Tag Archives: progress

Run To Bust

I feel like I am getting close to race day… Not because I feel ready but because my body is worn out. The race is 14 days away and it feels like a 10 foot tall hurdle screaming towards me.

For a blog with the theme of overcoming obstacles, I sure have a lot of material to write on.

Last Friday my knee buckled during my workout and after standing for at least 12 hours a day this week, it is pushing back. I haven’t run in 8 days, I haven’t done any lower body exercises in 8 days, and at this rate I picture myself ending up jacked up top and soft on the bottom. Like actually with a straight horizontal line where the muscle just stops.

On top of that, my mood has been getting exponentially aggressive as I watch the race date approach while I am at standstill.

This world has a consistency that really never fails. This was my last heavy leg day before I planned to transition out of going crazy in the gym. My last set of my last exercise was when everything came crashing down. Literally. I was on the leg press finishing with one leg at a time and my left knee just passed on its turn. This makes me feel like every other time I said I worked out to failure was a cop out.

I did have another trainer tell me I worked as hard as someone who was going to the Olympics. Minus the injury, that felt good.

New strategy: run on pace for my goal time and risk death by bruised body and bruised pride? Now I just need to find a doctor who will encourage me to keep running… Not happy. Doctor’s report to follow.

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The Way We Were

Time has really flown by and I have missed many posts that I wanted to write. For some reason the less interesting obligations always outweigh the fun commitments.

A few weeks ago, K left for a new job and a much better career opportunity. So of course we happily told him that he was making a great decision (which he was), but when we saw him holding the contents of his locker in a garbage bag we realised this was not in our best interest.

K and I met working at the gym and he has been a great friend since then; we won Supperworks together, we got jacked together (in a relative and debatable way), and he taught me that I know very little of self control. His meals alone require some Googling, a calculator, and a third party approval. The day he casually asked me to get him some salsa was nerve wracking.

We definitely miss his positive energy, his constant curiosity, and his enthusiasm during our team workouts. Shockingly, this gym has very few trainers and members who want to work out until they lay in a pile of heaving sweat on the floor.

Since our gym was bought out, it seems like each day chips away a little more resemblance from the way things were. Unfortunately, my brain still holds on to that old comfort as if it will reappear when things settle. I guess I have only been endorsing change when it is self motivated, and that is hardly change at all.

Over the past few weeks (and months, and years) I have learned that the best way to deal with change is to throw yourself into it. Pretend you don’t want to just dig your heels in and rant about the good old days. Being unhappy wastes too much energy, and you need that energy for your workouts.

I can’t put into words how strongly I believe that things happen for a reason. I have been so determined to stay set in my ways that it scares me to think how crazy I’ll be when I’m elderly. I’ll be wearing a spandex onesie around the gym yelling about the “kids these days” who don’t know anything about exercise. Then I’ll be like my client who absent mindedly hangs her purse and sweater on the closest piece of equipment whether it is in use or not.

Any form of resistance seems to negatively impact all aspects of life since that energy can’t be contained and focused on just one specific pinpoint. And if you’re wasting all that energy then you will never know how much weight you can actually lift!!!

It seems clear that you can’t go anywhere in life if you won’t move your feet. The difficulty that we underestimate lies in deciding to pick up your foot.

 

“To complain is always non-acceptance of what is… Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” -Eckhart Tolle

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You’re Always a Day Away

“I’ll start tomorrow, I’ll start tomorrow”; the mantra of the unmotivated, the lazy, and the people who “can’t make time”.

And I will start tomorrow.

My plan was to go out last night, come home early, and start a final month of clean eating, specific training, and sleeping enough (which is elusive on a daily basis). It was all laid out until I revealed to my friend that it was my last night drinking for the next month and I was the target of her mission to party hard. We met somewhere in the middle and shared a little wine, however it left me today saying, “I’ll start tomorrow”.

Today (on second thought) I decided that my priority was relaxation and did I ever conquer that. Except for the fact that I was watching March Madness and got three more of my picks wrong. Besides that, I did rest not stress and I think this is an even better way to start my last month of training. Let me just be clear that the last time I took nearly an entire day off was… almost 4 months ago. It was Christmas holidays and  a week of parties with my family is hardly actual rest.

After spending most of my day horizontal I am even more excited to run hard and lift heavy tomorrow. So maybe there can sometimes be some validity to waiting until tomorrow.

Mondays were made for fresh starts!

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First Things First

Sometimes one commitment has to overrule another. So for a few reasons there will be no triathlon for me in the near future. An overestimated range of motion in my bad shoulder, and a lack of ability to train my best for two different upcoming events are main factors.

In April I will race 5km but the triathlon will have to wait. Maybe later this season or maybe next year. Right now my priority is to do one thing (well) at a time. As much as I am disappointed in having to scale back, I can recognize how much I love to get carried away. My workout today was full of dropping weights to perfect my form before I add weight back. Maybe the feeling of progress just gets addictive or maybe we give ourselves too much credit thinking that our reflection has better form than we do. Regardless of how we get there, a lot of us seem to end up pushing more than we can at some point.

