Week 07 Summary: 14.7 miles (4.5 mi speedwork Wed, 7 mi LSR Fri, 3.2 mi easy Sun) plus abs on Monday.
There was only one weight session in Week 07, and that’s because on Thursday I went back to my doctor’s office to go over my x-rays. The x-rays report that I have arthritis in my spine. The degeneration is what’s causing all of the nerve pinching and the tense muscles. I also have arthritic degeneration in my toes, so I guess it isn’t a huge surprise to hear that it’s in my spine too. It’s depressing and scary, though: depressing because there isn’t much you can do to fix arthritis; you just have to avoid aggravating it or setting it off ; and scary, because I need to confirm that it’s osteoarthritis and not rheumatoid arthritis (RA is an autoimmune disease which might explain some of the other things I’ve been suffering with over the years, but can be fairly debilitating).
When I asked the doctor what this meant for working out, he told me that I could continue doing anything that didn’t hurt, but that he recommended avoiding heavy weightlifting (especially upper-body, anything focused on lats or traps) and high impact (running or high intensity cardio).
There’s irony here:
- I’ve been lifting heavy a) because it’s the most efficient way to build muscle and b) because it’s a proven way to stave off osteoporosis in old age.
- I’ve been running a) to keep up cardiovascular health and b) to improve (to what extent I can) my asthma.
- #1 and #2 are apparently what is ‘causing’, ie. setting off, my arthritis. These “good-for-you” exercises are actually acting as trauma to my body. So what I’m gaining in one place I’m losing in another.
I want to talk about this at some point on the blog, because I feel like this is an important place I’ve found myself: This is why it’s so important for us to define health in a way that makes sense, for each body. People have talked for years about how heavy weights are the only way to ‘get slim’, to the point where it can get very judgy or preachy. And here I am, evidence at 30 years of age that not everyone can do “the best” workout. Is heavy lifting still “healthy” for my body if it keeps me hovering at a 5 on the pain scale of 10, if it aggravates my neck to the point where I can’t drive a car? I don’t think so, but I think the industry has a ways to go until that message is received.
So based on that, what’s gonna happen during Week #08?
- Technically it’s a rest week for me; also, I’m doing the Warrior Dash on Sunday 26 August. However, I still want to maintain running fitness. I did ~15 miles last week; I’m going to aim for 12.6 this week as a rest/race week. 4.5 miles of easy speedwork, 5 miles easy on Friday, and then 3.1 miles at the Warrior Dash.
- I won’t be weight training this week either. If I have a free day I may try to do some core work, but I also won’t beat myself up if I simply take it as a rest day.
- I’m going to try a new gym that has a pool. I haven’t talked a lot about it here, but I was a state-level varsity swimmer in high school and I have always loved swimming. And when you’re looking at low-impact cardio and muscle-building activities, I’m not sure you get much better than swimming. I have a couple free trial passes to a new gym that I’m going to try twice this week (Mon and Thurs) and if I like the rest of the gym and the pool, I’ll be doing a 3-month trial period and incorporating lap swims and intense pool cardio into my overall workout plan.
- Physical therapy. The doctor prescribed some PT for my neck, and I’m super whiny about it, because PT is expensive (especially on my insurance ) and time-consuming. But I need to go if I ever want to figure out what’s wrong with my neck/shoulders/back.
I’ll update as I can. Has anyone gone through PT before? Any words of wisdom?