We’ve all been there. We’ve all had a partner that made us deliriously happy one minute and transformed us into a psychotic rage machine the next. (Well actually, I haven’t. Perhaps you haven’t either. But for the purposes of this latest 1000 word slice of Freeletics-related verbal effluent, let’s pretend that we both have.) Or perhaps you have sat up into the early hours of the morning on a work day, your slightly grey and sallow face lit only by a television screen upon which is a collection of animated pixels that you are controlling. (I’ve done this LOADS of times.) I love playing GTA5. LOVE it. I hate Hate HATE getting out of bed having had about three hours sleep and having to do grown up stuff.
Whatever it is, whatever you might have experienced, Freeletics takes love/hate to a whole new level of intensity.
If you’re a regular, er, Freeleticer (I’m not using ‘Free Athlete’), then you already know that it’s hard. Really, really hard. I would almost wager that unless you’ve been in the army or had a job where a very high level of fitness was required, it’s probably the hardest thing you’ve ever done. And if you’re a 40-year-old bag of bollocks like me, it can sometimes feel impossible.
There are times during certain workouts (I’m looking at YOU, Aphrodite), when it’s all but impossible not to question your sanity. When you’re 40 burpees into the first set of 50 and you can’t catch your breath properly but you don’t want to stop because you’re almost there and AAAAARRRGH. Or you’re doing your fourth of six 400m sprints/jogs/staggers during Apollon and your mind is SCREAMING at you because WHAT THE FUCK? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? When you hit ‘finish week’ and find out that your next workout is Kentauros Strength and something inside you says, in a very clear and level voice, “fuck this shit”.
I’ve experienced this before when I’ve been running, but it’s different. If you’ve gone out for a twelve mile run and feel like you’re knackered and want to pack it in after eight, you have a problem. Namely that you are four miles from home. There is no sadder sight than seeing someone in running gear walking home, usually clutching a thigh or calf and wincing for the benefit of passing cars. You don’t ever want to be that person, so you grind it out. Then, when you’re lying in the bath feeling smug, you have a tentative idea. After a few seconds, it becomes persistent. After about a minute, it is almost out of control: you are never going on a twelve mile run again.
You can’t do that with Freeletics. It’s the beauty and the absolute AGONY of it. There’s just you. You might be at home, you might be at the track, or the park, or the gym. But you’re not stranded in the middle of nowhere, you’re working out in the place that’s convenient for you. This is the time when there really are (it pains me to say) no excuses. If you stop, you’re stopping not because it’s too hard, but because your mind is telling you that it’s too hard FOR YOU. But it really, really isn’t.
Why does your mind play tricks like this? I have no idea, but I can only conclude that my subconscious wants me dead. Logically, you would think that if one is engaged in an activity that’s benefical to one’s health, then the job of the subconscious is to chip in now and again with the occasioanal motivational comment. “Ooh, well done Shaun. This is great. Look at your triceps! They weren’t like that before you started Freeletics. And you just nailed that last 50 burpees. Levant Oz hasn’t got SHIT on you.” Stuff like that. Instead, what I tend to get is more like this:
“Oh fucking hell. Here we go again. Still not prepared to accept your own mortality, eh? Still think you can look decent and be fit at YOUR age? Why bother? There’s beer in the fridge. You could stop and grab one, then sit outside and read a book. Wouldn’t that be preferable to… To this? Look at yourself. Look at your ridiculous red face. Look at your continued lack of six pack. Give it up, pack it in, just… stop.”
He’s an absolute DICKHEAD, my subconscious.
But then something great happens. You don’t stop. You carrry on and pretty soon you’ve done it. And then your subconscious kind of stands there tapping its foot on the floor and looking embarrassed. It is at this point that your conscious mind comes sprinting round the corner and gives your subconscious a bloody good kick in the bollocks. (Yes, I have over-egged this metaphor.)
Those feelings of wanting to give up are utterly, gloriously and unforgettably smashed to bits by the realisation that you did it. To carry on, to not stop, to refuse to listen to the voice in your head… It’s a great thing. (I realise I’m probably coming across as a bit cheerleader-ish now, but it makes a change from the usual miserable twat doesn’t it?) The very best moments are those when you discover that you’ve got a PB despite feeling like you were on the brink of giving up. But even if you don’t get a PB (and they’re getting harder to come by for me), it doesn’t really matter. You completed the reps, you did what was asked of you. And you feel GREAT. Exhausted and probably a bit whiffy, but great.
The great news is that you carry this feeling with you right through the day. It’s not smugness. It’s the satisfaction derived from knowing that you are a person that can reach the point of being desperate to give up and then push through that point. Not everyone has it. Maybe you’ve never tried Freeletics and you don’t have it. But I guarantee you, if you commit to this thing, you will get it.
I’m not saying it applies to every single thing in life. Sometimes, giving up is the right thing to do. If you have a job you hate, it’s better to give that job up and do something else. Not everything can be, or should be, conquered with a ‘never give up’ attitude. But when it comes to that last set of push ups in Venus, don’t listen to the voice in your head. Because that voice is full of shit.