Stepping off of a treadmill is painfully easy. The STOP button taunts my peripheral vision as I crank the speed dial up, feeling almost masochistic as the burning in my legs elevates with the tempo. In a last-ditch attempt to fire myself up, I turn my Led Zeppelin to angsty-teenager-in-a-movie-listening-to-death-metal levels. John Bonham’s high hats seem to crash as heavy as my footsteps. Panic seeps in when I check the clock; 30 seconds down. Fluorescent ceiling lights seep into the mirrors as sweat covers my eyelids, and I feel a single drop down my back. Check the clock. 1 min. Fuck. No way. I hit the switch.
In a word (or two), I think I would describe this season’s training as pain stamina. The ability to sustain prolonged periods wherein acute pain is consistently present. And I’m not going to pretend I was good at it. I am an average athlete, with below average pain tolerance. When something hurts, it’s hard to keep going. But when I told Melissa about stopping the treadmill, she prescribed this; let’s have you do that specific interval set, the hated workout C, three more times this week. Fuck.
The pain never did go away, but I learned to deal with it. My calloused hands weren’t the only skin that thickened. I survived ten straight weeks of sprinting, weights, and hill climbs with a 50 pound weight vest. I cried seven times, quit three workouts, bled twice, and set off one fire alarm at the local YMCA. I don’t think it would go well with montage music. But eventually I learned. And I got stronger, and tougher, and fitter (but not taller).
So when I leave on Saturday, and embark on my biggest adventure to date, I know I am going to be ready. Not because of the perfect workouts, or my tangible improvements. Not because I got back up after I failed. But because the failures were frustrating. I cried because I wanted to be better. I set off the fire alarm at the gym rushing to the next section of my workout. And if you want something that bad, even if you are not quite sure what that something is, then it is impossible not to be ready. Even if it scares the shit out of you.