Sunday, October 30, 2011

No Pain, No Gain

No pain, no gain is a popular theory used by trainers, athletes, jocks of all sorts and of course me. If you look back at several earlier blogs I have resumed exercising (walking / slogging) this year with great results. I have lost over 35 pounds since February and my blood pressure is normal. Along with the reduced weight (from technically obese to almost an ideal weight) my sugar level has dropped significantly.

My 5K time has decreased from about 50 minutes to 41 minutes on my last timed outing. Emboldened by my own results I started to run more during my weekly treadmill sessions. I would walk 2 or 3 minutes then run 1 minute; sometimes I would run 2 minutes. This is a valid form of interval training used in many training regimes to increase overall results; it is used with time, speed or repetitions of any physical activity at all levels. This has come with considerable effort and sweat.

Usually I have ample time after work to exercise but one particular day I was rushed and wanted to get home early and I decided to run an entire mile without stopping. My time was 13 minutes and 8 seconds and I felt great. Several days later I walked (with some interval jogging) slightly over 2 miles in 27 minutes and again I felt great. 

The following Saturday I started my fast walk with some slogging and finished the first mile in just over 13 minutes, a great time with no noticeable problems. Just as I started the second mile I felt a slight discomfort in my left hip but I continued to walk at a good pace and finished the second mile with a total time of 27 minutes. But as I got off the treadmill the discomfort increased and I neglected to stretch out after my walk.

Pain is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.

About two hours later while on an errand with my wife I had a severe muscle spasm. I hobbled around the next two days and limited my activities the entire following week. I discontinued my walking sessions for two entire weeks. Perhaps my regime was too aggressive, perhaps at the first twinge I should have stopped or maybe I should have stretched more. But perhaps I should not have included running as part of my routine.

After two complete weeks of rest and some heating pad therapy I resumed exercising with a slow 20 minutes on the treadmill and another slow 10 minutes on the stationary bicycle which I followed with several stretching moves. I did expect some discomfort, but it never came. Perhaps my cure of complete rest suited the situation. No workouts, no pain.

Growing up most of us have fallen off a bicycle once or twice before we learned the skills needed, we’ve had automobile accidents but that didn’t deter us from continuing to drive or we’ve been involved with people that have hurt us but we didn’t become hermits. Life is full of setbacks and difficult times but we manage to push through. We have failures, errors and missteps but we learn from them. We change “pain” to learning experiences. No pain, no gain is a philosophy that has some value but the pain should be thought of as challenges to overcome. And some painful experiences are best not repeated, once is enough. As I like to call them million dollar experiences that you would not rather repeat.

Today I pushed through a minor issue, a sore muscle. But I think I’ll leave the running to others. Walking worked for seven months without the running. Why run? I am in no rush for a trip to the emergency room or orthopedist. But breaking 40 minutes would be nice, maybe I’ll walk faster without the need to have both feet leave the ground at the same time.

KISS. Keep It Slow Speed.

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