Pleasurable Pain

As an athlete you often find yourself craving the feeling of soreness. After a hard practice, having the inability to lift your arms above your head without wincing in pain is a wonderful thing. Junior year of high school I began lifting weights for swimming. While my coach was well-respected in the world of swimming, I am not sure I totally approved of the weight training that he had us doing at 15 and 16 years old. We would spend 3 days a week in the weight room curling 40 pound weights with our arms and we instructed to add three 45 pound plates on each side of the leg press. We would lift until we failed, and as a result we would spend the follow day limping around. My high school had 4 floors and students were not allowed to use the elevator. There were days when I literally cried as I climbed the stairs to French class, which was housed on the 4th floor.

While my muscles “bulked up” far more than most teenage girl would want and my swimming suffered as a result of the constant muscle abuse, a small part of me loved the physical torture of lifting. The aching muscles and complete physical exhaustion was the direct result of my efforts. I felt good about the hard work I put in and had the soreness to prove it.

Now a days, I do not experience muscle aches and fatigue as much as I used to. The amount of time I spend working out has drastically decreased and even when I do visit the gym, my intensity is not what it used to be. While I enjoy the “freedom” that comes from workout out on my own terms, and I certainly don’t miss waking up so insanely early, I do miss the feeling of sore muscles. The validation of a hard days work is hard to find these days.

Over the weekend, I spend some time at my parents house. Both of my parents spend the better part of Monday working, so I was left home alone without a car. I decided that I would do some chores around the house and hopefully cross a few things off my father’s “To Do List” as an early father’s day present. I spent the morning spreading bark mulch around the flower beds and the afternoon cleaning the screens from our porch. At the end of the day, I felt good about the work I put in. I am hoping that now, my dad will spend the majority of Father’s Day weekend riding his bike or on the golf course, instead of doing “things” around the house.

Not only do I feel good about myself for helping my dad, but when I woke up the next day, the familiar feeling of soreness had spread across the muscles in my back and legs. While this brought a smile to my face and a sense of satisfaction from the work I put in, it quickly faded when I realized how pathetic it was. I was comparing sore muscles that I got when training, on a fairly elite level, for swimming, to a few hours of yard work. How quickly things change…

3 thoughts on “Pleasurable Pain

  1. While mulch does come in bulk, I believe you were spreading Bark mulch. I know what a smart alec, but I’ve had a bad day. After just getting my hair cut and styled I went to pick strawberries and just as I started – rumble crash – a down pour and I ended up looking like a drowned rat with NO strawberries!

  2. I picked up 10lb weights at the gym yesterday and did a total of 10 arm curls before I called it quits. I don’t know how we managed to lift so much back in the day.

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