Tag Archives: run

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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No Squats & No Trots

I can’t lie, it is hard to watch people run by me in shorts and tank tops. They are all rubbing in my face that I can’t run right now. How rude.

This week I saw a doctor who thinks I have damaged the cartilage and meniscus in my left knee. The last time I saw him, I had just been hit by a car. Looking over my file he didn’t seem surprised to see me again. He prodded and poked around then he sent me on my way after requesting an MRI.

So after having every fun exercise eliminated from my temporary repertoire, I nestled in on the stationary bike for a thrilling resistance- free ride. My doctor told me only about a hundred times: no squats.

Maybe he reads my blog.

Cardio equipment at the gym has the same etiquette as using a public washroom. Am I wrong?!

So here I am, biking in slow motion watching the Raptors game on the TV, listening to my iPod, and occasionally texting on my phone. Yes you heard me right; my workout was actually that uninvolved. Calling it a workout is quite generous since it was a sweat free 45 minutes. Anyways, I am in a row of 12 bikes, all of which are available. There are two more rows of cardio equipment behind me and everything is empty.

So a woman comes over and sits down right beside me. Then she doesn’t turn on her TV and watches mine. Then she reads what I text and mimics me every time I move.

Why do people do this?! Am I just crazy about my personal space?? Actually don’t answer that. But really. I bet she is the person who sits beside you on the subway and leans in to read your paper instead of her own. And I bet she would use the bathroom stall right next to you.

On another note, I think I should formally do a study on the (predicted) correlation between how increased physically injury drastically impairs patience and social skills.

My apologies to those how get in my gimpy way.

deadfall

 

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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!!

dreamers

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Olympic State of Mind

I just read an article about how us average folk are hitting the gym with an extra oomph to our workouts as we watch the Olympics and decide to train like Olympians ourselves. Although it was well written and it justified the author’s opinion, I disagree.

I am not even joking that I was going to blog about my surprise at the lack of energy in the gym during the Olympics. Athletes are displaying phenomenal strengths and skills on screens throughout the gym as members intently watch their own reflections doing bodyweight calf raises.

This article is concerned that people can’t train like Olympians and will get hurt. First of all, where are these people? Secondly, without intending to be rude, let me just say that the average person does not know how Olympians train and Google can only help them so much. Unless you don’t work and have access to an extremely talented (enter sport here) coach then you are out of luck. Unless someone brings their hockey stick to practise their wrist shot, or sings the national anthem before they start, I don’t think we should panic. Safety in the gym is always a concern but enthusiasm translating into intensity sounds good to me.

Let’s talk about something that is much more dangerous: watching the Olympics while doing cardio. I felt good, had new music on my iPod, and after 45 minutes of weights, I headed to the treadmill for a 20 minute run.

Some things you I would like to share about myself: I have a background in dance, a little bit in figure skating, and I’m a spaz when I’m excited.

And I turned on the Olympics just in time to watch the ice dance finals. You know how when you’re talking to someone who is shocked and your face makes a shocked face too? I did the body language version of this. In public. While trying to run. My limbs were completely out of control and I was careening around as much as the treadmill would let me. By the time I was ready to get off, I wasn’t sure if my increased heart rate was from the run or from the nerves of competing in the ice dance against the TV.

If anything, we should be concerned for the people who are training while watching and not those channeling their Olympic state of mind into their workouts. Treadmills should be off limits for the gold medal hockey game …

hurdle

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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.

change

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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.

stiffdead

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Sunday Funday (Run Day)

My plan for the weekend was to be lazy because on Friday I did a workout of superset dropsets. If you don’t know what that means, think of going to failure. And then repeat. And repeat. Until you have 5 pound dumbbells in each hand and you’re grunting like you’re lifting a car and people aren’t even trying to pretend they aren’t staring at you.

My body responded well to taking the week off of barbell squats and pushups which was really disappointing because I was somehow convinced I knew my shoulder better than my surgeon. That was false. My asymmetries also seemed to backslide this week, likely because of a crazy week of training (others) and not finding quite enough time to train myself.

This morning I felt like staying in and just getting work done. Just some reading and some programming, and my fitness was dancing along to Christmas carols when I got up to make more tea.

But the body wants what it wants. And it decided to run.

Maybe it was the calming view of fall snowing through my window, or maybe it was the music that made me feel like outside was a magical wonderland. Either way, I needed to clear my head and I think my neighbours probably needed a break from the power ballads that Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera call Christmas carols. If they could even hear them over top of me singing/screaming along.

I bundled up and headed out into a slushy mess not resembling the untouched snow on my balcony that looked so inviting. Ah yes, the season of irregular cadences, unpredictable footing, and 100:1 chance of spontaneous injury. This was our first big snowfall in Toronto this year, and it made up for our lack of snow earlier in the season.

I headed out away from the main streets into a quiet neighbourhood nearby. I ran around a park full of families sledding which created a soundtrack of children yelling and laughing over top of my heavy breathing. As I slipped along home, my keys jingled reassuringly in my pocket and my phone bounced around in the other (lesson learned; you never know when you might get hit by a car). I zig-zagged from one sidewalk to the other depending on which looked safer or less congested with slow moving, bundled up bodies. This ended up getting a little bit frustrating but winter running is never for speed. Unless you are participating in a bobsled or luge race.

