Three Life Lessons I Learned from My Cardio Workouts

I do a light-moderate cardio workout three days a week, even though I hate it. Running or biking at the same tempo for 25 minutes bores the hell out of me. That’s one of the reasons I do it because it increases my mental toughness.

Many people associate lifting heavy weights in the gym with toughness. The other day, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt with the motto “Cardio is for pussies.” Such statements make me laugh because of their ignorance.

Personally, I enjoy lifting weights, even though I look like suffering. I like the intensity of it, and a set is over in 45 seconds at most. After that, I can enjoy the good feelings my biochemistry provides me with.

Contrary to lifting weights, cardio is like Chinese water torture. It’s low intensity, but persistent over a longer time, which drives me crazy.

I have respect for long distance runners. I know my 25 minutes of jogging is nothing next to their accomplishments, but I still learned some life lessons from my cardio workouts.

How Do I Deal with the Mental Challenge of Cardio Workouts?

For me, cardio is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. My mind looks for stimulation all the time, and lifting weights provides that stimulation; cardio, not so much.

When I first started cardio workouts, I realized that I had to let go of the constant chatter in my mind. That endless chatter was negative, and it was weakening my mind. I needed my mind to be strong to be able to finish my workout.

It Isn’t Over until You Cross the Finish Line

Just like my weightlifting workouts, I tried to remind myself how much of my workout was left. 1.5 laps left. 1 lap left. 1 kilometer left. Last 500 meters. And so on. That tactic backfired.

I realized a cardio session isn’t over unless you cross the finish line. Knowing how much of it is left doesn’t make the slightest difference.

The best approach is to switch off my mind and put one foot in front of the other until I cross the finish line.

That approach matches the entrepreneurial journey very much. You have a final goal, for example, an exit. And you do whatever you can, day after day, to get closer to that goal.

How much progress you made or how much progress you still have to make doesn’t matter as long as you haven’t reached your goal.

Cardio Is Like Meditation

Recently, I realized that cardio workouts are like meditation because I have to switch off my mind for 25 minutes. To maximize that effect, I stopped listening to audiobooks while jogging yesterday, and I felt much better afterward.

How to Deal with the Urges to Quit

There are times when I feel like I can’t make it until the finish line. In those moments, I remind myself of the good times I’ll experience later.

I dream about the pleasant walk back from the park after the session. I dream about the first coffee I’ll drink the next morning. Thinking about those rewards make me feel good and keep me going.

Conclusion

A cardio session resembles to the challenges that we experience in our lives. It’s a low intensity challenge you have to endure for a long time.

It requires mental toughness, and the biggest enemy of mental toughness is the constant negative chatter in our minds. We can let go of that weakening chatter in our minds with mindfulness.

If you’re in a really tough spot and feel like giving up, just motivate yourself with the eventual rewards you’ll receive when you succeed. Get into the feeling of them.

A cardio session, just like a challenging project, isn’t over until you cross the finish line. Until then, the only thing that matters is that you put one foot in front of the other until you accomplish your goal.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.

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