TWIR #87: getting back to it

Another week of nothing but strength training and my body is starting to bounce back from its latest and greatest SI issues. I also haven’t even thought about the torturous spin bike in so long that it seems like a distant memory. I do not miss it. I am, however, sort of starting to miss running. That’s not an entirely accurate statement. It’s that I miss the thought of running, the freedom of being able to throw on shoes and work out at a moment’s notice. Having to go to the gym, on weekends in particular, feels like such a burden and ten times more time consuming than a quick run.  I suppose this is why they say you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Great, now I am thinking about cake…

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: co-hosted brunch for 17 + ate more cake (with ice cream no less)
Observations: I believe my cumulative step count for the day was at an all time low. I know that I walked fewer than 2 km, which is just insane and trust me when I say my sciatic was not pleased with me. Even though I certainly wasn’t walking, I did stand around on hard, unforgiving floors for probably close to six hours straight. In other words, my body wasn’t happy with me by end of day, so I absolutely had to appease it with cake and ice cream and a very, very cheesy made-for-tv Christmas movie.

Sunday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: golf!
Observations: I was going to go the gym, I really was, but the forecast had promised me sunshine which convinced that I had to spend as much of the day as possible outside. If you had lived through almost three straights weeks of rain, you’d feel the same. Well, the sun didn’t exactly show up but it didn’t rain either, so we hit the links for a 9-hole round. I did squeeze in some bench push ups and step ups while waiting to tee off, so it wasn’t a totally write off for activity. Plus, there was a lot of jumping up and down when I got my par. That’s gotta work the heart muscles out, doesn’t it?

Monday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations:  I honestly have little recognition of what I did in this workout. This seems to be a Monday-related thing. Perhaps the horror of returning to work after the weekend combines with the exhaustion of returning to early mornings to render my memory utterly useless.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min. (upper and lower body)
Observations:  My trainer never ceases to amaze me with her ability to repeatedly integrate activities that I absolutely despise into my workouts. This week’s torture: something she calls prowler supermans. Basically this involved getting into a low squat with the prowler in front of me and keeping my arms/shoulders anchored and straight as I pushed the prowler forward to a plank position, then walked my feet back towards the prowler while still keeping my arms/shoulders straight and anchored, which is then repeated over and over again. Across the whole damn length of the carpet. It’s hard to explain. What you really need to know is that it sucked. A lot.

Wednesday
Activity: strength training (mostly lower body)
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations:  My goal for this workout was to get my back squats back into action with a reasonable amount of weight, and I succeeded. I’m still not back to pre-SI-reinjury weight, but I’m getting closer. Also, I forced myself to do negative pull ups after weeks of avoiding them. In the moment my arms felt fine, but I assure you they did not feel fine on Thursday.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min. (mostly upper body)
Observations: Even after the dreaded negative pulls ups from Wednesday, I wanted to do a bit more work with my upper body. By the end my triceps and shoulders were screaming, which I assume means I did a good job of testing my arm’s limits (which continue to be very, very low).

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 30 min. (mostly lower body)
Observations: I added another ten pounds to the prowler! I can’t say I even noticed the difference so I’m going to add another ten pounds next time around. After the hellish exercises my trainer makes me do with the prowler, standard high and low prowler pushing feels like a vacation. Bring on the weight! I also forced myself to try dead lifts on my own, which I’ve been afraid to do since the evil kettle bell incident a couple weeks ago. I kept the weights on the light side and checked my form before each lift and I am pleased to announce I have emerged unscathed!

I feel pretty good about this week. I didn’t fit in a lot of long workouts, but I do believe the workouts I had were quality workouts.  I’ll have to keep that momentum going this weekend, though, since I’m travelling Monday and Tuesday and others have micromanaged my schedule to the point that there is no hope of a workout. Sigh.  I’m trying not to think of that for now. Instead, I’m thinking of wine and holiday treats and two blissful days of freedom.  Happy weekend!

