Thinking You’re Really Good At An Exercise Might Mean You Suck At That Exercise

For me it’s Clamshells. Every semi-literate and internet-accessing runner knows they need to clamshells and I hated clamshells. Not because they were hard but because they too fucking easy.

I would test myself – can I do a hundred, each side, unbroken? Yep. Then I’d do  three sets of a hundred.

Then I’d get bored and figure I graduated to the harder stuff. Single leg deadlifts, pistol squats, 30k long runs.

Now I’ve been to a physio with the aim of improving that running and he’s got me back struggling to do 2 sets of 8 clamshells. Why? Because my body was compensating and I didn’t know it.

I have a weak left glute and my hamstring takes over. Totally undetectable in normal life or in moderate running but training for an ultra marathon as I am is like UFC fighting – when you’re just highschool wrestling or doing kid’s karate or something you can have big holes in your fight game with no consequences but the UFC will expose every flaw you didn’t know you had and you better plug those leaks or you are going to get killed.

But, but, but… I’ve been doing all the exercises runners are supposed to do, I’m supposed to have plug those holes, I wasn’t negligent…

Nope, it just took someone outside of me, who really knew what they were looking for, to see how I was cheating the extremely simple exercises of the clamshell (and the bird dog) and now not only do I have to do them properly, I have to unlearn doing them wrongly.

Because if the body is getting the outcome it wants it does not care about long term sustainability. If you’re running then your body assumes you’re running away from a tiger and it gets you fucking running, if you eat a bazillion tons of sugar your body assumes this is the only food you’ve found and are going to find and it tries to store it all. Until it can’t do those things and that’s why North America is full of diabetics with fucked up hips.

As a metaphor: You’ve worked at a company where one or two people were doing 50% of their job, right? What happens? People around them end up doing 125 or 150 percent. And who gets burned out, maybe quits? Not the 50%ers. They’re just coasting, loving life. But who looks like the problem, who complains, who snaps at people? The actual backbone of the team.

You, as the executive of your body, don’t get feedback from the 50%er that’s chillin’, you hear from the overworked, bitchy, 125% bastard that’s trying, that wants to put in the work and can’t. And that’s why we end up playing wack-a-mole with illness and injuries.

Unless of course you find the, sometimes very quiet, upstream problem. And maybe it’s something you think you excel at…

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