One of my clients set a new personal best pushing 8 plates (360lbs) on the decline leg press yesterday because he put half the plates on the wrongs pegs- he thought he was taking them off and not loading them. So for some of us, it is accidental.

My running has been going slowly but now I am officially registered to race and what is better motivation than the realization of approaching deadlines. The hardest part of running right now is the weather. If I didn’t have a job I probably wouldn’t leave my apartment… seriously. It is spring and it is snowing in Toronto. Motivation seems like an idea only for those who don’t live in layers of bundled clothing.

I am looking for a sub 24 minute run on April 27th and hoping for an injury free journey there. My plan is to run 5k outside this weekend and then I will base my next month of training off my time. Here we go again!!

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Process and Progress

I am trying to upgrade my workout log from my current system; millions of loose pieces of paper scrawled with increasingly tired handwriting as the list goes on. As much as this is wasteful and inefficient, I am too OCD to make a book of partially illegible workouts. I need to come home and print them out neatly. The handwriting is definitely a good measure of how hard the workout was, though. On days when I need to really kick my butt I could look for the page where the words turn to shaky lines and there are traces of tear drops. No matter how authentic the chicken scratch on paper shreds, my personality requires tidy writing. Must be my only quirk.

Next in importance after tidy printing, I have felt the thrill of almost smashing my face in.

I am (carefully) checking off my to- do list, which not so coincidentally is identical to my “you won’t do these again” list as per my surgeon. It is with great proudness I can say I conquered a dumbbell bench press. Started with 20 pounds in each hand, and found it shockingly easy, in a relative sort of way. My spotter encouraged me to keep pounding out reps until my right arm decided it had enough and it careened its’ dumbbell towards my face.

In danger, I close my eyes and brace myself apparently. Awesome life skills. Use a spotter with quick reflexes, friends!

The only thing that remains in that no fly zone is contact sports. I won’t lie, it probably will never be crossed off that list and I’m okay with that. Contact sports will be the one time I will use my shoulder injury as an out. As much as I love thinking I have super strength, my body was not built for combat.

My swimming career is in the making now; I have been in touch with someone who will help me regain (or learn) my strokes and then I’m sure this challenge will feel much more real. Triathlon also comes with the added challenge of finding a flattering one piece bathing suit.

Just kidding.

That doesn’t exist.

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Fixed with a Flex

Today my weight was down half a pound. Not really a big deal, but that in combination with having a week that made me zombie-esque tired, I took the day off from working out. Things are still going well considering my weight is still up from the start of this week but I need to pack down some more calories before I start lifting heavy things against gravity again.

If you had told me a year ago that I would excitedly be sharing my weight gains with strangers, I would have thought that was crazy. I do like to affectionately call my blog followers my imaginary friends, so maybe I do have a little streak of weird.

I am now tracking my weight and workouts to a degree that some may have described as “obsessive”, to which I give a big thumbs up and then I flex. Next you can listen to me list a million things worse that I could be obsessed with.

While working out yesterday, D and I were getting all sorts of looks. Some were rude, and some were confused, but all felt like a really big compliment to the effort we were putting in. He said he felt like barfing, and I was holding on to machines to stay upright between my last sets while the gym- goers surrounding us were using the machines as theatre chairs, probably betting on me to go down first. I have found that in some cases, there is no bigger compliment than a dirty look. Take it in stride, and keep going. Then flex at them. After all, you don’t have success if you don’t have critics.

Ah, yes… reading that last paragraph back I now understand the obsessed descriptor.

Also, don’t bet against me.

Let me add in a very important point here: pushing to failure is a phase. When done right, these workouts are very draining, especially on the Central Nervous System and I don’t encourage this as a permanent method of training. As long as that is clear, I would like to add that there are few feelings that match the rush of knowing you worked as hard as you could, without peeing your pants.

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Tomorrow is a new day, another workout, and a chance to reach a new high. If you haven’t ever had the borderline-wet-your-pants-in-the-gym feeling then I strongly urge you to go for it, but in a safe way. Not safe like wearing Depends, but safe like working out properly. Get yourself a trainer or shoot me a message. Let’s squat and trot together, friends.

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One Year + One Week + One Day

Today my roots of running resurfaced as I set a new PB for my leg workout. The same death defying workout (not actually but my quads will say otherwise) from last week, except I heaved to completion in almost fifteen minutes less time. In theory, it seems like less time means less pain however that assumption would be incorrect, as I tested this morning.

Cardio strength training is making a re-appearance to my program (unbelievably, no this was not it yet) so I have scheduled myself in with another trainer, R, tomorrow to workout. I am really focused on learning all that I can and so far this year, I can proudly say I have already soaked up so much more about fitness, training, and nutrition. Luckily, I have some co-workers who are dedicated, selfless promoters of all things fitness and I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of giants.

Side note: If anyone has any suggestions how to thank a person for sharing daily life-altering wisdom, I would love to hear it. All I have got so far is the priceless stuff… as in, actually priceless, like high fives and shouts across the gym such as: “YOU DA MAN”!

