Monday, March 3, 2014

The Bruises Are Worth It

Okay, so apparently I was wrong.

Last week I read a fascinating book called The Power of Habit (more on that later, in a totally non-preachy way, promise) & one of the topics the author got into was how businesses tap into people's psychology to create strong habits that involve giving your money to said business. Every habit has a cue and a reward, and in order to leverage people's habits for the good of your business, you have to figure out what the reward is for them, what do they really get out of it. (Often not actually the product / service you're selling, interestingly enough.)

One of the examples he used was gym memberships. And it turns out that after putting years and years and millions of dollars into exhaustively researching what keeps people coming to a gym, there is one secret. One main reward that people seek when they go to the gym, the one thing that consistently keeps people coming back & paying their dues month after month.

Any guesses? You'll never guess.

SOCIALIZING. This is apparently the *entire driving force* behind group exercise classes.

Incredulous Kanye is incredulous.

If you say so, Charles Duhigg.

I told you I wasn't really a gym rat.

On Wednesday I saw my PT, who had a student PT with him, so he poked & prodded & ground away at all the "collagen cross-binding" (read: giant knots of scar tissue) in my calf, & then she poked & prodded & ground, ART & cupping & all manner of unpleasantness ensued, & like always, I went home tastefully bruised.

"No, it's okay, they're the good kind of bruises!" <= statements
that should never have to be uttered. (BTW, this is totally one of those
Lauren Fleshman "keeping it real" moments.

(Sidenote: If you don't read Lauren Fleshman, what is the matter with you??? Get over there. You can read the rest of this later. Yes, she runs for Oiselle, but she is also a professional runner so sponsorship deals are a big part of how she eats & pays her bills. Also, she is not constantly shilling for them or choking the internet with posts about how much she {heart}{heart}{heart}'s her #Oiselle teammates. And, she's just an amazing & fabulous human being.)

So yes, there is still a not-insignificant amount of scar tissue in my legs (which I'm also working on grinding out at home with the lacrosse ball), but there's less of it now, and also I do actually seem to be getting stronger. But more importantly, he pronounced that for the next 1-1.5 weeks, I can run up to 5 x 4:00 w/ 1:00 walk breaks, and if that goes well & I don't have any symptoms, then (drrrrrumrrrrolllll) I'm clear to start running for twenty minutes straight without walk breaks.

Did you hear that?? No walk breaks. Smell you later, Galloway.

I can't even remember the last time I was this excited about something.

* * *

Grand Total: 59 miles

    * 10.8 running
    * 37 easy (bike)
    * 5.5 speed (bike)
    * 5.7 elliptical

Monday: a.m. strength / p.m. 14 bike

    (No karate cuz picking Don up from the airport.)

    If you've been reading for a while you might remember that a big part of my strength work is push-ups, and that one of my big goals since last summer has been to gradually work up to 15-20 push-ups with a 25 pound plate on my back (while maintaining good form). For the last couple of months, I've been doing four sets of 15 with a 10 pound plate during every strength session, which has gone from "OMG this is impossible" to "Ugh, I can do it, but it really sucks" to "Meh, not that different than without the plate." Back in the summer or fall sometime, I got the 25 pound plate out just to see what it felt like & if I could do anything with it at all. As I recall I managed about three push-ups (with questionable form) before I could no longer get my chest back up off the ground once it was there.

    So using the ten pound plate has gotten easy, and I noticed last week that my gym actually has a few 15.5 pound plates (which, huh??), so I decided that this week I'd try using that one instead of the ten & see how terrible it was. Well, Monday morning I couldn't find any of those. So I went, "Eh, what the heck?" & got the 25 out instead, just to see what kind of progress I had made since the last time I tried.

    And you guys, on my first set, I did all 15 push-ups with the 25 pound plate. And on the second set, I took a short pause after 10, but still completed all 15. My form wasn't absolutely perfect (I need to work on getting all the way down on every rep), but it wasn't terrible, either.

    So yeah. Last summer I declared my mission to make that 25 pound plate my bitch. I wouldn't say I'm quite there yet, but she definitely has cause for concern.

Tuesday: a.m. 2.85 run (7 x 3:00 w/ 1:00 walk breaks) + 2.65 elliptical / p.m. bike, 3.2 warm up, 2 x (5:00 @ 5K effort, 1:00 easy, 3:00 hard sprint, 2:00 easy), 1.6 cool down = 10.3 speed.

