TWIR #64: the week of exhaustion

I have no explanation for how tired I’ve felt this week. I stopped taking allergy meds late last week, and yet for the better part of the week I continued to feel beyond exhausted. I had little desire to work out, and napped frequently. If this is still related to seasonal allergies, may I be the first to say that pollen can kiss my ass.

Saturday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I think this may have been my only good workout the entire week. I remember being tired, but not so much so that I didn’t force myself to do negative pull ups on my own. That’s saying a lot.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day + putting green
Relevant Stats: amazing 30+ foot putt!
Observations: No, I’m not attempting to claim that going to the putting green is exercise. It is not. I merely wanted to brag about my amazing long putt. Seriously, it was beautiful. It was a fluke, of course, but beautiful nonetheless.

Monday
Activity: yoga
Relevant Stats: 90 min.
Observations: I wrote about this on Monday, but my body simply did not want to do anything remotely intense.  I’d forgotten just how difficult yoga is when you lack any semblance of flexibility.  I wished desperately that I had a legit yoga block. Instead, I had to use various makeshift items like books, or a small upturned basket, or a tin box. Resourcefulness at its best. At the end of the day, my legs felt the best (i.e. least tense and stiff) that they’ve felt in ages, so I think it was the right call.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I sort of thought I’d bounce back from yoga day and be ready for intensity. Sadly, this was not the case.  The early morning wake up call on Tuesdays is always rough, but it felt even rougher this week. My SI and lower back were also causing me issues. My trainer has noticed that my right shoulder isn’t functioning properly again, which is causing me to strain my SI with certain types of motions. Good grief. Will my body ever function properly? I rounded out my day with not one but two naps. I told you I was tired this week.

Wednesday
Activity: mostly an unplanned rest day with some half-assed yoga
Relevant Stats: 30 min. yoga
Observations: Honestly, I was going to do nothing on Wednesday. I spent most of the day dreading any kind of workout. After popping out to run an errand (at 3:00 in the afternoon, no less), I had a brief surge in energy and contemplated a run. By the time I got home, the moment had passed and I thought yoga instead. My heart and body were not in it and I abandoned course after a pretty weak 30 minutes.

Thursday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength training
Relevant Stats: 10 min. stairs + 50 min. strength
Observations:  It took everything, and I mean everything, to get me to the gym. I had no interest in going. Once again, an early morning trip into the city had left me tired and unmotivated. I forced myself to the gym and somehow managed to stick it for an hour. If I’m honest, it wasn’t a great workout. I wasn’t drenched in sweat by the end, so there was little pushing it. Oh, also, there may have been another afternoon nap. WTF.

Friday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7.5 km (!)
Observations: I expected today’s run to be short-lived and painful so I meant most of the morning dreading it. Sometimes the universe hands you a most unexpected good run, and today was that day. All things considered (tiredness, still-not-so-great-SI, mental state, etc.), it felt pretty good and I was able to run a reasonable distance (for me these days).  I do enjoy when my workout week ends on a high note.

There is no hiding the fact that this was a piss poor week for workouts. I can only hope that whatever crippling source of exhaustion struck me this week disappears as quickly as it came. If it is just allergies, all I have to say is:

Pollen, if I’m unfairly blaming you for my tiredness, I’m sorry. But chances are, it’s you.

TWIR # 63: SI, allergies and errands, oh my!

Where did this week go? It’s something I’ve rarely wondered since I left my last job. I mean, when you’re able to take a lengthy work hiatus, I think it’s poor form to complain about time flying by. But I’m gonna do it anyways. This week felt short!  I spent most of it feeling like crap care of allergies and supposedly non-drowsy allergy medication, but I also felt like I was constantly either running from thing to thing or trying to get a whole bunch of life crap in order for some maybe-big-changes-that-I’m-not-ready-to-talk-about-yet-thank-you-very-much.  Translation: I’m glad it’s Friday. Let’s take a look at this week in workouts:

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: roadside bear sightings: one
Observations: We took a quick trip up to the Okanagan, complete with wildlife sightings. My main goal on Saturday was to hit Tickleberry’s for ice cream and fudge on the way to our destination. Sadly, I forgot that summer season is upon us, which turns this roadside ice cream stand into a hellish tourist trap. The lines were insane. I love me some ice cream and fudge, but not enough to wait for half an hour.  I walked away empty handed and sad. Don’t feel too sorry for me, though, there may have Dairy Queen later that afternoon. Even though it felt like sloppy seconds, it was still pretty damn tasty.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: sedentary, sedentary, sedentary
Observations: Well, Sunday was a day of very little motion. Aside from walking to and from restaurants and a seemingly never-ending mission to find healthy road snacks, I basically did nothing active. I sat in a car, then got home and sat on the couch. It was laziness at its finest and I regret nothing.

