Friday, May 20, 2011

Gym notes

In the years since I started going to the gym I've avoided the treadmills. I've reviled them as only half a workout, mocked them as being the lazy man's (or more likely, lazy woman's) half-assed way to fitness. To me, it seems there are more effective, efficient and energetic machines in the gym and I've chosen them over and over.

They're better on your knees besides, which truthfully, my knees give me some trouble these days. The arc trainer and the elliptical machines don't stress the joints as much, but you can only go so far doing the same thing over and over. It's a truth, even if what you're doing is the right thing, your returns eventually diminish. Life is the gym. Change is necessary for growth and doing the thing you don't want to do is almost always the thing you must do.

I didn't want to get on the fucking treadmill.

I didn't want to run.

I was afraid of it --the pace, the pummeling my joints would take. I've slimmed down a bit, but I've also muscled up. My weight is the same as it was six months ago, maybe what it was a year ago, but now I can bench press a lot more. I'm back to my college weight plus five pounds, but I wear it differently.

I plugged the information into the machine and started off at a flat run. Two minutes later, the run was reduced to a brisk walk calculated to be a couple of paces faster than the 65 year-old grandmother marching next to me in her overly tight battleship gray.

There was shame --only two minutes. I could only hack two minutes before my knees started begging for me to stop. I walked and consoled myself. Hey, you're 40. Hey, you're heart and lungs are fine, but you know, you've got to be lighter to do this --then I looked over at the 350 pound amateur sumo wrestler sprinting on his treadmill down the line.

I punched the speed upward, went from a walk to a jog from a jog to a run.

Just another two minutes, I thought. Two more minutes and that would be a start.

Funny thing. Two minutes turned to three then to four then to eight. The pain in my knees vanished. My breathing was fine. I could do it.

Elation. I wasn't a cripple. I wasn't an old man. I could still run. Grinning like an idiot I kept at it until the muscles in my legs burned, until I felt it in my hips and knew it was time to let it go.

I could do this.

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