Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Did I really climb all those stairs?

My calves have gone on strike! I've been hobbling around like a little old lady. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

I nearly rang Krissi on Monday night to suggest we did weights on Tuesday morning. Instead I decided that an extra night's sleep would make all the difference. It didn't. Going up the stairs at Krissi's was torture, but there was no way I was catching the lift! Practically before I said "good morning" I said "my calves hurt, I don't know if I can run". I explained that I was telling her now to prepare her for the inevitable moaning and groaning that would accompany any attempt to move my legs that was faster than a hobble.

One thing you have to admire about Krissi - she doesn't waste sympathy. I "ouched" all the way down the stairs. It made no difference. As soon as we hit the footpath we were running.

We headed off in a different direction to our usual run from her place. Now, I really don't like new runs. I like them even less when I don't think I can run. We started off slowly so that my calves had a chance to warm up. Between my misery about my sore legs and my misery about not knowing where we were going I was a sad and sorry specimen of a runner. Fortunately for Krissi, I moan a lot less in real life than I do when I'm recounting the run. Well, I moan less out loud. Krissi chats away to distract me while I have an internal dialogue along the lines of "I hate this. My breathing is fine. I hate this. My legs are warming up and don't hurt so much now. I hate this. I'm running quite well really. I hate this. I don't really have any reason to stop. I hate this. Oh, this is quite an interesting route. I hate this."

Finally we crossed suburbia to the running path that we usually start behind the War Memorial. It took us just over 15 minutes to get there. I didn't know how far along we'd go, but I knew we wouldn't turn around until we'd been out for half an hour. By then my legs were fine and I'd stopped complaining to myself every step of the way. In fact, I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

At the half hour mark I was ready to turn around, but Krissi reminded me that we'd run up a long 'false hill' on the way, so we'd be faster on the way back. She suggested that we run to the turnoff just past the start of the horrible hill. Up I went, thinking "I'm never faster on the way back" but knowing better than to mention it. I was also looking forward to running down the long hill. It was every bit as good as I'd hoped.

We ran for a little more than an hour, which was a fantastic effort on legs that hadn't wanted to get out of the car.

Later that day I was back to hobbling like a little old lady, thinking to myself in amusement "I do this for my health!" The world is a crazy place!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Plan - Complete a blog entry

I nearly got through the whole of the first paragraph of my exciting tale about my morning run last Tuesday. I don't remember what it was that interrupted me but it's taken me until today to get back to it.

Normally I run with Krissi on Tuesday morning, but this week I had a meeting in Melbourne to attend. There was no way known I could fit in my usual PT session and get to the airport on time. I was all set to skip it when I realised that if I got out of bed a little earlier than usual I'd be able to squeeze in an hour's run. I told Krissi and TB the plan. I find that if I tell someone that I'm running I then feel obliged to get out there and do it. Given that I've been really struggling to run on my own lately, I needed to know that they were expecting me to run as extra motivation.

It worked. I was out running just after 6 am. I headed off towards the Kaleen shops, as that's the direction I went when I first started running again. I figured it would be a good measurement of my improvement. Now, if I'd written this on Tuesday, as originally intended, there'd be a lot more detail about the run, but this is definitely going to be the condensed version.

I ran most of the way, which I was really pleased about. I stopped for a brief walk three times on the way out and only once on the way back. The 7.5 km run took me a few minutes under an hour. I quite enjoyed it, even if it was suburbia for part of the way. I prefer running on bike tracks or trails, but footpaths are ok when there's not a lot of people backing out of their driveways. There were quite a few people walking or riding their bikes but I was the only runner out that morning.

The moment I was proudest of occurred at the top of a hill. I had enough breath to say goodmorning to a woman who was waiting for her dog. Normally Krissi is in charge of greeting people. I do this kind of puff, pant, look anguished thing and, if I have enough energy, a feeble wave. Saying goodmorning after running up a hill was quite an improvement.

I was also pleased that on the way home I took the tough route up around the road to my house instead of cutting across the park. There's a hill both ways, but one is much harder than the other. Mind you, I asked myself "What would Krissi choose?" which made the choice easier. I could have asked "What would TB choose?" but he's already dragged me up along the road because it's tougher.

