Breaking pain barrier on 4-minute wall sit (after 2 failed attempts)

It took me three tries to get through a 4-minute wall sit on Day  21 of the 28-day wall-sit challenge.

The first time I quit just a few seconds in, irritated with the song my daughter had selected (“Bohemian Rhapsody”).

The second time I bailed after 2 minutes of listening to Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” I just wasn’t dialed in. Colleen noted my face was getting “really red” and she thought I wasn’t doing my usual deep breathing. But my main gripe was my shoes, which weren’t giving me the sort of grip I was used to. I felt like my feet were slowly moving out from the wall the whole time.

I changed into the shoes I’d worn on every previous wall sit, negating that excuse. But could I possibly do a 4-minute wall sit on the heels of a 2-minute sit? Wouldn’t my quads be shot? Should I bump this back a day?

Finally I decided what the heck, why not give it a try. This time I queued up the song that had gotten me through the previous week’s 3-minute sit: Johnny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time.” I like to think the theme of this song – in which a GM worker builds a hodge-podge Cadillac out of parts he’s smuggled out of the factory over several years – fits that  Temple Grandin “building from the ground up” philosophy that I’ve grown so attached to. It’s just a couple of seconds shy of 4 minutes long.

This time, with familiar shoes, song and technique – I’d forgotten earlier to press my shoulders against the wall — I felt much more calm and confident. Yes, my quads were burning as the minutes ticked by. But I was risking neither death nor injury – merely pain.

I focused in on the song, and on the video images of a middle-aged Johnny Cash clowning around with a much more normal looking “big black Cadillac” than the single-finned monster he purportedly builds in the song.

Three minutes. Sheer agony. And yet – couldn’t I do agony for 60 more seconds?

Agony isn’t impossible. It’s not a state of being we choose for ourselves, but it is, just the same, a state of being – a part of being alive. I focused on the pain not as a personal affront, but just as … a sensation.

The song was winding down. I knew then I could wait this out. And ultimately, I came back to the thing I always think about when I’m enduring something awful yet finite: the labor pains of child birth. So excruciating one minute, and then blissfully gone the next.

In a few seconds, this would all be over. And then it was.

Until Saturday, that is – when I get to do this for 5 minutes.

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2 Responses to Breaking pain barrier on 4-minute wall sit (after 2 failed attempts)

  1. I like this challenge! I’ve failed at the January push up challenge but increased my push ups. This may just be something I could even do at work. Thx!

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