I’m weight training again. That’s not something I really expected to say three months into university. I always knew that I would keep playing soccer after I left home because I still love it, and also because after thirteen years of playing constantly I don’t really know how to stop.
Soccer is fun though; weight training is not. In the kind of training we did for soccer, our trainer would run us on treadmills at a sprint thirty seconds on, thirty seconds off, until our legs felt like jello and our stomachs felt queasy. Then came lunges with twenty-five pounds in each hand, and as the season progressed twenty-five would turn to thirty which would turn to thirty five. Then there were some squats with more weights, and then some jumping between sets just to make sure that you could fully appreciate the pain coursing through your muscles. Then came ab workouts if we were lucky, arms if we weren’t. Our trainer liked to end each session with this sadistic game involving a deck of cards. He would draw a card and one of us would guess the number. He would show us the number and we would do the amount of pushups equal to the difference between it and our guess. We went through the whole deck before we got to leave.
So yes, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I never enjoyed weight training. The only good part was doing it with my teammates. We would help each other get through the reps by catching up on gossip. Yeah, that’s right, we talked about boys while we bench pressed. Some of the best talks I’ve had with my teammates happened in the weight room while lugging barbells.
Without my team and a season to train for, I figured that I had no reason to continue lifting once I arrived at university. I signed up for an intramural soccer team that plays once a week and figured that would be all I’d feel up for. I don’t know what I thought; I guess that I’d be busy studying and partying. I didn’t think I’d miss soccer practice four and five times a week, and I certainly didn’t think I’d miss the weight room.
I was wrong.
For the last few weeks I’ve been wondering why my sleep cycle is so screwed up. In the first month of school I stayed up late a lot partying, and the month after that was midterms so then I was staying up studying. So it wasn’t until November that I realized that I actually can’t go to sleep before 2am even if I want to. I guess this is partially just a habit now, but I also realized that when I go to bed at night I still have so much energy left. I mean, really all I do in a day is sit in class, eat, and then sit some more in my dorm room studying. Sometimes I switch it up and also go to debate club and sit there. It’s no wonder I can’t sleep.
That’s why I decided to go to the gym today. Just to run, I told myself. It’s too cold to run outside, so I’ll use a treadmill at the gym on campus.
Except the thing is that old habits die hard. Even though I’m really out of shape, I couldn’t just jog on the treadmill. I kept upping my speed and my incline to keep myself challenged. I wasn’t content, it seemed, until my legs and my lungs were both burning. Then (and this is where it gets stranger) I strolled over to the free weights and started doing lunges. I have no idea why. I don’t train on a competitive soccer team anymore. There is no logical reason at all for me to need leg muscles the size of bowling balls just to sit around and write history papers and econ assignments. The treadmill made sense; cardio is important for healthy living and whatever. Weights, however, are just pointless pain.
The only explaination isn’t really a logical one. As far as I can tell all this shows is that working out, pushing my body, putting myself through pain, are all hardwired into my psyche. I don’t know if I was born like this or if was something trained into me over that thirteen years, but I do know that it’s a part of myself that I can’t get away with ignoring anymore. I guess I’ll have to add “gym rat” to strange hodgepodge of labels that seem to make me who I am.