TWIR #72: dead legs

I tried running twice this week and both times I had nothing but dead legs. I hate heavy legs when running. I can handle being out of breath. I can handle general muscle or joint pain. I can handle boredom and tiredness. But heavy legs are my kryptonite. I just want to throw in the towel and kick my workout to the curb. It’s especially frustrating because I know my legs are strong and I know I am not overtraining. There is no excuse for heavy legs. None.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: first successful day at the driving range!
Observations: I had my best day on the driving range by a long shot, and then got to eat birthday cake, so I think we can agree it was a good day. It wasn’t an active day, mind you, but it was a good one.

Sunday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: You have no idea how close I came to lounging around like a champ all day on Sunday. When we got home from camping, I had little desire to do anything. I thought about running but, ugh, running has sucked so much lately. I thought about going to the gym but, ugh, I don’t want to drive on the weekends when I drive so much during the week. Long story long, I did an at-home strength training workout that actually did a number on my glutes.

Monday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 5 (measly) km
Observations: I was excited for this run…until I started it. My legs had nothing in them. I instantly blamed Sunday’s wine and the fact that I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep. Maybe those were contributing factors, but it almost doesn’t matter to me. I’m tired of constantly having crappy running experiences.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: My training session was like a gift from heaven: no active hanging, no negative pull-ups and even no pushups (!!!!!!).  I mean, I did have to pull a weighted sled along the ground like a horse, so it wasn’t all fun and games, but I will never complain about my trainer leaving my upper body alone for a week.  Then I went to see my physiotherapist at the end of the day and, man, did he do a number on the muscles around my sciatic nerve. I thought it had helped, but it really didn’t.

Wednesday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 6 km
Observations: I thought I’d do a run to test if my sciatic and sacroiliac were back on track. The answer: nope. Not only was my run crappy, yet again, but it also left me with sciatic twinges and lower back tension. When will this injury just leave me the hell alone?  Yes, I was feeling sorry for myself.

Thursday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: I’m beginning to think lunch time workouts are just not going to work at this job unless I finally get the answer to the seemingly unanswerable question: how do I get my access card programmed to let me into the office tower gym? Seriously, I have now asked four people, none of whom know nor can to direct me to someone who might. Long story long (again), it takes me too long to get to and from the gym so I ended up with a crappy 30 minute spin workout.

Friday
Activity: really nothing but sort of strength training
Relevant Stats: 20 minutes
Observations: I’m not going to lie, I wouldn’t have lasted much longer. My SI felt like a ticking time bomb today. Every exercise felt one stop closer to a total meltdown. But the real kicker was that 17 minutes into my workout one of my meetings got rescheduled for a half hour earlier, so suddenly I had a choice: lie and say I had a conflict or suck it up and end my workout. I hemmed and hawed during a set of step ups and my SI was the deciding factor. I was done.

Now it’s Friday and I have an exciting night of packing my china set to look forward to. Living the wild life, I am.  Maybe I can scrounge up some wine to accompany the packing. Yes, that seems like a wise choice. Happy weekend y’all.

TWIR #69: work is bad for my body

Well, I am now three weeks into the new gig and it’s safe to say it’s not been kind to my body. Since starting I’ve had the nagging fear that my sciatic is about to wreak havoc on me and, by the end of the week, my SI was back to it’s annoying old ways. I’m working hard to convince my better half that this is a sign I should take more time off work. No job is worth my body falling apart yet again. So far, he’s steadfastly resisting my attempts to retire early.

Saturday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 6.5 (awful) km
Observations: Good lord, this was not a good run and there was no reason for that. It was overcast and cool for the first time in days. I’d had a good night’s sleep. I even had a breakfast apple fritter for fuel (don’t worry, I also had an egg on toast for actual sustenance). Come to think of it, maybe the apple fritter was to blame. No matter, it was a bad run and my lower back wasn’t happy with me the rest of the day. As it turns out, that was the beginning for my sciatic and SI issues. Moral of the story: don’t run on the weekend. It’s just not worth it.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: 3.5-4 holes of a 9-hole golf course
Observations: The lone form of exercise for my day was carrying the golf bag for the last two holes. I certainly got no exercise from my game since it was such an abysmal disaster that I completely gave up.

Monday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I consider this one of two good workouts the entire week. I was a bundle of energy care of going to bed at 9pm on Sunday night. I did hills. I did sprints. I did standing hovers. It felt good. Even my SI appreciated the lack of impact and forward lunging. The week was off to such a promising start!

