Even though I know I'm not in the best shape, even though I know I should take it easy on my first day,
Back when I was training myself for the CN Tower stair climb, I started off my very first workout by doing all 1776 steps. It didn't matter that I'd never done it before, or that by the halfway mark my legs had started to shake. However long it took, I kept pushing on until I'd finished. (I'm pretty sure it took me closer to 50 mins my first go). That way, no matter what, no matter how bad it would get over the next few weeks of training, I knew that I could do it. I knew that, as bad as it got, even if I cried all the way up, that little voice in my head screaming 'you're going to die, idiot!' was a fucking liar.
So, today I went and did something... not smart.
I fiddled around with the settings on the treadmill, trying to figure out how best to burn off 1000 calories a day for 30 days. Eventually, I worked it out that if I put the treadmill at a 11.5% incline and
And so, off I went.
No warm-up, no waiting. I didn't want to think about it, I didn't want to give myself any room to start slipping excuses in. Didn't want to think about what I was signing myself up for.
Head down, nose to the grindstone. Power through.
Here's a brief rundown of my mental and physical state for the next 60 minutes.
Definitely a nice trot here, machine's still rising to the proper incline. Okay, whoa. Steeper than I imagined. Grab the bars, hold on tight. Suddenly that 'nice trot' has turned into a 'what the hell is this then?' I'm starting to warm up.
I'm actually panting. Lightly at first, but noticeably. I take some deep breaths, trying to 'open my lungs'. Apparently they haven't been 'opened' in a while and they lead me into a small coughing fit in the middle of an inclined, moving treadmill. Grip the handles harder, force the coughs down and the oxygen through. My eyes tear up. The little voice in my head cackles with glee. Still, I'm breathing now. Deep breaths. I notice the first bead of sweat run down my brow, I'm officially 'warm'.
I check the clock. Bad move. My heart sinks to see that it's only been about 12 minutes. My legs are not pleased. My lungs are getting ready to stage a mutiny. I relax my shoulders a bit, trying to calm my mind, knowing that if I start to overthink this then I'll start to think up all these wonderful excuses why I need to get off this bloody thing right now. I start to try and zone out to the music, the thud-thud-thud of some Rihanna Techno/Trance remix that you would only ever find in a goddamn gym. Also I notice I'm getting angry.
There's a truth I learned a while back and it's one of the greatest tips/tricks ever to help cope in the workout game. It's entirely a mental thing, but it's so powerful that it's saved my ass on countless occasions, pulled me through like no 'roid enhanced trainer ever could: If you can make it halfway there, you're home free. Of course, once you know that trick, the climb to halfway becomes the real challenge. All the pressure falls on getting halfway there. I note that I'm officially 1/4 of the way complete, moving on toward 1/3 of the way complete. 10 bloody minutes from halfway. Just... just gotta keep going. Keep focused. I can't stand the sound of the music anymore, I can't bear to look at the screen as numbers pop on and off telling me how I'm doing. I try to will myself into own little private Idaho. Think of my happy place, my happy thoughts. Ignore that sandpaper-like feeling in the side of my foot. Power on, power man!
Over 1/3 of the way now, my shoulders are starting to hurt. Like, ache. I realize I've been leaning back on the bars, trying to take the weight off my legs. Yeah, you cheater, you. Steady myself, push my body forward, get my legs underneath me. Somewhere in the midst of it all I realize that I'm no longer beading sweat, I'm officially dripping. I get a glance of myself in the side mirror. I wish I hadn't. Nothing crushes your spirit faster than watching yourself work out when you're not already in shape. 'Cause, no, folks, it's nothing like what they show you on TV or in the videos. There's no grace there. There's a large man clomping away with a flushed, red face, matted, sweaty hair and a top that clings to him in every wrong, revealing sort of way. Like he's won the most ill-thought-out wet T-shirt contest ever. Needless to say, my confidence took a hit.
The great thing about the mental game is that when you get to that halfway mark, when you realize you're halfway done, there's an euphoric rush. It really is tremendous, a sort 'fuck yeah! I beat the system' moment where you suddenly realize that it's all downhill from here. Except you're going uphill and, for all of the mental celerity you've just inherited, there's still that damned 'physical' aspect. And that euphoric rush? Well it really is a rush. There and gone. And you're still climbing a hill, in a drenched shirt with burning lungs, a wobbly leg and 30 minutes to go. Yeah. Winning!
I start to hear music in my head. Not the crap that's blaring around me from all sides, no. Apparently the incredible amounts of stress I've just (thoughtlessly? needlessly?) placed on my body has brought out my inner iPod. And what song starts to blare? Ace of Base's 'I saw the sign', of course. Why would that be? I have no idea. In fact, at this point, I'm so lost in my head that I can barely hear it anyways. It wafts in and out on the pale crimson breeze that's escaping from my every pore. Seriously, with every step, heat is being expelled from the top of my T-shirt, blasting the bottom of my jawline in some sort of plasma-vented gust. My hands are now aching, my fingers feeling like they've started to separate from the joint as I pull my body closer again, getting my feet underneath me once more. Only 25 more minutes! I think to myself. It doesn't come out as hopeful as I would've thought.
