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bear by san

March 2017



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criminal minds reid runs like a girl

superstars. blighted ones.

triciasullivan has a great post over here about being a crap runner. By which she means being an athlete when one is not, in particular, a natural athlete.

I love this post.

My sports are running, climbing, hiking, swimming, archery, and yoga. (I find it helps me get up and get moving to think of what I do as 'sports" rather than "exercise." Sports are fun. Sports are running around with your friends. Exercise is a chore.) I also lift weights, though I have been really bad about it lately, because it's difficult to work in lifting around climbing (both are extreme strength-training exercise, and both require recovery days, and I love climbing more than I ever loved lifting.) and I used to drill-kickbox and loved it, but I just don't have time for a martial art now.

Here's the thing. I am a 5'7" 223-lb 38-year-old woman. I am a big girl, and I am not as young as I once was. I have always had kind of crappy balance, I have not-so-great knees and have since high school, and I have a shoulder that I screwed up when I was 21 and which will never be quite right. I'm large-breasted and broad-hipped and I have the bone structure of my Ukrainian and Swedish ancestors who pulled ploughs and hauled logs all day.

I am built, in short, like a draft horse. A Suffolk, probably, because I'm not tall enough to be a Shire. I can haul wood or chop water (as batwrangler says, it IS winter in New England out there!) pretty much all damned day. But the sports I love reward lightness, quickness, balance, strength, and the ability to get your foot up to hip level and stand up on it. (I am very flexible, with the exception of my hips. That helps a lot, and I have.... oh, holy shit... 22 years of yoga practice to thank for it. How on earth am I old enough to have been doing yoga for 22 years?)

So all these things I love to do, I'm kind of crap at. My strength to weight ratio sucks; when I run, I might as well be a 160-pound woman running in a 60 pound pack; my body is too bulky for twists and compressions in yoga to be anything but frustration and torture--or would be, if I got competitive about it.

I work out six days a week. My 27-year-old roomie, who is largely sedentary, can kick my ass from here to Boston in a run around the neighborhood or a run up a wall. My hiking buddy is a guy four inches taller than me, and all of it leg.

Honestly, I feel like a load most of the time when I'm out with friends. But you know what?

I do it anyway. Because it's good for me, because it makes it bearable to live in my brain, because the endorphins you get from climbing are one of the few things that can snap me out of an anxiety or depression cycle, because the world is a beautiful place and I like being out in it. Because due to my sports, I have core strength like whoa, and it's damned useful in daily life. When you fall down a flight of stairs, it's core that keeps you upright rather than ass over teakettle. When you pick up a laundry basket or reach down a can from the top shelf, that's core.

When I lean into the pantry over a pile of crap in the doorway and balance myself with an extended leg and fingers hooked around the doorframe, that's climbing skills. When I pick my hundred pound dog up and put him on a grooming table, that strength comes from all the work I do. When I run through an airport with a twenty-pound carryon, that's strength and wind I earn by hitting the sidewalk every morning. When the inevitable awfulness of life hits, and I can find that part of myself that gets centered inside the bow when I shoot, or the courage that lets me stand up on a bit of rock or plastic the size of a JFK half dollar thirty feet up a wall--that keeps me functional through it.

So yeah, I'm a crap runner. I'm a crap climber. I'm crap at yoga, too. I'm seriously a crap swimmer. I'm a moderately okay archer when I have time to practice, but my eyesight kind of sucks.

And I'm proud of it. Because I'm a runner and a climber and a yogi, and it makes my life better and less painful in so many ways.

And now I'm going to go get my dog and put on the scariest sports bra you have ever seen (seriously, this thing is like a knee brace with shoulder straps) and go for a run in the falling snow. Because I can.

I'm taking up caving. With my 125-pound roommate.

I hear I'm totally the wrong body type.


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On a completely unrelated note: I thought the briard in last night's Westminster herding group was particularly lovely.
oo, do you know what dog it was?

ETA: Gee, Bear, let me Google that for you.

