A New Training Mantra: Listen

Why does my ego so delight in torturing my body?

I have been back to the gym three times in the last week and a half. After Day One, my lower back ached and my knees whined if I so much as looked at a stair case.

They didn’t hurt when you were churning out miles the elliptical or pushing through all those squats, my ego snarls. Actually, I thought you had more in you!

Today, I started off strong (well, easy), but I slipped into my old habits pretty fast. I kept the elliptical trainer at an easy level seven and I stepped off after a twenty minute warm­-up, but the moment I stepped on the hardwood floor of the studio gym, it was all over. Interval training overload: superman burpies, squats with weights, v-sits, lunges with weights, mountain climbers. Three sets. On a Bosu. I couldn’t stop shaking on the squats. I could barely breathe at the end of the mountain climbers. I got so dizzy at one point mid-lunge, that I was in serious danger of tipping over. This is only my third trip to the gym after a lay-off of many months. I am forty-four years old, not exactly a spring chicken. Overly ambitious? Uh, yeah. Just a touch.

My ego elbows its way into the discussion. Oh come on, you have good genes. You are up to this. You’ve been an athlete your whole life.

I’m half-convinced. It slips in this half-lie again: Your body didn’t complain, not a whit.

Wait a minute. Is that true? Or am I just deaf?

Maybe my knees did complain. Maybe, having long since learned to go for the burn (Thanks Jane Fonda), I tuned out the distress signals. Like for the love of Pete, can you knock off the lunges? I don’t hear this when I’m in mid-squat or as I dial up the elliptical to the next level. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the message wasn’t sent. Maybe my receiver is broken.

Perhaps, having ignored the messages from my body for so long, the neural pathways carrying them have closed down for non-use, kind of like an old country highway I know, its pavement cracked and weeds growing up. I can see a of couple tiny construction workers hammering in a black-and-yellow Road Closed sign. It’s no use, Pete. T’aint no one using this pathway. Let’s shut ‘er down and open up another lane on Caffeine Road.

So maybe I need a new training mantra, like Listen?  How novel.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

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