Four months ago I decided to take a season off from training. I stopped tracking mileage, stopped doing workouts, only ran as far or as fast as I wanted and only when I felt like it.
Recently, finally, I was cruising up a hill in the park, cool drizzle misting my face, when I noticed the muscles in my face working in an unaccustomed way: I was smiling. Beaming, in fact. My legs turned over faster and faster as I crested the hill and threw my head back. “I want to train, dammit!” I shouted to the damp, empty park. I raised my fist to the heavens, rain pelting my cheeks and mixing with the sweat and salt. “I want to traaaaain!”
It was an epic moment of triumphant release.
And it came crashing down like an ice bath dropped on me from five stories up when I got down to the business of actually training.
Legs! What are these small, invisible bowling balls attached to you with every step? We’re only five pounds over racing weight, for god’s sake. Turnover: ring any bells? Remember that? And what is this tingly, twitchy feeling when we try to go fast? I just want to scream at you every time we run: QUIT YOUR WHINING, LADIES!
Lungs! We need to chat. Respiration is not rocket science, correct? Isn’t it, like, instinctual or something? And yet, running downhill at a cadence that was once my easy pace, I find myself wheezing like the sexual heavings of an asthmatic moose. With every heaving, panting, sigh rushing from my lips at gale force, I curse my own life choices.
You see, I know quite well that this is my fault. I did this to myself. Something changed during my last marathon training cycle, and running felt horrible. I resented every interval, hated every long run. I was angry about a lot of outside things, and running, somehow, made me more stabby and rage-ful. The marathon sucked.
I know I made the right decision. Overtraining lurked ahead and time off was the best thing for me mentally and physically. But for the sake of all that is good and holy, why the hell does everything have to fall apart so damn fast!?
It’s not just the heavy legs, it’s not just the wheezing, it’s the mush. I’m just … mushy. I’ve lost any semblance of core strength and holding my form together is now like trying to carry a trash bag full of Jell-o over a mountain. My posture looks like I should be climbing a bell tower in Notre Dame, not gazelling on the bridle path in Central Park.
And the mush means nothing fits right! My favorite shorts don’t fit right, my extra-room-bloaty-PMS shorts don’t even fit right, and I’ve grown accustomed to the permanent lower-back gap between my shirt and my waistband that advertises like a billboard: ALL MY CLOTHES ARE TOO SMALL FOR ME. I’ve become resigned to knowing every item of clothing I own will result in extra chafing; my upper arms and thighs look like I’ve been hanging out in fetish clubs.
The one good part? My boobs look great! I think I’m actually a B cup!
Yes, Ginger, I know I need to be mindful during this time and not compare my current self to my old self and blah blah blah. But that means it’s okay to mindfully acknowledge the dark rage clouds that gather above me as I moose-wheeze my way through a workout that used to be easy.
What do you f*ing hate about being out of shape?