TWIR #112: bring on the weekend

Hello and happy Friday, my friends! It has been yet another week filled with long days of work and I, for one, am thrilled that Friday has rolled out around again and that, quite blissfully, I have zero plans.

I set a goal this week of two after-work walks and accomplished neither, so I’m feeling like a big old activity failure this week, aside from my normal workouts, that is. It’s amazing just how sedentary one can be when she is highly focused on her work. I sort of miss the days when I was bored out of my mind and had nothing to do at work. I tended to go for a lot more walks back then…Okay, okay, I don’t really miss that because boredom at work is nothing but soul crushing. Enough ramblings, let’s get on to the workouts!

Saturday
Activity: hike!
Relevant Stats: 10. 3 km
Observations:  My parents were visiting for some weekend adventures, so we packed them up in the car bright and early and took them out to a local park where we pieced together several trails to form a pretty decent hike. While it wasn’t a great idea to hike 10 km before eating breakfast, we at least avoided the heat and crowds. We rounded out our day with some winery visits, and since hiking + wine is pretty much my perfect day, it was a good start to the weekend.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: all of the wine + gelato
Observations: We replaced our morning hike with morning waffles (homemade of course), which I feel is a worthy substitute on a Sunday, and then hit the road to visit even more wineries.  Yay! We even took my parents to our favourite gelato place which was predictably delicious (strawberry custard + milk chocolate for the win). And then I made a ton of pizzas for dinner. Wine, pizza, gelato, waffles. What a day…at least, if you don’t think about the fact that I was barely active…

Monday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 50 min.
Observations: With my parents safely on their way back home, I dove straight back into work. And with a busy work day came the absolute need for a solid workout. This strength workout focused on slow and controlled movements since my SI had been feeling a bit stiff, and mostly targeted my legs and glutes. As I’ve been upping cardio, I’ve been worried I haven’t been spending enough time focusing on strength. This workout was my way of telling my stablizing muscles that I hadn’t forgotten about them.

Tuesday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats:  45 min.
Observations: Spin first thing in the morning is the worst. It takes my legs some time to wake up and spin requires legs that are awake. To add insult to injury, I had this grand plan of spinning to some classic G n’ R, which required Apple music, but the gym’s wifi was being a total jerk. I had to use the boring old music stored on my phone and I was just not pleased. Still, I held on for the full 45 minutes and getting my workout of the way allowed me to power through a work day full of calls (seriously, 7 hours of phone calls. ugh.).

Wednesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: This was all arrrrrrms. Why?????? My trainer claimed she was trying to balance out my strength but I genuinely like that my lower body is stronger than my upper body.  It serves me far better to have strong legs than strong arms. This week she also introduced some ridiculous contraption filled with water, which is apparently called a slosh pipe, and which seemed like it would be easy but was far from it. I was supposed to hold it out with my arms fully extended, but these arms of mine were having none of that so we had to significantly modify to allow me to bend my arms. It was both embarrassing and a relief.  I told her that next week my whole damn workout better be legs. Sigh.

Thursday
Activity: stairs
Relevant Stats: 32 min.
Observations: Well, I learned what time not to go to the stairs.  There was a group of dudes who were going balls out sprinting to the top, which made me feel like the world’s slowest human. That said, the stairs are getting ever-so-slightly less horrible, even though I am still a far cry from my former level of stair-running fitness. I forced myself to keep going even when my legs wanted to give up and I consider that extra two minutes beyond a half hour a prize-worthy victory.

Friday
Activity: mini hike
Relevant Stats: 6 km
Observations: I expected my legs to be far worse today but they were ready to roll even on an early morning hike. We did one of our favourite short loops which has a reasonable climb and lots of excellent scenery, and there is something particularly rewarding about finishing off a trail workout before 8:30 am.  I consider this an excellent kick start to the weekend.

With that, I am off to enjoy the fruits of my labour this weekend. Wishing you all sunshine, warm weather and much fun this weekend. See y’all next week!

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TWIR #108: energy lull

What a doozy of a week! I had zero surplus energy to draw on and felt like I was dragging my ass through roughly 95% of this week. All I can say is thank god for coffee and for workouts. Both helped me immensely as I struggled to work my way through this week. But it is Friday and we have survived, and so let’s take a look at what my workouts looked like, shall we?

