Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Name is Pip. I am an Addict

Oooh, am I ever an addict. Nothing gives me the same high that running does. Nothing makes me feel as good as getting up at 6am for a weights session. Nothing integrates my fitness mind and my expansive mind the way a good Balance in the middle of the working day can do. Nothing takes me back to the seratonin rush of my crazy young Hard House days on the dance floor the way a pumping RPM track does.

I need this. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes I feel like I'm going backwards. Sometimes I'd rather be sitting on the sofa with chocolate. However get me out on the pavement around the Bays on a Saturday morning with fresh legs. Get me working my obliques on a cable machine. Get me into Warrior 2 in one of Mike's insane Tuesday classes. Listen to me signing along to a huge hill track on a Friday morning. Ask me then how I feel. Ask me then whether there's anything I would rather be doing.

It's not even like training is going particularly well at the moment. Winter is sapping my will to get out from under the duvet, and I'm having to be flexible about when I do my workouts. Add to that the abductor injury, which is only this week starting to show signs of improvement. My runs have been pretty mediocre at an objective level, especially when compared to the excellent runs I was enjoying towards the end of the last half marathon training programme.

I had a good session with my physio last Wednesday. She did some soft tissue massage on my abductor and a bit of ultrasound. I was feeling good, but then ran with the Squad and aggravated it again. For what it was it was a hard run. From Xtreme out to Fisherman's table, back along the beach, along the waterfront to the Shell station, then back to the gym. It was cold and the rain started to come down towards the end. I told myself that this was only my second real run since the half. I told myself I was injured. I tried not to let it bother me too much.

It wasn't like I had time to dwell on things, what with Duck, as promised, starting to work on my legs again on Thursday morning. Walking lunges with 20kg power bags. Balance poses with power bags. Squats. Press-ups. How I managed to survive the next day without serious pain I'm not sure. A rest day from cardio seemed prudent. However there was no escape from Dee's 6.30am RPM class on Friday morning and that darn Riverdance track. Pain. Glorious pain.

Things went into decline on Friday night with a staff mid-winter Christmas party in which I managed to eat my own weight in chips, garlic bread and Turkish. At 11.00 I left my colleagues in the Southern Cross and went on to join Hamish at a party in Oriental Bay. Big mistake. I was tired, nauseaus and in no real mood to linger. I found myself standing in the driveway looking out at a calm and still harbour. I came to a horrific conclusion. It was going to be a perfect morning for running with the Squad, and I was going to miss it because I was too busy partying. Even worse - I'd turned into the kind of person who avoids going out because they need to exercise. However there was something that seemed self-indulgent and ultimately destructive in the evening, and I wanted to be at home in bed. By 2am I'd decided to walk back to town and catch a cab home. I spent most of the rest of the weekend feeling unexpectedly queasy.

With a self-imposed sense of being in purgatory I headed off to the gym on Sunday, only realising half-way there that the day was perfect for cycling. Instead I managed 40 minutes on the X-Trainer (Level 12 on random), actually managing to spike my heart rate for a change. After that Sarah and I did Margaret's Balance class, then I headed home for some more eating.

I was vowing to purge on Monday and to reintroduce discipline to my training, but I was still feeling vaguely ill and it was just too cold to get out of bed to work out before work. Instead I had relatively fresh legs for my Monday Jog Squad run. I wasn't sure how my abductor was going to hold out, but my competitive nature wasn't going to let me take it slowly either.

We ran along the waterfront, up Bowen Street, down Molesworth and back along the waterfront. I would like to say I felt fantastic the whole way. Instead there were good aspects and bad aspects. It still felt hard but not as hard as Wednesday. I kept up with the front of the pack for most of it. My abductor didn't begin to hurt until around 25 minutes in, and even then the pain wasn't that bad. We made it back to the gym in around 39 minutes, longer than I'd intended, and I wasn't even left limping. By the next morning I felt fine.

My evident path to recovery led to the rediscovery of my mad dog tendencies. Mike's Balance class at lunchtime included the most intense strength track with lots of standing lunges, and also the most intense ab track. My obliques felt the burn! I followed that up after work with my lower body routine. I wasn't able to allow myself to drop anything, and really should have known better. I'm surprised my legs felt as good as they did during RPM. I turned up the dial at every opportunity and took pleasure out of paying attention to the details. Was my cadence in time with the music? Was I changing gear and standing or sitting on the beat? Were my legs working at capacity? What were my lungs telling me? Was I keeping my upper body still, not dropping my head, bending my arms, keeping my weight over my saddle?

Buoyed on by my return to training insanity I made it out of bed the next morning for an upper body/core workout. I didn't exactly take that easy either, despite still feeling my obliques from Tuesday. I can't remember what weight I usually do the woodchopper on, but I suspect it is a lot lower than what I managed on Wednesday.