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I am convinced that, despite all my efforts, my arms and shoulders are actually getting weaker. I was dying during this workout, and literally dripping sweat. Of course, that could’ve been due to the fact that their AC was out. Trust me when I say that lack of air flow in a small, training studio does NOT lead to pleasant aromas. My SI and sciatic seemed fine during and after the workout, which lulled me into a false sense of security for Wednesday’s planned workout…

Wednesday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 6 km
Observations: Ugh. Running mid-day in the summer is no bueno.  For a city with so many trees there was a surprising lack of shade on my chosen route. It was hot. I was sweaty. None of the water fountains I ran past shot water more than 1/8 of an inch beyond their spout. Gross. Although a terrible run, I was still happy to fit in a workout after the ridiculous morning events that caused me to miss my usual a.m. workout. On the downside, my SI and the muscles surrounding my sciatic nerve were less thrilled with my workout choice. As it turns out, they weren’t ready for a run yet.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I got up earlier to get to the gym earlier and somehow still ended up with only a 45 minute workout before hauling ass to work where I narrowly missed making it to my first meeting on time.  On top of that, my SI was not digging the vast majority of exercises and, by the end of the day, was feeling decidedly like the old days and that is not a good thing. This only cemented my belief that work is bad for my body.

Friday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: You know those mornings when you just don’t want to get out of bed, and even once you’ve been up for the forty minutes it takes you to drive downtown to the gym, and even still once you’ve been on the spin bike for a solid 10 minutes, you STILL refuse to resign yourself to the fact the workout is happening? Yeah, today was that day.  In the name of honesty, I’ll tell you that I used lighter tensions whether I was climbing, seated, standing or sprinting. I do believe that this particular spin bike feels harder than the one I usually use, but that could also be a total cop out.  On the plus side, my SI was a little better today. I’m hopeful that by avoiding running over the weekend it will work itself out. Wishful thinking rarely gets me anywhere, though.

Alas, me and my questionable SI are going to sail off into the weekend with a glass of wine in hand as we organize for a townhouse complex garage sale. Personally, I think it’s an idea fraught with potential to be a total shitshow, but we also have a ton of stuff that we really need to ditch. What better way to spend half a Saturday, right? Yes, that was laced with sarcasm. Happy weekend, y’all!

Mid-Week Tangent: an open letter to my hotel ‘fitness center’

Let’s just forget that I should be posting about gelato, shall we? I didn’t have any over the last week. None. My heart hurts at the thought of wasted gelato opportunities. In the place of my usual gelato sins, I instead express my dissatisfaction with my hotel gym. With any luck, next week I will return with new gelato reviews. Until then, here we go…

Dear hotel “fitness center”,

I have intentionally put quotations around your name because you have over-promised and under-delivered. You bear only a tiny resemblance to an actual fitness center. When I think of a fitness center, I think of an inspiring health venue where I can access a wide variety of equipment that allows me to maintain my fitness. I think of a bright, open space that accommodates many guests. Since this is quite a tall hotel, I can only assume it houses many who may wish to work out.  You, my hotel gym of the week, you should call yourself what you are: a dungeon gym. It would most definitely help to manage guests’ expectations.

I know, it sounds harsh, but sometimes we have to hear the bitter truth in order to improve.  You are literally located in the basement, which is only the first of your many issues.  Because of your underground locale, you are dark and windowless and filled with stale air.  Honestly, I could get over all of that if you weren’t also smaller than my living room. I assure you, my living is not gargantuan. I live in a row townhouse. These are not known for having monstrous great rooms.  It is modest and works for what we need. Your tiny space does not work for what I need.

I imagine that there are something like 300 rooms in this hotel. Even if you are only at 50% occupancy right now, and even if only 5% of your guests actually want to work out, you cannot reasonably support that volume of activity. And we all know that your guests are working out either first thing in the morning or after whatever work day or conference they’ve attended.  You hold four people at a time, max.  And there is no way that more than one person could be doing any form of strength training at the same time, what with the six inches of free space you’ve provided around your lone bench (more on that later). In other words, your size is woefully insufficient. Bigger is not always better, except when it comes to fitness centers.

This is still not your greatest fault. No, your greatest fault is your utter lack of equipment. I get it, you focused on the basics: a couple treadmills, a couple ellipticals, a bike, one bench and some free weights.  The problem is that you overlooked some really simple, and not overly expensive additions that would go a long way.  How about some kettle bells? How about some weighted bars? How about a spin bike that actually costs less than that fancy stationary bike that doesn’t give you half the workout? How about a versatile cable motion machine instead of your random assortment of strength machines that take up more space and offer less options? Give me variety!