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: all of the wine + all of the fudge
Observations: Well, when one is in wine country, one drinks the wine. And that we did. Although, I’m pleased to say that, unlike when we went to Naramata, I avoided the dreaded day-drunkenness that can come from sampling wines endlessly all afternoon.  Still, there was lots of wine and sitting and eating. Not only did we start the day with waffles, but we continued on with a calzone lunch (but, like, a posh calzone at a Tuscan themed winery restaurant, if that makes any difference), and then nachos and salad (for balance of course) for dinner, which I then followed with probably a half pound of fudge from Tickleberry’s. If you need me to state the obvious, no I did not feel good.

Sunday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: The good thing about Saturday’s gluttony is that I fell asleep relatively early and woke up ready to roll. We checked out our resort fitness centre and squeezed in a decent 35 minute strength training session. Of course, I did all of this before undoing any good whatsoever by eating my weight in my beloved Munchie Mix, a gelato bar that changed my life (more to come on that in another post), and so many M&Ms that I actually felt sick. I have no moderation button when it comes to weekend. I regret nothing.

Monday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Monday is what I consider my ‘back on the saddle’ day every week. I went back off the sugar and threw myself into a tough workout. There were box box jumps and squats and dead lifts, oh my! So. Many. Leg. Exercises.  My glutes were in a world of pain by the end of the day, but it all felt great in the moment. My big step forward was taking away the small platform I usually use for deadlifts to slightly elevate the bar. Legit deadlifts, my friends–and without any pain in my SI! Hurrah!

Tuesday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 47 min.
Observations: Look at that time slowly creeping up. Before you know it, I might be back to an hour of spin…not that I care about how long I spin for, but for a while there it was hard for me to do any cardio for 30 minutes let alone an hour. Progress. Regardless of workout length, it was an outstanding spin session. I pushed hard on resistance hills and my legs were legitimately too tired to do anything else afterwards. Workout win.

Wednesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: This session was so hard.  It all came down to the weighted walking lunges.  She had me doing TWO lengths of the gym (which is fairly long). One way was fine but the way back was torture…and I only had 40 lbs of weight. The problem with extended walking lunges, for me, is that I lose my form easily when I get tired so I have to keep stopping and resetting into proper form. And proper form is 100 times harder because I’m not overcompensating with my overdeveloped muscles. Ugh. We also did too many “hidden” arm exercises (i.e. things that don’t seem like they’d use my arms but they did). I was very happy when this one was over.

Thursday
Activity: strength (abs and arms)
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I decided to make this my A&A day after Wednesday’s reminder that my arms are nowhere near strong enough. I did nothing but abs and arms and left fearful that even basic tasks like typing or reaching for my beer would be altogether too painful by the end of the day. It was a good workout and about as long as I could spend focusing on those muscle groups before both were incapable of anything more. Most importantly, it was a crazy day on the work front so this workout provided the mid-day mental and energy boost that I needed to keep focused and power through.

Friday
Activity: mini hikes!
Relevant Stats: 6.5 km
Observations: In efforts to take advantage of partial Fridays at work and brilliant Okanagan sunshine, we hit a couple short hikes in the afternoon. Both were just around 3 km, but put together they made for a decent stretch of the legs. And, since both featured a ton of incredibly long stair cases, I felt as though it was a reasonable amount of exercise for the day.  Regardless of the exercise, I was super pumped to be in nature again. I really do feel that this year will be my triumphant return to hiking.

With that, a low-energy week comes to a close and I’m highly optimistic that my energy bounces back in a big way.  It’s almost time to hit our patio to enjoy some chilled rose and early evening sunshine…we just need the pesky road paving directly outside our house to wrap itself up.  Here’s hoping you all find weekend fun and adventures. I know I hope to! Happy Friday, y’all.

Training Tuesdays: will 2018 be my triumphant return to hiking?

I tell you, getting back into hiking has got to be right up there with getting back into running. There are muscles that you use when hiking that just don’t get worked the same way with any other activity, and do they ever get angry when you put them to use after a long hiatus. I should know. I used to be a hard-core hiker, the kind of person who once hiked every single day for three consecutive weeks, mostly trails that were 25 km (return) or longer. Hiking was my life.

Then I got sidelined by injury in 2016. I tried to maintain my hiking but my body just wasn’t having it.  By the time summer of 2017 rolled around, I was used to not hiking. I’d gone soft, at least as far as hiking fitness was concerned and, honestly, I had lost the urge to spend hours on the roads getting to the trails followed by hours on the trails. So I took another summer off.

Now I’m two years out from my injury and finally I am starting to feel a little bit of the trail calling me. We’ve done a couple light hikes over recent weeks and it’s felt good to be back on the trail. Don’t get me wrong, hills I once would’ve scampered up have left me breathless and my legs feeling like they’ve run a marathon, but it felt good to be in nature and to breathe fresh air. It got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, 2018 will be my return to hiking.

