TWIR #24: Plodding Along

Another week, another TWIR, and I’m plodding along making what feels like minimal progress. This week, morning SI stiffness has returned with a vengeance, along with periodic pain with weird, sharp movements (which, for some reason, are quite common in my life). It’s annoying, but hasn’t kept me from consistent workouts so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.

Saturday
Activity: Hike
Relevant Stats: 3 km, 850 m elevation gain
Observations: In order to fit in a badly needed dim sum feast, I sacrificed a real hike for the BCMC…on a weekend. Let me just say, even if you arrive before 8 am, which I did, this proved a poor idea. I have no idea why people want to drag their asses out of bed on a weekend to hike this trail, but they do. Maybe they were all trying to fit in a quick workout before dim sum? Given how full the parking lot was at the restaurant, this could actually be the case…

Sunday
Activity: Hike
Relevant Stats: 16 km, 1000 m elevation
Observations: Sweet holy hell, this hike almost killed me.  Last year, I hiked this trail several times almost all the way to the summit and, while it had tiring sections, I was like a little mountain goat racing up the mountain. This year…man, it almost killed me. We only made it to the lower lake before I threw in the towel and called it a day, except that still meant 8 km of slow, careful descending of incredibly steep trail. Also, I was bit and then stung by a wasp, which hurts a lot more than I ever thought it would.  I was not a fan of nature on Sunday.

Monday
Activity: Spin + Strength
Relevant Stats: 15 min. spin, 45 min. strength
Observations: I wanted to do nothing on Monday. My legs were surprisingly sore after Sunday’s hike and my SI was not feeling great on the spin bike. However, fearing that my recent SI issues are actually the result of not doing enough of my strength work between training sessions, I decided I should make myself work through the program. All in all, it was a pretty sad excuse for a workout.

Tuesday
Activity: Run
Relevant Stats: 7.5 (ish) km and pace unknown
Observations: I was supposed to have a training session but mixed up my times and missed it, which was unfortunate as I had zero motivation to work out in the first place. I was too lazy to walk to Steve Nash so I decided I’d hit my office building’s gym, except it was full of coworkers…conundrum: to work out or not to work out? I opted to try running, which I wasn’t sure I could do given my SI this week, but it turned out to be a good idea. I ran slowly, though I’m not sure how slowly because I chose not to track my run. It was liberating not to worry about time or distance, and I survived with my SI no worse for the wear.

Wednesday
Activity: Hike
Relevant Stats: 3 km, 850 m elevation
Observations: BCMC round two. Following in the footsteps of Tuesday’s run, I decided not to track nor time my hike.  Again, I found it delightful not to have my app lady’s voice chirping in my ear and making me feel like the slowest human on the planet. The result? I completed the trail exactly one minute faster than usual. Not a big improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.

Thursday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min., intensity: HARD
Observations: I thought my trainer was going to take it easy on me because my SI’s been iffy this week.  Instead, I made the mistake of telling her that I ran on Tuesday, at which point her eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning and she dove into the usual routine…with increased weight.  Ugh. My legs were killing me by the end of the session. I know that’s what I’m paying her for, but man sometimes I am just not in the mood to push myself.

Friday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: sitting for hours and BBQs in the works
Observations: I didn’t actually plan for Friday to be a rest day. I was going to run, and run hills, but I realized I haven’t taken a day off since last Thursday and that, perhaps, this is one of the reasons my SI hates me. I know I’m not hard core training or anything, but I’m also not giving my SI as much downtime as it probably wants/needs.

After last week’s SI issues, this week turned out better than I anticipated, but I’m still wanting to see more progress than I am. It feels altogether too slow and steady, which frustrates me as I have a high need for EVERYTHING TO MOVE QUICKLY.  In short, I give this week a:

faster

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Throwback Thursdays: My History with Hiking

I have been reminiscing about my ‘old hiking days’ as if this is the first year of my life when hiking hasn’t been the be all and end all.   Although I like to think that I’ve always been an avid trail wanderer, the reality is that most of my life I’ve been indifferent or loosely interested in mountain adventures. There’ve really been only a handful of years in the last decade in which I could classify myself as super-hard-core-obsessed with hitting the trail any time I had a moment to spare.

