Wow, it’s over three years since I published the article about me picking up running. That means I’m now running for 4 years and it’s time for an update.

I’m still doing a serious amount of sports. I still weigh too much and I even weigh a few kilograms more than when I wrote that other article. But most of that weight seems to be from converting fat to muscles: The belt still fits the same way but t-shirts often are tight around the chest.

In the meantime I picked up to more sports: Freeletics and Bouldering. Together the three sports fill different needs for me:

Running is meditation. Basically I turn my brain off, or at least in a completely different mode of operation. More than once I was able to find the solution to a difficult problem when I stopped concentrating on it and instead went for a run. And of course it is great endurance training.

Bouldering (climbing on artifical walls in low height so you don’t need ropes) is a great full body strength and mobility/coordination training. Also it is really satisfying when you finally manage to climb a bould which seemed impossible a couple of weeks ago.

Freeletics is the most challenging. Since most of you probably don’t know it, let me give you a quick introduction.

Freeletics is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This means: you train for relatively short periods. Mostly less than half an hour. But with high intensity. It’s supposed to burn through extra calories this way.

It is also “Body Weight Training”. The “body weight” part means you don’t use any extra weights other than your own body to create resistance. This makes it similar to running in that you need almost no equipment: A mat, a towel, lots of water, sometimes a pull-up bar, and if you are able to do hand stand push-ups: a wall.

You do either any workouts you like as often as you like or you use the “coach”. The coach is software that looks at what you have done so far and based on that and on your goals prescribes the next workouts for you. And here we get to the 200 push ups mentioned in the title.

Two weeks ago, the coach decided it is time for “Hell Week”. Hell Week means an extra tough workout every single day for a week. One of the workouts asked for 200 Push-Ups (plus some other exercises I forgot).

When I tell people about this I often get responses like: “That can’t be healthy!” Often from people that are really unfit. It might actually be true. I’m 100% sure doing these workouts is better for me than not doing them. But maybe less intense workouts would be healthier. And of course with any kind of sport there is a risk of injuring yourself. But here is a thing: If they weren’t as hard I probably wouldn’t do them.

Part of things like Freeletics is that you get these insane workouts. You start doing them and after something like 10% of the workout you feel like you can’t continue anymore. But: you keep going. Maybe you take a break. Sip some water. Then do 5 more repetitions. Take another break. Maybe switch to an easier form (think push-ups with the knees on the ground instead of the feet) but 200 of those is still fucking hard for most of us. But you keep going. Until you’ve done that last repetition. You just lie on your mat and grasp for air. You enjoy the weather, even when a hail storm is going on because it feels pleasantly refreshing. You have accomplished something that you thought was impossible for you. And maybe two weeks or a month later the coach tasks you with the same workout. And you do it again. Just a few minutes faster.

This is not so much about strength or anything physical. It is basically to a large part a mental exercise: Set yourself a goal. A challenging goal. Then do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal. It feels great. And you get better at it with practice. And you learn that you can do way more than you think you can. This applies to almost every area. Learning that is really important. And healthy.

And while I had my share of sport related injuries: None came from Freeletics. None was as bad as the normal health problems that I had before and that are basically gone.

Having that said: yep 200 push ups is too much for me right now. But I did 200 knee push ups. Tough but possible. Tomorrow the challenge is 50 proper push-ups. It will hurt. It will take long. But I can do it. And one day 200 push ups will be just right.

Disclaimer: Don’t take medical advice from a still overweight software developer. But do find some kind of sport that you enjoy and which fits into your schedule.