Sunday, July 16, 2006

RPM is not supposed to be done anything other than hard out. When I took my first RPM class some years ago the instructor told me that if I didn't feel sick or nauseaus at the end then I hadn't worked hard enough. After that first class I could barely walk up the stairs to the changing room, but I was hooked.

I like it when the music is loud and hard. I like it that I don't have to worry about whether my feet and arms are going in different directions (co-ordination in aerobics classes has never really been my thing). I like the mind games involved in turning that dial up just a little bit harder.

I can particularly recommend Jocko's 6.30am classes at Les Mills Extreme on a Friday, where he's likely to chuck in an extra track, or decide that he feels like doing five hill tracks. He's also likely to yell at you if he doesn't think you are working hard enough, and he always knows when you're not working hard enough. Jocko works on a building site by day, and enjoys inflicting pain on others (often his workmates) in his free time.

So there I was on Friday, in not an insignificant amount of pain from this injury, with my physio on one shoulder and my trainer on the other, and when Jocko started screaming at me I realised I'd forgotten to explain my predicament. Yes Jocko, I know I'm stronger than that. It frustrates heck out of me that I'm barely even raising a sweat. But I've got to get through the next few weeks without doing even more damage, and right now RPM is a mental salve, an attempt to convince myself I'm actually still going hard, rather than an actual workout.

Still, I'm very aware that the fact Jocko was asking me whether I was doing a triathlon in November is a real sign of how far I've come. I wasn't going to admit I can't actually swim! My mission once the half marathon is over in October will be to spend an intense month learning. After that I'll be joining the triathlon training squad along with everyone else at the gym, even if my swim sessions are spent solo, trying to complete a single lap! God help me!

I'm still trying to convince myself that ear plugs and a swimming cap will be enough to get me over this intense fear of going under. I imagine myself plunging under - the coolness of the water, and the silence and tranquility beneath. I crave the water so badly. I guess we always want that which scares us the most.

By the time I got to the physio on Friday afternoon I was pretty tired and cranky, and my pain threshold wasn't terribly high. Thankfully Helen was actually nice to me for a change, and even better, with a few pushing movements she loosened up my right quad to the point where it almost felt normal. Not the hip though - that's slightly improved, but still sore. Apparently the fact my hip is sore where she'd adjusted it was a good thing. Real pain as opposed to referred pain. Go figure!

Dinner with colleagues, an early night, and then this morning I was supposed to be leading a group of jog squadders around the bays. A night of torrential rain and gales put paid to that idea. I seriously debated just getting hard and going out anyway, but at 8.30 I sent everyone a text to let them know I was wimping out. A series of texts expressing not-so-mild relief came back at me! So I lay in bed until 11, got up, and did my 40 minutes on the gym treadmill instead.

40 minutes at 10kmph. I hate treadmills. I hate being told, second by second, how far I've gone, how fast, how many calories I've used up, and how much longer I have to go. I queued for a machine in the cardio theatre, threw my towel over the console and went for it. As always the mind plays terrible games, but I tried one of the Cool Running tips and every time I felt like stopping I made myself rank my discomfort on a scale of 1 to 10. Of course, each time although my mind said stop, a quick check of my body told me that actually things were okay. I really blew it though when, thinking I must be nearly done, I had a quick peep and I'd only done 18 minutes. Thankfully the cardio theatre was, at that point, playing passable cheesy trance and not hip hop or R & B, and I pushed through it.

At 30 minutes I started to overheat and had a weird sort of panic attack spell that nearly did force me to stop. However with seven minutes to go I rallied, and dragged myself, sweaty but intact, over the finish line. 10kmph once seemed so fast, now it's fully achievable. The satisfaction of a good run is a great thing.

Even better is that the aftermath hasn't been that bad. Running on a treadmill was obviously a good decision. I ran with my new shoes and they are finally loosening up. My right knee was a little sore at one point, but I straightened up and cconcentrated on evening my stride, and the pain went away. My quad still feels good, as does my shin, my calves are quite loose, my hip's a bit sore but no worse, and my gluts are better than they've been in a while.

So, tomorrow will be a rest day and, if it's like today, I'll be quite happy to spend most of it in bed. On Monday I'll be out with the girls again and I'll squeeze in an upper body session before work. On Tuesday I might allow myself the luxury of Body Balance, and another run. Wednesday will be spent with the jog squad again, Thursday with my trainer, and then it'll be Friday again and I'll be back at RPM.

Outside of the Pip world of self-inflicted pain, the world is dipping even further into hell. Now Lebanon again. After the World Photo Exhibition all I could think of was how horrible we humans can be to each other. I have been wondering whether there really is much point in immersing ourselves in news stories about terrible things that we can't do anything to change. John Pilger seems to me to carry such a terrible burden around with him. He carries it well, but it must be very hard. Of course, he really is in a position to raise awareness and maybe make some difference.

In my small little world I try to be a good person and try to do the right thing by the wonderful people I hold dear to me. I can do other things to help benefit others and the world around me. I can buy organic or fair trade, volunteer at the Sanctuary, protest against going into wars that I do not believe in. But at a fundamental level I still question the mindset needed to pick up a knife, a gun, or the trigger that will launch a cruise missile, and using it to inflict injury or death on someone who is, essentially, just the same as the person with the weapon. I like the Buddhist concept that we have all lived some many different lives that every person, every creature, has, at some point, been our mother or or brother.

What the world needs now is not just love. The world needs a good, healthy dose of compassion.

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