Tentative to tiger


It was time for spin class, but I was in the middle of a project. The dogs needed to go out. My workout clothes were MIA. There was no bottle of water ready to go in the fridge.

“Excuses,” I told myself, “what’s the real problem?”

I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I shut off my complaining brain, took care of the essentials and bolted, making it to class only five minutes late.

I set up my bike and climbed on ready for another flaming failure. You see tendon damage in my elbows makes holding the handlebars painful and damage in my knee made me stop spinning all together from burning pain on the upstroke.

But my doc had administered prolotherapy in all these spots six days ago and they were actually feeling quite a bit better. So I started to cycle. “This is only a test,” I told myself, “Take it easy.”

For thirty minutes I tried to get inside my workout, but constantly monitoring how my joints were doing and waiting for the knee to blow, I couldn’t immerse myself in the motion.

Then something happened. I realized that I was spinning without pain. I upped the stakes…without turning the resistance too high. The knee still held. I did find the outer limits of the improvement, but it was incredible to let go of the monitoring and just dig in, just push my body, just get into the music and pedal my bike with all I had.

Lingering doubt tapped me on the shoulder a few times and warned, “Don’t get too excited. It will just make it more disappointing when the knee fails.”

Then I realized what had been wrong. Why I hadn’t wanted to leave my home to work out. My mind was stuck in the rut of failure. I had gotten my hopes up when the doc found a damaged bit of patellar tendon and treated it. My brain knew that if this treatment failed, my spirits would sink even lower, so my brain was trying to delay the failure. It was trying to protect me. But in doing so, it was keeping me down. Keeping me stuck in a place where things didn’t get worse, but they didn’t get better either.

Forty minutes without knee pain and even lingering doubt left the spin studio. I poured it on…cautiously…feeling the sweat and memories of pain leave my body. I realized I was happy in a way that I have not been happy for nearly two years. The room full of cyclists merged into one powerful force all driving the pedals of my bike round and round. My body found the beat of the music, my mind thrilled in the challenge and my lips parted to sing lyrics as I focused singularly on the task at hand.

I savored every syllable as I sang, “seems I’m not alone in being alone.” Just then, I remembered a quote a friend had shared the night before. “You don’t sing to get to the end of the song.” I wasn’t counting down the minutes until the end of class and I definitely wasn’t singing to get to the end of the song. I was the moment and I was the song.

This is the feeling that had always fueled my work outs…the happiness that made me push to better my abilities. It never was cheering crowds, awards or even bragging rights. My joy in working out has always been about the joy found in abandon and movement.

So thank you brain for your honest care, but it is now time to get back into the rut of success.


3/24/2013 – 2-mile run – Elliptical – 9:45 min/mile pace – resistance 9

3/25/2013 – FIRST-EVER 1-mile run on a treadmill. I am doing better on the treadmill, but still my stride shortened and I ended up toe running…which caused pain in those little toe bones (technical term). Resolution: I will master treadmill, but I will lay off off it until I get the extra weight off and this little pain alleviates. 

3/26/2013 – 1.6-miles on asphalt, concrete, and cinder path – flat

3/27/2013 – 2-miles treadmill – 10 min pace – resistance level 7

3/38/2013 – This is the day my “streak” ended. Today I saw my doctor and he found a bad spot in my patellar tendon. The choice was clear…prolotherapy to hopefully repair the weakness/void (which would mean a minimum of five days off from running) or keep going until it got worse. I chose prolotherapy. A streak can start any old day. A knee is not something to destroy for the sake of anything. But I promise to be back because I did love the disciple and lessons of the streak. Stay tuned. 


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