psa: don’t run with a broken ass

Strength training is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that by adding lean muscle mass you ramp up your body’s fat burning capability.

Seriously, who wouldn’t want this?

I understand, on an intellectual level, that adding muscle is the best way for me to boost my metabolism and turn my body into a fat burning machine. On an inexplicably emotional level though, I feel like I need to move really fast (i.e. run, do the elliptical, etc.) in order to feel like I’ve really worked out.

Last year, without a job, I had all the time in the world, and didn’t need to make a choice. I could do an hour of cardio and then do a bunch of weight training.  Now that I’m back among the working class, I no longer have 2+ hours to spend in a gym each day.

I’ve dabbled in some new forms of exercise [Pure Barre, anyone???], and have recently gotten reacquainted with the rowing machine. [Which, by the way, is a fantastic way to combine cardio and strength in one exercise. I highly recommend it for its efficiency alone.]

I’ll admit, however, that I have been largely focused on cardio training since the new year (and the new job). <– This despite everything I know about the importance of building muscle.

Yeah, way ahead of you; sometimes I question my own intelligence.

Anywho… if you’re still harbouring doubt about the whole add-muscle-to-get-fit thing, just go ahead and ask a really buff dude what he does for exercise. I’ll bet you a kajillion dollars that he replies, “I lift weights“. Then, just for fun, ask him what he does for cardio. I’m guessing he’ll say, “I lift them faster.”

Meatheads everywhere can’t be wrong, so on Friday I decided it was high time that I returned to my super-duper favourite class of all time, Les Mills’ BodyPump. It’s a group exercise class, centered on working out with free weights, primarily on a barbell.

I have raved about my love for BodyPump many times here on this blog. Don’t believe me? Just go to the little search box and type BodyPump and see how many posts come up. Go ahead, I dare you. 😉

When I did the class on Friday, I had already done 2 outdoor runs for my stupid 10k training earlier in the week, along with a host of other activities, like hours on the elliptical, and a train-to-do-100-push-ups program.

Oh, and did I mention that it had been over 3 months since my last BodyPump? No? That is a pretty key element to this little story.

In all my wisdom I believed that because I loved the class so much in the past, that I could seamlessly fall right back into the groove.

Never mind that I was attending class 3x/week back then.

Never mind that I was capable of lifting quite heavy back then (often as heavy or heavier than the instructor).

And never mind that each class features approximately 700 reps.

I disregarded all of those things and jumped right back in with both feet.

Because I’m stupid like that.

The DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) set in mere hours after the class. By Saturday morning I was an achy, sore mess.

I can totally relate.

I can totally relate.

Now I’m all for a good dose of the DOMS, as I wrote about here. I think I embrace the pain because it allows me to be all smug and shit, gloating in the knowledge that my ache was caused by total bad-ass gym behaviour.

But this was something different. This was the mother of all DOMS pain.

And it was primarily in my ass.

A giant pain in the ass.


Swagger courtesy of hundreds of weighted squats.

BodyPump broke my ass. It hurt SO bad.

Since DOMS are not new to me, I knew that the following things would help to ease the pain:

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Soaking in a hot bath with Epsom salts
  • Applying muscle pain rubs/creams/emulgels: Voltaren, Ben Gay, Icy Hot, etc.
  • Doing more exercise[!]

Given that bullets 1-3 had done nothing to alleviate my pain, I decided to go out for a “light and easy” run at noon on Saturday.

It was approximately 32 degrees Fahrenheit/ 0 Celsius. And windy. And I was hella sore from my DOMS. And I had a broken ass.

But for some reason a “light and easy” run seemed a good idea.

*******************Spoiler alert********************

There was nothing light, nor easy, about that run Saturday.

It did deliver one thing though: more severe DOMS.

Navigating up (or down) stairs proved to be an effort of monumental proportion. And using a toilet… GAWD! The pain!


