Thursday, January 8, 2015

That whole 'active rest' thing

I've been running pretty consistently since I was 14 years old. That's 19 years of running! I don't keep track of such things (and sadly I don't have an internal odometer), but I'd bet that 2014 was my highest mileage year ever. I loved every minute of it. But I kept thinking I should take some time off to really rest and recover. Then some new group run or race would come up and I never got around to doing it. So for 2015, I challenged myself to take a week or two off from running and get in some active rest (That was a joke. Two weeks without running? The restlessness would be unbearable). Then I ran 3 times on New Year's Day, which was a poor start to that resolution. In my defense, when you're invited to run at midnight and climb on tanks and run around ponds in the bitter cold and run through trails and burn your worries in a fire while eating empanadas, you don't say no. Enter some especially face biting, mind numbing, just plain mean cold weather and suddenly it was much easier to avoid running. This is what I've been up to in the meantime:

January 2nd: Yoga for immune system (some video I found on YouTube). I'd been sick and hacking up junk since Christmas Eve and the SARS was really starting to harsh my zen. I figured I would try to yoga my way out of it. Results were mixed. Having an excuse to lay around in legs up the wall pose for a bit was nice, but I can definitively say that yoga is no cure for SARS.

January 3rd: Group Power and Centergy classes at Penfield Sport & Fitness with Pete. It felt really weird to wake up on a Saturday morning and not run for hours, but bonus points for being able to work out in a tank top and capris again. Group Power is a bunch of different exercises with barbells and hand weights with some ab work mixed in. I chose the smallest, tiniest little baby weights to start because I'd never done anything like this before and I actively dislike weight workouts (I mean, why do all the moves have names like dead squat and dead lift but none of them involve laying down in corpse pose? Something is not right about that). I wanted to make sure I enjoyed it enough to come back again and killing myself with heavy weights was not the way to do that. I actually enjoyed this class far more than I'd anticipated. The instructor lady was crazy and hilarious, which are two of my favorite qualities in a person. Though the class itself was a little too chaotic for my tastes. Between setting up the step, bar with weights, hand weights and mat, trying to pay attention to the moves, all the picking things up and putting them down and then putting everything away, it was just a lot going on. I think I became a runner because I'm too uncoordinated to do anything else. But this is the kind of shit I need to do if I want to have any semblance of muscles, so whatever. Centergy is this weird yoga, pilates, tai chi mash-up. I didn't feel as limber as I usually do after yoga or as sore as I usually do after pilates (and I've never done tai chi so I'm not really sure about that part), but at least it's more core work which I can always use. (Insert Homer Simpson voice saying "Everybody has a six-pack and I have a keg.")

January 4th: Swimming and Aquafit. Probably I should not use the term swimming since I'm sure I don't do any of the strokes correctly. But I've always loved the water and, as I say when people ask if I can swim, I have yet to drown. Aquafit was okay but not as fun as the first time, maybe because I went by myself. I think it's more fun to jump and splash around in the water with friends. But I do really like punching underwater. They have you do regular punches and uppercuts and it's quite gratifying. Typically I don't have many occasions to punch things, but I'll be ready should the need arise.

January 5th: Group Power and Centergy with Pete. I used the second tiniest weight for Group Power this time. It's supposed to be light weights and high repetitions, but I think it was still too light because I didn't feel very sore afterwards. I'm afraid I may have to go up to the third tiniest weight next time. Sigh. Centergy was more balance oriented this time, which I also need. The instructor for both classes was this seriously strong old dude. At one point we were doing a yoga pose on our backs with our legs stretched over to one side and I was hesitating to put my legs down because they were getting very close to his mat/face and he said "Don't worry, I don't bite toes."

January 6th: Aquafit and Cycle with Pete. I think we got a few disapproving side-eyes from some of the older ladies, but it definitely makes for a funnier class when someone (read: Pete) keeps trying to tickle your feet, then splashes you and says "Oh, I thought she said splash right." It was super hot in the pool room and for some reason I got a splitting headache in the middle of class, which was annoying as all get out. Spin class is not my favorite to begin with and it's even less fun with a headache, but I got a bike right next to the window and spent most of the class watching other people working out below. Something about running and being in the water feels like home, but on a bike I always feel as if I'm contorting myself into an unnatural position. Plus it always makes my butt hurt. And you know: happy butt, happy life. So unhappy butt, no bueno.

January 7th: Rest. Like actual rest. Plus tacos and dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Due to traffic and snowy roads, it took me 50 minutes to drive the 2 miles to Pete's house. I wish that was a joke. I should have run there, it would have been faster. But it's hard to run while carrying all the ingredients for tacos. I need a taco mule. That would solve all my problems.

January 8th: I woke up and the weather app on my phone said 6 degrees, feels like -20. Tropical. But I couldn't stand another day without running so I put on all the layers and headed out. The wind was brutal. After only 4 miles I was done. This was perilously close to the borderline of conditions-I-will- run-in / conditions-I-will-run-in-but-complain-about-endlessly. On the upside, it was so freaking cold out that I didn't even sweat. Plus I feel that however long you spend outside running in negative wind-chills entitles you to an equal amount of time in a steaming hot shower. (No, I didn't really take a 40 minute shower, but man I fantasized about it.)

I'd like to say that I felt super energized and refreshed after my week long respite from running, but I was too numb from cold to feel anything during today's run. Still, I got to try some weird new exercises, my legs feel good and nothing is sore, so there's that.

Lyric of the moment: "Well this is just a simple song to say what you've done. I told you about all those fears, and away they did run. You sure must be strong. And you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun..."

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