Tag Archives: progress

Check.

Run a smart race: debatable, but overall successful.
Don’t get hurt: assuming no new injuries counts as successful.
Get a sub 25 minute 5km: check.

This past Saturday was another planned 5km race on a fairly flat, paved route through Sunnybrook Park. The weather was ideal, my knees were feeling good, and I was rolling into the park on a good night’s sleep. It was a perfect storm of racing conditions by my standards. My friend S and I only had to hit the porta potties about 6 times before we could consider ourselves officially ready to go. I just don’t know where women find the time to squeeze in a pre-race warm- up.

My chase pack was down to one, but in a race of over 400 people, it is hard to feel like you only have one person to stay ahead of. Our missing friend (who joined us in an earlier race) opted out after a crazy work schedule and a lack of training convinced her that she shouldn’t spend the money to run a subpar performance. I know how that goes, and up until this current streak I am on, getting to the starting line was a huge challenge in itself.

I had some tightness in my left calf and as of today it is shooting down my heel, and it feels like the rumblings of a little plantar fasciitis. I’m really looking forward to taking on this extra challenge…

Either way, I’m still the reigning leader of the pack.

A race really breaks up a training program and helps re-frame your perspective and gives you a fresh start without ever having to break. I’m excited to get back to work and improve on my time again. I would love to take another 13 seconds off my time but three weeks isn’t really that long. And 13 seconds is pretty long.

I actually only have two weeks to train because the week prior to racing isn’t meant to be much more than rest and maintenance. It is a week meant for staying safe and avoiding people who may push shopping carts into you or may wander into your path without warning and force you to dive around them on sidewalks. The week before is for wearing a crossing guard vest and screaming when people come too close to your bubble. … Oh, that’s just me?

It has been a long time coming to get me to where I am now. It was a year and a half off running followed by a triumphant return to running which was quickly dismissed by a dislocated kneecap and accompanying torn ligament. That was eventually followed by a painfully gradual and much less triumphant return to running (again) which turned into this streak I’m on now.

Just because the process isn’t glamorous, doesn’t mean the result can’t be glorious.

Strategize for next race: check.
Celebrate the little victories: check.
Appreciate every step: check.

TOWR

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On The Fly

The confidence that I had in my fitness a few days ago is now as unstable as my knee, wavering in a stiff breeze. Since I am still two and a half weeks out, I am reconsidering my my race prep strategy. It is definitely a heavy schedule and I think I might have given myself a little much credit to think I can conquer and thrive with this program.

Last week I did two workouts a day, twice, just to fit it all in around my clients, but that resulted in runs ending early, running too slowly, or just putting myself through unnecessary pain for mediocre outcomes.

It also resulted in me barely being able to keep my eyes open past 5pm.

Throughout the week, I was happy with the effort that I was putting in, but when it came time to run a 5km (yesterday’s planned workout), I was too burnt out from my workouts for the run to come together as planned.

My 5km turned into a 4km in 20:10; I guess I would rather run a decent 4km than a bad 5km. It’s not like I should practice gutting out that last kilometer in preparation for the race or anything. In a race scenario I would be asking a lot of myself to get through that last kilometer with my fastest pace with these type of training runs. Just because I am confident that I am capable of a sub 25 probably doesn’t mean I should get comfortable and train like an idiot.

I haven’t actually made any changes to my programming yet, but I think I’m asking too much from my body. It does seem to be a trend that no one else thinks my muscles are as big as I do, so maybe I should step back and re-evaluate.

I have convinced myself that any inactivity could give my knees a chance to go back to their old ways of getting all bent out of shape. So instead of listening to my body I’m just trying to keep things moving aggressively. Logical.

A rolling stone keeps rolling faster, and faster, and faster.

As long as I can squeak out my sub 25 run in 19 days then I will consider myself to have been successful.

For now, anyways.

 

BlogRun

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Stormin Norman

22 days until the first race of the three left for me this season.

This is approaching the time when my body starts red lining, kneecaps start dislocating, and tendons start popping. Historically speaking.

My chase pack has somewhat decided to keep coming along for the journey and I have one enlisted in at least the upcoming August race. They must know my training is going well, so I don’t blame them…

For once, I actually feel quite prepared and I’m three weeks out. I only have to take 3 seconds off my last race time to get sub 25, and I am absolutely 3 seconds stronger than I was in June. Three times less stressed, and with three times more free time. Still warped, and still asymmetrical, but maybe I’m finally making it work for me.