This accurately reflects my hiking enthusiasm by age group:

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 7.49.55 PM

Yup. It’s pretty clear that most of my life has been well below the “mild tolerance” line.  I’ve fooled myself into thinking I’m way outside my version of normal when, really, spending a moderate amount of time on trails is a far more prevalent theme in my life. In fact, I’m actually above my normal. The graph shows it, and graphs never lie. It just goes to show you, nostalgia and memory, they can’t always be trusted.

 

Mid Week Apology: To My Abused Trail Runners

My trail runners have suffered a great deal this season. Right out of the box they were subjected to the worst of West Coast rain and mud.  Then the weather got warmer and drier and they suffered several severe dust coatings.

I suppose you could just call them well-loved, but I feel for them. They were once brightly coloured and flashy, but they have no more flair to offer. They are broken and battered and mere shells of their former selves. Indeed, after just two months, they are badly wounded.

Let us review the visual proof of the damage I’ve done to one of my two pairs:

shoe 2

Exhibit 1: Mud on the INSIDE of shoes. The culprit: hiking in pouring rain and mud and giving up on any and all hope of avoiding the mud.

Exhibit 2: Those dark patches? That’s dried mud. The thick kind. The kind that adheres and never, ever, ever comes off. The culprit: I don’t remember when that occurred, but it was quick and permanent.

Exhibits 3  & 4: Dust. The culprit is dust.  Exhibit 3 is where brightly coloured stripes should be, but are instead obscured by crusted mud and dust so thick that they appear uniform in colour.  Exhibit 4 is generalized dust that has fundamentally changed the overall hue. You cannot even tell these shoes were once blue with pink accents. You don’t believe me do you?  Let me refresh your memory as to what these should look like:

Sigh. They used to be so pretty.
Sigh. They used to be so pretty.

And then there’s my other pair, which are equally sad in appearance with the added misfortune of being functionally damaged.

shoe

Exhibit 1: Multiple and permanent and deeply embedded mud stains. The culprit: one day on St. Mark’s summit before the full snow melt + one day on the BCMC in a torrential downpour.

Exhibit 2: Grip “nubbin” completely worn off. I know that is not the technical term for it, but if you watched Friends you will appreciate that, and if you didn’t then you should know that all ten seasons are on Netflix. The culprit: inexplicably wedging my shoe between two rocks and nearly pitching myself head first into the ground as a result. Yes, I am that graceful.

Exhibit 3: Detached toe bumper (which is the technical term). The culprit: the sum total of the 10,000 times I have caught my toe on rough rocks because I am too tired to lift my feet.

Exhibit 4: Blood stains. The culprit: this is misleading as these shoes are a dream and have never caused me an ounce of pain. However, I did wear them once the day after wearing hiking boots that tore the shit out of my heel and then I proceeded to bleed all over my precious trail runners.

I am sorry, Brooks Cascadias. You have been nothing but supportive and delightful and I have stolen your colorful joy and damaged some of your most functional assets. Please don’t break down on me yet. We still have a couple months’ worth of trails to explore before I retire you for the year.

Training Tuesdays: I Heart Laser Treatments

One thing I’ve learned over the last five months is just how wonderful laser treatment is for acute inflammation. I’ve had laser treatments in the past for my many, many (many) ankle sprains, but never before has it been suggested for my SI. I’ve always relied on active release therapy (ART) in the past, which has always worked. But this latest SI injury incarnation threw a wrench into a previously tried and tested treatment formula.

Since the very start of this latest SI injury, laser treatment has been the only thing to provide noticeable and immediate improvement. ART was actually making it worse.  Personal training was helping, but in a long term sense versus addressing acute pain. No, only the low level laser therapy seemed to do the trick.  I have now decided laser therapy is a ligament injury’s best friend…well, maybe second to a little bit of self-pity and a lot of wine. But in terms of actual injury improvement, it’s definitely your best friend.