Sorry, sorry. I can look it up. *g*

Edited at 2010-02-19 12:39 pm (UTC)

awesome post

Caaaaving. YES. Do it.

Don't take this the wrong way, but you so remind me of my mum. She's a big girl too but has always been a busy, active person, always looking for something to do. Until arthritis and a spinal injury ruined things. Bummer. But if she could go caving she would.

Great post!
Here, I own up to being another crap at yoga. And I'm also owning up to being a crap skier. But it's fun (and in the latter case I'm an in-control crap skier, which I'm proud of).
In-control skier is good, which automatically puts you above being a crap skier (where do you ski?).

Ironically, what I love about skiing is that it seems that being heavy and chunky doesn't work against you--race skiers want to be big and muscular (I know some high school racer ski girls who want to be 5'9" and 180 lbs). Core strength is also key.
Oh, you're gonna love caving! One of my high-school buddies switched from Nuke-E to geology after one spelunking trip, and now he's a geology prof.

That sports/exercise distinction is what threw me in your post last night. Running laps is what the coach makes you do, to punish you for not being a jock. The idea that an adult might actually choose to do something like that for fun never crossed my mind.
I've been caving, actually. (I posted about my last two trips here.) And I do love it. Except the nearly drowning/getting stuck/dying of hypothermia parts.

Running laps is training, not fun. Training is what you do so you can have more fun later when you are doing the fun thing.

Edited at 2010-02-16 02:11 pm (UTC)

Semantic differences are interesting

Hah - I actually prefer 'exercise' to 'sports' because of having been turned off organised sports at school, so it has huge connotations of being picked last for teams and standing at the edge of a muddy hockey pitch in the howling wind with a bad case of menstrual camps. So 'exercise' for me is about chosen and self-directed and not involving all that trauma.

Re: Semantic differences are interesting

Hee. You notice none of my sports are competitive, or team sports. *g*

*sits with oursin*
I used to jog, until a fall screwed up my hips--took it up in Eugene back in the heyday of the U of O track team (Rudy Chapa and Alberto Salazar, everyone jogged in Eugene in those days). I did ballet in my early thirties until my knees blew up (um, heavy thirty-three-year-olds shouldn't be trying to keep up with the pre-teen, pre-pointe girls). I'm taking it again, but this teacher focuses on ballet for conditioning, not ballet for performance--much less jumping.

But skiing--yeah, I like it, I'm a semi-decent intermediate (Level 5) skier and maybe now that I've got stable boots, I can work on getting up to black diamonds again. Horseback riding--I've always been semi-decent at it, but now I'm working a discipline (reining) that requires faster reflexes than I have at the moment. I'm a decent dressage-type rider, okay over fences, but speed disciplines need work.

What really changed my mind about exercise was the ballet, and now the Pilates workouts I do in the evening. All that core focus really really makes a difference--and I do less harm to myself tripping over my own feet now that I've got a decent core.

Also, getting decent medical treatment for the asthma made a HUGE difference. I'm more active and more fit in my 50s than I was in my 20s and 30s--and the asthma treatment is key to that. I couldn't hike as well when I was younger because the asthma was, essentially, untreated. It'd clobber me at elevation or steep climbing. But now? I can haul up a pretty steep grade right nice.
Yeah. Good on you.
I am so honored by the link! Thank you.

Like I said over there, I'm in awe of your climbing. Not to mention the dog-brushing workout you mentioned a while back :-)

Hope you had a great run.
It was so beautiful out there. My feet are killing me now, though. Although I wore the wool running socks nebula99 gave me. And they made me feel loved. And warm-footed!

