Monday, December 09, 2013
I have today and tomorrow off. Finally took my road bike into the LBS for some much-needed attention. And then I headed for the gym.
A very large part of me wanted to settle in for a long winter's nap. It's still unseasonably cool here - highs in the 20's, overnight lows in the single digits. I'm usually okay with cycling down into the mid-20's, but I can't seem to get myself to do it so far this winter.
I swam for a bit. I spent most of my time in the pool backstroking just to get in a brief cardio workout. I tried a bit of Total Immersion Swimming drills. My most recent a-ha! moment proved to be true: I was letting my head drop entirely too low into the water. I found a "sweet spot" at which my body is balanced but my head breaks the surface. Sadly, I can't hold it very long because my neck/upper back muscles are weak. WEAK. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK.
I then headed upstairs for strength training. I'm really making progress in that department. I'm using Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon, and instead of doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps with a weight that's heavy enough that you really struggle to do the last few reps, HSTT calls for one set of 20-30 reps with lighter weight. The suggestion is to quit with enough left in the tank that you can do one or two more quality reps. Form is really critical. HSTT means NO crunches, but to adequately train your core muscles, you have to engage them when lifting.
There's a lot of stuff done on a physio ball or a BOSU ball. Boy howdy, do those do a number on me! I'm supposed to be doing push-ups on a medicine ball. I use a BOSU ball instead - I can't do one quality push-up, so trying to do one with my hands that close together is probably impossible. I did seven lame push-ups on my toes and the remaining on my knees. I can really feel them in my shoulders. There was a time I could knock out twenty-five push-ups. Who knows - I may be able to do that again some day!
I've never been able to do a pull-up. The club has a machine that assists you - the most weight it will offset is 112 pounds. I've increased the number of pull-ups & chin-ups each time I've done a workout. I managed 6 (almost 7!) of each today. I've always wanted to do a pull-up. I'm confident that I will be able to do a pull-up some day, unassisted. I have no idea how long it will take me to get there, but it's going to happen.
I went to the club with a really lackadaisical attitude. I knew I was going there to workout, but I wasn't enthusiastic about it. I wasn't terribly enthusiastic post-workout, either. But I guess that was an important test: I didn't really want to workout, but I did. I love cycling, so even when I was ambivalent about riding, I knew that once I got warmed up I would be happy I was on the bike. (I've only regretted one ride in my life: the hell ride through the Yakima Firing Range on the Iron Horse Trail. No, the Army wasn't firing at us, but it was a truly awful ride. Worst ride of my life. The Hubs and I agree: the only good thing about it is that we never have to do it again!) But cycling is different: the ride is a joy in and of itself. A workout for the sole purpose of a workout is a different frame of mind for me.
It's supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow, but still in the mid-20's. If my knees are up to it, I may try to go for a short run. Last week, I ran two miles on a treadmill. I think I'd rather risk frostbite than go for another two mile run on a treadmill.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Today was our annual office retreat. If "retreat" brings up an image of an exotic location and relaxation, you've never been to one of my office's retreats. I work for a poor rural county, and while the county commissioners can find money to re-do their offices or travel, the rest of us make do. Our retreat was held at the local historical museum, which is an old Carnegie library.
There's a little meeting room in the basement. And a Carnegie library was built at time when builders had no consideration for clumsy or otherwise challenged people. And I'm normally not one of those people, but I to be careful nonetheless. But this morning, well ...
As I walked in the front door, something on the upper level caught my eye. I was reading the sign - I think it said something about some historic event that occurred at the desk behind the sign - while I was walking toward the stairs to the basement. And because I wasn't looking where I was going, I failed to notice the fact that there were steps down right in front of me.
On the plus side, I landed on the landing, rather than tumbling the entire way down the stairs. And while I'm going to be melodramatic, the most severe injury I suffered was to my pride. Why my pride? Because most of my co-workers were already there. Those who didn't see my tumble managed to get up and move to the base of the stairs in time to see me sprawled out on the landing.
My primary points of contact were my left knee and the left side of my face. Something - probably my glasses - cut my temple. In a way, I'm glad it bled because I think I would have had a heck of bruise if it didn't. My knee is scraped and I'm thinking it's going to bruise up pretty good, too. I have a bruise on my right knee, too, and on my left hip.
My neck is a little stiff, so I probably gave myself a little whiplash. I tore a hole in the knee of my trousers, and my ankle is a little tender, too.
I spilled lunch on my grey sweater. I dabbed a napkin in water and tried to minimize the spot the the spaghetti sauce was going to leave. Sadly, all I did was transfer the red dye from the napkin onto my sweater.
