Back on the Run 2: The Merciful End

So during the latter half of my 32-km run last week, I was feeling very, very crappy. They say that actions affect attitude; what you do affects your thoughts, so if you want to be a good person, do good things, and do bad things if you want to be a bad person, and so on. In this case, the way my body was feeling–the sore muscles, the aching feet, the sweating, the creaking joints–was starting to affect me, and negative thoughts started bubbling up in the cauldron of my mind.

Run Phase 3: The Existential, Please-Let-This-End Phase

This is the part where I started feeling deep regret. Well, that’s for lack of a better word. If there’s a word for when you want to kill your past self for deciding on something (e.g., signing up for a 32-km race) that’s affecting you negatively now, I don’t know it.

At this point, using my legs was like riding a horse whose previous owner had abused it terribly: they couldn’t do what I wanted them to do, and they groaned and wobbled with each step. I would think “why am I running a route that just takes me back to where I started?” and “I could have passed all these places at a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the price I paid registering for this race by just taking public transportation”, and “What do I get from this? Bragging rights? I’m no bragger, so what’s the point?”. These thoughts passed through me, fueled by the lactic acid building up in my body.

Around me, other runners were struggling too, though some less than others. I noticed the ones who still had a decent gait and form were generally the ones wearing compression socks. I have never tried them, because they were too pricey for my taste, and I wanted to finish the race without any special equipment beyond the clothes on my back and the shoes on my feet. I suppose I secretly always thought compression socks were an unfair advantage for some reason, though really, if I had the income to pay for them, I probably would pay for that edge.

Every step was a cruel, taunting thing: there was so much effort and strain involved for very, very little return. I wouldn’t say I was in pain, necessarily, but the soreness in my legs made it damned close. Still, I knew that every time I lifted a foot and put it down, it brought me closer to the goal I’d set, took me further from the other runners I’d left behind (yes, I can be kind of competitive), and gave me a little bit more Stoic pride.

A bit of digression: the Stoic philosophy is based on the idea that your circumstances don’t matter, but your perceptions of and reactions to your circumstances do. So it doesn’t matter how painful or excruciating an experience is, as long as you can tackle it with an attitude of indifferent resilience. Stoics aren’t “meh” people like a lot of folks think they are; they’re actually very, very mentally strong. In fact, some of the most famous stoics in history actively sought out struggle, bathing in the coldest waters, eating only simple food, and even wearing ridiculous-looking clothing in order to steel themselves against the worst physical, mental, and emotional stresses that life could throw at them (even if it wasn’t throwing it at them yet).

As we runners plodded along Buendia in the early morning June heat, crossing the South Luzon Expressway half-dead in sweat and dirt, some half-naked and wearing their shirts as makeshift sweatbands, most of us grunting instead of speaking and dousing ourselves in water at every hydration station, I knew in my heart that we must have been the very picture of Stoicism.

The last 5 km was just me walking, plodding towards the finish line, back to where we had begun. 7 AM had come and gone, and I’d resigned myself to the fact that miracles don’t happen. You don’t post a sub-4.5 time for a 32-km race unless you put in the work for months beforehand, which I had not. So I put myself in a state of determined resignation, taking my sore muscles and creaking joints on a 45-minute excursion to the end. I was both sadist and masochist. Each step was torture, but it was torture I willingly inflicted upon myself and accepted from myself. Such a pain, but damn it, it was an ordeal that I would see through.

Skinny guys passed me. Fat men passed me. Younger ladies passed me. Older women passed me. I didn’t care anymore. One line from the Bazz Luhrmann classic sunscreen song echoed in my head: “The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself”.

At the end, they were handing out medals for the 32-km finishers. When I signed up for this race, the medal was such a powerful incentive. But right then and there, in my exhausted and frustrated state, it just seemed like they were rewarding me for nearly killing myself going over that distance by presenting me with a lovely lump of metal, which I could hang around my neck like the most beautiful burden in the world.

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Two medals I’ve earned this year: the left from the first Run United 2015 leg, and the second from last week’s 32-km effort.

I wonder how many kings developed physical defects from wearing heavy crowns all the time?

Post-Mortem: Alchemizing Poison into Ambrosia

So the experience I had is arguably one of the worst I’ve ever gone through. But as I drove home, thinking about it, it was still a positive experience. If nothing else, it taught me the value of resilience: push, push, and push, and you’ll get to your goal, however weak or ugly the finish.