Edited at 2010-02-16 02:28 pm (UTC)
This is a brilliant post and I'm so glad I read it first thing this morning. I've never been big on the sports or exercise thing but I always had great core strength (I think it came from ballet as a child, competitive curling as a teen, and then hefting forty-pound boxes of books at work for fifteen years) but I've been struggling with fibro for the past two years and my core's kind of been sabotaged by the wonky loss of strength thing. I need to see the half an hour of light yoga I can do now pretty much daily as a victory. So thank you; you've really helped me with that.
It is a victory. Good on you.
I think I'm built more like a Shetland Pony. Dense and compact, but strong enough to pull and carry. I haven't cracked running as an enjoyable activity yet. I just can't want to keep it up for very long. Walking, though? I can walk for hours, which is good, because even when I'm fast for me, I'm slow. It took me nine hours to finish a marathon. Hiking is good, I dabble in yoga, and love swimming, but not doing laps, which is unfortunate since all the easily accesible swimming places want you to do laps. Caving sounds like a nightmare. Better you than me. I'd like to try climbing sometime, though.
Climbing is the most physically demanding thing I have ever done, but man is it fun.

And it has made me incredibly strong. Like, I surprise myself regularly with how strong I am.
I think I'm built like a rolie polie bug.
This post was inspiring. :)

I didn't run as a kid. Juvenile arthritis primarily in the knees and ankles will do that to you--the jarring from running was painful and could make flares worse. I even got doctors notes not to have to do any running in gym class. When we had free choice in high school gym it was the weight room or swimming for me. My sport back then was horseback riding.

Sadly, I haven't ridden a horse in years.

On the other hand, my arthritis is much more manageable and mild these days. About a year ago, I started working out on the elliptical in the gym regularly, as it is highly recommended for "wanna run but worried about your joints" exercise. This summer, I actually went for a run while I was visiting my parents and it was amazing to feel like I could run for the first time in my life. I have more than 1 speed! I don't run much, still focusing on the more joint-friendly exercise, and I'll never not be a crap runner, but there is something very liberating in being able to do it.

Anyway, I think I'm going to do some yoga once I finish my coffee. I don't think of myself as a yogi, but working out with my dad as a kid always involved a yoga warm up, and you reminded me that I should get off my butt and do it. I like how I feel when I'm not lazy.
Trish's post was awesome. Especially the first one. Which wasn't even f-locked.

You and I seem to be built the same way (like a brick shithouse) and when I shoveled all that snow last week, I was grateful to my yoga teacher for making me do core and core and core. Because I don't have any. And that's what shoveling is all about. Six months of yoga and core has made a difference, though when we finally had a session yesterday, everything hurt, especially my hands. I'm crap everything and I'm married to an athlete, so it dampens one's enthusiasm, whether it's called 'sport' or 'exercise.' He took up yoga four weeks after I did and is, of course, one of the best yoga students she's ever had, while I remain stuck somewhere below her normal student level. *sigh*

Oh and when we see each other in person one of these days, I need to talk sports bras. Because I've never seen anything for my build or size. And it's so essential.

Tricia is awesome all around.


I am a freaking Disciple of these bras. They are not comfortable, but they do the job.

Apparently we were separated at birth and by 12 years difference in age.

But the body type you described? Well, make it a 50 year old woman of Portuguese/Danish descent, and you've got me, complete with bum knees and bum shoulder. In my case add a bad back, too.

But I don't let it stop me (mostly). I tend to avoid 'extreme' sports these days, but that's mostly a function of having no health insurance.

I work on a strange little boutique car lot, and I keep a lot of my core strength from pushing cars, packing parts, etc. It's amazing how much strength you can build up if you have to push something like a 1950 Oldsmobile onto a trailer. And I have to do that kind of thing pretty regularly.

Mostly though, I keep my strength up by gardening. No power tools+big yard=strong like ox ;^)
And of course I had years of long-distance bicycling that built up leg muscles like crazy.

This was really inspirational. Thanks. I needed it.

Edited at 2010-02-16 02:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post!

I'm a 4'11, 178-pound Jewish Ukrainian with running, hiking and dancing ambitions. (And a size H bust that no sports bra has ever completely tamed.) And I love my sports, no matter how rubbish I am at them.

When you talk about the sports you do, it makes me this much braver, and this much more OK with not having the right body type for the active stuff I like to do.
Go team you. I have faith. *g*

I admire your commitment to Doing Stuff, and enjoying it.
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