Friday, July 02, 2010

The One Body Problem

Poor Kate, on whose post I left a chirpy little comment today. Her thoughts about what inspires exercise really dovetail with a number of things that I've been thinking about over the past week.

After The Epic Ride from Hades (see below), I did indeed lay off the bike for awhile. Actually, I had no choice---given that the brakes were non-existent, I had to take it in for a tune-up. But round about that same time, I started to have one of those weird "I think the universe is talking to me" moments. Early on in the spring, my super-athlete friend J had started training to do a local triathlon and had asked if I wanted to. I toyed with the idea for a minute in that "that sounds interesting! And so does hiking Kilimanjaro! And being an astronaut!" way, only to stop thinking about it when I found out that the date coincided with The Fluffs' trip abroad. But last week, it occurred to me: if the cursed paper had brought down the trip, then maybe I was supposed to do the tri? Could it be done?

So in the blazing heat and humidity, I went for my first run in months. It was painful, and more sweaty than anyone outside 300 has a right to be. But I got it done. So if that part were possible, then maybe? To really know, I'd have to try a couple of the activities back to back. So the next day, I went to the gym and swam the tri distance, got out of the pool, changed my clothes, went upstairs and ran. [For the record, I find running after swimming no more difficult than running without swimming. You just smell worse.] Chlorine-chafing aside, it was doable. Holy crap, maybe I could actually do this thing?!

I fully planned to rest the next day, since I could barely walk. But when J said that she and her awesome Amazonian partner were going to a training camp that night, I packed up my gear and picked up my bike and took out my wetsuit. And promptly had my ass handed to me. It's been awhile (high school, maybe?) since I've worked out hard enough to approach vomiting. By the end of the bike ride (which wasn't even the regulation distance), I was starting to hallucinate. I had always been climbing this hill, I would always be climbing this hill, dudes in tight shorts would always have their asses in my face as I climbed this hill... But I survived. I could barely walk the next day, but I didn't drown, and I didn't have to walk my bike. And I didn't cry. Not in front of anyone, anyway. Just internally.

By the time I had gotten up the gumption to register for the race, it was sold out. Disappointed. Relieved? It would have been a great thing to obsess over (you have no idea how complicated clothing can really be until you see people try to figure out how to do three different sports in it. This should be a Project Runway challenge. Come on, Michael Kors, get all South Beach sport with a frisson of Chanel on us!). And in the run-up (so to speak) to the idea that I'd have to train for that sucker, I started planning out what I'd have to do each day, what I should be eating (see Kate's post on this too!!), recovery days, etc.

Thinking about competition, or challenge, when it comes to exercise is such a different motivator than "my ass looks fat in this skirt." Because seriously, when it's hot, and I'm running (and I hate running), what's the motivation to keep going? Burning off another 100 calories? Bitch, please. I'll down that the instant I get back from the run! [And woe betide my running if the ipod falls on Aretha. Because then all I can think is "dude, Aretha is awesome, and she is a big woman. What the crap am I running for? I should be at home belting it out! And eating a donut!]

But doing something hard to show yourself that you can? Or because you're going to have to do it in front of hundreds of other athletes and spectators who will point and laugh if you choke? That's motivation. [They won't actually laugh. They'd probably just pity you. Or judge. But I bet the pointing would happen.] And better yet, it's a way to think about your body in terms of what it can do, not what it looks like. Any change in the latter is the side effect, not the goal. I'm never going to be tiny---that's not in the cards. But I can haul ass up that hill on my bike, yessirree bob. And that's the ass that is so happy with what it can do that it doesn't even mind being padded out in public.


Anonymous The Bittersweet Girl said...

First of all: I'm seriously impressed that you are capable of such feats of physical prowess. I think I might be able to run a few feet before I'd need to sit down with my head between my knees.

But, I completely agree that having a goal -- as compared to the more free-floating body hatred that our culture cultivates in women -- is much more motivating. A testament to the disservice we do to young girls when we don't encourage them to play sports, don't you think?

I've never been athletic or played sports -- but I do practice yoga (which I see more as a spiritual practice or a lifestyle than a "sport") and even I find that setting specific goals is useful, like: I will practice 25 days out of the month, or something like that.

Hope you keep that competitive spirit!

Friday, July 09, 2010 9:03:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Holy crap, if I practiced yoga 25 days out of the month, I'd nominate myself for Pope. Or sainthood. Or something stellar.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 10:12:00 AM  

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