And now I have a secret weapon.

One of my super generous friends gave me a steep discount on a GPS watch and I am now the proud running partner of a TomTom. In the setup process, the first step is to name the watch, which I assume is to write “My name‘s Watch” so you can claim some sort of ownership or some return to sender information. Or to rush through to the fun part where you actually get to use it.

In line with none of those strategies, I named my watch Norman because that was my stereotyped name of someone who is as excellent a mathematician as this little guy.

Running with instant feedback is such a luxury, like having a coach that will tell you how you’re doing but only if you care to know. So you can verify when you actually are running as slow as you feel, or you can confirm when you are going at a pace that you really can’t maintain.

Onward and upward, overthinking it the whole way!

Me and Stormin’ Norman are on it.

Run

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The Next Four Minutes

At what point does a comeback just evolve back into life?

I was running on the treadmill yesterday- doing my four minute run interval absolutely overwhelmed with excitement at the idea of my four minute run interval- wondering to myself at what point my comeback morphs into the daily grind of a gym goer.

Every day of work that I put in feels like another brick and mortar of recovery and it motivates me to keep pushing further from the day I caught my leg in my pants, fell down, and couldn’t get up. Maybe I am back to regular workout status once people stop interrupting my workouts to ask me, “How is your (enter any mixture of injured body parts here)?”

Now that I am running again (on a treadmill, for four minutes at a time) I am in a permanent state of runner’s high. My body was in withdrawal for almost two years, and now that I have had a reminder of how it feels, I’m in a constant state of awaiting my next four minutes.

Maybe we would all benefit from the comeback mindset. The mental setting that we have much progress ahead of us, and each step forward is a milestone worth telling the world about. Every time we finish a workout there is a crowded arena screaming our name. Every time we lift heavier, our name is in the paper for setting new records. And every single rep we complete, we can remind ourselves, “I couldn’t do this before”.

With the mental, physical, real, and imagined highs of the comeback journey, there must be the moments that bring our feet and faces back down to the ground; the universe giving us a friendly reminder that we aren’t as invincible as we briefly consider ourselves to be. Considering yourself to be in a “safe” place usually means that your face is about to hit the ground, so maybe embracing the comeback status is protective.

As long as progress continues, combined with the awareness there is much ground to cover, I suppose it doesn’t need any label other than that.

 

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Back For More

It has been way too long since I have posted anything. Full time work, part time work, and full time school do that I guess. Sorry to admit that I would rather be known for being a hard worker than for my blogging consistency. I’m back on track now I swear.

I have another MRI on my knee tonight, however my limited (non- existent) background in medicine makes me think my knee is almost good to go. If you are going to tear a ligament, it looks like this is the one to go for. My theory is that it was on the verge of tearing since the car accident, so my body is used to functioning without much support from it. There is a knee surgeon who works out in my gym and yesterday I picked his brain a little. I asked if he would recommend operating on a torn MPFL and after seeing my leg day he thought I was crazy to consider surgery. He told me that he does full knee replacements and so would not be the surgeon for me, to which I replied that I probably should get a spot on the waiting list now. By age 26, I have worn my knees out to Bambi status, and I am banking on robotic body parts being available soon. This is not a complaint because I’d rather use my body up than be laying on my death bed commenting on my joint fluidity.

I hope the afterlife has squat racks.

On that glorious note, I took off my knee brace for Monday’s workout. It was terrifying, exciting, and significantly reduced the smell of my workout. Someone should invent braces that come with built in fans like they have for those mascot costumes. When I instructed a running group at my previous job, my “smelly knee brace” had a more wide- spread reputation than I did. I think it made people run faster so they wouldn’t get caught downwind. Whatever it takes to make them run.

When I was working out, I kept looking in the mirror trying to figure out how far I am from my body about four months ago before my kneecap dislocated and my hopes, dreams, and body weight came crashing down. I temporarily felt disheartened to realise I am in a permanent state of re-building, until I realised that everyone in the gym is there for the same reason. Sure, some of us do it with a sickness of going until we cramp up into a sweat-soaked mess but everyone has the goal of change.

Still being warped is frustrating because I have been struggling to increase weights and still maintain good form in my workouts. My hips are out of alignment, and my spine is curved so my back is still imbalanced. I guess I just got a little too comfortable and when I feel comfortable, I am not aligned, and every other body part dominoes along into my personal take on anatomical structure. Doing high volume and low weight workouts is working well for me though and I love the change of stimulation. I would absolutely recommend adding this phase into your workouts (depending what your goals are) because 4 sets of 30 reps isn’t easy on anyone.

