Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I realized today how reliant I am on finding my edge. It only took me 37 years. It is an obvious crutch for me.

What was special about today? I fell off the wagon. I broke rank. I caved.

This whole 5K training plan requires a lot of patience. I have heaps of patience for some things like waiting in line. But I have an addiction to visiting my edge and this is precisely where I routinely run out of patience. I am really quite hopeless. Today I gave in and knowingly swapped a 20-30 min easy run for a 10 mile zone 3 effort. All runners know to avoid zone 3. No coach ever includes a zone 3 run on a training plan. Avoiding zone 3 is one of the first things you learn about heart rate training. But natural human tendency is to do all of your training in zone 3. It's just hard enough to feel like work, but not so hard to really extend your limits. Zone 3 is that comfortable edge that so many of us enjoy spending time in. Zone 3 is the source of the whole "no pain, no gain" saying. Zone 4 is where real gains are made, but when you're training in zone 4, you don't have the ability to think of much more than how much time or distance is left before the interval is complete. Zone 3 gives you space to think "hey, I feel good today."

It was actually on the mat where the events of this morning finally sunk in, or more specifically, during the 2 minutes of surrender series in Tabu's sculpt class. It's hard to use the word "yoga" to describe a sculpt class, and it's even harder to call Tabu's class "yoga" even though it takes place in a yoga studio. Sure, the guy can do all sorts of actual yoga poses, he is certainly qualified to teach yoga and then some, but nobody goes to his class to work on king pigeon, bird of paradise, or full splits. People go to his class to get shredded and walk out feeling slightly less awesome than when they walked in. While I watched him grope the ripped 88 pack of the female in front of me as she held high plank after a series of mountain climbers and one legged burpees, I realized how non-yogic the whole Tabu show actually is. I don't really care to be honest. Yes, I do love yoga, but I am quite fond of being yelled at as I crumble and Tabu delivers on the later even in moments when he isn't terribly focused on the former. He blanked my mind for 58 minutes tonight and I realized how good that felt as I sputtered through the 10 second savasana at the end of all the fun. He delivered pure gold, exactly what I was needing, and he satiated me to survive another day of patience before my next significant workout. What I like so very much about Tabu is how he routinely chastises me at my weakest moments. When I fall apart he is there to mark the date and time for my permanent record which he keeps in his mental rolodex. He sees it all, and he makes sure I know he is watching everything. Oh Tabu, how I long to one day survive your class, to complete it without sitting out even one rep. But I know you will never let me. I know you would consider it a sign of failure if I were able to do so. You dangle the carrot of competence far enough out of reach that I know I will never taste it. And yet I keep coming back for more because I am addicted.

It's a weakness that I am attached to visiting my edge. Yes, that's right, a weakness. I know how that sounds. I know I probably come across to some who may not know me as an arrogant, egotistical, self centered, self important a-hole. My first impression leaves much room for improvement. But, yes, I wholeheartedly mean weakness when I refer to my personal attachment to my edge.

It's not insecurity mind you, none of my reasons for doing what I do have anything to do with anyone else's impression of who I am or what I want anyone to think of me (and yes, I do know that we tend to think people think about us a lot more than they actually do.) The bottom line for me is that I simply don't experience peace without extreme physical suffering escorting it in.

Other people, _normal_ people if you will, can experience a _normal_ workout and reach their happy place without having to get in the octagon with their edge first. This is how most people operate, crutch-less, and much more capable than myself. Break a sweat, maybe even hit zone 2, shower up, put on some cute clothes, paint your nails, and feel really good about yourself. I wish I were able to feel that way in those circumstances. Perhaps most people don't have restless mind syndrome like I do. Perhaps normal people are just more reasonable in their tolerances for distraction and their expectations of a clear head. Or maybe everyone else on the planet has a far easier time shutting their thoughts off? Was I the only one who did not get equipped with a quick release between my body and my mind?

My edge is my crutch for me precisely because it is the one consistent way to blank my mind. To reset my inner chatter's clock, I first reach a point of physical failure at which time my brain shuts down in self preservation mode. And, very much like a pothead, the more I visit my edge, the greater my tolerance becomes and more and more effort is needed to come back next time. As I get fit, the edge recedes, just like my hairline. Some days I am physically incapable of willing myself up to the top of the mountain and I get no release, those are the days I struggle through things without knowing why it all feels harder than normal. But, in between these less-awesome days, there are moments of perfect purity that creep up every now and then when a hard workout falls into place just so.

Just like the stunning beauty I feel when I look up at the full moon, reaching my edge and falling over the cliff beyond my breaking point brings me to a space where I no longer wonder if everything is ok because my brain has ceased to understand how to even ask that question.

1 comment:

  1. Your abnormal physiology enables your mindset. Most of us would love to visit the edge more frequently, but most of our bodies break fairly quickly, and after a few rounds of that type of shock therapy, the luster is lost and we learn to live within our physical limits. The normal rules don't apply to you. For you, training in zone 2 is to sacrifice the gift. Continue to embrace your "weakness".