Every step matters

I had a shortened workday today, and I either wanted to: 1) go out for a run; or 2) go out for a hike on the trail. And in the end I chose 3) go out for a run on the trail. This is despite the fact that yesterday was squats day and it’s a good mile and a half run just to the trailhead. Sometimes I wonder if my critical thinking skills are quite intact… Anyway, it wound up being 4.5 slow miles. I wasn’t ready for a long run and the trail is quite challenging so there were plenty of parts that were a challenge to walk up, not even run up. I ran where I could and walked the rest.

I love getting out on the trail, though. It feels so grounding to be able to get away from the roads and the cars and hang out in the woods for a bit. I saw plenty of wildlife: two big whitetail does, a couple of woodpeckers, and two mountain bikers (species Gyrokinetus petronus). (My limited knowledge of Greek roots is showing… with Latinate endings, even.)

I live in the foothills of some of the oldest mountains in the world, formed when Pangaea was formed– which is pretty cool to think about. This rock I ran over could be one of the oldest rocks on the planet. It’s been around for millions of years… and here I am stepping across it a few times. It reminds me that my time here is short on the scale of things, so I should be careful to make it count.


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Remember how last workout I was complaining about the program doubling up on deadlifts? Today it doubled up on squats: 2 heavy sets of 8 (105lb, 115lb) and then 4 light sets of 15 (45lbx3, 55lb). By the end of the 4th light set I was having trouble holding my form, and might have tweaked my back a little. I suppose I’ll see if I’m sore tomorrow.

Everything else– shoulder press, step-ups, lat pulldowns– was fine. I’m finally adapting to this workout (and setting my pride aside and holding littler weights while I do things.) Minor soreness now, not can’t-walk-for-3-days.

While I was doing my heavy squats, Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda came on over the gym PA. It was glorious and inspiring. I know that song isn’t meant for me with my white girl booty but I still think it’s great…

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Knee protection

I’m not too sore today, which is awesome. But my left knee has gotten sort of beaten up from all the stress lately. Whenever my quads hurt and I start babying them, I wind up hyperextending my knees and making them really unhappy. The rubber band machine that is my body needs all its rubber bands working properly! Hopefully it’ll recover after a short break. Anything that requires effort from a very bent position is ouchy. (Hey, that sounds like the lunges yesterday…)

So I stuck to low-impact cardio today, 30 minutes on the elliptical and another 10 on a recumbent bike. It was boring, but I read an issue of Car and Driver and that made it more bearable. And I’m learning that I don’t really like exercise bikes. Their action always feels unbalanced to me– you know how on a regular bike the pedal motion is smooth as they turn around their axle? Exercise bikes always have more resistance on the downstroke than the return and the uneven effort drives me batty. Maybe the ones at my gym are just crappy and old.

It seems like there’s a disconnect between my level of exertion and the amount of sweating I do. I wasn’t working very hard this morning; my heart rate barely got above 135 but I was still drippy (and the fan was on in the cardio room today, so it’s not like it was hot in there). I doubt I will ever be one of those people who simply glows after cardio. I just drip.

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Not as bad, this time

Stage 7 workout 3 today. That means I’m… 25% done with Stage 7! (Being a math-minded person means that I tend to break my tasks up into chunks. But the 25% milestone never feels like I’ve accomplished very much…)

I’m side-eyeing the programming a bit today: it starts with 2×8 heavy regular deadlifts, then asks for 4×15 Romanian deadlifts. How many deadlifts can they cram into a whole-body workout? Anyway, for the rest of the 4x15s it was the same as Workout 1: lunges, pushups and dumbbell rows. I decided to hold 5lb weights for the lunges, which made the whole endeavor much nicer. It wasn’t bad overall, and I finished in just under an hour, stretched, showered and got back to work.