I suspect in 2018 hiking will look different for me. I’m less likely to drive hours just to get to a trail head or to devote 8-10 hours to the hike itself.  I can’t imagine myself hiking 30+ km like I used to. I’m thinking a nice day hike of the 10-12 km return variety is going to be more my speed. I also have a sneaking suspicion I will have to lift my old criteria on elevation gain, the criteria that used to have me discount hikes that didn’t climb 1000+ meters.

There is a whole world of hiking out there that’s described as moderate, and the moderate hiking scene has got my name all over it in 2018. Here’s to a trail season of reasonable elevation gain and mid-length distance. Here’s to regaining some of my former leg strength and cardio fitness. Here’s to getting back to nature a little bit more in 2018.

 

TWIR #97: Snow + Schnitzel + Stiffness, oh my!

In many ways, this week has felt all over the place. There was a long weekend, a road trip, a strange week at work, further attempts to run, and further SI stiffness as a result of said running attempt.  And on top of all that, I ate so, so many carbs throughout the week. In other words, I am a creature of habit and as soon as I deviate from my routines, I have no idea what’s happening in my life.  Enough rambling.  Let’s see what the week looked like.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: minimal walking, maxium carb-age
Observations:  Road triiiiiip!!! I spent most of the day on my ass, eating donuts (okay, that sounded like I ate multiple donuts, when I promise that I only ate one) and sausage and schnitzel. But we did walk for maybe, like, 2 km so that obviously balanced out the sitting and eating, right?  I know, I know. It doesn’t. The worst part is that our favourite schnitzel place was closed and the place I chose as a backup sucked, which means that I ingested thousands of schnitzel calories that weren’t even worth it. Schnitzel fail.

Sunday
Activity: mini hike
Relevant Stats: 9.2 km, elevation gain unknown (but very moderate)
Observations:  I cannot say this was my favourite hike. We definitely either ended up on the wrong trail or the trail descriptions were wrong about the distance (quite likely since three sources showed three vastly different distances). Either way, we never found the ridge and encountered a river of mud and melting snow for what felt like a solid kilometer, all of which made me grouchy. However, the day was redeemed with the following: outstanding Mexican dinner, mucho craft beer tastings + fudge from a roadside fudge shop.

Monday
Activity: semi planned rest day
Relevant Stats: so much car sitting + border waiting
Observations:  This felt like the world’s longest day thanks to some serious border lines. It shouldn’t have been a surprise as it was a long weekend. When we left the cabin, I was fine with not stopping to hike on Stevens Pass, but by the end of the day I wished we had because sitting for six hours straight is not good. Also, I ate way too many carbs, breaking the cardinal rule that just because you slip a little bit in one day, doesn’t mean you have to spiral into excessive carb consumption.  You win some, you lose some.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: OMG, 5:25 a.m. felt so very, very early. And then my trainer did so many activities that involved me holding a squat position, or that required coordination (of which I have none). It was the kind of training session that made me feel both weak and like a lumbering oaf.  On top of that, I felt a bit stiff from Sunday’s hike, not because it was strenous but because I was careless walking on crappy snow and mud and jolted my body a couple of times. That’s what I get for hiking grouchy.

Wednesday
Activity: running intervals + core work
Relevant Stats: 45 min (8 x 2-3 minute running intervals)
Observations: I cannot explain how excited I was to do running intervals, if for no other reason than to break up the monotony of strength training.  I was still a bit stiff so I took it slower than usual on the old treadmill, but pushed it a bit harder for at least one minute of each running interval. I found mixing running with core work meant my legs had more energy for the running intervals, so that was a win too.  Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

Thursday
Activity: strength training (core and glutes)
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Alas, of course I was stiff from running intervals. I took it a bit easy and focused on very controlled core and glute work, and felt pretty good by the end of the workout. I celebrated with some fantastic aburi sushi at one of my favourite destinations, and tried not to think about the fact that it was probably the last time I’d eat there for a very, very long time…or the fact that I was ingesting more mid-week carbs…

Friday
Activity: strength training (legs and arms)
Relevant Stats: 43 min.
Observations: I know, what’s up with the 43 minute workout right? After a few sets of heavy prowler pushes, the first I’ve done on my own in a long time, I was just done. I no longer feel the need to ride out a workout just to a ensure it’s a certain length. When the old body says ‘that’s enough’,sometimes you just have to call it a day.

