Listen to your body

13 Jun

This is how it looks except that they're all Norwegians so more attractive

I’m back training hard after a troubled week filled with muscle pain. Legs, knees, triceps, dorsals, abs–everything hurt after my bout with the personal trainer last Wednesday.

That battered my confidence. I wondered if I was a wimp and whether I was really in shape. Maybe I’d just been mollycoddling myself and had now been confronted with real training.

No. You have to be hardheaded, lucid and intelligent–and take responsibility for yourself. It was stupid to hurt too much to train for several days after an introductory session where the point was simply to formulate the strength part of my training program.

What I needed to do was either put a quick end to my free hour or at least put up stiffer resistance. Free can be expensive. I should have refused to do what was pointless for my discipline and insist we use lighter weight when doing exercises that were relevant. You have to learn when to trust yourself and say something. Not wanting to put up a fight and taking the path of least resistance can be much worse in the long run.

Happily I’ve recovered now. Today I rollerskied over to the gym and did a spinning class. Those classes are the main reason I signed up. I’ve done a few now but am still learning to pace myself. The vocal cues about how long the sprint phases will last are given in Norwegian. However the general phases of intensity and rest are mercifully plotted on a whiteboard. Because my comprehension isn’t always 100%, I’ve tended to be conservative in the beginning to ensure that I’ll have enough energy to make it to the end. And that has usually meant I’ve had extra left to burn.

I was worried today that if I went too hard I would be in pain again. But since spinning feels like what my body needs, I followed the instructor’s cues and pushed my limits when she said to do so. Now, sitting back home, I don’t feel like I’ve been beat up. I actually feel energized.

I’m much more intellectual than jocky, so this listening to and above all trusting my body is a novel experience. It sounds laughable to put stock in something felt rather than worked out in my head. But truth is indeed both logical and physical.

And truth is also revelation. Through the spinning courses I’ve found out that I’ve got more cardiovascular than muscular endurance. In other words, my legs give out quicker than my lungs. I think my rollerski blasts up Grefsenkollen hill have built up my cardiovascular power. And I also think genetics have also given me a reasonably high max V02. Makes up for the equally inherited tendency to sweat buckets!

So, all that is good news. Working with increasing resistance in the spinning classes is just the thing I need to build up my leg power and endurance. And my cardio results say I’m doing the right thing with my training. Now it’s just time to double up the Grefsenkollen climbs.

I’m betting that monstrous cardio and legs that don’t wear out are the secret to a good time in the Skarverennet skate race. Much of that race is just gliding, with some beastly climbs mixed in. And that’s where you stand to lose or gain time.

Yeah, I’m on my way!

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