slow twitch

I run a lot. But when people start talking races and especially race times I suddenly go quiet. Because I do not want to have to tell my times. Because they are not particularly impressive. I run a pretty steady 10-11 minute mile. Regardless of whether I am running 1 mile or 10. And actually those first 2-3 miles are the hardest and slowest. If I can push through those I can usually run for several more.


I did not run track in high school. I’ve never subscribed to Runners World. And mostly I don’t even call myself a real runner because I don’t think I am fast enough. Or serious enough. Or skinny enough. When I started all this my husband told me I was “slow twitch” and until recently the longest race I could convince him to run was a 5K, because he was “fast twitch”. He tried to explain this me once, but mostly I thought it was just his nice way of telling me that I was slow – that he did not have the patience to follow me at my slower-than-a-mall-power-walker pace for more than a few miles. Or why I was the last person to finish running her sprints in high school soccer practice, but closer to the front when we ran our two mile warm up.


And this running thing, is about the only thing I do slow. I speak before I think. I eat fast, I talk fast, I type fast, I walk fast.  I talk before I think. I act before I think. I dial and hit send before I think. But when I run, the opposite happens. When I run. I think. And I like that. And I don’t really care how fast I get there.

I have trained. And my times improved only a tad. Mostly, when I train I just run further. Not faster.

So maybe there is something to this slow twitch/fast twitch thing after all. And I am a science teacher but anatomy has never been my specialty.  (I kind of prefer to light things on fire). So I decided to do some research on the most reliable site I know. Wikipedia.
Turns out, my husband didn’t make this stuff up.


“There are two broad types of voluntary muscle fibers: slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow twitch fibers contract for long periods of time but with little force while fast twitch fibers contract quickly and powerfully but fatigue very rapidly.”

Apparently, these slow muscles are more efficient at using oxygen to generate fuel. They are slower, but can work for much longer times before getting tired.  Well, I’ll admit my muscles might be slow, but in terms of endurance that is a good thing. However, clearly my brain is not on the same wavelength.

Lately. I’ve been learning to wait. And I hate waiting. If there are more than two cars in a drive thru I will go somewhere I else.  It took me 3 trips to the DMV before I finally stuck it out and replaced my license. I rarely can wait long enough for my toenail polish to dry and without fail,  wreck a good pedicure before ever making it to my car. I don’t wait for water to boil before adding my pasta. I don’t wait for the oven to preheat before putting my food in. I never wait until things cool before frosting them. I don't even wait long enough to match my socks in the morning.

If patience were a muscle, well let’s just say mine wouldn’t win any arm wrestling matches. It isn’t fast or slow twitch. It is no twitch at all.
But, maybe patience is more like a muscle than I think.  Most research says that we are born with all the muscle cells we are going to get. That we can’t increase the number of muscle cells we have, we can only strengthen and grow the ones that are already there. By using them over and over so that they increase in size and strength. Fast twitch. Slow twitch. Either way, they are sore in the morning.

So apparently, my patience is joining a gym.
And I am feeling the burn.
I just hope I can whip this thing into shape before bathing suit season.



(one of my favorite songs ever. that reminds me to wait. "that this day's been crazy but everything's happened on schedule. from the rain and the cold to the drink that I spilled on my shirt".....)

2 comments:

samskat said...

i guess i'm a fast twitch...when it comes to running, anyway...as for patience, i think i need to work on that too... :)but then don't we all?

bookgoonie said...

I'm super slow twitch.