And just like that, the weekend is here. We have snow in the forecast (!!!!), which I wanted to be excited about, and yet I fear will never actually make it into the city. This is the one downfall of moving from the suburbs back into the city. We never get the snow. Alas, snow or no snow there shall be some golf watching, some wine drinking, and maybe even another attempted run. Happy weekend y’all.

I’d also appreciate all of you doing a snow dance for me.

 

Training Tuesdays: almost forgotten joys of winter hiking

I have not hiked a single trail this winter. Contrast this with the last few years when I had an almost weekly track record, if not more frequently. Last year, for instance, when I was temporarily (and by choice) out of work, I was winter hiking at least a couple days a week. I couldn’t get enough of it, and I thought for sure that the same would be true this year.

Instead, I’ve found myself in this reality:  I’ve been working in a role that leaves me feeling exhausted and unmotivated. While winter hiking could very well have been my reprieve,  I found myself unwilling to spend my precious weekends driving to trails, dealing with crowds at our local ski/winter sport hills, and putting up with the heavy, wet, clumpy west coast snow.   As a result, and despite invitations to join others on the snowy trails, I’ve not ventured out even once.

Until this weekend.

We were blessed with the warmest of rocky mountain weather this weekend (i.e. temperatures just slightly below 0). When you are near the rockies and are greeted with semi-clear skies coupled with temperatures that warm, there is only one thing to do: hit the trails. And so we did.  And from the second we stepped into closed forest, surrounded by nothing but lightly falling snow, snow-capped trees, and the gentle crunch of snow beneath our feet, my love for the winter hike came flooding back.

There is something about winter hiking that is even more magical than summer hiking. There air is crisp and fresh. There is a deep silence that only snow can bring. Snow evens out the trail surface, making snow hiking far more leisurely and less technical than summer hiking.  In the rockies at least, there tends to be fewer people on trails than here in Vancouver, giving the experience an air of solitude.  It’s also amazing what a blanket of pristine snow can do for normally dull terrain. Even forest-enclosed trails become portrait worthy. I had somehow forgotten all of this and it took only two hours on trail to remind me.

If there’s snow and trails to be found where you are, I strongly encourage you to bundle up and head to the mountains, find a suitable trail (i.e. a trail that’s meant to be hiked or snowshoed in the winter), put one foot in front of the other, breathe deep and find the peace and solitude you didn’t even know you were missing. I just might do the same again very soon in my neck of the woods (despite the heavy, wet snow, neverending cloud cover and hordes of hikers).

Trail Tuesdays: I watched an outdoor survival movie and I’m never hiking again

Recently I wrote about watching too many murder mysteries. Well, in an effort to diversify my viewing habits, I unwittingly surfaced an even scarier breed of entertainment: outdoor survival movies.  It shouldn’t be surprising for me. After all, watching 127 Hours and Into the Wild weren’t just cautionary tales for me, they were horror stories pure and simple. As it turns out, as much as I am afraid of murderers and rapists like the vast majority of the population, my biggest fear is actually dying alone in nature. It may seem irrational, but given how much time I used to spend in the great outdoors, it is actually far more statistically probable than my being murdered.

This weekend, we watched a little-known Canadian movie called Backcountry. Years ago I watched a really bad made-for-tv horror movie about an insane predatory bear in the woods, so bad in fact that even a thorough Google search didn’t surface its name, and I expected Backcountry to be similarly kitschy, unrealistic and full of over-the-top bad special effects.  Well, Backcountry was kitschy for sure, but it was also more terrifying than I expected. Long story short, a couple gets hopelessly lost in the Northern Ontario wilderness and then gets attacked by a really unusually pissed off black bear. I’ll spare you the spoilers but suffice it to say that there were many, many a scene that I actually couldn’t watch because it was too graphically awful and horrifying. And when someone wasn’t in the midst of a vicious bear attack, I was experiencing deeply unsettling discomfort at the thought of being so very lost in such a vast wilderness.

Perhaps the fear of being lost in nature comes naturally to me, care of many of my own near-getting-lost experiences, one of which actually occurred in Ontario’s wilderness. That was the near-getting-lost event that sticks with me the most because in the depths of Ontario’s forests there are no directional markers. Out West, I would be more likely to identify mountain ranges that would give me a sense of direction and, because the West is so mountainous, it always feels at least a relatively safe bet to just walk downhill. In Ontario, however, there are no peaks and valleys and I can personally attest to the fact that every “viewpoint” from escarpments in the forest looks identical, to the point that even within a two hour hike I convinced myself that my brother and I were walking in an endless circle, destined to die from hypothermia on an unseasonably cold day in October.