I finally bought a container of flavored whey protein for after my workouts. (It’s chocolate, and tastes something like weak and gritty cold hot cocoa.) Maybe this will help me get back on track with my protein intake. At any rate, I usually wrap up my workout around 11, but I typically eat lunch not too long after that so maybe I should eat a little later, or eat less? The powder is kind of filling. (It doesn’t help my appetite that my lunch is a hastily-assembled peanut butter sandwich and some left over vegetables and hummus…)

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The day after

Usually I like to write about my workouts the day I do them, but today… well, not yesterday/today. Yesterday was an insanely busy day; I was up at 8 to finish cooking and cleaning in preparation for brunch guests. I was proud, however, that I managed to get a run in before they arrived (just barely, in fact– I came in and showered and dressed and they arrived shortly after– I was still sweaty).  It was an okay run; I went 3.2 miles in 41 minutes. My legs were still sore from the previous week’s lifting, and the run left my calves very stiff. I didn’t have time to write about my workout because I was too busy spending time with my friends…

I haven’t done it yet today, but I’d like to get some nice yogas in. Today has been a lot of sitting so far, so I want to do something to get the blood moving– but not too much because I’ve got another killer lifting workout scheduled tomorrow. So let me just write as if I’ve done it. It was great!

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Gently working hard

I’m thankful that Workout 2 of this stage was less butt-kicking than Workout 1. In fact, I wrapped up the workout feeling good, like I had completed a moderate challenge but not depleted. Which is probably a lot better place to be, mentally and physically.

I took it easy for most of the workout; the first lift was incline bench press and I started at just 75lb, did my 8 reps, then bumped it up to 95lb and did the second set. I did the heels-elevated squats with just the bar (and that was hard enough, for 4 sets of 15 reps) and kept it light for the rows, pulldowns, shoulder presses and step-ups too. Hopefully this will ensure that I have the use of all of my limbs over the weekend (because I am busy and will need them!)

I don’t know if I’m getting old, or I’m pushing too hard in my workouts, or I’m not eating properly or getting enough sleep, but I’m not recovering well and I’m pretty sick of being sore all the time. For me, lifting is a fun hobby and a way to get strong (as Diary of a Newbie Strongwoman put it "fun and fitness") and spending my days in pain because of routine workouts is not part of the equation. I mean, some DOMS is expected, but not being able to stand or sit without wincing for 3 days is right the heck out. I think the key is to find a more moderate practice…

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My body defies logic

Someone has injected hot fire into my leg-ular area. Oww. I’m not sure how, after nearly a year of pretty intense lifting and substantial strength gains, I can manage a workout that leaves me this sore the day after. Muscles, aren’t you supposed to be adapting to this kind of thing?

Anyway, just about any sort of cardio is right out for today (no I am not running that is the worst idea) so I figured I should at least go to the gym and do some brief yoga and spend some time with the foam roller. Warming up and getting to a low lunge with a quad stretch felt like pretty much the best thing ever, but the foam rolling afterwards was exquisite torture.

(tw: body and weight stuff, “good fatty”) Lately I’ve been turning over in my head how stubborn my body is! Gingerzingi’s post about her boss and Fit, Fat and Feminist’s post “What Works For You, Will Not Necessarily Work For Me” (links!) relate how people in their lives make the assumption that because their small lifestyle changes easily led to weight loss, people who remain fat must be doing it wrong.

If you read back over the last ~4 years I’ve been writing this blog, you’ll find a whole lot of activity. When I started C25k, I was completely sedentary. Adding 90 minutes of walking and running a week was huge for me, and my body did change in response to that. I lost ~10% of my body weight, a couple dress sizes, over a bit less than a year. That wasn’t enough to make me not-fat, but I figured it was logical that as I kept being active, my body would keep changing.

Well, it has… sort of. I’m way fitter, way stronger. (Can’t say way more flexible!) I have some terrific muscles, and my shape has changed. But I weigh the absolute same, despite 3 more years of activity that’s ramped up to be pretty darn rigorous and much more frequent. My stubborn body wants to hang on to my belly, my hips, my butt and thighs. And I’m inclined to let it. Part of the bargain I’ve made with my body (with myself) about all this activity is that I would trust my body; it tells me what it needs, and I push it gradually harder but pay attention to how I feel.

And that’s where I’m at. It’s not perfect; I still struggle with my body image and if I’m having bad feelings that’s where it tends to manifest. Sometimes I feel like I must be doing it wrong, because my body defies the common knowledge. But I’m willing to stand here and be defiant.

(Now, can someone just make a pair of pants that fit both my hips and my waist? I swear that would relieve a good fraction of my body angst.)

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