Friday evening is usually about collapsing on the couch after the toddler is in bed. It’s brain dead poking of the internet or reading something that doesn’t ask you to engage your higher intellectual functions. It’s feeling the weight of the whole week of work and stress and chaos in your weary muscles.
But you know how sometimes, you feel that as long as you don’t stop moving, you’re ok to keep going? Once you get as far as the actual flopping on the couch, it’s all over. You’re comfortable, and you ain’t movin’ anywhere unless it’s to get another cup of tea. But if you don’t stop in the first place… maybe your body won’t notice that it’s time for its scheduled weekly collapse-into-a-heap time.
I felt like that this evening after work. I had stayed late in the office to do some household phone calls in peace and quiet and my mood was somewhat buoyed by managing to actually accomplish a couple of things that have been hanging over my head. It was Hawkeye’s bed time just after I came home and thankfully, having spent the evening with daddy, he was happy enough to let daddy do his bedtime routine and lie down with him as he fell asleep, instead of begging for mommy! mommy! See, if I have to lie down with him, that’s it. I’ve stopped moving. I’m lucky if I don’t fall asleep in his cot with him. I love snuggling face to face with him in his bed as he falls asleep, but to do so risks almost certain cramped snoozing. Often I have to turn my back to him while I wait for his breathing to even out, and sneak my phone out where he can’t see it, checking my Facebook or reading an article or something, anything, to keep me awake in the semi darkness as he falls alseep.
Tonight I was free, however. So I carpe diemed my ass to the pool for a swim for the first time in months. The pool schedule gave me just enough time to blow the cobwebs off my swim bag, assemble all the bits and pieces, spritz defogging stuff all over my goggles, shimmy awkwardly into my swim suit, and run off.
It was strange coming back to the pool after several months of not swimming. I felt awkward and ungainly in what used to be a normal routine. I mean, for god sakes, I almost packed my usual home bath towels in my gym bag! You know, the big fluffy (heavy, large) towels? I had forgotten momentarily that I have special ultra light swim towels that fold into a space smaller than your average mass market paperback book.
It took longer to get in the pool, because again, the locker room ritual was stilted. I would lose the locker only to remember that I forgot to take out this, or that. I had my pull buoy and swim paddles and ear plug and keys and water bottle and juggling everything felt just that slightly bit awkward.
But once I got in the water…. Oh that was blissful. I swam slowly, stretching out my muscles and testing how my body reacted to the gentle resistance of the water. I felt the way my ankles felt when kicking – no pain in my recovering ankle, some clicking in my other one as it got used to the movement. I paid attention to my bad shoulder. Did it hurt to pull free style? It was a bit achy. But if I breathed looking backward, almost into my armpit as my old swim coach would say, if I twisted my torso almost 90 degrees, I could follow though with the stroke and pull my arm out of the water without additional sharp pain. I have secondary rotator cuff impingement, according to my physio, which is basically an instability of the rotator cuff, likely caused by a weakness from falling out of my workout routine. It’s a frustrating sort of injury as all sorts of every day movements are affected by this. It meant my free style stroke was lopsided somewhat. Not only was I twisting further out of the water to breathe in order to minimise the rotation of the shoulder when lifting my arm out of the water, but I didn’t reach forward as much as usual, nor did I follow through with the stroke all the way to the thigh. It was like keeping the arm closer to me at all points of the stroke on the right side while letting my left arm stretch out at either end of the full stroke.
And of course, the more I warmed up, the less it hurt, which at least reassures me it is not the same shoulder injury as I had previously, which ultimately only went away after I completely stopped working out for about six weeks.
Even with the slight limitation, it was glorious. Slow and steady back and forth. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that breast stroke did not cause any pain to the shoulder. Again in stark contrast to my previous injury which was an inflammation of a particular ligament in the point of my shoulder. Back stroke was less comfortable so I didn’t stick with it beyond a few test strokes mid lap. I dared not even think about butterfly stroke given how intensive it is on the neck and shoulders and also how out of shape I am at the moment.
To be honest, I didn’t want to get out of the pool. I wanted to stay and swim myself into complete exhaustion. The rhythmic pull and sweep, further enhanced by putting on paddles for the last few laps, was intoxicating. I didn’t push myself any more than I had to just to propel me forward, leaving my muscles with that sweet slight burn of being active without being pushed to their limit. It was glorious. If I didn’t feel bad about leaving The Mister hanging at home waiting for me to return so that we could have dinner, I’d have stayed until they booted everyone out of the pool.
Finally, finally, I got to the collapsing stage of my Friday evening. I am on the couch, with my eyes feeling droopy and my muscles tired. But it’s the kind of tired that makes me smile when I think about it.
There’s one other thing I did before I stopped moving for the evening. I signed up for more yoga classes, including a Saturday class tomorrow morning.