Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mental Blisters

I've been working out for quite some time now, 10 yrs to be exact. The weight room has been my second home for me. I always enjoy the clanging of the plates, dumbbells, machines, and the gut-wrenching grunts of iron addicts bench pressing 200lbs or doing squats with 350lbs on their shoulders.

I never really lifted as heavy as these guys, because I'm not really a competitive bodybuilder or powerlifter. The principle behind these poundages is not really the weight that you can move, but it's the mental strength to go beyond your inherent weaknesses and push yourself to the limits.

Now that I'm taking up kettlebell classes and have been running for 2 weeks now, this definitely goes beyond my comfort zone of weight-training. It's no longer counting sets, repetitions or poundages, because it's how long you will last doing the same thing repeatedly.

Kettlebells for example combines the benefits of both weight-training and cardiovascular workouts. Endurance training has never been this efficient and effective. You could complete a workout in as little as 30mins and leave you gasping for air and your tongue hanging on the side of your mouth.

But once you master this seemingly challenging Russian tool, (no, you won't turn into a KGB operative) you will definitely be asking for more.

The other side of my cross training is running. I just decided to challenge myself to run starting from gate 2 of the village where I live and traversing through several meters of a steady and inclined road leading to the main throroughfare. After several meters, I would be arriving at a popular mall - SM Fairview



then I would just make two right turns leading to where I started. Aside from the usual curious looks from people, I was just enjoying that early morning run on a Holy Thursday. There were also other runners at that time and instead of spending time in the beach or going somewhere for vacation, they instead dedicated that time for running.

The first round was a breeze and didn't even feel exhausted, but once I started the 3rd round, my feet already had blisters on the inner sides, I was sweating profusely, and breathing very hard. Nevertheless, I told myself that I could complete the 3rd round, even if my legs are turning into logs and I had to lift each leg with all of my might to maintain my pace.

The heat of the summer sun was already setting in, even if it was just 8 in the morning. I never realized that I was already running at a steady pace for 2 1/2 hours already! The blisters in my feet were already intolerable, but I didn't mind it one bit and continued my run.

Upon reaching the last stretch of a few meters, my feet were already screaming with pain. My mind was blank, but I literally forced my mind to block the pain and applied what I have learned in weight-training that the body will follow what the mind says.

Thankfully enough, I finished the last round and although a little bit dizzy and exhausted, I just controlled my breathing and everything stabilized in just a few minutes. I walked back home to my village with a smile in my mind, savoring the accomplishment in what seemed forever to finish.

I still have those blisters in my feet up to now, but it's no longer bothersome and I could walk normally. The sense of fulfillment and that natural "high" of being able to complete a run of more than 5km as well as overcoming your doubts and apprehensions is definitely worth more than the blisters and the searing heat of the summer sun. (I'm a little darker now, because of that)

Our bodies are always in a state of homeostasis. It will always be in its comfort zone and once an imbalance is  detected in a particular system, all the other systems compensate to off-set this imbalance. May it be cramps, hyperventilation, profuse sweating or blisters, it's just the body's way of saying that you're human and you have limitations.

Where then does the indomitable will of the human spirit come in? It's that last 500 meters amidst your blistering feet, the last set of your bench press of 80kilos, the last stretch of your long swim or the last 100meters of your bike ride. Your body is equipped with defensive mechanisms (pain, dizziness, out-of-breath, etc.) to tell you if you are still capable of the current task that you are engaged in, but the will of the human spirit can also tell you that you capable of doing more.

The run I have made is just the first of many and I have tested the limitations of my body and my mind. What did I discover? Blisters are only a product of perception, the reality of your body reacting to the task at hand.
It's painful, annoying and can make you stop. But giving in is not an option and once you tell yourself that, all that is left are the blisters in your mind called doubts, pain, exhaustion, that could relentlessly be overcome by sheer courage and firm resolve.

Running is just one facet that represents the ups and downs of everyday living. Through all the insurmountable challenges of daily life, it is the human will that could be harnessed to overcome the most dismal and frustrating occurrences in our lives.

If others have done it and I'm starting to do it, I know you could do the same.

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