I'd planned to go for a swim, but after the morning I had, I feared I may have drowned. Maybe tomorrow.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
I did a strength training workout last Monday night, using Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon. Had a nice chat with Nick, one of the personal trainers at the club. He'd just earned his USA Cycling coach certification that day - good on ya, Nick! - and was really interested in the book I was using. He mentioned there's a swim coach at the club who's awesome. I told him that at some point, I'll contact him about setting up personal training.
Nick seemed baffled by my insistence upon muddling through my first tri, and then seeking out a coach when I feel like I need to improve. I don't think it was just because he's trying to drum up business. He has a very valid point: if you have good instruction at the outset, you don't have to unlearn bad habits. But that's completely counter to the way I do things.
That kind of set me to thinking: if I understand the value of working with a coach from the beginning, why am I so opposed to doing so (other than just plain stubbornness)? Well, here's the answer:
I don't like being told what to do. And yeah, I know NO ONE likes being told what to do. But in my case, even when I know the person is right, I resist following their advice until I get to the point I realize I need it. As in NEEEEEEED it. Then I'm receptive.
I skied for several years before paying for a private lesson. I was a darned good skier, too. I could ski anything groomed, but I fell apart off the piste. The ski instructor diagnosed what I was doing wrong on the first run. He gave me one piece of advice I could use that completely changed my skiing. A few years before that, I would not have been receptive to what he had to say: I had too much else going on in my head. But I hired him at a point where I knew I needed help to improve, which meant I was going to actually listen.
And so, Nick, that is why I am going to continue walking around in the fitness center with a dog-eared copy of Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon under my arm, flail about in the pool trying to teach myself to swim, and loosely follow my own training program. In a year or so, I will realize that I've learned as much as I can and improved as much as I can on my own: like a drunk hitting rock bottom and being ready to dry out, I will be ready to listen to someone else.
The fitness class tonight is Group Power. It's a good strength training workout, but I think I'm going to skip it and do my own strength training program tonight. Not sure if I'm going to do my standard 10-minute warm up on the rowing machine or if I'm going to try running a few miles on the treadmill. I ran a couple miles on the treadmill a few nights ago. That's miserable. But it's crazy cold here right now, so running outside is out of the question. I'll bring along my mp3 player - maybe that will make it suck less.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
This morning I went for a run. That was my first physical activity in a week. I ran a 3-mile route in the neighborhood. About a mile of the route is a dirt road along the irrigation canal. Switching from running on asphalt to running on dirt always puts a little pep in my step.
We're no longer under an air stagnation warning, but there's still a blanket of fog in the area. It's been like this for days. I don't have any pre-existing conditions that make me sensitive to bad air, so unless there's a bad air warning for the general public, I continue to exercise outdoors. Perhaps it was a combination of the cold (below freezing) and the questionable air quality, but my nose continued run and I kept sneezing until the drugs kicked in.
My new Garmin is a disappointment. I like the graphic readout of my heart rate. But, as is typical for Garmin, the user guide is not included with the product: you have to go online to get it. And I finally got my interval training plan loaded on the device (5 minute warm-up, 2 min run followed by 1 minute of walking), but it's worthless. It doesn't beep to alert me when it's time to move to another intensity; the readout flashes. I have to press several buttons to get it to start in on the next intensity. And it thinks I want to warm up for five minutes before every interval.
Since it doesn't do any of the things I thought it would, I'm better off just letting it keep track of time. At least that way it beeps when my heart rate gets too low or too high (it doesn't do that during intervals). The problem is, I usually run in the dark. I was hoping for an audible signal so that I don't have to keep pushing the "light" button and staring at the watch.
On the plus side, since it doesn't alert me when it's time to slow down, most of my 2-minute runs were longer than two minutes. I ran for 2:30 a few times, and 3:00 once. Clearly, it's time to up the length of time I run.
Which puts me back to using Endomondo on my phone. I have it set to talk to me every minute. But because it's freezing out, I keep the phone in my pocket. I need to buy a set of headphones for it, so I can hear it when it talks to me. (The jack on the headphones for my MP3 player is ever-so-slightly too big. I've jammed it into the phone once; I had to grasp the thing with my teeth to pull it back out. Figgers: it's a Blackberry. No reason to think I can use my $3 headphones. I'm sure Blackberry makes a proprietary headphone for its phones that are overpriced. Oh, the price I pay for my refusal own an Apple product or turn my life over to Google!)
