Standing Taller

My personal trainer did an assessment on Friday, and my hard work in the gym is paying off! My left hip only drops slightly now when I do one legged squats, my core strength is improving and my upper body is getting stronger as well.

When I first started the training sessions, my posture was not what should it be. Slowly over time,¬†my lifestyle of sitting in the car, sitting at a desk and sitting at home had become more rounded and my back muscles had become weaker. I already had read about how too much sitting can cause your hip flexors and hamstrings to tighten and glute muscles to weaken¬† (and I’ve had issues with these as well). In fact, sitting has been described as the new smoking in terms of negative health effects, even for runners.

My sessions with the trainer have really opened my eyes not only to my body’s weaknesses, but my lack of balance and coordination. We’re not just doing crunches or squats — everything has an extra twist or complexity to make it difficult. I’m not only training my muscles, but my brain and its communications with different muscles. I’m amazed now that I ran all the marathons I did. I’m amazed sometimes that I’m even able to walk at all, let alone stand! Somewhere along the way, the communication between my brain and certain muscles has broken down, for various reasons. I can see parallels now to how communication can breakdown partnerships, including marriages and friendships, or companies, causing the people or entities involved to stop functioning as they did.

I see the strength training now as a means of rebuilding connections, not just building muscles. My posture when I’m walking around is MUCH better. I feel taller now — when I’m sitting and walking. My posture is even better when I’m doing lunges. I still have work to do, but I feel that I am on the right course.

I’m sure you’re going to ask — are you running yet? Well, I’m planning another test run this afternoon or tomorrow. I did a test run last Saturday, and was still dealing with some tightness in my right calf. I got some work done on it and have been foam rolling and stretching, which is helping. Hopefully, I’ll have some good news to report from my next run.

Overall, the recovery has taken longer than I planned. But I realize now that, mentally, I also wasn’t ready to run. I think I was a little bit afraid — I didn’t feel like I could trust my body to do what I used to. And I wanted to first try and correct some of the issues that might have caused all the problems I’ve had before I jumped back in. I have put a race on the calendar, however — a local 5K later this spring. It’s a short race, but I thought it might help to have something to work towards.

I’ve also been enjoying yoga much more than I thought I would. On Friday, I stopped at Target on the way home from work and bought an actual yoga mat. I’ve been using a generic exercise mat, but noticed my hands and feet would slip at times. I decided to invest in a yoga mat before I tear the other one up. I went to a fantastic yoga class last Thursday, where I do some moves I didn’t even know existed, and wouldn’t have thought I could accomplish. I don’t think I’ll ever be limber enough to tie myself in a knot (or put my ankles behind my shoulders), but I am feeling better. It wasn’t running, but for the first time in a while, I felt that same sense of achievement that I had after completing a tough track workout or a 20-mile run. It felt good to be confident in my body’s abilities again.

So, I can say I have been busy exercising, but not running yet. But between the strength training and yoga, I’ve been busy! But I’ve been thinking about the trails in George Bush park, and about friends who are training for spring races (I was envious of one friend who’s signed up for a spring marathon, but since it’s right before a major industry conference for work, I couldn’t go anyway). I’m looking forward to hopefully joining them soon.

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