Monday, May 3, 2010

The Wall and Injuries Suck

I am spending a lot of time lately thinking about that half marathon running leg of my triathlon in July. Exercise is just as much about mental strength as it is about physical strength. I have a big tendency to quit mentally when I'm running if I'm having a bad day. I've been training for that by putting myself in some serious discomfort while running and not letting myself stop no matter what. It's amazing how big of a difference you will see in your physical performance when you gain mental confidence in yourself.

The wall and why it matters to everyone:

It is important when you're working out that you push yourself through and beyond the walls you hit. The moments when your brain is telling you you need to stop, but you override it and force yourself to keep going are monumental and essential to getting stronger. Many studies have shown that alarms go off in the brain telling you to stop well before you physically need to. This is not to say you should push yourself to the point of complete physical exhaustion. But, it is to say, that you are completely capable of continuing physically, even when you reach your supposed end point mentally. One of the best ways to extend yourself beyond that voice telling you can't, is to create a plan of attack and commit to it. When you go out running/swimming/cycling, have a goal time or a goal distance you want to do it for. Or better yet, have a time goal, that you know you can reach with some extra effort, for a specific distance. This will help you to push yourself a little harder. If you're doing a strength conditioning workout that includes 50 push ups, before you begin, commit to a number you will do without stopping no matter how hard it is and then you can break the remaining number up into a few sets. Creating a mental plan of attack, as well as visualizing yourself successfully completing the workout or race ahead of you based on that plan, is key in keeping those mental demons at bay. People who mentally quit before they even begin are in for a long, hard road in achieving fitness goals. Really, it's just like regular life. You create small, reasonable but challenging goals for yourself in the short term in order to reach long term goals. The key is paying attention to and celebrating those short term goals. That is how you keep yourself motivated on that long path.

Tracking Your Progress and Keeping Yourself Motivated

This makes me laugh. See! Dinosaur attack! Just like I said in my last post, be prepared. T-shirt design

In general, if you're just wandering around the gym doing whatever and have no idea of what's getting better and what isn't, you probably aren't going to stick to a workout schedule. Everyone needs to see some sort of progress in order to keep them going and it has to be more than just trying to fit into a size 6. If that is your only goal and your only measurement for success then you're not only selling your experience of getting in shape short, but you're also setting yourself up for frustration.

1. Write down your goals short term (short term can be every other week) AND long term
2. Keep written track of your progress
3. Time yourself whether you are running 1 mile, swimming 3 or biking 50. The next time you go out and do it, aim to beat your previous time.
4. Every other week give yourself a test: what's your max number of push ups? squats? pull ups? lunges? If you keep up with your workouts you will see those numbers go up quickly.
5. Take body measurements and check them every few weeks
6. Pull out those jeans that maybe haven't fit for awhile but you're so close! It is really gratifying when you finally pull them on no problem.
7. Take before and after pictures. Seriously! You don't have to show anyone but yourself.
8. Educate yourself about the good you are doing for your body health wise and all of the potential injuries and illnesses you are lowering your risk for by exercising. It cannot just be all about appearance. I think about how awesome it will be if I'm in my 80s and can still run, hike and wear a bikini (OK maybe a one piece) or just simply exist on my own independently and confidently. No newspaper boy is carrying my groceries in the house for me dammit!
8. DO NOT simply rely on the numbers on a scale to make you feel good or justify your workout efforts. There are a lot of reasons for this that I am not going into right now, just trust me. I weigh only a few pounds less than I did before I ever started working out, but physically I look way different. I wish I had taken before and after pictures.

That's me in my 80's. Serious Vertical leap.

Injuries Suck

Illustration by J.J. Grandville

Yeah, they do. Big time. I was supposed to run a 10 mile race Sunday. On Thursday I did this really lovely workout involving running hills, jumping rope and jumping pull ups, and while I thought this was awesome, apparently my knee was all "WTF??? Quit pummeling me you 32 year old wide hipped female!" Shortly thereafter, my knee felt like crap. So Sunday morning rolled around. I got up at 5:45 and got all ready to go. Last second I decided that running 10 miles was not in the best interest of my mildly damaged knee, unless I was in the mood for upgrading the injury. So, I grabbed my bike shoes and my swimsuit and did a nice long cycling/swim brick. Despite the lack of running, my knee was seriously hurting for the rest of the day. Enough that I could barely walk the dog and had a hard time falling asleep. I was pretty bummed out. There's nothing worse than being hurt AND feeling sorry for yourself, so today I got up and did the CFE WOD in the pool. Swimming is a wonderful thing by the way. It is great for healing and rehabbing injuries, as well as putting your body through a tough cardio workout if you really go for it. Today I did ladder intervals and it was intense. My knee did not hurt afterwards and still does not hurt. Crossfit tomorrow? Yeah probably. Fingers crossed. Otherwise I'll be spending a lot of time working on my swimming, which is not a bad thing at all.

Update: Knee is holding up despite the fact that I kicked its ass with bike interval training, jumping lunges and sprints. Hopefully it will stay that way!!

Motivational Kitten

Motivational kitten says so what if I'm injured! I'm not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself in front of the TV. Yeah!!!

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