The way I see it, the toughest thing to grasp when dealing with fitness – whether well aged or newbie – is the pain. What amount of pain is good, which pain is bad, how much before it’s time to think about time off… The pains and their causes are never-ending.
For instance, I was out for a ride last Wednesday. I rode up to my local bike shop, and then rode five miles or so back home. About two miles into the return trip I felt a twinge in my left leg, like my hamstring tightening up. I pushed an easier gear for a mile or two until it loosened back up…which it did. Once I got home I took a long hot shower and felt fine so I forgot about it. The next morning I woke up and my left leg was sore, actually just to the right of my hamstring. Now, this is where we get into the pickle. The tough among us will, maybe, take a day off while the more “conscientious” might book a doctor’s appointment and take a week or two for recovery.
By the end of the day I felt quite a bit better. Not perfect, but I was in nowhere near the pain I was in the earlier. Thursday I got lucky because we ended up getting rained on so I had a day off anyway. On Friday the pain was gone completely. I rode up to the bike shop, got my Venge fitted properly, and rode home – 20 miles plus the spinning for the fitting. Then I rode 37 yesterday as if nothing ever happened. We had a rain day on Saturday so that day was shot again. This morning? No pain, no stiffness, I’m fine and looking forward to rides this afternoon and tomorrow evening (we’ve got rain returning on Wednesday and Thursday so I’m making hay while the sun is shining).
The point is had I been the nervous type I’d have been out for no good reason – and then the question is where’s the line?
This is how I handle pain… I’m a guy first, so I don’t go to the doctor until it’s absolutely necessary (which usually means at least a couple of weeks after the pain won’t go away on its own – or more aptly put, a week after I should have gone to the doctor).
The main rule I live by is this: People are generally sissies. We look for ways to get out of doing what is good for us. We want to reach a goal but are rarely willing to do what it takes to get there – we look to little aches and pains to justify not working as hard as we could. This is my default position on pain and 90% of the time I’m right.
Now, there are exceptions to the rule. I know when I’m in trouble and I’ve gone too far. I know this because I’m afraid that I will have to take time off – these are the exceptions. Everything else? Gotta muscle through them so later on down the road when I’m hit with one of those “screw this” moments, I’m well equipped to beat it.
So, when you say “listen to your body”, I’m saying “you better buck up sucka, ’cause I’m not done yet”. This isn’t to say that the notion, or those who use it, are wrong, I’m just not one of those people who can wisely use it.
Why? Because by nature, I’m lazy. I can’t do lazy like most people. I try, oh how I wish I could, but for me lazy is an infectious disease. That disease hides in the shadows, waiting for a viable excuse (host). It’s okay, you’re heavy because you’re big-boned. It’s okay, your heavy because your knees are bad (or you don’t want them to go bad). It’s okay, hand me the pizza, potato chips and a diet Coke.
That shit is just not okay with me.