December 31st, 2009

An age old question

We've all contemplated the question before-- what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?

Tonight's combatants are my laziness and my stubbornness. It promises to be an epic battle.

I've been running on slightly short sleep this week-- early morning meetings and appointments have kept me from sleeping as late as I would like. I was tired when I got home from work, and almost took a nap but decided a the last minute to play the HORSE tournament instead. I'm glad I did, but by 11:00 I was in no mood to go to the gym, or do anything but sleep. Still, if I didn't go it would be another couple of days before I got there. Unacceptable.

I made a deal with myself. I'd go, but probably not finish the run, and if I didn't I'd be OK with that. I'd just do as much as I could stand, then quit. The scheduled run was W6D2, which is a ten-minute run, a three-minute walk, and a ten-minute run. It's not quite as bad as the big monolithic runs, but it's still scary.

There were no treadmills available when I got there at 11:30 p.m. HUH? OK, let me be more precise. The gym has half a dozen nice treadmills with heart rate monitors built into them, and about, oh, eight or ten not-as-nice ones. The nice ones were all in use when I arrived, and I really like having a heart rate monitor, so I spent some extra time stretching while I waited. I really like jazz isolation exercises as warmups, only partially because my body still remembers how to do them after three decades.

So I got a treadmill, did the warmup, and started running. Deal with myself: I'll run five minutes and then decide whether I want to go on. The first three minutes were pretty easy, and after that it turned into work. But hey... I'm halfway through the ten-minute run, so I may as well finish.

A song came on. Specifically, the finale from In the Heights. It was totally the wrong song-- it's a great piece of music, powerful energetic, and triumphant, but the first three minutes are kinda slow.

And thus began the bargaining. "Dude, I'm done with this." "Hey, you're more than halfway through the first run. Just finish it." "But I don't wanna." "C'mon, four minutes to go. You can do that, right?" Run run run. Three minutes left. "Oh bullshit, you're not quitting now, are you?" Two minutes. "No, can't do it."

"Yeah, I'm a streetlight chillin' in the heat!" The song transformed itself into energy. I reached over and cranked up the volume. And then I flew through the next two minutes.

Time to walk. Score, stubbornness one, laziness zero. Three minutes was totally not long enough. OK, self, there's no way in hell you're going to do another ten minutes. No, probably not, but I'm going to keep going and see how far I get.

Run run run. Wow, the first three minutes of the second segment were a million times harder than the first segment. OK, just do five minutes and call it a day.

"Who said that my party was all over, huh, huh I'm in pretty good shape." Sing it, Freddie. I was amused by the lyrics, but then I started wondering when Freddie sang that song. Did he know he had AIDS? Yeah, that album's pretty late... he probably did. (I looked it up: he did.)

And then the five minute mark. "I can quit now, right?" "Dude, you're halfway through the second run. Just finish." "Fuck that noise, I'm not going to make it." "Hey, didn't we just have this conversation?" "Umm, I guess. But it was easier then." "Oh please. Do you want to have to repeat this day?"

Now that was a persuasive argument. Go self!

I remembered something I read or heard on the radio or something a while ago. It was something like most of us could (lose weight, get in better shape, whatever the topic was) if we just learned to suffer. We don't want to work for it-- we want it to just be easy.

Lemme tell you, I was definitely suffering. Laziness really wanted to just curl up in a ball and sleep, but stubbornness was chasing it around with a cattle prod.

"Nope, no more. I'm done. Just let me quit." "Bullshit. You've done 17 out of 20 minutes. What kind of pathetic hoser quits now?" "Umm, me?" "No way. Three minutes. Count it down." "Bitch."

So tired. So bored. Heart rate is about at the top of where I want it to be. Holding onto the handles seems to steady my pace, though.

Two minutes. One. 30 seconds left. And then I practically slammed on the decrease-speed button until I got it down to a nice mellow walking pace.

Stubbornness for the motherfucking win.

I'm glad I did it. Since the time I made it through W1D1, I've only cut one run short, and that was the horrible running out in the real world failed experiment... I don't count it. I've added longer walks between runs a few times, but I've never done even a second less than the total amount of running I was supposed to do.

I think it's good that I've never let myself quit. Once I cross that line, it may be a slippery slope. The perfect record is gone, so what's the big deal if I cut one more run short? As long as I keep up with it, I have motivation to not fail.

So W6D2 is done. I started feeling light-headed after I stopped running, a little bit while I was walking but more when I got off the treadmill completely. Next week I call my doctor and ask if I can just quit with the blood pressure medicine entirely. If I can get away with it, it will be a huge triumph.