Confession: I Can Run 10 Miles, But I Can't Do a Sit-Up

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I am a creature of habit.  Once I get into an exercise routine I like and works well for my schedule, I tend to stick to it.  For years, my primary cardio activity has been running.  I regularly change up the distance, speed and route to keep my workouts challenging.  I like that I’m good at running (I’m not fast, but I’m consistent) and it’s something I enjoy.  But I also know that variety is important. 
My husband had been bugging me to try a new fitness class at his martial arts studio.  After months of making excuses (“I don’t have time”, “I don’t think I’d like it”, etc.) I decided to give it a chance.  Within the first few classes, it was easy to see the areas where I was very fit, and the areas where I clearly was not.  I like feeling strong and fit.  I like it for myself, I like it as a positive example for my kids, and I also feel a certain amount of pressure to be fit because of my job.  I think I hesitated to try something new because I was afraid it would show me (and everyone around me) my weaknesses. 
I can do high knee runs all day long, but when it was time to get on the floor and do sit-ups, that was a totally different story.  One of the exercises during my second class had us lying on the floor with a partner above.  I was supposed to reach up (into a full sit-up position) and touch their hand, then return to the starting position.  I’m not a fan of sit-ups, so I never incorporate them into my own workouts.  But for the sake of the class, I wanted to try everything they were suggesting.  We were supposed to do 30, and I couldn’t do one.  Not one single sit-up.  What’s worse is that as everyone else finished their set, they started to turn toward me to cheer me on.  It was a great gesture, but at that moment I just wanted to run and hide instead of trying to push through an exercise that I knew I couldn’t complete. 
After the class, I walked in the house and my husband asked “What’s wrong?” I burst into tears and said “I’m so embarrassed that I couldn’t finish the workout!  Please don’t ever tell them I’m a trainer!”  I know that I was being irrational, and it’s normal that I’m a regular person who can’t do everything.  But in that moment, I was disappointed in myself.   
I started thinking about all of the members I work with every day who say they are embarrassed to go to the gym or don’t want to take a walk around the neighborhood for fear that others will see how unfit they are.  For a few minutes during that class, I knew how they felt.  It’s hard to come out of your comfort zone, no matter what the reason.  But regardless of your current fitness level or your goals, it’s a good idea.  Doing something new has shown me the areas I need to work on, so even though I continue to struggle, that class has become a regular part of my workout schedule.
Have you ever had to step out of your comfort zone and try something new?  Were you glad you did it?  Why or why not?

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As a serious introvert I avoid classes and group exercise and just the thought of people gathered about and ‘cheering me on’ is nauseating. I don’t mind people telling me to get out of my comfort zone and when it comes to exercise, I’m willing to try new things — just not in a group setting. Report
Thank you. Report
You can do it! Keep trying! Report
Yoga is my can't do. Report
thanks for sharing Report
This blog didn't make sense to me. I am not a trainer but I have spoken with many trainers who coach me to get out of my "comfort zone" to grow. I have learned that only by getting out of it can I actually go further towards improving myself. A trainer told me instead of jogging weekly to run shorter distances and incorporate a sprint sporadically during my run. It was uncomfortable because I run steadily normally. Now it is something that I use as tool to run faster. Report
I can certainly relate. I'm 50 and have had serious health issues. When I go to the fitness center I feel so inept when I look at how long others are able to work out. I then remind myself that I need to run my own race and not compare, lest I lose site of my personal goals. Report
I walk everyday, and sometimes run. I've been toying with the idea of adding another workout to my routine, but I, too, am a creature of habit. Habit, routine, structure that's my life. I dislike anything new, different etc. I cannot do traditional sit-ups due to a tailbone injury giving birth, but I want to try some core exercises with a balance ball. My balance is poor, but I'm hoping to improve it. Report
I can not climb hills. It just tires me out. It is so challenging Report
I can't do push ups and i keep saying one day i will. maybe in few weeks but i will do them Report
This is probably one of the most honest accounts of what I go through on a daily. I know that I should be incorporating strength training into my workouts, but I can't stand it to be honest with you. It is one of the toughest things I put my body through and I know that the rewards would be so much better if I could at least try and incorporate one or two days of strength training into my routine, so maybe one day soon! Report
Well, I often share your embarrassment, but not over full sit-ups, which both my phys. therapist and my osteopath say are really not very good for a body.

I've learned to laugh when I can't do what I think I 'should' be able to do--and, recently, it's been a REAL laugh, not a cover-up for crying. I'm (finally!) learning I'm not perfect, not ever gonna be perfect, and that's perfectly ok.

