Did it count?

Killed it! Nailed it! Crushed it! Do any violence you want to it, but people gotta notice. If no one sees, did it really happen? Yes, this is very much like that tumbling tree in the woods… There’s a saying in my house when someone finishes a run or a bike ride. “Did it count?” The thought behind this is exercise only counts if someone you know sees you doing it. Someone who, perhaps at a party next week, might say “Hey, I saw Jeff out for a run last weekend. He was miles from his house.” Now that’s killing it!

Being ‘seen’ is easiest for me, mostly because I’m more connected to my town’s fitness crowd than the rest of my family. I worked at the gym for eleven years. All those people running and riding bikes on the park roads, I know them from my work. But still, Susan and my kids are frequently sighted as well. As a former massage therapist, Susan knows a lot of the seniors strolling through the park and around our neighborhood, and she worked with many of the athletes as well. Not only is she likely to see people she knows, she’s also far more inclined to stop and talk with them. That interaction increases the chance that news of the encounter will be passed on to someone else at a later date. Nailed it!

And since Eli joined his mountain bike team, he frequently gets spotted by coaches out on their training rides. This counts double. Not only is Eli seen, but he gets brownie points for riding on a night he doesn’t have practice. Crushed it!

The best bet is to just go to the gym. I always know someone there. Since most of the people in my spin class are there every week, I feel like any one of them can make my workout count—even the instructor. Susan feels the same way with yoga. At her university, Sophie plays this game too. She’ll escape the bitter winter weather by running on a treadmill. Her rugby teammates are in and out of the gym all evening. She’s certain to be spotted. Gym workouts always count.

Susan and I came in from a walk. The temperature was in the mid-thirties F. (low single digits C.). The wind whipped twenty-plus miles per hour. Anyone more than two hours north of us was getting hammered by a blizzard. In my town, it’s just cold, dry air that makes my cheeks and nose burn. No one saw us, we saw no one. It’s like our walk never happened at all.

Does my motivation seem misguided to you? It’s a joke, of course, but a kernel of truth lingers below the humor. The chance of being seen, getting points, getting some respect, it all helps get me off the couch on an unpleasant day. As much as I’d like to believe I’ve evolved beyond such behavior, I admit that other people’s opinions of me matter. I’m vain that way.

Last night was my third (of four) nonfiction writing classes. Each week, we bring in our homework to read to the class. This week, I read Treasure which I posted on my blog last week. When I wrote that, I was pleased with it. I thought I nailed my assignment—write about a treasure that is someone else’s trash. But across the course of a week, some cracks began to show. I went into the class feeling insecure about my piece. Rather than wanting the feedback that I’ve paid to receive from the instructor and the other students, really, I just wanted to hear “Good stuff, Jeff. You killed it.”

For me, writing is a “did it count?” activity. I’ve toyed on and off with writing for only myself—keeping a journal to capture my thoughts, writing just to write, but my journal always winds up being a springboard for my blog posts, a first draft on the way to publication. The thought of writing an eight-hundred-word story just to file it away leaves me unsatisfied and craving the positive comments I might receive if I post it. I’ve done this a few times. I’ve written thoughts too personal to share, but then my writing sits on my laptop’s hard drive, burning a hole through me. I continually question when it will finally be safe to post.

So exercise and writing, I love them both in a similar way. I love the hard work as I gut through the process. I like the challenge, the sweat, both physical and metaphorical as I strive to finish. I love the feeling of achievement I’m left with in the afterwards. And when someone notices, if someone applauds, well that’s ten times better.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

30 thoughts on “Did it count?

  1. Yes, writing needs reading, even for introverts like me.
    You are teasing us, right? Treasure mentioned by name but without any comments.
    Be well and do good
    DD and Typo
    (Yes, Typo needs readers too).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sigh. “Treasure mentioned by name but without any comments.” I’m sorry, I don’t understand what this means. Typo should have gobs of followers. He’s your daring Mr. Hyde.


      • I’m assuming your theme of nailed it is relevant to the reading and reception of Treasure. Did get useful feedback? Was it well received? Did I overlook some comment on the writing group?
        Thanks for the kind comments.


  2. Even on my ocean rounds, I regularly run into familiar faces. But it doesn’t matter when I don’t; it’s enough knowing I’ve done the exercise.
    I’m with you on the ‘springboard’ idea. I don’t keep a diary (other than when I travel) but use my blog to seed ideas that can become published pieces. I’ve had one success so far (no dollars attached, but that’s OK) and am trying with others. So, keep on keeping on. You can do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It can also be freeing to know that NO ONE will see me on a run. When I trail run, I never see a soul. Also, for my night runs, my head lamp is so bright no one could ever see who I am even if I see and recognize them. I’d really like to keep a journal. I’ll keep trying. I know it’s just a habit to write a bit daily.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such an honest assessment of your motivations Jeff. I like it. I don’t write for feedback but rather the connection of someone saying perhaps “me too” or “I feel the same way.” I often felt on the outer in the past and writing (and feedback) has made me realize that we are all like than we think. As for exercise, I rarely see anyone as I largely inhabit unpopulated areas and it’s very early in the morning.
    There are plenty of areas where I really value feedback though, cooking is one. If I cook something thoughtful and delicious, nothing makes me happier than hearing that the other person/people felt the same way. We all need a little praise sometimes, it makes the medicine slide down easier

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s interesting. I’m mostly interested in feedback but generally get the hey, me too comments. A few bloggers always indulge me and talk about the writing instead of the content, but like many others in my wordpress world, they seem to be losing interest in the platform. A few years ago when I was exclusively trail running, I never saw a soul. Now I run primarily park roads and I’m sure to see at least a couple of people each run.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I used to watch stats on WordPress and think that high stats was the end goal. I’ve changed the way I think about that as I am more interested in communicating what I’m thinking and if it lands with someone, great, but so often now it’s a record of a point I have thought about and passed in an ongoing, sometimes circular line of life. We all have a trail that follows us, whether we are aware of it or not. My blog made me aware of it, now I’m more aware of where I’m going and really thinking about it. In that way it’s invaluable to me. I can see why people lose interest in blogging when they are doing it for other reasons though.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. I understand this with respect to singing — I am (nearly) always happy to go to rehearsal with my fellow singers, but hate to practice my parts on my own.

