“Weight loss, exercising with intensity to get in shape? Relax, this won’t hurt a bit”… Said no one ever in the history of humankind. At least, never by anyone who A) Knew what they were talking about or B) Wasn’t trying to sell you something that wouldn’t work.
I was approached the other day by a newbie to the whole fitness thing… Trying to get active and lose some weight for the first time since he was a kid and he asks, “So when does this s#!t stop hurting so much? I thought the idea was that you feel better“!
My friend was talking about running, but cycling is only a little bit better. You won’t have the same impact to the body of course, so only your muscles and your butt and your neck/shoulders and the rest of your body will hurt if you’re doing it right.
The pain will go on as you build your body and it gets used to the daily challenges you’re putting it through. Some days will hurt more than others, but sure enough, once your body gets used to what you’re putting it through, the activity stops hurting as much. However, when you introduce new challenges, guess what? It hurts again.
I’ve had some time to reflect on what it was like when I started running all of those years ago and I can remember it hurting for quite some time after I got going. After the first few months I got used to the effort but there was always something… Ramping up the miles in the spring hurt, twisted ankles hurt, getting ready for the Crim hurt, half marathons hurt, injuries (though few) hurt… Then I took some time off to heal up some leg issues (I have a size 11 foot, but short toes, so by actual measurement I’m a size 10 – I was running around in shoes that were a size too small for my arch… Let me tell you, that can do some damage).
During that time off, I noticed something interesting though: inactivity hurts a lot worse than being active. In fact, I had no idea how much pain I used to live with until I got back to being active.
So, like everything else, we want a solid answer to a question that can’t be answered solidly… How long does the pain last?
Based on my experience, initial shock to the system will last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on the activity you choose – running being the most intense – this one will greatly depend on how much effort the person puts in and how well the body recovers before the next session. As far as cycling goes, it took about 24 hours for my legs to come around for the first two weeks or so but after that, I could recover from my hardest efforts, at least enough to get back on the bike and go for an easy spin, in about twelve hours.
Now, from there it gets dicey. When I ride, especially now, in the heart of our season, I’ve always got something that aches a little bit. For the last two weeks it’s been my right forearm, and I have absolutely no idea what’s going on (nor do I care – it’ll work itself out). Somehow I hurt it bad enough that it hurts to shake hands (and I shake a lot of hands). On top of that, I developed a little saddle sore somehow over the last two weeks and it was very difficult to find a comfortable spot on my saddle last night. So I’ve got a bum wing and a bum bum going into my biggest week of the season (quite possibly my biggest single week ever, about 250 miles if I project it out to the end of the week). Most people would take some time off, especially for the saddle sore, but I’m not most people. I’ll be back out on the bike this evening and I’ve got a century on Saturday that I’ve wanted to do for years (the One Helluva Ride – it goes through Hell, MI) so one way or another, I’m on the bike. Now, is riding uncomfortable? Yes, indeed it is, but I’ve got my Aquaphor treatment started and I’ll probably be just fine by the time Saturday rolls around…
My point is this: The physical activity that I put my body through does hurt from time to time, but it doesn’t hurt as bad as hating what I see in the mirror when I’m fat and out of shape. I’ll put up with a little pain here or there to stay active. To quote the Marines, Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body. If you’re looking for a pain free way to lose weight, you’d better get used to eating like a bunny rabbit.