Pleasant surprise.

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There are some really wonderful things about winter.  This is a Mt. Major throwback from a few winters ago!

If you have been following along on the journey, you know I had been experiencing a fair amount of struggle coming back to running since Vermont.  The few things I was able to pinpoint included deep fatigue in my low legs and a strain leading to a left ankle issue.  I had soreness and pain on nearly every run since starting again in August.  I continued to run, pushing through the discomfort and waiting for that “switch” the body sometimes makes.  The “switch” never happened and I finally concluded I simply wasn’t healing from workouts in the same way I was this spring and summer leading up to Vermont.

Enter the four weeks of no running.

Mentally this is HARD, but physically needed.  I continued to lift in the gym, using caution when it came to work that could tax my calves (skipping things such as sled pushes).  I haven’t really backed off the gym work in about two years and consistently work hard two days a week.  I upped that to three days after Vermont and anticipate I will be going back to it soon.  That strength work and lack of running has put me about ten pounds heavier than the weight I raced at in July.  That being said, I am HEALTHY, STRONG and haven’t lost a tremendous amount of endurance.  My clothing still fits well, my stomach is flat and my quads and calves have put on a fair amount of muscle.  I am not going to blow smoke and tell you I eat clean all the time, because that would be a lie.  I believe in moderation and working hard enough to enjoy the things I love to eat (and drink).

This past week I started to ease in low impact cardio to test my legs.  Here is what that looked like:

Monday: 30 minutes on the Arc Trainer (fat burning mode) and 10 minutes on the stepmill.  I dripped all over that thing!  My calves felt good and didn’t squawk at all.

Tuesday:  HIIT session at the gym.  Ben called this “Level 5.”  I chose option 3, which went something like this:

  • 30 minutes of work after a 500m rower buy-in
  • 30 chinups (-5 each time), 5 bicep curls (+1 each time), 6 back fly (+2 each time), bosu ball – on one leg, throw lacrosse ball at the wall 5X each side
  • I made it through the list 4 times, for a total of 90 chin ups (half without band assist), 26 bicep curls w/ 20s, 36 back flys w/ 10s, and 40 bosu ball reps.
  • My lats were junk for days!

Wednesday:  30 minutes on the Arc Trainer and 12 minutes on the stepmill. I planned on doing 15 but got derailed by chatting with an old friend.  Happy calves!

Thursday:  This was a partner WOD at the gym.

  • Went through the list three times, 3 minute sets
  • #1: 3 Shuttle runs while partner squat holds
  • #2 Single Bear Complex (55 lbs. barbell) while partner jump squats
  • #3 24″ box jump x3 while partner does plank-to-squat reps
  • This workout felt GREAT

I later went home halfway through work because I felt a cold coming home.  Lots of sleep seemed to knock that out.

Saturday Fastpack:  I decided it was time to check in with my legs on Saturday and planned to meet Tony for some of his long run.  Pawtuckaway is a perfect place to fastpack and run and as an added bonus it’s quiet after summer.  I have to admit I didn’t give any thought to mileage, but figured I would get somewhere between 6-8 miles.  Tony needed 26 so the plan was to meet him somewhere along the way and fastpack North Mountain together.

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Heading into the woods!

We started at the same time, brightly decked out in orange to announce ourselves to the hunters.  My plan was to fastpack the trails and road to Round Pond where I would meet Tony.  I enjoyed just over 5 solo miles before we came together.  My legs felt strong and I was able to stride out, averaging 15-16 minute miles.  My ankle was perfect and my calves strong.

From Round Pond we headed towards North Mountain.  This is a very quiet part of the park and my favorite little peak.  I climbed strong, almost effortlessly for me, and ascended with my second fastest climb ever and lowest heart rate on that trail.  What a surprise!  I started to think while climbing that the deadlifts, weighted squats and other intense lower body work may be starting to pay dividends!

This fastpack ended up giving me 12.9 miles and I felt strong and content to the very end.  I also racked up 1900 ft. of gain, which honestly felt like nothing.  Today, as I sit here typing, I am pleased to report my calves feel great.  My shins are a little sore (normal for me when I haven’t done a lot of hiking) but all else checks out well.

pizza

Post fastpack Pizza!  Yes, I sat in my truck inhaling this….

So the moral of the story this week is to trust the process.  In this case, I am trusting the rest and proper strength work.  Finally, I will leave you with a list… trying to get amped for winter!

Top Ten Things to Love About Winter

  • My chap stick doesn’t melt
  • Unpacking winter clothes is like shopping… it’s all new again!
  • Bright colored layers
  • The peace of running during snowfall
  • Altra Lone Peak Neo Shells!
  • Headlamp runs
  • Warm drinks after cold winter runs
  • Hiking the mountains on snowshoes with friends
  • Having the trails to ourselves
  • Buying winter gear and calling it a “Christmas present” or “birthday present” to myself… for months 🙂 

 

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Be Happy

pepe

When was the last time you sat back and thought “I’m really happy”?

It is my belief we allow life to sort of ramble on, sometimes as speeds so fast we can’t remember what you ate yesterday, much less what projects we worked on.  Oftentimes, when we find ourselves exhausted, it’s because we haven’t stopped long enough in a days to reset our brain and take a deep breath.  While the entire human species is guilty of this, I feel women tend to hit that point of exhaustion without warning a bit more often.  Why, you ask?

Women are professional multitaskers.  Or so we think… Studies have shown over and over that we can only focus on one task at a time.  Yeah, I know…. “But I multitask all the time.”  Sure.  I do too.  What ends up happening is I lose track of what I am working on and end up with things in various stages of completion.  When that happens, in comes the stress.  Studies have also shown this type of induced stress from multitasking can be bad for the brain.

All that being said, I have been taking the time to consider where MY stress comes from and what my level of happiness is on a daily basis.  Some days I have to dig deep to find peace in my work.  The same goes for the external forces of life.  The things that make me consistently happy are the people in my life who I adore, the animals who accept my unconditional love and the hobbies which enrich my brain and help me maintain my health and fitness.

Tikisaddle

I am currently in a lull, where I have chosen rest over running, and I am using it productively to evaluate ways to enrich my life.  In the last ten days I have climbed back into the saddle again, spent time on the range teaching and catching up on those half-done projects that got left behind in a flurry of multitasking and training. I have also committed to seeking ways to simply my life and focusing on what is truly important.  Life is too damn short, I have to many miles to run and ride and I want to keep growing personally and professionally.

By reducing (I didn’t say I stopped!) the level of multitasking, I am easing up the pressure in my brain and making way for those feelings of happiness that comes with focusing on the things I love and CAN control.

blurryrifle

Find your happiness…