I've been too busy to blog. Normally when I don't blog it means I haven't exercised, but I did get to the gym on Thursday and to PT and for a run on Friday.
After a week of not feeling quite right and missing the first two sessions of the outdoor fitness challenge, I headed off to the gym on Thursday evening for my PT session with Julia. I figured I'd manage a half hour session without too much trouble. I warmed up on the treadmill. The tv screens have arrived, but I didn't have my earphones with me so I turned mine off. I was then confronted with my reflection. As I was expecting to do a weights session I hadn't worn a running bra, so there I was on the screen, bouncing away. I decided that walking was probably a much better option. If I'd been seeing Krissi or Leanne I would have been wearing something I could run and jump in. I'll have to change my mindset for my sessions with Julia or I'll end up not taking them seriously.
The session itself was fine. Rather than waiting for her to ask me about any injuries, I told Julia about my knee to be on the safe side. The program she had planned for me wasn't going to cause any problems, which was good. We started off with fitball squats. I was a little 'ho-hum' about them as I think I've advanced well past them, but I decided to give Julia a chance to work out where I was at for herself. To my surprise, the variation Julia had me doing was quite challenging. On the fifth squat I had to stay down while she counted. I'm not sure how long I was down each time, but it did get progressively longer and I was really glad to stop after the fifth set of five.
After the squats Julia had me doing dumbbell chest presses. She asked me what weight I'd been using. I've only recently progressed to the bottom row of weights, so I was more than happy to tell her 8 kg. We repeated the squats (4 lots of 5 this time, with longer holds on the fifth squat) and then the chest presses, before doing triceps pushbacks using a 3 kg weight. After this we did some killer butt exercises on the floor. I was fairly impressed by these. A bit of stretching at the end and that was the session.
I'm not all that keen on the Fernwood PT session structure. While being stretched by the trainer is "nice" it's not essential, and I'd rather do a more comprehensive set of exercises and get some abs work as well. It seems that abs work has fallen off the radar. I don't know when the session structure changed exactly, but the PT's at our gym were able to resist it while the gym was being managed from Melbourne. Now that there's an on-site manager it seems we're stuck with following the recipe approach to PT.
Julia made a comment that she didn't want people leaving her sessions feeling like they hadn't worked hard enough. On reflection, it sounds to me as though some of the other clients might not like this new approach either. I'll see how it goes, but at this stage I don't think I'll be renewing my PT sessions when my contract comes to an end.
I had my PT session at Krissi's place. She's set up a room in her home as a training studio and this was my first session there. It was good to see the set up as I've been hearing all about it from Krissi and the others. I was able to have a great workout. It started with a 10 minute warmup on the bike. Not exactly my favourite form of cardio, but I only had myself to blame. I planned to run at lunchtime so I opted for the bike instead of a jog in the park.
After I warmed up Krissi did some great stretches with me. I felt really spoiled. I then did some static lunges off the step to work on stability. It's when I do stuff like this that Krissi's experience really shows. Krissi watches me like a hawk and makes sure that my form is good. For example, my posture is better on my stronger leg. She explains what she's seeing and works with me to correct the problems. I get a real sense of what the exercise ought to feel like and I know why I should take the trouble to recreate that feeling when I'm doing it on my own.
One of the things the group of women that I train with often laugh about is the way we hear our personal trainer's voice in our heads when they aren't there. Julia doesn't mention locking on my abs at all but I hear this chorus of voices - Sarah, Leanne and Krissi - telling me to breathe and to keep my abs locked on to protect my lower back etc.
We then did barbell chest presses. We loaded the bar up with 5 kg weights. When I do that on the Smith machine I think of that as a warmup but I was finding it hard going. After the first set I managed eight pushups then struggled to get to 10 reps in the second set. In fact, I think I'd have to call it nine and a half. I thought I was still exhausted and mentioned that to Krissi. She pointed out that the bar itself weighed another 5 kg, not to mention the things that were holding on the weights. I felt a lot better hearing that. I don't know what the Smith machine equivalent would be and I don't really care. I've a new baseline now and I'll be able to measure improvement from it.
We did some triceps pulldowns using a rope instead of a fixed bar. Krissi explained how to hold the rope to get the maximum benefit from the exercise. It really did make a difference. Some lower back exercises and we were done. I really enjoyed the workout.
Friday Hill Run
One of the guys at work, Tom, asked if I'd like to go running with him at lunch time, so I did. I warned him that I'm a slow runner but he didn't seem to mind. Tom told me that he found running more fun when he had company. We headed off just before midday, following a running route Tom had done a couple of times before. What he hadn't told me, until we were on our way, was that it was really hilly. I did get a choice between steep and not so steep, so I figured I may as well give steep a go. I managed to run about a third of the way up the hill before having to walk. I got myself going a few more times on the way up. Tom kept running on ahead and then coming back to collect me.
He assured me that once we got to the top it would be downhill (strange that). What he didn't tell me was that there were several more steep hills along the path. When I loaded the info from my Garmin into my pc I discovered that we gained 200 m of elevation during our 5.5 km run. We also lost them again on the way back. When I get back to Canberra I'll load the elevation profile up into this blog entry. I was quite cautious running downhill. I imagine that I'll get faster as I become more confident that I can keep my balance.
We ran along the trail for 25 minutes and then back again. I found it challenging, but we both really enjoyed it. It was hard work but the company helped. Running this route once a week is going to really help my fitness. It's also going to be great preparation for City to Surf next year.
We missed the turnoff on the way back, so we ended up tearing across country for the last few hundred metres, which was fun. It was raining so I wasn't worried about snakes out sunning themselves. 5.5 km in 50 minutes is pretty slow but it was a great workout. Best of all, my knee is fine today.