It gave me a reason to believe in my potential a little more: if I could finish this challenge with minimal preparation, then there were probably a lot of other things I could do but I wasn’t letting myself try out of a misguided fear of failure.

It reminded me of the importance of preparation and consistency: if I’d continued my practice runs and core exercises instead of stopping them for a month, I’m sure I would’ve posted a much better PR.

And finally, it gave me a glimpse into the heart of people: different we were, from very varied walks of life, and yet we were all there taking on this race. The thirst for fulfillment, the drive to challenge ourselves, was something that brought us all together on that Sunday morning. It was a gathering that was more strenuous and less dignified than any religious mass could possibly be, but in a way, it was more fulfilling.

Back on the Run

Point of pride: I ran a 32-kilometer run, and posted my best time for that distance.

My dirty secret: It was my first time to run that distance, and it was still a lousy time, and I had a terrible time doing it.

Ill-prepared and Ill-equipped

Going into this, I knew it was going to be a not-so-good effort. While I had run 3 half-marathons before (that’s 21 km each), those were runs for which I had prepared as vigorously as I could. For this one… not so much. Between the summer heat and my work/life schedule lately, I was too pooped to practice.

In addition to that, I didn’t do the right carbo-loading. No matter how strong or fit you are, your body still needs fuel to perform. Taking on a long run without enough fuel is like trying to go on a long road trip with only a tenth of your tank full. I’m not a big eater to begin with, so though I didn’t feel it at the time, I’m pretty sure I was running on fumes near the end of the race.

Plus, I’m pretty sure I didn’t get enough rest and warming up done. I slept far less than I should’ve before the race, and ended up sleeping the hour before gun start instead of stretching and warming up like I should’ve. So I’m fairly sure that affected my performance.

All of these are not me trying to justify my bad time; far from it, this is a post-mortem examination. This is me trying to figure out what the hell went wrong. The alternative is to just accept that I couldn’t have done any better, and the truth is, I could have had a much better time by managing my preparation better.

Run Phase I: Delusional, “It’ll Be Fine” Phase

Of course, I didn’t admit that to myself right away. At the beginning, I still had a positive attitude about the whole affair. “I’ve run long distances before,” I thought, so mentally, I know what it takes to go the distance and will myself to the finish line. This’ll be another step in my running career, and I just have to stay positive throughout to get through.

I let these kinds of thoughts percolate through me as I negotiated the beginning phase of the run. One foot in front of the other. Alternated between running and walking (I don’t have a running watch, so I just based it on my running playlist: I ran for 2 full songs, then just walked during the intro and first verse of the third song, and went like this for the first 10 km), and stopped for Gatorade every chance I could (for hydration and calories. Fun fact: Gatorade was developed in 1965 upon request of the head coach of a football team called the Florida Gators, hence the name).

My running playlist also served me up some good songs to keep my spirits up. The very first song was the Savage Garden classic “The Animal Song” (Around 15 years old and still catchy as ever). “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen was a fun one. Then there was “No Doubling Back” by Jason Mraz (from an early concert at the Eagles Ballroom), which is actually an upbeat take on breaking up, but the operative lyric which became like a mantra for me was “no doubling back”.

Finally, there was fun.’s “Some Nights”, a catchy, upbeat bastard child of marching anthem and pop song. While it did lift my spirits, it’s one of those songs that sounds lively but hides possibly downer lyrics. Lines like “I still don’t know what I stand for” and “I sold my soul for this? Watched my hands of that for this? I missed my mom and dad for this?” make it great fare for those prone to existential brooding and questioning their life choices. This was probably foreshadowing a later phase of my run experience.

Run Phase 2: Starting to Feel the Heat

This happened around the tenth kilometer, when I literally started feeling the heat. It’s always been my problem: I get too hot and stifled because my body heats up too quick. As I got to the top of the first overpass, I decided I couldn’t take the heat anymore (it was too stuffy despite the fact that we were running in the early morning), so I proceeded to remove my singlet. Effectively, I was half-naked for two-thirds of the race distance (there will probably be pictures of that online, as many photographers cover running events. But I don’t want to take the effort to scour the Internet for those, plus I don’t want to inflict that intentionally on anybody, so I won’t post them here.

