Arise and Fail

On Monday morning at 6:00 the world was very, very dark. Most days I’d stay put for a while, but somehow I rolled out of bed and found my pre-selected shorts and tank top, and staggered to the living room. Briefly, I considered if I’d regret just never starting this new workout regime. Then I remembered I paid for it. I also remembered my skinny jeans, and Christmas chocolate. I hit play on the DVD player and took a deep breath. “Remember, it’s OK to fail, it’s OK to max out,” Shaun T tells me in the introduction video. It’s OK to fail, it’s OK to max out, I repeat.

For those of you who don’t know, Insanity Max30 is an exercise program designed by the beautiful and sadistic Shaun T. Speed and “maxing out” is the priority. When during the course of the video I reach the point where I can’t keep going, I’m supposed to take a break and write down my time, then jump back in. The workout is designed to make me fail. I hate failing.

But I was also so excited to begin this workout, in some part for the fitness benefits (Christmas and January are rough on the body, no matter how mindful you think you are in the face of cheese), but also for the challenge. I ran a marathon in just-under Boston qualifying time in November, but have been in a goal-less slump since then. I wanted a fitness change as well as a challenge.  Since I live in a midwestern Rust Belt city that doesn’t believe in plowing roads, much less sidewalks, now is a great time for that break.

Insanity, and marathon training, imposes a schedule that I’ll never make happen on my own. Marathon training is brutal but it brings a soothing regularity. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I do speedwork. On Monday I do an easy-ish run. On Saturdays I do long runs. I get to do nothing on Sunday. This kind of rhythm is good for me, even though I’m terrible at enacting it on my own. I’ve been on no workout schedule since November, which means I still work out, but without a plan or a goal. Usually I do too little or too much, ricocheting between the two extremes. Give me a printed schedule, however, like the one that comes with Insanity, and I’ll stick to it religiously. Vatas can always use a good schedule.

The Max30 workout is five minutes of warm up, twenty-five minutes of plyometric cardio or body-weight strength exercises, and two minutes of cool down. I didn’t max out on Monday until 26:40, when the double-jab, double tuck jump combo became way too much (the sound of my feet hitting the floor made me fear for my shins too). Given that a number of the cast members maxxed out around the half way mark, it makes me think I probably could have kicked it up a little had I known the exercises well enough to not look up at the TV during a pike-in-wide-legged plank jump.

Today I should have stopped (along with half of the cast members) or modified the plyometric side-to-side pushups (it’s worse than anything you’re imagining), because that whole side-to-side jumping thing–from a pushup– wasn’t happening. It might never. I’m really OK with that.

Here’s a few things I like about the workout: it was a hard workout but didn’t trash my body. My muscles are still tingling but I don’t feel like a cattle truck hit me. What I loved the most is how successful I feel at life afterwards. I’m not raging with heady success or bitter failure because of when I had to stop–I just feel successful for having done the exercise. My workout was done by 7:15, and though I felt thoroughly worked over, I also felt energetic. Not falling into the couch. Not like limping through my Monday and eating a crate of donuts.

Rather, I felt like getting some fresh air. I threw on some sweats, grabbed the leashes, and took the dogs on a short walk. None of my beloved canines tried to bite each other, lurch towards traffic, or eat a stray piece of litter, not even when the German Shepherds down the street started their barking duet. The sun was rising pink over the athletic fields as we walked. They say red sky is warning, but on Monday it looked more like a promise. I sometimes forget what I love about January, but this week I smelled earth under the frosty hard ground. It smelled like spring was taking on a challenge. It felt something like happiness.

 

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