Sweating is Fun
March 28, 2013 11:49 AM   Subscribe

For athletes, and people in general who have exercised consistently for many years, can you describe what it's like to experience working out as an enjoyable, rewarding activity?

Despite bouts of fitness here and there, I'm usually a couch potato of a person. I find the thought of working out extremely unappealing and am never at a loss for ways to psych myself out from going for a jog. For those of you who can say that you enjoy exercise--what motivates you? What are your thoughts and attitudes about fitness and exercise?

I figure there is something faulty with the way I inherently think about being active, so I just want to peer in your head and see what alternative, healthier thoughts I might learn to adopt for myself.
posted by oceanview to Health & Fitness (76 answers total) 88 users marked this as a favorite
I bike back and forth to work and also run a lot of errands by bike; it usually takes the same amount of time as driving or taking public transport, and it's a lot less hassle to lock my bike up than hunt around for a parking space. If biking doesn't have a utilitarian benefit I don't like doing it nearly as much.

I also really enjoy exercise that comes as a byproduct of doing something fun. My legs burn after a day of snowboarding, but I snowboard for fun, not for exercise. Same goes for kayaking or racquetball. See if there are things you like doing for the sake of doing them, where you end up getting exercise as an added bonus.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:58 AM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

The faster I run, the sooner I'm done.

(More precisely, once I stopped telling myself "Go jog for half an hour" and started saying "Go to this point 1.5 miles away, then come home," running got a lot easier for me.)
posted by Etrigan at 11:58 AM on March 28, 2013 [12 favorites]

I may be in the minority in this, but I don't really like exercising while I'm doing it, and about half the time have to absolutely drag myself out of the house to do it. What I do like is how I feel immediately afterward, and for the next several hours. I get a noticeable physical boost in energy and feel great mentally, and not just because of feeling virtuous knowing I did something good for myself. The activity itself just makes my mood better.

I've often said I wish there were some way to bottle that post-exercise feeling and give myself a little dose beforehand, to get a little shot of motivation on those days when I don't feel like doing it.

That said - exercising sucks a lot less when you're in better shape. You won't always feel like dying when you're running, for example, if you keep it up for long enough to improve your respiratory health.
posted by something something at 11:59 AM on March 28, 2013 [26 favorites]

For me, it is as simple as being able to climb several staircases without even breaking into a pant. And the pleasure of my partner taking more pleasure in my in-shape body.

So, while swimming, or working out in other ways, I keep those two, and other things in mind. But, no, exercise sucks while doing it unless it is part of a game, like hoops or volleyball or something.
posted by Danf at 12:03 PM on March 28, 2013

For me it's how I feel afterwards that motivates me to get to the gym or yoga class or whatever. At the gym I usually listen to some sort of bouncy pop-ish music(substitute anything you really enjoy or any kind of 'guilty pleasure' music) and go to town.

I did bikram yoga for about 6 months and being in the hot room while going through the poses is sometimes like being in hell. Everyone else agreed but we kept going back to the class because the 90 minutes went by pretty quickly since you had to be so focused on what you were doing, and once it was over and you step out of the room you feel so great.

I enjoy noticing how my butt/thighs/arms or whatever is so much firmer when I've been working out regularly.

When I've gone through periods of depression I've noticed that I can be feeling pretty shitty and then I go to the gym, have a nice workout and come home and shower I find that I feel better.

I don't think there is anything faulty with the way you think about being active. At first you might have to force yourself to get off the couch and go. Other than the past year I've been an active gym goer for the decade before that, and I still have to motivate myself to get off the couch and go, but once I get into a routine it's not as hard. It's getting to where it is a routine thing that can be the real challenge.
posted by fromageball at 12:03 PM on March 28, 2013

TEAM SPORTS. when i'm accountable to others, enjoy their company, and get to be competitive -- this is like the TRIFECTA of athletic interest for me! also see: boxing gyms, rugby teams, crossfit, etc.
posted by crawfo at 12:05 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I never said after a run, "Wow. I really regret doing that."

Long term, I fell much worse if I get out of shape and much better when I am in shape.
posted by deanc at 12:05 PM on March 28, 2013 [11 favorites]

Running/jogging to me has always seemed a little too much like self-punishment. I also bike for pleasure and errands/work and I find that going places makes a huge difference to me mentally. I'm not going to go sweat for a few hours, I'm going to go for a beautiful ride through the back roads. In a couple of hours I can do 30-60+ miles and I get to see a lot of stuff, not the footpath around my hood for the millionth time. Or if I'm going to get all my errands done around town, whatever, it helps me make it routine rather than "exercising".

Going to a gym has never appealed to me at all. I feel great afterwards but also have fun during it because no matter what, about 15 minutes into a ride I'll be smiling. Find what's fun for you.
posted by bradbane at 12:05 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I run long distances, and the thing I absolutely love about it is that I have an hour or two where my brain isn't distracted at all by technology or phones or work or anything. The physical aspect of it is a bit rough at the beginning of every run, and there's generally a point where I want to stop and eat a tub of ice cream, but something about being outdoors, breathing big gulps of oxygen into my lungs, feeling my legs pumping, and thinking about whatever the hell pops into my brain is such a delightful time.
posted by xingcat at 12:08 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

There are only a few times that I've felt worse after a run than I did before. Probably every time I ran over 20 miles (those suck) and that time I broke my foot and had to walk 2 miles back to my car. Every other run, without exception, I've felt better after doing it (and that feeling lasts for the rest of the day. Which is why I like morning runs).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:08 PM on March 28, 2013

I went from being a pretty couch-y person to being someone who is at the gym a few days a week without fail or walking around outside doing stuff. I almost never want to go but I'm decent at putting my ass in the car and getting there. Here is what has helped me

1. I love food. I am a small person with a slow metabolism. If I go to the gym, I can eat more and I like to eat more (oversimplified, but this has been true for me over the past few years). If I am planning to go out with friends to a meal where I might want something that was not on my regular food list I'd compensate with exercise

2. I love sleep. I am an anxious tightly wound person who has trouble sleeping. If I exercise, I have much much less trouble sleeping. This is probably the actual main reason I go regularly. I really view it as "the sleeping pill you take eight hours before bedtime"

3. I think too much. I am constantly planning and scheming and getting what my dad used to call "wrapped around the axle" worrying about various things. Vigorous exercise for an hour is like a wake up call "Hey snap out of it and reconnect with your body!" and helps me relax.

4. I get stuck on tv shows. I have an ipad that is gym-only and a few shows I watch that are gym-only. If I want to see how Downton Abbey is going, I have to go to the gym.

5. I like to smell good. And I have a locker at the gym with my favorite shampoos and soaps and whatever. Can't smell nice unless I go there (also the showers are amazing and have the hottest water and the highest pressure) so I try to hook myself up with awesome stuff when I am there.

And a lot of it for me was figuring all this out which took a while. I used to run but I don't like running that much. Now I alternate between recumbent biking, swimming and just going for long walks outside or hiking/snowshoeing with friends. The original impetus was a regular Wednesday "fun run" that happened in the neighborhood. I work alone and at home and it was a great way to get out and see people. A lot of people fund that having a gym buddy can sort of help you stay with an exercise plan. I still don't like going before I get there, but I'm conscious now that my brain lies to me in some ways because it likes comfort over self-improvement. Fuck it.
posted by jessamyn at 12:11 PM on March 28, 2013 [34 favorites]

I am not much of a runner, but I've come to accept that the first mile is generally going to suck, and that after I make it over that hump, I generally feel really good. I also like being outside, being alone with my thoughts, and being awake before everyone else. The goal is to get to a point where the one mile of shit is a small fraction of my total run. Props to the serious distance runner MeFites answering above.

The only time I've felt worse after exercising was if I ate too soon before running or biking and/or was dehydrated and threw up. Not fun.

I find it hard to get psyched about going to the gym.

I do push-ups and sit-ups out of a feeling of obligation. Not enjoyable.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:11 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

The only exercise I enjoy is the exercise that is

a) dual-purpose: i.e., getting farm chores done, or
b) fun for me (kayaking)

Otherwise, it sucks. I would love to learn how to make sucky exercise suck less and if the answer comes from this AskMe, I will favorite it forever.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:15 PM on March 28, 2013

I'll be reading this with interest, because even after 5 years of regular workouts I hate exercise with the fire of a thousand suns. I'd *love* to love it, but damn it all, I just don't like moving around, being outdoors, and having to coordinate my body with my eyes.

But I will say that eventually, if you get yourself through it to the point where you look drastically different and feel better, that in itself is very motivating. But for me it took at least a year to get there.

Now, the desire to keep things as they are (and a little desire to keep improving), combined with just how much of my routine it is, does the trick.
posted by like_a_friend at 12:16 PM on March 28, 2013

It is a part of my day when I am in complete control over what I'm doing. Knowing that there is a tangible and direct benefit to me based on the ammount of effort I put in to my exercise is rewarding.

Every day I'm either getting faster or slower. I choose faster.
posted by fredericsunday at 12:16 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

It is hard to get psyched about the gym, but allowing myself to watch trashy TV and chick flicks/80s movies (which I never do otherwise because I am too busy to waste time like that) motivates me quite a bit.

I feel great afterwards, sleep better at night, and have a much easier time sticking to my diet if I exercise.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:16 PM on March 28, 2013

There are two things that make it enjoyable for me.

