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.

Monday Musings: life lessons from the driving range

This weekend, we went to the driving range. Usually, this is not a happy experience for me. More often than not, I hack away at the ball and never seem to make any progress. Even when I try, my balls veer hard left or scuttle across the ground only to settle about 20 yards away. On this latest occasion, however, I hit ten times better than I ever have, most shots dead straight and even several good shots in a row (note: by “good”, I also mean good for me, which is still terrible by actual golfing standards).

When I considered what could’ve contributed to such a marked improvement in my shots, I knew it was more than just using my new hand-me-down clubs.  What really seemed to make the difference was slowing down my swing. In the past, I’ve tried to power through my swing as quickly as humanly possible, assuming that the faster my swing was the better my shots would be. As it turns out, the slower my swing is, the better the contact with the ball, and the better the shot. I was hitting balls higher and farther with less effort.

It occurred to me that perhaps I should give thought to what else in my life might improve with slowing down. Lately I have felt like I am constantly running from thing to thing. I get up, rush to get dressed and to the gym, rush through my workout, rush to get ready to go to work, work all day, battle rush hour, rush to throw together dinner and lunches and breakfasts for the next day, rush to pack my gym clothes and work clothes for the following day, rush to write a blog post, and then go to bed. Weekends aren’t always much better. That’s a lot of rushing. And it’s exhausting. I constantly feel exhausted.

How can I bring some of the benefit of moving slowly to my life? I need to feel like my life is less harried and rushed.  With a golf swing it is easy; it’s all about being slow, methodical and focused. In life that seems more challenging. However, I do believe that part of my feeling so rushed and overwhelmed is the mental clutter and chatter surrounding all the things I believe I need to do quickly.  What would happen if I were to pause, to focus on one task at a time? What if I could close myself off from the 9000 other thoughts that I have and just get that one thing done first? What if I weren’t always trying to do two things at once because I assume it’s faster? Would I actually get more done? Would I actually get it done faster? Would I feel less overwhelmed?  I don’t know the answers to these questions for sure, but I do think it’s worth testing this theory out.

TWIR #71: I need to pay attention

I said last week felt like the longest week ever and I may have been wrong, because this work week was only four days and it felt every bit as draggy as last week. On top of that, I lost focus during my training session and tweaked my SI yet again. I’m still convinced–and, I might add, my physiotherapist did not fully disagree–that work is not good for my body.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: bitchy comments to major cellular carrier, check
Observations: We flew out to Alberta to surprise my mom for an early 70th birthday celebration, and then took her out to get her a smartphone because she’s wanted one forever and has been stuck with a flip phone. I’m proud to say she’s already a texting machine with a full grasp of emojis. Excellent. In the process, however, I went full-on bitchy customer on a very unhelpful cellular carrier staff member. I mean, seriously, we don’t have a lot of competition in Canada but there are choices. Sidenote: seriously, Canadian cellular plans are just over-the-top expensive.

Sunday 
Activity: “hike”
Relevant Stats: 5 km
Observations: I call this a “hike” because really we travelled at a slow pace and barely gained any elevation and were surrounded by hordes of other hikers doing the exact same thing.  Still, we walked in nature, which constitutes a hike in my mind, and also justifies post-hike nachos and beer.  Don’t judge, it was hot as hell and cold beer was in order.

Monday 
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: shameful experiences on the chipping green and driving range
Observations: Good grief, I am certainly not making any progress on the golf front. I meant to work out after we flew home but by the time we ran our grocery errands and did our food prep for the work week, there was no workout happening. I settled for some time at the golf course, but other than sweating from heat and from the anxiety of nearly launching a ball right at the stranger next to me, it most definitely did not count as a workout.

Tuesday 
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: It was going all fine and well until I got distracted during a kettle bell dead lift and lost my form. There went my SI and then the rest of the workout was modified. The good news is that even my modified workouts these days are legit. I no longer have to downgrade to barely moving, and simply lower the weights and eliminate the negative pull-ups and other hanging exercises (which I personally consider to be a huge win). Still, I was pissy about it because, well, it’s been a solid year and a half and I’m f’ing tired of this nagging injury. Ahhhh, that felt good to let out.

