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Lessons Learned

“The one thing that will be hard for you is to learn to listen to your body.”

This post could have been entitled, Sidelined Again. I have written about it before, but I have a tendency to push myself beyond my limits, often ending up too sore, too tire, or injured because my body just can’t take it anymore. I am currently down for a few days or more with a pretty bad set of traps that were aggravated by me not being patient. I had gone to my chiropractor for a tune-up adjustment, and rather than wait a few days before going out and trying to crush it, I waited a day and then went for a 2 hour run. The following day I went to the gym and spent about 30 min doing some squats, pushups and some Kettle bell push presses and 1 arm rows. By Tuesday night my neck was sore and stiff and I could barely move my head. But I popped some Advil, got a good night’s sleep, and with some improved mobility the next day decided to run a practice race route at lunch time. By the end of my work day Wednesday I was in excruciating, debilitating pain-all self inflicted.

How many times am I going to do this to myself?

Every time I decide NOT to listen to the voice of reason inside my head I regret it, and for every year I get older it takes longer to get my body back to 100%. I spent yesterday sidelined at home alternating between ice, Advil, heat, Icey Hot, massage, Extra Strength Tylenol thinking about my patterns of behavior. It has been literally less than 2 weeks since I made the decision not to work with a personal trainer, and 3 days since I received my last words of advice from my trainer before trying to manage my strength and conditioning on my own for a little while.

I have come to the realization that the reason I felt I needed to work with a new trainer in the first place was not to get stronger, get fit, lose weight, and learn something new -but underneath it all working with someone meant I didn’t really have to accept 100% responsibility for my actions. For me, it has  been too easy to explain away soreness and pain as being about doing too much in the gym:

  • the weight is too heavy,
  • I don’t know how to do that,
  • I don’t know what I am doing,
  • my technique is faulty,
  • too many reps,
  • too many lunges,
  • too many overhead presses
The reality is I need to own my actions and learn how to be a fitness adult.


I need to learn how to listen to my body and lift, rest, run, eat, and drink when I need to in order to maintain balance in my heart and in my life. Trying to fit everything into a 4 week, 8 week or 12 week plan means forcing fitness. There are truly some people who, in order to get started, they need to schedule their runs, their workouts and their gym time. They need to plan their meals and their binge days. They need to do this in order to create a habit for healthy living. I feel as if I have been able to maintain my healthy lifestyle for a few years now, but now I  am seeing the Law of Diminishing Returns :

noun: law of diminishing returns
  1. 1.
    used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

I might even go so far as to say I am experiencing negative returns on my investment!

So after a year filled with elbow tendinitis, sore knees, sore shoulders,  a sprained ankle, and now super tight upper traps, I think I have learned an important lesson. It is not only necessary to listen to your body, it is equally important to know your body-to know what is going to start the cycle of overuse, misuse, and pain.

I am entering a new training phase whether I want to or not, and it is about learning to train smart. I know there will be many mistakes and lessons learned the hard way in the next 8 weeks, but that is what learning is all about.

Here’s a great article in Breaking Muscle that talks about how those upper traps get so tight.




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