One is the knowledge that the work will pay off. I rode Killington twice last year. I was incredibly unprepared the first time and then rode like the devil for a month prior to the second time and I remember how incredibly exhilarating it was to be so in tune with my body. The rush was fantastic. Of course, one does need to get there first. It's worth mentioning that there will always be that completely miserable moment when you are a bit rusty and your body is still in couch potato mode and it's miserable. But it passes, and it passes more quickly than you expect. When I start biking regularly again every warm season, the first few uphills are murder but they get easier. Endorphins kick in, your body gets accustomed to being used.

The other is: When I'm planning a bike ride, I will give myself a goal of some kind, and then take an incredibly circuitous, convoluted route to get there and back. If I want to go to Trident Booksellers, say, I'll go to Allston and get breakfast there, then head down to lower Allston and hop on the Charles River Bike Path and take it all the way to the Esplanade, right to where it basically ends at the Museum of Science, then go through Cambridge to Harvard Square, then up Mass Ave to the Mass Ave bridge and then to the Comm Ave Mall, where I will go through that and bike the perimeter of the Public Gardens, then up the steep part of Boston Common for a nice long satisfying downhill and then to Newbury Street, where Trident is.

I will then go into Trident and buy one (1) magazine.

If I'm biking for pleasure then I try to never travel home on the same route that I traveled out on, so the path homeward will be equally ridiculous.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:19 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

This may not be exactly what you're asking (because I hate hate hate working out) but I looove team sports. The competition aspect, the social aspect, the noticeable improvement in skill levels over time, being accountable to others if you miss a game, but most of all they're just intrinsically fun. It makes a huge difference if you can find something that you find fun to do - for me that's soccer, volleyball, hiking, and martial arts. For others it could be any number of other activities - team sports, racquet sports, swimming, marathons, etc etc etc.

I've also had some limited success with seeing working out (ie. weights, cardio) as a tool to make me more successful in my chosen sports. This might be a useful strategy once you get hooked on a sport or two.
posted by randomnity at 12:22 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Being at the gym, lifting weights, or swimming, or running, or whatever I'm doing at whatever time, is the only time during my day where I have the luxury of only thinking about one thing at a time.

Pick up the weight. Put it back down. Or whatever. It's meditation time for me.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:24 PM on March 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

I haaaate gyms. So I don't go to them. I like casual running - training for a 5k or 10k, because having a goal keeps me motivated, but I did one half marathon and I don't think I'll do another - the frequency of the training was too much for me. I like running 2-3 times a week, for 30-60 minutes depending on how I feel. When the weather's nice it just feels good to get out and enjoy the fresh air, listen to some great tunes (or podcasts! podcasts can be an awesome running soundtrack. especially Stuff You Should Know - learn while you run!) and reconnect with my body.

Between various yoga studios and a few Shiva Rea videos I've put together a yoga practice that feels good to me. Sinking into poses and thinking fuck yeah, my leg is so awesome and strong! look at it holding up my whole body! nice job, leg! is awesome. And I like to practice in the morning, so stretching away the stiffness from sleeping is such a great way to wake up my body and center my mind for the day.

Being accountable helps, too. In the winter when we're not running or biking (too cold!) my husband and I get up and do a Jillian Michaels video 3 times a week. We are both wiped out by the end of it but 20 minutes after we finish we're bouncing around the house with glee. It's so weird and awesome, and we wouldn't do it individually but if someone else is counting on you to haul your ass out of bed, it helps.

I can't just eat whatever I want willy nilly (not a teenager anymore, as it turns out) and I tend to weigh about 5 pounds more when I'm working out (my heavier muscle mass disappears quickly when I stop) but my clothes fit better even though I have to think less about making healthy choices. I just feel so much better when I'm exercising regularly and not eating ice cream every day, so that's what I do. I like feeling better.
posted by hungrybruno at 12:24 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't love lifting weights at the time I'm doing it, but I love how I feel afterwards. And I like being able to re-arrange my furniture by myself, since I'm so strong.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:36 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

One suggestion is looking more closely at your internalized image of "working out." Are you seeing yourself in a sweat-reeking gym, clanking away at a machine? Remember that exercise can look however you want it to. If the kind of exercise you're envisioning sounds like a drag, find a different kind! Rollerblading, aquaerobics, splitting wood, ecstatic dance, playing volleyball -- there are LOTS of different ways besides running or going to the gym to bring movement into your life.

Over the past couple years, I've changed from a sporadic, guilt-ridden, socially motivated exerciser to a self-motivated ultra-slow athlete. What worked for me was finding a form of exercise that is intrinsically pleasurable and enjoyable.

For me, this looks like vigorous walking using trekking poles up and down a fairly stiff incline outdoors in a beautiful location, wearing headphones and listening to upbeat, affirming music. Sometimes I'll have a puff or two first -- this helps me get into the sensation and adds to my pleasure.

Letting myself sink into the sensations -- getting into a rhythmic groove, feeling my muscles bunch and slide -- moving my weight onto my toes and dancing/skipping/gliding up a steep hill -- keeping my attention with my breath, making my breath as long and even as possible.

Once I found a form of exercise that my bodymind experiences as pleasure rather than work, it was no longer a matter of forcing myself to go up the hill. Instead, I find myself scheming ways to work a walk into my day. I'll often go up when I want to "change my head" -- when I'm done working for the day, or I'm in a grumpy mood, or I'm thinking about a tough problem that I want to let my deeper mind work on for a while.

In fact, writing this is making me want to go walking. The sun is shining -- I'm out of here!
posted by ottereroticist at 12:38 PM on March 28, 2013 [9 favorites]

I never liked exercise (beyond, say, a walk or a swim for fun) until I started doing "intense cardio" as a last-ditch attack on depression. For me, "intense" meant 15-30 minutes most days of the week, breaking a sweat on the stationary bike--not "intense" by any athletic-type person's standard.

Well, it should have been my first-ditch attack, because it made me feel fantastic. As I said at the time, I know a high when I feel it, but that's all right, I'll take it. Various bad things then happened in my life, stuff that would normally have sent me to bed for weeks, and though I felt sad about it all, sure, I continued to function.

All these years when I was reading about exercise and depression, I understood them to be saying "oh, keep in shape, you'll feel better about yourself and be healthier," which is the last thing any depressive wants to hear. No no no. They don't, AFAIK, mean walking, etc. They mean cardio.
posted by skbw at 12:40 PM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Rereading I see you're talking about what to think of WHILE working out. Well, I tend to worry and obsess...used to be about guys, now it's about other things, but you know. What is GREAT is to work out until the intrusive thoughts leave your mind. Often I think about nothing (or maybe the song or the architecture of the pool or similar). This is a big relief. Note from above I'm not talking about "the zone" or anything you'd associate with huge exertion. This is just a nonathletic person with big thighs going back and forth in the pool (dog-paddling, even).
posted by skbw at 12:45 PM on March 28, 2013

My exercise primarily takes the form of powerlifting, bodybuilding, and gymnastics, supplemented with walking and the occasional short jog or row, so I can't speak to endurance training, which I personally find unappealing. But I have been working out very consistently for almost 5 years now, starting from zero before that.

The biggest reason I keep doing it is progress. I'm always getting better. I look better (like a completely different person), I can move heavier weights, I can do more impressive things with my body. At this point I've achieved many things that few people ever do, and I know that as long as I continue to apply myself and stay smart in my planning, I will keep finding new ways to surpass my former achievements. When I first started out, the progress came quickly; now it occurs over months instead of days, and sometimes I decide to change up my goals as the effort/results ratio of a particular training focus grows, but there are always new ways to improve. And, at almost 30, when some of my peers are feeling the first effects of aging, or looking back on high school or college as the days when they looked and felt the best, I'm at my best now and still improving, and I fully intend to maintain my body in excellent condition for the forseeable future.

I think there is great value in pushing one's boundaries. I always believed this was true as it applied to the mind; I always thought it was an unequivocal good to become smarter or more knowledgeable. It took me until early adulthood, but I eventually came to view physical ability in a similar way, and I believe I've become a better person because of it.

Dick Talens, co-founder of Fitocracy, discussed similar ideas regarding the importance of the positive feedback loop of progress in a recent blog post.

In addition to the gratification I get from self-improvement, the muscular strength, body awareness, and control I've built is with me all the time. I carry myself better, I perform daily tasks better, and I know that I can rely on my body to perform difficult tasks without fear if the need arises. When an awkward or heavy object has to be moved, I know how to do it safely and efficiently. I'm not a fighter or martial artist, but I know I can be much more imposing than I could before I trained, and I feel that I command more respect in many situations than I used to by virtue of my physical presence.

Apart from all that stuff, the workouts themselves are no joyride; they're still difficult and uncomfortable and occasionally frustrating and hard to get through. If they weren't, I wouldn't be pushing myself and wouldn't be making progress. But the difficulty allows me an opportunity to clear my mind of distractions and focus only on the task at hand, and the discomfort serves to heighten the comfort I feel when it's over. If I miss workouts, I start getting itchy. If you never make yourself uncomfortable, how can you truly know comfort?