Wednesday 
Activity: spin + stretching/core
Relevant Stats: 30 min. spin + 10 min. stretching/core
Observations: I blame the prowler sprints for this terrible workout. My legs were dead. I got stuck on the spin bike that feels 100 times harder than any other spin bike and this half hour sucked the life out of me. I was also cranky as all hell because I dragged my ass out of bed ridiculously early, encountered unusually heavy traffic and got to the gym 10 minutes later than usual. I dread the rapidly approaching September and all the increased traffic volume it brings with it.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 50 min.
Observations: While I avoided any single-leg loaded exercises, I didn’t take it easy today, particularly on my arms. They were done like dinner by the end of the workout.  Then I went to visit my dear physiotherapist, who I haven’t seen in months, and who battered my tender soft tissues like a sadist. At least I got the laser treatment at the end. I love those laser treatments with all my heart and long to be able to afford my own one day. It’s only $30k. Easy peasy.

Friday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I admit that I half-assed the first ten minuts, but then my body miraculously woke up and the rest of the ride was smooth sailing. Okay, ‘smooth sailing’ might be an overstatement, but it was okay. I was also pleased to see that yesterday’s laser treatment  seemed to have taken the edge off my SI pain.

And so the week has come to a close, and I am left feeling disappointed by my progress yet again. I am certain that my fitness is regressing by the day, yet I feel minimal motivation to change that. On weekends, in particular, I want nothing more than to lounge aimlessly, clutching a glass of wine, and dream of the day when every day is the weekend. Happy Friday.

 

Trail Tuesdays: Hiking in Herds & Finding Trail Joy Anyway

Many of us hit the trails because they offer reprieve from the noise and stress and busyness of daily life.  In nature, we find quiet, often solitude, and the ability to hear nothing but our own breath and footsteps.  The calming effect cannot be denied.  Research has shown that being in nature can lower blood pressure, stress hormones, heart rate and muscle tension. In other words, nature for the win!

Sometimes, though, we don’t find quiet and solitude on the trails. As an example, this weekend we tried to take my mom into Kananaskis to get her nature on. What we encountered en route was a highway jammed with traffic care of long weekends, and three accidents in a 50 kilometre stretch. A plan B was in order but, unfortunately, that plan B involved swarms of other nature seekers.

Instead of tranquility and solitude and the peaceful hush of nature, we found:

-a crowded parking with illegal parkers blocking valuable driving territory and hikers wandering aimlessly mid-road

-the constant drone of loud conversations

-trail “traffic jams” (i.e. getting stuck behind large groups and a steady stream of slow walkers)

-a canyon floor full of hikers milling about like cattle on the range, rendering humanless picture-taking a near impossible task

Sounds awful doesn’t it? It’s certainly not my ideal. The reality is that more of us are trying to escape to nature and you don’t always have the time nor energy (nor fitness level, in my case!) to seek out the more remote and lesser known trails. Never fear, though, for you can still enjoy the well-travelled trails even when they’re crowded. Here’s how:

1. Shift your mindset: When we arrived and I saw herd upon herd of hikers swarming the parking lot, my first thought was ‘get me out of here.’ But then I realized that we were out for a family day of fun, a little bit of fresh (albeit slightly smokey) air, and to celebrate my mom’s birthday. All she wanted was to be outdoors with her family. This trail met all those criteria. I had to get over my attitude.

2. Enjoy the company: If everyone else around you is going to be talking and yelling and laughing and hollering, join in the fun. Talk and laugh and drown out everyone’s noise with your own.

3. Whenever possible, choose the lesser-travelled path: Along the route there were numerous places where the path split and rejoined later. We always choose the lesser travelled trail and, in those moments, you could almost forget that there were upwards of a hundred other hikers within a kilometre of you.

4. Look up (waaaaaaay up…okay, that reference will be lost on anyone who isn’t a Canadian child of the 80s who watched the CBC classic the Friendly Giant):  It was next to impossible to take a picture without people in it, unless I looked up. But there was so much to see that I would have missed otherwise: canyon walls (even some hieroglyphics!), blue skies, spired peaks, and even the odd hoodoo.  Looking at things from a new perspective really can make all the difference.

