Friday, August 18, 2017

Iron and lace

It often seems that there aren't enough hours in the day, particularly when my athletic goals require a lot of running on top of a long commute and full-time job. Swimming and cycling have largely fallen by the wayside as my run mileage has increased, but I know that strength work is just about the best thing any runner can do to stay injury resistant...not to mention keep myself in decent enough all-round shape for other adventures (both human-powered and non-), and even every day life. Noone wants to be helpless in the face of a heavy grocery bag or long portage; thus, I do 4 strength and conditioning workouts per week, even if the way I fit them in is a bit odd.

I hop out of bed, throw on my underwear & grab my clothes for work, head down to the kitchen and make my lunch, then hit the iron.

In my knickers.
(No, there will not be any photos. You can stop reaching for the eye soap.)

It makes me laugh that some people are convinced they'd be unable to perform a single squat without a full suite of gym equipment, the latest sweat wicking compression clothing, their music player and headphones, and 18 different mirrors to show every angle of their form. If that's simply what you prefer, that's fine - whatever motivates you to move your body in positive ways is a good thing. I'm just saying that I'm down in my livingroom - usually before Tanker is even out of bed - ignoring the fact I'm still only half awake and ripping out a different workout in my undies with a modest set of free weights (stretch bands, 3-10lb hand weights, a 25lb kettlebell, a pair of dumbbells and a standard barbell with about 100lbs worth of plates) each morning from Monday to Thursday.

Even if walking lunges are the bane of my existence.

Without so much as bothering to put my hair up, I generally get in about 20mins per day - planks and mobility work like single-leg bridges & fire hydrants on Mondays; heavier lower-body work like squats, single-leg deadlifts, lunges, and calf raises on the stairs up to the kitchen on Tuesdays; upper body work on Wednesdays (because I used to swim Tuesday & Thursday); and a full core workout with a big, bouncy ball on Thursdays. I start with a dynamic warmup to loosen up any stiffness in my joints, and include at least one hip abductor exercise (like band lateral walks or hip hikes) and one hip adductor exercise every day, plus some lateral and regular core work. These are areas that I have had trouble with in the past, and I know keeping them strong and mobile will help me stay injury free under the varied conditions on the trails. I throw a towel down on the floor for stuff like bridges, dead bugs, push-ups, leg raises and clamshells - because carpet fuzz, cat hair and errant kitty litter are magnetically attracted to a sweaty body - and give myself a quick wipe-off with it after a few post-lifting stretches like child pose, downward dog, and sitting back on my feet.

Once I'm done, I get dressed for work in the kitchen, pull my breakfast out of the microwave (I have a sweet potato with almond butter & cinnamon every day - simple, fast, and I really enjoy it even after years of repetition), then eat it on the way to work while Tanker drives.

It's perhaps not the best system: I often end up a bit sweaty, so I could probably smell better arriving at work for the day (though I do wear perfume to the office that I'm sure helps). If we end up being late for work due to traffic, I do feel a bit guilty about the time it takes in the morning - if I'd cut my session short or skipped it entirely, we'd have made it in earlier. It's also damn difficult sometimes to climb the stairs to the kitchen after a tough leg workout, and getting dressed for the office in the kitchen - with no mirror to check details - results in the occasional wardrobe malfunction.

Super professional there, K.

But, it's the best way I can ensure that the strength workouts actually happen. If I waited until after I got home from the office, I'd either have to do it directly before or after a run since I train in the evenings. As much as I do end up with sore legs from the lifting I do now (my hamstrings hate me after deadlifts), separating my workouts by several hours is the only way I can think of to reduce interference between them; I don't end up risking injury by either running on wobbly legs post-lifting, nor by having poor form from a tired body that just hammered out miles of hills.

The most important factor here is that it gets done. There are no excuses first thing in the morning. If I'm super tired and sore, I can modify the strength workout to make it a bit easier - focus more on mobility than building strength, or on building muscular endurance through higher reps at lower weight - but the only times I skip it completely are when either:

  1. it's a holiday Monday (when I'm more concerned with having adventures with my sweetheart);
  2. we're out & about on vacation, because noone wants to plank in the dirt at their campsite, or;
  3. I'm so deeply incapacitated after a race that I can't make it down the stairs to the livingroom.

I do change things up a bit during the week before a race: Monday is generally the same, as it's typically my easiest strength work day (when DOMS is at its peak after Saturday's long run), but Tuesday becomes bodyweight-only leg day and on Wednesday I'll just foam roll instead of lifting. Thursday before a race I have a yoga routine that focuses on joint mobility and function, and Friday is always a day completely off training.

Every other weekday morning, though, you'll find some weirdo in our basement lifting heavy things in their underoos.

Peeping toms beware.

So, now you know my dirty little secret. Do you have any weird tricks to fit in training in your life?

Note: if you wonder who the (dis)interested party is in the bad crayon art above, that fuzzy grey-and-peach blob is none other than the indomitable Miss Esmerelda. Esme was living a rough life on the streets of Guelph for a couple of months before we met her at the beginning of July and brought her to her forever home at the Punk Rawk Palace, where she spends her days getting all the tickles, treats and snuggles that her soft, fuzzy little body can handle. She's filled out nicely from the pathetic wee bag of bones she was when we found her, and is a sweet, sassy and silly girl who has stolen our hearts and completely dominated our big old tomcat Karma.

Esme cat!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Go on, have at me!