The feeling of having completed a tough workout, of having broken a personal record, of having struggled mightily against a powerful force and prevailed; it can be intoxicating and life-affirming. It's like getting into a fight and winning, but with much less risk of breaking bones or spilling blood.

See also: Henry Rollins, "The Iron."

Also sex is great.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:50 PM on March 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

1) Exercising is not fun for me if I'm trying to do something above my fitness level. For example, I thought I hated running until I tried a C25K-type program ("couch to 5 kilometers") that eased me into it. When I've slacked off, I have to reconcile myself to a few weeks where it just requires discipline to work out, until I'm in good enough shape to even think about enjoying exercise. And I have to keep to at least a 3-4 day a week schedule or else every time is like starting from scratch.

2) I don't like going to the gym. I like home workout dvds. I like walking. I've grown to like running. I love cross country skiing and hiking, but I don't get to do those activities often enough to stay in shape.

3) Exercising is not always fun, and it's not always about being fun. It's about staying in shape so that I can do things I really enjoy when I get the opportunity, and maintaining good health. And, yeah, it usually feels great after, if not during.

4) It becomes a habit. Brushing my teeth isn't "fun", it's just something I do, and it makes me unhappy if I don't do it. Same with working out.
posted by Kriesa at 12:53 PM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh! Also, I could make millions if I ever actually wrote the zombie-based action movie playing in my head while I run. Get yourself a solid action-movie soundtrack and just go with it.
posted by like_a_friend at 12:53 PM on March 28, 2013

I enjoy knowing that I'm taking care of my health, and getting stronger, faster, and fitter. When my muscles and lungs are burning, I know I'll be rewarded later.

This is really silly, but sometimes when I'm having a bad run and feeling discouraged, I envision myself running from some kind of danger. Natural disasters like tsunamis, fictional plagues like zombies, more mundane dangers, anything that would require me to run. I think, "One day we could be running for our lives and I don't want to hold my husband back from getting to safety. I'd hate to die knowing that my poor physical fitness likely diminished my chances of survival." I know, over the top and ridiculous! But I want to know that I can rely on myself physically if I ever need to, and that motivates me to keep pushing my limits.

On a more realistic level, it's good to know that my friends could invite me to join them in strenuous physical activities, like long, steep hikes or kayaking, etc. and I don't have to worry that everyone will be waiting forever for me to catch up.

like_a_friend, check THIS out.
posted by keep it under cover at 12:55 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I exercise a fair bit and in several different ways. I like a lot of things about it.

1. Distance running and cycling lets me chill out, mentally, and be alone with my thoughts. When you're fit enough that [insert distance you're doing] isn't a challenge, just something to do, you essentially are just thinking and sightseeing. Sort of like taking a walk, only faster. Sure, sometimes you'll have a tough run and be miserable the whole time, but there are other things I enjoy that make up for it, like...

2. The feeling of accomplishment. Sure that run kicked my ass, but I did it, and now I'm done. I ran a marathon, a big chunk of it was not that fun, but how many people can say they've done that? Not all that many.

3. Getting better. I like improving my ability. Running further or faster. Lifting heavier weights. Getting better (slowly) at playing hockey.

4. Community. I play a team sport (ice hockey) and it's a great way to hang out with people a few times a week, meet new friends, etc. Similarly, there are running clubs and if you go to the gym a lot you tend to see the same people. It gives you common ground with folks and something to talk about.

5. Diet. I really like ice cream. And beer. After a long run or a hockey game or whatever I can justify eating pretty much anything I want, without worrying about getting too round.

6. Self image. I feel better about myself when I'm fit. I think I look better. I also enjoy knowing that people (co-workers, family) think of me as someone who is fit.

7. Afterglow. I usually feel pretty awesome after exercising. Also I sleep really well.

8. Making everyday life easier. Like some people above said, when you're in better shape some things are just easier. You can walk a long distance, pick up heavy stuff, take the stairs without breaking a sweat on a hot day, whatever.
posted by ghharr at 12:57 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Up until 2010 I was morbidly obese my entire adult life. I went through a nasty divorce, hit rock bottom, and decided to give diet and exercise one final try. I figured that if I gave up and quit that my days were numbered - I had type II diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and was severely depressed. Literally do or die.

I chose weightlifting, I found a beginner's program and got to it.

It was a rocky start. I didn't love it. I didn't enjoy it. At best I could tolerate it, most days I still really disliked it. Six months in I had a close family member comment on my weight loss and ask "Doesn't working out feel great?" in a cheery, 'go get 'em, tiger!' type of supportive way. I nearly bit her head off - "NO!", I said, "It sucks, I f*cking hate it."

I kept going though - I had to admit that I *was* making progress. I had my eating under control and the weight was coming off quickly.

Around a year in I finished with a (deadlift) set and as I put the weight down I got this surge of... pride? enjoyment? what? and I found myself giving a huge fist pump and involuntarily going "YES!" At that moment I realized that I was... enjoying it. I finally got it. I had learned to let the world go, let my worries and insecurities and regrets fade for a while and focus intently upon what I was doing. I was finding progress, gaining achievements, and seeing changes not only in myself but mentally/emotionally/spiritually.

Kai Greene has famously said that "(Weightlifting/exercise) is therapy for a lot of people." and that absolutely applies to me. But just like your biceps - it takes time. The longer it's been (if ever) that you've been 'out of the game', the longer it'll take to find The Zone.

Keep at it. Keep at it and at it and at it. You'll find it, eventually. It's absolutely worth it even if it seems like a giant mountain.

(I did eventually go back and personally apologize to that close family member for being a grump and thanked them for their support. They forgave me. :) )
posted by unixrat at 12:58 PM on March 28, 2013 [10 favorites]

This is all based on my own experiences. I'm not making any commentary about what works for other people.

Running: Occasionally enjoyable. Usually kind of a chore, but when I get into a good rhythm, it feels good. The problem is that I need to be in pretty good running shape to get into that rhythm.

Cycling: I reliably have enjoyable moments when cycling, getting out somewhere with a good view, getting a good tailwind that lets me zoom along way more easily than seems natural. There's just something about the speed, the quiet, the movement that appeals to me. And when I'm done with a ride, I've covered enough miles that I feel like I've accomplished something.

Cross-country skiing: It's been decades since I lived in a place where I could do it, but I always enjoyed it, for much the same reasons as cycling. There's also something fun about traversing a landscape where there are no roads or trails, and you can go places you normally wouldn't/couldn't (like frozen bodies of water). And something fun about wearing nothing but a pair of running tights and a T-shirt in sub-freezing weather.

I never enjoyed gym workouts. I do an outdoor boot-camp type workout now that is closer to being fun (it's social, at least), and gives me a more balanced workout than any of the above, but isn't what I'd call enjoyable.
posted by adamrice at 12:58 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

It helps to (a) do something fun, and (b) involve another person. That is, I'm much more likely to exercise regularly if i can play squash with a pal than if I have to work on a machine. I can increase the fun factor of solo choices by adding in some reserved entertainment (podcasts that are only for the gym, or playing an addictive game on the treadmill), but having a date where I'm meeting somebody will always work the best.

But really, I *do* feel better when I'm running around -- I can feel my sinuses clearing out, my brain defogging, my blood pumping. I may be tired afterward, but it's a pleasant, earned tiredness, not just the loginess of inactivity. So I'm a person who enjoys the during as well as the after, but with the caveat that it be something fun. (and man! raquet sports really work all your muscles more than you would believe!)
posted by acm at 1:01 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am such a couch potato. I never feel more centered than I do while I am eating directly from a family size bag of Doritos, with a beer in one hand and a mouse in the other. I hate exercise for exercise's sake. I hate how it makes me feel — dry mouth, constantly spitting, constantly snotting if it's cold, sore joints, headache afterwards.

I exercise pretty consistently now due to two things: one, I found some things that are fun enough that they drag me over that threshhold of actually doing them. Rock climbing is hard as hell but it is soooooo awesome to hang on a rope 40 feet over a flooded river. Bicycling is exhausting but it is soooooo awesome to fly down a hill like a bird, especially in the rain or in the dark or both. Lawn and garden work is exhausting but it is soooooo awesome to chop up bushes with a giant ninja star on a gas-powered stick.

Two, I like how I feel, holistically, after weeks of consistent activity. I don't get sore picking up heavy things. I can mow the lawn and not have to lie down afterwards. I can have sex without getting all tired. That's kind of neat.
posted by mindsound at 1:01 PM on March 28, 2013

At its best, jogging with the right music feels a lot like dancing. Which is so much fun that people have been doing it recreationally for centuries.
posted by ipsative at 1:04 PM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

I only do things that are intrinsically enjoyable:

1) Every day I walk (more like speed walk) my dog 3-4 miles and stop and run around with him in a big field for half an hour, so lots of sprinting for me (throw the ball one way, then take off running the other way so he has to run fast to catch up to me). My dog is super fun and happy and I enjoy everything we do together. Before I had him, I HATED going for a walk and saw it as boring and pointless. Running was too painful on my back and knees to do just for the sake of exercise. Now I feel a sense of responsibility to him and a sense of pride in living up to that responsibility, and get a lot of enjoyment from being out and about with him. I have a lot of problems with my back and knees but I don't care, I'm having too much fun.