And so, even if you’re forced to hike with the masses, you can still connect with the joy of nature. Get out there!

Looking up and finding a peak peeking out (see what I did there?)

TWIR #70: the longest week ever

Good God, was this the longest week ever or is it just me? All day Tuesday I thought it was Thursday, which is never a good sign. Somehow I also managed to confuse myself about this being the short week at work when it’s actually next week. I am so done and ready for the weekend.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: earned a cool $200 at our garage sale and scored a shitload of free boxes and packing paper
Observations: At first I was very bitter about devoting my entire Saturday to the likes of garage sales and driving 35 minutes each way to pick up a bunch of boxes. In hindsight, it was necessary and having packing materials for free is a huge win. The patio cider after all our chores was particularly rewarding.

Sunday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 6 km
Observations: I waited too late in the morning to run and it was hot and horrible. I am really not loving running lately. Because I never run more than 6 km these days, I’m certainly not getting any fitter and, therefore, it never feels easier. I do believe that when cooler Fall temperatures roll around, running will suddenly and miraculously start to feel easier. I have to believe this in order to even keep attempting to run.

Monday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I slept terribly Sunday night, probably because I drank too much wine and cider on a work night. I never learn. As a result, Monday’s workout was all sorts of unpleasant, but I persevered and even upped my weights on some key exercises. Unfortunately, in the midst of a kettle bell clean, I tweaked my SI slightly. Damn you, unstable body.

Tuesday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I had planned to take Tuesday off because I’d forgotten I already took a rest day on Saturday. By the time I realized this, the only time of day available to me was the dreaded apres work time slot. I was super irked about this as it’s my least favourite time of day to exercise. However, I will say that my post-work spinning feels way better than my early morning spinning. I think my legs like to be good and awake before I submit them to high-tension seated hill climbs.

Wednesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: Push ups, negative pull ups, passive hangs, and crawling while towing a weighted platform behind me. It was about as fun as it sounds and I had rug burn patches on my knees for the rest of the day from crawling on that fake turf. Ugh. But my trainer said my body looked fairly solid during the workout and, aside from the passive hanging, nothing seemed to aggravate my SI.

Thursday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 6 km
Observations: When there’s an air quality advisory due to wildfire smoke, it’s probably not the best idea to run outside. What did I do? I ran outside. I was clearing my throat the rest of the morning and had a headache most of the day, but I survived this run and thankfully it was a lot cooler than Sunday’s run. It was also the last run for this week so hurrah for that!

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 5 min. warm-up + 45 minutes strength
Observations: Single-legged exercises where I have to attempt to keep my hips level continue to cause my SI issues. Weighted bench step-ups were not feeling so hot on the old SI today, but I pushed through and focused on form as much as possible.  The low point of my workout was almost killing myself stepping onto a bar I’d left laying on the ground. For a brief moment I saw my life flashing before my eyes, and also suffered the humiliation of being in clear view of at least a dozen gym-goers. I’m so graceful.

With that, the week is over.  Time for some extra long weekend fun. Bring on the smoke-impeded sunshine, patio ciders and outdoor fun!

Omg, elephants are the cutest. This makes my Friday even better.

Mid-Week Tangent: the bitter truth about trail tuesdays

Every week when I sit down to write posts, I am reminded of the fact that my Trail Tuesday posts have all but disappeared. Why? Because I haven’t hiked a single damn trail the entire month of July. That’s right, me, the so-called hiker, hasn’t hiked a single step for an entire month. I am as surprised as anyone. This kind of hiking hiatus hasn’t happened since my pre-Banff days, which was a whopping 8 years ago. Even last year when my sacroiliac was barely holding it together, I managed to hit the trails at least weekly.

I had all sorts of plans for getting back to trail shape in time for summer, for hitting the trails regularly. The weather’s been gorgeous. I live closer to some of my favourite local mountains. My nagging injuries have been staying (relatively) at bay. All the necessary ingredients were there for the taking, and I partook not even once.  I can rattle off a list of excuses a mile long, many of which are totally legit. I was away house-hunting two weekends of the month. I had my birthday weekend. We had a community garage sale. All of this is true. But the real bitter truth, the toughest pill to swallow is the actual truth: I haven’t felt like hiking this month, nor this season in general.

