I love exercising. It lifts me out of whatever stresses and worries might be scurrying around my mind at any given point. It makes me feel (temporarily) invincible. It reminds me that I am alive, I’m still fit and young (ish) and able to achieve my goals.
My favourite exercise activity over the last couple of years has been HIIT classes, (High Intensity Interval Training) down at a little gym a couple of miles from where I live. It’s lovely inside; all pink neon lights, pumping music, lots of fit, athletic people. And it works as a means of pushing myself out of my fitness comfort zone. Between the three zones of Intensity, Resistance and Treadmill, I work really hard, sweat a lot, expel all my frustrations…
Anyway, I was there at the weekend and hadn’t been for a while so was in super energetic, let's-go-for-it mode. As I made the swift transition between the Resistance and Treadmill zones, I neglected to notice (because of the uber cool low lighting) that the treadmill was actually still running, fast, as I stepped onto it. The person before me hadn’t switched it off. I went flying. Smashed my face onto the machine and cut my lip open. Bashed my knee, fell in a crumpled heap of blood, embarrassment and tears beside the wretched thing, as my ears took in the anticipated cries of “Oh my god! Are you ok??” from other gym-goers and the trainer.
By the time I arrived home, I had slipped into full-on injured victim mode. I felt abused, like this trusted place I loved going to had somehow turned on me, attacked me, made me look stupid. I cried a lot. I examined my swollen lip and bruised, bleeding knee. I fell out with my boyfriend briefly because he told me I was fine when I didn’t want to be fine – I wanted to be seriously hurt and receive bucket loads of sympathy.
Over the next 48 hours, I slowly came round and examined, as I did so, my behaviour immediately following the accident. And although the incident was horrible and I did hurt myself, I arrived at the conclusion that the thing that had been hurt the most, the thing that had made me so cross and shouty, was my ego. I felt stupid. I felt like I used to when I drank and did things that were out of character and foolish. I felt as though I’d let myself down.
I am an impetuous person and do on occasion allow my emotions to flood through my whole being – and I hate that characteristic. I wish I was always in control and, even when hurt and embarrassed, able to exercise composure and dignity in the face of duress (although, could anyone truly retain dignity after doing a face plant on a fast-moving treadmill?).
But what struck me the most upon rumination of Treadmill Gate was that I had previously thought I’d fully sorted myself out post-booze and no longer got myself into silly scrapes that I would come to regret bitterly, once the initial flurry of excitement/fear/anxiety had died down. And this obviously isn’t the case.
Then I reasoned, this is because I am human, not a robot. I overreacted, I made an arse of myself, and I will try to learn from that. I guess I am a work in progress.
And at least my response stemmed from being injured through no fault of my own, which is easier to live with than the occasions when I used to fuck up monumentally because I was so drunk I didn’t know what planet I was on…
So I suffered a trip, and an ego trip, and then a big ego recalibration. And that’s all good – I’m back to normal today. I did, however, opt to go for a gentle run this morning instead of hitting the gym…