Benched. I’m bummed. Our team, the Haymarket Rioters, is doing some derby demo scrimmages before the bout on March 21 and I can’t skate for at least three more weeks. At a recent practice I took a toss, and I think I kicked the skates out from under the skater in front of me, because she sat down suddenly on my knee. One small sprain and bam, I’m benched.
On the up side, I get to read more, write more, watch some movies that have been hanging around the house since Christmas, lunch with my friends, and work on my core and upper body strength. More crunches, more pushups, more planks, and instead of swimming with fins (very hard on the knees) I’m “pumping Styrofoam” in the water. They make these barbells you can use for strength training in the pool. They’re super light, but when you try to push them around in water, it’s like pumping iron, only real barbells don’t pop up and smack you in the face when you suddenly let go of them. Already I’m doing 300 crunches a day, two minute planks instead of my old 90-second planks, and twenty pushups instead of fifteen.
But the instructive part of all this has to do with fatigue.
In theory, women of a certain age like myself are reading this blog, and if you are smart you are working out so that you do not die twenty years too soon, a mass of formless protoplasm, comatose in front of the boob tube. I have sung the praises of endorphins, nature’s perfect drug. I have pointed with pride to my abdominal two-pack, which means I can wear a two-piece bathing suit without shame. I have encouraged you all, I hope, to tackle something physical that scares you, even if you think you’re too old or too out of shape. (My friend Tiamats Vision is looking into rock climbing at an age when she might be forgiven for just watching it on TV.)
Fatigue got me where I am today—benched. Trying to keep up with sixteen hyperactive women twenty and thirty years my junior got me fatigued, and then I lost focus, lost strength, and lost my balance, whoops! When I strap on my skates again, I will be paying more attention to how tired I am. And if I think I’m getting too tired to rumble, I will bow out.
Oh sure. I say that now. With my German genes pushing me continually to try harder. But sometimes slowing down is the only way to stay in the game.
So when you work out, especially if you play a team sport where all those around you are blasting away and you’re so tired you can’t see straight, slow down now and then. Go ahead. Take a rest. Save it on the warm-ups and spend it later where you need it. If your ankles are weak, nurse them. Love them. Play rough with them and they will quit on you and leave you stranded. Baby them a little and they’ll be there for you for years to come.
Stay tuned to see if I can take my own advice.