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I’m Not a Machine


Today was National Running Day and I was stuck reading my new book on the recumbent bike at the gym…going slow as molasses (not my choice…my knee objected to speed).  I was so annoyed because I love running in so many ways and today of all days I would have relished to lace up my shoes and get in a great run.  I almost did so, injury and all, just to say I participated…I’m stubborn and I wanted to…insolent child I am.  But Boot Camp Steve made sure I couldn’t do that.  He kicked my but earlier in the day so I couldn’t have run even if I had let the dumb idea to do so overtake me.  My PT workout today was one of those I hope I can walk tomorrow…it hurts so good…kind of days.

Dear, dear Boot Camp Steve has been puzzled with my injury for weeks.  Most people who have major back surgery end up back in Physical Therapy for more back pain.  Nope, not me.  I go in for hip tendonitis and tendonitis of the knee. I couldn’t be satisfied by dodging the bullet with major back surgery and living to tell the tale with NO pain after the rehab.  But this knee thing has been his nemesis at each session.  We’d have a good session and I’d walk out feeling great only to be in pain a day or two later and sitting on an ice pack.  He didn’t understand where it was originating and how to treat it effectively.  Was it my hip acting up again?  Was it problems with my back still?  Did I train improperly for my race?  What the heck did I do to myself this time? Whatever it was I did something…something real good this time.

I walked in this morning and got the same question I get at the beginning of every session, “So how’s the knee?”  Kind of like how Pinky asked Brain the same question every night.  I love that I just gave away my age with an Anamaniacs reference 🙂  But anyway I told him it was freaking sore…not just sore, freaking sore.  And no I didn’t run or even do anything strenuous this weekend.  Sure I went to Six Flags and walked around all day…and Memorial Day Hunni and I explored Lenox and the Outlets…and yesterday I did a slow walk on the treadmill…but I’ve done so much more in terms of activity before without a grumble from my body.  SO this little bit of walking shouldn’t have had this result.  He was perplexed and so was I.  So it was back to the drawing board for Boot Camp Steve.

Push and prodding and all sorts of test ensued and we still got nowhere.  Even bending to do a simple squat hurt.  Then he asked when my body felt at its healthiest.  I took a few minutes to think about that.  And honestly I felt at my healthiest as I was finishing up my PT post-back surgery.  You read that right…post surgery.  I had just started running again, I was strong after all the exercises in PT and nothing hurt for the first time in over a year and a half.  I felt invincible because I had beat the odds every doctor said I had stacked against me and I had worked my butt off in PT and was in the best shape of my life.  I had muscles in places I didn’t even know they existed and didn’t miss those pesky discs they took out of my back.  I felt great!  And I felt pretty good after my last round of PT when I messed up my hip.  Again that same strong feeling being able to do things I never thought possible.  And Boot Camp Steve remembered the last time because he was my PT then too.  He had fun thinking of crazy things to make me do and was enjoying watching me breeze through them like I was a college athlete.  He threw it at me and I gave it right back.

But honestly since my last stint in PT in the fall I’ve slacked on the strength training.  It was slowly at first…kind of like how a snowball builds.  I got busy and thought that cardio was a better bang for my buck if I only had 30 minutes at the gym in between picking up presents and counting kettles.  I had to burn off all those calories of sushi I was consuming while working 18 hour days at Christmas.  Then I got depressed for lots of reasons and was happy if I made it to the gym a few times a week to run to train for my 10K.  Some of those runs were 6 miles so after 1.5 hours on the treadmill I just wanted to collapse into bed with coconut ice cream…and did many days.  I was determined to run that race if it killed me.  And then there was all the food I ate (see coconut ice cream after running) that added the fluff to my frame…a good bit of fluff too.  So by the time I ran my 10K I was fluffier in many ways…I had more weight and had less muscle.  Not a good combo when training for your longest race.

Honestly I push myself and I push hard…and I don’t always make the best choices.  Running with my prior knee injuries may not be the best idea.  Running after major back surgery is a worse idea.  And running a race you may not be completely prepared for is just insanity.  I’m cleared to run as long as I train properly…but I don’t always do that…cue the insanity.  All the things I learn about my fitness I push to the limits and beyond.  When I first started working out I used the highest step in my step aerobics class even though I was over 100 pounds overweight.  I walked everywhere in my town for hours listening to my iPod including to go grocery shopping and to church each week.  I trained for my first 5K race in rain and heat after long days just so I could run it when I got back to seminary after my internship.  I had told everyone I was running so I had to.  Harder and faster in every step of my fitness journey.  I guess I wanted to prove that I could do it after barely being able to do anything in high school and college.  The only sport I ever played was intertube water polo and I wasn’t even that good at it.  I liked the title fit girl instead of the fat girl.

But bless Boot Camp Steve’s heart.  He had a nice long heart-felt chat with me as he handed me my butt with another workout today.  He broke it down really simply.  He wants to see me running and accomplishing my goals and he knows I can do it.  I can run yes but I won’t run far or for long if I hold onto this weight and don’t strengthen my muscles, especially my legs.  The more muscles I have the quicker I can turn over my steps and the better I’ll run.  And if I get back to my Healthy Happy Weight (which I am working at as I type) my body won’t complain as much when I run farther and faster.  Right now my body is complaining because I haven’t treated it with the respect it deserves and put so much added pressure on my muscles and joints.

I’m not a machine and I don’t need to act like it.  I have nothing to prove.  I can enjoy running for me and not to be faster and go farther.  I can be strong and not just thin.  For so long I’ve lived by the notion that I had to hit a magic number and stay in that range.  But Katy made me realize last week that if I want to truly be an athlete then I need to treat my body like an athlete.  I may gain some weight in muscle instead of just fitting in on some random chart the government says because of my height and age.  I need to get on track with my fitness just like I have been lately with my eating.  I am learning to eat what my body can handle with all my issues and I need to learn to exercise for what my body can handle.  I’ve got lots of issues but if I work with them instead of trying to fight against them I can be in great health all around.  I’m seeing that already with my eating finally that I’ve made the commitments I needed…I hope it doesn’t take me as long to do with my fitness.

So my goals of a marathon and even a half marathon may be put on hold for longer than I thought…or forever…as I build up my strength and learn to enjoy my body for what it can do instead of what I try to force it to do.  So it’s back to getting strange looks at the gym with all the great exercises that Boot Camp Steve gives me.  But honestly I think it’s kind of cool that the big muscle heads stare at me as I do more than just the same old same old.  🙂

What have you realized about your fitness lately?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/06/2010 7:11 AM

    You have such a great attitude about all of this! I admire your commitment to get stronger and reach your goals!

    • 03/06/2010 10:13 AM

      Thanks Diane. I hope the good attitude sticks. Right now I’m committed but I waver at times.

  2. 03/06/2010 9:43 AM

    Injuries are so tough — I went on a 3.5 mile run yesterday … the first in months … and was shocked to learn that my foot injury was STILL plaguing me.

    Thanks for the shoutout but it’s YOU that deserves credit — I’m glad my journey is helping you!

    • 03/06/2010 12:45 PM

      Thanks Katy! I hope that your injury continues to heal so you can get back to the triathlons you love.

  3. 04/06/2010 12:20 PM

    That is a great revelation about your fitness, Cynthia. I esp love that you said that you want to learn to enjoy your body “for what it can do” instead of what you “try to force it to do”. A basic respect for your body, and your body will treat you well! 🙂

    • 04/06/2010 7:48 PM

      Thanks Sophia. I’m trying. But I miss running so bad. I just need to keep thinking that I want to do what I can.

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