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TWIR #86…for the second week in a row

Apparently, I can’t count so last week I posted TWIR 86 when it should have been TWIR #85. I know the only person that cares about this is me, so I’ll just move right along.

This was an interesting week for workouts. It was my first week experimenting with no cardio, and I have to say that it felt liberating not to contemplate suffering on a spin bike for 40 minutes. It also proved to be challenging in ways. Varying my strength activities over six workouts was more difficult than anticipated, as was making sure that I didn’t overdo it since my SI was still a bit wonky. I survived, though! So let’s see what I got up to.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: carb and sugar overload
Observations: Well, I ate a dulce de leche donut, which was heaven. I then reintroduced rice with some pretty mediocre sushi, which made me sad since it’s been a month since I had sushi and I was so looking forward to it. I topped it off with the white chocolate peppermint M&M fiasco.  It’s safe to say I ended the day with a pretty serious stomach ache.  Lest you think I did nothing but eat all day, we also walked to the farmers market and attempted to Christmas shop forgetting it was still black friday hangover (i.e. it was very short lived). My point is, we did walk and we did leave the house so, yeah, that totally makes all the carbs and sugar okay.

Sunday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: After Saturday’s aggressive carb-ing, I opted to hit the gym on Sunday. My SI was still tender but I stuck to controlled movements, just with more weight, and emerged from the gym unscathed. I also avoided any contact with carbs or sugar. Not surprisingly, it was easy after Saturday’s gluttony.  Also, we decorated!!! Although most of our decorations are in storage, we have just enough to make our place feel cozy and festive. Bring on the holiday season!

Monday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: Another good day of strength training! I even got back on the prowler, albeit with a little less weight than usual. I can’t say my SI was thrilled with that move, but it held out and didn’t suffer more than the occasional twinge.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: After two day’s of strength training, I neglected to consider just how tired my arm muscles might be. One set into push ups with shoulder taps and I was whining to my trainer about my arms being tired. She must just love working with me. She took things fairly easy on me as I’d told her about my SI setback last week, but she did make me use sliders for bear crawls and reverse plank walking, both of which were torturous and, quite frankly, uncalled for.

Wednesday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 30 minutes
Observations: I jammed in a short morning workout when I realized I wouldn’t have time to step out during the workday.  I’m starting to get my weights back up, with the exception of back squats, which my SI and back seemed to outright reject with any weight above 50 pounds. Ugh. Still, I wasn’t on a spin bike suffering through cardio so I was a happy camper. The workout was short and sweet, which would have been fine if I hadn’t downed a massive apple fritter and two glasses of wine after work.  I swear there’s a good reason! Two actually! First and foremost, I’ve been madly craving a donut since the weekend and sometimes you just have to give in or you’ll drive yourself mad. Secondly, I got some good news at work worthy of a small celebration.  Most importantly, after that fritter, I’m done for donuts…at least until the weekend…

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: I learned a very important lesson today: don’t eat a giant bowl of tuna salad on lettuce and then go for a workout. For some reason, I always assume the whole don’t-eat-a-giant-meal-before-a-workout thing only applies to cardio. It does not. There is nothing quite like the feeling of doing ab work and seriously wondering if it might actually cause you to vomit.

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: Oh, prowler, how I both love and hate you. I went back to full weights today and it was hard and I hated it but I was happy that my SI seemed okay with it. It’s still not liking back squats with any real weight, but I will beat it into submission next week. For now, I’m just going to accept that I had a good week of workouts all things considered. Time to bring on the weekend!

Here’s hoping all your weekends start to include some festive cheer. I know mine will. It’s December, people, and only 24 days to Christmas and you better believe that is cause for festive celebrations!  Happy weekend y’all.

Training Tuesdays: working out without carbs

Look, there are tons of legit nutritionists and experts who’ve written at length about how your body can perform without carbohydrates. I’m not going to attempt to counter their assertions, which I’m sure are scientifically backed, with what is essentially just my own experience. But damn it, this is my blog and I am still going to tell you about my experience. I’m just going to preface everything I write by saying a) I’m not attempting to refute science and b) my experience is  100% uninformed by science.

