The Strength To Quit…

 Not  Feelin’ It

I have walked out of the weightroom many times, scarcely after my workout had just begun.  If I’m just not feelin’ it, I would rather not risk injury or waste the time if my instincts tell me that the same workout done 24 hours later would be more fruitful.  I believe this is a good way to be in the gym; that in the economy of fitness, and to get the most from a strength workout, one needs to be well dialed in.  That internal discourse though, has to be honest.  There’s a fine line between not feelin’ it, and just not wanting to do the work on a given day.  I’ve never had any problem identifying that line and I have never used not feelin’ it as a false excuse to avoid the work of the weightroom. 

There are just those occasions when I have done one, maybe two sets of my first chosen movement, and I just know it’s not going to happen on that day.  When this happens I might take a step outside, take a few deep breaths, or maybe even slap myself in the face a couple of times to force a release of adrenalin.  Sometimes this is all I need to ignite the flame.  Most times though, when the exercise is attempted after said break, there is no spark, only an immediate confirmation of not feelin’ it.  Without grumbling, I exit the weightroom and set my sights on tomorrow.  Invariably, the same workout taken on the following day will be more in synch, more productive, and offer me much more of what I seek from my battles with gravity.

When Workouts Go Bad

There are many factors which can limit my ability to dial into a strength workout; poor sleep, poor eating, and stress chief among them.  Usually it’s some combination of these things that conspire to thwart a workout.  When this happened in my youth, I would John Wayne my way through those not feelin’ it days and force a workout.  Of course those workouts were always unproductive and left me feeling worse than when I started for their lack of productivity.  I would leave the gym pissed off, and for the rest of the day I could go from zero to son of a bitch in less than a second.  And like an Altzhiemer’s patient, the next time I wasn’t feelin’ it in the gym, I would John Wayne my way through yet another crappy workout for another crappy result – and so it went for about 20 years.

Growing Up Slowly

Obviously a good workout is better than a bad workout.  It only took me two decades though, to realize that no workout is better than a bad workout. 

I strength train for many reasons: to look good, to be strong, as a stress release, and for the countless health benefits.  Above all else though, I strength train to feel good – walking into the weightroom recreates me on a daily basis.  I always leave the weightroom feeling fresh – feeling much better than I do entering it, except on those days when I’m not feelin’ it.  Experiencing a bad workout will just make a good day bad, and a bad day worse.  Skipping a workout when I’m not feelin’ it has become my only option. 

If you are one who John Waynes it through those not feelin’ it days, I can assure you that your bench press will not suffer, your arms won’t shrink, and you won’t get sucked into a vortex that will strip you of all your gains if you postpone a workout 24 hours, or even 48.  You will actually serve your cause better, and produce better meat.

We create monsters in our heads about missing exercise, men more than women in my experience.  Somehow a missed workout seems like the end of the world – that’s part of the addictive nature of exercise.  Life happens; work, family, and even those not feelin’ it daysThere’s no right or wrong here, this is only my perspective; the philosophy of a man whose workout has been supremely important to him for over 35 years.  I don’t shed a tear about missing a workout these days, especially on my not feelin’ it days.  I simply look for something else to channel my energies into which requires less of me.

A wise person once said to me, regarding the weightroom,

“If your instincts tell you not to do it, don’t do it.  If your instincts tell you that it’s okay, then do it like hell!”

Scott Rupert will probably never read this – I haven’t seen him since I was 16 years old.  But that sentence still resonates all these years later.  Be well.  rc

Ruck Funning!

This is Part III of my intermittent series on my dysfunctional relationship with running.  Part IV may show up in a few weeks or never, depending whether running and I can work out or differences. You can read Parts I and II by clicking here.

