Saturday, January 29, 2022

Once a Runner

 Some thoughts, with an attempt to be concise in covering what I want to get out of my head and on paper on the metaverse machines

A recap: Running. I can do it, but it's not comfortable. After a few miles, my hamstrings and glutes start to feel really tight, even though they aren't. According to the docs, this is the result of a nagging protruding disk issue that is hitting a nerve in my spine and causing my sciatic nerve to become confused and misfire. It has also caused some pretty severe lower back issues. As a result, running simply isn't all that fun anymore. 

Over the past year and change, physical therapy has helped, but it treats the symptoms not the cause. My PT has been amazing though, and we determined a solid course of action is to continue the extensive stretching routines but workout more to get the core strong. However, it only does so much. Running is just not the same. 

Medically, the focus now is on the treating the cause, but I am not optimistic with my options. I have had to fight with doctors and physician's assistants who have been resistant to take treatment further. The overall sentiment can very accurately paraphrased as "you're just a middle aged guy with back problems, ho hum, do some stretches and deal with it." 

I managed to push the enough for an MRI and have an appointment with a back pain specialist. I was pretty excited about that, until they called the other day and switched my appointment on Monday to a simple phone call with the doctor. Umm, could I see my MRI please and could you show me what's going on? Just more frustration. I'll see how my little phone call goes but I'm not optimsitc and I'm just about done. 

There is a positive though. I have discovered that I absolutely love working out. When I was younger, "working out" meant lift things up and put them down and try to look like Arnold (impregnating your housekeeper and secretly raising a bastard child optional). I did it off and on back in the day, but each time I quit it was pretty damn boring. 

No. Not now. These days, many gyms are about high intensity interval training (HIIT). It's different. It's harder. It's actually legitimately fun. You're lifting shit, but you're also getting your heart rate jacked to 90% of your maximum heart rate with running, biking, or rowing and THEN lifting shit... or blasting your abs, or whatever. The variety is awesome, and it's an extremely well rounded workout that covers aerobics and anaerobics. Most days target a certain area or two (abs, arms, legs, chest, etc.) but each day practically every group is doing a good amount of work. 

My gym is not a Crossfit affiliate, but the workouts are similar. I used to make fun of this kind of stuff, but now I am humbled. I get it. Given the sustained popularity over the past decade plus, it's clear these workouts are not a fad. They simply work and they are fun. 

At least at my gym, there aren't any douchebags. I see the same crew at 5am each morning, and though we might not say much more than a friendly hello or a good job to one another, it's simply enough (and an introvert's dream social scenario). I've recently upped my game with working out and let my coach/trainer know, and she has put me on a different program that is quite challenging. Working out with a coach is awesome. She knows her shit, is constantly correcting my form, pushing me harder, and holds me accountable in all aspects. I love it. 

So that's where I'm at. I miss running and the long excursions where the mind and body just wander a lot, but have come to accept that my best days are likely behind me. It's time to adapt and grow, as humans are meant to do. I'm just grateful I have found something else to keep my insanity and push myself. Without some sort of very demanding physical activity, I go crazy. I am glad to report I am sane.... and also happy.