I’m going to do a whole post on my very brief experience with the ketogenic diet, but for today I’m just going to focus on how low carb eating has impacted my workouts for the last week and a half. Let me just say in no uncertain terms: my workouts have sucked since I gave up carbs (!!!!). There is no point in mincing my words. Let me bombard you with my list of negative workout experiences:

–inability to lift my usual weights without my muscles feeling like they’ve spontaneously atrophied
–inability to sprint or hill climb at my usual spin bike tensions without feeling like I’m trying to push my bike against the weight of the world
–workout dread (i.e. inability to muster the will to workout out of the fear of just how bad the workout will be)
–zero energy for intense cardio activities like running (I’m talking feeling winded and fatigued after, like, one minute)

As you can see, it’s been a crap week for activity. Spare me all the research that shows that this is just a phase, or that it’s because I’m not eating enough fats to fuel my workouts. I have read all the articles about how it takes time for your body to adjust to ketosis and to properly fuel your workouts with fat. I don’t care what the reason is, I care about the result, and the result is that my workouts have been abysmal since I gave up my sweet, sweet carbs.

I fondly recall my relatively peppy carb-fuelled workouts from a mere week a half ago and dream of their return. At this stage, I don’t want ice cream or cake. I don’t even want pasta. I just want some bloody oatmeal, which is arguably the saddest of the carbs.  I’ve tried to rationalize eating oats because they’re low on the glycemic index, but I know full well that they are still not acceptable on the ketogenic plan.  So I do not eat them, and instead suffer another day of crappy workouts.

Perhaps I am just too impatient for this diet. Or perhaps my body just needs some damn carbs to muster up the strength for a legitimate workout.  Either way I look at, the best possible answer seems to be: eat some carbs.*

*Although I’m not sure how much longer I’ll stick with ketogenic eating, truthfully I am not throwing in the towel quite yet. This post is mostly tongue in cheek…but I really would like a bowl of oatmeal…and the fact that oatmeal is the carb on my mind really does make me sad.

TWIR #82: back to 6!

Back to six days of workouts for the first time in a long time. Even on the days where I contemplated bailing on a workout, I dug deep and dragged my ass to the gym (sometimes even walking through torrential Vancouver rain). At week’s end, I can say I feel good about that. I will feel even better when I eat birthday cake tomorrow. Cake makes everything better.

Saturday
Activity: park workout!!!!! (i.e. running intervals + strength)
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I live for a my weekend outdoor workouts! The park is so lovely in the mornings, especially with this week’s low fog during the sunrise. It makes running laps in between sets of exercises so much better than being in the gym. We rounded out the day with a solid walk and with beer…on a patio…at the end of October. You have to seize a warm-ish, sunny day this late in the year. I’m convinced if you don’t take advantage, it causes a bad winter weather curse to descend upon the city in which you live.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day + walking
Relevant Stats: 13 km, one tragically disappointing hot chocolate and a very large slice of vanilla salted caramel cake
Observations:  It was another warm-ish, sunny day, so after hitting the most dreaded of malls in the lower mainland to run some errands, we hit the outdoors for an epic walk. I splurged on a hot chocolate wanting nothing more than a heavy crown of whipped cream, only to be insulted with the smallest possible swirl of whipped cream you can imagine. Now maybe you understand why I had to drown my sorrows in a giant piece of cake.

Monday
Activity: spin + after work walk
Relevant Stats: 40 min. spin + 60 min. walk
Observations: I do not know what happened, but spinning has become tolerable again. I still don’t love it, but at least I can last more than 30 minutes and I’m not slacking off for a good portion of the workout. I am doing some seriously challenging hill pyramids these days and my hamstrings are feeling the burn.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: Good lord, as if it wasn’t bad enough when my trainer made me tow the tiny sled-thingy loaded with weights, this week she made me tow the damn prowler. Let me just say, that prowler does not glide nicely like the tiny sled-thingy. I was doing walking lunges with just 50 pounds on the prowler and I almost fell backwards after the first step. That prowler was not budging. Suffice it to say, the whole workout was rather brutal.

