Why Training Beats Exercising

Why Training Beats Exercising

To some this title might sound nonsensical. Training beats exercising? Aren't they the same thing?

I can tell you from first hand experience that they are vastly different.

Since having Finn and Charlie I've been exercising. That is doing some swimming, cycling and running but nothing too strenuous, long or that makes me feel too uncomfortable. Keeping active has allowed me to regain my mobility and functionality post-partum and to keep my weight to an acceptable societal (ie. non-athletic) level.

But the question is was I happy with my fitness, flexibility, strength or myself in the mirror? The answer to that is a resounding no.

The only time I've been able to make the changes that I want in the past 5 years of enjoying having kids is to change my exercising into training. Here's where it has differed in the past 2 months:

  • Swimming
    Instead of swimming 1.5km slowly 1-2 times per week I now swim 2.5km with high intensity intervals 2-3 times per week.
    The result: improved upper body strength, more tone in my arms and faster swim times! Oh and swim tog tan lines!
  • Cycling
    Instead of leaving my bike locked in the garage I now ride on the windtrainer twice a week for 1 hour including strength or high intensity intervals.
    The result: my shorts are looser on my thighs!
  • Running
    Increase runs per week from 2-3 @ 30 minutes to 3-4 from 40-60 minutes. Similar intensity for most runs but the increase in mileage has resulted in my easy pace dropping by 30 secs/km. Another win!

At times training/exercising feels like a chore to me but I know how important it is for health and wellness and I've experienced this first hand. Even though I enjoy the time to myself I don't get overly excited about excercising.  However, another benefit I've expereinced is when I'm training even though the sessions are harder I start to get enjoyment or satisfaction from setting new PBs or improving my times. The results of your hard work (and it feels like exactly that) give you a sense of purpose, achievement and satisfaction that you don't get from exercise.

To make changes we need to stress the body and that's exactly what training gives you. You need to include the hard parts in your training sessions to make improvements and you need a sense of purpose to achieve that.

To me, exercising keeps status quo (you won't get better but you won't get worse either) and training gets improvements.

So have a think about what your goals are. And if you want to improve whether that is to get faster or make functional changes to your body have a look at your training. Are you training and stressing the body or are you just going through the motions and exercising?

Ready to start training for your first triathlon? Check out our 6 week online beginners course.

About Suzanne

Suzanne is not only the founder of World Multisport but juggles being a mum, wife and triathlete herself. She is particularly passionate about getting more women into triathlon and loves seeing all aspects of the sport grow.