I vomited yesterday.
I mean, I actually had to go to the bathroom during my workout and vomit.
I was devastated.
Let me tell you what happened, dear readers…
My day started off, as you know, with a great 4K run in the morning. I then went about my day as usual, teaching, meeting with students, and grading. At 4:15 I walked over to the gym for my workout session with Brendan. He had “Under the Pump” written on the board. I couldn’t figure out what it meant. Even after he explained what we had to do, I couldn’t figure it out.
Here’s the workout:
“Whatevs,” I told myself, “Let’s just get this done.”
But it wasn’t just a matter of getting it done. He was yelling at us; I mean, really yelling. Like boot camp yelling: “Harder…faster…higher…lower…Don’t stop! No resting! Keep going!” By the end of the first circuit, I was ready to pass out! “It’s okay,” I told myself, “only two more circuits to go.”
So I started my second circuit and I could barely talk…I mean, I could barely make out a word that didn’t sound like a grunt. My muscles felt like…I don’t even know what they felt like. I don’t think the word has been invented yet to describe how my muscles felt. After my three-minute rest (which felt like 30 seconds, I swear), I thought, “OK, only one more left.”
During the first exercise (squat press), I thought for sure the barbell was going to fall on my head. My arms felt so weak. I’ve never lifted anything that quickly, so intensely, before. I tried to catch my breath, but I couldn’t. My stomach kept gurgling and I could taste this horrible bile in my mouth. “Oh God,” I thought, “I’m going to throw up…here…in front of my colleagues. No, this is not going to happen.” So I took a deep breath and kept everything in, literally. But the tears were forming in my eyes. I knew I wouldn’t make it. In the meantime, Brendan is yelling at me to start the next move, the ball swing. That 12 pound medicine ball felt like 200 pounds. I couldn’t lift it. I crouched on the ground and took deep breaths; all the while, Brendan is standing over me, telling me to go, lift, swing. I don’t think he realized at this point that I was in a bad way. I slowly picked the ball up and swung it down between my legs, but I couldn’t lift it again. I just let it drop to the floor. Then I knelt down beside it, my head between my knees. That’s when Brendan brought the garbage can over; he knew what was happening.
“Are you going to be sick?”
“It’s okay if you are.”
“No, I’m not going to throw up.”
“You’ll feel much better if you do. Take a big drink of water, go to the bathroom, and throw up.”
Well, I didn’t like that idea at all, but I thought going across the hall and into the bathroom might at least do me some good. As soon as I left the gym, I started crying. I felt so ashamed of myself. I couldn’t believe that after all this time, all my hard work, I was feeling like I was going to throw up. What a weakling, I thought.
I’m not sure how much good walking into the bathroom did. The cleaners had just been in there, so everything was wet (that really grosses me out) and all the stalls had that acrid smell of Detol. Well, if working out didn’t make me throw up, that horrible stench did.
I threw up.
And then I cried some more.
Eventually, I made it back into the gym, after wiping my eyes (black with running mascara) and washing my face (red with shame). Brendan, ironically, was so proud of me. I thought to myself, “You know, I don’t understand you elite athletic types. What the hell is he so proud of??”
The way he explained it to me was this: as we work out, our bodies become used to what we do. We tend to not push ourselves too far because we know our limits. If we even start to feel ill, we stop. Simple as that. What happened to me yesterday happens to many athletes. In fact, most of them want to throw up! When we are working out beyond our normal limits, lactic acid builds up in our bodies and we need to release it. Hence, vomiting. Hence, Brendan being proud of me.
Quote from Brendan: “My best workouts are the ones where I vomit afterward.”
Am I living in bizarro world or something??
Let me just tell you this: I am not happy with this. I don’t want to train to the point where I’m vomiting. Since yesterday, I’ve been googling vomiting, vomiting + exercise, lactic acid + exercise, etc. I know, I get it. This is supposed to happen. This means we’ve worked out really hard. But this doesn’t change the fact that I was ashamed of myself. I just felt…I don’t know…like a weakling. Like I couldn’t hack it. Like I couldn’t do it.
I did finish the third circuit, though, in case you’re wondering. I took it slow, and I cut down on some reps, but I finished it. Regardless of how I feel physically, my pride won’t let me leave something half done.
Am I proud I finished? I don’t know.
Do I still feel bad about yesterday? Yes.
Am I gonna let this stop me from working out? Absolutely not.
There’s still a lot that needs to be done with this body and I’m not about to quit now. I will just have to (slowly) get used to the knowledge that working really, really hard can sometimes cause me to vomit.
And that’s okay.