On Thursday I had bootcamp at lunch time. It was the last session, and it was as tough as ever. We started off with the skipping, followed by the starjumps, power squats, half burpees and pushups. I was exhausted! Then Billy had the weight plates out for us to carry. My shoulder is still sore, so I begged off this one. While the others were running back and forth carrying weight plates, I was using the resistance band, and pulling Billy across the lawn. I realised that I'd only thought I was exhausted earlier.

After that, the whole crew did the resistance band stuff. They were different variations. I was teamed up with Billy again. Not easy, let me tell you. Usually your partner takes pity on you and lessens the resistance. I think Billy was probably taking pity on me but he still worked me harder than anyone else has for that session. To finish we did squats. And we did squats. And again. Sheesh! A few stretches, and we were done. I think I'll sign up for this again next year. It's been great working out with my team mates, and it's a good break from my desk.

I was going to go to Circuit at the War Memorial with Brad after work, but I got caught up there and didn't make it. I think it's probably just as well, as I was a bit stiff and sore later in the day.

On Friday I wasn't feeling the best but I made it to PT. Krissi regularly says she'll work with whatever I have left and that she's happy if I give 100%. I thought, you never know, I might feel better after exercising. In fact I did. It's amazing how that works out.

It was pretty much the usual session. 25 mins on the bike. Today we just built resistance for 1 min intervals after the warmup. I think Krissi was being kind to me because I had told her I wasn't feeling well. It was still a good workout. After that we did squats. I handled the weight comfortably, which means my knee is in good shape. I'm really happy about that. We did the weird back exercise. I was having form problems with this one, because I had it in my head that I had to lift the weight higher. Now that I'm concentrating on lifting with my back and on raising my elbows rather than my hands, it's working a lot better.

I am constantly amazed by how the human body adjusts to what it is doing. With chest presses I've been doing three sets of 10 for some time now. Sometimes I only get to 8 on the second or third set, but 10 is the goal. During the first set on Friday I was lifting really well. As I got to about 8 Krissi told me that my goal was 12. I was feeling good, so I expected that I'd be able to lift the 11th and 12th time without any trouble. No way. My body was used to 10 and that's all it let me do. I squeezed them out with Krissi's assistance, but there was no way I was going to do them on my own.

We did 2 sets instead of 3 as we were running out of time. I didn't make the 10th at all on the second set. It just wasn't there. Krissi stretched me and I headed off to work. Another good PT session.

I had been going to run on Saturday morning but it was raining heavily so I skipped it. I didn't even bother to think about it today as we were moving furniture for a friend of TB's. I was mainly carrying light stuff while the guys did the heavy lifting. TB's friend lives up three sets of stairs. That was 48 stairs in each direction. I must have been up and down them about 25 times. By the end I was really having to make myself go upstairs. There was a steep driveway as well. I was glad that I wasn't pushing the trolley with the fridge on it or carrying the lounge.

Normally I would have avoided helping, but I figured it would be a good workout and I'd be saving TB some hard work on his weekend. There were four guys there, one who mainly packed the truck and three who carried. I figure I saved each of the three guys about five or six trips, given that they would have carried more stuff down at a time than me. While TB and the guys drove over to unload the stuff I headed home and collapsed!

I'm hoping TB has enough energy to cook dinner tonight!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Quiet week

It's been a quiet week on the exercise front. My morning bootcamp finished last week, I missed the midday bootcamp because of a work trip, and hockey is over until next year. My regular six hours of "booked" exercise has come down to two PT sessions, one bootcamp and a circuit session. I'm going to have to find some self-motivation and get my backside out there. Mind you, I did enjoy spending most of the week without the aches and pains that accompany bootcamp.

On Friday a week ago I had my usual weights session with Krissi. To my relief she had her new exercise bike. It's more like the cycles used in spin class at the gym. Krissi cranked up some RPM tracks and we were away. It was a really different session to the old bike. I certainly ended up dripping with sweat. I don't think I'm fit enough to do an RPM class as I was dying after 20 minutes. Krissi regularly ends up training a ghost for the second half of our sessions.

This week I got on the bike and the seat was broken. Yes, you guessed it. Stairs. I was running up and down stairs like they were going out of fashion. On the down side of the equation, my run is kind of a quicker version of walking, as I'm convinced I'm going to fall. I am starting to pick my feet up faster though, so I'm getting more confident.

