Tag Archives: Physical exercise

Push It Real Good

Today I celebrated my quarter life crisis, I mean, my birthday.

Turning 26 is officially entering the darkness of the second half of my 20’s and saying goodbye to the times when stupid decisions are much more socially acceptable.

For my birthday this year I am giving myself the gift of pushups. When I came out of shoulder surgery 8 months ago, my surgeon told me I wouldn’t be able to do pushups again because I had lost so much structurally. In my post-surgery daze of anesthetic and disorientation, I cried. I whimpered to my parents as if this exercise was the love of my life and couldn’t live without it. After sobering up I went through a “I have an excuse to never do pushups again” phase and thought I would enjoy my justified laziness.

However, due to my innate human tendencies, if you tell me I can’t do something then I am overpowered by desire to conquer it. I remember doing pushups against the wall for the first time months ago while D was trying to politely tell me how terrible my form was. It was like glorified leaning on the wall and I felt like the Hulk.

Slowly but surely, I worked down to the ground through various stages of incline pushups and to the terror of my friends, I announced I was ready for the real deal. Their faces all said “this will be a train wreck” so we were all pleasantly surprised when I eeked out 3 in a row.

I then ran through the bodybuilders as I screamed “Shoulder champion of the world!!!”

Some days you have to choose brains or brawn.

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The Friday Sessions

There is no workout harder than the Friday afternoon workout. Not necessarily for the reasons you may think. It has nothing to do with the amount of workouts that come before it in the week, or the program I have planned.

During my weekly workout sessions in the gym, I am usually filling a long break between clients. I can take my time between exercises, make awkward conversation with strangers, watch sports highlights, and make sure I don’t miss any of the good songs on my iPod. I enjoy doing all of these things and I take advantage of the time. Whoever set up the seated leg press in front of the TV showing TSN highlights may as well have added my nameplate to the machine. It is an invitation I always accept- to sit and catch up what I missed because I went to bed before the good stuff happens in everything, until someone wants to use it and I have to “work in” with them. My workouts are so long that I have gone with friends to Hero Burger partway through, and I really wish that was a lie. My sessions get spread into various gaps throughout the day which is absolutely less effective, and makes for an unsettling half-sweaty feeling that leaves me unsure where I stand in terms of hygiene standards appropriate for working in a gym.

Friday afternoon workouts are like Eye of the Tiger is being played on a loop, sped up, and volume loud like an airplane. They are like drill sergeants are screaming at you to do more, keep pushing harder, and keep doing it faster. I will sacrifice my reputation to pretend I didn’t hear someone start a conversation and I will let go of my pride as I make loud, whining sounds as I run to the next exercise. Hydration is a dump over the head, a swig with a spit. I can chug water bottles on the way home.

For real. It’s Friday.

Resistance training somehow ends up as cardio as I navigate the floor in a haphazard yet diehard sort of way. I will cut people off to get to the smallest weights, and I will not be embarrassed to be visibly strained before I run to the next exercise avoiding eye contact (I assume would be dirty looks).

I will apologize on Monday. But it is Friday.

I am not getting my “pump” on to go out. Likely, I am going home to an involuntary nap and then episodes of New Girl after I wake up too late to go out. I am not a girl who preps for the weekend like it is the day before a bikini- demanding vacation. My brain has processed how close I am to going home for the weekend and I physically cannot reduce my heart rate until I see the outside world.

Friday workouts require a big effort, a slightly crazy mentality, and a relationship status of single (due to moderate unpredictability of weekend napping to follow).

My plan is to get a run in this weekend and since my back survived my Friday session, it should be good to go. Wave if you see me, I’ll be running with Rub A535 in one hand and a rum and coke in the other.

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Baby Got Back

I like to consider myself inquisitive; second guessing or over analyzing may also apply.

Whatever the case may be, I can’t help but question my race preparation. Maybe I’ve done this enough times to just let it happen, and I am more ready than I let myself think. Or maybe I’m off the trail without a GPS. In my opinion, a big part of preparation is motivation. As much as my posts may be demonstrating brain waves that seem to zig zag and curve at will, I have the firm stance that motivation and “grit” (for lack of a better word) can trump inherited athleticism. Not always, but always possible. Maintaining that drive is race preparation.

I have pictures, mottos, quotes, sayings; motivational images of all sorts saved to my computer. I see where I want to be, I get motivated, I get excited, and I get my shoes on. When I need that pump up I am running alone, and what never comes to mind is some image I flipped by on my laptop.

Is motivation justified by getting out and running? Or does it mean we have to post about it on our social media, fill our closets with bright and flashy shoes, and finish runs with a slow motion water bottle chug? If you’re reposting images of others exercising behind a Starbucks latte and a snuggie, I struggle to tie that to motivation. That is promotion.

Does being driven and invested only manifest itself in a way that would mean living by the standards of carbo loading, electrolyte refueling, and IT band massaging? It can be an internal conflict to maintain motivation, but isn’t that normal because sport can be a painful passion after all. At this point, I will trust in my comfort zone and my ‘fly by the seat of my running shorts’ training style and see where my feet take me. Hopefully the end point is out of my comfort zone as that is the most encompassing way I can define success right now.

I have to admit that I feel a level of preparedness in the chaos that is my body trying to navigate the world. Maybe once you accept that your strategy is mayhem, you can relax and brush off all these events that don’t seem to support the end goal. This is a strategy, I swear. I am still moving therefore I am still progressing.