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Walking And Watching

The bed and breakfast my daughter and I rented on Mykonos was buried under seven layers of charming.  It was a located a couple miles above town, atop a hill covered with dry grass.  The red and white cottage offered a birds-eye view of the town and the coastline below.  It was a place and a scene that transcended time, as well as the chaos of my otherwise scattered life.  I would be at peace there, if only for a short time.  Upon checking in, prior to going out for the evening, my daughter and I chose to lay back for an hour or so and enjoy a little air conditioning and some Greek television.  Later, as she prepared for first our evening out, I took a walk to explore possible running routes for the morning, and to take in the setting sun, beyond the distant edge of the Aegean Sea.

Mykonos? I say, MykoYES!

We walked slowly down a 2-mile hill into town, as we took in the quaint surroundings.  The road was lined with lots of scooters, undersized cars, and white cottages trimmed in blue or red.  In town, we enjoyed a traditional Greek dinner on a patio table just a few feet off the water.  We must have spent two hours eating, talking, and doing a great deal of people watching.  After dinner we took our people watching on the road.  We walked through town slowly, stopping in shops and markets sparingly.  Mostly, we just walked, conversed, and took in the vibe of a Mykonos evening.  Eventually we walked back uphill to the cottage, and put the day to rest. 

What Goes Down Must Come Up

I woke early while my daughter slept in.  I decided I would run into town and along the coast with no specific distance or time in mind – I would just let the scenery pull me along, hoping to enjoy another run as I had in Athens several days before.  Running down the hill into town I was mesmerized and inspired by the view.  My run along the flat coastline was just as inspired.  I felt strong.  I stayed on the water’s edge with no idea of time or distance.  I just ran at a steady pace.  I knew eventually I would have to turn and head inland and back up the hill to wake my daughter and share breakfast.

As I turned, I looked up to face the hill I had run down.  Shit.  Apparently I never gave much thought to the return trip.  This 2-mile monster of a hill was easily a 20% grade, but I had no option, so I relied on faith.  When I hit the hill I adjusted my pace.  It was slightly more than a shuffle, but less than a run.  Within a few minutes I realized that I wasn’t going to die, so I increased my pace slightly.  After a few more minutes I increased it again.  What was going on here?  I had slept and eaten well all week, and had also run consistently.  Perhaps I had finally earned my way in to the title of, runner.

From atop said Monster Hill…

When I arrived at the cottage I took only a few minutes to cool down, stretch, and towel off.  This might have been the best run of my life.  No, this was the best run of my life.  I was on Mykonos, I was having a wonderful time with my daughter, and I just completed the best run of my life.  I was on top of the world.  Now it was time to walk back down the same hill I had just conquered, and enjoy breakfast in town with my daughter.  All the way down the hill I looked at the homes, scooters, and golf carts that I passed on the way up, and acknowledged them as if they were old friends.  I loved this hill.

Our view from breakfast…

The Broken Engagement

I didn’t run again until we were back in Athens.  When I did run, I returned to the scene of my prior best run.  I was seeking continued inspiration.  Running is a fickle girl.  Or perhaps my expectations of her are too high.  That happens in relationships.  Back at the Greek stadium though, I had returned to my usual running self; able and committed, but not necessarily engaged or inspired – just going through the motions.  For the first time I began to rethink said engagement to said fickle girl.  I actually contemplated giving up running altogether.  The illusive runner’s high was only occasional in this relationship.  I mean, why would I stay in any relationship that would only bring me occasional joy…?  But I’m not a quitter either.  I gave my commitment to running, and I was prepared to continue.  In coming weeks though, it became clear we were in need of counseling.  To be continued… 

Be well.  rc…

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from Dog Trumpet, enjoy…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWayJqbRvmk&feature=relmfu

On Family, Moving, And Regret…

This is an essay which has the potential to offend anyone reading it, including my family.  In writing this, I had never intended to offend anyone.  However, in reading it on completion, I realized it clearly will.  But it is written, and can’t be unwritten.  I want to apologize, in advance, to anyone who might find this condescending or offensive.  It is my hope that you will see true intention of my thoughts.