Sorry, hotel gym, all I’ve done here is criticize. I suppose it’s not your fault, but rather management’s fault that you are so down and out. Still, I have to be clear: I won’t be using your services on my next stay. Although I despise working out at work, my company does provide a free, and far better, fitness center for me. I will choose sweating in front of colleagues over the dungeon.

All the best.

TWIR #67: exhaustion reigns

It has been a week, my friends. Starting a new job is no cakewalk for the energy levels. I wrote a whole post about it that never saw the day of light because I was too tired to edit and post it.  My workouts have been the best they could be in light of the fact that my schedule has not been my own and I am still trying to figure out what’s culturally acceptable in terms of mid-day workouts at my new job. The only thing I know for sure is that I’m tired. So, so, so tired.

Saturday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 6.5 (painfully hard) km
Observations: Have you ever thought it was a good idea to throw your own birthday party? Let me spare you the trouble: it’s not. I spent the whole day running around buying food and drink, and getting the house tidied. I had to cram a run in first thing in the morning, which is my least favourite time of day for a run. It felt awful start to finish, but at least it was early enough that it wasn’t hot out yet.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: cake for breakfast! golf! gelato! more cake!
Observations: Birthdays are supposed to be gluttonous, right? I firmly believe so, and my own personal challenge seemed to be how much crap I could consume in one day.  At least we walked a fair bit and golfed. I doubt either did anything to combat the calories, but you only turn 38 once.

Monday 
Activity: cardio warmup + strength
Relevant Stats: 15 min. spin + 20 min. strength
Observations: This was by far my worst workout of the week. My legs felt like lead on the bike. I had zero interest in strength training. It was a true workout fail. Mondays. Ugh.

Tuesday 
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: This workout can be summed up by the following phrase: return of the negative pull ups. Damn I hate those things. Everything else in the workout was hard but manageable, but those negative pull ups leave me hating life. I guess the pushups were also kind of painful, but I am starting to accept them as a necessary evil of working with a trainer.

Wednesday 
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7 km (without coffee!)
Observations: I forgot to set the coffee maker, which meant a caffeine-free early-morning workout, something that I never do. Apparently, I should do it more often. While by no means was this an easy run, I also didn’t feel like I was going to die. It may have helped that I was able to run oceanside in the cool, morning sunshine.  I have missed my waterfront runs since moving to the suburbs.

Thursday 
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 50 min.
Observations: Hallelujah for a decent cardio workout! Fuelled by feeling utterly overwhelmed, I did more sprints that I’ve ever done in the course of a spin workout and I hate sprints. I also had a good, old-fashioned, cathartic cry on the drive home so it was a rewarding day for the body and spirit.

Friday 
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: After an unexpectedly wonderful commute downtown and an earlier-than-expected arrival at the gym, I had high hopes for a stellar workout to round out the week. It didn’t quite meet my expectations. It was a solid strength workout, but not as intense or lengthy as I’d wanted. I might blame forgetting to set the coffee pot (again! ugh!) for this one. As much as it didn’t seem to make a difference for my run, I do think coffee helps with early-morning strength workouts.

Sure, it wasn’t a banner week for workouts, but I am highly impressed that I worked out every single workday. I promise you it didn’t feel easy some mornings when the comfort of bed was almost too much to tear myself away from. Now at least it is Friday. For a moment I thought that meant sleeping in, but I fear weekend sleep-ins will do nothing but wreak havoc on my workday sleep cycle.  Working life, what a drag. I sometimes wonder why I decided to go back…

TWIR #66: oh insufferable heat

We pacific northwesters are so delicate when it comes to heat. We complain bitterly about the never-ending rain and grey skies that plague us for about 10 months of the year, and then when the sun finally graces us with its presence we all walk around saying things like “ugh, can you believe this heat?” You just can’t please us. I am typically a fan of the sunshine and warmth so long as I don’t have to do anything terribly taxing.  But let me tell you, it takes a toll on my running, which has already taken a bad hit this past year.  On top of that starting a new job threw my workout schedule into a tizzy. Translation: this was a bad week for workouts.

Saturday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: 9-hole round of golf + campground-walks-with-wine
Observations: I had really good intentions of running. Really good.  I don’t even know what happened but the option of golf was presented to me and I’m determined to get better so I had to say yes. Then by the time we got back it was hella hot and the only solution was to drink poolside ciders. Obviously.

