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February 14, 2010 / elodie kaye

Holding Back

I’ve been doing core workouts in secret from my dailymile friends.  About 3 weeks ago, I finally caved to the subliminal torture suggestion of several of my friends, who are as regular with their various core routines as they are with running.  For some of them, every other post is an exhausting list of 100 pushups, 200 squats, 500 bounding leaps!  You might think I was holding back from the embarrassment of posting that I’d done 15 pushups.  While true, you’d be wrong.

See, I like to maintain plausible deniability as a default option, but especially for projects I know I won’t complete.  Strength training isn’t ever really complete, like running is never done, but I mean establishing a habit.  As far as I’m concerned all my work with respect to running is done.  It’s all play from here on out.

When I rowed crew as an undergrad, I had to run regularly for the first time in my life.  Rowing is all about pushing and pulling.  Pushing with your legs, and pulling with your arms.  Not surprisingly, we had to do squats, lunges, and pull-ups on bars, pull-downs on cables, pulling on weights while standing, while lying, pulling across.  Pulling in our sleep, pulling until we bled.

If you’ve never rowed except on a machine, you may not know that rowers are almost horizontal at the end of each stroke to get the longest throw possible.  Since the seat is smaller than an iPad, we spent as much time conditioning as we did on the water.

You’d think after 3 years of that, I’d have situps in my blood.  Last year, I did some kind of strength training on 51 days.  Compare that to running: 214 days.  I may be a lazy slug, but I’m a slug with data.

I reserve a special scorn for fake motion.  No matter how glamorous the gym, I can’t get my thrills until I feel air moving, and scenery changing.  For a year or two, I took the advice of wise gurus who told me to buy the shiniest gym membership I could afford, so I’d be more motivated to use them.  I wasted a lot of running shoe money discovering I’m not motivated that way.

I’ve been running for over 10 years now, and trying to plant a strength training habit for about the same length of time.  I can’t give up trying, but the odds of avoiding public humiliation are not in my favour.



Leave a Comment
  1. saragracer / Feb 14 2010 4:45 pm

    Ha. We’re in the same boat here, re: keeping up with strength training. My arms are pathetic. OK, i’m going to go do 10 pushups right now. I’m not kidding.

    • elodiekaye / Feb 14 2010 5:19 pm

      lol, Sara! I’ve given up on my arms. The years I rowed were the only time in my life they were not pathetic, but mine were still the smallest on our whole crew. I’d be happy if I could manage some decent shoulders.

  2. Vern Myers / Feb 16 2010 9:48 pm

    I’ll make a confession, since we aren’t “holding back.” When I completed the first step-back week in my training schedule about a month ago, you asked if I enjoyed my recovery. I replied “recovery from what?” At that point in the schedule, I didn’t feel like I needed recovery. And I felt restless to run on all of my rest days. In the current part of the schedule, it’s not so easy anymore, and I’m learning to treasure my rest days, and longingly look forward to the next recovery week!

    • elodiekaye / Feb 16 2010 10:01 pm

      Don’t you love the feeling of that deep, pleasant fatigue, and knowing you earned every minute of your rest? I bet it tastes very sweet.

  3. Vern Myers / Feb 17 2010 4:14 pm


    There are two kinds of pain that runners feel. One type is the pain from injury, and that is the worst possible feeling. The physical pain is bad enough, but even worse is the mental pain from not knowing when we’ll again be able to run with carefree abandon like we used to.

    The other pain is that gentle soreness, or “deep, pleasant fatigue” as you nicely describe it, that tells us that we have worked well and earned that coveted additional level of conditioning. We’ve learned that each additional bit of conditioning makes our running more effortless, and more pleasant. Yes, that DOES taste very sweet indeed!

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