I considered just leaving it behind somewhere, but I don’t like littering or leaving clutter in public places, and it would be too embarrassing to walk up to some random stranger and say “I don’t need this anymore; you can keep it” as I hand them this sweaty and hot small size racing singlet. (Seriously, it was gross. If a T-800 had come back from the future naked right then and there, saying “I need your clothes” to me, it probably would have refused to wear that singlet, adding “No, that’s okay. I’ll accost some other person.”) So I ended up doing different things like stuffing it down my shorts or tying it around my running belt before deciding that using it as a bandana, soaking it in cold water every so often, was the best course of action under the circumstances.

As the race went on, my body felt worse: my calves started seizing up, and at some point as I was pushing against a lamppost to stretch them, a jeepney driver yelled out “Come on, run already!” (perhaps it was his idea of encouragement). The heat got more unbearable as the sun rose, forcing me to stuff ice down my shorts. Every time I passed by an ambulance, I was praying that the volunteers would have Omega liniment to spray on my legs.

All this happened between 5 AM and 5:30 AM. Basically, I was still trying to keep the dream of finishing before 7 AM alive, and was doing everything to address my body’s very, very legitimate complaints. And the complaints were getting louder, to the point where even my mind started joining the strike.

(I’ll finish the story next week; for now, I have to rest and start to properly recover.)

The Pursuit of Happiness(es)

We’ve heard it said that “life is like a marathon”. In both cases, you have goals. Also, in both cases, you need energy to get to those goals, so you need some way of producing that energy. In marathon running, runners switch between two types of respiration; in life, people switch between two ways of pursuing happiness.

Gratified or Fulfilled?

Let’s consider two types of happiness as discussed by Greek philosophers. The first is hedonia, the root term for hedonism. Basically it’s the happiness associated with more immediate self-satisfaction and gratification, with little regard for long-reaching consequences and with a priority on minimizing pain. Want to engage in retail therapy? Want to party till the sun comes up? Want to make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young? Find yourself wanting to indulge in the excesses similar to popular musicians like David Bowie, P Diddy, and Steven Tyler? That’s hedonia, baby.

Life is like a box of chocolates: onnomnomnomnomnomnom.
Life is like a box of chocolates: nonnomnom.

Eudaimonia, on the other hand, is a more long-term kind of happiness. It’s happiness that is associated with fulfillment, with self-actualization, with getting to your highest level of potential. It’s the kind of happiness that accepts the possibility of taking a few licks along the way, and you don’t have to really “feel good” all the time to be happy. Just getting back up when you’re down and making yourself a little tougher as you go on your way  to becoming the best “you” can make everything worth it, and much more. Eudaimonia involves more self-building habits: the satisfaction from making or fixing things yourself; the joy of learning things; the empowerment that comes from acting to change yourself or your circumstances for the better.

horizon
“Lord don’t move that mountain; just give me the strength to climb it.”

The thing about eudaimonia, though, is that it relies on inspiration. You need to care about your self-fulfillment in order for that mode of happiness to matter to you, and that can be hard to do when times get tough, when you keep failing over and over again, and when it seems like the values you hold most dear don’t hold any worth in the moral or ethical economy that you are having to transact in. In those cases, you need something to pick you up. When your inspirational beacon seems to fail in those hours of darkness, you need a little short-term, doesn’t-really-matter light. And for those times, I can see the value in hedonism.

spark
Oooh, pretty!

So, conventional wisdom holds that people can approach happiness in only one way or the other. There’s one side, which favors pleasures enjoyed by yourself or with someone else; and there’s the other, which favors personal fulfillment over short-term satisfaction. But in reality, you’ll most likely need to switch from one mode to the other as you go through life’s ups and downs.

What’s Your Mix?

So here’s the kicker question: how should you mix your happiness? What proportion of your life should you devote to eudaimonia, and what should be left over for hedonia?

The answer, of course, is that there is no one answer. People are all different from one another. Some people may get more out of the partying, getting-high, intense-stimulation or heavy-escapism lifestyle, while others may look for the more calm, placid, chill contentment that comes from a purpose-driven life. Don’t expect all people to fall within these two categories, however; we’re more likely to fall within a spectrum of these things. To get to your way of happiness, you have to find your own blend. For those who want that put in a psychology-meets-economics kind of way, here’s a blog post with a chart and a scholarly reference.

What kind of happiness do you think works for you? Why does it work? Do you think your preference will change anytime soon? Let me know in the comments!

