Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Atta-Girls From Strangers

Well, this is my first post to my new blog. I guess I'm entering the Techno-Age for sure now (though I still don't know how to text message... and that's okay with me). Anyhow, yesterday was one of those days that wasn't really bad... but it wasn't good either. My work day kind of flopped, and becuase of work, I had to miss "Boot Camp Basics," a strength/cardio interval class taught by my favorite instructor, Rose. Another bummer. Then I had a bad phone conversation with a health-care person who wasn't super professional in her delivery of potentially bad news, which worried me a little but ticked me off more than anything (I'll write more on that later).

Anyhow, my first instinct was to take this cruddy day and make it un-cruddier with a big burrito and a bag of chips (or some other over-sized food bandaid) and an evening of sitting in my recliner watching worthless tv shows.

Luckily, I was able to resist that urge, and instead decided to channel my crud into a workout that would be hard enough to make all the rest of the day's tribulations seem pathetic. So, I scribbled down a Rose-like workout to do, and headed to the gym.

My workout was goofy looking, I know. Basically, I was alternating between weird jumping moves, bizarre travels around the track, and grunt-eliciting weight lifting sessions-- all out where "normal" track users could see me. Most of the folks were just having fun, getting a little exercise in, e.g. the husband-wife duo that was walking laps and talking about their day; the skimpy-shorted high school girls that were alternating between short jogs and sessions of hanging out around the guys in the free-weights area. Then there was one guy that was running laps for nearly an hour at a pretty darn quick pace-- the Real Runner, I dubbed him (to myself). He was obviously working hard-- training, not just exercising. Anyhow, doing this kind of a funky interval session isn't too bad when done in a class with several other people who are looking equally dorky and equally challenged. Doing it solo was a different story.

The workout was tough, both physically (my legs were wobbling!) and mentally (to push myself that hard, and to look like such a dork in public). I definitely didn't enjoy it as much as when I do Rose's class. She usually has on some fun music that elicits a smile now and then (think Ice-Ice-Baby, oh yeah!), plus the comeraderie of other empathetic exercisers helps a lot. Plus I was still under the influence of downers from earlier in the day. So even though I went through the motions during my workout, I didn't have the same pep or kick in my step as I usually do-- it seemed a bit more like a chore.

Until my last set. I was doing walking lunges around the track when the Real Runner hollered "Good job!" to me as he sped by. Suddenly, I got a big smile, and I swear a new-found strength in my legs. That atta-girl gave me the boost I needed to finish the set. I even add on a few more lunges than intended, and did some unplanned ab work at the end.

You know, sometimes that's all we need, is for some stranger to give us an encouraging shout, a thumbs up, or even just an understanding smile. It seems that a lot of athletes really understand that. At races I've seen folks cheering their hearts out for folks they've never seen before, or giving each other High-Fives as they pass each other on a turn-around. While the nature of the sport is competitive, a lot of us are mostly just competing with ourselves. So cheers from fellow athletes are a way to recognize each other's accomplishments and help cheer each other on to beat ourselves.

Who knows what the Real Runner was thinking for sure. But I imagine that he recognized that I was working hard, pushing myself, trying to improve myself. And while most of the other track-users were giving me quizical or even intimidated-type looks, the Real Runner recognized my efforts and applauded them. Thanks, RR! I'll try to pass on the love.


Robyn said...

YOU are a real runner..and SHE has definitely struggled to get through workouts too. You've already come so far this year. Can't wait to see what 08 has in store!

Rose said...

That is a difficult work out alone--I've tried it! It's definitely easier to push-yourself in class, but still an awesome workout. Nice job!