Monday
Activity: hike
Relevant Stats: 11 km, 400 m elevation gain
Observations: Once again, a formerly easy hike felt like my own personal Everest. I was dying on the way up. My legs were tired, my lungs couldn’t get enough air. I wanted to turn around.  And then it all went to hell. Whatever allergens have been unleashed lately attacked me and I turned into a congested, snotty, sneezing disaster. Damn you, nature.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I barely got my ass out of bed for this session. Let’s just say that 5:45 am felt particularly awful while on allergy meds. Though the workout was still tough, my trainer gave me the most wonderful gift: I did not have to do negative pull ups or push ups.  She told me at most I’d get that once a month. I’ll take it! Just don’t tell her that I sort of missed having them as part of my workout…

Wednesday
Activity: hike
Relevant Stats: 4.4 km, 400 m elevation gain
Observations: I braved the pollen and hit the trails for a short and steep jaunt up the Abby Grind. My energy felt moderately better than on Monday’s hike, though my legs still felt like they were trying to power through quicksand. On top of that, my SI was not loving this hike. By the time late afternoon rolled around, my lower back had stiffened up nicely and my SI was feeling some sharp pains with certain motions. Ugh.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 80 min.
Observations: In efforts to calm my SI, I focused on strength and stability. it seemed to help. I had a great strength workout, and even forced myself to do negative pull ups and push ups on my own. In hindsight, it was probably my trainer’s secret goal to make me feel so guilty about not having to do either exercise in our session that I would feel compelled to do them on my own. She’s a crafty one.

Friday
Activity: run + epic cleaning
Relevant Stats: 6 km test run + 3.5 hours of deep cleaning mode (yuck)
Observations: I’m calling today a test run because my SI hasn’t been happy with me the last week but it’s so off and on that I wasn’t sure if running would affect it.  The good news is that running felt fine, aside from it being brutally hard after yet another week a half without running. The bad news is the crouching over shower enclosures and scrubbing the crap out of them was not so kind on my SI. You win some, you lose some. Also, yes I know that cleaning isn’t really a workout, but I’m going to own it today because that scrubbing was hard work and lugging our giant vacuum up and down multiple flights of stairs also sucks.

At this point, I want to say a big TGIF and dive  into a bottle of wine. I feel it’s worth noting I won’t drink the entire bottle myself.  I could, mind you, but I won’t.  All in all, and pardon the language, this week gets a big:

I mean, any excuse to use a picture of an alpaca, right?

TWIR #62: these weak arms will be the death of me

Welp. After nearly four months of carefree, injury-less living, I tweaked my SI this week. It was bound to happen, I suppose. Still, I was irritated by it.  I’m not in a lot of pain this time around. It’s really only sharp and random movements that are causing aggravation and even that’s pretty minor.  Plus, it was raining all week so I had little desire to hike or run anyway. Look at me, finding silver linings.  Let’s bring the rambling to an end and see what I got up to this week:

Saturday
Activity: hike
Relevant Stats: 12 km
Observations:  Sunshine! Warmth! And on a WEEKEND (!!!)…uh, not that every day isn’t a weekend for me. I got up early and hit the local mountains for a relatively easy jaunt on the trails, combining a few partial trails for a total of 12k. My early start allowed me to escape nature before it got hella hot. By mid-afternoon, we were on the lookout for a way to escape the heat, so we hopped in the car and headed to our campsite, where we swam for a while before walking way, way, way too much and attempting to play tennis against a wall with a wiffle ball (not easy). My legs were done by night’s end. Thankfully roasted hot dogs and wine eased the pain.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: delicious gelato discovered
Observations: On the way back from the campsite, we took a swing into White Rock for an ocean front stroll and gelato. I remember nothing else from the day because good gelato trumps everything.

