WEATHER: Hot and humid. Which I sort of love.
MILES THIS WEEK: 19.
WHERE TO: Tralalalala, fields of happy green non-injured beauty, covered in bunnies and flowers and, yeah, OK, a few blisters.
When we last left off, we had worked our way through Stage 2, which involves copious amounts of anger and questionable ways of dealing with it.
And now, reluctantly, I invite you to enter
Stage 3: Mourning
Alright, sweetheart. Let it out. Cry open-mouthed, choking sobs and bang your fists on the floor. Drink a pint of Wild Turkey. Make and eat an entire loaf of banana-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip bread WITHOUT EVEN BAKING IT. <rubs your back, holds you close> There, there. Yes, I realize that you just vommed whiskey/batter all over my chest. It’s OK. Shhhhh-
<smacks you upside the head>
Ok, 30 seconds is up. Mourning is over. Now it’s time for:
Stage 4: Acceptance/Hitting Bottom
Yeah, you’re injured, but the full REALITY of that hasn’t hit you yet. Maybe you can still pull through! Maybe you just need a knee wrap! Or a tighter tourniquet! Or a few more stitches in your ACL! Or <SLAP SLAP SLAP>
Stop it. Shut your filthy whore mouth. You are INJURED, honey, and sooner or later, something altogether dramatic and awful is going to happen (like me repeatedly slapping your filthy whore mouth) to make you realize that you need to lie down and recuperate.
For me, hitting bottom in my most recent injury-instance occurred when I contracted what medical professionals call “the hellflu.”
Up until my illness, I had been thinking, “Hey, you know, I’m really feeling OK. The knee, the foot, my very soul are improving in health with every passing day, and maybe in the end this injury will make me str- <vom vom vom vom VOM VOM VOM VOM>”
When I woke up I was in the GWU Emergency Room with a fever of 50 bajillion degrees (Celsius).
“It’s OK, honey,” said the nurse, inserting 8 IVs of super-fix-it juice at once.
“I think maybe it’s time to take a break and recover,” I said. Or at least, that’s what I tried to say. In fever-delirium, it came out something like, “Jub jub joob <drool> <cough>.”
“You’re fine. You’re going to a peaceful place,” said the priest.
“<gurgle>,” I responded.
Was that when I decided to call it quits? Yes. Though it helped when I got my prescription.
“PERCOCET?” I said, sputtering behind my super-germ-quarantine mask.
“Yeah,” said the doctor.
“But…why?” I said, perhaps foolishly looking a gift-horse in the mouth.
“The flu sucks,” shrugged the doctor, God bless her. And I swear I am not making this up.
But the moral of the story is this: when someone has prescribed you narcotics, it’s time for a rest. A really pleasant rest.
Stage 5: Cross-Training
OK. When you’re good and ready, pull those IVs out and spit out those last few happypills and allow me to help you pick your exercise. Or maybe just prattle on about your options in a non-helpful-but-amusing-perhaps-only-to-myself fashion.
Yoga. An excellent way to create balance and restore an “openness” to all parts of the body. To wit: “Oooooopen your hips,” says the instructor as you lower yourself into pigeon pose. “Your most intense feelings are stored in your hips.” (I am not joking. This is a well-known thing in yoga-land.) And soon you find yourself crying. Truly, yoga is a beautiful practice that strengthens but stretches not only your muscles, but your soul. Let it out. It’s OK. Cryyyy, lady. This is a natural consequence of deep hip-openers. Or you’ve just ruptured your hoo-hah.
Zumba/Bodypump/WhateverClassisGoingonataConvenientTimeatYourGym. These classes are always led by peppy, slightly-crazy-eyed middle-aged women who could probably rival Madonna in a sinewy-fitness-fanatic-off. While not always terribly difficult for a fitness god like you, hot stuff, the technical difficulty of these classes can be downright astounding. So when the teacher yells, “double-grapevine-on-a-high-step-with-chest-press-cleans!” and the whole class SPRINGS INTO ACTION in beautiful, choreographed unison…that is when you, like a well-oiled machine, stop moving, cock your head, and say, “Huh?”
“I SEE YOU, PALE-AND-DRIPPING GIRL IN THE BACK!” says Ms. Sinew.
You wriggle in place and sort of hop up and down, in hopes that you are aping the instructor’s motions.
“I SAID DOUBLE GRAPEVINE!” she says, striding over to your step to, presumably, help move your limbs in some sort of correct and rhythmic fashion, but you have already army-crawled your sweaty way out the door, on your way to the…
Weight Room. The weight room is a strange land inhabited by a mostly male tribe whose culture is alien to most runners. These strange specimens prefer whey protein to Gu. They do a lot of standing around. Their heart rates never get above maybe 100, unless someone tries to “work in” between their “sets,” which raises all sorts of hell. They neglect their quads/hamstrings/calves to work on “bulking up” areas known as the “pecs” and “lats” and “arms.”
But be nice to them. When you overestimate your Herculean strength and drop the chest-press bar directly onto what feels like all your vital organs at once, they will help you lift it off before your hernia gets too bad.
“Don’t worry,” they say. “Someday you’ll be able to put weights on it and everything.”
Swimming. An excellent full-body workout. Plus — Yay! You get to swim! You’ve always sort of wanted to try it, just to show all your smug Ironman friends that — pshhhh — it’s not so hard. You could do this. You have run bajillion-mile races without drinking any water that didn’t come from a puddle. You have the legs of a freaking champ. But there are crucial things you need to know about swimming:
- It is, in fact, impossibly hard.
- No, really. It is impossibly hard.
- It could kill you.
Seriously, one lap might at first be enough for a few weeks. To find out how much you should swim, take your maximum weekly running mileage and divide it by 3.491………kablillion. This is how many laps you can do comfortably, without wheezing and maybe crying a little.
Furthermore, regarding the “it could kill you” point: I am not joking here. I mean, if you run to exhaustion, you just lie down next to the trail and wait for your runner Prince Charming to swoop in, pick up your sweaty ass, and hoist you off to
his castle, which has spigots of ice-cold water and Gatorade and Diet Coke a nearby bench with a “Needs Medical Attention and also a Towel” sign on your forehead.
But if you swim to exhaustion, your lungs fill with water and the lifeguard Prince Charming swoops in and sends you off to GWU hospital…
…where you might get Percocet.
That’s it. Swimming it is.
The problem with doing all this cross-training is that suddenly you might find in your daily nudie-in-front-of-mirror preening that, due to all this cross-training, your body has changed. You are no longer describable as “stringy” or “devoid of butt muscles” or “weirdest. farmer tan. ever.” Now you are what the fitness pros call “jacked” or “ripped” or “stacked” or “possessing a honky-tonk badonkadonk” or “not nearly as constantly-purple-faced-and-sweaty as you used to be.”
Wait. Do you not miss running?
But one day you will see a beautiful stringy purple-faced creature springing down Rhode Island Avenue, and a fuzzy memory will come to you. “I used to do that,” you will murmur to yourself. “That was me. I was young and beautiful and healthy.”
Oh dear. Now you are conflicted. STAGE 6 BEGINS!