The Ol’ Stiff Leg


My sister-in-law had a schipperke named Scout.

A schipperke, if you don’t know, is a small, black dog that looks like a heraldic lion. They’re fierce and loyal and renowned for their stubbornness. And Lura’s dog added to an extremely strong personality by refusing to believe she was a dog; Scout knew that she and Lura were both ladies, and ladies of impeccable quality at that.

Lura would take Scout for a walk. Unable to access the crown in civilization’s glory (the flush toilet, of course), dogs view their walks with delight. But there were times after Scout had been for a short walk when she would decide the walk was over now.

Lura would find herself standing a few feet ahead of her dog, her arm and a long leash stretched behind her to a tiny dog with planted feet, arguing with about twenty pounds of determination.

Lura said you could plead or sweet-talk or threaten – or you could do the dog trainer trick of refusing to notice; just keep walking and the dog will follow the pack leader.

No. Nope. Not Scout. “She just gives me the ol’ stiff leg.” Lura would find herself literally dragging a small dog down the sidewalk like a dead weight at the end of a rope. This is not good for the dog OR for the neighborhood reputation.

I had occasion to think of the frustration of the ol’ stiff leg last night at three in the morning.

My adductor magnus has been as tight as a banjo string of late. This muscle, from knee to pubic bone, has been tormenting me and the wizards who train me have given me exercises to persuade it to relax a tad, but every time I sit down for a few minutes, it tightens up again and I have to limp and wince for five or ten feet when I stand to walk again.

My low back muscles are overwhelmed by something, and if I forget to hold my transverse abdominus tight like steel, I also wince during the process of standing up. Or sitting down.

I’m physically tired and have no energy.

And it was three in the morning and I still hadn’t gone to sleep. My standing appointment with Barbara today was at 11AM – eight hours away.

My spirit gave me the ol’ stiff leg.

Didn’t matter that I love working out with Barbara. Didn’t matter that the day is sunny and pleasant and lacking in the humidity that slows me to a crawl – perfect weather, in other words, to stagger around our run-walk-run loop. Didn’t matter that I have a new running skirt and am just about brave enough to wear it in public.

No. Nope. Not Pru. My willpower planted its stubborn little lion-like paws and refused to be budged. Not going. Not going to do it. No.

I emailed Barbara at three in the morning and told her I was going to skip our session. (And I forgot to email Grace to say I was going to miss stretch class after that, too – but I sure did miss it.)

It did not make me feel BETTER to give up; I felt a lot of shame. But I was also able to get to sleep. And I’ve been napping all day. I’d be napping right now if the dog hadn’t decided he was having a barf-fest, and ever since the Dog Butter Incident required not one but two rugs to be sent out for professional cleaning, I’m inclined to leap out of bed and give in when he utters that “I’m gonna york if you don’t hurry” bark.

Last Tuesday I ran a mile with Barbara.

Last Wednesday, I went for 11 minutes on the elliptical.

Last Thursday, I sweated through Barbara’s Balance Class.

Last Friday, I ran a mile and a half.

Last Saturday, I had a day off.

Last Sunday, I ran up 20 flights of stairs.

Yesterday I repeated the 20 flights of stairs.

Today I came to a halt, like a dog on the sidewalk refusing to go even one step farther.

No forward progress today. No cardio. No home exercise program.

I’m really hoping this vacation will refill my sisu reservoir. As Cole Porter said, my “will” is strong, but my “won’t” is weak. Hoping for more gumption tomorrow.

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 2.53.50 PM

This is the most stubborn dog on the planet. It is a good representation of the stubbornness that overcame me at three in the morning. No. Nope. Not gonna.



One thought on “The Ol’ Stiff Leg

  1. sometimes the very smartest thing you can do is listen to your body. You were understandably tired. Better to take off a day than risk an injury that sidelines you for months or you get sick! Nuff said.


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