2) Several times a week I go to the pool. I've always loved the feeling of being in the water and find it to be its own reward. I hate to get out and would stay for hours if I didn't get cold and tired and have to be somewhere else. I've made a lot of friends there and enjoy seeing them, too. And for some reason it really helps me sleep well, much better than any other form of exercise.

3) Recently I started working out with a personal trainer once a week. I like her a lot and enjoy chatting with her while working out. I have a standing appointment that I have to keep, so that gets me there, then she sort of cheerfully drags me through all the exercises that I would never in a million years go to a gym and do myself, because I haaaaaaate gyms.

Also, my God does exercise help with anxiety. Once my brain really made the connection, then it wasn't long before feelings of anxiety started to provoke the desire to exercise. I don't really care enough about my looks or health to exercise for those reasons alone, but I'd do almost anything to escape anxiety. But as a result, I do like the way I look, and that's a reward, too.
posted by HotToddy at 1:08 PM on March 28, 2013

Most of my exercise is dog-centered. I walk, run and hike with my dogs and in summer I take them to the lake and swim with them. I enjoy doing these things because I enjoy my dogs' company and it is very clear that they enjoy walking, running, hiking and swimming with me.

On good days I sort of zone out and let my mind go soft.; it's a similar feeling to what I have experienced while meditating. On bad days the dogs snarl at each other, leashes get tangled, Maeby barks at every single duck and Kenda finds a deer carcass to roll in. But it still beats sitting on the sofa.
posted by workerant at 1:10 PM on March 28, 2013

Oh! Also, I could make millions if I ever actually wrote the zombie-based action movie playing in my head while I run. Get yourself a solid action-movie soundtrack and just go with it.

If this appeals to you, you might enjoy the Zombies, Run! app.

Actually, there are many apps that might help motivate you or help you track your exercise. I forgot to mention that keeping a journal/ spreadsheet has also been a big help for me. I set myself a minimum goal of 180 minutes of exercise per week, and it's very motivating for me to track that.
posted by Kriesa at 1:13 PM on March 28, 2013

+1 it feels so good afterward.

I swim every day. If I don't feel like swimming, I know that it is especially important that day to do it, because it is SUCH a mood and energy booster.

I am someone that CANNOT STAND to "go to the gym" and find 30 minutes of an exercise bike or a treadmill or whatever to be absolute torture. I keep looking at the clock and being like, Oh god, I've only been here for five minutes?! But 30 minutes of swimming is fun! Sometimes I even go longer if I'm really enjoying it! I find it, mentally, to be like a realllly long shower -- you know, the place where you get your best thinking done. Sometimes I'll schedule my swim for after a stressful thing (job interview or big meeting or whatever) as time to decompress.

Find something you don't mind doing is really key, I think.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:15 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Double post here but also:

I agree with all those who say that the effects of sports feel great. When you feel like your body can do everything easily, go upstairs, lift stuff, without getting sore or out of breath. You feel kind of invincible. I especially enjoy picking stuff up from the floor by bending my knees all the way to the bottom, without having said bottom touch the ground, and without losing balance. It's awesome.
posted by ipsative at 1:24 PM on March 28, 2013

I often compare working out to smoking a cigarette. If you've never done it before, it's nasty and unpleasant, and probably makes you feel pretty bad afterwards. If you do it once or twice a month, it loses a bit of that nastiness, but it's probably still not an experience you savor. If you do it often enough, you start to enjoy the ritual, and you notice that it instantly makes you feel pretty good, and pretty soon you find yourself craving it.

The one difference is that exercise is far less addictive than smoking, and far easier to quit. (Imagine having to smoke a carton of cigarettes before getting addicted.) I loathed running for the first few weeks, and it took me several months of regular running to figure out I enjoyed it. I don't know of a shortcut through that. You just have to make yourself do it until you start actually wanting to.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:25 PM on March 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Several things.

I spend all day doing very sedentary, computer-y work that's very mentally draining both as a profession and with hobbies I want to turn into a profession. I don't mean that in a bad way, but...well, around 11pm last night, I just could NOT think about anything anymore. I had all kinds of things I wanted to work on but just couldn't get the mental gears turning. Working out is 2-3 hours of time that's basically meditative where I don't have to think about anything beyond which limbs to keep moving. It's all physical. It's a complete break from everything else I'm doing and you know how you get your best ideas in the shower? Same thing applies. I have to keep all those limbs and that breathing coordinated so I can only turn over one idea at a time rather than ten, which gives me great new insights. Or I don't think about anything, which is a nice break from all that mental labor.

For my weight training, it's all about feeling awesome when I lift heavy things. I use the 5x5 program, which emphasizes increasing your resistance, so every week or two I'm lifting even heavier things than I did before. I'm getting stronger. I'm improving myself right there in real-time. I can watch it in the mirror, all the muscles flexing and moving. I have a log, so I can actually see the benefits accruing. If I flip back to the end of December when I started this particular program, I can see that I'm lifting about 60 pounds more than I was then. The end of every set is a mark of improvement as I lift a weight I haven't lifted before. I also use the bear scale to measure which bear I am going to be able to lift. Because what if some punk ass grizzly bear comes in? I'm going to throw his ass out. There's also the side benefits, like carrying in a week's worth of groceries in a trip or two rather than five or six.

For my running, I picked a goal, a 5k race, and put down a sum of money to sign up for it and then started Couch to 5K so I'd have to back up my bullshit. Every interval I hit means I'm getting better AND it also means another minute or ten minutes I don't have to run again AND it means I'm a few minutes closer to my ultimate goal. This week is the race. I've never run that far in my entire life. But I'm going to do it this weekend. Then I'm going to pick a 10k and run even farther. I couldn't run 30 seconds when I started. That's fucking awesome.

There's the stress relief. Physically speaking, you cannot be tense and relaxed at the same time. After a good gym session, I am physically incapable of being tense before I'm so exhausted. It helps significantly with anger and all those other emotions where you feel tense. On bad days, the gym is probably what keeps me from climbing a clock tower with a rifle.

Then there's the physical changes. As a lifelong fat kid and fat grown man, losing a lot of weight means I got to buy smaller clothes for the first time in my entire life. My entire life. I'd never, ever bought smaller clothes. It felt amazing. More, with another few months of work, I'll be able to buy nice things off the rack at good stores rather than The Big And Tall Store or hustling over to The Corner of Shame where they keep ugly things in polyester for us fat folk. Again, amazing. I'm looking forward to it. I walked into the place where my wife used to work today and her boss (who I know) came over and was talking to me like any other customer and it was only when she saw the name on my debit card that she recognized me and flipped out because of the weight I'd lost. The last time I posted a picture of myself, people started freaking out about how great I looked. Again, amazing.

And then there's the aging factor. I had two sets of grandparents. One set stayed physically active and one set parked in front of the TV they day they retired and seldom left. The physically active set lived 30 more years after they retired and did amazing things like travel the world (Asia, Africa, Europe, and all over Central and South America in addition to North America), hang out with their grandkids, and do amazing things. Their respective funerals were large gatherings with people flying in from all over the world to remember them fondly. There was a lot of laughter and storytelling. The other set sat in front of their TV, didn't do much, seldom saw their grandkids because travel was too tiring, and died early. Their funerals were somber and pretty boring. People struggled to find things to say about them because all you could really say was, "Well, they watched a lot of daytime TV. They had an extensive knowledge of second-tier talkshows and syndicated sitcoms from a decade ago.". I know which funeral I'd rather have. And you lose those capabilities as you age. One day you're 60 or 70 and you've got a bad heart and high cholesterol and getting out of bed is painful and you can barely walk to the fridge and you remember "Oh yeah, I was going to go to the gym like 40 years ago but there were Macgyver reruns on and somehow that seemed more compelling than retaining my capability to walk."

The problem a lot of people have is they don't know what they want and they go to the gym or go running and do it sort of aimlessly for 30 minutes to an hour and it's boring and sucks and they quit. They don't set concrete goals, they don't know how to go about them, and they don't pick things they'd enjoy. And I agree with them! Aimlessly hopping on the elliptical for an hour and watching Fox News for no reason is the most boring thing I can think of. Hopping on the elliptical for an hour to build my cardio endurance for basketball on the weekends and to burn off calories so I can buy clothes off the rack rather than ordering them or shopping in The Section of Shame For Big And Tall, that's something else altogether.

I play basketball and go swimming in addition to the stuff above because those are fun. I'm planning to start rock climbing and pick up a martial art in a few months. I change up my routine when I get sick of it (making sure I burn roughly the same calories). Like I used to do the exercise bike but realized I hated it, so I switched to rowing, which makes me feel like I'm a Viking going to raid England and that's awesome.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:29 PM on March 28, 2013 [11 favorites]

For me, it's about the calmness and relaxation afterwards, and about losing myself in a good playlist during a run. There's also an element of, no matter what else is going on, I'm confident that I'll run 6 miles tonight without a whole lot of drama about it the same way most people I know are confident that they'll watch Honey Boo-Boo (or whatever is on TV on Thursday nights). It's nice having an area of my life like that where I'm really on top of my shit for the perspective it gives me when things get tough in other areas.
posted by alphanerd at 1:29 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

The main thing I've found that makes exercise fun for me is music. I agree with ipsative about the right music making a jog feel more like dancing. I hate gyms and sports and trying to keep up with other people, but I'll go out by myself and walk/run a few miles with a playlist and try to match the beats with my feet and make it kind of a solo dance party.

