07 9 / 2013
06 7 / 2013
05 1 / 2013
The studio where I do my yoga work-trade has new classes for the new year (we have posters to the same effect). One of those is called “barre fusion” (BarreFusion!). It’s described as a cardio-infused blend of ballet barre, vinyasa yoga, and mat pilates. The studio manager asked me to take it so that I’d know what it was and could adequately explain it to inquiring clients. Sure, I said; I like new things. And I’ve been much less active this last month, with traveling and visiting home, though yesterday I ran with a friend and then went to yoga after. It would be good for me, I thought, to do something sort of high-powered.
I had trouble in the class for two reasons. First, I am weak, both in muscle and in tolerance for pain. The adductors in my shoulders and upper arms, I found, aren’t able to lift a small weight up and down and up and down for forty-five seconds, then hold up, then pulse extended, then hold, then pulse extended, without pinching and crying out. Nor am I able to do the same with pliés without a line of fire running down my inner thighs, so that I have to straighten my legs and stand for a second before continuing. I cannot sit back on one knee with the other leg extended and put my forehead to my knee, and I can’t touch the floor bending over an outstretched leg, because the whole column of muscle and tendon in the back of my legs is very tight. It is not, I think, that I’ve never been shown that my muscles are weak. There are yoga poses that set me trembling with strain because I am not strong enough to stay steady. My wrists and triceps are too weak and my balance too poor for crow pose. I’ve been made aware of areas of weakness and how I can get stronger. The difference, I think, is that I understand and am fairly comfortable with learning about weaknesses, but it feels terrible to be made to feel weak. There was no balancing movement that allowed me to feel strong in it; it was repetition of things I was too weak to do, that hurt, over and over, until the class was done, and it sapped my motivation. I don’t want to hurt.
Second, I am not comfortable with treating my body like an adversary. Even when I had limits to push through during my marathon training, “you have to do this don’t punk out” never worked; “you can do this, you have the strength left, a little further now, let’s go” did. I like running because I feel like my legs and I are on a team. I like yoga because it makes me pay attention to all of me, and all of me is working together to do something. Isolating muscle groups felt foreign and oddly impotent, with no goal behind it. Except to be pretty. “Having a ballerina’s body isn’t easy!” said the teacher. But I don’t want a ballerina’s body, I thought. Is that why we’re here? Again, during a back exercise: “It’s good for posture—and good posture makes your boobs look bigger!” Which is nowhere on my list of goals and, let me assure you, nothing is going to make mine look very big at all, because I am small and they’re small too. And that’s okay with me. I wasn’t there to beat my body into some kind of new, better shape, and I didn’t like feeling as though I needed to fight with it to make it into something else.
And the yoga? Nonexistent, except for a couple of fifteen-second recovery periods during which we could take child’s post or shavasana.
The thing is, though: I left feeling a sort of shallow misery, just bad, weak and bad. But part of my brain wonders if I shouldn’t go back, to get stronger.
06 11 / 2012
A story about how I have been trying to figure out what to do with my body after the marathon includes the part where I fell into a work-trade agreement at the yoga studio in my neighborhood and then, finally, after several weeks of being too intimidated, I took my first class last Sunday. Then I took four more.
I like it. I like that it makes my muscles tired but doesn’t leave me feeling drained (I’m a beginner). I like that it makes me concentrate entirely on the shape and movement of my body. I like that I am getting to know what parts of me are strong and what parts are weak, what parts can stretch and bend and what parts can’t. I like that my mind feels steady when I’m done. I like that I can see myself getting better but I know that I have just mountains of things to learn and do.
I’ve run a couple of times, very briefly, since my marathon last month, and I still like it. I want to pick it up again. I wasn’t sore for very long after my marathon; nothing hurt during ordinary movements after about four days, and nothing hurt to run after maybe ten. I want to be more creative with my running, to take a bus up and run back, for instance, or to run the other way down the Lakefront Trail. But at the same time, it’s felt good to have the mental rest: to say to myself that I don’t have to run, and then not.
Anyway, so, running is on the back burner but returning to a boil, I guess. In the meantime, I have such a stupid crush on yoga. But it’s been a week and my posture’s better, and also it’s free, so I’m all in.
14 10 / 2012
14 10 / 2012
13 10 / 2012
08 7 / 2012
9’54” per mile.
This was my week:
This week was a bad week. Tuesday, I even accidentally stopped my run in the middle and had to restart (dear Nike: please create an “oops jk” button?), which was insult to injury on a day so hot that it took me like 38 minutes to run three miles. And you can see Saturday, where I crawled to an undignified halt. (I’m glad I quit and walked home, though—I had to stop and rest during the slow walk back, too. AND THEN THE HEAT BROKE AND IT WAS COOL AFTER LUNCH. WTF, Chicago?)
But what I really want to talk about is this:
No, I’m not above being delighted when Lance Armstrong’s voice tells me he’s proud of me. And that stupid 5k record was from November.
I understand, I truly do, that a ten-minute mile is only sort of acceptable, right, and not something to really brag about. But look. I left the house at 6:45 this morning; it was cloudy and windy and 75° and perfect. And I ran and ran and ran! And it felt great! And my pace picked up after the first two miles! And it stayed up! My fastest mile was the sixth one! (I stopped and stretched in the middle of mile five, at the halfway point, so it was probably more like 10’15”, but that’s fine.) And I felt like I could keep going. I kept slowing down and then getting bursts of energy, like when you get a triple mushroom in Mario Kart.
Even though in my head I knew it was kind of silly, after yesterday I was afraid that the thing that made running feel so good was broken, and it wouldn’t be fun anymore, and I’d keep trying for a bit and give up and it would be terrible. So the first two slow miles were actually sort of scary. But then it was like something re-broke open and then I was free(eeeeeeeeeeee)! Also Lordamercy the endorphins when I was done? Also I ate TWO EGGS.
Shoe update: running nine miles in my new shoes hurt noticeably less than seven miles in my old shoes. So, great!
I’m running an out-and-back course on my long runs; I wonder whether it would be psychologically easier or harder to run in a straight line the whole way, point A to point B, since I’m running far enough now to, in theory, take a bus downtown and run all the way home.
07 7 / 2012
This week has been hot in Chicago (maybe you heard). I’ve been shooting myself in the foot, too, not getting out to run til almost nine, when the temperature had already broken ninety. My daily runs (3-4-3) were poor, but I did them—a couple of walking pauses and a pace closer to 10’35”, but I did them. It was unspeakably miserable Tuesday, bad Wednesday, and kinda gross Thursday: an upward trend. So this morning, when I started before 7:30 on what was supposed to be a nine mile long run, I figured it’d be unpleasant, but nothing I couldn’t do.
But I’m walking home now from a point 2.6 miles into the run, where I’d sat on a parking bench trying to figure out why I felt so bad. It took me 35 minutes to get even that far, at a slow jog with long walking breaks. I don’t think it was the heat. Maybe it was my breakfast, or its volume, or its proximity to the run. But I felt dully nauseated, and my legs felt cut off from any energy in the rest of my body. I guess I could have forced myself to go, but I don’t want to hate this. And I had no vehicle home but my own two feet; if it’d gotten worse, I’d have gotten stuck.
So I’ll rest today and eat a good dinner, and try again early tomorrow. It’s supposed to be cooler, anyway. Here’s hoping.