Here at Greatist, we believe in taking a day off. Instead of our regular programming Saturdays, our writers get a chance to write about living the greatist lifestyle and, basically, whatever they want. This is one of those awesome articles. Enjoy!
It’s pretty amazing how our bodies will adjust to basically anything we want them to do, so long as we give them some time to learn, and some time to rest. As a pretty impatient person when it comes to training and staying fit, I’ve always struggled with the “time,” “learn,” and “rest” parts of that statement. Maybe due to the coaches I had growing up, I’ve always had that high-intensity, no-pain-no-gain style of self-motivation. It can come in handy, but without knowing how to channel and control it, that type of motivation isn’t sustainable. I’ve let mine run rampant for a long time, and one day I’m going to run out of youth. The nagging, crazy voice in my head that gets me going also brings me down sometimes. I’ll let that voice start off a story about irrational approaches to new challenges, which ends with me spending about half of summer 2011 limping around like Cap Rooney in Any Given Sunday.
I don’t train easy. I train tough. Real tough. I try to lose my breath and never find it. I try to suffer; I try to fail. If my iPod dies during a session, yeah I throw a little tantrum or whatever, but then I just sing quietly and keep at it. If the woman on the treadmill next to me is giggling, watching Friends, I reach over and turn the TV off. She’s not focused enough. She’ll thank me when she reaches a goal.
A few years back, I was in college: laughing, smiling, eating hamburgers like I deserved it. Plus I was slacking on the training. It was unacceptable. It was time to hit reset. That’s when I picked up distance running. It was perfect: I couldn’t do it. It was suffering, it was new. I was game.
I didn’t read about it; I just started running. “5 miles? I can’t run that far. So… I’ll run that far.” I’d run 2.5 miles away, no watch or money on me, so I’d have to run back (what’s walking?). I got better at it, I got stronger, and I started running races.
Fast forward to 2011. Still running races— I eat 5 miles, its snacks—but I’m worse at other stuff. I’m slow, no quickness. Can’t explode, can’t attack. Again, unacceptable. Time to reset. Time to build speed.
I woke up to that voice on a Sunday in July, during the NYC heat wave. I had a spoonful of peanut butter, chugged some water, and bolted out the door into the 100+ degree weather (it was like noon). Still half asleep, I was jetting down the West Side Highway running path, thinking about nothing other than getting faster.
Not ten minutes later, I was a warrior on the battlefield (more like the Chelsea Piers mini-soccer field near Chambers St). I scoped out the scene, and designed my new challenge on the spot:
A dead sprint, goal to goal, 20 times. Between sets, walk back, do some pushups, try to look cool. And what’s this “stretching” I hear about? Oh… I had no idea. Sounds boring. Skipped.
I stepped to the line, threw on a song, and went for it. I ran as hard as I could, walked back, and did it again. After two sets, I still didn’t feel like Willie Beamen— like I had the invisible juice— so I got mad. But I stuck with it. By 13 sprints, I basically felt like a hero.
Hey, you’re a hero. See that corporate softball game going on right over there? Zero heroes.
Halfway through #14, I was fully primal, yelling loudly, until I felt a pop. At first, I thought somebody heaved a softball at the back of my leg for what the little voice said. But I quickly realized that the pop was my hamstring calling it quits. I faceplanted, knowing it was bad (more like a bad pull, but stick to the story). My leg was done. I couldn’t get up. I was alone and stranded. I looked up into the white light, dehydrated and afraid, thinking of hamburgers, when I heard a voice…
Time to reset. What’s the fastest I can hobble home?