The Change Of Shapes To Come
Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be
Getting back in shape hurts. I was haunted by what I knew what I used to do. I'm not trying to recover my youth—I needed to recover a new definition of fitness, and decided that I had to start pushing it again.
I lucked out. There's a gym in the office park I work in. I can ride my bike 10-1/2miles from home, into a shower. What a luxury! Looking around the gym, I noticed weight machines, and the hook: a free physical assessment.
The verdict confirmed the anecdotal: I'd put on 20lbs over my prime fighting weight, my arms were Gumbyesque, torso and core strength was kinda sad, and my Hannah Montana man-bra was getting snug.
What to do now, middle-aged man-child? I had the nice fitness pro cook up a program to build strength and fitness. She did, and two days later, I was shown the exercises. Soon my arms burned, my torso screamed, and I was pushing out sweat beads the size of buckshot. I hurt.
A Further Definition of a Boombastic Lifestyle...
Hurt is not to be conflated or confused with injury. Injuries are avoidable, not inevitable, and are contingent on habit, attitudes, nutrition, rest, recovery, or the lack of any of the above. Random events also figure. Shit happens, sooner or later.
So here's the good news: it's always hurt. Forever.
I'll elaborate. I hurt when I was training as a high-school 2-miler. After college, I hurt when I was learning how to Nordic downhill ski. Ditto rock-climbing and mountaineering. I hurt when I was approaching my first marathon. And I hurt like hell afterwards, because I hadn't trained well enough.
I hurt when I started body-boarding and discovered that my first marathon did not make me a very good swimmer. Time, tide, and outside set waves wait for nobody.
Hurting was a way of life when I went into the high country on multi-day outings. I wheezed over Black Rock Pass, overlooking the Triple Divide. But damn, those vistas were memorable.
I hurt all the time when I started doing ultras in 1989. I kept finding out that what I'd done earlier didn't cut it; like running along the Pacific Coast Hwy from Zuma to County Line did not qualify as altitude training.
I started running with bigger dogs. Those guys went out fast and hard. Eventually I found myself going up and over Red Rock, Post Peak Passes in the Yosemite backcountry. Busting my hurting ass, chasing after seasoned runners once the thunderstorms quit, and the flesh-eating mosquitoes that came out as darkness fell.
I'd already gotten into 100s by this time. My education was beginning. By the end of that run, I'd spent six years being coached by the best, and hurting most of the time.
Illness forced me out of ultras. Other disciplines arose, and I profited by being challenged every step of the way. I still ran, but then work and other stuff arose, and I stopped doing nearly everything except riding a bike. Things were not looking good.
What Now, My Duckling?
The workouts are starting to bear fruit. Lifting and crunching, done right, without cultic distractions, are a beautiful thing. Its satisfying to feel upper-body strength used for actual living, like holding a camera steady for a long shot.
The six-pack is starting to emerge from a hot-water bottle. Its making my runs more interesting. And yes, I'm notching up the mileage there too.
Starting over again reminds me that I can learn something new. The esteemed Zen Roshi Casino Bingo observed that "your body is perfect, for what you are right this very instant." If you've been inert, there it is.
How hard is it to change? As long as you can breathe, you can begin to do something about whatever's on your mind. Or just tilt back the recliner and let it slide.