Respiration Isn’t an Either/Or Thing

Right foot forward, shift weight, push off, land on the left foot, shift weight, push off again. Keep balance by moving hips, swinging arms, and keeping your core stable. Sustain motion through continued inhalation and exhalation.

That, essentially, is running. Continue it for kilometers on end, hours at a time, and that’s marathon running. What lets people chug along, fight step by step, work for each measure of distance, until they get to the finish line? That’s respiration.

Aerobic Respiration: Getting You Pumped Up

A lot of people consider marathon running as a totally aerobic exercise. The implication is that it requires only aerobic respiration, which is essentially an energy-producing process that requires oxygen. Aerobic respiration is a low energy-producing process that can be sustained over a long time, which is why it is useful for exercises that involve light but repetitive motions like jogging, biking, and swimming. What sustains this activity? The intake of oxygen; you breathe a little, you take in some oxygen, and that oxygen is invested into generation of your cells’ energy currency, ATP (the idea of “generating energy” may offend fans of the first law of thermodynamics, to whom I say “I recognize your paradigm, but no one’s trying to formulate a theory of everything here, so let’s dispense with technicalities for now”).

But what happens when you can’t breathe fast enough? Maybe you’re spending the energy currency faster than you can get the oxygen to make it. In that case, an alternative energy-producing mechanism has to kick in, which is anaerobic respiration. Anaerobic respiration is useful in high-intensity workouts, like weight lifting or sprinting, but it comes at a cost; since it doesn’t use oxygen, it sets off an entirely separate chain of molecular events that makes lactic acid, which is associated with fatigue.

For a geeky but entertainingly informative update on respiration, check out this video from CrashCourse on YouTube, which will take about 15 minutes of your time:

A Few Caveats

Take note, though, that the idea of lactic acid buildup leading to fatigue is being questioned. Research is being done now that suggests that even though blood pH is a pretty good indicator of how tired someone’s muscles should be, changes in it doesn’t necessarily stem from lactic acid production; it might be caused by hydrogen ions produced from entirely different biochemical products. In fact, lactate, the molecule that scientists initially thought came from lactic acid formation and subsequent breakdown in the tissues, might actually serve as extra fuel to make more energy.

Yes Virginia; science does change over time.

 

Also, take note that while we commonly think of aerobic respiration as the only thing that keeps runners running, marathon running can require anaerobic respiration too. Think about the uphill climbs that one has to take occasionally, or the kick that one does during the last few hundred meters to the finish line. Those are clearly high-intensity activities, and they require anaerobic respiration to happen. So, marathon runners go the distance with a mix of anaerobic and aerobic respiration.

So What Does That Mean?

Well, the takeaway here is that it’s not just low-intensity exercise that you have to do in order to do well in marathons. You’ve got different drills to do. You’ve got to train yourself so that you can use oxygen efficiently, and you’ve got to train yourself to produce bursts of speed and intensity that are enough to get you through those really tough parts of the run. Don’t rely on just one type of training; throw every training tool you can at the problem. When you really want to set that PR, you have to be smart about it, and not put all your eggs in one basket.

The Watsons Color Manila Sun Warrior Challenge: Fun in the Sun

So things have been kind of crazy at work lately; I’ve been under a lot of pressure for the past few weeks. Rendering more hours at work than usual, and there are some problems that I’m not sure will work out in time. In short, life’s happening to me.

I don’t want to be the guy who runs away from things, but I don’t want to brood and let my entire existence and identity be defined by my frustrations and frustrating situations. So once in a while, I join a running event. Today’s event was the Watsons-Color Manila Sun Warrior Challenge at SM Mall of Asia.

This isn’t my first time joining such an event: my girlfriend (from whose camera these pictures came) and I have joined the past two Color Manila runs, along with some friends, and each time it’s been a blast.

Pre-Race
Raring to go!
Excited
I’m pretty pumped. She’s just pretty.
It’s also great to take great and colorful pictures in your moments of dirty, “I don’t care if I’m dirty”-ness. It can be bothersome to clean up afterwards, but it’s worth it!
Life's Short Get Dirty
Life’s short; get dirty!
Yeahhh
Hey!
Put your hands up
Put your hands up!
Like a Boss
The life, this is.
And another great thing about today: I met a really nice friend. He looked kind of familiar, too… almost like looking in a mirror.
Dog and Me
Puppy love.
All in all, an awesome experience of clean, dirty fun that we hope to repeat!

