fitness

Pushing through

It’s Tuesday morning in the third week of January. It’s the 22nd month of the pandemic. It’s been about a month since Omicron reared it’s ugly head and asked us to pull back from our gradually easing lives, so that we can try to stop the spread. Some people do. Some people don’t. People have different views. Individualism veiled as fatigue or self-determination. Collectivism veiled as hermitism or hysteria.

There has been a big snow storm. The biggest since 1999 in Toronto. A city prepared for snow but not expecting it. Even in mid-January.

Bad news abounds in people’s circles. Pandemics don’t stop senility, cancer, old age, seniors from falling. Bodies age and house people who want to live and who many other people love. Don’t forget your privilege to worry about these things. Young people get sick and die too. Scan the apps and see people huddled in public busses to stay warm. You’d like to feed and house them all but there is not a simple way to do so.

There is good news too. Some people are getting better despite the odds. The sun is shining a lot these days, as it tends to do on the coldest days. Work is there. There is the ability to do it with a coffee in hand, food in the fridge and the furnace is working. There are friends to commiserate with. Amy Schneider’s incredible winning streak on Jeopardy. Communities, such as FIFI, that look at things that may seem mundane, relating to fitness and health, in a way that hopes to make the world a better place. There are husbands who make sure a new bottle of face cream is ready to go behind the almost empty one in the bathroom cabinet. There are snuggles and laughs and dogs. Thank goodness for dogs.

There is exercise. Something many lament but is something that gets me through. Some days exercise feels like all I need. Whether running in the sun, spinning with a Peloton instructor or laughing in the park with a coach while doing more jump squats than I thought possible.

But, some days are sticky. You wake up with your Fitbit telling you that you slept well. You have a 90 score. But, why are you so tired? You’ve had your coffee. Played Wordle. Smugly shown your husband that you got it in less tries than him (only because it is so rare to be better at a game than him). You know which 60 minute ride you plan to do, but you are sluggish. You bitch about the world for a few minutes. Something you try not to do first thing in the morning. Then you get yourself set up to ride.

You start the ride, waiting for the endorphins to kick in. Waiting for it to feel easy and fun and fast and satisfyingly steep. The music CDE is playing that day isn’t your favourite. You have to pee AGAIN but trying to hold it so as not to interfere with the ride. You try to sync your Fitbit with Strava for some incentive to go faster but that doesn’t work. But you keep going.

You ALMOST get off the bike. But you keep going. You modify some of the intervals to your liking (I will stand and run if I want to – no offence CDE). The last 10 minutes have finally arrived. You can’t give up now. You decide to go faster. Head down, sweat dripping. You close your eyes and try to let your mind go blank and enjoy the fast moving pedals. The few moments of your day you are actually in control of how things might go. It’s brief, but you feel the high. You pushed through. You have that. It may not have been your fastest or hardest but you PUSHED through.

There are times in life it is OK to take breaks. But when you can – it can be so worth it to push through. That is the beauty of endurance exercise for me.

Nicole P. lives in Toronto with her husband and two dogs (sorry Pope Francis) and craves her daily exercise whether running, spinning or HIIT strength workouts.

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