Last week, a mom at preschool drop off stopped me in the hall as I was racing in to my son's classroom carrying an aluminum Darth Vader sippy cup full of whole milk and the sheet for his nap-time cot I'd hastily hand washed in the sink the night before. I was clearly in a hurry. She was giggling, her blond bob covering her face as she did. She was holding a pink and purple tulle ballet skirt in her hands.
"I read your post," she said, smiling big at me while I felt caught, just like the day 30 years ago my mother found me reading Forever while huddled secretly in my bedroom closet.
I stared at her blankly. The same way I'd stared at my mother, praying silently she wouldn't confiscate that novel (she did).
"The one about your...your..." She was still giggling. Could barely get it out. "LAZY ASS!"
That's when it became a full-force laugh. She was alone in that hilarity. That day, at least. I've gotten used to my family, friends and now apparently the preschool parents I barely know poking fun at my diagnosed muscular issue that has kept me from running as far away as I can as fast as I can.
She went on to tell me how funny it was (the post, not my ass, I swear) and I thanked her graciously. I can't blame her. It is funny (the diagnosis this time; the post is aiight). It's just that this condition has become a part of my routine now. Or rather, it has become a part of the weeks during which I almost completely abandoned by running routine.
I'm back to it now. Slowly, surely, I am overcoming lazy ass.
My sports doc told me to do a week of intervals -- alternating periods of running and walking every time I worked out -- that I stretched out for three weeks. I tried to convince myself I was taking it at my own pace, doing things differently than when I sped out of the gate in my training over the winter.
Really, though, I was regaining cardiovascular fitness that fizzled while my backside and hip and knee and everything else that was screaming at me as a result of lazy ass irritation was healing. I was supposed to ride the fitness bike, and I did three or four times. But then I fell off the wagon and went a few more weeks without working out much at all.
I felt it. A lot. My body felt full and slow and blecky. I wasn't sleeping as well. I felt stress creeping into my shoulders, neck and constricted blood vessels in my brain. Once I recognized all those ways not running was impacting my life, I suddenly craved the activity. That's when I pushed past the intervals and just went for it.
Something surprising and wonderful happened. I was exhausted but I wasn't in pain. I was slow but I wasn't hobbling. I was wary but I wasn't worrying about whether my body could keep up or if I'd ever feel as good as I did back when I ran the fiver.
I knew I was striving -- breaking out of that now-comfortable intervals mindset wasn't easy -- but I also knew I couldn't beat myself up. The first day went fine, the second a bit better, and on the third, I decided to forego the just-warm-enough temps and sunshine and get back on the treadmill. As I climbed on the conveyer belt, I thought to myself, "Well, let's see what my body can do today."
That day, my body cranked out three miles. I walked for a minute here and there but when my warrior mentality kicked in, I really relaxed my shoulders, set my squinting eyes on the bar sign across the street, flex my abs, pulled up my glutes into my new and better stride and ran as hard as I could to my new goal.
It's not five miles. Yet. But it feels better because I am back, just running what my body tells me it can every time I lace up my shoes. Today, that was 2-1/4 miles. Wednesday, I am hoping that will be just over three. Because I clearly need a goal to stay on track, soon I hope it will be measured in Ks not miles, events not minutes.
I'm learning, just as deliberately and slow-motionly as I ran that first set of intervals, that being gentle and forgiving with my body is not giving up, is not failing, is not the end.
By the end of the summer, I might be a great 5Ker. Or it could turn out that, one day, my body's ready to train for a marathon. No matter where I am, I have to learn this hard lesson that rest can be good. And while my muscles and heart might change and tense and need tending to and my warrior mentality might get shaken, all of it can be kicked back into shape.