Three Cases Where “Defying Your Limits” May Be a Super-Bad Idea

I’m a runner. Or at least, I’d like to think so. With the number of hours I’ve spent just running on my own, plus the number of running events I’ve joint, I’m pretty sure I’ve earned the designation.

When you join a race or marathon, you generally get a race kit, which could contain any variety of running-related items. Among the stuff I’ve collected is a lanyard that says “defy your limits”. Now, this is great, motivating stuff for those with a sports mentality. With taglines such as “Impossible is Nothing” or “Just Do It”, sporting goods companies tap into the psyche of their target audience and earn their loyalty through an “I totally get you” kind of social proof. Whether this ends up as a prescription for on top of being a description of their audience’s attitude is anyone’s guess, I suppose.

As we are bombarded with images of successful athletes pushing themselves to an almost self-flagellating degree in order to be the best in their arena, it’s hard to see anything wrong with the “no limits” mindset. However, if one takes a second to think, one will realize that this is not always helpful.

Some Physical Limits Are Real and Unpushable

Let’s start with the obvious: the very reason they are called “limits” is that you could not or should not go past them. Consider what you have to invest when you train: you invest time, money, and energy. There are only 24 hours in a day, and the body needs a certain amount of that for rest and food intake. Obviously, you can’t train if you’re not properly refreshed and fueled up. So basically, “eat food” and “sleep” are some non-negotiables.

Also, you have to accept your own personal physical limits. A heavyset person will probably not have a good chance as a sprinter, just like how a skinny person will probably not do well in Highland games. Short people usually don’t have a good chance of making dunks in the NBA. Of course, you may talk about people who defy the odds and set physical records in spite of physical limitations. I’ve been guilty of seeing a news item about a disabled person running a marathon and telling myself “what’s your excuse?”, and some short basketball players would want to point out players like Spud Webb or Nate Robinson and expect themselves to do as well. However, I’d like to think my comparison is more reasonable: all I care about is that if a person with physical challenges can push himself, so should I. I don’t expect myself to set dunk records because of some exceptions to the rule about short people not dunking.

The problem is that people often don’t remember the basic principle of “ceteris paribus”, meaning “all other things being equal”. So while it might be fair to point out that other people have overcome physical limitations to set records, you shouldn’t expect yourself to do as well as they do because, let’s face it, they may just have won a genetic lottery to get where they are. Not accepting that could lead to serious consequences.

Some Limits Can Be Pushed at Your Risk/Expense

People often admire athletes for their ability to override their pain and their fear. In a stressful, high-pressure situation, we admire those people who, with odds stacked against them, channel the most ruthless, cold-blooded sense of competition they can muster and will themselves to perform beyond limits and pull off a victory. Heart, guts, nerves, backbone, stomach: all parts of the anatomy, all what we expect from a real competitor.

However, pain and fear are there as controls to keep you from acting like a suicidal maniac. In fact, the brain is wired to respond more to negative stimuli than positive stimuli. This is called negativity bias, and this is what allowed many of our loinclothed ancestors to avoid getting killed and make babies. Despite this evolutionary tendency, some people still deviate and develop a higher appetite for risks. They want the rush, the thrill, and the excitement, to the extent that they might get themselves hurt for not much good reason.

And this point is not all about fighting or contact sports. Consider our earlier point that people need rest and food, so you can’t do without it. If you’re a smart aleck, you’d probably ask “How little food and how little sleep can I do without? Maybe I can push it down to two hours’ sleep a day and just one meal to max my training time”. And to you I’d say “Have fun with that, you crazy anorexic insomniac gym junkie”. Like most people, you’d probably train yourself sick, injure yourself, or burn yourself out. You can push the limits, but the more they’re pushed, the more your choice becomes a dangerous tradeoff.

But again, there are exceptions. Consider Randy Couture, whose body basically says F.U. to lactic acid buildup, or crazy/lucky SOB Dean Karnazes, whose body has developed to the point that pounding out a marathon causes it no more stress than walking down a hall:

There are other examples of exceptions, and these should come not just with a “do not try this at home” disclaimer, but also possibly a “try body-swapping with these guys first” disclaimer.

