Your friend Ricky Anderson calls the gym the “hurting place.” He’s not kidding! In the last week, you’ve:
Sprained your back
Sprained your foot (in the locker room. No, you don’t want to talk about it).
And you’ve come down with the aptly (yet oh-so-understatedly) named “exertional headaches.” For the Star Wars fan, it feels like Alderaan exploding inside your head. Or maybe the Death Star. One of the two.
The first time it happens, you’re like Is this an aneurysm? Am I having a stroke? Did Freddie Kruger somehow slip his gloved hand into the dura mater? Inside my skull? All you know is your world is pain. One thousand suns have gone super nova at the base of your skull…
You babble the Pater Noster, crawling into a dark and quiet place. The back of your head all the while hammering a staccato rhythm in time with the beating of your heart. It throbs, it pulses, it pounds.
You do all you can to just breathe. In, and out. In, and out. You’re calmer. You open your eyes.
That’s when you notice the halos. Everything–every bright thing–is ringed with a glowing halo. But the centers of those rings are mushy, indistinct.
Blurry. Yes, blurry. That’s the word you’re looking for. Even with your glasses on, the world is both bright, and blurry.
But you’re not dying. No grey matter has begun leaking from your ears (although you halfway wish some would–it would relieve the pressure). You want nothing but a bottle of Ibuprofen, and some rest (you settle for two pills, and let your wife drive the car).
The headache eventually subsides, leaving you with an aching, stiff neck. You read somewhere that rest is the only cure for exertional headaches.
So you take a day off.
One day off working out, and a day off of your supplements.
Then you’re up bright and early for your cardio… And you did it! No headache. This gives you hope for lifting day. You’re smart about it: you drink your protein shake, washing down two ibuprofen with it. You wait a bit, and then head out to the gym. Instead of pushing yourself, you opt for about seventy-five percent of the level you were at before. You take it nice and slow.
Your reps are slow–up, and down; up, and down. All the while you’re controlling your breathing. A headache threatens to come on. You breathe through it, gently working your neck. The pain subaides, and you continue your workout. You’re very conscious of:
Your blood pressure
You make it through! Congratulations!
You didn’t let the pain get you down.* Whether you worked out as hard as you wanted, or not–you did it.
You’re a champion in my book.
*Whatever pain, or hard thing, you’re facing friends: stare it down, master it. Push through to the other side. Whether it’s working out, writing, painting, cleaning house:
YOU CAN DO IT!
Master your gym today.