My gym teacher in middle school was named Mr. Smith. He was well known among the students for yelling out, “INTENSITY”, while teaching us how to lift and run and play. He was all about us ‘giving it our all’, and this was the best way he could get this across. In middle school, no one takes anything seriously, let alone gym class, so we all thought this was really funny, and would make jokes about it after classes.

Looking back, it was pretty cool to have learned some basic weightlifting principles that early on, and during some workouts, I still think about the high-energy lessons he was trying to impart on us.

Recently, I did a cross-training workout on a stationary bike. I was being dumb and not entering the settings properly, because I ended up feeling no resistance for the entire 25 minute workout. My legs felt a little tired from spinning that long, but no sweat and no ache in my muscles whatsoever. It felt like a waste. And then, I started to get the same feeling in other workouts.

I was lifting a little lighter because it had been a few days since I was last in the gym. Then I thought, why. Why not ramp up till I can actually feel it. And more recently at the Rugger Run, I decided to go hard the first mile, because why take it easy? Maybe that slowed me down during the next couple miles, but at least I didn’t breeze through the entire way.

Now, I know there’s a balance. You want to pace yourself. You certainly don’t want to injure yourself. But you also don’t want to go too easy on yourself, and lately I feel like that’s been what I’ve tended towards. I read this great response on Quora about effective workouts. Now, this guy trains more than I ever will, but it stuck out to me that people can be too afraid of overtraining, to really put in the effort they need.

Time to buck that trend. Time to get out of my comfort zone, and as Mr. Smith would say, time for some INTENSITY.