Last Wednesday, I bravely embarked on a ‘6 weeks to restart your fitness’ plan in my Fitness + app and by Saturday my legs were so sore that stairs became a major annoyance.
That would usually be the point when I would take a few days off and then forget to come back to the program but something about the little check marks on each completed workout drew me back and then something made me think about my sore legs a little differently.
When I started the workouts last week, they seemed relatively easy – 10 daily minutes of strength training or HIIT or 5 minutes of core work – for two weeks and then I would move on to 20 minutes of daily work. My brain tried arguing with me that there was “no point” in starting at 10 minutes, I might as well dive in at 20.
(I don’t know why my brain tries that kind of crap, I know that’s not how habits work. Brains are very annoying creatures.)
By the end of Friday’s workout, I was well aware that 10 minutes of these kind of workouts were definitely enough of a challenge for me. By Friday night, despite my cool-down and stretches, my legs were kind of cranky.
On Saturday morning, I was pretty sure someone had replaced a few of my muscles with some sort of cement-based pain generators. I considered skipping Saturday but it was a core workout so I told myself I could stick with the program one more day before taking a break.
It was a good decision – I learned two new core moves and I liked the workout way more than I thought I would.
With my core solidly worked out, I was wincing my way through any leg-related movements for the rest of the day and I started to think ‘Why am I doing this to myself? This program is too hard for me, I need to find somewhere easier to start.’
And maybe that is the case, maybe I should have started with something else.
But, that being said, I did enjoy the workouts while I was doing them, I don’t have anything to prove so I chose any adaptations that I felt needed during each set of exercises, and I did feel drawn to return, so this program definitely has appeal for me.
Perhaps I was looking at this the wrong way.
Maybe the fact that my legs were so sore meant I was actually working the muscles that I need to strengthen. Maybe I was sore because my exercises are targeting the exact right spots.
So, perhaps my muscle soreness wasn’t a sign that I was doing something wrong or that I had taken on too much. It was a sign that I am on the right track.
I’d love to say that my legs stopped hurting then, some sort of miracle of mind over matter, but that’s not the case. As I’m writing this on Monday afternoon, my legs are still a bit sore but I feel better about that fact.
And my brain is much more willing to stick with the plan now that I have proof of the program’s effectiveness (long before I would have any other evidence that it is working.)
I don’t know why I haven’t made this explicit connection before but, like I said above, brains are annoying creatures. However, I can’t really blame my brain for trying to hurry the process by coaxing me to start at a higher level and I definitely can’t blame it for all the times it has advised me against sticking with a program that’s making my muscles sore. After all, pain is usually a warning system, isn’t it?
This time however, I think I have brought my brain onside. And I am going to work to keep it here.
Now I’m off to do some more stretches!