After my Canadian Thanksgiving with the family, today was my first day back to the gym after my back attack. Once again, there was so much genuine concern for me that I think I will just start sitting out front and ringing a bell with a  donation box. I started my new (and it darn well better be) improved rehab program. I am working towards square one and I will get there when I get there. On paper, this workout would have appeared that it was for someone who had lost their left arm and left leg and was hitting the gym for the first time. Let me tell you that this, coupled with my nicknames like Hop-along, and Limp Biscuit, are not ideal ways to sell myself as a trainer. Live and learn.

My fantastic nickname- creating co-workers do help me out, though. They all had ideas to contribute for how to best fix my back but my small and weak muscles fatigued before I could accept all their help. I am hopeful that it won’t take too long to regain some balance but it is hard to activate half my back throughout the day. When the weak side fatigues, exercise becomes detrimental because I’m jacking up the jacked side. Keep in mind I teach exercise for a living. Having experienced one potential outcome of a muscle imbalance, I am pretty eager to avoid that road again. Deep tissue massages and I will be best friends forever.

At this point, I have no strategy. I do, however, know what shoes I will wear. And I feel like that might be enough because I know I can get myself to the start line (with shoes on). And once we are all lined up in wait, we are all equal, and it is anybody’s day. Who worked the hardest to get to the start line, who can translate that into energy in the race… and then who can carry me home…?

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Eyes on the Prize

This strategy of listening to my body seems to be paying off for me. I have spent most of my time with weights in the gym, doing my shoulder exercises, and foam rolling until I’m nauseous and what do you know; I just ran a 25:05 on a 5km route.

Previous runs have been faster, less physically and mentally painful, and much more effortless. But this feels so much more rewarding. Today is a victory for me… despite the fact I’m going to miss all of Sunday football. Again.

This is what I needed. My goals keep changing and my body keeps changing and I keep moving towards wherever I am going. I don’t think of myself as inconsistent or not committed, but I have changed so much in the past year that I am just adapting as my standards and ideals change. I am consistent because I listen and respond to my body.

Post- race will be another big re-evaluation for me because I haven’t completely stressed myself out with life changing decisions yet. Close but not quite. Running will never be abandoned as it always steps up in my life when I need it but I can be unbiased enough to recognize that my body responds best to other forms of training. After my run today I was rewarded with sharp knee pains and overwhelming tightness in odd places showing me a flash forward to my future as a crippled old woman. In a wheelchair. With all my trophies piled on my lap.

To earn today’s pops, cracks, and twinges I ran a time I’m actually happy with. I said I would be happy if I go under 25 flat when I race and I’m pretty darn close. What makes me happiest is how close I came to quitting and how hard I worked to keep going. Few experiences match the high of a solitary maximal effort. No one knows where my route ends and no one will make me run until I barf, except me. I did what I set out to do (and I kept everything down).

I have to admit: this is the first time I have run a full 5km since… probably over a year ago? And yes I am racing a 5km in 3 weeks; it is a weird training style absolutely. But my body didn’t feel like it could do it before, so I didn’t make it. This could have backfired and (knock on wood) could still work against me. But how can some pre-planned workout schedule know how my legs will feel, what my terrible schedule will allow, or adjust to where my head will be at. I don’t know even know these things. My body won’t advance in regularly timed intervals so neither will my program.

After my run, I texted one of my good friends who I used to sell running shoes with (think dream team style). He is a fantastic athlete and all of his times blow mine out of the water, yet he has this amazing enthusiasm for my modified distances and increased times. Sure enough, he follows up to my run time with a link to a race in support of a donkey sanctuary, where my time would have placed me as the first female. A donkey shaped trophy would really add to my apartment but running and being supported is rewarding enough.

Maintaining commitment to anything is worthy of reward but committing to something, working hard, and seeing progress is a reward in itself and I can’t promote that enough. That is probably why I work in fitness? Or maybe it is because I just like a career that lets me spend the day in stretchy pants.

Feeling rewarded, motivated, and supported; the countdown to race day is on.

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”   -Theodore Roosevelt

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Rest is Best

When the calendar says it is a rest day, do you actually rest? It seems to be very common that if your body is feeling good then you keep going, right?

Not me. I am going to relax (maybe not relax, but not workout) and then I will happily make a big fat checkmark on my schedule right over the words ‘rest day’.

Sometimes the hardest part of training is taking days off (ridiculous, right)! After training five days straight and coming back from a frustrating week of my body not reacting exactly how I envisioned it (like slow motion on the Olympic track), I hit rest day. I felt like my body wanted to keep pushing and taking a day off would be like dragging my feet while trying to build momentum.

Like any other trainer, my apartment is stocked with all sorts of fun things like my TRX, sandbag, kettlebells and weights. On training days they look like equipment and on rest days they look like a playground. What we need to remember is that rest days are actually when our bodies make progress. Exercising creates microscopic tears in our muscles and (with rest) they heal and repair themselves to be stronger. So we need these days off to allow for regeneration otherwise our bodies just get worn down… Like many dragging limbs to building momentum.

Despite lack of need for another goal, I am setting another goal. On my last day off from the gym I visited a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. I didn’t think about what food I should be eating or what I would be doing if I was working out.

As my busy days fly by, I realize I don’t make enough time to visit with friends or reach out to people I haven’t talked to enough. So I will replace the time I would have spent in the gym doing this. It’s the new and improved rest day.

I suggest we all make our rest days more productive by not exercising and spending some face to face time with a friend. Good for the body and soul 🙂

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