My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

The ups and downs of training alone 

on July 17, 2015

Since I started this new training plan, I’ve been thinking a lot about working out alone vs working out with a partner.  There are good and bad points to both.  I’m sure anyone you ask will give you different reasons for one over the other.

When I first started working out, I was always by myself.  Which, at the time, I think was good because I was just starting out and didn’t really know what I was doing and there wasn’t a lot I could do. I was shy, unsure of myself. 

When I joined my first gym, I was leery about working out around others, afraid of being judged and/or laughed at. The more I did it, though, the easier it got.  Not that I was working out with anyone, just working out around others.  My self-confidence was building.

I was really nervous when I first asked Tyler to take me on as a client.  But the more we worked out together, the easier it got.  I really enjoyed working with someone else, even if most of the time he was just showing me what to do and then watching me do it.  It was nice just having someone there.

Eventually, I got really comfortable around others in the gym, and even began working out with them when I wasn’t with Tyler.  It was nice having someone spot me or check my form to make sure I was doing it right.  I liked having someone to talk to, joke with, and learn from.

Then Tyler moved on, and the regulars at the gym did as well, so I was left to my own devices again.  So I know what it’s like to be with and without someone to train with.

In my opinion, these are some of the ups and downs of training alone …

The downs: 

1) Being alone.  Sometimes we all just need someone to be there.  Sometimes I just want some company, someone to talk to.  

2) Easy to skip a workout. Without someone expecting you to be there, it’s easy to say “just this once” when skipping a session.  And sometimes that can lead to skipping more than once.

3) No one to spot me or check my form. When working out alone, it’s sometimes hard to know if your form is correct. And if you need help with a heavier weight, there is no one there to help.

The ups: 

1) Not needing to rely on anyone.  Everyone gets busy from time to time, but if you’re working out alone, you don’t have to worry about that.

2) You can set your own schedule. You don’t have to work around anyone else’s schedule. You can workout when and where you want, and for how long.

3) You can do whatever workout you want. Self explanatory really.

There are times that I absolutely prefer to be alone when I’m working out.  It gives me time to think, to process.  I often work on blog posts in my head when I’m running.  I think about upcoming events.  Or I think about something new I want to try, whether it be a new activity or a new recipe.  I don’t have to worry about how fast or slow I’m going.  For the most part, I don’t have to worry about time.

But there are other times that I would really love to have someone else there.  Someone to cheer me on.  Someone to help me push a little harder.  Someone who is counting on me being there at a specific day and time.  Someone who I can bounce ideas off of or share concerns with.  Someone who can help make sure I’m doing things right, and maybe offer ways I can do them better.  Someone who is willing to share their ideas, experiences, concerns with me.  Someone who will listen.

I’ve chatted with numerous people on this subject.  Some are adamant that they only train alone; others will only workout with someone else; while others are somewhere in the middle.  Everyone has their own reasons for their answers.  Everyone’s workout style is different.

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle.  I can see the benefits of both.  I’ve personally experienced the benefits of both.  And I’ve also experienced the downside of both.  

For quite a while now, the majority of my training has been alone.  While I feel like my running has progressed pretty good in that time, I feel like my strength training has suffered.  Maybe “suffered” isn’t quite the right word, but I’m not sure what word would be better.  I made great strides in that area when I had a coach or a partner.  I don’t feel like I’ve done as well alone.  I’ve received a lot of encouragement and advice from various people, but it’s not really the same as having someone there.  Given the choice, on many occasions, I would definitely prefer to have someone to workout with.

And there are days when I’d love someone to run with, especially as I push myself to run longer distances.  I’m both excited and scared about doing my first half marathon.  Excited because it’s a new challenge, something I never thought I’d ever be able to do.  But scared/worried that I won’t be able to do it.  I worry sometimes that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this challenge.  Sometimes I think having someone run with me once in a while will help push me, especially on long runs. And I know I can use help with my strength training. I want to be as prepared as possible for race day because I know how big of a challenge it is.  In the end, no matter what, with or without a training partner, I will cross that finish line.

What about you? Do you prefer to workout alone or do you want/need someone else there? Why? 

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