This Body We Have

It is not until you cannot do something that you truly begin to miss it. Fitness is like this. You discover how unfit you are when you try to run for a bus, the lift in a four storey building is not working and the stairs are your only option or, especially if you are someone who maintains a moderate degree of fitness, get injured.
I have had my share of injuries over the years. Pulled hamstrings, twisted ankles, back spasms, shoulder pains, not to mention the knee surgery. Advancing years have a way of catching up with you. If you have been consistently training or working out, an injury can, if not too severe, enforce necessary rest.
When you sustain an injury having returned to training after an unenforced lapse, not exercising because you did not feel like it or was just feeling lazy for a few months or years, it feels like karma. Either you should have given up exercise permanently or your layoff was too long.
It is at times like these, incapacitated by injury, that you really appreciate what you had when you was fitter. When you are fit, whether it is to run for a bus, upstairs or complete a triathlon, you take it for granted. Your mind gets used to you being a certain level of fitness. That does not change just because you decided to take an extended fitness break or made no effort since you were fifteen years old and could run one hundred metres in fourteen seconds.
Sometimes the reality of your present, in comparison to your belief, just shocks you. All that time you believed you were still alright, that you could do thirty push-ups at a pinch, run a mile in ten minutes comfortably or still run one hundred metres and just be behind Bolt, all that is expunged in that moment when your body can no longer do what you tell it to.
The worse part is you have a benchmark. You know what level you want to be at or think you should be at. In your twenties and thirties, there is always still the belief. You can still scale the heights, the deterioration has not set in yet. A few weeks, months maybe, and you’re eighteen again. As the forties hit, fitness is different. You are still as strong, maybe stronger, but the recovery takes just a bit longer, the training sessions more taxing.
An injury in your forties never seems minor. The aches and pains of the twenties and thirties are consigned to the past. Injuries are now chronic, something to be managed, lived with. For most, if you are sporty, injuries become a normal part of life after forty. You wish you had focused more on flexibility, not done so much bench press, stopped running on hard surfaces.
Still, even as the years advance and the body occasionally fails, the mind still remembers you at the peak of your powers. The ego pushes for a return to those glories past, when the body did all that you asked and would keep going. But then there is the dichotomy; the part of your brain that protects you from injury. Even as you get smarter, train smarter, less ego driven, not over training, more results based, experienced training, your brain tells you there’s a twinge. It’s your back, your shoulder, hamstrings. The weight is too heavy, you’re doing too many reps. If you get injured now it will be months before you’re back to this level.
Ego and fear, fighting for supremacy, trying to recapture your youth and protect the body simultaneously, an impossible ask. The body is a fantastic, complex, intricate, sometimes resilient, other times fragile, incredible organism. Probably because it is something that comes free with every life, we take it for granted, only paying attention when something goes wrong. If we paid attention more, acted to prevent injury – near impossible – and took care of ourselves so that when something was amiss it would be more easily correctable, maybe advancing years would not feel so advanced.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s