Friday, 18 January 2008

Bear with me...

...and I will try to explain.

I will try to explain why it is that on Friday night, I am heading to bed with a bottle of water, a tube of Deep Heat, and a bottle of Surgical Spirits for company.

I will try to explain why it is that every piece of me aches.

And then, I will try to explain why it is all so fun.

Last week, I was feeling pretty chipper. Positive developments were threatening to materialise at work, training was going well, I had fun plans for the weekend, and I was generally on top of everything: health, life and work-wise. I was remembering just how absolutely good it felt when I was a student - very little stress, excellent health, busy social life, plenty sleep. Nothing looming on the horizon.

I spent five or six hours on the river last weekend - a long outing Saturday morning, and another on Sunday. Saturday's was great. Sunday's wasn't so good. Not only had I had less than five hours' sleep, but ten minutes after getting on the water, I felt sick. Properly sick. Like a fool, I assumed it was some combination of the previous night's lack of sleep, perhaps one beer more than was prudent, and the goat curry. So, feeling properly sick and rowing like a sack of spuds whilst our coach barked increasingly impossible commands at me, I spent the rest of the outing attempting to coax my ailing body towards the unreasonable feats which formed The Plan For The Outing. I muttered many expletives under my breath. In fairness to the coach, it should be pointed out that, as I assumed I was entirely responsible for my sickness, I didn't actually complain that I felt two strokes short of death for most of the outing. I was hoping to get though in one piece without anyone noticing I was a bit worse for wear. That's part of the mentality - mustn't show weakness...

Walking home after the outing, I felt well and truly spent, I assumed from the morning's exertions. I retired home via the supermarket, and picked up kind, gentle foodstuffs to recover at home with. Or so I thought. I went to bed in my post-prandial lull, about 3pm. I stayed there until Monday morning, leaving only to dash to the loo for bouts of the sort of violent explosive diarrhoea that make you wonder just what pressure the gut can withstand.... I have no idea how I went from feeling so well to feeling so rubbish in the space of a few hours, but somehow, I managed it. And my, did I feel rubbish.

To top it all off, as I lay in bed on Monday morning composing my email to my line manager, a few people I was going to be meeting later in the day, and my rowing buddies, to explain why I wouldn't be at work/training, it occurred to me that I didn't feel quite as appalling as I felt an hour ago. And actually, I could probably make it into work. Training might be a step too far, but work... Well, I thought I could manage eight hours sitting at a desk within running distance to the loo.

I didn't train again until Wednesday - a six mile jog along the river. It was slow, and it was unduly hard work, but it felt good to be working my body again, for it to be working for me and doing my bidding instead of declaring war on my ambitions, even though my bidding was something as truely pointless as running to Chiswick bridge and back again. As I suffered no ill effects from this on Thursday, I took the gamble of going to circuit training.

I should explain why this was a gamble:

  1. I hadn't eaten in the afternoon and had resorted to gobbling an emergency maltloaf whilst jogging to circuits;
  2. Circuits are my most hated form of exercise ever. It's hard to get motivated to do the jumping around bit, and the only thing which keeps me going is the thought that everyone else is and not going is letting the crew down;
  3. The coach is a well-meaning sadist. It was entirely likely that there would be a new and excruciating exercise or ten added to the plan;
  4. Once I had shown my face at circuits, there is no giving up, no pulling out with a sicknote from the doctor, no explaining that perhaps it's better for me not to push it too hard right now... That mentality doesn't fit.

Circuits consists of twelve stations, one minute per station. That's 48 minutes of high-intensity exercise straight off. Add on a couple of miles' jog there and back, and a hundred or so extra bonus squatjumps just to ratchet up the lactic acid in the thighs, and my quite ridiculous pride and stubbornness, and you have the makings of a very painful outcome.

And so it is that a day later it's Friday evening and I'm lying in bed covered in deep heat. And for good measure and olefactory delight, I have given my palms and soles a good surgical spiriting. I smell like I've had a bad accident with a cleaning cupboard (and I'm not convinced that the skin around my shoulders where I've just applied some more deep heat wasn't grazed. Ooooooh, that stings!) Tomorrow morning I have two outings - 7:45 am at the boathouse. On one level, I wish I could turn my alarm clock off and stay in bed all day. On another level, I love it.

It's that other level that I need to explain, but right now, it's bedtime (bedtime for rowers, at any rate), and because I love rowing, I'm going to sleep now and will blog that bit some other time.


Random Reflections said...

Sorry that you haven't been well - and that you also appear to be slightly insane in pushing yourself so hard when mere mortals would have simply curled up in bed and slept...

I hope the training today has not left you totally unable to function. If you could still managed to get fingers to keyborard and assure us your not dead that would be helpful.

Pixie said...