Almost 3/4s through. Almost there. Just need to make smaller goals. That's it. For a moment I wonder at the mental gymnastics my mind is capable of in order to keep me from landing a faceplant on a moving treadmill. 'Just break it down into bite-sized chunks'... 'a spoonful of suuuuugar helps the meeeeediiiiciiiineeee gooooo dooooown' -- okay, seriously. What the hell? I need a distraction. I watch the clock now, every minute is a success. A feather in my cap. Of course the consequence of this is that a minute somehow becomes infinitely drawn out. Each second ticking by as my legs pump their way on the treadmill. I don't dare count how many steps I'm getting per second, I don't dare try to do the Math. That way lies doom. I notice that I've abandoned my 'big, deep breaths' theory and have moved onto 'short, shallow gasps' which probably isn't good. I push myself for a good lungful of air and immediately regret it. My tongue has stuck to the roof of my mouth. Additional sexy thought: sweaty, drenched and mouth breathing. I shove that thought back under the bed with a hot poker, peel my tongue free and try to work some saliva up in this joint. Yeah. That's not going to happen.
Officially 3/4s done now! Home stretch and all that jazz. That sandpaper feeling on the side of my Left foot has been promoted to a full-blown 'burning sensation'. Sweat has now breached the dykes of my bushy eyebrows and is flowing directly into my eyes. A whole new burning sensation erupts. I make a desperate attempt to towel off my head, to clear out my eyes while still in motion. I tousle my hair, rub my eyes and immediately start to lose my balance. I throw the towel in a blind panic -- it's lost to me now, I don't dare look to where ever it's landed -- and grab back onto the 'handlebar'. I look up to the screen to see that my heart rate has moved into the 'Red' category, at a firm 189 beats per minute. This also seems like a potentially bad thing. I steady myself, watching the screen, breathing deep and manage to get my heart rate down to 181. That seems better. Slowly, I feel the sweat begin its assault on my eyebrows once more.
10 minutes left! Just gotta hold on. The Enterprise is officially buckling at this point. My... Left... nacelle is leaking... warp fluid? Dilithium Crystal infused iced tea? I don't even try to figure it out at this point, there's something leaking into my shoe now. I hope it's sweat, but the throbbing ache says 'uh, nope'. I'm a wreck by now and I know it. My internal system diagnostics are heavily recommending a reboot followed by a swift sledgehammer to the harddrive. My lungs have stopped processing oxygen at this point, whatever's coming out of my mouth has evolved into some form of volcanic gas. Both legs are wobbling like crazy, my Left leg has started to hurt -- like really hurt, as if my leg has suddenly decided that 'hips are so 2010' and has decided to strike out on its own. Perhaps to start its own indie band. All higher-levels of rational thought have all but left me, I'm aware of two things: Pain and Fire. Mostly pain.
A small spark erupts inside me. Hope. I'd like to say that it gave me the strength I needed to power on through, to raise myself to another level and become a stronger/faster/better man. But that didn't happen. With a full 5 minutes left in my journey, I became intimately aware of every fraction of an injury I'd managed to sustain while on this foolhardy quest of mine. Oh yes, foolhardy. You see, my mind, now lost for all rational thought, went into what I can only call a 'State Of Shock'. Like that drowning kid pulling you down in the middle of the deep end, every single second became an overwhelming mental screed; the small voice inside me now a lumbering, booming mass telling me how I'd gone and fucked myself large. How I pushed myself too hard, if I quit now I might be able to come back tomorrow... or the day after. After a good day of rest, of course. I'd done enough, I'd come close enough, I'd done my best. Why push farther? Why put myself through it? Why?! I'd also like to say that I pushed that motherfucker of a beast down a mental flight of stairs, that I took a deep breath and pushed onward. I'd like to say that. Because I did.
As the final seconds tick past the 60 minute mark, as the track lowers then slows, as my heartrate flutters, I feel a certain pull. Like a new sense of gravity -- the right sense of gravity -- now that I'm back on a flat surface. I'm still walking, but slower now, only 2 miles per hour but it feels like I've never walked so slow in my entire life. I feel my pulse race in my chest then, as if it finally got the memo, it slows to match my present speed. Oxygen becomes my friend again. My back aches, my Left foot throbs, my lungs burn and my eyes are teared up -- from sweat... yeah, sweat -- but I'm done. I've made it. I know I'm going to pay for this tomorrow. Moreso because I'm going to come back and do this again in 24 hours or less. But I try not to think about it. Instead I look at the final output for my 'trip'. I pull out my USB key and save it to disk.
Final breakdown (edited to look properly as this thing doesn't like XML without a stylesheet):
workout_summary equipment_type="treadmill" workout_type="Manual">
<date>11/03/2001date> <-- Apparently they never bothered to set the time or date for the machine
But there it is. Day One complete.
1021 calories burned. 28979 to go in 29 days.
Oh shit, Day Two is gonna suck.