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I thought I was strong. I mean, I knew I wasn’t as aerobically fit as I wanted to be. But I thought I was strong because I could occasionally lift something heavy. I could mountain bike (slowly and with lots of rests) and I could do a handful+ of pushups and jog for a mile or two on a good day.
Not an athlete by any means but functional.
I was wrong. I was very wrong.
For one, like I’ve said before, strength without flexibility is a kind of weakness. Jogging a mile or two and ending up with shin splints or cramping calves is a downer. Sloooowly getting more aerobically competent over the course of months just in time for it to get too cold and wet to mountain bike? Boo. And I don’t know what happened over the Winter but I fell far, physically speaking.
Strength training is opening my metaphorical eyes. I’m having trouble putting into words how glad I am that I stumbled into strength training. And how lucky I was to stumble into Underground Athlete and Justin. Seriously, I learn something new every workout.
The Sleeve: Learning my Body
I’m realizing that I don’t know what my body is saying. We’re out of touch with one another, apparently. Examples:
- This past Saturday, doing alternate dumbbell incline presses, Justin said we’d do the last set with a slightly heavier weight and to technical failure. I said that my right arm was feeling kind of weak for some reason. Not a complaint. Just trying to keep track of my condition and let him know what the deal is. If my arm were to suddenly give out mid-lift, for example, that’s one exercises where it helps to have someone there to keep you from rending your shoulder out of the socket. By the end of the set when my arms gave out it was the left arm. Huh??
- On Sunday I went for a hike. I felt pretty good all Saturday and on Sunday despite the sled and the split leg squats. I went for a hike to get my heart beat going at a moderate rate for about an hour. The first of what I did at Accotink has some hills. Nothing serious but enough to get you breathing, especially when it’s at the beginning. My legs were killing me. That lactic feeling down the sides of my legs and especially in the smaller gluteus muscles — medius and minimus. We do some warmup exercises using exercise loops that activate those muscles.
- On Monday I thought I was going to have trouble because of that soreness. I felt it, no doubt, especially during the warmups. It was slowing me down. But the goblet squat was unaffected. The plate push … well that’s another story. More about that later.
- I have a heart rate monitoring watch ‘n junk so I can get a sense of my heart rate vs. various biological sensations. Nausea, for example. When I’d get slightly nauseous it was never near my maximum heart rate. It would be on the way down. But the feeling of how much oxygen I needed or breathing I needed to do always lags behind the heart rate. I’d try to get my heart down a little bit — not too much — between sets. I can affect that by breathing purposefully but even when the HR was where I wanted it to be I’d still be huffing and puffing a bit. Interesting.
- My shoulders still get tired quickly. That’s so weird. I don’t understand it. Before all of this I would have told you they were very strong. Getting stronger but they’re a little bit of a liability. Not for too much longer but still.
Those are a few examples. I learn a little more every day. I’m still learning the things I don’t know about my body. I still don’t know what it all means, though. I’m trying to connect the dots. For example, is all that leg fatigue because I didn’t eat nearly enough protein over the weekend?
My mesocycles are four weeks long. One month. My training program changed as of Monday night. On to new exercises and challenges. Last week I said that I’m looking forward to being nervous again. At the beginning of this whole thing I’d have butterflies in my stomach on the way to the workouts. Fight or flight.
Monday’s workout was … interesting. My body doesn’t know what the heck is going on. Awesome.
The penultimate exercise of the night was the Plate Push. I had no idea what that was, as is the case with most of these until Justin demonstrates or gives me instructions. You know what a Plate Push is? It’s a weight on the floor. A weight like you’d put on a bar. You put your hands flat on the weight near the center and then you push it across the room and back at full speed.
I don’t know why it’s so intense and exhausting, but it is. I googled “plate push” after I got home to see what muscles it targets. Everything, just about, except for your ear lobe muscles. I found some interesting videos. This one is just pure evil:
Now I know why high school athletes drop dead. Or college. Maybe in my next fitness blog entry I’ll write a more literary description of what some of these exercises feel like. I got chills watching that video. Bad chills. I literally shuddered. The kicker, by the way, is that on these various sites they recommend doing Plate Pushes at the end of a leg workout. You know. Just to make sure that you lose control of your bladder and sphincter before you hit the showers.
I’ll post my Mesocycle 2 workout when I know it all. Loggin’ it. There’s some good and challenging things in store.
I’ve been making steady progress, by the way. I’m now on the tightest notch of my belt sometimes. I’ve lost weight. Last I checked I was 7 lbs. down in almost a month. That’s on schedule, actually. The weight (hopefully fat) loss has more to do with diet than workouts, though, from what I’ve been told. Haven’t been on the scale in about a week. It’s almost time for me to take the second set of photos. The one month point. I’m still far from Looking Good Naked, though.
The body craves
I know this, though. It feels good to move. To exert myself as hard as I can. Our bodies crave it. Your body wants to move, push, pull, jump, run, bend and stretch. I sometimes forget that until after I leave the workout and stop sweating and muscles stop twitching and I’m home in a hot shower. I’m going to write a note to myself so that when I open my workout log it’s right there in my face.
“Your body wants to go all out.”
My mental game isn’t fully online yet. It’s getting there. This is where detaching can come in handy. Pain and discomfort is temporary. So temporary and inconsequential (to a point, of course). It’s easy to forget that when your muscles are screaming at you or your lungs feel like they’re running on fumes.
In reality, you’re just creating tension for the purpose of building a better you.
Oddly enough, I perform better when Justin tells me why I’m doing something. Weird how the mind works.
“Come on. Keep that pace up. Keep the heart rate up.”
And my brain says, “Oh. That’s why you’re egging me on. Changing up the pace. In that case, I’ll stop trying to breathe and push this damn thing across the floor again. There’ll probably be more oxygen on the other side of the room anyway.”
Ugh. Steamed brussels sprouts are gross. Brussel sprouts? Whatever. Sauteed, they’re excellent. Steamed in the microwave, no good. Mushy. Vegetables should never be mushy. They should be colorful and a little crisp and full of flavor with an edge of sweetness and flavor. Never dull and mushy.
I’ve been sauteing vegetables and they’ve been amazing. Like, eat-them-as-a-snack good. Sauted kale with garlic and sometimes mushrooms with some sea salt? I ate 2 lbs. of kale last week. And enjoyed it.
Saute your vegetables, folks. They’re enjoyable that way. I was inspired by the NPR segment on leafy greens a few weeks ago and Justin saying that I need to eat a LOT more vegetables. Kismet.
Crap. I’m supposed to do some cardio today. I’ve been sitting ALL day. Argh. I don’t know what the heck to do, though.