Sunday
Activity: sort-of-planned rest day
Relevant Stats: 9-hole round of golf + laziness
Observations: I knew a proper Sunday workout wouldn’t happen after Saturday’s cider and wine fiesta. Plus it was hella hot again. We opted for another round of golf. Although not at all strenuous, standing around in the sun waiting for my turn to tee off made me sweat enough to fool myself into thinking I’d worked out.

Monday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 6 km
Observations: Determined not to let the whole long weekend get away from me without at least one workout, I forced myself to run. After a weekend of laziness and drinking, it did not feel good. I am amazed I even lasted 6 km.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations:  We were back to our usual training shenanigans, which meant all manner of unenjoyable exercises.  This week’s worst exercise prize went to pulling a prowler loaded with weights while doing walking lunges. I’ve always felt bad for animals that have to haul lazy humans around (horse-drawn carriages, dog sleds, etc.). Now I feel even more sorry for them.

Wednesday
Activity: attempted run
Relevant Stats: 3 km (no, that’s not a typo)
Observations: This run went nowhere fast, literally. I had zero gas in the tank, zero motivation, and it was so, so hot even though it was only 10:30 in the morning. After one particularly long uphill stretch, I called it quits. Also, the steady flow of sweat dripping down my back and into my pants (I know, it’s TMI) was very unpleasant. I thought I’d go to the gym to make this into a decent workout, but it was my last day of freedom before starting work so I opted for 48 Hours Mysteries instead. I think that was the right call.

Thursday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: first day of work…eek!
Observations: I knew I wasn’t likely to fit in a workout and I was right. Between the ungodly early morning and meeting a million new people, which is about my least favourite thing, I was ready to crawl into bed by 4:30 pm. I haven’t had a headache in ages, but I had a raging one by the time I got home. It wasn’t a bad day, but man going back to work is rough. I barely made it to 9pm before falling into an epically deep slumber.

Friday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength training
Relevant Stats: 15 min. spin + 20 min. strength
Observations: This wasn’t the workout that I envisioned. I had great hopes of a full hour workout. Somehow I underestimated the commute downtown combined with the walk to the gym and found myself short on time.  I worked up a good sweat but even I know it still wasn’t enough to make up for the rest of the week.

This is a shameful workout recap. I am going to blame the heat even though I know that wasn’t really the cause. I like a good scapegoat.  All I have to say right now is TGIF.

I feel you man.

TWIR #65: energy rebound

I am not at all religious but I’d like to say a big thank the lord almighty that my energy seems to have returned this week. Maybe it was the extra rest days I’ve been scattering throughout my week, which begs the question of whether I should always take more rest days. Or maybe, maybe I’m just a master at finding any avenue to be lazy. No matter, it was a better week. Let’s just leave it at that.

Saturday
Activity: run/hike
Relevant Stats: unknown distance, 40 minutes
Observations: I started with a hill run that felt like death care of my our weekend getaway being in a town about 500m higher in elevation than our home town.  Then I discovered a network of trails and had to keep climbing and climbing because that is what I do when I discover trails that lead to better views. It was worth it, and I felt much less guilty about all the wine consumption later that night.

Sunday
Activity: sort of planned rest day
Relevant Stats: high amounts of car-sitting
Observations: Well, I could have revisited my trails Sunday morning, but I just didn’t want to. Instead, we had a leisurely morning before packing up the car and heading home, which was fine until we hit the Fraser Valley at which point the never-ending stop and go traffic made me want to tear my hair out. I wasn’t even the one driving. Road rage is real my friends.

Monday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: mother f*@#ing carpet cleaning completed
Observations: I will never again in my life clean carpets myself. My lower back was wrecked from two measly sets of stairs. Between the carpet cleaning and errand running, I had little time nor energy left for a workout. I attempted a run and made it half a block before my lower back said a flat out “bitch please!”

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: OMG I broke a full on sweat and my legs were burning by the end. We took it up a few notches and had a legit workout and suddenly I realized that my two weeks of abstaining from any real strength training was palpable in every single one of my muscles. Note to self: don’t slack on strength training anymore.

Wednesday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7 km
Observations: It was the perfect day for a run. It was cool and overcast and I was psyched to run without heat. You can probably predict that the cool and overcast weather lasted for about 1 km of my run. Murphy’s Law clearly states that the sweltering sun will come out at the precise moment I think that I’ve lucked out with perfect running temperatures.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I strength trained on my own! And with full sets! And mostly with full weights! I even forced myself to do negative pull ups. After the last two weeks, I considered this to be a major feat.

