I am working out with a trainer at a gym that seems to largely cater to younger people (younger than me, that is). When I first signed up for training, the trainer asked me if I had an event I was getting ready for like vacation or a wedding. Apparently I am unusual in that I don’t get motivated to workout by major events in my life. I just want to be able to do fun things that require moderate fitness and I have a hard time getting to the gym if I don’t have an appointment. I’m OK with only going to the gym 2x a week. I’d rather get exercise outside or in yoga class (which I have yet to go to since moving to Chattanooga). My trainer sent me “homework” that suggests what I should be doing on the days I’m not working out with him. He congratulated me for deciding to make a “change.” I’m not sure if he really gets the notion of just maintaining.
That said, today I am going to the gym at 5:30AM. This is because it’s hard to get convenient times in the morning before work and, by joining up with another woman, we will work out for an hour instead of a half hour. I’m not quite clear on why I can’t just go at 6:00Am for a half hour, but apparently this woman likes to train for an hour. In any case, the alarm goes off at 4:45Am and it’s the first time my alarm has gone off before I was awake in about 2 months. I’m a little annoyed that I booked an appointment at 5:30AM at a time when I couldn’t sleep past 4:00AM, but I’ve now slept until 6:00AM several days in a row and, of course, I have to get up at 4:45AM. But, I steel myself and get out of bed, trying to remind myself how good I feel after I work out.
After having some coffee and doing some basic grooming (like brushing my teeth and running my wet hands through my crazy hair to try to calm it down), I pull on workout clothes and fix myself a bottle of water. I walk next door and stow my jacket in the locker room. I have 10 minutes, so I get on a treadmill. Today, it’s clean–possibly an advantage of coming in at 5:30?
I walk for a while and then realize that it’s after 5:30AM and there is no sign of my trainer. He had mentioned that the woman I was supposed to work out with hadn’t signed up yet two days ago, so I find myself wondering if I’m working out with him at 6:00AM instead. Since he’s a punctual guy, I decide I might as well get some cardio and step up my treadmill pace. I alternate 1 minute intervals of walking and running. I really hate to run. I don’t know why. I have vague memories from childhood of spending most of my time running around outside chasing things like run away balls and, later, boys. I remember racing across the field outside my elementary school and trying to outrun the wind. I’m not sure how one knows when one is outrunning the wind, but it seemed like a fun game at the time. Yet, by the time I was 15 and thought seriously about trying out for track for all of 24 hours, going out for a morning run felt like torture. And that is how I have continued to feel about running ever since.
Unfortunately for me, walking on a treadmill is about as interesting as watching concrete harden. I have to do something to break up the time. So, I run one minute at a time. Each run interval, I go a little faster until I get to an 8 MPH pace. For those who prefer not to do math, that is 7.5 minutes per mile, more than 1 1/2 times the average pace of Mutai over 26.2 miles at the Boston Marathon. Did I mention that I feel like I’m sprinting at a 7.5 minute/mile pace? I might be able to run faster, but I have too many visions of shooting off the back of the treadmill and crashing through the window behind me to try. So far, I’ve only come off a treadmill once, and it was worth it to see the look on my trainer’s face that day since I sustained only a minor bruise. But, there’s no one around to catch me today, so I’m good with maxing out at this pace.
After spending 20 minutes alternating running and walking, I decide I should start slowing down. I figure my trainer will arrive at 6AM and I don’t want to be too out of breath to start lifting. I slow the pace to a 4.0 MPH walk and decrease the incline to slow my heart. After a few minutes, I slow down some more and keep slowing down the pace every 30 seconds until I’m crawling along at 3.0 MPH. My trainer arrives and walks by to let me know he’s there.
When I join him, he’s headed to the Smith press so I can do squats. I tell him I just did running intervals on an incline as I mop my face with my shirt (I keep forgetting they don’t provide towels). He asks me if I usually do cardio before lifting. I laugh and explain that I thought we were starting at 5:30 and thought I’d do cardio since I was there. As it turns out, he had texted me last night to tell me we would go at 6:00AM instead, but I didn’t get his text before turning off my phone for the night. For a moment, I am nostalgic about the days when we had landline telephones in our homes and people actually called us on them when they wanted to tell us something. But, times have changed and now technology makes our lives both easier and, sometimes, more annoying.
I do the squats on my tired legs and complete a tough 30 minute leg workout. Doing legs always makes me dizzy. The up and down of squatting makes me light headed after a while. I’ve been told this is because I have low blood pressure. Whatever the reason, I think it’s a good excuse for the fact that I accidentally (I swear!) walked into the men’s locker room after my workout. Truthfully, I didn’t make it around the corner to actually see anything, realizing that the entry looked unfamiliar, but I sure scooted out of there quickly when I realized my mistake! There are surveillance cameras all over the gym–I bet I made someone smile at least.
When I make it into the correct locker room, I take some time to really stretch. There is space in the women’s locker room with an exercise ball and two matts on the floor. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do there, but stretching seemed like a good use of the space. I went through several yoga poses, practicing yogic breathing. As I relax into pigeon pose, I realize I haven’t stretched for weeks. I really need to get yoga back into my schedule when we get back from our upcoming trip–every muscle feels like wood. After spending 20 minutes trying to regain some flexibility, I’m pretty sure it’s time for a nap. But, I head home knowing that there will be no nap today.