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.

Advertisements

Down But Not Out

I don’t know if it was the weather, or withdrawal from being off work between Christmas and New Year’s but I was feeling low. In addition to the weakness in my left IT band and right calf, the lack of sunshine made me extremely cranky. All I’ve wanted to do is sleep. It’s too bad we can’t hibernate (or less to do so we can sleep more) in the winter, like bears do. My stomach has been strange (probably from all the chocolate and sugar plums dancing around the work breakroom), and I had a huge megazit on my chin. On Friday, my nose was so stuffy I almost couldn’t breathe. I took a rest day from training and managed to avoid getting a full-blown cold. But I may not be so lucky next time if the cold, damp weather continues.

I also made the mistake of weighing myself one day last week — I thought I heard the
scale gasp! I spent most of that Thursday in a cloud of depression because of that. Being out for the surgery and the usual holiday goodies have caught up with me. So it’s back to watching the calories. I’m going to try out an app to track them, and see how it compares with Weight Watchers.

I went back to my doctor today to discuss some concerns I had about why my calf and IT are still giving me issues. I did get a shot in my left hip, which hopefully should help the IT band. It turns out that I should have been icing — for some reason, I just haven’t been doing it. The doctor also suggested trying some other stretches for the calf.

She did remind me that what I’ve been going through is normal following the type of surgery I’ve had. I am getting stronger thanks to the personal training, but I’m still weaker on my left side due to the left nerve that was giving me grief. It was comforting to talk with her — she has been through back surgery and abdominal surgery, and could sympathize with my frustrations over wanting to heal faster.

Luckily, I’m able to continue with the training, but will need to stay off the bosu ball for a while. My trainer has had me stand on the curved side of it while doing upper body weight exercises.

I decided to take the advice of friends on Facebook, and enrolled in unlimited yoga at a local studio this month. I’m going to try it out and see if it can help. I plan to make the most of my time there while I decide if I want to continue with it through 2015.

I know I said last time that I hadn’t blogged much because of work and the holidays. It was true that I was busy. But I also think I was in a funk. I was scared that I would never get back to normal, that I would never get in the shape I want to be in. I worried that maybe I was being foolish (and that maybe everyone out there thought I was crazy). I was pretty down for a while. But after realizing that I need to make some adjustments to my recovery regime, I’m feeling down, but I’m thinking that I’m not out of the race either.

.

Music to My Ears

Given that I haven’t been running, I’ve found myself with lots of time on my hands. I’ve been walking and doing my physical therapy exercises, as well as gearing up for a busy time at work. It has been hard not running, especially yesterday morning, when the weather was so cool. I did sit outside with my coffee and enjoy the breeze, but it’s not the same as doing my weekly long run.

One way I’ve been filling my time is taking piano lessons again. I’ve played off and on over the years, but haven’t formally studied since college. While he was looking for a guitar teacher, my husband found a music school not too far from us that offers piano instruction. So on Sunday afternoons, I’ve been taking a half hour lesson with a teacher.

I thought I was going to be the oldest student, but I’m not (there are a few of us around, according to my teacher). My lesson is sandwiched in between younger students — it’s fun to see the little kids, lugging their violins and guitars in, parents trailing behind. Going to the studio brings back memories of when I was kid. I took piano lessons initially, then later flute lessons when I joined band in the sixth grade.I remember lugging my music books (and flute) to lessons, hoping that I’d practiced enough. Even when I did practice, I would get nervous sometimes and make mistakes (I’m still doing that — it’s funny how some things don’t change!)

While I miss running, it has been nice to indulge in the first passion of my life, music. I’ve been going through pieces that I’ve tried practicing on my own, but need help with. I may finally be able to play through my Charlie Brown Christmas book (jazz pieces give me a harder time than classical) this year!

The ‘cross training’ exercise has been fun, but trying to remember all my theory has been a little strenuous. During one lesson, I actually thought I was going to blow a fuse, trying to remember chords! I still love Chopin, and am still not a fan of Bach (I liken him to kale — something that’s supposed to be good for you, but I just can’t stomach). It’s been fun going through the stacks of music, playing through old movie soundtracks. It’s also like a diary — I associate pieces with particular times in my life. I can look at the songs I played in fourth grade (and see the stickers I got, signalling I had done a good job on a piece), or see what piece I played for my Christmas recital my junior year of high school. It’s fun to see where I started in terms of skill, and to see how far I’ve come and where I can still go.

Hearing that I can run again will definitely be music to my ears, but for now, this kind of music will have to suffice. But I can live with that for a while.