Monday, May 23, 2011
Like Everyone Else
I realized something on Friday. Just before my epiphany, I had lifted the arm weights, done my sit ups, set the bike up to all my adjustments, and crawled on. I set my music and began to pedal. Just as I was getting into the rhythm of the music and the ride, a guy got on the bike next to me.
He was a young guy. Much younger than the usual middle aged people who normally ride next to me. Most of the younger folks use the treadmills or the elliptical machines. They occasionally use the bikes for a quick warm up, but they’re just not as sexy as the upright equipment.
So when this young, really fit guy crawled on next to me, I took notice. Trying not to seem too stalker-ish, I noticed a few things about him. He was obviously familiar with the weight lifting equipment. But there was something more than that. He seemed really well rounded. Like one of those super athletes you see on TV, completing ironman races.
But as I pedaled along next to him I realized he was no better than me. With his perfect physical condition and his two fit flesh and bone legs, he was not that different from me. He was getting a good work out on that bike. So was I. My resistance levels might have been different than his, but I was full into my work out, just like him.
My heart was getting stronger, my lungs were gaining efficiency. My leg muscles, although wobbly when I stepped off at the end of my ride, were gaining muscle and endurance, every time I climbed on that bike. Just like his.
At no time in my life have I felt competent when it comes to athletics. Most of the time it seems like everyone is better than I am at things requiring athletic ability. Good grief, I’ve never known how to run. I’ve never been able to do something as basic as run, with my gimpy old foot. So any three year old who can run down the driveway has me beat.
When I climb on a bike, and can ride just like anyone else, it makes me feel great. I blend in with every other person working out. My metal leg pumps along and the disability aspect of my life evaporates. Sure, people notice my metal, as they walk by, but it doesn’t affect how hard I can push myself.
That’s not the case on just about any other piece of aerobic equipment. I can do a bit of work on the treadmill, but it’s purely walking, for a short period of time, until my leg fatigues or fills with so much sweat that my gait’s ruined. And it’s not good to walk on a soggy leg. Just like a shoe that doesn’t fit right, a leg that doesn’t fit right can cause a nightmare of rashes and blisters.
Ellipticals, Stairmasters, treadmills….they all require two fully functioning, non water logged, lower limbs. I don’t have that. So the bike is my hero. It allows me to work out, in a normal way, with everyone else. Challenging my abilities and pushing myself makes me feel athletic.
Just like everyone else.