    Probably why I haven’t ever tried hard to play the musical instruments of my childhood; too much practice required to get back to anything like proficient.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m always really impressed when adults have stuck with their childhood instruments. We went to a church service with a friend once and we were shocked when she stood up and played a viola with the choir. We had no idea. Really, I guess, all ‘art’ should be shared. If no one sees it (hears it), does it exist at all?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hearty applause, Jeff! Fascinating, too. (I laugh because usually when I go run/ to gym I am playing “I’m Invisible!”). I love that question: did it count?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nice writing, Jeff – you killed it. Great way to bring it from exercising to writing!

    I think when pieces resonate with someone else, it helps to extend the experience beyond self-expression to inspiration and common humanity. Exercise sometimes does the same thing maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ooh, yes, I get this. My exercise has to be logged somewhere (I use Wahoo and Training Peaks), and while I’ve tried writing just for me, the writing I know will be critiqued at writing workshops and on the blog is always so much better than the stuff I write just for me. Writing is meant to be read, and exercise is meant to be validated! Proof of existence, in a way?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not surprised that of all the people who read this, you’re the only one fully onboard. Birds of feather. You bring up a good point though. I’ve never used a social exercise tracking app. That seem like the easiest way to ‘prove’ the effort and I’m sure it would push me to try harder and more often. Maybe something I should be thinking about.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think that’s why Strava is so popular. I have friends who have no social media presence but obsess over Strava. I’ve never gotten into it as I get too competitive and compare myself to everyone else (there are leaderboards and such) but the ones I use no one really sees but me. People can send you “kudos”, and it’s weirdly a “like” system that can be addicting. I think just having the workout logged with numbers and data to go with it makes it real, and I can track my own progress. It totally helps with pushing harder too. Before the apps, I used to just have a workout log/spreadsheet to track weights and reps to see progress on gym days, and was that nerd with a spreadsheet and pencil at the gym. But still it was the putting it to paper that made it real somehow…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a great and worthy post, Jeff. I can totally identify with it. Although I can’t exercise anymore (I used to go to the gym three times a week! Keen? Yes, I was – very), I always felt I had to let people know or be witnessed at the gym for the experience to count.

    I absolutely get where you’re coming from with your writing. I started writing a journal a few months ago, but, like you, it ended up being a starting point for my next blog post. On the other hand, I did write a fair bit of really personal stuff that I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to read. On the off chance of me popping off at some point, I didn’t want to keep the writing as I wouldn’t have liked my family to read that stuff in my permanent absence! So, I either didn’t write it at all, or I wrote it and destroyed it. I suppose, from the ‘did it count’ perspective, having no one else reading it took away the purpose of it (if that makes any sense). However, as you know, I write a lot of personal stuff on my blog. It feels safe here, as none of my friends and family know I blog.

    I’m taking part in another writing course at the moment. My style is different when doing home/coursework than on my blog. On the course, I hate being critiqued (I sit and squirm uncomfortably and silently), and I hate giving critiques to others. It feels like I’m taking away from their experiences. With my blog, I will own up, too, and say feedback is very important to me. I’m very happy if someone can relate to my post, and I’m equally happy to see whether anyone liked my post. I don’t check my stats very often because I can get a bit paranoid about my ‘work’ quality not being good enough otherwise.

    Thanks for a very interesting and thought-provoking read, Jeff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Imagine everyone’s surprise when they are checking your devices trying to find lost bank accounts and whatnot and suddenly realize you are a blogger. I hate providing feedback too. I always feel like a fraud, like what do I know, I’m an accountant for god’s sake. Plus, i have a very hard time retaining what I hear. I really need to be reading along on my own copy. Thanks for reading and commenting. Glad it ‘landed’ with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I totally get that, Jeff. I don’t feel ‘qualified’ to give feedback and just get my tongue tied if I try. I end up looking a fool , mumbling and stuttering my words. Like you, I’m a visual learner rather than an aural one and it does make a difference to how much we can retain when listening to a piece.

        As for someone finding my blog, I would be well and truly sussed. I can’t bear the thought of it. Mind you, it’s not like I write anything unpleasant about anyone and my blog is honest, so hopefully, if they found it, they wouldn’t mind so much. I dread to think, really.


  10. Interesting that “did it count?” seemed to go hand in hand with whether the workout was witnessed or not. I know I’ve felt in the past that I’m “seriously working out” when I “check in” to the gym on Facebook – and add the usual hashtags – “working it” “feeling the burn” “making it count”.

    Would it have counted less or more in the days before social media, I wonder?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never posted anything on social media about a workout. One blogger and I had an exchange about tracking apps with social components where others can see your workouts (like Strava), but I’m way too slow a runner/rider to ever want to post my times. I did post quite a bit about the mountain bike team I coached. That might be the same thing “Hey, look at me, I’m riding with a bunch of high schoolers!”. Social media is… funny.

      Liked by 1 person

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