After slathering myself in a vat of rancid-smelling muscle cream and downing the better part of a bottle of wine, I managed to fall asleep. My ass pain only woke me up a couple of times.

I woke up older and wiser Sunday morning. I now know never to attempt a run during DOMS. It won’t help.

Life lessons.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

99 thoughts on “psa: don’t run with a broken ass

  1. Oh dear! 🙂
    It is a good pain! (Or so I tell myself!) I would be exactly the same, if I hade a break and went back I would go straight back in to my current weights!

    I also do the class with heavier weights than the instructor, I aim to have the heaviest weights in the class…I only succeed for about 50% of the tracks but I am working on it 😀

  2. DOMS. That’s the problem with English, there’s no decent word for something so common, and it’s always bugged me. In Spanish, it’s agujetas, and in German Muskelkater (“Kater” means hangover). “I’m sore from the gym/my workout/etc” is just so long winded and clumsy. And as for DOMS… nobody uses that colloquially.

    OK, I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here…

    …well done for breaking your ass, Nancy 🙂

    I don’t really do weights, although I’ve got some in a box somewhere. I found that working the crosstrainer every day for the past three years has tightened up my muscles nicely. I’m more toned now than I’ve ever been, even when I was doing weights regularly years ago. Must have been doing it wrong…

    • Yes, it would be good to have an actual word to describe the hell I was in Friday night to Sunday night. DOMS is generally only known by gym rats and doctors. I like the muscle hangover one.

      I could go on for days about how there is no such thing as “toning”; the body either burns fat or adds muscle, or both. If you’re pleased with the results from your elliptical, that’s great! It’s a fantastic fat burner.

      I think many women do weight training wrong (sorry for the sweeping generalization, but it’s true). Most (me included, formerly) believe that a small number of reps using very light weights constitutes a strength workout. Most fear they will “bulk up” if they lift more. Both are incorrect beliefs. Lots and lots of info available on this all over the interwebs…

      Net/net: weights are our friends. Adding muscle makes your body a more efficient fat burner. And women don’t get big:bulky unless they are popping steroids + lifting huge amounts of weight.

      • I get what you mean about the toning – of course what’s happened is that I dropped some fat and added some muscle. It’s just that my body looks better now than it ever did when I went to the gym regularly (and I mean regularly, not three weeks on, six weeks off). I’d never have believed that the crotchstrainer could make such a profound difference. But it is a commitment that few are willing to make. Lucky for us, this means there’s lots of second hand machines to pick up cheap!

        Once I move to Madrid, I will join a gym again. I’d like to add a bit of variety to my workout, even if it’s just once or twice a week, and continue with the beast at home on the other days as usual.

      • Consistency is key. It’s the same argument as to why diets don’t work: if you do something for xx days and then stop, clearly any impact that thing had would disappear. No different to gym-going really. Love that you’ve embraced your crotchstrainer!

      • We are an item. It’s so enormous, I’ve christened it the ReXT. (My old one was much smaller and referred to as XT for short).

        Consistency. You’ve said it. That’s what I go on about when it comes to language learning. “Fluent in two months” – yeah, right.

      • My only at-home piece of equipment us also an elliptical. I bought new (silly girl) and went big with a gym-quality Precor unit. The investment paid off though. Still in perfect condition 6 years later (with heavy use the last 18 months).

  3. Ouch! I’ve been there…and usually on the first day of some new exercise routine where I am all pumped, feeling great and motivated. I have to remind myself (and will do so this week when I get back to the treadmill) to take it easy and pace. One of the best things I think for cardio and strength training is swimming. I was a swimmer in high school for the school team and a competitive league. I loved it and was hardcore for a few years with borderline football player shoulders.. As soon as I have both kids in school, that will be my exercise of choice.(not with the goal of football players shoulders though. ha) Until then, it is the hamster wheel, i.e. treadmill for me. Hope your ass gets better soon 😉

    • Swimming is a fantastic combo workout, with the water acting as your weight/resistance. I find with swimming though, you’ve gotta love it. And I just don’t. Maybe because I don’t have good form. Probably.