I think I've done well getting as far as down the stairs to this machine, that's enough exercise for anyone.... LOL
But, you are either devoted or mad, and the jury is still out!! Enjoy whichever though

But Why? said...

Random (if that's not an abbreviation too far),

Thanks for your concern. Let me assure you that I remain completely viable, and had a lovely time on the Thames this morning (despite the tide doing very odd things and the wind producing massive waves which all seemed to be heading in my direction). Now all I need is a massive amount of food (hint - this may be one of the reasons I enjoy rowing so much...), and lots of sleep before doing it all over again.

Congratulations on descending the stairs before noon! It is, as you say, enough exercise for anyone, and certainly a good deal more than the statutory minimum for a Saturday morning. I do accept that I have way more exercise than decorum would permit for a weekend, let alone for a saturday morning, but I hope that the amount of sleep I get more than makes up for my energetic morning ways!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Good heavens! You sound like a sado-masochist! All that rowing and exercise and Deep Heat! But I enjoyed reading this post... self-depecrating humour is a much under-rated art form in which we English excel. By the way, thanks for dropping by my blog. See ya!

DJ Kirkby said...

You have not managed to convinced me that you aren't completly mad...

trousers said...

I can see the appeal having spent many cold wintry mornings waking up to find myself in a hostel (thankfully not the kind of hostel in the film of that name) when all outside is cold, dark and hostile. Then I remember I'm out there for the weekend or a few days, and that it involves getting up stupidly early to have breakfast and make a packed lunch, then spend the next 6-8 hours walking over hillsides.

Then there's a mate of mine who has done so much running, cycling and other forms of exercise - and as a result has had so many accidents that he's now got more metal plates and rods in his body than bone (endless fun if you've got a strong magnet) - but who, after years of illness from various conditions that he's got, has just gotten a new lease of life and is out running, cycling and playing football.

Me, I'm itching to get back out on my bike at the earlies opportunity - but I haven't got the energy to go down to the shop to get some new brake pads :)

But Why? said...

Hello. Yes, I do sound a bit of an SM, don't I? In addition to my previous toils, I am now the proud owner of a new set of blisters on my left hand. Fine things, they are, building new layers to old callouses. Marvellous things, callouses... So very handy.

If I didn't enjoy it, I agree it would be quite, quite insane. I love rowing, and am loving getting to know the Tideway (even the waves crashing over the side of the boat is good fun, if a little cold and very wet), rowers are generally a nice bunch of people, I'm a sucker for a good challenge, I love being able to do exercise whilst sitting down, andI really enjoy all the food I can eat as a result of all the exercise!

Ah yes, clearly a man after my own heart. How fine it is to be able to get up and achieve so early in the day. All very uplifting, I find. I am, though, a little concerned to see that you neglected to mention a pub at the end of 6-8 hours romping over hills and dales.

I have to say it's fab to get outdoors early in the day, and I'm actually rather impressed with the quantity of birdlife on the Thames - loads of herons making a living somehow (makes me hold out hope that I might one day see a fish, and to back up my case for optimism, I think I saw the head of an otter last weekend). Plenty gulls of various descriptions, too - they all seem to hang out by the River Cafe where I think the kitchen sometimes chuck out bits of fish and seafood which didn't quite make the grade. It must be a nice life...

trousers said...

Ah yes, well spotted. The thing about a pint or two (or three)after a day like that is it makes you glow, and is thoroughly well deserved. In a really good pub with a real fire. And good home-cooked food.

DJ Kirkby said...

But... arent your arms too sore to get the lovely food to your mouth? Come over to mine on Monday and help me celebrate the results of my autism assesment.

But Why? said...

Pubs. Nice pubs. I love pubs. There are many lovely-looking pubs along the Thames, but unfortunately with all this rowing and water-drinking that I'm doing, I don't get many pinting opportunities. And somehow, these places aren't quite the same to go for a couple of pints of juice or water, are they?

Funnily enough, I've never experienced that problem. (And most of the hard rowing work is done with legs and back - the arms just do the fiddly, fine control bits and join the blades (oars) to all that work that the legs and torsos are doing.)

Will def. pop round yours on Monday - I love a good party! I'll bring over a bottle of Lucozade to celebrate with(!)

BBC said...

Thank you for reminding me to be thankful that I have seldom been sick in my 64 years. And that my body is still in great shape for my age.

I don't do work outs, that seems like work and is boring. I just go do things that I enjoy doing that takes energy to do them. Biking, hiking, building and fixing things, inventing, stuff like that.

Always lost in my mind of course, so they don't seem like work to me.

BBC said...

DJ Kirkby ... Show me someone that isn't madd and I'll show you someone that is insane.

But Why? said...

It's great to enjoy things, I agree. I also think it's vital to occasionally make yourself do things from which you or others benefit, and which you find in someway difficult. I usually find the enjoyment in having achieved more than offsets the initial barrier to action.