Reviving my strength

I was passed flushed. I was a strange tint from both being hot and oxygen being drained from my face to my quivering muscles. I was slightly embarrassed at how hard it felt but I was desperate not to let it show. From racing I’m decent at not letting my form get sloppy with fatigue but my face and nervous eyes gave me away. It had been only  15 minutes of strength training and my extra week of “recovery” was killing me. To be entirely honest it wasn’t just an extra week, it was neglecting strength training all spring. Who am I kidding, winter too.

Last summer I was all over my strength training. Unlike many endurance athletes I’ve typically loved strength training. I love how confident it makes me feel. My perception of my body is never better than when I’ve been lifting. It doesn’t matter if my body actually changes, it looks better to me. It also is an immense mental boost in my racing. When it gets real hard I always tell myself that my time in the weight room will carry my through, and pass the weaker competition.

Last winter after healing my broken body from the hardest honeymoon ever, I was going to start a new routine. A colleague at the YWCA even helped me devise a new plan to support my running goals for the winter. In my grand 19 month training plan towards my first ½ ironman triathlon, last winter was supposed to be my running volume phase. Turned out that I focused almost solely on running. I didn’t fall in love with the strength plan and too often I justified skipping it because it was my “off” season. I’d hit it up hard in the spring.

I kicked off “spring” and the supposed shift to a bike focus phase with an indoor tri in early April. But then it kept snowing. And snowing. It stopped snowing and the ice let out just in time for my May 19th Albert Lea Tri. I got so frustrated with the miserable biking weather that everything suffered. Bad excuse I know. Hindsight is 20/20 and now I realize it would have been a good time to put in some serious hours on that neglected strength training. Too bad that occurred to me right as the weather finally broke.

Ever since then I was singularly focused on making up lost time on my bike. I had the Trinona Triathlon looming ahead of me and I had no interest in weights. After my incredible breakthrough race, I allowed myself a good long recovery. I needed it physically and emotionally.

Last week I didn’t really need more recovery. It had been two weeks since Trinona and it should have been time to build back up. Instead I was so swamped with work I passed off minimal “training” as extended recovery. Big mistake.

I am not one of those fitness professionals that are addicted to exercise. I am not endless enthusiasm. I get in ruts, fall off the wagon, and lose momentum just like most people. My expertise lies not in obsession with exercise but loads of experience convincing myself to do it. This was one of those times.

So it was in a suburb of Toronto at the YMCA with my dad that I found myself unevenly flushed. There was no excuse to skip strength training and I had many road trip consumed and Chinese cuisine calories to motivate me. I wrote my plan in the car and then got through half of it before it hit me. As I grimaced shyly at my plan in the unfamiliar gym I was feeling sadly deconditioned. My recovery had slid into atrophy built on a foundation of neglect. Oy. Ouch.

I’ve been here before. It’s time to get the ball rolling, to pick up the slack, to get back in saddle. It’ll be fun. It’s that special kind of fun that’s satisfyingly hard. I may not be proud of the pitiful weights I lifted, but I am pleased at picking them back up. With persistence will come confidence. In the meanwhile at least one of my clients will be delighted that I’m as sore I as usually make her.

I’d love to hear that I’m not alone. What is something you struggle to convince yourself to do and then are so glad you did it? When have you fallen out of a good habit and then felt like you had to pick it up back at square one?

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4 Responses to Reviving my strength

  1. Linda says:

    I’m here raising my hand as “at least one client…” well, not “delighted”, but at least enjoying a little schadenfreude that you, too, suffer as your clients do. But in a good way! It also helps to know that I’m not alone in the little justifications I make to skip certain parts of workouts, and also learn some strategies for sticking to the plan. Even if it’s just fear of the pain that will come when I resume.
    Falling out of a good habit happens a lot – maybe a habit in itself. But picking it up again is never the same as going back to square one, although it may feel like it. You (meaning “I”) already have that habit pathway established in your brain; you just need to tease it out again. You have already developed the psychological/emotional skills that created the habit in the first place. And there’s a lot to be said for muscle memory. One of the many great lessons I’ve learned from you, Kym, is to have patience with myself. When the habit, psychological part and muscle memory do kick in, the improvement curve starts heading towards vertical.

    • Kym Zest says:

      Thanks Linda, no it’s never actually square one. It just feels like it sometimes. I know, and I’m glad you know too, not to be discouraged because it does come back. Consistency is a fantastic aim, but it seems sometimes I feel that consistently coming back will do for now. As long as the gaps aren’t too long and the “bottom” of the hole is not too deep. Even when something has been neglected I have a solid foundation.

  2. “In the meanwhile at least one of my clients will be delighted that I’m as sore I as usually make her.” … best.post.yet … I always have some excuse Kym … work too stressful, it’s 9 o’clock and too late … can’t exercise after a beer : ) … etc. I am so missing core strength (shouldn’t have said that out loud) and what you say about how it carries you through I know is true. When I fall off the wagon, my expectations often prevent me from getting back on … I want to pick up right where I left off and know that I need to not be so hard on myself … so, 9 o’clock and I did 20 minutes of core … well, probably 15 … but roll on wagon! Have a great 4th and a great time away — see you next week!

    • Kym Zest says:

      WooHoo! Way to go Anne! Something is always better than nothing, even when it seems weak. Hmmm, does that apply to beer as well? Thanks for liking my post 🙂 As I’m getting the hang of this I usually have a fair amount of anxiety as I hit the publish post button. It’s lovely to get feedback.

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