Legend has it that the tortoise wins and the hare loses.

Harebrained, full of reckless abandon and overeager, the hare runs out of gas and the tortoise rolls casually by to take the chequered flag.

Folklore salutes the tortoise as it takes its place in history as the unchallenged, undisputed and immovable champion of the world.

History, however, has a way of clearing out unnecessary debris that can muddy the waters of a perfect anecdote.

What the annalists of legend carefully omitted from this particular yarn, was how incredibly close the race was, whilst failing to give a deserved nod to the remarkable progress the hare made whilst it was moving…

Without this crucial information, the Hare spends its entire life thinking it has a defective modus operandi. An approach that could never work. An modus vivendi that would ultimately lead to its downfall.

When it comes to the Holy Grail of ‘consistent’ exercise, the hare carries the weight of history…

Regardless of how gracefully and consistently the hare is moving, planted deep into its furry brain is an enormous seed of predetermined doubt. “I am the hare. In the end I lose.”

…and deep down its in rabbity soul, the Hare wishes it were more like the tortoise.

For many years, I was the hare that desperately wanted to be the tortoise.

In exercise terms and in the nicest possible way, I am married to a very efficient, gloriously elegant and surprisingly fast tortoise.

She is, for all intents and purposes, the Rolls Royce of tortoises, the finest tortoise I have ever laid my eyes on (See what i’m doing here, I have no interest in getting a divorce for the sake of a blog, and callings ones wife a tortoise is seldom a sensible idea for relations)…but in explicitly exercise terms, she IS purebred tortoise.

Body Project dictionary: 

Exercise Tortoise; as in turtle 

Plural Noun: Tortoises

Reptile. Never stops, never has an unplanned rest and never overdoes it. Typically herbivorous.

The frustratingly and obstinately consistent tortoise simply cannot understand the mindset of the hare. The Tortoise can not comprehend why you need to go so fast, nor why you would need to take a break.

“Why do you have to go ALL OUT Daniel, you know that you end up overtraining, and then you’ll not train for a while.”

She says, with the confidence of precedence. (Cue tortoises the world over nodding their semiaquatic heads in unison at this entirely logical and altogether unarguable statement.)

“Not this time, this time I will keep this pace up forever.”

He says, as Hares the world over who are IN the ‘zone’ nod their fluffy heads in unison…whilst Hares OUT of the ‘zone’ shake their floppy eared heads at his reckless optimism.

Note: Hares ALL know what the zone is. Tortoises are probably wondering why your geographical location has any bearing on your exercise regime. 

Sadly, she is always right. Its usually one small thing that breaks me. An increase in workload, a night out that went on too long, a niggling injury from football. And then, just like that, my exercise pattern is broken.

Broken, that is, until it comes around again. Which it always does. Which means it wasn’t broken. Doesn’t it?


Every time my insatiable exercise mojo is replaced with a inexplicable exercise allergy overnight, I say to myself once again.

“Daniel, be the reliable tortoise you fluffy headed, floppy eared, self inflicted hole burrower.” 

Except, I will never be the tortoise. I am an exquisitely rubbish tortoise. When I try to be a tortoise, the other tortoises laugh at my thin shell, my lack of discipline and my abject failure to fit in. I’m the turtly equivalent of Rudolph amongst the glorious reindeer, with his laughable and altogether unreindeerlike shiny red nose, with the omission of any opportunity to save the day because Santas lights have several back up sources and no chance of failure.

No, if I want better results, I need to be a BETTER Hare. I am a hare, after all.

I aspire to be a Hare that bounces back quicker. A hare that knows that in ever sinew of its rabbity body that it is a bushy tailed, over eager, rapid running, high hopping, road crossing, bucktoothed bunny!

Be that bunny dammit! (but watch out for the headlights bugs)…

Embrace the uptime. Shorten the periods of downtime. Be proud of your all or nothing approach, yes, understand its limitations, but also embrace its possibilities.  Maybe you do have periods when you aren’t as consistent as you’d like to be, but you NEED the downtimes in order to be splendid specimen you are during the up times.

Know that whilst you may not travel as often as the tortoise, when you DO travel you travel first class with a glass of french champagne and a little bowl of white truffles.

Can the hare ever be 100% with our exercise all of the time like the tortoise? No.

Can the Hare become a tortoise? No. I don’t think so.

Can the Hare be as healthy as the tortoise. Yes. thats a resolute YES! We Hares are not losers, we are winners that take a different route to the finish line.

P.S The Tortoise is an outrageously wonderful animal too, I’ve always wanted to be one because of this….but if you’re a tortoise you know that anyway!

  1. Janice Yanecek 7 years ago

    I am a tortoise, but I always catch up – eventually!

  2. Susan Faber 7 years ago

    I am most definitely a Hare. I will never be the tortoise! I can picture myself asleep against a tree while the tortoise passes me. Thank you for helping me see how this is just me and I am okay. Thank goodness we are all so wonderfully different.

  3. Yolande Phillips 7 years ago

    Daniel, I am still waiting for that book to be written. You have an enormously elegant and charming way with words. Thanks for this blog as it helps me understand my hare-self a little better and makes me determined to soldier on (or hop) and not give up the race.

  4. Gregg Hauman 7 years ago

    At my age I believe I will go with the slow and steady pace to win the race. Or at least to be able to finish it. Great post!

  5. Amara Hamilton 7 years ago

    What a great blog! I recognize my ‘hareness’ and realize that I have definite moments of tortoise envy, for sure! Thanks for bringing a smile and upliftment to my day, Daniel!

  6. Karen Mennenga 7 years ago

    Great analogy! 🙂 I am a plodding tortoise. Good thinking on being kind to the wife. I especially laughed at that part…smart husband, right there!! 😉

  7. Clie 7 years ago

    Well what can I say! Tortoise with a tendency of hare or maybe the other way around. I won’t give up!!!

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