Spartan Shape-Up, Day 500-502:
As ever, this weekend was a busy one for me, BlogLand... but I'm prioritizing training again (REFOCUS.), and I got down to business.
Friday night found me at the climbing gym with my CG and some friends, "pulling on some plastic" as they say. I'm still a raging beginner and lack a lot of finesse, but I keep telling myself that that just means I am gaining more from these visits. I am not spider-like and graceful when I climb, in fact, I'm pretty sure I must look more like an ogre storming a castle wall, when I do it. BUT! I'm doing it. That's what's always key, BlogLand, and probably one of the most important lessons I've learned along the way. It doesn't matter how stupid you think you look, how slow you go, or how "bad" you might be at something... 1) everyone starts at the beginning sometime, and 2) you're beating the crap out of everyone else who is too afraid to try in the first place.
So, I will continue to muscle my way up these routes (I swear, I must look like a bull in a china shop!), but along the way, listening to the instructions of my CG and other people in the know, I will learn to do it a little better. Use my legs more efficiently, stop death-gripping with my hands and wearing out my t-rex arms. One thing at a time. It's pretty cool though... I am equally nervous and excited about the prospect of trying climbing outside at some point. I understand that is a large mental game - that it's not the height of the climb, but the feeling of exposure (you're like a bug on a rock face) that plays with most people's heads. After all the mind battles that training for Spartan Race has put me through, I'm pretty sure I can brain-muscle through this one too. Plus, how cool will those pictures be????
After struggling through a few climbs and being weary of my stupid leg (it's not a fan of walking on the soft mats in a climbing gym), which I'm pushing to get back up to speed, I did leave the gym feeling energized. It was a (relatively) short, after-work workout, but my arms felt trashed (in a good way), and my legs felt good to stretch out, after being at my desk all day.
Saturday brought some real work. I had some downtime while the CG had to pack for his next business trip. I also knew I should go for a run. The plan is to ease back into running, 3x a week, short runs, to get my leg back in the game and not anger it too much from the get go. However, after Thanksgiving's disastrous 5K, I was feeling a little... apprehensive. I had a mental fight with myself, while pulling on my insulated CW-X (I love these things, so much.) tights. It had snowed the night before, it was going to be brisk out... but I hate running in the heat, so this is good, right? My legs were relatively fresh and the area was mostly flat, so again, I was in good shape for a successful run, right? SELF, we can do this, I yelled in my head. It's not like I've never run 3-4 miles before. Geesh.
Somehow, I made it out the front door. It was brisk, but I assessed that I was probably dressed appropriately, because I wasn't freezing, but I wasn't immediately warm either (running hint: dress for weather 10 degrees warmer... so you'll start cold, but when you warm up running, you'll feel the right temperature!).
I left, deciding that I would do 4 miles. Two miles out and two miles back. It was pretty flat and that *should* be a good weekend distance for me. I trotted the first half mile slowly, to warm up. My legs felt heavy, and I tried to focus on a solid, but light, mid foot strikes. I am overly conscious of my legs, recently, because I don't want to anger them into shin-splints again. Yikes, that was ugly. So, after a slow trot for the first 1/2 mile, I walked a minute to stretch my calves out a little. My breathing felt fine, but my legs were not quite on board with this whole process yet. And I won't lie, it was a bit cold with the wind (I'd forgotten a 'wind' layer).
I jogged on, but I was definitely not feeling my usual energetic self. It felt like a repeat of that ugly 5K I just finished. My legs felt heavy, out of shape, unwilling. Still, I spartaned up and slowly jogged on (better slowly than not at all?). I paused again for a quick walk break to look at my GPS.
.... 1 mile.
... I was sure I was almost at my 2 mile turnaround point. I wanted to cry a little bit just then. I was fighting this whole run, and I wasn't even halfway through yet, and my legs felt like I'd never run before in my life. Still, I said 4 miles total... so, on I went.
From there, it got ugly. Truth be told, roughly every half to 3/4 of a mile afterward, I dropped to a walk for 15-20 seconds. Walked the length of a telephone pole, or to that driveway, or some other marker. I was so unhappy with that process, but I guess this is what being out of commission for a while does to you... takes you back down the training latter a little bit. Thankfully, I am familiar with this process: run until I feel like I can't run any more, run just a little bit further, walk for 15-20, get back to running. Repeat.
I was not a happy camper, but I manged to get to the two mile mark, at which point it was at least a relief to turn and know that "all" I had to do was run back home. Starting my run back, I did take some comfort in knowing that I had been running a slight up hill the whole way... but I was still disappointed at the place that I was finding my legs in. I was struggling to run a little over a 5K. I definitely couldn't run it straight through. But, I ran - with walk breaks - my 4 miles, even though it was a push to make it the whole time. I berated myself in my head for letting this slip happen, I tried to remind myself that I'd been injured and it was inevitable, I got angry that I hadn't been more proactive, I told myself it was only a little set back... let's just say, 4 slow miles is a long time to have an inner monologue that's less than sunshiney.
BUT, I think the Cosmos were on my side. Despite the disappointment in my run, I didn't turn around early and I didn't give up. I pushed the whole way through (SPARTAN UP.). When I arrive back at my starting point, sweaty, slushy from the sidewalks and trying to talk myself positive, it was like magic: the Garuka Bar fairy was standing at the door and handed me a bag of a whole bunch of tasty bars. Unexpected. Okay, this day was starting to turn around. THEN, the CG was buzzing around the kitchen, making a particularly uber-yummy egg drop soup - the PERFECT after-run lunch on a cold day. Clearly, I was being rewarded for my persistence (or, that is at least how I am choosing to view this turn of events).
After refueling and re-hydrating a bit, it was time for stretching, but instead of just doing it on my own, I was joined by my dear CG and we turned to Bob, on my new beginner-yoga DVD.
Yeah. I was voluntarily doing yoga, after my run. The Mayans were right, the world is ending.
Nonetheless, we Warrior 1'd and Down Dogged our way into some great stretching. My darn t-rex arms shook every time we were instructed to plank or Down Dog.... or quite frankly, just hold our arms up in the warrior poses, etc. for that ridiculous period of time.
I must stay, as I starfished on the floor...er... I mean, "Corpse Pose"... at the end of the video, I felt good. It wasn't not my highest performing day, but in reflection, I felt like I was at least back on the right path, making good choices. I went for my run, even though it was cold and the run was hard. I came back and stretched - YOGA!! - to help prevent my injuries in the future. I ate a great paleo-friendly lunch. Good choices. Steps along the right path.
It's not always going to be easy, BlogLand. It sure as hell hasn't been for me. I've gained a little bit of my weight back, thanks to my Injury Lay-Off, running has gotten harder and I'm sore after CrossFit.... but that is by NO MEANS a sign that it's time to give up. It just means that that was a learning opportunity (more stretching!) and now I have a chance to come back stronger and more informed than I was before. I have a really well-rounded training program, a lot of qualified help, and I have determination and will-power. I will make it happen, and 2013 is going to be a GREAT year.
Use those little set backs like a bit of a slingshot....... a few steps back, only to propel yourself forward 10 steps!