I have written recently about the “off season” and how I look forward to moving my body differently during the winter months - repairing both my body and mind from the grueling pace of training when I am in season. But even a “Derailleur” can learn a thing or two about what does and doesn’t work. And that includes how to repair a “bruised ego”. Now, you haven’t been reading my blogs thinking I was perfect did you? Of course I am not. I make mistakes all the time. But I make all new ones and never the old ones over and over again. That was until last week. I did make one old mistake that I had made years earlier as a young 20-something eager to prove I could ignore my body’s messages of pain and push through it. Pain is different than discomfort. Remember that for this story.
I ranted and raved on the benefits of moving your body differently and taking inventory of your mind during the off-season. Walking my talk (or should I say pedaling my pedals?), I have enjoyed the first few months in Vermont of coming off the roads and into warmth of the gym. That was until I was challenged by “Angie”, a CrossFit workout of the day that is what they call a benchmark workout. It is designed to test your fitness level by throwing 100 pull ups, 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, and 100 air squats at you to see how long it would take you. You can do them unbroken meaning you can take breaks in between, but you must do all 100 pull ups before you move on to the push ups, and so on. I walked into my local CrossFit box, saw the workout and said,”no problem, I got this, it won’t be fast and it won’t be pretty, but it will still get done.” And so, the music went on, the clock set and off I went.
What I realized was that my months of lower body work on the bike was actually a detriment to me when I was 20 push ups in (and after a painful 100 pull ups) and I noticed an odd sensation in my arms. They were painfully tingly. Not just tired, not sore, but painful. And they my arms blew up to twice their size. I looked like Popeye! But not in a good way. I looked at my CrossFit Coach and asked him what he thought and he said “why not stop now and move onto the sit ups…you are doing great – listen to your body”. But I made a crucial mistake at that very moment. I thought “nah…I am going to do all 100”. And I continued to crank them out. When I got to 80, I couldn’t move my arms any longer. I stood up and walked over to the wall to begin my sit-ups. But I couldn’t cross my arms over my chest…in fact, I couldn’t touch my face with my hands. I felt such pain in my elbows; I couldn’t bend my arms to touch anywhere close to my face.
I did a modify sit up with my arms by my side and then easily knocked out 100 air squats (thank you hill workouts this summer). I was done. I looked at the clock and sighed…as I had predicted; I did it, it wasn’t fast and it was far from pretty, but I got it done. Well except for 20 little push-ups I just couldn’t get out. I headed home tired and proud of what I was able to accomplish. And in pain.
The story of course doesn’t end here because the title of this blog mentions how my ego had gotten damaged. What I should explain was that my arms actually got the worst of the injuries – I wound up micro tearing both of my arms in the bicep and tricep area. I could not touch my face, my head, or bend my arms for days. My arms throbbed painfully leaving me to ask for help washing my hair, brushing my teeth and doing ANYTHING that required me to bend my arms. Yes, I know, that basically means doing anything. When I asked for help from my friends and family, I had to explain what happened and why I was suddenly helpless. With each time the story was told, my ego took a little more of a hit when I realized that I was the only person to blame for this predicament. I could have stopped. I should have stopped. I needed to stop. But my determination to continue left me injured and out of the game for a full week.
What if I had stopped when my Coach suggested? I would have been able to work out the next day, and the next day, and the next. Instead my bull-headedness caused me to sit out for a week. So what was the smarter thing to do? Prove to myself I could do it or listen to my body. I have know been reminded AGAIN of that answer.
My injury has healed, but my ego has one heck of a scar on it of a lesson I will never forget. Push past discomfort…stop at pain. Lesson learned. I am humbled. But smarter.
Anyone ready for the “off season” to be over?