The Gym: Long Time, No See

Anyone who was in the lab with me on Tuesday probably noticed that I am quite different from the rest of the class. I am not a college athlete and actually have not been able to work out at all since September. I could only finish six of the eight to ten 200-meter runs, and did so at quite a slow rate. This fact obviously created a notable distinction between myself and the rest of the students buzzing by me on the track: I am in terrible shape among a sea of athletes.

I should probably point out right now that I am known for my ability to always have something wrong with me. Whether it be sickness or physical injury, problems seem to gravitate towards me like flies to a fruit. One question that emerges (that I have yet to have answered) is why me? As a disclaimer before you begin reading this, it may sound like I am searching for pity, but I genuinely would like to know what makes one person more prone to injuries than others. Is it something in the person’s unique genetic makeup, or could it be some sort of dietary supplement that is lacking, or could it possibly just be that I am unlucky playing at a game of chance?

Here is a small history of my life that may be helpful in answering that question. Throughout my childhood I was a Scottish Highland dancer and went professional by the age of 12. I did not have much time for other sports, so my running abilities never really got developed. Despite that, this was the best shape I have ever been in. I almost never got sick and was very thin, but had significant muscle strength. However, ever since I began at the age of 4, I had constantly been bombarded with injuries. This was common of female Scottish Highland dancers because the sport was invented for use only by men, so I just pushed through it. By my sophomore year of high school, however, the injuries were so overwhelming that I finally was forced to quit. I had also begun tennis in 6th grade, volleyball in 10th grade, and basketball my senior year of high school and found myself constantly injured in those sports as well. In fact, in my senior year alone I received three concussions, two pulled muscles, and a sprain. Sports were required every trimester at my school, however, so I pushed on.

My junior year of high school was the year that my health began its spiral downhill. That winter, I acquired mononucleosis for a month and a half and it wiped out my immune system. Every month since then, I have had at least one respiratory sickness (flu, cold etc). I also acquired endometriosis in the spring of my senior year of high school, which continues to be a problem despite several efforts to control it. This summer it was discovered that I have an exceptionally fast heart rate (that the cardiologist was unable to explain) as well as asthma. This September, I fell quite ill and it was determined in early October that I had pneumonia. This lasted until mid November. However, with my immune system in such a vulnerable state, just as soon as my healing began I contracted another flu,which left me sick until the end of November. I had one week without sickness (during which I had my wisdom teeth removed) before I again became sick with another flu just in time for exams. This lasted until Christmas. I have not been sick since then, and I hope to keep this year going that way, however prospects seem a bit dim given my past record. I have resolved, this year, that I will be doing everything I can to try to improve my health, regarding fitness, illness, and injuries.

What is interesting, however, is the fact that during my fitness test yesterday, my flexibility and lower muscle strength did not seem to have suffered at all from this lengthy hiatus from exercise. This begs the question, do flexibility and muscle strength simply not deteriorate as quickly as ones stamina? As further evidence, as I was running the 200 meter intervals, I noticed that I was quickly out of breathe with a very high heart rate while my legs were not tired at all. How is this possible?

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3 Responses to The Gym: Long Time, No See

  1. Fearless Leader ugogal says:

    I think you laid down some good muscle back when you were dancing that will stay with you for a very long time…cardiovascular fitness decreases at an alarming rate, however. I agree that yoga might be a great option for you, and perhaps walking for cardio. Talk your parents into getting a dog this summer and take him or her for long walks!!

  2. BSPROUTFI3ND Lisa Nehring says:

    In my experience, it’s all about stamina. The body is capable of doing such amazing things, but if your heart is about to explode and you can’t breathe, then it can be hard to let your body realize it’s full potential. I used to be a big distance runner in high school, and even during races, my legs would rarely get tired. Mostly what got me was that all over I’m-about-to-die kind of feeling. I know you’ve probably been told this a zillion times, but a really great way of delaying this feeling is being well hydrated. Just guzzle water. All day long. I could always tell after a race if I hadn’t hydrated enough because of the awful nausea I would get. I think yoga is a great suggestion for you, considering all of your injuries and other health problems. Power yoga for cardio, or maybe just hatha if you’re looking for something more gentle.

  3. kbox2015 says:

    I understand the frustration with being injured or having something wrong with your immune system that prevents you from doing what you want to do, although I have never quite experienced it to the same extent as you have. In high school, I had to ice and take aspirin every night after swim practice to prevent my rotator cuff and tendonitis from spiraling out of control. I also had an ankle problem that I never got checked out, and I was forced to wear an ankle brace to support it while I swam. My freshman year of college, I started swimming but was forced to stop for two weeks because of almost anemic level iron deficiency. I’m sorry to hear about your injuries, however. Have you tried power yoga by any chance? It is much gentler on your joints, but it still keeps you fit and relaxed. Good luck!

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