I knew by 5.00pm that I was in trouble. I couldn't imagine running with my obliques in spasm mode, let alone with my quads in the state they were in post Tuesday's adventures with the leg press. Duck laughed, as I knew she would. Not only did I have to run that night, but I had to get up this morning and have a session with her. And she wasn't going to take it easy on me just because I'd gone a bit stupid this week.

I'm proud to say that I didn't give in though. I knew that the pain I was in was self-inflicted. I set out to keep up with the front pack as well as I was able, and I almost managed it. I was assisted by traffic lights for the duration, thankfully, or I would have been on my own! We ran up Taranaki Street and Wallace to Newtown. At Constable Street we crossed over and ran back down to the Basin. Then it was the familiar Ellis Street/Austin Street/Majoribanks rolling hill set, followed by a run down to Fisherman's Table, back along the sand, and back to the gym. It was supposed to take 40 minutes, but even those of us at the front took closer to 55.

This time my abductor didn't start to complain until nearly 35 minutes in, and again not badly. It was my quads and my glutes that were protesting more loudly. My breathing didn't feel that great either! I felt slow. I wondered what had happened to my ability to sit with the women at the front, and how Allie had suddenly developed the ability to kick my butt with such regularity. I admired Trudi's sheer speed and fitness and apparent natural ability. I admired Sarah's ability to fly up hills. However I also reminded myself of how sore I was, and gave myself permission to have a slow run. After all, it wasn't THAT slow. I was still within sight of Karen.

I considered running straight back to the gym at the end of Majoribanks, particularly given that we'd already been out for around 45 minutes and I didn't want to stress my abductor. Mad Dog wouldn't let me though, even though my pace coming off the sand had distinct snail-like qualities. My sense of pride was glad that traffic lights on Taranaki Street enabled me to catch the girls up and return to Xtreme seemingly victorious. 55 minutes of VERY hard running. How did I ever run for over two hours? How was I ever going to do it again?

I got a lecture from Duck this morning about not overtraining and turning up for Jog Squad runs with tired legs. In my defense, most of the time my legs are fairly fresh, and I'm only doing the programme she prescribed me, I swear! Ok, so a lower body workout and RPM on Tuesday could be classed as overdoing it, but the X-trainer on Sunday just made up for the run I missed on Saturday, and the RPM was to replace a homework run. Ok, so the homework run was only 20 minutes at an easy pace, and 45 minutes of intense spinning doesn't quite compare, but why should I drop back my fitness levels when I've worked so hard to get here?

I knew this morning that it was my fault I was sore, and there was no way I was going to try to beg for a light workout. This was going to be punishment, and I was turning up to serve my sentence. Oh how I hated the Duck halfway through though. It seems that sometimes Ducks don't play fair!

Today I was put through a circuit, starting with pull-ups, then full push-ups, then I had to jump from a standing squat, swinging a pair of barbells from behind me to my chest as I jumped. Once I landed I had to jump upwards, lifting the weights above my head in a shoulder raise motion. It took several goes for the neural pathways to grow for me to get that one right! From the jump/squat thingies it was straight into a leg press, then a swiss-ball jack-knife.

We started out doing 8 sets of each, then 6, 4 and 2. That was supposed to be it. As I stood there wanting to die the ante was upped. Despite my darkest looks and muttered references to Duck and Porcini sausages I completed another round of 1 rep of each exercise, 3, 5, 7 and 9. Die? Yes, now please.

Actually, I was amazed at how good I felt at the end of it all. In fact I think I increased in speed with each set, probably as I got to grips with the jump/squat thingies and the circuit. I took away a new pride in my increased upper body strength. I was able to manage the pull-ups with an ease that surprised me. If I gained one thing from today, it was a new perception of my muscular prowess. I was also pleased with my ability to take an exercise that involved a significant amount of coordination, and to systematically break it down and figure out what I needed to do to put theory into practice. It seems I'm finally making up for all those years I wasn't allowed on the jungle gym when I was younger.

So, over all a good workout! And I'm under strict instructions to take a day off tomorrow. Works for me. I have to collect for Women's Refuge from 8 till 9 before work in the morning, and it's my turn to cook for Baking Club (the Creme de Cacao slice is cooling on the stovetop as I type). I have a lot to get through before I go on leave tomorrow, and it won't hurt me to skip a Balance, as I will do my usual run/Balance combo on Saturday. There will be plenty of time to work out next week as well.

I don't know that I'll make the Manawatu half marathon now, but Pelorus is definitely on. The two hour half marathon WILL happen - and hopefully this year.

1 comment:

Sass said...

Argh I'm tired and sore just reading that post;p Every time I think I'm doing too much, I read about the Mad Dog and feel inadequate ;p

Go the Mad Dog! But not too hard - remember holidays are meant to be relaxing;p