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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Butt, kicked

Today was the first workout of Stage 7, the "Final Cut". It calls for a zillion reps of everything, and I suspect I’m going to have to balance my pride with needing to lift light enough to get through the zillion reps. Yes, I can deadlift 150lb; I cannot deadlift 150lb 15 times in a row.

The workout was really, really tough. It started out simply enough, with 2 sets of 8 squats. But then it called for 4 sets of 15-20 of static lunges, pushups, Romanian deadlifts, and bent-over rows. That’s a lot of lifting! It took me a whole hour to finish. Honestly, the only thing that gave me major grief was the lunges. I hate those so much. I hate them so much I had to bribe myself with doing the last set with just bodyweight to get through them. (The first set I did 12.5s in each hand, the second and third 8s, and then that last one was so much nicer.) My right leg is so much weaker than my left, too.

Now I am utterly depleted and not really looking forward to the rest of the day at work. Mostly I just want to curl up in a ball. (I might have tried to do that in the gym a couple times.) I won’t be one bit surprised if I’m having a hard time getting around tomorrow.

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Beating the rain

This afternoon and the next few days are forecast to have unpredictable weather, so I was glad to be able to get a run in the morning before any of that started. And I start Stage 7 tomorrow so I’m not sure if I’m going to be up for much running anyway…

I drank the same amount of coffee this morning as I do most mornings, but for some reason I was pretty sure my chest was going to explode? It calmed down after a bit, but I was still pretty wired when I set out for my run and the first mile was pretty speedy. I’m glad I chose to keep it to 30 minutes, because shortly after that the caffeine went away and I was pooped! It was 2.4 miles overall.

Because of the upcoming crappy weather, it seemed like every landscaping and construction crew was out working… and I ran past all of them. I’ve observed that all it takes is one bad actor, and an entire group will be jerks. One dude hollers? They all have to holler. That’s because it’s not about me being super hot (which, you know, I might be), it’s about asserting their dominance and the right to judge random women running by. At least it gave me incentive to run faster past them.

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Long swim…

So remember that kettlebell workout on Thursday? It did such a number on my back, I didn’t feel good about working out for a couple days. I think I need to incorporate kettlebell swings into my normal workouts just for prevention.

Anyway, today I was feeling better and decided to take a nice long swim in the pool. The kids are going back to school, and Labor Day is looming– my days of swimming are numbered. So today I spent an hour swimming laps. The first 30 I did at a comfortable pace, but the last 10 I did half-lap sprints, which was really hard– the first 5 I felt okay but it was a struggle to get through the last ones. But over all the swim was fine– I could’ve kept going, and focusing on my form was no problem today.

Then once I got back home and was feeling sort of knotted up so some yoga was in order– nothing fancy, but a bit of sun salutations and some back work to loosen up my posterior chain. Hopefully tomorrow I’m not too stiff!

On Friday I was out with my coworkers for a happy hour and the topic of weight lifting came up (these coworkers are all avid gym people). Eventually someone asked how much we could squat… and I told them, and then my male coworker said, ¬†quietly, “I squat 100lb.” Which is just fine! But it was kind of a funny situation.

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Wobbly workout

Today I decided to DIY a HIIT-ish kettlebell workout. My gym has a kettlebell class today, but it’s scheduled at 1– which is a problem, since Thursday is a standing group lunch and I don’t really want to go to class with a full stomach. I’m choosing the brief social time over the workout (which is probably a mistake, today– I’m very grumpy. Hopefully I won’t get myself into hot water.)

So I hung out in the big room by myself and swung and snatched and squatted and crunched and rowed and pressed and windmilled to my heart’s content. Honestly, aside from the kettlebell swings, it’s much less awkward to do this stuff with dumbbells, though. (For the snatches, I went and grabbed a dumbbell, because after having a kettlebell smack into my hand and wrist a few times, I decided it wasn’t high on my list of things that are fun.) The workout was pretty intense and I’m wobbly and tired, so I guess I did it right.

I finished my workout just before the staff came in with her personal trainees today. I could hear the music in the big room from the locker room, and they were in the middle of their paid-for session when the music switched over to some ads. Really? Those ads for a grocery store and for apricots totally would make me want to work harder… (Pandora subscriptions aren’t that expensive! It might help!)

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Running; Breathing

Yet another solid 3 miles on the treadmill this morning, in 35 minutes. Okay, I’ve established that I still know how to run and am still capable of doing it somewhat well (by my own standards, anyhow). While I’ve enjoyed these 3 days of running, I have a blister on my big toe and my hip is a little sore and it’s all a good reminder that if I want to go back to running all the time I should really ease back into it!

For as long as I could manage, I practiced full breathing during my run. Breathing is not my strong point; I can easily focus on my stride or posture, but concentrating on my breath is hard to do– I always get distracted. But I feel much better when I’m taking properly full lungfuls of air rather than breathing more shallowly.

Before I started running years ago, I quit smoking. (I was always a light smoker, though; a pack lasted a few days.) And as I went through the physical and habitual withdrawl, one of the most powerful deterrents to smoking was wanting to be able to breathe well during my runs. And there were occasions where I bummed a smoke and then afterwards paid for it when running– it felt awful. I feel like this is common among runners, that lots of us are former smokers. Maybe we tend to have these personalities that tend towards addiction! But I feel much better being a habitual runner than a habitual smoker.

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