Wednesday
Activity: spin + after work walk
Relevant Stats: 40 min. + 45 min. walk
Observations: Another spin workout in the bag. It was solid, even though after Tuesday’s training session, my legs wanted nothing to do with sprints. Hills for the win! I think this was also the first day after Halloween in years that I didn’t wake up with a humongous sugar hangover.  Also a win!

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: I loaded more weight onto the prowler and my legs were not impressed. I also doubled up on my negative pull ups so my arms were similarly unimpressed. I supposed it is a sign of a good workout when your body is angry with you. But the most exciting thing about Thursday was that we had snow mixed in with rain on the way home(!!!!!). I am team snow all the way so I was thrilled, even though social media has convinced me that I’m in the minority on this one.

Friday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: I came so close to spinning for 45 minutes today. So close! But then I did some hard core sprinting in my last planned drill care of some particularly upbeat music and my legs were just done. All in all, I feel good about this week in workouts, so I feel like the five minutes of slacking was totally appropriate.

With Friday’s workout and work day done, it’s time to catch up with some friends over deep fried pickles. They sound disgusting but I promise you they are delicious. There will also be wine involved which, as far as I’m concerned, is the hallmark of a good Friday. Happy weekend y’all!

TWIR #81: walks and workouts and Fall leaves

It’s been a good week. I’ve felt like my workouts were on point, and we’ve been walking almost every day after work. I have to tell you, the Fall scenery is spectacular this year. I don’t recall so many changing leaves in Vancouver, but there are golden yellow and flaming red and orange trees everywhere. My Instagram feed is full of this autumnal splendor. Here’s what I got up to this week:

Saturday
Activity: strength + running intervals
Relevant Stats: 60 min. (!!!)
Observations:  It was pouring rain, like the pelting, giant rain drops we get out here on the west coast. I had to begrudgingly let go of my track workout and hit the gym instead. I was reminded of how much running on treadmills suck. I don’t think it’s that the treadmill itself is that bad; it’s that they insist on anchoring mini TVs on every single treadmill. I cannot watch a TV that close to my face, and I hate having my entire field of vision blocked by the TV when it’s turned off. Ugh. But, aside from that, the workout was solid and my longest self-directed workout in some time.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: this should tell you everything you need to know: road donuts
Observations: We drove up to our new hometown to check on progress of our house and to meet with the developers on Monday. As such, I spent most of the day in car, with a donut in my hand. We did manage a short stroll through town once we got there, but mostly I just ate bad foods and sat on my ass.

Monday
Activity: semi-planned rest day
Relevant Stats: more car time! and a neighborhood walk
Observations: What goes up, must come down. We drove up on Sunday and down on Monday. We finally made our choices about flooring and cabinets and paint. I gather that women are supposed to be more excited about these things, but can I tell you that I have zero interest in picking colours and tiles and laminates, etc.? I mean, I want the place to look good, but I have no skills in interior design. Ugh. Most notable event of the day: the best poppy seed, cheddar and apple scone (sounds like a weird combo but I assure you it’s not) I’ve ever had.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session + after work walk
Relevant Stats: 60 min. session + 60 min. walk
Observations: After two weeks off from training sessions (my trainer was off hiking in Peru–lucky!), I was back to 6 am workouts (yuck). I feel like she took it easy on me. I still had to do prowler presses, but I did not have to do any of the following despised exercises: push ups, pulling stuff behind me, negative pull-ups or front squats. She also told me my form and mobility looked good. Excellent.

