“Why don’t you just stop for now?” Gustavo was practically pleading with me this morning.
“No,” I sniffled and growled. “I’m not going to not finish.” (For some reason, when emotional, I default to double-negatives.)
I rubbed my palms against my eyes to remove the tears, took a deep breath, and stepped under the bar.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but there hasn’t been a single day this week where I haven’t cried at some point while training. After two to three years, depending on how you count it, I’m well past the quick and easy gains that come when you’re a newbie. Those days of hitting a PR almost every other week are so far back in my rearview mirror that I can’t even see them any more.
Sometimes I like to think that this makes me more of an athlete, but most of the time it just makes me feel crappy. Working against a wall is a mental killer. Without progress, I feel like I’m just plain ol’ no good at what I’m doing. And if I’m not good, why even bother?
Crying during exercise is a thing that happens. (I swear.) In fact, I remember talking about it in relative depth during my yoga teacher training. Muscles and emotions, endorphins and sweat are all interconnected. I do tend to believe that emotions can get lodged and manifested in a particular part of your body. (I distinctly remember a very intense knot in my upper back while I was living in DC, one of the most stressful time periods in my life.)
I also believe that practicing a sport or hobby with any elevated degree of discipline takes passion. And passion is one of my favorite emotions. It pushes you past your limits in an effort to meet your passion where it’s at, even if it’s beyond your current capabilities. It takes a lot of emotional effort to achieve a certain level of artistry and skill.
Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself when I’m practicing double unders for 30 minutes and still can’t get it right. (Let me tell you something: angrily throwing a jump rope at the ground is not nearly as satisfying as a barbell. Not one bit.)
Sometimes I find myself embarrassed by my frequent waterworks in the box. It feels immature and selfish. But it’s also honest. It doesn’t come from a misplaced desire for sympathy. When my eyes start to overflow, it’s the culmination of just so much not knowing. Not knowing how to get from point A to point B. Not knowing what I don’t know. Not knowing how long it’s going to take or if I’ll ever get there at all. Not knowing if the time, energy, and effort is worth it.
So here’s me saying that I like emotion and I like honesty, even if it’s embarrassing at times. Even if I, and everyone around me, don’t quite know what to do with the vulnerability. Even if it means sniffing through a series of heavy squats because they just feel so damn heavy. Being stone cold during every training, for me, is a huge indicator that I just don’t care enough.
And I definitely care enough.