On Friday morning I had my usual personal training session. I was a bit stiff and sore from Thursday and my left knee was feeling the strain. After the warm up I started off with lunges using the Smith machine and my poor old knee let me know that it had done more than its share for the week. I was carefully paying attention to it as I completed one set of lunges with 10 kg on the bar. Krissi swapped me over to squats with 20 kg on the bar for my second set. Instead of hurting me, my knee was just reminding me that it was there, which was a relief. After all, one of my running goals is to run injury free.
I tend to think of my left knee as an early warning system rather than as an injury. When it's really tired I know to be careful, and when it hurts me I know to back off. When I got to work later in the day I was really tempted to take the lift but I've learned that stairs are an excellent way for me to know whether or not my knees are in trouble. This Friday there was a little pain but it was pretty mild compared to the way they used to hurt me when I first started at the gym so I knew that I hadn't done any damage.
After the lunges / squats we headed over to do some hamstring curls on the fitball. This exercise looks really easy but it sure does require some effort. I did two sets of 10 reps. Half way through the first one Krissi had me concentrating on lifting up as my legs pulled the ball towards me, which made the exercise much harder. Hopefully that's really good news for my butt as well as my hamstrings.
We then moved back to the Smith machine for chest presses. Krissi showed me an easier way to get onto the bench. I'd always sat on the end and then ducked my head under the bar as I laid down backwards. Kriss showed me that if I started at the other end of the bench and moved my body under the bar that I wouldn't be worrying about banging my head. So simple and so much easier! I started off with the 10 kg warm up set of 12 reps, then we added 5 kg to the bar. That really tested me. I finished the second set and started to head off to whatever was next, but Krissi called me back for a third set. She could see that she'd almost had me to failure in the second set and wanted to see if I could manage a third. I made it to 10 just and failed half way on the 11th. Kriss was spotting me and was explaining to me how to do it for someone else. I love all this info she shares. I also think she'll teach me how to spot for someone else, which would be a useful thing to learn.
To finish off I did a set of 10 assisted chinups. It's ages since I clambered up onto the chinup machine. The first time I ever got on it was an absolute hoot, involving all sorts of giggling accompanied by some screaming when I started to climb off too early and my trainer, Sarah, had to jump up with me to stop the weights crashing down. At least I know what I'm doing now. We only had time for the one set of 10 at approx 10 kg. To my pleasure I managed to get them all done.
After that Krissi stretched out my legs for me. It was such a good feeling. I managed to climb up the stairs when I was leaving the gym without my knee hurting too.
I didn't do any exercise in the evening as I had some friends over for dinner. We had a lovely time, even if I did nearly burn the house down. (Well, not really but the smoke alarm was going crazy - all I did was heat the oven with my new silicone baking sheet on a tray - oven 1 silicone baking sheet 0).
This morning I went with my friend Alex to Black Mountain. She had a crazy idea that she wanted to run up the mountain. Now Alex doesn't jog but she has been doing an intense exercise program for quite a while now and sounded sure that she could do it. She'd walked me up that mountain in 22:40 back in September. I told her I'd tag along with her for as long as I could.
I was keen to do the mountain walk again, as I hadn't really believed the distance on the sign the last time. I was wearing my Garmin this time and straight away I knew that I'd been right to doubt. It seems the distance on the sign at the bottom is for the whole journey, up and back, not just the journey in one direction. It was 1.2 km from the place we started running to the top of the mountain. The net increase in elevation was 174 metres.
I'd told Krissi what we had planned and she gave me some advice about running up steep hills. She told me not to stick my bum out, and explained why I should aim to keep as upright as possible. She also recommended small steps and suggested I try to add some spring. I shared all this with Alex. I managed to think about springing for all of 20 m. Fortunately I was able to concentrate on staying upright for much longer and I kept my steps smaller than usual.
When we started off I was going to let Alex lead but she was taking much smaller steps than me and I just didn't have the patience to stay back with her. I was about 20 m ahead of her when I remembered that she'd forgotten to bring any water with her, so I waited for her and handed over one of the bottles from my fuel belt. (Yep, the fuel belt I couldn't find the other day was in a safe place.) I then told her I'd try to run for as long as I could and went on ahead.
I managed to run for about 800 m or just over 11 minutes before I chose to walk. I was about 753 m up. As I got closer to the top there was a bit of a downhill before the last rise, so I ran that section (about 2 minutes) and then managed to run up most of the last rise until a flight of about a dozen stairs. I got to the top in 17:51, which was an improvement of nearly five minutes. I was delighted.
I caught my breath and then headed back down towards Alex. She was only a few minutes behind me. We headed back up to the top and had a 5 minute breather. I did some stretching and then we did the easy section. It took me 17:07 to get back downhill. I'm still a bit nervous going down and I was watching out for my knee as well, so I took it pretty carefully. I did run one small section of the downhill as I was losing Alex. She was much more confident than me going downhill. After getting to the top before her, I didn't want to be miles behind her when we got back to the bottom.
We then walked back out to the car. The walk in and out from the car was about 3.5 km and started at 580 m elevation. The top of the walk was 816 m. According to my Garmin we ascended approx 340 m for a net gain of 236 m. Oh, and my Garmin went crazy up at the top of the hill, probably due to proximity to the Telstra Tower, so all those figures could be wrong.
I think I'm in danger of becoming addicted to all these stats! Seriously, it is fun to be keeping track of stuff like elevation, but once you've measured it you know what it is. Which is kind of handy, as Alex and I are planning to do this again to see how much we've improved.
We did see a couple of serious runners out there, running up the mountain. They sure were motoring along. At the moment I can't imagine being like them, but a few years ago I would never have imagined that I'd be able to walk up the trail, let alone run up it. I felt terrific after we finished and so did Alex. We think we rock!