I try to step/swim/move out of my comfort zone every now and then (and I envy you a husband who pushes you in that direction). The view from the new is often very worth seeing. Report
Thank you so much for sharing! For so long I've been embarrassed because touching my toes just with my fingertips is hard, but now I see that it's just something I need to work at. Thank you! Report
I don't think it's irrational at all. I would have been embarrassed too, even though we "shouldn't" be. It's OK not to be able to do everything, but it's normal to be embarrassed when we can't do something we think we should be able to. (((hugs))) Report
I can do sit-ups and push-ups fine and have recently started jogging. I am very uncoordinated so I actually dislike dance related workouts. I don't mind people seeing me jog and I didn't mind the gym when I went. But I have never in my life been able to do a pull-up. I have been wanting to build up more upper body strength and try it sooner rather than later. You just gave me some inspiration for it. Thanks! Report
I do runs, sit ups and push ups no problem, do kicks and punches at a defence class, love swimming, cycling etc. but what I cannot do for my life is any workout that involves choreography + music. I suck so much that is embarrassing. I tried Bollywood vids - fail. Jane Fonda type aerobics - fail. Ballet type exercise vids - fail. I don't dare go anywhere near to a Zumba class. Report
That's great that you can share a story embarrassing to you. That shows great character. We've all felt this way at least one point in our lives. When I started a belly dancing class, I felt embarrassed because I couldn't pull off all the moves, and I seemed to be the only one falling behind in steps. LOL. I went to a few more sessions after a lot of talking myself into it. I didn't want to quit just because I didn't get it right away. I was like, "I can do this!" Report
It makes me feel so much better to read this... I've never had a great core, and last summer I fell and hurt my back. I can run 6 miles, no problem, but I can't do a single sit-up, or a push-up either. I feel terribly out of balance, and I'm going to physical therapy to get things started - I'm scared of hurting my back again. You're absolutely not alone! Thank you for posting this blog! Report
I feel this way about running. I go to kickboxing 5x a week, and do Pilates 2x a week. Yet running scares the bejesus out of me. I am asthmatic and all my life have really stunk at running. Running outside is difficult, but the treadmill I can do for 15 or 20 minutes. I really want to run a 5k next year. Report
I think sit-ups are hard on my back. I am sure I couldn't do any either. You have courage!! Report
At 54, I believe I am fairly fit and do not really look my age. I attribute this to exercising on a daily basis over the last 30+ years. However, there are some exercises that i have been asked to incorporate and I shy away from these as much as possible: Pilates, leg lunges and plank. After reading your article, I am determined to find the courage to do these and complete as much as I should, according to the instructor. Thanks a heap for the encouragement!! Report
I am going to try my first 5k walk/run in Sept. I am looking forward to it. Keep going!!!! Report
Have I ever stepped out of my comfort zone to try something new? Oh yeah. All. The. Time. With the exception of biting into a habenero (what the *bleep* was I thinking?), stepping out of my comfort zone has opened up a new world to me. I, too, was a person who did not want to look stupid in a Zumba/Pilates/Yoga/insert-any-group
-fitness-class-here class. By taking the risk of embarrassment, I learned that I am more capable than I thought, and I have never felt judged in any of these classes. Now I have new ways to work on flexibility, stress relief, and cardio. Report
Thank you for sharing this! I can do a few sit ups at a time, but I can't do a single push up. Not even a modified one. I start to shudder and shake and down I go. I hate how weak it makes me feel even though I am totally capable in other capacities! Report
This is a great post - thanks for sharing Jen! I am just the opposite. I can do Pilates Bicycles (a type of crunch) and push-ups better than anyone around, but would not attempt to run a race. I entered a 5K a couple of years ago and fast walked it. Even that was difficult. I know that I need both the cardio and the strength, and I do try to fit in more fast walking - this is a reminder that I need to keep trying... Report
It is refreshing to know I am not alone in my fears of stepping outside my comfort zone, I think we all know this but get so wrapped up in ourselves we forget that others could be feeling the same. I know it's entirely possible to have a weak core and run, and long distances too, and have a lot of other weaknesses as well! I just finished training for a marathon and my core and upper body are really weak. I have been fairly lax with my running after the marathon and also need to change it up a bit so a couple days ago I less than enthusiastically started a 6 week workout strength and core program my daughter created for me. I did this program last October and by the end I was fairly decent at situps and pushups....although she did school me on my form but none the less I wasn't dying when I did them. The workout calls for 3 sets of 20 situps among other exercises. OMG! I did them but it was so hard. I don't remember them being this hard the last time I started this program. It was so hard I didn't even want to do it today but I did and it was even harder. I had to really talk myself into it and I cried when I was done because I was so disappointed in myself for being so out of shape...after training for a marathon, c'mon self. How could I be so out of shape in my core and upper body strength? Ugh I found myself falling into old habits of bad self talk. I was totally discouraged after my workout today and so very glad I got on SP today, which I haven't for a long time because I was "doing good". After reading most of the comments above I am excited and encouraged to sign up for a zumba class! I have always wanted to but have been afraid to because I suck at dancing, who cares?! Thanks SP...I needed this today for sure! Report
I quit yoga years ago, all the seniors could stretch further than me.I recently returned because running as made me so stiff.I am now learning to enjoy the benefits of a good yoga stretch and breathing techniques. Report
I don't like sit-ups and I avoid them. Yes I've done the ones where you don't come all the way up but I choose core work like hip flexors and straight leg raises. I also heard years ago that the best type of core work was to sit on a workout bench and do them that way as you sit. Kind of like hipflexors sitting down. Or I do standing crunches. I learned to dislike sit-ups from those fitnes tests in school. I never could do the bar or the sit-ups. I don't remember how I did on the push ups but I can do them better standing too lol.
I have been over my comfort zone since I started this journey and i'm so glad I did. I love being able to just do the workouts without feeling like they are chores. I choose to workout and have fun with it. If I start any program that has me hating to put the dvd in I stop it. I enjoy cardio dancing the most. Walk a lot too when it's not as hot. And I normally strength train 4 times a week. I've come a long way and Thank God for the progress. Thanks for sharing and don't worry about doing that sit-up...try an alternative that gives the same results. Report
I seem to step out of my comfort zone any time I try exercising. I have never been very athletic and seem to be uncoordinated at anything I try. I do like the Zumba classes, even though I cannot get the moves. I keep reading things that say anyone can run, but every time I have tried running, even when I was thin and fit, I twist my ankle and end up on the ground. At 61, I can't do sit ups or push ups, either. Report
At age 80 I can do sit-ups and one or two push-ups but I can't run a quarter of a mile. In high school, I did 45 sit-ups and 15 push-ups but I couldn't complete a half mile run without dropping to a walk three or four times. Everyone's body is different.

