Tuesday: Fun with Intervals

Last night I did a fun interval workout that pretty much smoked me. I’m sore today! (It feels strange to be sore from running; most of the times it’s my lungs that die first, leaving my legs relatively unscathed. But today, I am sore in the hamstrings a lot!)

Here’s what I did. I was on a treadmill – it’s kind of necessary to pull off a run like this. So if you’re looking for a fun and challenging way to step up a treadmill run, BAM. I did this at 1% incline as well.

  • warmup: 0.5 mile easy (for me, 5.5 mph)
  • intervals: 1:00 fast, 1:00 jog. I started at 6.5/5.5, and then ramped up/down with each progressive interval. So for example, my first six minutes went: 6.5, 5.5, 6.6, 5.4, 6.7, 5.3, at 1:00 each.
    I went all the way to 7.5/4.5, and then went back to 6.5/5.5 until I hit 2.5 miles of total distance on the interval portion.
  • cool down: 0.5 mi easy @5.5mph

this was hard! I was really sweating at the end, and those last couple intervals at 7.4 and 7.5 mph were hardcore. But I managed to do it without my asthma triggering, and the bronchitis cough afterwards wasn’t any worse than usual.

I now feel like I should have been doing a lot more speed work in preparation for my leg of the relay! But oh well. I’ve been so sick and injured; I have to admit to myself that I can’t do everything.

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Tuesday PT and run

Today I went to a session of PT. It’s starting to worry me — kind of the same old thing, and while it feels good when I’m there, I’m not noticing any effects that last longer than a couple hours or the end of the day. I realize that PT is a slow, gradual, cumulative process… But I am impatient and in pain.

After PT I went for a run and it was probably the worst run I’ve had all season. My body has been teasing me with the threat of getting a flu – I’ve got a cough in my lungs and aches and chills, but I basically told it NO today and went to run anyway. Well, it turns out, whether it was the flu or allergies or what… I had a huge asthma attack at mile 3.

However. I’m proud of myself, because instead of just calling it quits and being depressed about the run, I walked off until I could breathe and then ran another 1.5 miles. Slow. Easy. Very slow. So at least I got in 4.5 miles, even if they were garbage trash miles. I’m proud not because they were good miles, but because I made myself finish the run after the asthma attack, and because I made myself take it slow enough to not die again.

Weekly update

I’m declaring myself back in the game, tentatively. Here are the things I have going for me:

  1. The physical therapy seems to be working – slowly, but maybe
  2. Even if it isn’t, I want to gently get back into weight lifting while I am still attending PT so that if it does aggravate my neck, I can get guidance
  3. I am really loving the pool
  4. The Akron Marathon Relay is at the end of this month – motivation to get back into things
  5. an upcoming trip in October being more motivation to knock off a little of this fat.

This week was another slow one, but it sets me up nicely for next week. Tuesday I did just my PT. Friday morning I got up and ran 5 miles easy, followed by PT. Sunday (today) I ran 3 miles of negative splits, then did the leg press and a set of kettlebell swings, then swam for 25 minutes. It felt great and I don’t think it aggravated my shoulders too much.

This week I’m hoping to work out Tues and Wed – one day I’ll do a longer run (4-5 miles) and the other i’ll do a 30-min swim followed by some light weight lifting. Friday I’ll do a long run and Sunday I’ll do what I did today. That’s the plan, anyway; cross your fingers that I have no other setbacks.

Absence, Injuries, Illness – and me

I’ve gone from almost-every-day posting to almost-no posting, and here’s why. Last week Tuesday I was struck with a fever completely out of the blue – about 102-103F – and Wednesday I woke up with swollen tender painful red streaks down my left side. It turns out I had a skin infection – the cause of the fever – which moved into my lymph nodes and, well, my left breast. The infection is what caused the fever. I’ve been on antibiotics since Wednesday, and I do seem to be getting better, albeit slowly; the fever is long gone, but the red streaks and marks are just now starting to subside.

I do not necessarily know what caused it, but I wanted to post a mention of it, because there’s a decent chance that I got it from the Warrior Dash. Please note that I’m not saying “The Warrior Dash gave me an infection / got me sick” or “You shouldn’t do the Warrior Dash because it’s full of filthy illness.” All I am saying is, if you’re someone whose immune system is already a little compromised, and you’re prone to getting sick and getting infections and fighting these things off, you may want to take extra care at the Warrior Dash because you’re going to be swimming through untreated lake water and crawling through what is probably germ-filled mud. It’s just a word of caution! My guess is many people (who have normally working immune systems) won’t even have to worry about it. No one else in my group got sick at all.