I'm hopeful I will make it to the gym today for strength training. But we have tons of chores to do, and only so much time to do them. The Seahawks are on Monday Night Football this week, so there's no game tomorrow. On the plus side, that gives me a wide-open afternoon on Sunday to do with as I please. (Which means chores and gym, although I'd love to get in some quality time with Call of Duty.) The down side is that means if I go to the gym for a fitness class Monday night - which doesn't cut into the time I can spend with the Hubs, since he doesn't get home from work until 7:30-8-ish - I won't be watching the Seahawks. Which matters little, because the outcome of the game is not dependent upon my observing the game itself. (Televised sporting events are not subject to the Heisenberg Principle. Nor are they subject to the Velveteen Rabbit effect: no matter how hard I try, I cannot wish it and have it be so.) And, as a life-long fan of Seattle's professional sports teams, they have broken my heart more times than I can recall. When your coaches/managers say things like "We played great for five innings" or "If the game was only three quarters long, our season would look much different," you know your team has embraced mediocrity. (Heck, at least they're consistent!)
Despite eating a hearty breakfast a few hours ago, I'm hungry again. I think there's a hole in my belly only pumpkin pie with whipped cream will fill. (I made the pie with real pumpkin (the "pumpkin pie filling" in the cans in the grocery store is NOT pumpkin - it's squash - sorry if I just ruined Thanksgiving for you) and a whole-wheat crust. And I make the whipped cream. So it's all pretty healthy (at least it's all "real" food). And I didn't over-eat on Thanksgiving, although I have eaten an inordinate amount of cheese over the past few days. (The Hubs loves to put out cheese & cracker trays. And I love cheese. We're a dangerous combination.) So slice of pie sounds just about perfect!
Sunday, November 24, 2013
I swam on Friday. I had another breakthrough. I realized I am dipping my head too low into the water when I'm swimming. Because it's so low in the water, it has to travel farther to break the surface of the water. That means I'm expending more energy than necessary to rotate my torso to place my mouth above the water.
Yay! I figgered it out! But Boo! this isn't an easy fix. As a long-term cyclist, I am very aware of how weak my upper back is. Years of trying to hold a helmet-clad noggin up have demonstrated how weak I am.
I did my first strength training workout the night before (Thursday). I'm using Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon. I cannot recommend this book enough. Reading it finally got me to be more consistent about stretching after a ride. As with Total Immersion Swimming, the workouts are not long; they are very focused. I think the author assumes his readers will be more fit than I am: there are some exercises I cannot do. One of them, it was all I could to to hold my position on the physio ball, let alone roll it out in front of me. And I can't do a regular pushup, let alone one on a med ball. But they give me a place to start. And it pleases my geeky side to be wandering through the fitness center carrying a book and a chart. It's like science!
I went to the Group Cycle class Saturday. Different instructor. I liked his workout better. He had us do one-legged drills. That's something I remind myself to do while riding, but I usually only manage about a minute per leg before I quit because, well, it sucks. And this time, I let my heart rate stay higher, although it appears my average and maximum heart rates were the same as they were last time. My legs aren't sore today, but that may also be because I did my own post-ride stretching routine.
Back to the swim: in an effort to regulate my breathing, I didn't breathe in and out at will while backstroking. I may continue to do this during my swim workouts while I work on strengthening my trapezius muscles. I'm hoping it will convince my brain that I will not die if I can't breathe every single second.
I'm kind of anxious to get back to open swims, though. I'm doing a good job of not taking off my goggles throughout the workout, but I'm stopping at each end of the pool. I can't do a kick turn, so I have to stop and turn around. And trying to take off without pushing off results in my heart rate going up because I'm treading water. I suppose that'll take care of itself in time, though.
I did manage one length of the pool only drawing in one breath each time my head was above the water. That was progress. And given my current cold, I think may have been pushing my luck by swimming, anyway.
The cold has probably derailed me for the week. I woke this morning with a bad sore throat. As in it felt like a swollen tonsil. (I'm one of the minority of my generation that survived childhood with my tonsils intact. That's even more surprising, because in my late teens, I was getting tonsillitis every six months. I never got strep throat at the same time, so the tonsils got to stay. But it left me with a keen impression of what tonsillitis feels like.) So I'm spending today on the futon, watching football, drinking tea. I feel better than I did a few hours ago, but I'm not giving in to the fleeting temptation to go for a run or go to the gym.
And here's my contribution to everyone else's self-esteem: yesterday, I was stretching out my back using a foam roller. I ran over my ponytail. *sigh*
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