To answer the question: Yes. I have stepped out of my comfort zone to fill unfilled volunteer jobs, to try new exercise routines, and to help people find their sexual orientation. Usually I succeed and I'm glad. But every once in a while I try running again, and I fail again. Report
Sit-ups and Push-ups not a fan of either one and to be honest do as few as possible. After reading this blog and seeing the comments I am so happy that I am not alone. Now on the other side, I see where I need to work at becoming better at these. Anybody out there who would be willing to be my accountability person? Report
I must adit that sit ups are the exercises I hate most. They do pull on my back, but my Chiropractor told me how to do them correctly. Do I do them? No. I do leg raises though :) Report
Can you see a pattern here? Others have fav exercises or regular workouts. Most people have particular things that are either undo-able or a struggle.

Yes, it's annoying or embarrassing.When I was in junior high, once I got an " F" in P.E.
I came everyday. I did below the chart ( my age / average ) of alot of the things, except for running. I really messed up on throwing the ball.

For years I felt like a reject. Then I went to an aerobics class. I could complete against myself and improve.

Frequently one can get better and better.

As for the things, ya can't do at all... there is usually a reason like a back problem or doing it incorrectly.

Most of us aren't in school anymore. How cares, unless you really do. Not because of others, but you.... Report
YES. Being ever-so-self-conscious, yet finding a belly dance demonstration so very interesting, I signed up for classes at the community center. I vowed that I'd just do this for fitness, and not perfomance. Well, this will be year number four for me, and I can't keep track of how many shows I've done. :-)