I got back home with my tear stained cheeks in a big smile and I was about to walk back inside as someone in an old school fake wooden paneled minivan honked and yelled at me. I gave him a thumbs up because I’m sure he yelled something like “Hey aren’t you the girl from the blog?!” Gee, people in Toronto are friendly. 🙂

snowrun

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Gold and Goal

To celebrate my achievement of beating my goal time (by 28 seconds!) and my time from last weekend (by 51 seconds!) I decided to reward myself. So I tried.
Monday was supposed to be a day off from exercise and a guilt- free day to eat anything. One muffin later, my stomach told me to pick something else.
After I was done training for the day, D and K were starting their workouts. Like the good friends they are, they made sure to give me a really hard time about taking the day off. Other tips included “don’t eat cookies!” and “why are you going to bed so early!” which made it feel less like a day celebrating my victory. These guys come in handy when I feel lazy though, so I won’t complain.

So now I am looking ahead at what is next to come. It is too bad that I’m just getting started as racing season is wrapping up but I still have options. I can keep racing through the winter since apparently Mother Nature isn’t totally against me, or I can focus my efforts elsewhere. I have a lot of friends who train and compete in figure competitions so that has crossed my mind but my body is still working on basic level functioning. That would be like trying to take the whole flight of stairs at once.

The best part of making a comeback is passing the benchmark that you had set before.

I still remember my last workout before the car accident. It was the day before and I was feeling great. An easy run to the park, 100 lunges, 10 hill sprints, then I ran home at a 3:51/km pace. I will have to use that as a baseline to see just when I surpass my (old) self. But not yet. Anyways, I am thinking even further ahead than that.

Swimming in a race in a lake terrifies me; the thought of getting back on a bike makes me nervous; but I can absolutely run. So, next summer I will do my first triathlon.

With two attempts, I have achieved my first goal and now it is on to the next one! It is big, and it is challenging, and I am looking forward to every scary step of the way!

Cue the motivation saying!!!

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Hitting My Stride

Eye of the Tiger playing on repeat didn’t work last time so I tried a new strategy today… which was just being normal.

I signed up for a race this weekend after my dreams were crushed in last weekend’s attempt. Well, that is an exaggeration but I had wanted a better result. I had my mind set on beating 25 minutes, but my body didn’t follow through. So I set up a plan to try again.

I came to my parents house this weekend for a visit and of course, for another race. Luckily for me, all conditions were in my favour, especially compared to my last race. The weather was as close to perfect as it ever gets for races, and it was the opposite of the hurricane- like scene of last weekend. I had a ride to the race which also meant I had a warm up buddy (thanks mom) and I could strip down my layers at the last minute. My dad made sure to weave through the women at the start line to give me a firm handshake and yell “Give ’em shit!” which did a great job of clearing me some space.

Due to lots of rain over the past week, the original course was flooded and the new route was much flatter. Like I said, things were turning up in my favour.  We were running an out and back course on a flat bike path, I had a great starting position, my laces were double knotted, and my cheering section was waiting for 25 minutes (as they specified).

The first kilometre was the hardest but at the 1k mark, I was running a 4:50 pace and that was a good feeling. As we ran through the park I saw some old co-workers and after yelling a friendly greeting, I almost forgot I was racing. The bonus to running in my hometown is that I know that park inside and out, and it is easy to get comfortable. As comfortable as racing can be.

Beyond the turnaround, I found I had a new cheering section in the runners behind me. Some friends from old soccer teams or people I knew from the running community hollered my name and yelled encouragement as I headed back to the finish. That felt great and I found more motivation to get myself across the finish line even faster.

Turning the last corner before the finish was when I really started gasping for air… but then I saw the clock. I could roll to the finish line and cross this goal off of my list. Not only did I beat my last time, but I beat my goal time. I really beat it. I happily crossed the finish line at 24:32, high fiving strangers and looking for my parents’ excited faces in the crowd.

As a kid, running races with my family was just an average weekend. It’s funny, though; 15 years later and there is still no feeling that matches seeing your proud parents cheering you on from the sidelines.

Another good feeling is having to set another goal.

training

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Round 2

Last you heard from me, I had upgraded my comeback to ‘quest’ status. And I take my questing very seriously. So, I am throwing myself back into it. I am registered to race next Sunday. Eight days to get things together is potentially not my best idea but the race payment has gone through so let’s see what happens.

Race photos from last weekend were finally posted so I could witness the pain all over again, as well as experience it from a new angle. My impatient wait for photos was rewarded with pictures I have no recollection of. That is the funny thing about finish line photos; our brains are half dead and half on speed. I swore I was alone but it turns out there are three women right behind me.

And nothing breaks your confidence like seeing someone you perceive as “unfit” in your finish line photo. Is that a terrible thing to say?

My mom has a finish line photo featuring a white haired, frail looking man right behind her, and I remember her pointing that out a few times. The problem is that several races can finish at the same time so you just don’t know who will photobomb your memories. The cropping feature was invented for finish line photos.

Maybe my goal for Sunday will be to make sure I finish with lots of space around me. Who knows, maybe I can photoshop in a Kenyan or two.

2013-04-23-Finish-Line

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