The Tao of Going Through the Motions

Yesterday morning's Church of Pugilism started out kind of rough. I was doing pretty well in the first circuit--jumping rope, jumping jacks, etc--but as soon as we moved on to the next circuit, I was losing it fast. My head was floating, my stomach was threatening to relinquish its contents, and (as my pugilism partner kindly put it) I had a less-than-healthy glow. Anyone who's read the Tao of Puke-ilism knows that this feeling is not entirely new for me. It happens periodically and almost always puts a new spin on my workout. Yesterday was no exception.

In the past, I've tended to react to this situation in one of two ways--either sit out for a round or two or punish myself by pushing myself harder. This time, however, I decided to just let it wash. I stayed in the circuit physically, kept it slow and steady, and just sort of mentally checked out. In the second round of the second circuit, my partner and I were sitting back-to-back on the floor, twisting, and passing a medicine ball between us. With each early pass, I wondered how long I'd be able to keep going. "If you puke, you puke;" I kept saying it over and over to myself. But eventually things got a little surreal, and my mind started to let go while my body just kept passing the ball. For what was probably about two minutes, I have no idea what I was thinking (if I was thinking anything at all). Nonetheless, the bell signifying the end of the round told me I had got it done and that it was time to move on.

I was surprised to find that moving on to the next round was actually fairly easy. The struggles I had gone through in the previous rounds were steadily receding, and I was almost feeling kind of spry as I held up a shield for my partner to punch. Those nauseous feelings were becoming less and less frequent and, while still fairly slow, I was starting to recompose myself mentally as well. My confidence in my ability to finish the workout improved drastically over the next few rounds, and by the time the whole thing was over and I had stepped foot back out into the open air, I was no more sluggish than when I went in over an hour earlier. Not exactly Richard Simmons but not exactly this guy either.

On the way home, I tried to think back to my previous bouts of exercise-induced affliction and determine which of my current strategies for dealing gets me back on track the quickest. It's hard to say and seems almost always situational. Whether I take a break depends on whether I think it will bring me a fresh outlook on the situation. And whether I push myself harder depends on whether I think there's a level of diminishing returns. And whether I just stay the course and go through the motions depends on whether I think what I'm doing is right and that I just need to keep on doing it--even when I'm not sure I can. Sadly, it seems that when things aren't going according to plan, I don't have a single best solution to the problem. But maybe that's ok. I guess as long as none of my solutions kill me, I can just keep experimenting with them. Or maybe finding new ones through more and more practice. Could be worse.

Nothing New byslag at 8:25 AM

3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here):

Gye Greene said...

Good stuff!

Do you find that you're esp. prone to nausea when you've been away from the gym for a while? I do. ("About a month" seems to be the threshhold.)

Reminds me of my current situation: doing Dissertation revisions -- under a relatively tight deadline -- with a head cold. I'd rather sleep -- but instead, gotta stay up late...


slag said...

"Do you find that you're esp. prone to nausea when you've been away from the gym for a while?"

Probably. But MFP and I are fairly regular church of pugilism goers. Let's just say that it tends to happen about once a month. A time when MFP isn't being ironic when he calls me his "delicate flower".

Gye Greene said...


That's... inconvenient.


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