Monday
Activity: hike
Relevant Stats: 11 km
Observations: I thought a day off would refresh my legs, but it did not. I hiked a trail I’ve done a million times and one that’s pretty damn easy, if I do say so myself. It killed me. My legs felt dead and I was literally dripping sweat (okay, it was also really warm out). Clearly, at my current fitness level, three hikes in four days, no matter how easy, is too much.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 45 min. legit workout/15 min. sad, pitiful workout
Observations:  This is when my weak arms and shoulders let me down. After sets of hanging exercises, negative pull ups and full tricep push ups, my arms were done like dinner. Then we, and by “we” I mean my trainer, upped the weights on our deadlifts. It turned out to be a bad combo.  My tired arms and shoulders lost their form and I tweaked my SI. I seriously wonder at what point my arms will stop feeling like jello from activities that seem like they should feel easier over time. I would like it to be soon.

Wednesday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength
Relevant Stats: 15 min. stairs + 60 min. strength
Observations: Even though my SI tweak was minor, running was out of the question for the rest of the week. It was back to basics instead. My goal was to focus on form, reduce the weight load, and get in a good strength workout. It seems to be the cure-all for my temperamental SI and, sure enough, I felt better after my workout.

Thursday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength
Relevant Stats: 15 min. stairs + 60 min. strength
Observations: Another day of cautionary strength training was on the menu. This time around, I started to increase my weights again and incorporated more stability-focused, single-leg exercises, all completed sans SI aggravation. Win! I rewarded myself with extra peanut butter M & Ms, because I firmly believe that any success, no matter how small, should be rewarded with fat and sugar. This is also why I need to work out on the regular. Sigh.

Friday
Activity: spin + strength
Relevant Stats: 30 min. spin + 30 min. strength
Observations: Good God, I haven’t spun in ages and I forgot how hard it can be. Then, in efforts to make negative pull ups not feel like death, I forced myself to do some on my own. They were even less enjoyable at the gym where I’m certain anyone around me was horrified by my face progressing from pale to red to purple care of my excessive upper body exertion.  I have to keep believing that these will get easier one day…

Now that I’ve survived the week (relatively) unscathed, it’s time to enjoy the return of the sunshine, a couple days of arm recovery (because, seriously, my arms are dead), and a glass of wine or two (or five). Happy weekend!

Monday Musings: the long and winding road

We have had an absolutely amazing couple of weeks weather-wise. For me, any time the sun shines for days on end, I start to feel guilty at the thought of staying indoors or working out at the gym. The trails begin calling to me. Once I answer their call, once I taste that first trail of the season where there is actually a view, where the air’s aroma is that perfect mix of dry pine needles and all the greens of Spring, where the tree canopy offers just the right amount of shade from what’s starting to become a sweltering sun, I am a goner for the rest of the season. I’ll see you on the trails.

This is the state I’ve found myself in these last couple of weeks.   I want to hike. I crave the terrain, the search for ever-higher viewpoints, the familiar rhythm of my steps up steep slopes. The only problem is that my body hasn’t caught up with my mind. Instead, my body is like ‘holy f#^@, girl, you are way too outta shape for this!”

In recent years, a large part of my identity rested on being ‘the hiker girl’. I loved that I was fast on the trail, that I could cover so much ground in a day, that I rarely felt that even the steepest of trails were all that difficult. Now, trails that I would have deemed too easy to even warrant my time leave my lungs winded and my legs sore and exhausted.  In the last four days, I’ve hiked three times, a combined total of 32 km on easy to moderate trails. That was often a one-day distance tally for me and, even spread out over three days, it has left me sluggish and ready for a break. I have used this word before, but ‘humbling’ is the best word I can think to describe it.

No matter how much I want to jump right back into the types of trails I’ve been accustomed to, I won’t be able to do so right away…at least not without accepting that it will be slower, feel harder and, because of this, lead to some frustration. It doesn’t feel good to be in the position where things that were once so easy and natural feel impossibly hard again. The road to injury recovery truly is long. It has highs, it has lows, and it involves many, many (many) rough patches. Even though I am moving forward, ever-so-slowly regaining my hiking mojo, it often feels like two steps back (bonus points for anyone who has that classic Paula Abdul song stuck in their head right now…and I’m sorry).

Every time I push myself on more challenging, steeper and longer trails, it feels like I am right back at square one. I have been here before, though, a decade ago when I took up hiking and made it a mainstay in my life. I have just conveniently forgotten what it felt like to work hard to gain trail legs, growing complacent as my fitness plateaued at a high level. If I pause and reflect on the past, I know that what I’m going through now is just a part of the process, and that every journey has its valleys and its peaks. I’m just looking forward to getting back to one of those peaks some time soon. Until then, I will find solace in the fact that the tired legs and overly laboured breathing are exactly what I need to get me there.