And yeah, once it sank in that exercise really does burn off anxiety for me, I definitely had more motivation to do it.
posted by therewithal at 1:40 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I thought like you six months ago, so I get where you're coming from. For me, I love exercise now because it is, quite literally, the only time my brain is switched off. I run, and I do yoga. Sometimes I run in the gym, sometimes I don't. Wherever I am, I am totally selfish about whatever I'm doing because it is so wonderful to only be able to think about the next mile, or the correct pose, or my breathing.

So, there's that. Exercise is a treat.
posted by citands at 1:46 PM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

As others have said, how much I enjoy the activity while I do it is dependent on the activity. Soccer is fun if I'm playing well because I like winning and accomplishment, it really sucks if I'm the worst person on the field. Lifting weights is usually fun because I get to impress myself by lifting heavy weight, then I get to take a nice long break (I take long breaks between sets because it keeps me happy and coming back). CrossFit is tough and sometimes discouraging, but the movements are unique and challenging in a fun way, the group camaraderie keeps me going, and I get a huge endorphin rush at the end. Hiking and canoeing are fun because I get to see new things and get away from the day to day stuff. Boxing and wrestling were fun because I never got to explore that aggressive side of myself before, and because you can't stop - the other guy won't stop either. Team volleyball is fun because it's not as intense as some team sports (soccer) so it's basically a shared activity with friends, not intense exercise.

skbw makes a good clarification. I prefer exercises that are engrossing so I can’t really think about much else. There are lots of ways to do that. CrossFit is good for this: 15-30 minutes of intensity where you can’t stop to think except how to accomplish the next movement. Or I think about out-performing my friend who comes with me, or how good I’m going to look in a week/month/whatever. Lifting heavy weights is similar, there’s no much time or energy left for dwelling on it. Particularly if you have a written routine and a timer: when the timer beeps, you do the lifts, then you sit down and recover until it beeps again (which also gives me a nice incentive to finish quickly - so I can rest!) On a different vein, I don’t think about the exercise when I’m canoeing or hiking, I think about the nice surroundings.

Something else that helps me is realizing that while some exercise is fun, any effort I put forth in any area of my life is ultimately work, and realizing that every person has a limited capacity for work in a given day. So if I am constantly wearing myself out at a job that I can't stand, I'm not going to have energy to workout and take care of myself. I became a more effective worker and got into better shape when I started grouping all work together and giving myself room to work on myself (e.g., exercise) rather than trying to give 100% at work every day then give 100% at exercise every day. I can’t give 100% then 100%, I’m already done after the first one. So I’ve given myself room to wrap up work at 4:30 instead of 5 or to start at 9 instead of 8. This turns exercise into my vacation from work - I might give 85% at work, 10% at the gym, and keep 5% for myself. A shorter way to say this is “you can’t make time, you have to take time.” There are only so many hours in a day, and you have only so much energy. If you’re adding exercise, take time away from something unpleasant so you aren’t overextending yourself. Suddenly, exercise is a vacation, something to look forward to. I consider people who tell you to give up relaxation time (even “wasted” time in front of the TV) to be misguided because - you’re asking people to give up a relaxing activity. It’s not going to last.

I'm guessing from the question that you are realizing this truth: everyone has different reasons for exercising, and the best exercise is the one that keeps you coming back. I doubt that your thoughts are "faulty," you're still seeking the kind of physical activity that will keep you engrossed and the lifestyle outside of exercise that will leave you with enough energy to do that exercise.
posted by Tehhund at 1:58 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

If nothing is working for you, and you need that spot of motivation - why don't you take a small dosage of mood enhancers right before your work out?
posted by Kruger5 at 2:04 PM on March 28, 2013

when i'm trying to motivate myself to exercise, i try to focus how i will feel after, not how i feel before or the beginning of the run. a friend told me once that as long as you stick it out for 20 minutes, you'll eventually hit that point where you get that second wind and it starts to feel good. by good i don't mean lazing on the couch eating a pint of ice cream good, it's completely different. once you get used to feeling that good, that during or after workout rush of endorphins.. it's fantastic.

i love to bike too, and that in and of itself is a fun activity because it takes me off the beaten path and keeps me in control of where i'm going, when i'm departing, and how exactly i'm getting there. i go to so many places that my subway or car driving friends rarely venture, and i know this city so much better for it. i've met lots of cycling friends and realized there was a whole community that felt the same passion towards riding that i do. at this point in a way sometimes it feels more natural to be on a bike than to walk somewhere. the best thing about cycling is that even when i'm pedaling hard it doesn't feel like exercise!

another thing i like about exercise is how challenging it can be, and how much i have yet to prove. i have run half marathons, and i've gotten better over the years... but i still have a long way to go. i make up small goals and i achieve them, and my heart soars. crowds cheering as i'm about to cross the finish line make me run faster than ever, make my blood pump and the adrenaline rush. i sign up for runs i think i can do but are just a bit out of my reach. i look up running guides on Hal Higdon's training website and i think about how to schedule my weeks ahead to make it to that race. signing up for a race is very motivating, because nothing else will get you out there other than the fear that you won't be able to perform come race day.

another thing i love about exercise (as others have stated already) - it feels great to get outside. i exercise solely outside because the gym is claustrophobic to me, so i find all sorts of gear to wear in all types of weather year round. i bike in snow. i run in rain. i'm out there in 90 degree heat. it's hard to do but i do it, and in the end i feel GREAT. that is what i focus on - not how much i don't want to do it, but how awesome it's going to feel once i'm done.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 2:14 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

one last thing to add - how to get healthier thoughts about exercise. you have to know when you start that it's a slow process and something you have to stick with for a long time (no fad diets either!) it's a lifestyle change. it's good to recognize where you are and how much you can do today, then work forward from that. when i first started running i could barely run a mile, and i had to walk a lot. eventually over time i was walking less and running more. people were flying by me but you know what? i was getting better every day regardless of what others were doing next to me. try not to compare yourself to others but instead to where you were yesterday and how you can be a little bit better than that person today. know that it's not about one hard push but gradual consistent work over time. sometimes i tell myself "no excuses. just results." those results - the strength gained, the changes in yourself, overcoming the challenges you set forth and that sense of accomplishment - makes it all worth it.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 2:28 PM on March 28, 2013

I have ADHD and find exercise to be really great for just calming my mind down. I completely agree with citands. I do a lot of different things -mostly I go to the gym and run and lift weights but sometimes I just use Hulu or Youtube videos for yoga or a great cardio workout. It really makes my mood so much better. I miss it a lot if I don't do something.
posted by lasamana at 2:33 PM on March 28, 2013

I feel slightly different about the different forms of exercise I do at least semi-regularly:

Running: When I started out I was terrible at running and it was miserable. For complicated personal reasons that are hard to explain, I was absolutely 100% determined that I had to learn to run, and learn to love it. It took about 3 months before I could run 3 miles, and it took nearly 2 years before I began to enjoy it. It's hard even for me to imagine why I stuck with it for so long, but even during the period when it wasn't any fun, it was still very satisfying. Now I would say that 80% of the time, I actually enjoy running after the first 10 minutes or so. I don't feel tired, out of breath or sore and I don't constantly think about wanting to stop. Sometimes it still sucks, but it doesn't bother me as much when it does. The best thing about having learned to run is feeling strong and capable and knowing that my feet can carry me. I feel very grateful for and attached to the freedom I've given myself by working at running.

Swimming: Swimming reliably makes me feel calm and peaceful. I find that the strain on my muscles is somehow much easier to ignore when I'm swimming than when I'm running. I love being in the water. Very comfortable. I swam competitively as a kid and it was always my #1 summer pass time, so technique isn't an issue and I just relax.

Biking: I bike 8-10 miles every day through Boston, which isn't necessarily all that fun, but it's shocking what a difference it makes in my life. When I take the bus, I never really feel like I'm outside - I never feel the wind over the big bridge, I don't see the birds, I don't smell the river, I don't get much sunlight. Even biking in Boston traffic feeds the soul, and that's saying something. Sometimes I forget this during snowy periods when I have to take the bus, and when I start biking again I'm amazed - it's like the roof on my world gets rolled back. Road biking in the country is very meditative - especially if I'm not pushing the pace, I can go for hours without thinking about much else... You can really get in to a groove.

Cross-country skiing: This is something I do as much as possible during the winter. It's quite aerobically demanding but it doesn't stress the joints much at all, so I find it WAY easier to sustain for long periods than running. 3 hours of skiing leaves me pretty spent, but there's no way I could run for that long. I really, really love getting warm enough that I can be comfortable in mid-winter without a coat - it's very refreshing and freeing. I love gliding through winter woods and feeling like the whole forest is accessible to me. Cross-country skiing is also a big thing in my family so I feel connected to other skiing family members.

