Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them." - Joseph Joubert

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 242 & 243:

Sometimes, BlogLand, Mental Training is the hardest obstacle to overcome; not the push ups, not the running, not the consistency, but your own head.  You've heard me talk about it ad nauseum before, I'm sure, but it's a big piece of my journey it seems... and thus, today's blog is dedicated to Mental Speedbumps (and navigating them).

It's been an up and down weekend.

Saturday, Day 242:
I was pretty excited about this, BlogLand. I had a new WOD challenge to try - something I've never done before: Sprints. Conveniently, I live right across the street from a highschool track and it was a balmy 70 degrees (VT in MARCH? what?!). I was totally stoked to get out and run today. First piece of awesome: I didn't have to don 300 layers to walk out the door. In fact, I am happy to report that I was in light capris and a tank top. YEAH. Woot!

So, for a Warm-Up, I jogged out my door and down and around the long way to the track, for .55 mile. Then, I walked one loop of the track to pick out the markers for my next task:

4 x 200m Sprints. What this breaks down to, on a 400m track is: sprint as hard and fast as you can for half the track, then walk half the track, then sprint half, walk half, etc. until you've done 4 sprints.

I admit, openly, my GT was right. Again (and yet, I still question him. lol). When he told me about this sprint wod, I was all like, "that's IT!?"... "That'll take me like 10 minutes?!"... at which point he informed me that it'll be harder than anything I've done, and I'll probably want to die. I laughed. (You'd think I'd learn.)

So, I set up my trusty phone-stopwatch app, toed up to my Start line, and off I went. I was blazing down that stretch, it felt like. My legs felt powerful and fast. 100 yards down... "oh, only halfway..." I thought to myself and pushed a little more for the second half of the sprint. WHEW. Glad it was over, but felt like it was pretty good, checking my time in at 40.3 seconds.
It's true, my heart was racing, and I was definitely huffing and puffing, but I had half the track to walk it off. No problemo. ... right? Half the track seemed remarkably short, but as I approached my Start line again, I felt like I had recovered pretty well (focus on breathing!), and I was ready to go again.
Set up stopwatch... Go. Great initial burst, but had to definitely push to the end, particularly, again, through that 2nd half of the sprint. It seems like my body is good to go for 100m, but 200m makes me work. Still, sliding into the finish line, I clocked in at 41.2 seconds. Sure, it wasn't as fast as the first time, but that seemed like a pretty reasonable gain. As I checked my time and concentrated on getting my breathing back under control, I realized I wasn't feeling quite as fresh as the first time around. I'd done less than 2 minutes of "work" at this point, and I was already fatigued? Could that be right?
The "walk" portion of the track definitely morphed into something much shorter this time, it seemed, and I walked slower. As I approached the start line for my 3rd go, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I.Could.Do.This. My legs were not so sure. Hit the stopwatch and off I went.
I fought to keep up a speed. I tried to concentrate on continuing to breathe through the sprint and keep my legs moving.
Finish line: 46.1 seconds. Eww.
As I crashed through the finish line this time, though, I careened to a momentary stop for the "Iwanttodie" hands-on-knees-pose. It was brief - 5-10 seconds - but it happened. Whew. After 3 sprints? and there was one MORE? Oh my.
I walked. Slowly. My legs were REALLY dubious we were going to eek out another sprint. My lungs were exploding. CLEARLY, we had stumbled upon a new, distinct challenge.
As I approached the start line for the final time, I wasn't quite ready. I remember scoffing at the GT when he told me that the half lap might not be enough to recover. Someday, I will learn.
I walked 2 small circles (=1/2 track walk + 10-15 seconds), and then hit the watch and pushed through the Start line.
Longest 200m of my life. I fought, I told myself it was the last one.  Reminded myself to leave it all out there, because I didn't need to do it again, that day. I could do anything for a mere 40 seconds!
I swear to you, BlogLand... That 200m felt like 400m. I crossed the Finish line on empty and ground to a halt. Hands on knees, 20 seconds. No, Self, we are not going to throw up. No. No. No. Walk it off. I walked myself a finishing lap, while nursing my water bottle a bit.
Holy shit. Less than 4 minutes of actual "work" and I was DONE. WTF!?
After another lap around the track, I felt a little more human. I found my breathing again, and my legs felt a little more solid. So, being the persistent over-achiever that I am, I spotted the bleachers. I was already sweaty, might as well put them to good use. SO:
8 x ten step up/down bleacher runs
2 x ten step jump ups
.55 mile run home.

Who knew that was going to be so evil? I severely underestimated that little WOD. However, I felt accomplished and it was nice to do something new. I will say, after Googling my times against the "averages", I came to the conclusion that I may be the slowest person on earth... but. All in due time, I suppose. First sprint wod, check!