Also, Zumba - I was always interested, but was entirely too afraid to go and check it out. I'm not sure what made me want to do it, but one night I took a friend with me...and the instructor was so awesome, it only took that one class to get me into my comfort zone. I'd like to think belly dancing has helped - I can translate some of the Zumba moves into belly dance moves! ;-) Report
Thank you for sharing this with us. it is very encouraging to know that someone who is fit has times of embarressment and areas of weekness. Maukes me feel like maybe I am "normal" after all. Report
We had to do 100 situps 3 times a year when I was a kid and they were into the Presidential Fitness thing. My lower back got so screwed up from doing them (we had to practice every gym class for that test) and now I absolutely hate them because it brings back memories of the pain. I do crunches with exercise ball instead. PS you look awesome; what a beautiful photo. Report
I don't think a full sit up is a good move for the body anyway. It doesn't isolate the abs and puts severe pressure on the lower back. Ab strength and back strength should be progressively addressed with other, safer moves. Good luck. Report
OMG! This story is so me! I felt the same way just weeks ago. I was nursing a knee injury from over training & started swimming. This is totally out of my comfort zone! You splash around in the pool, go to watermarks with your kids when they were young but doing laps in a pool. Oh no! So different! I was terrified to start swimming laps. I have been a runner for 30 years, done step classes, Zumba classes, boot camp classes & felt I was pretty good at them. So when it came to swimming which I know nothing about it was very scary. I signed up for swimming lessons at the local Y. My first day my nerves were getting the better of me. I must have had to pee 10 times within 10 minutes before the class started. Ha ha. I guess I had put so much pressure on myself that I was losing control. Well I knew I had to do this to give my knee a break & I want to do a Triathalon so you have to know how to swim pretty good. I had no choice. The first lesson wasn't so bad. Only 2 people showed up for a group lesson.(maybe they were scared too) They were 2 coaches to teach the class. So I had a private lesson. They teach you based on your swimming level. My coach said I was actually pretty good not to down myself. I was shocked! Maybe he felt sorry for me. Ha ha. I have now had 3 lessons & they told me I was doing so well that it would definetely benefit me to take private lessons. So I did. They are helping me with technique & breathing & speed work! WOW! I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone because I really do love swimming now. It gives your body a break & it's still a awesome workout! Get out of your comfort zone people you might be surprised on how a new workout will make you feel so good!
I tried Zumba once. It was pretty traumatizing. After about half an hour of practice I was still so clumsy with it that I almost knocked over the Christmas tree. And in a separate incident, a few minutes later, I nearly kicked my five year old daughter in the face. (I am not EVER going to be a dancer.) But I'm glad I tried it. The awesome thing about Sparkpeople is that it's normal people helping normal people. Reading stuff like this is actually really encouraging to me! It reminds me that we're all human, and it's okay not to be perfect. :) Report
I didn't know that healthy, fit people could struggle with sit-ups! I am honestly so relieved, because I thought there was something wrong with my daughter. We were exercising at home once last year, and she tried to do sit-ups with us. She could NOT do one! I asked her, "Haven't you had to do these at school in PE?" Turns out, NO, they don't make kids do sit-ups anymore! That was horrifying in itself to me, but I was honestly worried that there was something seriously wrong with my daughter! My hubby just shrugged it off, so I tried to relax about it. Now I know that maybe she's OK! Report
I'm 65, been working out fairly regularly for close to twenty years... I was pretty shocked to find out that sit ups that were once a piece of cake are not possible anymore. I did curves for a year (didn't help), but I doubt I could ever be okay to try a regular gym class... I applaud your courage to give it a try and then learn from the experience!!! Way to go! Report
Reading this stuff on SP reminds me all the time to try new different things. Just this week I jogged while doing a treadmill cardio workout - I hate to jog! But I did 4 intervals of 1 minute each and then slowed to a fast walk for 2 minutes in between. It did not kill me and next week I can do 1.5 interval minutes of jogging. I know my body needs a boost to make some progress as I've been in a rut for some time so it is time to ramp it up/make a change. I't not always easy, and can be intimidating but WE CAN DO IT! Report
Remember that you are your own toughest critic...Putting yourself out there takes courage even if your confidence takes a hit. BTW I can't do situps either so you are not alone!! Report
I am a 62-year-old runner ... Down to three or four miles, but I still run. With weak shoulders, I cannot do a push - up. I don't feel bad about it. Trying to make my shoulders stronger, I took weight classes and kept up with it until it caused. E to get a frozen shoulder. Everyone is built differently ... Gotta' listen to body messages. As long as I am healthy for me, I do not care. Report
I'm a runner but when I recently joined an aqua track class, I was dead last when we were told to run. Also, admittedly very lacking in upper body strength, especially pushups. Report
I recently joined a Group Fitness Body Pump class but did so reluctantly as I was very scared being the unfit person in the class. I am so happy I joined and now attend the class 2-3 times per week. Report
When I was in high school in the late 60s, my gym teacher made us do straight leg situps - where a partner held our ankles to the floor and we were not allowed to bend our knees, or crunch to get into a sitting position. I hurt my back then, and to this day, cannot do a sit up. I now have osteopenia and arthritis in my lower spine, and my doctor told me to never do a situp, regardless of what my trainer says. I'm listening to my doctor. Report
I signed up for Group Power weight lifting classes. Boy was I out of my comfort zone. But now 6 months later I love it. Report
Wait a minute, didn't you (Jen) recently have a baby? Maybe it wasn't so recent (more like a year than a month) but even so, that might have something to do with it... Report
It's difficult for me to believe. Being able to run 10 miles requires a lot of core can't be a limp noodle and do 10 miles, you naturally develop core strength while running. I wonder if it was more a case of not having body knowledge of how to isolate the ab muscles and sit up. If you can't even do one sit up, how would you be able to get out of bed? Roll to the side and use your arms? How can you stand up from sitting on the couch if you don't have any core strength at all? It's very, very difficult to believe that it's a strength issue. The strength has got to be there, for at least one (if not more). Report