Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stupidity and pain

I like consequences. I like the simple joy of the principle of induction. I'm reassured by the reliable way that something happens because something else happened first. Mostly it's the joy of seeing painful things follow on the heels of stupid actions, and that's not just schadenfreude, it's also some point about the teleological nature of morality. Or people slipping over discarded banana skins.

I'm doing something stupid, and it hurts. Thus, all is well with the world.

I run a lot, and you often read that runners should cross-train to strengthen other parts of their body that they neglect. Constant repetition of running forwards might not help you be a full athlete. However, cross-training may be complicated and involve yoga mats, inflatable balls, giant rubber bands and people staring at themselves in mirrors.

I figured I'd just do press-ups instead. On reflection, this was actually fairly silly. Rather than a range of different exercises to help different parts of my body, I'm doing a single repetitive action, and assuming it will magically confer flexibility, strength and resilience to me in every way. As opposed to making my back hurt.

I'm following the 100 press up challenge. The challenge is to do 100 press ups - I suppose I was attracted to it by the cryptic name. There's no periodisation like with running, as far as I can see. Every week you do press ups, and each day when you exercise, you do more than you did before.

They don't mention anything about grunting and wheezing, nor the fire that burns in your stomach after the first 30 or so, or the terrified look your wife gives you when you stand up afterwards, a look of utter rage on your face. I've tacitly assumed all my life resistance work should be done in a gym with heavy metal music and men with sleeveless t-shirts looking on between 'cranking out some reps' and 'swallowing some steroids'. Instead, I do my press-ups on the living room floor and it's only the force of anger that gets me through.

I could run for hours. Lifting weight, even just my own body, exhausts me, so much that I'm ready for bed, more than ready, my eyelids drooping, my back wilting, my arms flapping like a feeble T.Rex's. Ah, joyous consequence; I've done something stupid, and now it hurts.


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