On Monday I did a hard calisthenics workout consisting of repeated sets of squats, lunges, split jumps, and power jumps (a split jump is when you jump from one lunge into the next, alternating legs as you go, and a power jump is a vertical leap starting from a partial squat). This ended up being harder in practice than I thought it would be when I started. Through the course of the workout, I felt dizziness, nausea, acute pain, shortness of breath, hopelessness, and occasional urinary urgency, but the real torture didn’t set in until the next morning when I had to literally roll out of bed and crawl to the bathroom for my shower.
Now my legs still feel like they are about to break. I’ve never actually suffered a broken anything, but I imagine that if my legs were on the verge of snapping at the femurs, this is what it would feel like. When I lift my knee more that a few inches off the ground, my brain instantly gets this signal translating into something like “WTF are you thinking boy?!” It’s not a constant pain… Really I only feel it when I move.
It is supposedly a slogan of the U.S. Marines that “Pain is weakness leaving the body” (does that mean that pleasure is weakness entering the body?). Even if I disagree with the notion that “weakness” is necessarily a bad thing that we need to expel via excessive exercise, I do like the slogan. It’s nice to view the pain of excercise as a thrill, something to look forward to rather than something to apprehend over before, during, and after a workout. Beyond that, I actually sleep better when I’m tossing and turning from sore muscles (so while I may need more sleep because of the tossing and turning, I feel like my body is getting more out of the sleep it gets… does this make any sense?). Of course I’m only referring to muscle soreness here — pain from pulls, tears, or breaks should be investigated by a physician and probably won’t help anyone sleep.
Working calisthenics into my exercise is something I decided to try at the beginning of 2006. Normally I have a monogamous relationship with long distance running, but adding cross training via calisthenics and core strengthening exercises has made me a more well-rounded athlete, and in the end it has probably made me a stronger runner to boot. Now I devote 1-2 days per week to calisthenics, 1-2 to resistance training, and 2-3 to running. Cross training is also easier in the cold, cold winter.
In the end, exercise is just the gradual development of an immunity to the adverse affects of pain by repeated exposure… Because the pain really never goes away. You just learn to love it. You embrace your weakness as a part of you.
I can’t wait to do more power jumps.