      Good luck on the treadmill! After some reaclimitization, why not move the run outdoors?? 🙂

      • Yes, I should. I know all real runners hate the treadmill but I also don’t like running with a stroller. I guess I shouldn’t be so particular 🙂 I love swimming! Form makes a huge difference in the love I think. Being under water is so meditative too.

      • You should! Once you get good form and breathing, you’ll swim much more efficiently and be able to get into the zone. That’s where the awesome meditation starts. Just like running, my sister had to give me tips for good running form and it helped me like it a smidge more. 😉 I wish I loved running.

  4. Your poor muscles! Sounds like they were working overtime to heal themselves. I love combining cardio and weights. Really helped pump up my endurance like nothing else.

    • Absolutely, Carrie. Last year when I had plateaued early on (March, I think), I started taking BodyPump class regularly, and the weight began dropping again. That class had a big impact on my Goan attainment.

  5. I’m so sorry … I thought it was HILARIOUS! bwahahahahaha … but really, I’m so sorry for you …. 😀
    Which reminds me, I really should be adding strength training to my routine, but god how I HATE strength training!

  6. Oh no! I’m remembering a great exercise blog from a woman in the Midwest (I think) who rated each new exercise using a toilet test. Everything is ranked according to how badly it hurt to sit down over the following three days. 🙂 I’ll try to remember the blog name…

  7. I hate DOMS… How impressive are you that you tried to run through it!?! I have only tried that once in my life, although I am pretty wimpy when it comes to DOMS! As always you post is both entertaining and inspirational!

    • Kathy, this was the worst DOMS ever! Normally I kinda dig the pain – when it’s enough to make you go “ow” each time you move. But when it’s basically crippling you…not fun! 🙂

      Can’t wait to hear about his past weekend’s snowshoeing adventure. Sounds like you cooked up a doozy!

  8. I went to a kettlebell class last week, my first ever, so I thought I’d better start with a small weight to figure it out. In the midst of the class, I thought I should have taken a heavier one as it was so easy. Next day I felt great but then…boy was I happy I didn’t start with a heavier weight!!!

  9. I feel evil clicking like on this post. Since I have perpetual muscle soreness right now, I can absolutely relate. Pretty much the only thing that helps is what you did…….more working out. I’m not sore when I’m walking. It’s all the rest of the time that I’m sore.

    I hope your ass is feeling all better today, Nancy. I’m probably going to do the same thing to myself when I go back to power yoga, and I’ll ohm my way through it and remember this story. 🙂

  10. This was enjoyable! Familiar…and somehow I didn’t feel too much sympathy. But learned a new word in English…DOMS, or four words instead of two in other languages like someone already pointed out. In my two native languages we just say “training aches” and everyone knows you’ve been working out, aches and pains in selected muscles will follow. I also need to tell my gym-pro-of-a-son that he gave me an old woman’s dumbbell-based strength routine…how old does he think I am? Bah.

    • Ugh Debra, sadly the best way to work through DOMS is through more exercise. 😦 That said, it doesn’t need to be running. That was just a bad decision on my part. :/)

  11. Ok, you should totally write after tequila all the time. This was hilarious!

    On DOMS: My first yoga ball class was all about abs. Seriously, it hurt to laugh, or even move, for 5 days.

    Now, I seriously need to get my not-so-broken ass ready for margaritas!!! I hope to catch up on more of your stuff tomorrow!.

    • discovered my drunken pure barre post! 🙂 I’m totally surprised at how coherent it is considering how happy my happy hour was. 🙂

      And now that my WFH day is done, I’m heading over to your blog to check you out! Have a great night with tequila and chips!!

  12. Pingback: 2014 in review, wordpress style | my year[s] of sweat!

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