I’m fully aware of, and okay with, the fact that even though this journey to better health is a rerun (of sorts) for me, I’ll still make mistakes. My goals have been (a) not to make the same mistakes I made “the first time;” and (b) not to injure myself.
I have been especially careful not to fall into the “too much, too soon” trap as I return to running. It’s common – you get going, you feel good, you feel better, you push more, you do more, you feel powerful, and then – OUCH – you overdo, and you’re sidelined. The road to Ice Pack-ville and Ibuprofen-land is paved with good intentions. Because I love running above all other physical endeavors, I’ve been pathologically careful not to do too many miles, or to do them too fast. I’m doing walk/run intervals on the treadmill no more than 3 days a week. I long to head outside, and I will after I build up my strength and confidence in the nice, controlled gym environment. At this stage, I either run extremely slowly for no more than 3 minutes at a time, or slightly less slowly for no more than 1 minute. And then a walk break until I can even consider running again. Not quite a fartlek, but close. I do the elliptical trainer on days that I don’t run. I’m careful to stretch after I work out and at other periods throughout the day. My bunion has thus far been silent, and my hips and knees feel just fine. My feet feel fine, too, ever since I figured out that my toes and soles were tightening up in a most uncomfortable fashion because I was lacing my shoes too tightly. I know, I’m a genius.
I’ve also been careful with my lifting routine. I lift a total of three times a week, and I only do each body part (except abs) once a week. One day for chest and triceps, one for legs, and one for back and biceps. I don’t lift for more than half an hour. I do three sets of 15 reps with light weights – sometimes I throw in a super-set to keep myself entertained, but I’m certainly far, far from going at it to the levels of grunting and strutting that I’ve achieved in the past. No protein powder in a shaker bottle, either. There’s no point, at this point, in me wearing myself out to a point where I can’t pick up my child, or where I am so fatigued that I do something dumb in the gym or elsewhere. The moment you can’t maintain form, whether you’re hoisting a dumbbell or a small human or a laptop, is the moment you’re in trouble.
I’ve purposely not taken any of the neat-o classes that my gym offers, save yoga. I need yoga. I think everyone needs yoga. I’ve stayed away from Power, Kickboxing, etc., so far because I’m focused on getting used to being back in the swing of things, not rushing to keep a schedule, and getting my daughter into the swing of going. She’s a great partner so far. She was instantly in love with the childcare room and staff at the gym and is disappointed if she doesn’t get to go. I’ve made a long-term commitment on both of our behalves, so it’s important to set the right foundation.
Don’t I sound so reasonable and measured? Well … I guess that even though I’ve been careful with the parts, I have been less careful with the sum. Hence my decision to take a day off.
What were my clues? How about sleeping for upwards of nine hours a night and being hungry all the time? [No, I’m not pregnant.] Seriously, y’all – I’ve woken up every morning for the past three mornings really, really hungry. You’re supposed to wake up ready to eat, but not ready to eat YOUR LEFT ARM RIGHT THEN AND THERE. You’re supposed to sleep better, but not fall asleep while you’re washing the dishes.
Thusly the same genius who figured out that her shoes were laced too tightly figured out that the five-day-a-week workout schedule was a bit much. Even though I was being careful not to do too much of any one thing, it turned out that I was doing too much of everything – and probably not eating enough on top of that.
So I finally listened to my body and took a day off. I once heard the phrase, “listen to your body when it whispers and you will never have to hear it scream.” I don’t think I clued into the messages when they were whispers – they had progressed to whimpers before I got wise – but at least I listened before the screaming started. The lesson here is, stay flexible. Be ready to make adjustments as your body, or your life, suggests. Or demands. And don’t spend your day off of the gym on the patio at a Mexican restaurant.
Today is Square One, friends. Listen to your body!
 Stop that giggling, it’s a word. Swedish for “speed play” (and keep your Ikea jokes to yourself), fartlek refers to a type of training which incorporates speed intervals that aren’t particularly structured. Instead, the runner does intervals at his/her pleasure/discretion, challenging the aerobic and anaerobic systems to build strength and endurance. They’re fun.