I am getting excited to start running again to see what a difference my strength makes. I already notice a substantial difference in my strength and in my body composition which feels rewarding enough. Well, I guess not enough, because I am still charging ahead.

There are 14 weeks until I race again.

If I needed a good omen then I found it: this race- to be exact- will be one year, one week, and one day after my surgery.

Let’s do this, PB.

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Ugly Pretty Face

True friends don’t tell you about your problems, they just help you resolve them.

Instead of D telling me that he thinks I can lift heavier (okay, so he did say this once) he offered to put me through a leg workout today. Despite being a little sleep deprived and on an overly full stomach I thought this was a great idea. I learn something new each time we work out together so I have ultimately learned to never miss a team workout.

First up was barbell squats. 3 sets of 12,10,8 reps increasing the weight with each set. I knew I was in trouble when he added 20lbs for my warm up… I mean, the barbell already weighs 45lbs, my legs will pick up on what is happening. My last set was at 25lbs a side and my last rep was spent mostly at the bottom of the squat trying to figure out how gravity suddenly increased exponentially. It was pure heart pounding pain and absolutely worth it for the feeling at the top. After my last rep of unintentional super slow motion, another trainer walked over to comment on my intensity/ express sympathy for what was to come… this was the first exercise of four.

Next up was deadlifts with the trap bar. 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps increasing weight each set. One rep in and my legs were burning. The highlight of this was dropping the 95lbs on my last rep of my last set. I wanted to make sure everyone knew I had lifted something heavy… I say that as if I didn’t already attract attention as a noisy mess of sweat.

Olympic barbell stiff leg deadlifts. I like to think if my gym had trading cards that this would be listed as my specialty. So, gratefully, I didn’t feel quite as terrible through these. I find my grip fatigues before everything else which gets frustrating. My hands are left in a gripped shape like your mittens after handing out cups at a water stop in freezing cold weather. The hardest part was seeing how much my legs were shaking in the last set. That is why when I run I gradually increase my music volume- so I can’t hear my breathing get heavier. Purely mental but definitely applicable. When you see the shake, you can’t deny the fatigue.

The grand finale was high rep low weight lunges. 30lbs, 3 sets of 20 a side, no break between, and my legs’ ability to support me standing is already questionable. Luckily for me (so I thought) D had a client show up so he couldn’t experience the pain with me. With one set left, I sat for a brief second to which I immediately heard yelling from across the gym to get back up. This guy is good. I propelled myself through the last set with loud grunts and the fear of attracting everyone’s attention yet again.

I do not consider myself to be vain but I live in what I would expect to be the vanity hotspot of Toronto, so it is all relative. After my 26 years of living, I have spent many hours looking at myself in the mirror and only today I realised that I think I look best in the last rep of my last set of my workout.

Whoever came up with the “over the shoulder glance” never lifted like this.

That face that spans pain to joy, and strength to weakness. Tyra Banks invited an “ugly pretty face” but let me tell you-  THIS is the real thing. My attraction to this feeling is that it is purely unmatched. You just cannot reproduce this face until you are deep into your workout, often with over half your body weight on your back or in your hands.

You can learn a lot about yourself in a gym. When someone with minimal body fat is telling you to not stop but everything hurts. When your knees are visibly wobble and your grip is slipping. Still with reps to go. I learned I love that place.

When the going gets tough, the tough get ugly.

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Started From the Bottom Now We’re Here

I am working hard, I am lifting heavy, my body fat has dropped (stay away Polar vortex), and I am building the body that will carry me to my goals this year.

I made the mistake of not taking baselines post injury because I chose to focus on what I hated (my tight pants) instead of appreciating the potential for progress (referencing my tight pants works here too). There have been many times that I have scoffed at people who say, “I want to work out for another month before I set my baselines”, and I easily point out the flaw to their plan without recognizing myself as a fellow baseline avoider. A sheep in trainer’s clothing.

As much as I would love to know how much muscle I have gained, I will forever be left to make assumptions with my biased interpretations of my self image. The only fact I know is that I was not previously ready for beach season. Now I am ready for it. According to women’s fitness magazines, this is a measurement of health.

Have you set baselines? Go weigh, measure, and assess your fitness. Use any dissatisfaction as motivation to chase your goals. I am diligently working away on erasing any “post surgery restrictions” from my file, and adding to my progress daily. I would love to look back on my journey from a statistical point of view and be able to graph it, chart it, and analyse it… if I so desired.

To tackle this year: my first- and hopefully not last- triathlon as well as a 23:59 5km. If you read along last year, you will know that my current PB is 24:32 and yes I expect you to remember these stats. That was a challenge that came together on my second attempt. Word on the street is that Guelph is a great triathlon for newbies and I will do the tried, tested, and true 5km course in London at the Forest City Road Races.

Right now I am focused on building, re-building, and re-creating in the gym. More squatting than trotting. And let me tell you I am standing on the shoulders of giants and I expect big things from myself this year.

Cue the baselines.

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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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