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: My plan today was to do a short hike in the Fraser Valley, but apparently hoards of people trying to make an early long weekend getaway wreaked havoc on the highway.  All I know is that it wasn’t moving and our radio traffic station listed at list four major problems. The hike wasn’t meant to be. It then took me almost an hour to get myself off the highway and to the gym. Excellent use of time. At least my workout was a good one. I feel good about a couple of decent strength workouts this week since I’ve been slacking in that department lately.  With this workout in the books, I’m ready for the weekend. Bring on the sunshine, beer and campfire hot dogs!

Let’s keep this train rolling and let’s celebrate the moment that seemed to spur on a decent week of workouts:

Yesssssssss.

Happy weekend.

TWIR #65: Running on Empty

Well, I have been firing on all cylinders this week out of necessity and my workouts have suffered. Was it better than last week? I guess. But that’s not saying a lot. It is frustrating to experience back to back weeks of poor workouts, and to feel like I’m regressing in both fitness and strength.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats:  really-not-restful-day-of-housework
Observations: I worked all day and my only reward was a shitty gelato.   Actually, that’s not true. I also had a delicious fish burrito (tasted better than it sounds) and I cooked absolutely, utterly, undeniably perfect salmon. It was really perfect, so much so that I will likely never replicate it.

Sunday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7 km
Observations: Welp. This felt hard. I commend myself for doing at all.  I wasn’t feeling a workout but knew that taking the whole weekend off was a bad call for my emotional well-being, and that a Father’s day BBQ would surely mean eating a lot of crap (and by crap I mean delicious but not the healthiest of treats). Though not a substantial run, this seems to be about my max these days so I guess it wasn’t so bad.

Monday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength
Relevant Stats: 20 min. stairs + 25 min. strength
Observations: Good god, I do not want to do strength training these days. When you regret getting off the stair machine, you know it’s bad. I hate the stair machine. It is one of the most boring pieces of exercise equipment that exists, perhaps second only to the elliptical. It makes me long for the Rogers Arena staircase that was so near my old home. Sigh. At any rate, the second I started doing strength work I wanted to stop. I did only three sets of anything, and barely used any weight and I could not wait to get to a cumulative total of 45 minutes of exercise because that felt at least reasonably respectable.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: My shoulders were not happy with anything this entire workout. Stuff I’ve been doing for ages felt impossible. My lower back kept getting tight in any exercise involving carrying weights above my head. It was the kind of workout that makes you want to throw in the towel. Then I had to kill three hours downtown,and pay $9 to park for an interview. All I wanted was to go home and take a nap, but those plans were immediately foiled by a pressing need to run around like a chicken with my head cut off for four hours straight. Thankfully there was Dairy Queen. My boyfriend knows how to soothe my anxiety and squelch my grumpiness.

Wednesday
Activity: abby grind (“hike”)
Relevant Stats: 4 km, 400 m elevation gain
Observations: I don’t think my hamstrings have ever felt tired when I’ve hiked, but they did during this hike. While it’s fascinating to pay attention to the ever-changing landscape of my muscular responses, I’m sort of over it right now. I’d like a workout that just feels good, please.

Thursday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 43 min.
Observations:  This run was even worse than Monday’s. Oh, the walking breaks were plentiful. 43 minutes seems like a decent amount of running time but I am embarrassed to admit the meagre distance. Most days I am quite kind and accepting of my current running fitness, but other days I am like a hyper-critical record stuck on repeat, “I can’t believe how slow I am now.” It’s not helpful.

Friday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: it’s not just laziness
Observations: We are hitting the road today and that means there’s no time for a proper workout. Okay, that’s a lie. But I ran yesterday and this body is not ready for back to back running days, and there is no time to fit in a drive to the gym, a workout and the drive back. If you ever need an excuse for bailing on a workout, you know where to find me. I will pack workout gear under the guise that I will actually work out this weekend when, in reality, I will probably drink a lot of wine and eat a lot of ice cream instead.

Though I’m generally unhappy with my body this week, I do suspect that stress is playing a part in my recent downturn in energy. I’m optimistic that answers and decisions over the next week or so will lead to a rebound in energy.  Fingers crossed. Now happy Friday! Go and get yourself a glass of wine (or an alternative vice of your choice).

This has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but cute baby animals always make me feel better so it felt like the right way to close off the week.