If your workout isn’t mentally hard, it probably isn’t physically hard enough.

Getting motivated and back at it.

I think this is Abraham's greatest quote.

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Get Smart

The more things you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.
              -Dr. Seuss

My life (and therefore blog) currently seems in a constant state of loading. The knees always bent and arms back, ready to propel forward. Cue the setback and then start to reload the pattern. Well today I’m Air Jordan.

No one really appreciates deadlines. They push us towards a median and force us to choose a route. Just the way your instincts take over when you are driving and don’t know where you are going but you will always pick one direction or another. No matter which way you choose, it always is a better option than crashing into the median.

You can do anything but you can’t do everything.

I have been weighing my options and thinking about going back to school. My confidence in this decision has been as unsteady as my left knee. However, based on the theory that no one ever feels comfortable when they upset their life plans, I have decided this is my best route to pull a last minute swerve towards.

What solidifies a decision more than making it non-refundable?

My fellow squatters and trotters I am going back to school. I will still be training at the gym and hopefully adding more to my schedule without sacrificing too much. That is of course very flawed logic but I won’t really admit it until the scheduling Gods crush me.

My confidence in this decision is now really strong because I am more excited than a first grader at the thought of buying lined paper and a binder. I am completely old school and I don’t plan to change anytime soon. A good old pen and paper never just crashes and erases what you wrote, and the distraction of doodling hardly compares to the vast timewasters built into the internet. I just need my neighbour to take my picture with a big toothy smile and my thumbs wrenched into my backpack straps.

airjordan

Knowledge is a work in progress… just like my abs of steel. Because I have time to take on more…

That’s coming up next!

 

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Born to be Mild

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
              -Leonard Cohen

My body has days that make me feel like I was made for a desk job and upper body hobbies. Followed by many rum and cokes.

When a homeless man stops you to say “you are beautiful just the way you are”, it really implies you look terrible and nobody loves you. I had already taken out my rage on all my clients so (luckily for him) I just gimped on by. It was awkward like when you have cruise control on and you pass a car going 1km an hour faster than them and it takes an uncomfortably long eye contact to get by. Just your casual social discomfort being a happy Torontonian.

Despite my body telling me to slow down sometimes, I resist the urge to feel like I was destined for early entry into the inevitable world of grunting sounds every time you stand up. It is a slippery slope from the time you make your own involuntary sound effects.

On the plus side, I had someone tell me in the gym that I should go to a vet now because I work out like an animal. I won’t lie, that made me immediately feel better. I have no problems in the world when someone compliments my workouts. It may as well be a big high five from Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am redefining blood, sweat, and tears, baby- tear referring to my torn body parts of course and not tears in my eyes.

I have been working away on upper body now and I feel like a wannabe bodybuilder who builds their biceps, ignores their legs, and ends up with a weirdly disproportionate body. I have been struggling with my post-surgery shoulder however I’ll chalk that up to pressure changes and I absolutely won’t complain about the heat. I spent so much time preparing my clients for a beach season that I was starting to think wasn’t coming.

So what is next? … defying the mild and embracing the wild hopefully.

progress

 

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It Is What It Isn’t

On Monday I was missing a ligament in my knee, but depending who you ask, it is there today.

I’m not a doctor.

Friday afternoon, just hours after my MRI, I felt something tear in my knee. It was so weird, like being flicked against the inside of your skin instead of the outside. Complete with a snap, crackle, and pop.

So on Monday the doctor told me that I dislocated my kneecap and tore the ligament that primarily stabilizes the kneecap in its tracking. The solution could be rehab or surgery and that was to be determined after seeing the MRI. I thought the imaging would have been deemed useless since the tear conveniently occurred after it, however I was assured it was still relevant. So I figured they would see a ligament on the verge of tearing.

I’m not a doctor.

So I get the phone call that the ligament in question is indeed attached. So naturally I was confused how it reattached itself in a few short days. I am always impressed with the human body but this would be a whole new level of science. When the doctor was holding my knee in his hands and testing it, he said there was no ligament so I took this opportunity to casually remind the doctor that the popping happened after the MRI. In return, I was told “I highly doubt it was torn”.

Later that afternoon at work, someone who treated me many times after the car accident was in the gym working out. He kindly let me interrupt his workout to casually ask him if he could find my medial patellofemoral ligament. He concluded the left knee didn’t have one.