I have to admit that at first I thought it was just a little flash and dazzle that allowed health care professionals to charge me more money for essentially swirling a wand over an injury. But when one of my ankle sprains healed in a week instead of a month, I began to appreciate its simplicity and power.  It’s really the perfect treatment:

It works: Clearly this is the most important factor. I’ve always felt immediate improvement after one treatment (remembering that improvement is relative), and exponential improvement after subsequent treatment.

It’s relaxing as hell: It’s like a warm message. I get to lay on my stomach and close my eyes and it’s about as close to utter relaxation as I can get in the middle of the day. I’d do it even if I weren’t injured…if they let me (side note: my physiotherapist tells me for a paltry $30,000, I can own my own machine and make this dream a reality).

Your practitioner has to wear ridiculous looking protective glasses: I am likely the only one to get joy from this but I’m always the one who looks ridiculous hobbling in and out of treatments and he takes great delight in mocking me and my injury.  It’s about the only time the balance of power between us tips slightly in my favor.

It’s quick: Really, it’s 10-15 minutes per treatment, sometimes less depending on the area being treated and the severity of the inflammation. When my appointments actually run on time, which is virtually never, I am in and out in twenty five minutes.

The short version of this post: Got an injury? Get on the laser treatment train.*

*As if you need me to write this…I am by no means a medical professional and nothing I write should ever be taken as legitimate guidance.

 

Monday Musings: Acceptance

This is not going to be my best trail season. I am not going to double last year’s summer hiking distance (over 800 km, thank you very much). There. I said it. That right there, that’s acceptance.

It is also an obvious statement, but it’s one I’ve been fighting. I have been telling myself if I just work more, push harder, I can somehow salvage this hiking season and get back to last year’s fitness level. I’ve refused to accept that it’s not possible. Until now.

It ain't easy. I don't always like it. But I have come to terms with it.
It ain’t easy. I don’t always like it. But I have come to terms with it.

Yesterday, as I was lumbering slowly up a steep-ass trail, cursing myself yet again for being so ‘out of shape’ and ‘weak compared to last year’, I started the classic bargaining game: if I just up my hiking intensity drastically next weekend, then really go hard core when I’m in the Rockies for my vacation, and dedicate September and October to all-weekend-hiking-extravaganzas, I can still make this my best trail season! Only after psyching myself up with utter lies did I pause to contemplate how dreadfully awful all that sounded.

Last year I was the fittest I’ve ever been. No trails were too steep nor too long. I was a racehorse uphill. And I loved it. I loved getting faster and stronger and dedicating all my free time to exploring new trails with a fervor that definitely bordered on obsessive. This year, I lack that drive and I’ve assumed it’s because I’ve gotten lazy or undisciplined. That’s really not at the heart of my relative lack of drive. Deep down, I know that my body needs a break and needs to actually heal. Every time I push too hard and too fast it tells me with a setback. Every time I try to prove myself wrong, I end up taking two steps backward. I have to accept it: this is not the year for trail glory.

I can’t say it feels good to accept it, but it feels right.

TWIR #23: Murphy’s Law Rears its Ugly Head

After a strong start, this week took a bit of a nosedive. I suffered a mid-week setback that caused me to get into a frustration/pity spiral, one that left me uninspired to write (to the point that I missed a planned post!).  I’ve been taking it easy the last couple of days to try to let my SI calm down a bit, and got some emergency laser treatment. Here’s hoping to a more positive mental state next week.

Saturday
Activity: Hike
Relevant Stats:
15 km, 900 m elevation
Observations: 
 I consider it a major victory to have hiked 15 km and 900 meters of elevation after Friday’s G n’ R concert (amazing, by the way) and getting home at 1:15 (waaaaaaay past my bedtime).  It probably helped that I managed to find not one but two shady trails to keep the scorching sun off of my poor, dehydrated self.