Sunday, Day 243:

So, last night and this morning, I was feeling the fatigue in my quads. I was shocked that the sprint wod could cause that kind of evil... but it was definitely present. I stretched and rolled, but decided against Crossfitting this morning, in favor of going for my (long) run this afternoon.
That may have been the worst plan I've ever had.
This is why I should never be left to my own devices, and should have 24 hour staff. hehe
So, to me, I thought, well, my quads are a little tired from sprints, but nothing real bad, and SURELY it's all good for just a long slow run. I had 6-7 miles in my mind, at this point.
After a little more stretching, I decide to head out from a new spot, up by my Dad's house, thinking I'd get some new scenery. Again, it was a beautiful, WARM (75+) day, and a great day for a run.
I trotted out, thinking my legs would warm up a bit.
After barely crossing the half mile mark, I fell back to a walk because my legs were just all wrong. Annoyed, but thinking they still just needed to warm up, I pressed on.
... and then there was a hill.
I TRIED. Really hard. But I had to walk.
I alternated a slow trot and a walk, up that long stupid hill. I was getting frustrated with all the walking.
When I reached the top, it leveled out a bit and I thought that this would be the point where I'd be all set.
No legs. None. They just had no gas in them. I shuffled, I pushed, I cringed.
And I walked some more.
There was no way 6-7 miles was going to happen. I cursed my body and it's lack of cooperation, as I turned for home. Thankful for the downhill, because I could handle running that, I tried not to cry. My total run would be barely over 3.5 miles. 3.65 miles, if we want to be exact. It was ugly. REAL ugly.

Why so ugly, you ask? Well, because the brain (the not logical portion of it?) kicked in. I HATE it when I can't do something that I think I should be able to. Like, complete my run today. It was like admitting defeat and admitting that my body had won. Allow me to share the heat of the moment (literally, I was dripping with sweat in the heat and walking my cool down) text to the GT:
"I don't know WTF I thought I was doing when I said I could do all this shit. I couldn't even get through 4 mi today, because of a little incline, because my legs were so effing done from the world's slowest sprints yesterday. STILL not where I should be. FML."
I felt (and am still fighting not to feel) like complete fail. I know that sounds crazy and overreacting when you read it in this context. However, there are a lot of other things that run through my head when things like this happen. For instance, as I was (trying to) running up the hill, and I was huffing and puffing and my legs weren't cooperating, I felt heavy again. FCS kicked in hardcore, reminding me quite emphatically that my weight loss has been plateauing of late. That, of COURSE, is a result of my not doing enough, or screwing up or something - or at least that's what a FCS flare-up says. My FCS flare-up went on to remind me that clearly I couldn't get up this hill because I was still too damn fat, and I was frustrated at myself for not being able to take the weight off and meet my goals. It was *clearly* holding me up from moving forward. My legs should NOT be this wrecked after one stupid sprint workout. I should have more stamina and endurance than this, I should be able to do XYZ, but I can't, and I can't do a pull up and I can't climb a rope, and I can't run the distances I want to ... and I can't and can't and can't.  I've been doing all this, and I'm still nowhere and no where near where I need to be to survive these races/competitions I've signed up for and everyone's going to see what a stupid fat kid I am, and how I'm going to be the pity vote, while I drag behind all the fit people... and... and... *insert long string of negativity*.

... I'm sure many of you recognize the completely irrational downward spiral than can come from one stupid little thing. So my legs were tired today, and I couldn't run like I wanted to. But this is where my head went.
I am ever thankful that my GT was near his phone and caught that train before it had time to derail any more thoroughly.
I was calmly and concisely reminded that YES, my legs should be completely wrecked if I had done yesterday's sprints correctly. What was I doing running the day after? My body would need time to adapt and recover. Recovery was going to be part of the "difficulty" of the Sprint Wod's.

It is hard to continue down a road of ridiculousness when someone is negating every argument you have with infallible logic. No. I'd never done sprints before. Yes, I had put everything I had into them. Yes... my legs did feel real tired, and no I'm not sure why I thought it would be a good time to go for a run, other than that it fit in my schedule. Physical "recovery" time was biologically unavoidable.


I think the only cure for FCS is to deal with these flare-ups as they come, and gradually they will come less frequently and with less intensity. Today was particularly bad. But I was tired, hot and there was some regular-life "background noise" rolling around in my head. It happens.

I had to spend a great deal of time today reminding myself that I did not put on all the weight and get so out of shape overnight; I would not be able to suddenly turn superhuman in a matter of months, on sheer will alone. Body physiology alone says, No! You can be doing all the right things, pushing through all the right workouts, eating the best stuff.... and sometimes, you will find yourself here, BlogLand. Sometimes, it takes time for it all to come together. You have to build your muscles. You have to burn the fat. You have to acclimate your joints. It's not overnight. The 85# extra that I was carrying (over what I am now), did not get there from one cheeseburger.

So, let's redefine success today, BlogLand. To me, success is not necessarily the measurable things - pounds lost, pant sizes down, speed on the track, miles run - but the simple fact that I'm getting out there, chasing down some goals, one day at a time and not giving up. A bad day is a bad *day* and just that.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes, courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow." 
~Mary Anne Radmacher~

(I AM happy to report that I still did my next round of the Hundred Pushups program, tonight, though! WAHA!)

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