A while ago, I discovered I’m an idiot. That was a relief.
Let me explain…
I’m not exactly a gym rat, but I work out a few times a week. I enjoy competing against myself, in a laissez-faire sort of way. If I don’t do anything stronger or faster, I don’t worry about it too much, and when I do hit a milestone, I’m pumped. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
But on days when I really underperform, I can’t help feeling a little bummed. That happened to me a while ago – I’d been keeping track of my running times, so I knew roughly what interval I should be hitting. Then I ran a lap and stared in disbelief at my stopwatch, panting and wheezing like steam engine. It was twice my previous time. What a wimp.
Then the hypoxia subsided and I realized my earlier intervals had been half laps. Oops. So I wasn’t a wimp; I was just an idiot. Whew.
The reverse happened last week. I hurt my ankle kickboxing a while ago, so I’ve been doing my cardio on an exercise bike instead of running. I do the random program for half an hour, and crank the intensity up to 10 so I’m working close to my maximum on the peaks. (Sadly, this sounds more hardcore than it actually is – the top setting is 25. But “cranked it up to 10” sounds good…)
Once the program starts, I turn my brain off and just go for it. Last week, my half hour slipped away before I knew it, and I was coming into the final three minutes smugly congratulating myself because my workout had felt so easy. At last, I was making progress! I was a hero!
Until I looked closely at the screen for the first time, and realized I’d set the intensity to 9 instead of 10.
So I wasn’t a hero; just an idiot. Oops. Not so much of a relief.
But sometimes I really do get to be a hero. I love working out when I’m travelling, because just about everywhere is closer to sea level than Calgary. I get down into that nice, oxygen-rich environment, and I am a superhero at the gym! I can run farther, faster, work out harder! It’s fabulous! (A side benefit is that I can drink twice as much beer at sea level before I feel the effects, so I look like a superhero in the pub afterward, too… but I’m pretty sure Marvel Comics isn’t going to be introducing “Middle-Aged Six-Pack Lady” anytime soon.)
Occasionally, I also get a belly laugh from my workouts. The last time I worked out at a hotel fitness centre, I was doing my thing when a guy passed through on his way to some other equipment.
And he stared at me. So I stared back.
So the guy holds eye contact, cracks off a long, rip-roaring fart, and then stumbles over a weight machine, still staring.
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that. I suppose it would have been correct to return the compliment, but I lacked the necessary resources at the time. There’s never a bean burrito handy when you need one.
I laughed myself silly after he left, though. I guess that’s what they call a “core workout”.
At least I wasn’t the idiot that time. Whew.
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Postscript: Yesterday when I walked into the gym I encountered an elderly man on his way out. He shot me a big grin, and with a heavy accent proclaimed, “Kickboxing!”
I’m not sure whether I was looking like a hero or an idiot when he saw me kickboxing, but it made my day.
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P.P.S. One of my blogging buddies, Charles Gulotta, has launched a line of everyday greeting cards that address the in-between-occasions of life with his usual quirky sense of humour. Check them out here if you could use a chuckle!
P.P.P.S Another one of my blogging buddies, Tom Merriman, just made me a superhero for real! (Well, kinda for real… as real as cyberspace ever gets…) Check out Middle-Aged Six-Pack Lady here: http://wellheregoes.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/the-middle-aged-six-pack-lady/