Confessions of a Gym-Rat Relapse

I did it.

I went back to the gym.  And not just for some stupid squats and lunges.  I went back and started lifting upper body again.

I have been sucked so far into the cycling vortex that I can no longer see out of it.  I say “pull ups” and the cylcosphere gasps collectively and lunges to take me out at the knees before I can grab the bar.  “Noooooooooooooo! You might develop an arm muscle!

I used to call Sal T-REX because he would ask me to move heavy things for him: “I don’t want to get any muscles in my arms.” (Sal – you are officially called out.) TVs, boxes, furniture, you name it.  He called me Musclehead and I kissed him on the forehead after pounding my chest triumphantly.

In the morning I ran in darkness along the Esplanade 5 or 6 miles before meeting my trainer.  I was pulling more weight than most of the guys around me.

Lats, chest, arms.
Bam, pow, bing.

It gave me great joy to watch them take weight off when I left a station. I worked up to 10 pullups, then 11.  I hit my pullup PR of 13 one morning after a 6-beer bender.

“What got into you?” Keith asked.

“Carbs, I guess.”

Being a gym rat wasn’t something I was proud of, but it worked at the time.  I was done with 2.5 hours of working out by 6:30 or 7am and I could shower and still be at work before everyone else. It was predictable, rhythmic, and comforting.

And when I stopped I missed it.

Not just the routine of my morning gym arrangement, but the feeling of my arms trembling as I tried to hold up the hair dryer after a good session.  I missed the wobbly feeling of pounding out 60 consecutive pushups.  I missed the “gym zone” where the headphones go in, the death-anger rap goes on, and everyone else disappears.  I missed wife beaters and balance boards and bosu balls.

So I went back.

And it kills.  It crushes.  Or, as Taylor Phinney would tweet, “It slays!”

Upon my return, I nearly wept to find that I could only lift at 25% of my former glory.  No pull-ups.  No benching my bodyweight.  No forcing the boys to take weight off when I step away.


Men of Portland, you’ve been warned. Swifty’s bringing the heat.

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  1. Guy Smith

    Right on! I to have started a lifting routine of sorts I like T-rex was ascared of any extra weight so I quit lifting, but I thought I really only race Cross and it lasts for what 45-50 minutes a few extra pounds of muscle may help with the mid pack finishes..enjoy the iron! I like the kettle bells

  2. Nothing like getting back into it after some time off.. you have to love the feeling of being sore again. I’m right in the middle of a gym rat streak, everyday adding more weight. I’m working up to pull ups but I already have some plates on the guys that lift at my gym when it comes to leg presses and squats. Good for you for going back! Keep it up :)

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