Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cheating on Running

I cheated.
I’m a cheater.I am in a long term relationship with running. We’ve been together for two years. Two years of dedication, heartache and fun.

A few months ago, however, my eyes started to wander. Every relationship goes through ups and downs and you have to spice it up a little. In runner world, it’s called cross-training. Enter karate. I started casually seeing karate a once or twice a week and running seemed to be ok with it. It was. My legs, core and arms got a lot stronger and being stronger is always a good thing. My relationship with running became one of those hard-to-explain open relationships where running had my heart and emotional self but karate was the fun, exciting element.

That lasted for a couple of months. I earned a yellow belt and made some friends in karate. But, I suck at relationships and have major commitment issues. Or a short attention span. Things weren’t so great with running and even karate was feeling routine. Once again, my eyes started to wander.

I heard about kickboxing classes at the gym. I was angry at gym but wanted to give it a chance for redemption. I’ve watched women and a few brave men run around like crazy people to techno remixes of pop tunes and have seen the survivors walk towards the locker rooms with dazed looks on their faces. I was curious. I’ve avoided classes such as those because I lack coordination and have a self-righteous “I’m a runner. I don’t need no stinkin’ classes” approach to such things.

A friend asked me to join her at one of these mysterious kickboxing classes the other night. My frantic desire for something new led me to say yes. My nerves at trying something new also led me to text her twenty times with such pressing questions as “are they going to laugh at me?” and the always important “what do I wear?” I felt a little pang of guilt as she told me to bring my boxing gloves. Can I use my karate boxing gloves in kickboxing class? It felt like taking your mistress to your wife’s favorite restaurant. What’s a Catholic girl with commitment issues to do?

I’ll skip the foreplay parts because this is a family-read blog, but I had fun. I was uncoordinated and awkward, but I never felt overwhelmed or tired. I actually had energy to burn at the end and if I had time, would have banged out a few miles on the treadmill. It was a good sweat. Now, I was intrigued and I had that “I’m doing something bad and getting away with it” rush going. My friend asked if I wanted to try cardio kickboxing the next night. “Wait, that wasn’t cardio?,” I exclaimed! Oh, yes, I was in. Because if that 45-minute session wasn’t cardio, I needed to see what was!

I should have stopped while I was ahead.

We laced up our sneakers and squeezed into sports bras the following night for round two. And, hooo boy! Did I get my butt kicked! Remember those comments I made about not being coordinated and awkward? Those are one hundred percent factual statements. Now, factor lack of coordination in with an ability to maintain counts and being the only newbie in class and you get the limp-flailing, ten-step-behind-low-kicking-wrong-way-facing sweaty mess that was me in that class. The incredibly fast and energetic instructor kept yelling out combos at a pace which led me to believe she was stuck on fast forward and everyone else seemed to jump, kick hook jabcrosshookhookelbowdoggekickhookcrosskneekickhookscissor and SWITCH in perfect unison. My only thought was, “I’d rather be running.” I longed for the slower pace and cute sensei from karate. Yes, we did similar combos but at a much slower pace because they’re more focused on technique and strength than caloric burn and full body workouts.

I silently apologized to running and karate and promised to never cheat again. I worried that I’d be unable to move for the rest of week, thus ruining my monthly evaluation at karate and threatening my training for (another) half marathon next week. Did I ruin everything, both relationships, by trying the other class?
I'm happy to report that my penance of  guilt and glutimine powder (and Advil, water and Epson salt) seemed to have worked and my muscles are a normal amount of sore.

I can't promise I won't cheat on running again. We think that it we start training for a marathon one day, I'll stop stepping out on running. I mean, that works in other relationships right?

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