In Episode 03: What is Your Biggest Fitness Failure?, Todd and Geof talk about some of the biggest mistakes they’ve made in their own fitness journeys including some of the fads they’ve fallen for, how knowing what to do is different from actually doing it, and the lessons that we’ve learned along the way.

Even so called fitness “experts” have made mistakes along the way and that includes Geof and I.  In Episode 03: What is Your Biggest Fitness Failure?, I detail how I was suckered into buying blocks of rubber you could strap onto your shoes in the hopes of increasing your vertical jump (Jump Soles), made the mistake of trying to race against a ghost in my first triathlon, competed in a half-ironman still hungover from my brother’s 21st birthday, and added salt to my Gatorade in the hopes of better matching the salt lost in my sweat.  Geof detailed how he spent nearly one year drinking “gallons of milk” and protein shakes trying to bulk up before realizing he didn’t have the body for bodybuilding, and how an overexuberant spring ride lead him to rupture a disc in his back and have back surgery.

From these (and other) experiences we have learned a great deal about exercise including

  1. Fancy equipment is no substitute for consistent training. In an effort to increase my vertical jump in high school, I purchased Jump Soles and the training program that went with them.  If my vertical jump was going to increase it would have been the result of my body’s response to a periodized, consistent training program, not because of the rubber pads I attached to my feet.
  2. Find the exercise your body likes to do. Geof spent a year lifting weights, reading a muscle and fitness book, and drinking gallons of milk and protein shakes before realizing he wasn’t making the progress he sought to achieve.  In the fitness world, there is a myth that you can have a certain body if you put in the effort…but it just doesn’t work like that.  Not everyone can achieve a certain “look” no matter how hard they try.  Our physiologies are unique and different.  Geof ended up finding out that he is much better suited to cardiovascular exercise than he is to weight training.  Geof has found through trial and error that biking is “what his body likes to do”.
  3. Be flexible in your approach to exercise. If there is one thing that you enjoy doing over and over and over again (i.e. biking, running) that’s great. But one of the things that Geof and I have found is that many of the most successful people in losing weight and/or maintaining their fitness are those individuals who as I like to say, have a large exercise toolbox.  If you are unable to do that one thing that you love due to time constraints, injuries or the weather, be flexible in your approach by finding another exercise that you can do or fit in.  The “all or nothing” approach to exercise often turns people into couch potatoes.  Even if you can’t do the thing that you used to love, there must be something else that you can do that brings you enjoyment.
  4. Go easy, especially early in the season. Geof detailed how an overexuberant spring ride led him to have back surgery.  Just because you can handle the workout doesn’t mean that you should go as hard as you can for that workout.  Geof bit off more than he could chew in a spring ride that his “winter body” wasn’t ready for.  That same ride likely would have been fine had he done it in June or July but he hadn’t worked his way up to that level.  Sometimes it is better to “quit while you’re ahead” or to end your workout when it still feels good than to fight through it towards some “enhanced” level of fitness that you may never achieve (due to injury) or later realize wasn’t as important as you thought it was.
  5. Run your own race. During my very first triathlon I rode way too fast on the bike, thinking my friend was ahead of me.  I didn’t want him to beat me so I killed myself on the bike only to have to walk/run the 6 mile run of the triathlon.  I wasn’t completing the race in the way that I trained for it and as a result made the experience completely miserable, to the point that I’m not sure why I ever completed another race after that.  Had I stayed true to myself and my training, I would have had a much more enjoyable experience by going at the pace I should have and racing my own race.
  6. Know when to cut your losses. Just because you think you should be training in a certain way or think that you can handle the workload, you need to be smart about it.  In our podcast I detailed how I celebrated my little brother’s 21st birthday on a Friday night and tried to complete a half-ironman triathlon on that Sunday morning.  I had trained all summer, paid for the race, and had my family in town.  I should have cut my losses and raced another day but I went ahead with it anyways and ended up hurting my back as a result, a back injury that has never healed and essentially ended my road biking and triathlon days.  If you are working towards a goal that is causing you pain, know when to scale back your training and when to cut your losses.  If you don’t, you might not ever be able to do that thing you love again.

We’re all human and we all do stupid things (some things are stupider than others) but our hope is that you realize that even the fitness “experts” have made fitness mistakes and will continue to do so.  What’s important is that we are able to acknowledge these mistakes and learn from them, so hopefully they won’t be quite so painful in the future.

If you have a “fitness fail” that you think people would benefit from hearing about, please share it with us.  We hope you enjoyed our third podcast.

Our podcast music was generously provided by Sheridan.

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