Today’s truth: Delayed onset muscle soreness is real.
All right, so this has been true forever and something we’ve all dealt with whether or not we consider anything we do “athletic.” (See: mowing the grass, planting flowers, painting a room, moving, etc.) I’ve become acutely aware of delayed onset muscle soreness since I began strength training. I try to take it as a badge of honor. Look at what I did yesterday! That is until I need to do some terribly difficult task, like stand up or walk down stairs.
The last workout in the weight room focused on my lower body and included single leg barbell squats. The only thing you need to know about this exercise is that ANYTHING that includes the word “single leg” is evil. After the workout I went cross-country skiing with my boyfriend. It was the third time I was ever on skis. I fell only about three times. (I use the qualifier “about” because I can’t quite remember all the actual falls from the almost falls. But three seems about right.) Combine my weight-room workout with the skiing and Today’s Truth Part II is: My butt is sore.
But as I alternately smile and wince at my delayed-onset muscle soreness, I’m thinking about what a miraculous day that was. Two themes emerge for me, for my life story.
1. I can do more than I think I can. There was a time when training for a “big” event meant cutting back on fun stuff. A hike this weekend? Sorry but there’s a long run on my schedule and I don’t think I could do that as well. I was afraid I would break. I was afraid I couldn’t handle a run and a hike or an extra-long bike ride. I was afraid the extra work would hinder my training when in fact, I started training so I could do those very things I found myself saying “no thank you” to. Might I be a little sore the next day? Well, yes. But the soreness is the good stuff. The soreness is a byproduct of living. The soreness can be physical. It can also be emotional or mental or spiritual. But the sore spots, well, I’ve come to cherish the sore sports. They are signs of growth, patches of emerging strength.
2. This is what I train for. As much as I’ve fallen in love with endurance sports, with training and racing and selecting new cities to explore and events to challenge myself, that was not my original goal. I decided to start taking of my body in college, when I was visiting family in North Carolina. My dad, brother and I did a bunch of outdoor activities including hiking and whitewater rafting. This was what I loved. This is what I’ve always loved — being outside, in the woods, exploring. But I wasn’t in the best shape to do it. Eventually, I found triathlon and then distance running which gave me purpose to my training. There was a motivation to get my work done, to stay on course. I had an upcoming race that I needed to prepare for. As I fell in love with endurance sports and set new goals for myself, I had moments where I forgot the reason I started. I wanted to be healthy and fit enough to go on adventures — to backpack, kayak, canoe, hike. I wanted to be in a position where I could go and explore and see new places or familiar places in new ways.
And so a cross-country ski loop at Sprague Brook Park reminded me that yes, I can do hard things, and that while it really is terribly fun for me to train for Around the Bay 30K and perhaps toy with a half marathon PR from time to time, the training is in service of a much bigger goal: living the life that makes me happy.