Wednesday
Activity: spin+ after work walk
Relevant Stats: 40 min. spin + 60 min. walk
Observations: Determined to get back on the spin train, I opted for a different approach to this spin session: return of the epic hill pyramids. I did a 12 minute hill pyramid (6 min. up/6 min. down) and it helped considerably to make the workout feel shorter. I also think I just had good energy. Some workout days are better than others. What’s most important is that I didn’t want to set the spin bike on fire.

Thursday
Activity: strength training + after work walk
Relevant Stats: 45 min. strength + 50 min. walk
Observations:  This was one of my best solo strength sessions in a while. I loaded extra weight onto the prowler and my back squats, and did negative pull ups AND push ups. I normally subject myself only to one or the other since my arms continue to resist multiple forms of torture in one workout.

Friday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 4o min.
Observations: Hallelujah! Two good spin workouts in one week! It’s as though some new music in my playlists has made a world of difference. Or maybe it’s knowing I’ll be able to get outside this weekend and won’t have to suffer the gym. Either way, it was a solid workout.

After a fine week, we’re gearing up for a (rare) Fall weekend of sunshine. That should mean a return to my track workout (yay!), lots of walking (double yay!) and maybe even some late season golf. This, coupled with the release of Stranger Things’ second season, has me practically giddy! Happy weekend.

TWIR #80 (!!!): Getting Back to It

I just had a moment when I realized that somehow I’ve been doing training weeks in review for 80 weeks. That’s more than a year and a half. It’s cliche to ask where does the time go, but seriously, where does the time go? Okay, that’s enough existential questioning for a Friday afternoon. Let’s get on to workouts. This week was a marked improvement over last week’s shameful cake consumption and relative lack of legitimate workouts. Here’s what I accomplished:

Saturday
Activity: outdoor workout (!) + walking
Relevant Stats: 45 min. mixed running and strength + 15 km walking
Observations: I love, love, love having a legit track by our house. Saturday morning, with only half a cup of coffee in my belly, we hit the local park for a mix of running laps and various strength exercises. Nothing is cooler than doing walking lunges, walking side lunges, hip bridges, push ups and step ups, among other things, while all the other people running or walking the track stare at you. We then walked a collective 12 km running errands and generally taking advantage of a rain-free day. I felt really good about the day’s activities, until we went for a six-course meal with wine pairings at Hawksworth, the richness of which most definitely counteracted whatever benefit we gained through exercise.  The meal was absolutely worth it.

Sunday
Activity: walking
Relevant Stats: 12.6 km
Observations: I keep telling you walking isn’t a real workout and then I keep listing it as my workout. It was too nice a day to waste at the gym, and since I’d already run on Saturday there was no way to do an outdoor workout near the house. Walking was the answer, and trust me when I say it felt like we walked way farther than 12.6 km. At times, it seemed like our walk was never ending, and my legs were tired as hell.

Monday 
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: After being in a hotel gym and out of town for a week and a half, it felt fantastic to be back at my gym.  There were prowler runs and negative pull ups and the triumphant return of kettle bells (seriously, why do hotel gyms never have kettle bells?). It was a good workout day.

Tuesday 
Activity: attempted spin & strength training
Relevant Stats: 20 min. spin + 25 min. strength
Observations: I tried to do just cardio, I really did. The thing that used to happen with me when I ran all the time is happening to me with spin now: I hate it. I get on that bike and I want off immediately. I used to get that way when I ran all the time, and my runs would just get worse and worse until I forced myself to take a break. I need to take a spin break, but with not being able to run it’s tough to find an alternative. At any rate, I opted for more strength training after hopping off the bike despite my sore arms and legs from the day prior. I felt certain I would be in a world of pain on Wednesday.

Wednesday 
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: I know just one day prior I said I needed a break from spin, but I really don’t know what to do with myself for cardio when I can’t run. I hate the elliptical and it never feels like a real workout. I hate the rowing machine and my arms were way too dead to attempt that. That staircase machine terrifies me (I always feel like I’m going to trip and seriously embarrass/injure myself). All that to say I attempted spinning again, and had the same awful result. I could not make myself pedal a second longer than 35 min.