Hiking/backpacking/trailrunning: I probably have more motivation to hike and backpack than anything else. I feel so drawn to being able to transport myself around in the wilderness; I really enjoy being able to navigate terrain nimbly and being able to kind of interface with nature without roads/vehicles/etc. I love being deep in the woods. Hiking is another huge family thing for me, and I've been hiking with my family since I could walk, so I feel like it's a big part of me. I find it so rewarding to meet nature on nature's own terms.
posted by Cygnet at 3:20 PM on March 28, 2013

Also, one thing about running: Ever since I started, I've felt really grateful for the community of runners in my city. We don't say much to each other, but it's always so nice to see SO MANY other people out running, morning and night. I find it connecting and inspiring.
posted by Cygnet at 3:21 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

A lot of people have already replied, but I think this, mentioned upthread bears repeating:

"That said - exercising sucks a lot less when you're in better shape. You won't always feel like dying when you're running, for example, if you keep it up for long enough to improve your respiratory health."

I started C25K about a year and a half ago. Since then, I've run two half marathons. I still cannot run 30 minutes straight. Running still sucks a bit, because I'm sucking a lot of wind.

That being said, my aerobi strength has gone up a lot. I've always been a casual, and fairly good swimmer (lifeguard and all that) and it's only now, at 25 that I can do 50 meters of the butterfly properly. And it is so damn awesome.
posted by raccoon409 at 3:24 PM on March 28, 2013

Also (elaborating on ludwig_van and mindsound) let me mention mind-destroying orgasms. So I hear.
posted by skbw at 3:38 PM on March 28, 2013

I love being sedentary! It is fun to sit on the couch and read a book or watch a movie and eat potato chips. However, I am also active and have a solid fitness routine these days--I go to cardio classes 3 times a week. And not only do I go pretty faithfully, I ENJOY it. But this was not always my attitude towards exercise or activity.

I was an unathletic child who was smaller than my classmates. I hated gym class and viewed it as torture--an opportunity for the teachers to rank us all against each other to see if we measured up. I never did--was always the last kid in for the Endurance Run, never scored a goal in soccer, never put the basketball through the hoop. And there were no prizes or good grades for effort, either.

But after I graduated from high school and the spectre of gym class was no longer hanging over me, I realized that all the activities they made us do were really supposed to be about keeping healthy. I honestly had no concept of activity as something that was good for my body. I just thought of it as an opportunity for everyone to see how crappy I was at sports. Sad, right?

So I decided I'd better work on being fit and healthy, so I tried out a bunch of different activities--running, floor hockey, yoga, group cardio classes (e.g. cardiobox), doing Stairmaster or elliptical at the gym. And there was something I liked about all of those. But what I have recently fallen in love with is dance exercise classes (e.g. Zumba and other similar classes). It is my favourite thing. I love seeing my coordination improve, listening to fun energetic music, learning new moves, being social with other class members--and increasing my cardio fitness. Plus, it is so engrossing trying to get all the moves down right that it's very hard for my busy busy brain to think about anything else. It's pretty much a guaranteed worry-free hour.

As for what helps me to go to class instead of sitting on the couch--well, coupled with the fact that I genuinely have fun with these classes, it motivates me to know my friends will be there too. I wouldn't dream of just staying home, because I know they're there and will be a little disappointed if I'm not. The funny thing is I know they go to class because I'm going to class and they don't want to disappoint me! So for my friend group, it's motivating to know we'll all be there and we don't want to be the one who disappoints by skipping out.

Good luck! I am not the sporty or athletic type and sometimes when I am grumpy I mentally roll my eyes at people who talk about loving running or working out SOOOOO MUUUUUUCH. But I know that's my own issues and baggage at play. If I can keep being active, so can you!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:59 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm probably closer to you than a lot of other people responding, but the only thing that's worked for me is gamification via the wii. Just Dance, usually, or Gold's Gym cardio workout. Unlocking new items and garnering higher ratings is way more seductive than even bad television.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:31 PM on March 28, 2013

I had to find things I like. I don’t run, do treadmills, etc. I go outside, climb, hike, bike, do pushups, etc.

I find that doing intense exercise is more enjoyable, though I never would have guessed it. It’s also only good after I’ve gotten over the initial hump and in a little bit of shape. Which means I have to do it fairly regularly. In other words, getting up and doing some light exercise occasionally is horrible for me, but that’s what I kept trying to do for years. Once I dug in and started working out harder and more regularly I enjoyed it. In a masochistic way, but still...
posted by bongo_x at 5:43 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love some exercise. I have recently discovered to my surprise that I even love running when I am in shape. I always hated it because I thought the gaspy, burny, going-to-die feeling was how it would always be. I'm doing a variant of couch-to-5k now, and am in week 6 of 8, and now a slow jog feels like walking always has: it's not actually much of an effort, and the only limiting factor will be boredom or sore feet at some distant point in the future. So I can always fall back from a faster run into a slow jog to recover, which means I don't feel like dying very often when running now.

And it was only eliminating those unpleasant elements of running that made it possible for me to start enjoying the pleasant aspects. Those are, for me: the rhythm kind of drums my brain into a comfortable, slow state where anxious thoughts and worries are totally banished and I can just think about nothing for a while. It's kind of meditative. My body feels strong and capable and I feel proud of myself. I enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and surroundings (I run on trails in a national park, surrounded by parrots and kangaroos, so that's pretty awesome. I also run at dusk, so there's often beautiful sunsets). Afterwards I feel so good. My mood is higher, and a hot shower feels like a massage.

I feel the same way about other sports I enjoy (skiing, ice/roller skating, rock climbing, weight lifting) but for me those felt that way from the start, because there wasn't any of the unpleasant burny-gaspy-sweaty stuff at that point. So I think there are some exercises that have a lower point of entry, because you can dial them back easily to a point where you are only just challenged. Running is harder to dial back, because when you dial it back too far, you are just walking. For me, the received wisdom of just running really slowly to start with never worked because it turned out there IS no slowly enough for me. It wasn't until week 3 of my program that I could run at walking pace (seriously, 6kph!) for longer than 2 minutes.
posted by lollusc at 6:49 PM on March 28, 2013

Oh, and I really love the feeling of stretching muscles out after hard exercise, whether that is running, or skiing, or weight training. Sitting on the floor and having a good stretch is amazing at that point. It kind of feels like nothing if you haven't worked those muscles first. I was in a cardio class at our gym recently, and the instructor was leading us in stretches at the end. She told us to get into a hamstring stretch and then said, "It feels like chocolate, doesn't it?" It sounds stupid, but it really really did. That stretch felt as delicious as a mouthful of chocolate. I would never have experienced that feeling without exercising.
posted by lollusc at 6:53 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

One exercise I loved was cardio kickboxing - started going with my best friend - and that's where my desire to exercise started. Part of it was the friendship and time with my bestie, and the other part was the realization that physical exercise "exercised" a lot of the demons that stick to you during the day - negative stuff that you want to just dump by the side of the road. That was huge for me - I worked a very stressful job and punching the shit out of a bag really helped. Plus I got in great shape.

Most recently, I asked myself the same question as you for about 2 years. I've been struggling with running for a while due to a combination of adult-onset allergies and asthma. For whatever reason, a few weeks ago I finally hit the "aha!" moment that people talk about - the moment when it's relatively easy, enjoyable, and (gasp!) fun. Prior to this, I thought I was a glutton for punishment and hated running EXCEPT for the reward of feeling healthy and active afterwards. The reward was always greater (somewhat) than the difficulty of running, so it was a slight payoff. I'm glad I stuck with it.

Honestly I think I always slowed down too much before I hit that point when the endorphins kick in. There's a point where you have to push through the nagging voice in your head that tells you "I'm tiiiired!" Just keep going, I tell myself, just go to the end of the block. And low and behold.... the block is here and I'm not tired anymore. You have to run through it to some degree. It took me a while to learn that voice that's legitimately "tiiiiired" versus that voice that's just saying "I'm laaaaazy." Now I'm in a bad mood if I don't run for a day or two. I'm with Lollusc - there is no slowly enough for me. I had a very hard time when I started running. I, too, took weeks in the C25k program before I could run for any reasonable length of time. It has nothing to do with weight, either - I appear to be physically fit although for a long, long time I was not even remotely in shape.

There's also the theory that your body wants to conserve energy and will signal your brain to tell you to stop WAY before you actually need to. Muscle fatigue is psychological, to some degree.

Nthing the stretching after a workout. That feels great.

1. Exercise clears a lot of stress out of your system - big motivator for me
2. I had to learn to push past the initial "I'm Tired!" feeling to get to the endorphins
3. Exercising with a friend was good for my accountability and intrinsically rewarding
posted by luciddream928 at 9:51 PM on March 28, 2013

@hurdygurdygirl - YES to this. My experience exactly. Gym class was the Evil of All Evils. Got made fun of on a regular basis - without that "spectre" it truly is a different experience.

"But after I graduated from high school and the spectre of gym class was no longer hanging over me, I realized that all the activities they made us do were really supposed to be about keeping healthy. I honestly had no concept of activity as something that was good for my body. I just thought of it as an opportunity for everyone to see how crappy I was at sports. Sad, right?"
posted by luciddream928 at 9:54 PM on March 28, 2013

Hospital-and-stupid-sucky-body issues kept me pretty much immobile for a while. When I first got out of hospital I couldn't put on my god damn socks. I hated it, I felt useless and resented every aborted movement and atrophied muscle. Afterwards, the first time I got outside and actually could move without pain, without having to rely on a handy human crutch, without feeling my body say 'fuck you' - it was like glacier air in my head. I remember grinning so hard little kids scooted away from me on the street.