Sunday
Activity: 
Run
Relevant Stats: 8.4 km, average pace of 5:5o min per km
Observations: What made me think it would be a good idea to run in the middle of afternoon one of our hottest days of the summer? I still don’t know the answer to that question. When highway closures and delays thwarted my hiking plans, this seemed like the only remaining option. Despite finding some brief shade sections on trail, I still felt on the verge of puking and ended up having my poor boyfriend pick me up when I realized I would not survive the remaining 4 km home. Run fail.

Monday
Activity:
Run
Relevant Stats:
9.6 km, average pace of 5:40 min/km 
Observations:
 Seeking running redemption, I headed out again, this time earlier in the day.  Well, I can’t say that it was any cooler at 10:15 in the morning, but at least I was better hydrated.

Tuesday 
Activity:
Hike
Relevant Stats:
3 km, 850 m
Observations:
Hallelujah! I finally did the BCMC trail on a day that didn’t follow my personal training session.  My legs actually felt fantastic, although it only translated into knocking two minutes off my most recent times. This is still a full three minutes slower than my first few post-injury go-arounds, though, which I attribute to my disdain for this trail. On a positive note, I believe I am close to making the annual season pass investment worthwhile (14 hikes) so I look forward to the day I no longer feel compelled to hike this weekly.

Wednesday
Activity:
Warm up run/Personal Training Session 
Relevant Stats:
20 minute run, 60 minute training session
Observations: Murphy’s Law strikes again: just as I was talking to my trainer about how well things have been going, a standard back squat decided to throw my SI into a tizzy. It was not a good day…nor a good workout.

Thursday
Activity:
Planned rest day
Relevant Stats:
trendy diner burger/fry/corn combos consumed: one
Observations: 
My biggest accomplishment for the day was buying the world’s largest piece of chocolate cake to go, and then not consuming it (don’t worry, it will get eaten today).

Friday
Activity:
Strength + Walk
Relevant Stats:
45 min. strength + 50 min walk
Observations:
 By the time 3 pm rolled around I had little to no desire to do anything. However, I forced myself to work through my basic strength routine from my trainer and go for a super long walk. The sunshine did wonders for my spirit, as did returning with a giant bottle of white IPA to officially kick of the weekend.

All in all, not a stellar week. I’ve got plans to hike this weekend and hope that a few more days off running will cause my SI to calm the f@#k down. Until then, I give this week a:

murphy's law

Mid Week F’ You: The SI Strikes Back

It was an ordinary back squat, the same one I’ve been doing for weeks now with the same weight I’ve been using.  I was being highly supervised, as always, by my trainer. And yet, there it was, that unmistakeable feeling that my SI had decided to turn against me.  I could tell as soon as I started that something was off, and after just three I had to wave my white flag.

I thought maybe laying off the back squats and getting on to some other exercises would help, especially since my trainer got me right onto a series of ‘reset exercises’, which usually provide fairly immediate relief.  Alas, after several failed attempts to progress back into legit exercises we continued only with what I consider to be the lamest of exercises. Low-to-no-weight lifting. FOAM BLOCK shoulder presses (a true slap in the face after weeks of successful bottoms up kettle bell presses) . Standard unweighted squats. Variation planks. Lame.

After several weeks of consistent progress with running, hiking and general activity, my SI decided enough was enough and gave me the big old, proverbial middle finger. And so, I’m back to see my favourite physiotherapist tomorrow and already rearranging my planned workout schedule for the week. And you better be damned sure I have a pint of Tonight Dough in my freezer to help ease my frustration.  I never claimed to have constructive coping mechanisms.

In all seriousness, though, it is incredibly irritating to have yet another setback. While I hope it is minor and that I quickly bounce back, I can tell you as I sit here and type this, I’m feeling an all-too-familiar stiffness and tenderness to touch that has me concerned.  It just goes to show that injuries are like old boyfriends. Just when you think you are done and will never hear from them again, that’s exactly when they randomly and unexpectedly show up in your life. And just like when it happens with ex-boyfriends, it’s always as annoying as hell.