Alas, we clearly survived, but that experience has stuck with me.  What made Backcountry even more terrifying was the added element of bear attack. I can think of nothing worse than being near death from a bear attack and also having no idea if you are heading towards safety or further into danger. To say watching this film was a bad way to spend a Saturday night is an understatement. Not only was I left emotionally scarred, albeit temporarily, but it also made me solemnly vow that:

  • I will never hike in Ontario again. Ever. Apparently, bears be crazy out there.
  • I will never go deep into any nature by myself again.*
  • I am done with outdoor survival films as a genre. My naturally anxious self does not need reminders of human vulnerability to the elements…and sadistic wildlife.
*I reserve the right to revoke this second statement at such time that the shock value from watching this film wears off, which is not quite yet, but hopefully soon.

TWIR #75: still fighting the SI battle

Another week has passed and the SI is still not stable enough for me to run. If I’m truly honest, I don’t miss running. I’ve never loved running.  But I do miss the ability to run, and the fitness that comes with it, and not being able to run makes me fear I’ll never be fit again. Of course, I understand that this isn’t actually true, yet it’s how my glass-half-empty little brain works sometimes. With that whining out of the way, here’s what the week’s workouts held:

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: poolside cider consumption: 3
Observations: Ahhhhh, rest days are glorious when they are spent basking under the searing sun, shellacked in layers of sunscreen, and holding a cold cider in your hand (or two…or maybe three…but not all at once, because I’m somewhat civilized). We made it the campground mid-afternoon and proceeded immediately to the pool for lounging and I accomplished no activity except hoisting a drink to my mouth occasionally and then consuming grilled meats and birthday cake before falling asleep at the ungodly hour of 8:30 pm.

Sunday
Activity: hike!
Relevant Stats: 6.5-7 km return
Observations: I haven’t been to Mount Baker in two years and, the second we arrived, I wondered how I’d managed to stay away for so long. It is truly one of my favourite places in the coastal mountains. We hiked a short but ultra scenic trail (also in the blazing sunshine) and enjoyed epic, sweeping views before the smoke rolled in. Also, man am I out of hiking shape!

Monday
Activity: golf!
Relevant Stats: 9-holes, all poorly played
Observations: Okay, okay, I know golf isn’t a workout, but carrying your own golf bag in the blazing heat does make you hot and sweaty as hell. Plus walking uphill with that thing is no joke. My game sucked. It all fell apart when some chick on the second hole totally stole my ball. Granted, my ball had rolled from my fairway into hers, but still I know she just wanted its hot pick-ness. I was not impressed and I swear it’s why the rest of my game suffered, and not at all because I suck.

Tuesday
Activity: golf!
Relevant Stats: a full 18 holes!!!!!
Observations: Somehow it was determined (not by me, I assure you), that I was “ready” to play a full 18-hole course, first thing in the morning and on a weekday when we could be relatively sure we wouldn’t be paired up with actual golfers. I picked up my ball on a few holes so as not to hold up the group behind us, but I consider it a major accomplishment to have been 3-4 shots over par on the holes I actually did play start to finish. It was tiring playing a full round, but my boyfriend bought me a cookie halfway through and I always respond well to treat bribes.

Wednesday 
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I sometimes wonder if my trainer will ever have me stop towing things like a work horse. Seriously, every week she seems to add yet another exercise in which I have a bunch of weight chained to me while I walk, run, lunge or crawl. It’s beginning to be a bit much. On the plus side, and despite my SI being a giant pain in my ass (well, tailbone actually), she assures me my mobility and form look great.  The best part of my session, though, was the very end when she told me we’d done a lot of loading and not to run the next day. I had no intention of running but being ordered not to run feels good.

Thursday 
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: I really wanted to have a good workout, but I slept terribly the night before and then decided to get up super early to fit in a good gym workout. Instead, I managed a half hour then got to work ridiculously early. Also, I was asleep before 9 pm. Early mornings are so not my thing. I am sort of used to them by now, but I still despise them.

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: Much like last Friday’s solo strength training session, I know this looks like a short workout but I promise you it was brutally tough. I forced myself to use the prowler again, even the heinous arm-only pushes which left my arms feeling like jello. There was also a lot of single leg step ups and squats that will likely leave me with tender glutes tomorrow. It felt good and I quit just as my SI was starting to send me its telltale warning signals.

Now, it is Friday yet again and I have to say I like this three-day work week thing. If only my employer would go for that deal…Happy weekend to all and to all a good night.