Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Pause Before the Beginning

It's been a while since I last posted. I think when I left you all I was suffering from a cold, which I think I caught from Duck before she left. Getting sick put a full-stop on the personal trainer era, forcing me to take a week and a half out from the gym. During that time I went through a bit of a dark patch. Sitting around at home didn't do much for my anxiety levels and general mental health.

As soon as I could I got back to the gym. In my first week post-cold I did two forty minute runs, one sixty minute run (a horrific experience in very cold rain), two RPM classes, a Balance class and some weights. I felt like I was easing myself back in easily, but in retrospect perhaps not. Perhaps understandably I felt like I was dragging myself through my workouts. I wasn't dying, but I was lacking the zing.

Last week the feeling of suffering something post-viral was growing stronger. I couldn't stop coughing and my lungs just weren't up to scratch. I ran with the former Jog Squadders on the Monday night, setting them some circuits around Frank Kitts, but pulled out after the second lap. I'm taking advantage of my time out to try to get my back problems sorted and the physio had given me permission to run within a certain pain limit. By the time I finished taking the City-to-Sea bridge steps two at a time I could feel myself getting too sore.

Tuesday I fitted in another RPM class, still feeling very tired. Steve took over for the evening and his screaming got me working harder than I'd expected. Wednesday was a forced rest day, thanks to a day trip up to Auckland and back for a conference (in itself exhausting). I had a 6.30 a.m flight to Auckland and didn't get home till 8.30 that night.

On Thursday I got up planning to do a Duck session without the Duck. I set my exercycle for a challenging half hour hill programme then settled in to watch the Tour de France. A ride through a picturesque valley turned into a beautiful long hill climb in the sun. Thirty minutes turned into around 55 minutes and I stayed glued to the screen until the stage finished. That left me only half an hour to try one of Duck's new programmes so I decided to head to work early instead. After work I selected the most leg-focused of the three workouts, heading home still feeling tired but happy.

I had a meeting scheduled over the top of Friday's Balance class and it was simply too cold and wet to venture out for a run in my post-viral state. The physio that aafternoon got me to do some one-legged squats and I was shocked at how unstable my right side has become. I worked so hard to build it up and then let it all slip away. So now I'm working on my glutes again - sigh! I have some exercises to do and I'm allowed to run, just not too far downhill. The physio was also concerned that I would try to push myself too hard before my body had recovered from this cold. She gave me permission to do some short runs but nothing too intense. Seriously reined in then!

On Saturday the 'mother of all storms' was hitting the country. Hamish took off with the car and it was just too extreme outside to try bussing or walking anywhere. Staying inside in the warm seemed like a sensible option, in keeping with the general spirit of being kind to myself and allowing my body to heal.

Being kind to myself was all very well, but there was of course the side of me worrying about dwindling fitness and increasing body fat. Today it was still cold but the wind backed off and I took possession of the car for an afternoon at the gym. It was time for the third of Duck's programmes, followed by another RPM. They both went well. I still don't quite have my full energy levels back but I'm getting there. I'll try a run tomorrow and see how that goes. I continue to cough, but not as badly.

The last few weeks have been challenging. The lack of exercise, not matched by a drop in food intake, and the onset of two cold, fierce storms have played havoc with my sanity. Not only do I know I've put on a little weight but I've been struggling to keep my mind from spinning out of control. I've been over-reacting to stress-triggers that I would usually shrug off. I worry a lot about this house. I worry the central heating is breaking again, the hot water cylinder packing up. The dish washer definitely isn't working properly and the fridge is questionable. The piles under the spare bedroom seem to be a bit soft. A leak in the kitchen cupboard has damaged the formica cabinetry to the point where we might need to lodge an insurance claim. Through it all it's cold, cold, cold. Outside it is regularly wet and windy beyond belief. Work has been stressful. This all adds up to a strange form of claustrophobia that can only be solved through some serious time out, away from everything. However that's unlikely to happen, so I'm hoping the usual round of running and cycling and Balance will eventually kick the demons to the curb again.

I'm feeling a little trepidation about having sole responsibility now for maintaining my fitness levels. Duck's three programmes are good, but they don't feel intense enough and I may tweak them a bit. I was really enjoying doing pull-ups, so I plan to throw in some sets of those somewhere. I want to do some heavier leg weights over the next month in preparation for the Taupo training when I will have to back off again. I also need to do more core work than is provided for in any of the programmes. I feel like I need to be focussing the next month on strength training overall, then introducing some interval stuff around the start of the cycling sessions before easing into maintenance mode as the weekend rides get longer. I think I know what I need and I have a lot of tools on hand. I just need to sit down and get myself organised. But first I need to get over this darn virus.

All is not bad though. I had some delicious porridge for breakfast, cooked a fantastic and healthy black bean soup for lunch and followed that with pasta with ratatouille for dinner (and a wonderfully crisp Packham pear for dessert). The cats have been cute and the weather tomorrow is supposed to be a little better. Worse things have happened!

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