Training and exercise are not the same. We do need to have physical activity- exercise- in our lives as part of being healthy, but we don’t need to train. I know it can be just semantics, but they are different. Training is exercise, but exercise is not necessarily training.
The difference is training is having a plan, hopefully a progressive plan, that gets you prepared for an event. If you have been engaged in a daily running routine, for example, then decided you want to do a 3 mile running race, you can turn your running into training as you prepare for the event. To do that your running takes on more variety such as intervals, hill repeats, mile repeats, and form drills. Scheduling in days to rest becomes more important now and following a plan that helps to build you up over time so you can be ready by the date of the event becomes more important. You do not want to “blow up” on a training session that leaves you to tired to carry out your plan for the remainder of the week. If you are exercising and find you have pushed it a little to hard, it is easier to simply rest without interference of a plan that is progressive and building toward an end date.
There is a mental preparation that is happening, or can happen when training. When training you are getting yourself ready for a set date when the event will take place. You are getting your mind prepared for the physical sensation that comes with doing an event in the form of pushing your physical abilities. We do these events for the challenges and a physical challenge takes a level of awareness of the physical discomfort that comes with it. Yet I hesitate to use the word discomfort. It really is a physical peak sensation that we have to sit with. Discomfort is a label that can take the body to a place we don’t want to go. We already have the peak sensation given the training and pushing the body, don’t give it the mental energy by labeling it discomfort. Labeling becomes a form of doubling up on the negativity. Without the label “discomfort” we only have to manage sensation and not the mind made drama that can come with the label and all it means to us.
When exercising we may take a more casual level of mental preparation because there is no “test” like event hanging out there. Not to say we don’t need a little mental toughness to hold a plank for say 10 minutes, in exercise mode we can be doing that all the time, and yet we can also say “meh” 8 minutes is good for today.
At this time of year, January, depending on your sport, can be a down time or a build time if you are training. If you are not in training mode, keep exercising as part of a healthy lifestyle. I have met many people who have done a triathlon in the past but once it is over they seem to go into permanent rest mode or stay stuck in permanent training mode. True, it is healthy to take a week or two of complete rest from training if focused on long distance sports like ironman or ultra something, but don’t get stuck in either completely off or completely on. When between events, shift into exercise mode to help reduce stress, connect to the body, boost the immune system and to stay physically and mentally strong.
So be aware of your view of your physical activity, are you training or exercising? Consider what the difference is for you.