Lean into the Pain

There’s a fellow I follow on Twitter who is, for the first time in is life, in his mid-forties, trying to get into shape. He certainly has good reasons why he never exercised before, stemming from being run over by a car as a teenager, so it’s not a case of getting BACK into shape, but getting into shape in the first place.

He bought an elliptical, and posts pictures of his workouts with comments like:

This gets fun, right?

Now, I couldn’t respond to him, because I don’t actually have Twitter. It’s a time suck and a hellscape, especially for someone like me, with depression problems. So when I say I follow him, it’s not in the sense of a “Twitter follow” but in the sense that I read his page.

Anyway, although I can’t reply directly to him I can address his question here. And, Rob, the answer is…probably not. Doesn’t matter, lean into the pain.

You’ve abused your body for 3 decades since they surgically put your leg back together. You will probably never enjoy exercising like nutbars such as I.

How nutty am I?

20 years ago I had gotten myself (by my standards) a bit out of shape. At the time I travelled a lot for work, and the only gym membership was my kung fu studio. My teachers attitude was the complete opposite of what I described yesterday about my Tae Kwon Do classes; 45-60 minutes of stretching and calisthenics followed by 60-75 minutes of actual martial arts training.

Damon’s attitude was, “I’m here to teach you to fight, you want to get in shape, join a gym.”

Well, I travelled too much to join a gym, and so there I was, losing my aerobic fitness.

Then I found myself spending a week in a hotel 2 minutes from the Tri-Cities airport in Moline, Illinois. Do you know what there is to do for an out of towner in Moline, Illinois, in February? Pretty much exactly what you think there is.

Short version, I was stuck in a hotel room, with nothing to do. So I put on my running gear and headed to the hotel gym, got on the treadmill, and set it like I wasn’t out of shape. I think that first night I did 5 miles in about 32 minutes.

If you’re calculating that at home, I was averaging just over 6 minutes per mile, or running just under 10 mph. For an out of shape guy, edging into middle age. That’s not too bad. Okay, it is bad. Really bad. Like, stupid bad. But I decided to lean into the pain.

Luckily for me, the hotel was heavily booked, and the only non-smoking room they had available was handicapped access. Which meant that there was a fold-down seat in the shower.

I finished my run, staggered back to my room, stumbled into the shower and had the very first sit-down shower of my life. Almost puked when the warm water hit me, too.

That’s what happens when you push too hard, too soon, and your body isn’t ready for it.

So again, no Rob, this probably isn’t ever going to get fun. No matter, you want to be there for Carrie, Nigel and Ginnie, lean into the pain.

The crazy thing is, I enjoyed every minute of it. The gasping during the run. The staggering, stumbling trip to the shower. Collapsing onto the seat and soaking for 15 minutes as I started to recover. And, yes, I even enjoyed the DOMS the next day. For that matter, I enjoyed the next few days of daily runs, through the DOMS, too.

Bikram Choudry liked to say:

You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from the scratch once again.

I agree with this, absolutely and without reservation.

Doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it, though, so lean into the pain.