Sunday, April 10, 2011

Boot Camp: A reverie

I'm about to start my fourth year of boot camp training and I'm remembering the first year.  I thought I'd share some thoughts from a journal I kept.  I decided to take up this type of training when it was offered through a gym I used to belong to.  The gym is long gone but the trainer, Bruce Tisdale has continued the tradition of a tough outdoor work-out with everything a boot camp brings to mind: outdoors, early hours and not fancy stuff, just a stripped down, bare bones work-out.  My reasons for wanting to do this type of work out had to do with my brother's years spent in the military.  I figured if he could do iIt, I could do it. The final 20 pounds of my weight loss goal were slow in coming off and I wanted something that would bolster my discipline.

The first few weeks were very tough because of inclement weather, illness and injury.  I wasn't in as good of shape as I thought I was, the early Spring weather and the local dog-poo infested park where we first began to train were enough to turn everyone off.  Here are a few comments from a journal I kept:

Today was killer and it's only going to get worse!  We went to the park and Bruce laid out a course about 100 yards long which we were to run and then do a series of lunges when we reached the other side.  Then we ran back and did it again.  We did this for ten minutes and then he switched it to 20 military squats at the end of the run for an additional ten minutes.  I was drenched with sweat and my glasses fogged up.

I wanna puke.  Today was the hardest so far and I felt very weak for some reason.  I had another lousy night's sleep and 6 hours is just not enough to go on when you're working out this intensely.
Today we did sprinting for 100 yards with a walk or jog back to the finish line.  We did this for 20 minutes.  I jogged back at first but after a while it was a fast walk and more like a jog than a sprint.  Then we did ten minutes of bear walk, which is walking on all fours, followed by ten jumping jacks at the finish line, then crab walk back with more jumping jacks, squat-hops and lunge-walk.  I was ready to heave by the end of it, my breathing was all raggedy and my bum was wet from plunking it down on the grass during that god-awful crab walk.

Both myself and another woman commented to the trainer that we thought we were getting worse, not better.  He said it was because everything he was giving us to do was becoming increasingly more difficult.  I hadn't realised there was any difference in the difficulty level.  Now I feel better.

Which I came down with a cold I had to miss a few sessions.  On my return I discovered we had relocated to the beach.  It was a more attractive setting but the work just got harder.  Sand got everywhere - in my shoes, in my ears, even in my underwear.  Doing push-ups and crab walk in sand chafed my hands to bits until I got smart enough to bring gloves.  But I began to notice things - like how all the colours of the Canadian shield could be found in the sand beneath my face as I did push-ups, and how the sun would rise as we did sit-ups, and the flocks of cormorants that would come in to feed.  Could it be I was starting to enjoy it? 

The hardest part of the training seemed to be the run back up a very steep hill to return to the gym at the end of the session.  Silver Birch Avenue is the steepest street in the Toronto Beaches neighbourhood and I was determined that one day I would make it, running, all the way to the top.

Funny things happened:
Today I was doing pelvic lifts on my back with my feet on a park bench and a dog came up and licked my face.  I screamed and then laughed so hard the dog thought I wanted to play.  It was hilarious.  His owner could barely get him off me.

Damon Allen is a jerk!  The famous CFL quarterback who retired yesterday after a stellar career including running a total of 7000 yards (I'm quoting here; I don't actually know this stuff) is Bruce's best friend and as a tribute to him we did a football drill today including something horrible called 'breakdowns'.  I almost had one.  They involve marching in place (in the sand) for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of running in place while squatting as low as you can go.  We did four sets of this.  It was exhausting. 

And I did make it up that hill:
I was very slow and definitely feeling tired so I had no idea that I would find it in me to finally conquer that hill .  As we were stretching before run back to the gym, I leaned back in a lower back stretch and looked up at the clear blue morning sky and thought, 'Whatever else I gain from this, I at least have this sky to look at.' The run back up the hill begins at a slow, gradual and steady ascent.  It leads past the office of a medical professional who performs liposuction.  His sign reads 'medical slimming techniques'.  Sure, there's the ticket.  Get your fat sucked instead of running it off.  I find it ironic to be running past there three times a week when all I'd have to do is fork over thousands and risk my life, not to mention have some very ugly scars.  As if.  I looked up and saw I was very near the hedge that marks the limit of my past efforts up that hill.  The next thing I knew the hedge was gone.  I reached the top of the hill and my feet stopped before I did.  I was staggering and gasping but I felt very elated.   As I walked home afterwards I think I was strutting with pride. 
Today I kept thinking about all the times I had wished the fat would just magically disappear, all the excuses I made as to why I could never do Weight Watchers, how diets didn't work, how I was too old to exercise, how I had injuries, etc., etc., etc.  Here's what i have learned: if you want something badly enough you have to work at it.  You can't buy it or borrow it from someone else. 

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