I’ve been quite a sedentary individual of late. I’ve had little or no motivation to exercise whatsoever. In fact, the thought of doing single leg squats or aerobic power intervals on the bike makes me feel physically ill. It has felt so good to do nothing. When people ask me if I’ve been training I try to explain to them that I haven’t been doing anything at all, and they say, ‘well, you’ve still kept in shape though’, to which I reply, ‘no, seriously, I have done NOTHING; no training, no riding, no running, no weights, no core, no walking, no nothing. In response, they usually laugh as though to say, ‘I don’t believe you!” Believe me, it’s true. Even in my distant memory, I do not recall a time where I’ve been so completely inactive for so long, but whatever, it felt so darn good.
During this period of not training I discovered that I can voluntarily stay awake long past 10pm with no consequences at all. I discovered that my legs don’t blow up just walking up the stairs. I discovered that I have endless stores of energy to put towards important tasks like having dinner with friends, staying out past midnight, going to the late show and cleaning the whole basement! I also discovered that I really enjoy a glass of red wine (or two) on a regular basis. How delightful! Faced with the current uncertainty of what life holds for me next, I have to say that this new alternative lifestyle began to feel pretty appealing. Stay up late, never feel pain, enjoy wine…
Recently however, I discovered that it only feels good for so long and then it starts to feel bad. Really bad. I started to feel slow, soft, and I couldn’t seem to bound up the stairs two at a time with that little bounce I’ve come to expect from myself. All that energy I had didn’t feel like the real stuff I’m used to. My invincible body felt vincible. I missed feeling fit, strong, vigourously alive. I was going through withdrawal, and my addiction to that exercise ‘high’ reared its pretty little head. It felt bad to feel bad.
But even though I began to miss the physical fitness side of things, my mind was another story altogether. So came a period of time where I felt like I should do some training, but didn’t feel remotely motivated to do so. Not knowing exactly why I would or whether I even wanted to race this year, my mind was incapable of willing my body to move. There seemed to be no real point to working out – get fit for what? Thankfully the wonderful people around me who know of such things – the post-Olympic funk – encouraged me to take as long as I needed to get going again. To me, this was like a license to veg; a free ticket to keep lazing around as long as I wanted. Now it felt good to feel bad.
Then one day last week I decided to commute to a meeting instead of drive. I thought to myself, ‘what a good way to get some exercise without really exercising… and save a gram or two of CO2 at the same time, hmmm, I think I can do that!’ So, off I went down the bike path, enjoying the fresh air and feeling proud of myself for doing some exercise, er, I mean commuting. I came upon a fellow bike commuter and passed her on the left. I was in a bit of a hurry to get to my meeting on time but a fairly brisk headwind hampered my speed. Still, I started to feel pretty good. My mind said, ‘oh yeah, I forgot, this working out thing feels good!’
I kept on my merry way and further down the path, as I was about to pass a pedestrian, I heard a ‘ding!’ behind me. Feeling pretty good about the pace I was keeping, I was surprised to note that my fellow commuter was able to ‘stay on my wheel’. My competitive spirit was instantaneously awakened from it’s deep slumber and I tried with all my might to drop her. I couldn’t do it. With every ‘ding!’ I was reminded that she was still there and that, oh yeah, I’m out of shape. I turned into Pavlov’s dog, but instead of salivating every time I heard the bell, I just pushed harder on my bike. I heard a lot of ‘dings’. By the time I pulled off the bike path to make it to my destination I was maxed out and still being tailed. My ego took a hit. It now felt a bit bad to feel good.
Inspired a little to repair my damaged ego and also somewhat motivated to get fit again, but still nauseous at the thought of doing a ‘training ride’, Scott and I embarked instead on a little two-day bike tour adventure from Calgary to Elbow Falls on the edge of Kananaskis Country. With loaded touring bikes we rode right from our front door into the Rocky Mountain foothills and with every pedal stroke propelling me away from the city, the smile on my face got wider and wider. With the sun shining down on me and the cool spring air rushing by my face I was reminded of how fun it is to ride my bike. I didn’t feel nauseous or like I had to ride hard to prove to myself or anyone else that I was still fit. Four and half hours later we set up camp and had a beer. Man, did it ever feel good to feel good.
From good to bad and back to good again, the ebbs and flows of being alive just keep running their course. I train when I want and go to bed when I want. I say yes to nearly everything I’m asked to do and am working on new projects that have a sparked a new purpose and balance in my life. Seems to be a good thing to just go with the flow. Oh, and I’m going to keep drinking the red wine too.