Monday Musings: on metaphysics of injuries

If you read Friday’s post, you’ll know that I have yet another sprained ankle. It’s not a particularly bad one judging by the relative lack of swelling or bruising.  Then again, the one thing I’ve learned about ankle sprains is that after a few of them they don’t swell or bruise as badly.  I used to think that was a good thing when, in reality, it’s just a sign of really bad damage. This is all rather beside the point of today’s post. The point is that my ankle is sprained again and the timing is…interesting.

I was in the midst of a really great run (in the sunshine no less!) when my ankle crumbled beneath me. I could easily look at this from a purely objective standpoint:  I wasn’t paying any attention to the ground, I stepped awkwardly on a rock, and I have weak ankles from past injuries. Long story short, I could just say it was bad timing and clumsiness and call it a day.

Or I could look to metaphysics, which would hold that there is powerful connection between mind and body. Metaphysics provides a more holistic view of our injuries, emphasizing that there is an emotional or psychological root to virtually any physical issue. Where it gets really interesting, to me at least, is when you look at the metaphysical causes of ankle injuries.

Ankles, you see, are critical for a sense of grounding, stability and mobility.  Ankles literally support us and propel us.  Ankle injuries can occur when we feel unsupported, either by others or by our own beliefs; and they can be a sign that we aren’t willing or able to move forward, particularly when moving forward means a change in direction or taking a stand.  Bet you didn’t know how much you need your ankles just to hold your shit together, did you?

This isn’t the first time that I’ve read up on metaphysical causes of ankle injuries (or any injury for that matter), but I was reminded of it on Friday as I killed time icing my foot. What I found particularly interesting was that, just as my ankle decided to go in a different direction than the rest of my body, I was grappling with how to get out of a potential commitment to work I didn’t care about and wondering what I would possibly do in its place. In other words, just as I was agonizing over my crumbling beliefs and fear of moving in a new direction, my poor ankle, that pillar of stability and motion, crapped out on me.  If that’s not a powerful mind-body connection, I don’t know what is.

This is all endlessly fascinating to me, except for the part where I realize that essentially I have to figure out a way to fearlessly forge a new direction for myself…That part’s a little less fascinating, but I suppose eventually I have to tackle the bigger issues, don’t I?

TWIR #56: Evil Ankle Strikes Again

As predicted last week, my week of workouts got off to a pretty poor start care of my parent’s visit. It’s not really fair to blame them. They would’ve been fine with me ditching them for a workout or two. Nonetheless, the weekend turned out to be a write-off.  I tried to bounce back during the week but I have to admit my motivation has still been lacking.  I consider myself fortunate that I’ve built a strong, habitual pattern of working out or I’m sure I would’ve abandoned exercise entirely these last few weeks. As it is, the quality and duration of most of my workouts isn’t what I hoped it would be by now. And then, then there was the whole ankle thing….

Let’s get this over with.

Saturday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: 16 km of walking + one gelato + fish and chips
Observations: Well, at least I walked a lot right? Just ignore the fact that we had waffles for breakfast, that we ate gelato mid-afternoon, and that I ate my weight in fish and chips. Oh, and then there was the wine…So, yeah, all that walking did nothing.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: 12 km walking + deep fried pickles
Observations:  Once again, there was a lot of walking…but coupled with a lot of eating and drinking. There was another big breakfast (eggs and home-made hot cross buns). There was beer and deep fried pickles. There was apple crumble with ice cream. On the plus side, despite having a giant basket of Easter candy (that, yes, my parents still hid for me), I didn’t touch a single piece!

Monday
Activity: cardio warm up + strength
Relevant Stats: 25 min. stairs + 45 min. strength
Observations: Determined to get back to exercise, I got up early and hit the gym. I fit in a pretty decent workout before heading home, hosting lunch for six, and then cooking one last family dinner while my parents were in town. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice it was yet another day that revolved around food. What can I say? My family likes to eat.

Tuesday
Activity: Run!!!
Relevant Stats: 7.75 km
Observations: I had a couple important meetings in the afternoon and wanted to clear my head with a nice little run.  It worked. I was sluggish all morning but managed a decent run. My legs felt like lead for the first 20 minutes but I ran them into submission.

