Week 38: workouts

Without a doubt, working out consistently over the past several months has been a mental boost as well as a physical boost, and I’m lucky to be able to do it.  Every night before bed I write down five things I’m thankful for and my workout makes the list every time.  This week was no exception.

On Monday morning I woke at 5am to lift weights at Meadowbrook while Adam swam.  I was feeling pretty sleepy when we arrived and just wasn’t feeling motivated to work.  Jumping in the pool usually takes care of this problem on a swim morning, but that wasn’t an enticing option before lifting.  I opted to wake up by running as a warm up.  A mile and 9:40 later I found myself awake and ready to go.  Watching the swimmers while I ran also served as inspiration which helped me get moving.  I did 12 repetitions of cable row, bench press, shoulder press, skullcrushers, and curls for three sets, then my ab routine, then two more sets.  It felt really good.

Tuesday morning was another 5am wake-up, this time for a swim workout.  It was chilly outside with temperature in the high 50s, but the indoor pool was just warm enough to be comfortable once I swam a few laps.  I did 100m free and 100m kick for warm-up, 50m one-armed drills, 50m catch-up drills, 100m kick, 100m free, 4x25m free, 100m kick, and 100m cool down (50m free, 50m back).  My legs were, as usual, wobbly getting out of the water.  I tried to warm up with a shower in the locker room, but the water simply didn’t get hot enough.  Winter is going to be tough.

On Wednesday I was lucky enough to have Adam join me (once again!) on an early morning bike ride.  He’s been great about trying to find beginner-friendly routes around the city since I’m not comfortable sharing the road with too many (often impatient) morning commuters.  We’ve only had moderate luck, so he suggested we try driving out of the city to start.  I was happy to give it a shot.  After a half hour drive, we set out from Oregon Ridge around 7:30am and immediately felt the chill of the 42 degree air.  My teeth were chattering for the first few minutes until we turned onto a sunnier road.  At that point it became tolerably cold.  Unfortunately the first long stretch was packed with cars and trucks going both ways on a reasonably well-paved road with a one-foot shoulder.  It was more than a little harrowing.  After five miles we turned onto a beautiful little picturesque road with cows and horses and absolutely no cars.  Now that’s what I’m talking about!  If only such roads existed for more than a mile at a time.  The second half of the ride was thankfully much quieter, though it was also much hillier.  My quads felt shot on the climbs and I found myself gearing up to take it easy – but instead of making things easier, I just found myself going slower for the same level of effort.  I actually considered getting off the bike and walking it up the hill at more than a few points.  I simply didn’t have the power I needed.  Near the end of the ride my asthma acted up on an easy climb and forced me to pull over to recover.  As usual, it probably had more to do with emotions than physical strain.  It was a frustrating and scary moment.  After that I just tried to shake it off and finish the ride.  We finished the 15 mile ride in 1:05:00, and I was happy to be safely on the ground again.  Despite the chaos, I was happy to have done the workout and was thankful to Adam for all the work he’s done to help me get started.  Routes don’t always work as planned, but it’s helpful to know I have someone by my side to help when things get tough.

I was up at 5am again on Thursday morning to swim.  There was a chill in the air and I was comfortable in my sweatpants and fleece, so I hoped the folks at Meadowbrook had finally closed the wall separating the indoor and outdoor pools.  No such luck.  To my surprise the majority of people were still swimming outdoors.  Because of the cold it was hard to get in the water, but it was only really chilly for a few seconds – nothing compared to the bike ride the day before.  I did 100m free, 100m kick, 50m one-arm drills, 50m catch-up drills, 200m free, 100m kick, 4x25m with paddles, 4x50m, 100m kick, and 100m cool down.  I was definitely feeling the cardio aspect after the 200m and each 4x25m and 4x50m.  I could also feel my quads were tired from the day before.

I was excited to get out Friday morning for another lifting routine with Adam.  He convinced me to try fewer reps with heavier weights, and I’m glad I did.  After a 3/4 mile warm up on the treadmill, I did pull-ups and dips with 50 lbs removed for 5 reps.  I tried doing push-ups from my knees with elbows in, but they were tough so I had to shift to working on an incline.  That’s something I need to work on!  I also did shoulder presses and biceps curls for six reps each to round out the circuit.  In total I did five rounds of this circuit before finishing with an ab workout.

Saturday was, in some sense, a celebration of sport though I didn’t personally partake.  In the morning Adam and I had the pleasure of witnessing a high school cross country competition that took place in a nearby park.  It was really inspiring to see those kids working so hard and still having fun.  It made me wish I had the courage to start running when I was their age.  Afterwards, Adam had to leave to man a beer tent at a local cyclocross race sponsored by Twenty20 cycling company.  Man, those athletes are amazing.  If you’ve never seen a cyclocross race, find one!

On Sunday I went for another 7 mile long run at Loch Raven with Adam.  It rained quite a bit the day before and the trails were too muddy for my taste, so we parked in the same place as last time and stuck to the road for the run.  After the initial downhill portion I wrote about last week, it continued downhill and increased that distance by maybe 50% compared to the hill and trail combination.  We soon crossed a bridge that provided a beautiful view of the reservoir.  Throughout the run we saw lots of spiders on their webs by the side of the road – enough to make me glad I wasn’t on the trails.  The air was cool and it was a relatively peaceful run, but by the time we turned around at 3.5 miles I could tell the rest of the run would be tough.  The run was hillier than I’m used to.  I took it steady on the big hill at the end of the run and managed to finish without having to stop.  But, man, I was so done by the end.  My asthma caught up with me a little bit on this last hill, probably because of the humidity.  My phone said it was 100% humidity when I work up that morning.  Overall, it was a very good run and I was proud that I finished.  It was a great way to start the day.  We even had entertainment while we stretched at the car – a very territorial little dachshund!