So I don't like running (never liked it), suicides are absolutely terrible and I'd rather eat dumplings than do any long distance cardio, but every day I get to do these things I will paste on a big old grin and do them because as cheesy as it sounds, it's a gift to feel your body do what you tell it to do and to have it actually do what it's supposed to.

I run and move because I know what it feels like not being able to and loathed it. One day I might not be able to run or walk or move again, either through age, injury, sickness and/or death so while I hate running: fuck it. Let's do it. Bring it. Why not?

this gets said by me a whole lot, but another motivating factor in keeping up my fitness levels is the idea of outrunning the inevitable hordes of undead. Also, running makes your butt fantastic.
posted by zennish at 10:10 PM on March 28, 2013

I have two answers.

1) What motivates me is looking at pictures of myself when I was fat, or looking at extremely out of shape people like, say, the mom on Honey Boo Boo. I don't want to be that person or feel like that person. Also, seeing hot fit women (think Alex Morgan or some other athlete of your choice) is equally motivating.

2) I thought about this the other day: Why do I always want to stay on the couch and struggle to get to the gym when I feel SO DAMN GOOD after I leave the gym? Seriously, I have never felt bad leaving the gym, ever. I feel full of energy, full of confidence, accomplished and alert for anything. The more sweat, the better I feel. But I most certainly feel bad when I sit around eating snacks and watching HGTV. I feel foggy and lethargic. So I try to think about that. The more you work out, the better it feels. After two solid weeks of consistency is when I think I really start to enjoy it and making myself go to the gym gets easier.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:52 PM on March 28, 2013

I'm with the "jogging as sightseeing" folks. The guys who bike home on my running path tend to be really cute. The Googlers are always eating dinner and playing with the ducks. The lake is pretty. Gaggles of clueless college students walking 6-abreast are fun to pass.

I was unfit and uncompetitive as a child. I got my first and only C in third grade for running the half mile too slow, and I still can't do a sit-up because my back is funny.

But in eighth grade, we had this awesome track unit where we were allowed to just run-walk the entire class, and I discovered that I was then fully capable of jogging the entire class. This was really gratifying to my self-concept.

In high school, we had three intensity / competitiveness-flavors of gym class: it was roughly "hard core team sports," "lollygagging team sports," and "just walk run for the 20 minutes, and when winter comes, we'll teach you how to use the exercise machines." I did the last one, naturally, and I credit this low-key, self-selecting option for giving me a positive attitude towards exercise.

On runs, I never pressure myself to go faster -- my preferred verb is "to joglet -- to move at roughly the pace of melting chocolate". I do personify my running path a little bit, and imagine that it will miss me if I don't meet it at its end.

Does Zumba count as a workout? Zumba is sanctioned ass-shaking where you don't have to fear some stranger's stiletto going into your calf, and don't have to be dressed up!

Other motivation? I can eat more, and it is faster to fit clothes.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:00 PM on March 28, 2013

In general: the knowledge that I'll feel soooo good afterwards. You do have to do a reasonable intensity/length of time before the endorphins kick in but it's worth it.

On some days: the "something is better than nothing" mentality. Set a really low goal. So, instead of jogging for 1/2 hour, I'll let myself just walk for 10 minutes then turn around and come back. Is it is good as jogging for 30 minutes? No, but it's way better than never leaving the couch. And often I'll find that once I'm out, I don't mind walking for an hour.

Or, I'll say to myself - I'll go on the gym and workout (whatever that may be) for 3 minutes, and if I really really hate it then I can leave. I don't think I've ever left. It's just a matter of overcoming that inertia.
posted by pianissimo at 12:43 AM on March 29, 2013

I don't know if this will help you or not, but…

I'm someone else who hates the thought of working out. But I found a really good trainer who's become a good friend and someone I really enjoy spending time with, so it makes working out worth it because I'm happy to spend time with my friend. It's kept me working out 3x a week for a year now.

If you can find a trainer like that, it might be just what you need to motivate you.
posted by ferdinandcc at 3:20 AM on March 29, 2013

I don't think anyone's said this yet, but for me, there was a time between not exercising and exercising consistently (six days a week) and enjoying it. During that period, my mindset was that it wasn't an negotiable thing: if it wasn't Sunday, I needed to go for a run. Once I accepted that, things got a lot easier. For maybe two or three months, running was like brushing my teeth or taking the bus to work: not something I wanted to do, but something that had to be done. I didn't expect it to be fun.

Another compelling thought during that time was that I wanted to not feel awful while I was running, and I realized that if I ran with some sort of frequency, eventually I wouldn't feel like dying while doing it.

What motivates me now is:

1. I like thinking of myself as a runner; I like for others to think of me as a runner (which isn't the best reason but eh.)
2. It's the single best thing I can do for my mood and sleep.
3. I get to eat whatever I want! All the time!
4. I run with a group once a week and I don't want to be the slowest person there.
5. It makes me feel like a fucking gazelle.
6. Running time is when I listen to podcasts.
7. I have a mileage goal for the week, month, and year, and I'm bent on reaching them.
8. I run a lot of races and I don't want to have wasted my money by not training.
9. It's only an hour or so, and what else am I doing with my time that's so important? Mm?
10. Mostly it just feels good when I'm done.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:43 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Exercise can be broken down into two categories for me. There's exercise that's in service of some pleasurable activity, then there's exercise solely in the service of fitness. I don't count work exercise, meaning walking, picking things up and so forth in this.
I find exercise solely in service of fitness a difficult equation. I dislike gyms, find running to be kind of cool but bad for my joints, and doing things simply to be doing them (swimming laps, pushing weights, and so on) to be kind of boring or end up in environments I don't want to be in.
Exercise for pleasurable activities is its own reward. Hiking, biking, canoeing, sports in general. I can't do a lot of this with a full time job, but I do commute by bike every day and run many of my errands by bike.
In order to really get the most from your body, to feel fit, to feel strong and well and able to perform at something like your inherent potential, I've found a need to create fitness only activities but haven't really found one I wanted to stick to. Until I found kettlebells. They kick your butt, you can do it in your home, it's like any form of strong physical output that involves your entire body rather than an isolated muscle group. It's cheap to get what you need and lots of online videos and support. You can do it twice a week and really improve your physical functioning, posture, core strength, and overall feeling of wellness. Add some light yoga, then ride your bike to work daily and I feel great. The main impulse for all of this is to be able to get through your day, work consistently either physically or mentally and still feel well and energized at the end of the day.
posted by diode at 9:05 AM on March 29, 2013

My sport is cycling and I love it. I've loved doing it since I was a kid and I've done it for nearly 25 years with a brief period in college where I wasn't into it. Why do I love it?

* I'm good at it. It so happens that I have good genetics for this, but I think everybody has something they can be good at. Even if I was average I think I would enjoy cycling.
* It has utility. I can go places on a bike.
* I see things in nature I would never notice otherwise (I'm sure there is a mountain hiker who similarly could point out all that I'm missing by being on bike-worthy paths)
* In the moment I feel like I belong on a bike. Feeling synchronous with these machine works of art is a really profound experience.

How do I keep motivated?

* During the winter I often need to ride indoors, which frankly isn't fun. I imagine my competitors getting fat and lazy and how much I'll stomp them in the Spring.
* Honestly, I've rarely ever had to push myself out the door to go riding. My life is full of obligations to family and work, so exercise is "me time" and I treasure it.
* I keep it varied and make sure I never treat it like a job. There are days when I do hard efforts and interval training isn't easy or pleasant, but I go into with a desire to see how well I can do.
* Sometimes I suck and pass through a period of crappy performance. I keep in mind that I'm still pretty fit and try to find a new patch of road to explore for fun.
* It is social if you want it. Riding with groups is fun and motivating.

I think ultimately it satisfies me to optimize something I feel competent at doing. I had an interesting conversation with a friend who does Triathlon and he prefers to achieve 80% in three sports than to specialize in one. I know personally that I get hyper motivated to find that last 20% of performance in bicycling.
posted by dgran at 9:14 AM on March 29, 2013

For me, exercise comes in three tiers:

1) The Thing! For me, The Thing is biking. I look forward to it, I feel good and strong and fast while doing it, and afterward I'm gross and exhausted but feel awesome. I had a great gig going in grad school where I could get up and ride down the trail for an hour or two before classes and such started. It was amazing and I worked out almost every day.

2) Acceptable. For me, my exercise bike is on top of the Acceptable tier, but . I don't look forward to it, but I can build it into my routine without hating everything about it. There's nothing awesome about doing it, but it's something that I can do while watching TV or playing video games so I really have no excuse not to just do it after work when I'd be watching TV or playing video games anyway.

3) Fuck that. For me, this is primarily running, but also most anything that involves going to a gym. I don't doubt that there are people who really enjoy it, but I cannot even begin to get into their heads and figure out how/why. I dislike this stuff to the point where I will find most any excuse not to do it, so I just count it as off the table and stick to The Thing when I can and fill in Acceptable alternatives otherwise.

Try a bunch of stuff and see if you can't find The Thing and a couple of Acceptable options when The Thing isn't available.
posted by Rallon at 10:42 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was a committed couch potato for the first 30+ years of my life.

Then I joined a gym because I needed credits for school. I had to show up 3 times a week to earn an A. So I went. And I thought it was boring. No, not boring, tedious. And exhausting. And annoying. And dull. It made me grumpy. But I just had to keep going to earn my grade.