Thursday 
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Two words: prowler presses. Ugh. These kill my arms but I forced myself to do four sets. By the end of this workout, my muscles were very clearly saying to me “NO MORE STRENGTH TRAINING THIS WEEK!”  My arms, in particular, are not pleased with multiple days of strength training. My legs are a little bit more tolerant of it, but even they were kind of like “can we get a break?”.

Friday 
Activity: spin + elliptical
Relevant Stats: 30 min. spin + 10 min. elliptical
Observations: Oh that spin bike. It is really, really killing me these days. I knew within 5 minutes that it was not going to be a good spin session. After half an hour, I threw in the towel and tried to crank the hell out of the resistance and incline on the elliptical to make it a decent workout. Even on the elliptical, my legs were telling me that they were done like dinner. Sometimes I just have to accept that bad workouts will happen.

Now, as I write this, the sun has actually emerged after three days of heavy, disgusting, West Coast rain that has rendered walking outside beyond unattractive.  As much as I love writing, I love being outside in the sunshine more, and I know this sunshine is not going to last for more than a couple of hours. So happy weekend y’all! I’m going for a walk!

Training Tuesdays: reflections on a year without any real running

I sometimes cannot believe that it’s been a year and a half since my injury. At first, I tried to get right back into the rhythm of regular running, determined not to lose an ounce of fitness.  I realized, though not as quickly as I should have, that jumping back into running was doing my injury no good. I pulled back on my running a little bit, then a little bit more, then even more than that.

Now, a year and a half later, I’m reflecting on a year of negligible running. I went from consistently running 10-15 km, 3-4 times per week to training for an ultra marathon to going weeks on end with no running at all.  My longest run since last October? 7 kilometres.  Even that distance is a…distant (pun intended) memory. I used to so firmly believe all these (mostly irrational or untrue) things about running that my running and exercise routines were bordering on obsessive. On the other side of my injury, I can see how my overly rigid views about running weren’t always healthy. For instance:

1. Running is the only way to stay fit: Sure, my cardiovascular fitness and endurance are a far cry from what they used to be, but it doesn’t mean I’m not still fit. I was just incredibly super fit back then. What I am now is hella strong. Just the other day I did tricep dips for the first time in about a year (my trainer and I never do tricep dips, but trust me when I say she gets my arms working), and they were so easy. I remember that I used to struggle to do five. So yeah, maybe I can’t run a 10k anymore, but I can rock multiple sets of tricep pushups, deadlift 110 lbs, run with 90 lbs on the prowler, and do negative pull ups  That’s something.

2. I’ll get fat if I can’t run: I’ll be brutally honest and admit that my running obsession started out mostly as an attempt to counterbalance my serious sweet tooth.  I always thought if I didn’t run, I’d have to cut out any and all sugar. Well, I eat way less restrictively than I used to, never run and, though I don’t know the exact number, I don’t believe I’ve gained anymore than 10 lbs. And you know what? I’m happier not obsessing over running an extra 5 km several times per week just to keep that 10 lbs off.

3. I have to run for a long time to see running’s benefits: I used to plan my days around my workouts and runs, sometimes fearing I was bordering on obsessive. If I didn’t run for at least an hour, I didn’t feel like I’d had a good enough workout. Well, the tides have changed. Now, 45 minutes of non-running is a good workout day for me. I workout less, have more flexibility in my daily schedule, and I don’t feel any worse for it.

I’ve said before that I sometimes struggle with the fact that I may never run distance again, but honestly I think those moments of struggle just reflect remnants of my old ways of thinking about fitness. The reality is that my SI is way more stable since I’ve stopped running. I’d probably be happy getting back to one or two short runs a week, and that’s more because I like to exercise outside than anything else. If I never run an ultra, never run half marathons or, hell, even if I never run a 10k again, I think I’m going to be just fine.