Do a physical activity of your choice, one that you don’t “have to do” and that you are not told to do.
I don’t have to row. We bought a rowing machine, and it would be a shame to have spent so much money and not use it, but I don’t have to.
I don’t have to row long slow distances when I row. I can do intervals or fartlek, I’m quite sure that will make me exhausted as well. Probably even more so.
I don’t have to look for the monotony. A 10k takes about 40 minutes, and I spend that time without watching TV, without listening to music or podcasts, without doing anything else than rowing. Occasionally I look at the numbers, the meters ticking down, the estimated total time, my pulse if I have a pulse belt (which I rarely do). But it’s not much less monotonous than looking at a clock for forty minutes.
I don’t have to lose weight. I don’t have anyone telling me I need to get in shape. I don’t need to row, I can run or swim instead, far less monotonous activities: you don’t stay put in one place. And yet I row.
You see, the monotony is the point. It takes a kilometer or two, or even more, but after a while I get into a rhythm, and then I get almost in a trance, falling asleep without sleeping. Sure, it’s painful, and yeah, I’m tired. But when I get into the rhythm, it’s all worth it. When my mind goes silent. When I can’t do anything else than row on, one stroke at a time.
The longer you row, the higher the likelihood of entering that state. So I have to row far. And the slower you row, the longer you can row. So I have to row slow, but not too slow, I have to get close enough to exhaustion.
The first kilometer of a half marathon is terrible. My back aches, my mind complains, my knees hurt. But it’s like a gate: if it’s too easy to start the row, you’ll never get to where you want to go. You have to fight through the boredom: if you mind doesn’t complain, it’s no big deal to clear it.
I like my mind to be silent sometimes. I like the silence of a rowing machine. So I row.
And afterwards, without exception, I feel much better.