Different Kinds of Fitness.

I’ve been less sore after an Ironman than I am today. I did one session with a trainer yesterday morning – the first in about a year – and I feel as though I went from a couch to a marathon with no preparation whatsoever. How is it possible that one hour of movements can cause this much pain?

I gripe, but I love this feeling. It’s been a rich few days of workouts. I did my 8-mile trail run on Saturday. I ran 7 miles on Sunday. Yesterday, I did the trainer session and swam in the morning and then went on a five-mile walk at a solid pace with my friend Ilene after work. This morning, Kerry and I ran five miles. I love working hard, and I love the tiredness that comes from feeling like I’ve worked hard. And yes, I even love the pain. Dammit, Jake.

I know my arms are sore because of the push-ups and weights we did. I think my legs are sore primarily from an exercise where Jake had me stand on a bench and lower myself into a squat on one leg while I kept the raised leg out in front of me. I got to use Jake’s arm for balance and for aid in getting back up out of the squat. It was tough. Apparently people can do this one-legged thing even on the ground. Right now, I can barely do it on a bench with the help of Jake’s arm.

This is a lesson for me that “fit” means lots of different things. Ironman fit doesn’t mean I can handle strength work. Running fit doesn’t mean I can handle swimming. Bike fit doesn’t mean I can handle running. Swimming fit doesn’t mean I can handle yoga. And none of this means that I can handle tennis, which is something I’m considering getting back into. Tennis? Yes, tennis.

I played a ton as a kid. Mom and I traveled all across the state and even the country playing tournaments until I was about 16 and totally burned out. Some of my friends are still playing, and others have recently taken it back up. In Connecticut, my friend Sarah runs a tennis club, and on my recent visit, I got to see the club and watch her play paddle tennis, which involves a smaller court, a solid racket, and, I think, more finesse than tennis. I loved being at her club and seeing the lessons and even just seeing my dear friend on a court again. Her movements on the court were so familiar, even twenty years later, that I recognized her immediately when I drove into the parking lot of her club.

Last time I played tennis with any kind of consistency, I was playing with my friends Don and Corky when I sort of tweaked my knee and decided that I better stick with repetitive movement one-directional sports to avoid injury. Now, I think I’m ready to give it a try again. Maybe I can get stronger so that all the little tweaks and movements don’t cause me pain. Maybe I can get to where I enjoy the competition once again. Perhaps most importantly to me, maybe I can reconnect with old friends and develop a community of women who play a few times a week.

There are these really cute old guys at my gym who meet most mornings for racquetball and then sit in the cafe and have coffee and some kind of pastry or cake that one of them brought. They are darling men who keep mugs with their names on them at the gym cafe, as well as one mug that says “Guest” because they like to include others in their fun. I love seeing them. I love hearing their laughter and their teasing of one another. It’s charming.

I’m not ready to be a little old lady at the club, but I do feel like I’m setting down roots. Tennis would be a nice way to be both active and social. But tennis is hard on the body – harder, in my opinion, than triathlon, even Ironman. So I need to be strong to make it work.

Yesterday was a good step towards strength. I’m hopeful that every little bit of pain I feel now will spare me some pain if I step out on the court again and as I get older. For many reasons, it’s hard to get older, but lots of people get stronger as they get older. I intend to be one of them.

8 thoughts on “Different Kinds of Fitness.

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