When the thought of hiking crosses my mind, instead of being excited, instead of madly researching what trail to explore next, I quickly squash the thought altogether. I’m tired from starting a new job.  I don’t feel fit enough to navigate the types of trails I love. I don’t feel like getting in my car and driving after dealing with rush-hour commutes Monday-Friday. It feels like there’s a million things to do related to moving. The allure of fresh air, epic scenery, unobscured vistas, none of these currently competes with my desire to be still, to relax, to be totally and completely sloth-like lazy.

I don’t know if my hiking mojo will return this summer. Maybe once the chaos of new job, house sale, finding a temporary home and finalizing all the small details for our new home dies down things will change. I still have a couple of months to seize the hiking season. But if I don’t, if my mind and body continue to tell me to chill out, I’m going to try not to beat myself up every Tuesday when I have no trail stories to tell.

Monday Musings: Change, change and more change

Pull up a chair and let me tell you some of the big things on the horizon that I’ve subtly alluded to over the past couple of months but never really talked about. Behind the scenes, we’ve been quietly working away at some big-time moving and shaking. It’s been exciting, exhausting, stressful and, at times, utterly overwhelming.  But mostly it’s exciting.

We are moving! To the Okanagan! The heart of wine country (in Canada, at least)! Lakes! Rolling hillsides! Slower pace of life! Yes!!!!!

I don’t even know when or how it all started. At some point while I was still on my work hiatus, we got the crazy thought “what if we sell our house and move to the Okanagan?” It seemed like a pipe dream at the time, but slowly we started investigating the situation. On a wine weekend, we hopped into an open house smack dab in the heart of wine country. While that particularly property wasn’t the right fit for us, it was the small action that set us off on a path to full-blown can-we-actually-do-this research.

Now, not even two months later:

  • I’ve started a new job for which I had to negotiate a trial period of working in a different region.  The jury’s still out on whether it will actually work, but we’re going to give it a whirl.
  • We’ve staged, listed and sold our current house and have to be out October 1st.
  • We bought a new house that won’t be ready until February 2018, which means…
  • We’ve been on the hunt for a temporary rental to carry us between our move-out and move-in dates.
  • My partner in crime has resigned from his job and will wrap up work in two short weeks, at which point he’ll start looking for work in our new ‘hood.

There have been a lot of stressful weekends driving up to the Okanagan on a moment’s notice. There’s been a lot of last minute cleaning in preparation for showings (thankfully the real estate market is ridiculous here and our house sold lightening fast). There’ve been a lot of mid-day phone conversations about upgrades and offers and counter-offers. There’ve been flurries of emails to mortgage brokers, realtors, relatives, rental agents, and prospective employers. So yeah, we’ve had a lot of stuff on the go in a short period of time.

Chances are things won’t slow down much for the foreseeable future. While it’s tiring a lot of the time, and certainly gets in the way of consistently blogging, it all feels like the right move (pun intended) and I couldn’t be more excited for the future.  Change is rarely easy, especially when you combine multiple major changes all at one time, and yet sometimes it’s exactly what you need to align your life with your priorities.

We’ve wanted a number of things to shift in our life. We’ve wanted a slower pace. We’ve wanted to have a life that doesn’t revolve around stressful jobs that pay well but don’t necessarily hold personal meaning.  We’ve wanted to be closer to some of the things we love (golf, wine, new trails for me to explore, etc.). We’ve wanted to get as close to mortgage free as possible so that we have more time and need less work to do more of the things we love. We couldn’t envision any of that happening here in the Lower Mainland. While the move isn’t going to instantly satisfy all of these wants, it will get us considerably closer in the short term. In the long term, it creates the ideal conditions for a life we’ll both love.

So for now, even in the midst of the stresses and annoyances of moving (ugh, moving, am I right?) I am trying to remind myself of all the positives on the other side.  Bring on the change!