll generally go by sevens, because how often do you get to do that?
And, of course, how often would you want to?
The inspiration for this post isn’t actually because I wanted to brag about being not normal. (It isn’t even a conscious cry for help, although re-reading it I could see how you might think that.) It was triggered a few weeks ago. My gym (the good one, not the crappy emergency backup) held a 1,000 burpee challenge, which was just that: 2 and a half hours of burpees, broken up into 8 per minute, with breaks every 25 minutes.
I couldn’t go—it was the weekend of my massive freelance stay-at-my-computer gig—and I was genuinely bummed about it. A thousand burpees may not be fun, but the countdown—oh yeah.
Mid-workout arithmetic seems to work for me. I feel like that’s not quite an adequate conclusion, though. So how about I leave you with this clickbaity summary: This INSANE New Trick Will Make Your Workouts Fly By!
That’ll make my visitor statistics soar.