Wednesday
Activity: cardio warm up + personal training session
Relevant Stats: 20 min. spin + 60 min. personal training
Observations: I got to my trainer’s studio way early so I hit the gym for a bit of pre-session spin. Of course I did this on the day when my trainer had me doing 100 lb deadlifts and RUNNING with 110 pounds on the prowler. Oh, we also did more hanging exercises, which I despise, partly because they’re giving me calluses on the pads of my hands. Blech.

Thursday
Activity: cardio + strength
Relevant Stats: 30 min. spin + 30 min. strength
Observations: It was a miracle I made it to the gym. It was a total sad sack day for me, and I wanted nothing more than to stay home all day doing absolutely nothing. However, I had a meeting I had to go to, so I figured I might as well work out beforehand. It wasn’t a great workout, and my legs and arms were still killing me from my personal training session, but I did it.

Friday
Activity: Run(ish)
Relevant Stats: 7 km + 1 rolled ankle (wah waaaaah)
Observations:  I was feeling good today. I was having a great run, in fact. The sun was shining, the air was warm, I was finally running without a jacket (!!!!) and it was glorious. Until I turned my ankle on a rock and catapulted myself forward. Thankfully no one was around to witness the spectacle as my arms windmilled in efforts to keep me from bailing. The only thing that saved me from a total face plant on the gravel path was a wooden post. I was able to brace myself against it. Damn you weak ankles! I suppose this means a week or two without running. Just when I was feeling good about things…

As I sit here RICE-ing my sad ankle, I can only give this week a:

 

 

TWIR #55: not another week of this!

Man, I simply did not want to work out yet again this week. I can see no reason for this, which makes it doubly frustrating. Feel free to mock me for my pathetic efforts this week, and to tell me I’ll never get back in shape at this rate.

Saturday
Activity: Run
Relevant Stats: distance unknown
Observations: It’s probably telling that I can’t even remember how far I ran. I think the run was okay overall, but only okay. I recall feeling somewhat sluggish for at least the first 15 minutes, until my body finally resigned itself to the fact that we were going to continue running. What I do remember about Saturday is I had my final hockey game soft-serve waffle cone of the season while watching my beloved Oilers win. That’s a winning combination (see what I did there?).

Sunday
Activity: strength
Relevant Stats: 55 min. strength
Observations: I had zero desire to work out on Sunday. I wanted nothing more than to lay on the couch watching the Masters while simultaneously devouring a very tasty looking apple fritter.  In fact, I should thank that apple fritter for getting me to the gym. I suspected it would taste better if it followed a workout, and I was right.

Monday
Activity: sort of planned rest day
Relevant Stats: 1.5 hours pacing while attempting to memorize a presentation
Observations: Tuesday was meant to be my rest day, but the rain wouldn’t stop falling and then I got panicked about a presentation I’m designing and I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around a workout. Instead, I spent the better part of a whole day designing a 20 minute presentation (which is absolutely ridiculous) and consuming far too much Munchie Mix.

Tuesday
Activity: cardio warm up + strength
Relevant Stats: 10 min. stairs + 10 min. spin + 40 min. strength
Observations: It was all I could do to last an hour. I tried stairs and hated them. I tried the spin bike and hated it, too. I gave strength training a try and can’t say that I liked it much better, but I hung on for dear life and managed to stick it out for an hour at the gym. Ugh.

Wednesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I know I say this every week, but my trainer really is way too giddy about my steady improvements. She just keeps adding more and more things to torture my poor shoulders.  My legs seem to withstand anything she throws at me, but my arms and shoulders are constantly screaming out for mercy. And they never get any.

Thursday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength
Relevant Stats: 15 min. stairs + 55 min. strength
Observations: I intended to run but my parents are visiting and it was late afternoon before I knew it. One thing that tends to be consistent about me is that if I don’t run in the morning I won’t run at all. I settled for the gym instead. I may not be gaining running fitness but, damn it, I’m going to be strong.

Friday
Activity: “run”
Relevant Stats:  20 min.
Observations: We have guests. I ate a big breakfast. We ran out of time before family dinner with my boyfriend’s parents. All of these are excuses I offer for the lame 20-minute “run” that capped off my week of sad and sorry workouts. I am not proud of myself, but I suppose it’s better than doing absolutely nothing.

I think we can all agree this was (once again) not a banner week for workouts. Even after two weeks of ultra low workout motivation, I still have no inner drive to push it hard next week. In fact, I fear the remainder of this weekend will continue to feature completely half-assed workouts and will likely be coupled with ample Easter candy. Lord help me.

Happy Easter y’all. May Cadbury Creme Eggs find their way into your weekend.