When you hit the wall

Recently on the blog we’ve had some very thought-provoking posts about confronting one’s limitations in a sport.  Sam posted here about the possibility that she would not progress to the next belt level in Aikido.  And our guest blogger Michelle followed up here, talking about about being okay with what is her learning trajectory in Aikido.

(Parenthetical remark:  all this talk of Aikido is making me very curious about it.  Do I have time to start another sport?  Hmmm…. )

What really resonated with me in these posts was that we all face challenges as we continue to practice a sport or physical activity.  We talk about these challenges a lot here, sharing our own experiences with moving through loss, stress, injury, illness, job demands, aging, etc.  Reading and blogging about how we respond to life through movement is a source of support in my own activities.

Sam and Michelle’s posts show us that there are lots of ways to respond when we hit our limitations in a sport.  Sam is doing more weapons training and enjoying learning a lot more about it.  Michelle is focusing on practices that will not result in re-injuring herself, getting to know a new dojo, and continuing to learn.  Go Sam!  Go Michelle!

For me, I’m dealing with some injuries, lowered fitness and added weight– all of which result in making my sports of choice more difficult and less fun.  I’d been avoiding group riding this year because I had gotten very slow and less fit for long distances.  Also, I have had intermittent knee problems, making training painful.  I traveled a lot this year, both for work and to see family, which interrupted my regular routines.  Of course, all of this is happening in a life that is very privileged.  I have a secure job with flexibility, and am very lucky to be in this position.  Knowing that I do have many more choices than many others, I have been really unhappy about how I let those opportunities slip by, not making the most of time and control and opportunities.

I really felt like I had hit a wall.  I didn’t know what to do.

Then, I finally went on a group ride.  My friend Janet talked me into riding with her on the Columbus Day holiday, and my friend Pata decided to join us.  Before I knew it, other friends (Rachel and Steph) decided to come along.  I hardly had time to panic, and there was clearly no way to pull out of this.  And Pata promised me that we would ride together if the others flew down the road, out of sight.  So I went.

And it was lovely.  And a little hard (but not too hard).  And worth doing, even though I’m much less fit than I used to be.  It turns out that I still know how to turn the cranks.  I was very touched that my friends got together for what amounted to a group-riding intervention, and it worked.

Pata and I went for a ride that Friday– it was fun (when we were not dodging cars that were breaking all sorts of traffic laws).  I’ve been riding a bit more around town.

And I signed up for the Orchard Cross costume cyclocross race (not really a race, rather a slightly faster version of a parade on an off-road course) for Sunday Oct. 30.  Stay tuned for a not-race report and lots of pictures.

What does this mean for me in terms of dealing with my limitations?   Having hit the wall, I finally figured out something:  bikes can turn both left and right.  So I’m doing that, and seeing where we go from there.


6 thoughts on “When you hit the wall

  1. I think this is somewhat tied to our problematic North American fitness culture which is so tied to competition. When I’m out jogging, people will ask if I’m training for something. But all I’m really training for is my life. Even if I never get any faster at my 5k, even if I never get up past 15 mph on my bike commute to work, I’m still getting tremendous benefits in terms of wellness. I guess that’s why I like yoga and Pilates so much- it’s not about competition, it’s about practice, and you’ll reap benefits even if you never get “better” at it.

    I feel like this is why a lot of folks are so sedentary- since they’re not competitive, they figure fitness isn’t for them. But they could benefit so much from 30 minutes of brisk walking and a few planks and squats.

    1. I agree with you that activity doesn’t have to be competitive, even with ourselves. It’s tough to leave that mindset behind, but worthwhile.

  2. So happy friends staged a group ride intervention and that you enjoyed it. Sounds like it was fun.

  3. Not worth worrying about, Catherine. Meaning being slow, etc. If I’m not enjoying cycling, then I try to find ways to make it easier on self.

    Not sure why we have to continuously “achieve” something when it’s a daily fitness activity that we enjoy doing in the lst place.

    Don’t know about you, if I overthink/overworry something as simple as a bike ride in a safe area, then there’s something not right with me.

    Look forward to your costume ride pics.

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