Old dog, new tricks

I discovered something today: endorphins.

My kids and I started taking Taekwondo together, three times a week. It’s hard, and I’m clumsy and slow and keep getting my low blocks and high blocks mixed up. Warm-ups consist of—among other things—twenty-five pushups (on our knuckles!) and between 75 and 125 crunches.

Now you have to understand, the last time I did a crunch, it was probably 5th grade and we called them sit-ups. The last time I did a pushup… well, I don’t know that I’ve ever done a proper pushup, and there’s no way I’m capable of doing them on my knuckles at this point. I’m a writer; I don’t exactly live an “active lifestyle.”

In the beginning, I signed up for the kids. I wanted them to do something active, learn a little bit about discipline and perseverance and self-control. They’re picking up on that, slowly, and their kicks are absolutely beautiful (to my eyes). As for me, I didn’t expect to enjoy it; I hoped that I would find it satisfying, the way I find biking satisfying, and hiking and swimming, when I get around to doing stuff like that.

I certainly didn’t expect endorphins.

A high school friend used to tell me about his “runner’s high.” He couldn’t understand how miserable running made me. Over the years I’ve tried a number of different activities – water aerobics, yoga, all those machines at the gym, and yes, even running. I eventually decided that the runner’s high was a myth, or at least that I was just not the kind of person who could ever experience one.

When I ran, I was miserable from start to finish. When I bike, I like being outdoors, I like feeling my body move, but I’m always thinking about my aches and pains, and when I get home, I lie on the floor and hope I never have to move again. But when I come home from Taekwondo, I’m disappointed that I had to stop. I wish I could keep going on my own after class, but as white belts we’re forbidden from practicing without an instructor (to avoid teaching ourselves bad habits). I’m energized.

I had to ask a friend if what I was feeling was normal. Apparently, it is. And apparently—don’t laugh at me!—endorphins are a thing. They’re not a myth after all.*

And so, what started as a way to get a little exercise and hang out with my kids turned into a revelation. And now I’m wondering, what else can I unlearn? Maybe it’s time to find out.

*(Runner’s high, though, I still call that bogus.)

6 thoughts on “Old dog, new tricks

  1. Lori says:

    Envious and pleasantly hopeful also. I too have ever felt that magical runners high, or as my father use to say, hitting the wall and breaking through it. I always just hit the wall and I swear it was made of brick. I’ve even tried acupuncture with notably exciting results. I had just assumed I am a non-endorphin producer. You have given me hope that there might be something still out there, like a Star Trek episode of exercise.


  2. Sanch @ Sanch Writes says:

    Haha endorphins totally are a thing! 🙂 I’m not a runner and don’t get the runner’s high but I have got it when I’ve run a 14 km race and a 12 km race {Not during but after!} Having said that, I prefer my endorphins to come from strength training. I think if we find what works for us, the endorphins follow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Margaret says:

    When you said pushups on knuckles I almost scrolled past, so it was with relief that I found out you’re human after all. Also being a beginner with your kids is great, isn’t it? I did that with ice skating . Loved this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. saroful says:

    Runner’s high is bullshit. Take it from this former marathon runner. You’re just so bored that your brain is actually eating itself, which makes you too stupid to know how much you hate running.


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