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On Family

For most of my life I have had no idea what the word family meant.  Even now, I’m not sure I know, but as my middle life unfolds and I face the back 9, I think I’m starting to get it.  It’s just a little too bad, that it’s just a little too late… 

Divorce; It’s What’s For Dinner

I grew up in household with parents who separated multiple times while I was a child.  They would eventually become divorced.  I would grow up to marry a woman who also came from divorced parents.  She and I would have a single child, but would become divorced, and I unequivocally take responsibility for that divorce.  My brother, my only sibling, would also go on to marry, then divorce, and marry again to a woman who came from divorced parents – they are still married and have three adopted children. 

No Place For Too Long

I was born in Massachusetts.  When I was young, my father would move our family west to Colorado for a better life –over 2,000 miles from a grandmother, an aunt, an uncle, and cousins who all lived proximate to our family, and who we saw and interacted with regularly.  I also had aunts, uncles, cousins, and a grandmother in the Deep South.  Growing up in Colorado, none of these felt like family.  I knew of them, but we traded no letters, rarely saw each other, and I thought of them only as often as I thought about performing tree surgery.

In adult life I would live in and out of proximity with my brother, mother, and father, multiple times.  They would move, I would move.  Sometimes closer, sometimes further away.  Sometimes we would be in the same state, but a different city.  Other times we would be in different states altogether.  As a family, we were porous to say the least.

Once I was grown and on my own, I would remain fairly close with my brother, mother, and father, but I have always felt have we lacked the highest form of closeness; the desire to actually be together for more than three days at a time.  Many reading this have said the following from time to time:

 “I love being with my family, but only in small doses.” 

Moving to another city, or seeing them move away, was always a good cure for this.  When my mother lived in Alaska, she couldn’t drop in unexpected.  When she lived down the street from me in Phoenix, she most certainly could – and often did.  Not that this was a bad thing, but it seemed to stifle true adult independence.

Avarice And Acknowledgement

I grew up and lived most of my life thinking, truly believing that most families were just like mine; divorced, dysfunctional, and disjointed – the 3 Ds of the modern American family.  My mantra was that Ozzy and Harriet wasn’t real, and divorce was the standard of modernity.  My own divorced life reflected the lives of more than half of my contemporaries so I thought divorce must be normal, and so too with moving away — it’s just what we do now. 

But as I have gotten older, I have started to take more notice of the other half – of those many families that don’t divorce, that don’t move away, and that they choose to spend time together – regularly, and actually like it.  And I have become jealous of those families, because I know my chance to enjoy what they enjoy has come and gone.

Of late, I have begun to miss living near my brother and his family, to miss living near my mother, and though it kills me to say it, there are days when I miss living near my father too, all of whom live hundreds of miles from me now.  Most of all, I miss living near my daughter who I only had the blessing of living with until she was 10 years old, and it was my choice to leave.

The Damage Done

I’m dug in now.  I own a business.  I live in a great place.  I have a over decade of roots extending a little further with each year, into the networks of friends and social circles that have established themselves as my surrogate families, in a place which is not my real home.  On any given day I may have lunch with a friend, cook for a neighbor, or workout with my workout friends, and I am blessed to do so – I adore and I appreciate my friends. I am blessed to know so many, to have so much, and to live in such beautiful surroundings. I know many people who would gladly accept my life and a thousand lashes, in lieu of their own life and a pot of gold, and I can honestly see why – being Roy is a good gig, for now.

At night though, in my quietest moments, as I lay my head on a pillow alone in my room with no flesh of my flesh, nor blood of my blood anywhere around, I am haunted the by the absence of family. If you read this and are contemplating a divorce, or a move away from family, do what’s best for you please.  But take note of my regret, of my guilt, and of my appreciation for all that I had taken from me, and all that I walked away from.  I don’t know what it’s like to have committed murder.  But I well understand what it’s like to move a family away from family, and what it’s like to dissolve a family, and can only assume those feelings are similar.  Be well. rc         

Comments are closed this week.  Oh, and there is this from Micky Braun.  Enjoy…