I slunk back to the first doctor to request another MRI. He doesn’t even seem phased when he sees me in his waiting room anymore. I have to have set a new record for MRI requests in a ten day span.

Part of me hopes that it is torn so that I can save myself the embarrassment of getting a second MRI for no reason. But at the same time, I realise how ridiculous that is. What is one more blow to my ego, anyways.

I do know something is wrong, but that is all I know.

I’m not a doctor.

mpfl

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The Knee Bone’s Connected to the…?

On Friday I cried and I can’t even convince myself it was more pain than frustration. It was the type of day that made me want to stamp my feet and then curl up in the fetal position. Nothing that a rum and coke and then laying face down for hours can’t fix.

My MRI was at 1am in the morning. Luckily riding the subway in the wee hours of the morning on a weekday keeps you awake and alert. I arrived to the maze of empty halls and dragged my bum leg to the imaging department. I was really early because I was plagued with the fear of having to pay the $100 late fee. That is a lot of money that could be put towards my recovery (rum and cokes). But if my mom is reading, I meant to say, paying you back!

After blissfully enjoying my half hour laying completely still listening to loud banging and rattling I went to change out of my size extra large robe. I started talking to a man who would have been a little older than my dad. His wife has dementia and was there getting an MRI on her brain.

I wish it was easier to keep things in perspective without having to see someone else in a bad situation.

So after a few hours of sleep I headed to work and rolled in nice and late after the subway broke down and who knew that another hundred people would need a cab at 8:30am on a weekday.

Once my break rolled around I decided to do an upper body workout. I warmed up, got ready to go and headed off to find a bench. I went to sit down and heard a loud pop as I felt a snap in my knee. Awesome. 12 hours after my MRI. So close.

flamingoknee

My weekend was extremely sloth like and I ventured out once for a few groceries. Seeing the doctor tomorrow and hoping for a miraculous sleep induced recovery!

Tomorrow also starts a week of upper body workouts! Let’s get half jacked!!!

kneebone

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday Shoulder

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
           -William Shakespeare

I spent my one year surgery anniversary knocking back rum and cokes, plowing through chocolate eggs, and not exercising. So far off the rails it pains me to put it into print.

All these comebacks sure are tiring. I won’t let health go unappreciated again.

This has been a week of resetting, refocusing, and pushing back. I should be prepping for a 5k race that is four days away and somehow I have ended up exhausting the exercise database in my brain for ways to avoid getting fat. Today a trainer smacked my leg to tell me to activate the muscles to which I stopped and screamed, “Stop jiggling my fat!!!”

Each workout since the infamous doctor-says-no-lower-body-exercise fiasco of three weeks ago increases in creativity. I’ve said this before, but I think it needs to be restated: my clients do not get hurt, I give great advice but I don’t take it. The other trainers just laugh when I walk by carrying a 10lb body bar saying, “This counts as body weight, right?”… People pay me to push them, and this gets difficult to turn off, I guess.

Today I did the Stair Master, single leg Romanian dead lifts (10lbs what up!), single leg hip bridges, and modified knee extensions. My knee felt tired but not painful, so I did some Peterson step ups but three later, I had to stop. It felt like I had just pogo-sticked up Kilimanjaro on one leg. The best part of it all was that a celebrity’s bodyguard was beside me bench pressing about twice his body weight and I was working substantially harder. I tried to play it cool but the sweat stains and muffled crying sounds probably blew my cover.

As with all situations, there is a silver lining. Each time your feet are taken out from under you, the world is opening a door of opportunity to rebuild your physical and mental strength, and develop consistency, resilience, and pride. In my case it was technically only one leg that went out from under me, but my point remains. I would rather be hurt from exercise than develop issues from being sedentary, a hundred times over. Injuries allow us to learn so much about ourselves, and offer us the chance to improve in much more than just a physical way. We can all admit that starting anything is easier with a kick in the butt.

Sure, some things haven’t gone the way I had them playing out in my head. I did, however, spend my one year surgery anniversary surrounded by friends and family, laughing loud and eating well. Compared to a year ago, my shoulder is significantly better, my overall health is definitely better, and I have lots of zig-zagged footsteps behind me. Maybe I need to think less about how I thought things would be and focus on all the greatness that is now.

I can hardly wait to work up a sweat again tomorrow.

(Throwback to my shoulder a year ago…)

shoulder

 

 

 

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