The first set of reps involved running up two flights of stairs, doing squats at the top, then repeating. I was puffing away like a steam train as I did my 20, 15, 10 squats. It was such a relief to have the rest break. The second set of reps was similar, only it was 10, 8 and 5 pushups. The third set seemed harder, as Krissi had me coming up the steps two at a time on the second flight of stairs. I struggle with two stairs at a time. My explanation is that I'm short, although I think it's really that I never do it. The first time I didn't know what to do with my hands and had to fight to keep myself from grabbing the rails. I realised that if I used my arms the way I did for single stairs at least I wouldn't be grabbing out. It made such a difference. I found it so much easier to do the two steps at a time.

I don't know what to call the exercise at the top of the third set, so I'm going to try describing it. Basically I did a "run, run, run, run, run" on the spot, then got down flat on the ground when Krissi said "drop". The first time I got to my knees and then down. Krissi showed me how to do it without kneeling, as that was better for my knees. It was a struggle not to kneel first so we both had the giggles at some of my contortions. The third time Krissi wanted me to stop leaning on my leg as I stood up, which introduced a new set of contortions and giggles.

Minor aside: TB is reading an article about a Carlton Football Club bootcamp to me while I'm typing, which is making it hard to concentrate. It certainly sounds a lot tougher than the bootcamp we've been doing. I suggested he send it to Krissi and Brad as they might get some ideas for us. "No way!"

Now he's looking at Princess Park renovation photos ... this is sad. I've just had it explained to me that it's "Visy Park" and I'm being given the opportunity to solve the "Who am I?" Why do I suddenly have the urge to go to the Western Bulldogs website?

Back to business.

I had meant to go to the gym regularly to do weights, but I haven't managed it lately. Fortunately, I've been doing upper body work at bootcamp, so I am still seeing improvement from week to week with my chest presses. I've found this particular exercise quite educational over the past twelve months and I'm glad we've gone back to it with this particular program. It's the first exercise I ever reached failure with. It's also the exercise where I've learnt that I still have more left even when I think I don't. I seem to be able to mentally dig a bit deeper and push a little more than I could before, and I'm seeing the benefit of this in my running. I've also learned that the body recovers its strength amazingly during the rest between sets. That helps a lot between uphills.

I didn't exercise at all last weekend, unless you count shopping and gardening as exercise. Actually, weeding the garden involves a lot of bending and squatting so I think you probably can count gardening. I had a long day on Monday, as I worked in the morning and then went in the truck with TB from Canberra to Sydney and back. I asked a while ago if I could go with him one day, as I had never driven that road before. TB thought I was crazy to suggest it, however, after several weeks of "Where are you? How far away is that? How long will it be before you get home?" he realised that it might save him a lot of explanation.

I really enjoyed the trip. The view from the truck is great. In case any of my readers know anything about trucks, TB is driving a heavy rigid truck. It takes a bit of climbing up into the passenger seat. TB was quite amused to see me struggle my way in and out of the truck. I did find that my lower back got quite tired with all the sitting. Thank goodness for having learnt at the gym that your back starts to "help" when you're getting tired. I was able to turn on my abs and straighten up my posture to take the pressure off my lower back, so I didn't end up too stiff and sore.

On Tuesday Krissi and I went for a run from Braddon to Lyneham and back. It was amusing to be running back towards home after driving to Braddon. I was tempted to call in on TB but I didn't think Krissi would let me stop long enough to have a coffee. It was a good run. We covered about 7.5 km in just under an hour.

On Wednesday I was up at stupid o'clock to catch the first flight to Melbourne and I was out until stupid o'clock having dinner with workmates. Somehow on Thursday morning I managed to head out at 6 am for a run along the Yarra. At least I didn't have a hangover to contend with as I'd used the "I'm running" reason for drinking water all night. The other benefit of the "I'm running" reason is that I then feel obligated to back up the claim by actually going for a run. It was another good run. I enjoy all the activity along the river. I found myself running rather than jogging, so when I got to the "do I do another loop" decision point I decided to skip the loop and see if I could keep the pace up all the way back to the hotel. It wasn't much faster than my jogging pace but it felt quite different to be running.

Next week I'll have my usual PT sessions, lunchtime bootcamp, a 'circuit' at the War Memorial, and whatever running I manage to get out there and do. I'll have to try to organise myself to get to the gym as well. With all the Christmas lunches and dinners coming up, I'll have to be exercising to make up for the celebrations.