A Sore Topic

Before I get to what I really want to say, I went for a very short run this morning at Lynch Field.  I drove over there, instead of just running around my neighborhood, because I’m still cautious about my foot.  It turns out that it still doesn’t feel quite right.  It doesn’t hurt, per se.  And it definitely doesn’t hurt when I have my shoes on, whether I’m walking or running.  But I can still feel something in the area that was bothering me at certain times (e.g., if I’m on my tiptoes) when I have my shoes off.  I’m anxious to hear what the doctor says about this next week when I have my follow up appointment.

Anyway, I went there because it’s flat and because it would be easier to bail if I had a problem.  I ran two miles with a short walk break in between.  I might have run further, but I failed to dress appropriately for the weather, so I was just too cold.  But I did have sense enough this morning to take a picture of the sun coming up:

Pretty, no?!

Pretty, no?!

So back to my sore subject that came to mind on Tuesday, the day after my first run, while I was at Power Pump class at the Aerobic Center.  I begin with a bit of a tangent….

Has anyone ever said something to you in regards to another person’s workout habits like, “I saw Jane at the gym!  I don’t know why she even works out.  She’s already skinny!”?

I always shrug, as if I agree, all the while thinking things like,

  • Well, maybe she’s just smarter than the rest of us, and goes to the gym before she gains weight.
  • Or – Yeah, well did you ever think that that’s why she stays so skinny?!  
  • Or even, Did you ever think that maybe Jane simply (GASP!) likes working out?!

I think the ‘Why does she work out’ thinking points to an idea out there that everyone hates working out.  That we’re supposed to hate working out.  That we only do it because we have to.  That we only do it when we need to – specifically, when we need to lose weight.  That we work out until we lose the weight that we want to lose and then we stop.  And then what happens?  We gain weight and lose energy – and then we have to start anew.  Yet it’s so much easier just to stick with it!  It’s sad, really, that there seems to be a culture of complaining about exercise and that, for many people, the need  to exercise is centered strictly around what we look like when the benefits are so much more than that.

Fortunately, for many of us, we start out with that need to lose weight and to look better, but then we get hooked on the activity itself.  And although we may also enjoy the changes in our appearance that we achieve, we come to love our workouts just for the sake of them.

So back to Power Pump class.

In class on Tuesday, I could definitely feel some soreness in my legs from my initial run the day before – in my quads, hamstrings, and my inner thighs.  It was that “good” soreness.  Not excruciating or debilitating, but that feeling where you are acutely aware that you did something good.  I had to smile because it had been so long that I’d been aware of the running muscles in my legs.  It made me happy to have a physical reminder that I was back in the business of running that I’d missed for so many weeks while rehabing with Alice.

Of course, after class, I had all kinds of other sore muscles, but I’ve learned to love that feeling even though it can be tough some days.  For example, if I need to pick toys up off the floor on a day where we’ve done dead lifts, it can be a bit of a challenge.  (I’ve been known to crawl around the living room to retrieve items on the floor!)   But the soreness really does begin to make you appreciate your body and what it can do.  Further, would it really be motivating to drag my butt out of bed before 5:00 AM to get a mediocre workout?  Hell, no!  In fact, last summer when our regular instructor was on vacation, I left that class not at all sore from the sub’s workout.  I could have thought, “Well, that was nice and easy for a change!”  But instead, I was pissed.  Like, why did I bother?!  I could have done something else!  I could have slept in!

Anyway, we were talking in class about how sore we were from the classes the week prior.  One of my friends was wondering why we’re always so sore because, “we do the same sh!t every week.”  Which is funny, but I go back to the idea above: Why would we want to be not sore after class, no matter how many times we go?  If you’re not going to be sore, you’re not really working hard enough, and so you may as well stay in bed, no?!

But the comment did get me to wondering this:  For those of us who are committed to our fitness enough to workout 3-6 days a week (gotta have at least one, true rest day!), how many of those days should we be sore v. not sore?  Is it normal to have at least one part of your body feeling sore all the time?  Or is that kind of overkill?  Do you get to a point in your fitness where you’re genuinely just maintaining your fitness and nothing ever hurts?  Or, in order to truly stay fit, do we need to feel sore some to most of the time?

Seriously, I’m curious.  What do people think?

  1. Do you like to work out, or do you only do it because you have to? (I will admit – sometimes I just love to hate it.)
  2. Do you enjoy that post-workout soreness?
  3. Do you think it’s a good thing to have some aching muscles most days of the week?
  4. How many days of week of soreness do you think is “normal”?

I know this was kind of a rambling, stream-of-consciousness way to get to these questions, but I hope it was at least reasonably coherent.  If you’ve read this, I really would like to know what you think, so I’m hoping you’ll comment below!

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3 responses to “A Sore Topic

  1. 1. I HATE to work out. I only do it because I know that 2 days of spinning (40 miles for me) is enough to let me eat organic, non GMO blue corn chips with a few drinks.
    2. I do not enjoy post workout soreness. I do not mind it IF I have nothing else to do.
    3. On the fence about this…..A little pain lets me know I am alive, but if it stops me from doing what I want/need to do then no, I don’t think it’s a good thing.
    4. Define normal. 😉

  2. 1. You know my answer for this one 🙂
    2. Lifting: Yes, if I’m not sore or at least heavy/tired in certain muscles …I feel like it wasn’t a good workout. Running: I don’t usually get sore because I don’t change my routine that much….but if I’m not sore after a race…I am super pissed at myself for not working hard enough.
    3 & 4. See #2…I am usually sore after Shelly’s class…or a race

  3. 1. Working out keeps me sane. I love it.
    2. I still feel sore after a long run, or after I change up my lifting routine, but I love that feeling…makes me feel like I did something.
    3 & 4 I don’t know what’s normal, I’m only sore if I change something. I believe muscle confusion is good though.
    And the best part about working out and running so much is I can pretty much eat anything I want.

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