It happens, even to me
And always during week three
On day twenty-one
Of exercise fun
I’m as sore as a body can be.
I started to ache last night while I was writing my post.
At the time I attributed it to overdoing the exercise, or maybe to my anklylosing spondylitis (which deserves its own series of posts if not its own book) combined with a falling barometric pressure. My daughter, Aliya, has the same problem, and when she sat down beside me I asked if she were having problems. She replied in the negative.
So I did what I usually do when I start to ache in the evenings, I hydrated and took two extra-strength acetaminophen (also called Tylenol).
I got really good at hydrating in the five years that Bethany and I did a diet and exercise program (UBC), and I found out that a lot of discomforts really come down to a lack of circulating water. Drinking a glass of water every fifteen minutes till my urine turned clear worked wonders.
Bedtime arrived an hour later and I felt better but not well. Deep sleep escaped me for the first time in weeks.
When I woke up this morning I realized that the three-week rule had snuck up on me once again.
Everyone knows that if you start to work out you get worse before you get better because you have to heal from the damage of the workout and that takes time. If we know that human healing is a six-week process (the last time you sprained your ankle it took six weeks before all the soreness went away) and if we know that healing takes place in accelerated fashion in the first two weeks and if we do the arithmetic we can see that the breakdown stacks up at three weeks before the healing has really kicked in.
Every January 21st I see a wave of athletic injuries in people who made a New Years’ resolution to lose weight. Having gotten away with severe exercise in high school, they figured they could do the same thing twenty years later.
The process applies on a neurologic/endocrine/immunologic basis as well. If you make a major change in your life, the chances that you’ll be hurt peak twenty-one days after the change.
So today I waltzed through my workouts, I didn’t push resistance, time or tempo. I kicked back, took it easy and ate a lot of carbs.
Most exercise programs fail in the third week because of the three-week rule. People will find any excuse not to go back to the gym at those times; the ones who continue their program start to get the payoff in the fourth week and keep going back because it feels so good.
The first morning I was back in Sioux City I reactivated my gym membership and worked out for a half hour on the elliptical machine. I’ve been going an average of five days a week since.