Over time, I kind of got used to it. I found strategies to make it less boring (talk to someone). It was a little less exhausting as I got in better shape. It wasn't exactly fun, but it was less annoying, because it was just a fact of life. This was like, a couple years, on and off, of tolerable but not particularly fun habit-building.

Then I found the boxing gym. It was still hard work, but I had a personal coach there waiting for me every day, telling me what to do. The one-on-one ensured it was not boring. There's something scary and exciting about boxing, so I was engaged. The work transformed into a fun challenge. I had to do some of the same stuff each time I came, and found as I got better at stuff, I felt proud of myself. Things like jumping rope, which I literally could not do when I started, became easy and fun over the long haul. (Long haul meaning years, btw.) I looked at the new people starting out, jumping rope like elementary school kids (as I had when I first finally learned how to jump at all) and felt amazed that I had more ability than other people around me, purely through practice. The feeling of gaining mastery was exciting and new for me, and made me feel more brave about tryring new things in other areas of my life.

I started trying a few other physical activities: I took a kayaking class and it was challenging and fun! I started hiking and biking more. Since I was in so much better shape, these activities felt fun and relaxing instead of grueling as they had before I started regularly exercising. I wasn't scared to do something new, and I started asking friends to come for walks with me, instead of watching a movie or something together.

Meanwhile, over time, I discovered that if I missed a few days of exercise, I would now feel kind of depressed, or sometimes just stir crazy. I had become addicted to the mood-regulating aspects of exercise. I could (and can) reliably stabilize myself emotionally by getting regular cardiovascular activity several times each week. Wow! What a gift. I've never found anything so reliably effective for self-soothing.

So my take-away messages are:

1) Create a regular exercise practice without the expectation that you are immediately going to love it. Find external motivators to get you through that boring, difficult stage.

2) Having said that, seek out stuff that's fun! I find jogging impossible and I hate it, so I don't do it. Maybe you'd like a zumba class, or joining an ultimate frisbee team, or a kick-boxing class, or joining a hiking club, or something else! Do stuff you enjoy, and keep trying new stuff. You might surprise yourself

Good luck!
posted by latkes at 12:45 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

I get up every weekday morning at 6am and jump rope in front of the TV. Watching a whole show is major luxury for me, time-wise, and once I decided to do it same time every day, the whole couch potato feeling of "jeez, I really don't want to get up early today" went away, since it's non-negotiable. Now I look forward to seeing what happens next on my favorite show, as opposed to dread getting up early to exercise.

(Make sure to prep your work out clothes the evening before or your morning brain will sabotage you).
posted by rada at 2:21 PM on March 29, 2013

Oh, here's another thing. So it was in 2011 that I seriously got into exercise for depression, like I say above. But I am forgetting about the "swim for fun" thing I allude to in that comment. "Fun" isn't 100% true.

In the spring of 2004 I realized I needed to look really fantastic for the wedding of my (then and now) close male friend (I'm female). (You want an activity that puts the fear of God into women everywhere? Wedding of male platonic friend.) He was the first of our friends to get married. You can dig it, I'm sure.

At that point I did not have an exercise bike. Also, this was before my knee surgery of a few years ago, so I really was not inclined to go walking around outside. Also, I am from a hot climate and I hate, I MEAN HATE, the heat. I hate the heat more than I hate the thought of, say, doing pushups while in a bathing suit in front of the whole office and also my cousins.

I tried to think of activities I do not hate. Surely there is some physical activity, I said, that you don't hate. Back in school I actually didn't suck at floor hockey (picked dead last at everything else). But I was in no way competitive for a hockey league.

What did I enjoy as a kid? The one thing? Swimming. Ideally in a lake. No lakes in the 5 boroughs AFAIK. So I went in the pool.

Swimming may not be the one thing you don't hate. Maybe it's rollerskating or H-O-R-S-E or what have you. But go back (into the vaults if necessary) and find something you like.

Then you will also be thinking, let's hope, of previous good times when you do the exercise. OK, so here's my childhood lake of record and here's the pool I was using, but, you know, close enough.
posted by skbw at 8:48 AM on March 30, 2013

I was a competitive speedskater for several years. The thought of going for a jog horrified me then, and still does. Skating and bicycles work, so does social exercise, but running is the most boring thing ever... for me.

Having a regular habit helped. Having other people involved mostly helps.

Find exercise you enjoy more than other exercise, and don't be ashamed that what works for some people you know doesn't work for you.
posted by talldean at 9:03 AM on March 30, 2013

I took up (indoor) rock climbing about 18 months ago, and it is amazingly inherently motivating. First, problems are rated so that you can see yourself improving as you transition from being able to solve one problem level consistently to the next problem level. Second, I have never left the gym without an unsolved problem: you hit a point where you're tired and worn out and you're not going to solve a specific problem that night because you're "out of grab". I always leave with an image of that problem in my head to noodle over until the next time I get to the gym - so what if I tried putting my left foot *here* and reaching like that. Therefore you basically have to go back until you can solve it. It sucks when they take it down before you do is all.
posted by athenasbanquet at 2:39 PM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was out jogging tonight and I remembered that I'd seen this question in my RSS reader the other day, and I wanted to come back and add an answer. I think everything I could have hoped to say has already been put down here, but I think that's a positive thing - there's a relatively small group of strategies that seem to work for a lot of people, so maybe one of them will work for you too.

I am a distance runner. I started running again about three years ago, because I was about 30kg overweight and depressed about the collapse of a relationship. Once I'd lost the weight though, I needed another reason to keep running, and these are they:

Running is good both as a group and a solitary activity, and I do it both ways. My town has a running club organised by a certain well known footwear manufacturer. We show up and get to use their lockers / run with their pacers / talk to their coaches / drink their powerade / get to meet and socialise with other runners from the local community, they get to spruik shoes at us every couple of weeks. It's a really good deal, and it provides both social interaction with regulars as well as a constant parade of new faces to meet / crush on / be humbled by.

On my own, running is time alone with myself. I can put my phone on "do not disturb" and spend an hour just thinking (sometimes I'll leave the office, go for a run to think things through, and then come back and keep working) or listening to music. You notice a lot about a piece of music when you've got nothing distracting you from it except for your feet thumping along on the trail - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is a really weird record.

An hour to myself to do those things feels like a real luxury, because if I'm at home or at the office I feel like I should be doing some productive thing. Some people find it a great time to catch up on their podcasts or audiobooks (I recently ripped all of Ken Burns' the Civil War to MP3s for my really long runs), and some people find other distractions like the Zombies Run app mentioned above.

Others have mentioned sightseeing running, and I'll definitely endorse that too. I also like practical running - running to get somewhere. Jog into town, eat lunch and then take a tram home or whatever. Run to work if you've got lockers - you've got to go there anyway, might as well kill two birds with one stone. The experience of travelling running is very different to just running static laps around an oval and I find myself much less likely to be overcome by boredom doing it.

As others have mentioned, the feeling of increasing competence is pleasurable in and of itself. For some of us that's observing the changes in our body as its composition alters (feeling the planes of muscle start to emerge on your thighs, or your hips becoming better defined) or noticing that we can run longer or faster, or that we can do other things in day to day life we couldn't do before. Stairs. Chasing down - hell, outrunning - buses. If you grew up on D&D like myself and prefer cold, hard, stats to some mushy "feelings" you can get a run tracking application and a heart rate monitor and spend hours geeking out over your splits / gradient performance / maps / mileage / calorie burn.

Races, like running clubs, are another great opportunity to meet new people, have a lot of fun and provide a great reward for your hard work. If you're in a big city, there's one for pretty much every level of experience, and if you have friends who like to run too (that you met at the running club, perhaps) they can be a fantastic day out. My town's started running a lot of casual, fun, themed races (coloured powder / glowsticks / obstacles / zombies etc), so they don't all have to be gritty ironman painfests. I take my medals and race bibs (after writing the distance and time on them) and hang/pin them on a corkboard in my kitchen where I see them every day. That's good motivation - I really wish I'd done this from the start.

Racing also gives you some structure, but even if you don't race, it's good to set goals so you don't feel like you're just flailing around aimlessly. Some people target a distance, or a pace. One of my friends wanted to try and walk from the Shire to Mordor (about 2846.40 kilometers - see here). I've got a half marathon in July (a distance I've run quite a few times before in training, but never in a race), a full marathon in October, and I'm hoping to travel overseas in 2015 to do some real long distance work (maybe the Henro Trail in southern Japan or the Zion Traverse in the United States).

I guess the last thing I can leave you with is that I try and think of every exercise session as a good session. As others said, you rarely find yourself thinking "why did I bother" at the end (even if you might be a bit sore). I had a conversation at a work function the other week with a swimmer (exercise also gives you something to make small talk about) who asked if I was ever disappointed when I ran a slower time at a race then before, and I never am - even if I put in a terrible showing, I'm still putting miles against my lifetime total, getting a little bit fitter, conditioning myself a little better. Making progress.

Good luck! I'd be interested to hear if any of this helps you!
posted by curious.jp at 5:39 AM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

I also want to lurch back into this thread because I just finished What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Murakami. If you want to know what we're thinking when we go pounding by you on the sidewalk, it's an elegant little tome just for that.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2013

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