Pushing Some Limits Doesn’t Make You Better

Imagine you’ve got a friend who’s simply insufferable when it comes to running. He talks everyone’s ear off about his training regimen, he always brags about his personal records, and he doesn’t let you forget that you’ve never, not once, gotten a better time than his in an official running event. Wouldn’t you want to shut him up? Wouldn’t you want to do anything possible to get yourself to the point that you can beat him and tell him to go suck an egg?

Not that you haven’t tried: you’ve trained yourself to the limit, you’ve tried different drills and workouts and routes, but you still can’t outdo him. And it’s eating you up.

Some elite athletes, those with an extreme “whatever it takes” mentality, will feel the exact same thing, only much, much worse. And they’ll resort to unethical means to perform better. They’ll do anything to get that edge, whether it’s through performance-enhancing steroids or some other non-training-related enhancement like blood doping:

Bottom line, they resort to dishonest tactics to push their limits. That’s not fair to the fans, that’s not fair to their competitors, and that’s not fair to the sport they’re a part of. And even discounting the moral angle, these methods can also cause significant harm to the user: the side effects of steroids are well-known, and there are also risks associated with blood doping.

So basically, like any type of advice or word of wisdom you encounter, take this with a pinch of salt. Feel free to defy your limits, sure, but consider carefully which hurdles to take on.

The Pleasure of Sacrifice

So lately, I’ve taken to running while listening to podcasts, as opposed to running with music. A lot of runners know that while it’s a personal thrill to take to the pavement, pounding it one foot at a time (of course avoiding the frowned-upon heel strike), it can get pretty boring. Let’s face it: running is, at the most basic level, just putting one foot in front of the other for miles on end.

That’s not to say it’s not challenging, though (it’s simple, but not easy). It’s extremely punishing work, and it takes a special kind of competitive masochism to subject oneself to it, all for the personal satisfaction of doing it a little faster next time. It’s a never-ending goal for runners: “a new PR”. For elite runners, it’s simply “a new R”. And for that, they sweat, they ache, the push their limits, and scrape for that little, tiny edge that will make them a little better than yesterday. Law of diminishing marginal returns be damned: even if the effort is disproportionately large compared to the payoff in improved performance, great runners still train their asses off.

No Sacrice, No Victory

Of course, it’s not always for a PR. Maybe there’s something else they’re aiming for. Maybe they want that sexy beach body. Maybe they want to feel that, in even one section of their life, they have some measure of control. Maybe they want something measurable, something numerical they can hold on to so that they can say “I have outdone myself again”.

I and some other runner acquaintances from last year, just before we outdid ourselves in the Brooks Run Happy 3 Trail Run event in Tanay, Rizal.
I and some other runner acquaintances from last year, just before we outdid ourselves in the Brooks Run Happy 3 Trail Run event in Tanay, Rizal.

That’s the spirit behind the podcast I was listening to this past Friday as I went on a 10-km run. The podcast was from The Art of Manliness, and the specific episode discussed the history and cultural background of Crossfit. Basically, you’ve got a motley crew of gym freaks, doing exercises designed to improve your functional strength and kill you, but not quite. And every time this group not-quite-dies, they get satisfaction. They bring honor to their group (Crossfit is a very competitive club, where people are divided into teams), they see improvement in themselves (performance of Crossfit activities and routines are recorded), and they feel personal development (some transcend their former self-paradigm of “I’m no gym rat, so I can’t lift more than half my weight in inanimate matter”; others become fulfilled from having a group to bond with outside of work). Members of the culture can even engage in what others would see as a perverse game of “I’ve got it worse than you” by detailing how brutal their WOTD (workout of the day) was.

Hurts So Good

As a runner, I can relate. When I can steal some time alone to run, I run hard, far, and long. And it’s typical for my baser physical instincts to scream at me and say “What the hell are you doing? There’s a jeep RIGHT THERE!… What do you mean we’re not going anywhere in particular!?” And at the end of it, I’m spent, sore, winded… but satisfied.

So yeah. Exercise is not a walk in the park, nor is it conventionally rewarding. It’s a sacrifice. You’re sacrificing your body, breaking it down to make it better. You’re giving up immediate pleasure for long-term, physical gain. You’re spending time that you could otherwise use to watch a fun movie, meet with friends, or eat delicious food. From a basic, primal point of view, which is concerned mainly with feeding and mating, it makes zero sense. But from a human point of view, which transcends the baser needs, it’s a glorious victory.