So that experience had me flat out in my bed for 2-3 days last week, for starters. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be running very much while fighting an infection with antibitics anyway.

In the meantime I also started physical therapy. I went once last week and was thoroughly unimpressed at the session: I got almost no relief out of it and was instead assigned some seemingly useless exercises to do every hour (nearly impossible at the job I work).  I did the exercises when I could, but didn’t think they were doing much, and was overall discouraged and irritated. However, I went back yesterday and found the session a lot more relieving. I was given 15 minutes wrapped in a hot pad to start; then I did some actual exercises with the therapist (an arm bike, which was actually pretty funny, because it feels really dumb to pedal a bike with your hands; then some weight exercises for my shoulders and traps – which were extremely low-weight versions of exercises I had already been doing in my heavy weight lifting period, which implies that maybe trying NROL4W was a contributor to this problem in the first place). Then afterwards they put me on traction for 10 minutes. Can I be in traction every day. Oh my god, it felt so good. They put a clamp around your head and basically pull it upwards from your neck at a set pressure for some time, then relieve it, then do it again. Holy shit. It was amazing. I’m not sure how much lasting relief it will provide – and the problem isn’t entirely in my neck; it’s in my shoulders and upper back too – but I feel the second session was a lot more promising.

So between the infection/fever and physical therapy, I have not had a lot of time or opportunity (or, to be honest, motivation) to work out very much. On Friday morning I did go to the gym and run a fairly easy 3 miles followed by a 20 min swim, which felt quite nice, but I haven’t done much of anything since then. My company is hosting a lot of interview candidates this week so I am not sure I’ll have time to do anything until tomorrow or Friday.

I am pretty much resigning myself to not performing very well on my part of the Akron Marathon Relay. The rest of my team is fighting injuries too, so I don’t think I’ll necessarily be hardcore disappointing anyone, but it is pretty demotivating to look back through the recent history of this blog and see how much time I have lost to injury and bullshit.

I will continue to run: I have three Fridays before the race, on which I can do the 7-mile loop near my house that I’ve been using, and I’ll put in what miles I can on the other days. After that race is over, however, I may need a very long break from both weightlifting and long running until I can heal the damage I’ve done to my body. I’ll need to make a plan to move forward, because otherwise I won’t do much of anything. :/

Week 08 Update

Well, I ended up taking both Tues and Wed as rest days. I don’t necessarily feel too bad about it; the thing in my neck is still bad. I’m going to physical therapy next Tuesday and I don’t plan to do any weights until the physical therapist tells me what is and isn’t a good idea.

Thursday I ran about 4 miles. I did a warmup, and then 3mi worth of 0.5mi hard / 0.25mi easy intervals, then cool down. Doing the intervals I made a point of focusing on effort rather than speed – the route I run for a 4mi run is hilly out and downhill back, so I focused on perceived exertion level and heart rate instead. Especially for the rest intervals – something I have trouble with; I focused on jogging not walking but going easy enough that my heart rate actually came down. It was one of those runs I didn’t expect to feel as good as it did; it was hard while I was going but I felt great afterwards.

Friday (today) I went back to the pool, and swam for 40 minutes. I got myself a cheap waterproof watch, so I was able to structure a workout a little better this time:

  • 5x100s free on 2:00 easy as warmup (10:00)
  • repeated twice, 20:00 total:
    – 5×50 free on 1:00, hard (5:00)
    – 25 breast, 25 back/kick drills, easy, 200 yards straight (5:00)
  • 25 breast, 25 back/kick, 25 free, easy, for 500 yards in 10:00

1900 yards total. Longer than Monday’s swim. Like I said, I’ve noticed that what I have trouble with is my breath, not my endurance – if I stop to catch my breath in between each 50 I can keep going and going, and when I’m doing easy back/breast/free I can keep going and going for 10 min with no stopping. I am pleased with all of this. Also pleased because my body has that overall tired feeling from a good workout, without any pain. No sharp stabs or deep aches. I just feel like I had some really good exercise. is this what working out is like for other people?

Nothing now until the Warrior Dash on Sunday — I hope to update with some photos!!

Week 07 Summary; Week 08 Plan; Doctor Update

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:

  1. 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.
  2. I’ve been running a) to keep up cardiovascular health and b) to improve (to what extent I can) my asthma.
  3. #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?

 

Week 07 Update

Today: 7 mile long easy run. (actual distance may be only 6.8 mi — I am having trouble getting my GPS and my Garmin to match up, and I’m an engineer: I need to know that my data is good. GMap Pedometer says 6.8 which is honestly pretty close. I just want to know which to trust!)

~11:30/mi pace. Pretty slow, but other than hills I didn’t feel like death or like stopping for a walk break. I’ll take that.