    The running, it is just lovely. But apparently I semi-failed at carbs again on Tuesday afternoon, because as soon as I got on the bike I realized I had a hollow pit where my stomach should have been & had that light-headed nauseous feeling the whole way through my warm-up. I decided I'd just do as much as I could without feeling utterly miserable, even if it meant just doing an easy ride instead of speed stuff, and that would be okay. Weirdly, though, as soon as I started the first hard interval I suddenly felt fine, got through the whole 45 minute workout with no problem, and all of it was actually pretty easy. (Still--I scarfed a car banana immediately afterward.)

    AND, came home to find these bad boys on the table, which I'd pre-ordered a while back using one of those sweet post-holiday coupons I was talking about earlier:

    What's even more exciting than getting to run again? Getting to run in sweet new kicks.

Wednesday: a.m. PT / p.m. karate

    Originally I'd planned to get one more treadmill run in with the shoes I'm wear-testing before I have to make my final report & send them back (can't say much about them, but OMG. So much love. I have seriously debated not returning them. I kid, I kid. Mostly) plus a little elliptical time. But my work day had other plans, & that combined with the sucktastic weather we were having (read: could not actually see the lanes on the freeway & passed three accidents on the way home) meant that by the time I got home I basically had time to eat something & get ready for karate.

Thursday: a.m. 2.6 run (5 x 4:00 w/ 1:00 walk breaks) + 3 elliptical. / p.m. bike, 10 easy.

    Apparently I am past the age where I can just walk into the dojo, bust out a bunch of super-aggressive kicks right off the bat, & not have it absolutely destroy my hip flexors in half an hour's time. By the end of class, I kid you not, I couldn't put my own pants on without physically lifting & holding my legs up with my hands. The last time that happened I was a month away from tearing one of said hip flexors, so I was a little on the fence about trying to do any running or elliptical Thursday morning.

    In the end I decided to go to the gym anyway, figured I'd give it a try, & if it was at all uncomfortable I'd just do some stretching & PT stuff & then go to work early. Well, I'm happy to report that I was able to do all of it with no pain at all, in spite of the fact that walking was *incredibly* painful & I still could not put on pants or socks like a normal person. I feel like this probably says a lot about how I've stopped abusing my hip flexors when I run since that injury. (Also, scream-y muscles make it REALLY easy to tell when you flirt with even slightly bad form, even just a little.)

Friday: a.m. strength work / 2.65 run (5 x 4:00 w/ 1:00 walking breaks) + 8 bike.

    Still can't put on pants unassisted, so again, I figured I'd go to the gym & attempt all my usual strength work, but skip anything that was uncomfortable / painful. (I didn't even attempt deadlifts / back squats, because, although you *shouldn't* really be using your quads / hip flexors while lifting, it still kind of seemed like tempting fate more than I'm inclined to.) Instead of bicycle crunches or pike crunches, I resorted to plain old ordinary crunches (or, as my karate class calls them, "sadistic asshole crunches"; sorry dudes, if they don't make you want to cry, they're not doing anything) but other than that I was able to do everything I normally did without any pain.

    Oh! Also, I grabbed the 25 lb plate again to see if I could do better push-ups with it today than Monday. At first I was kind of disappointed that the answer was "Eh, not really," plus I had to pause at 10 in both sets instead of just the second one. Then when I was putting it back, I realized it was a f***ing 35 pound plate, not a 25. Yeah, bitches! When I suck at something, there is *ALWAYS* a good excuse reason.

Saturday: Rest. Okay fine, it snowed in Tahoe so we went skiing again. But I was still sore enough from whatever I did to myself at karate on Wednesday that I did not ski all that aggressively, so it was basically just like a rest day...

Then we came home & walked across the street in our sweaty ski clothes & ordered a three-course dinner to go. Because San Francisco.

Also, I win at lamb shank.

Sunday: 2.8 run (5 x 800m w/ 1:00 walking breaks).

    For whatever reason, I am never really excited about running on the weekend, unless I've got something special planned. It always feels like a chore to drag myself off the couch & put on running clothes. Of course once I'm out there (at least 99% of the time), all is forgotten & I feel ten times better for it.

    So it was on Sunday. The weather was kind of nasty, which made me that much more unenthusiastic. A few minutes in, though, the same cold, windy, drizzly conditions that had previously made me want to curl up inside with hot tea & a book felt brisk & refreshing. Since it's easier with the Garmin to run distance intervals than time, I set it to auto lap at half-miles & did my prescribed five with one-minute walk breaks.

    It. Felt. AMAZING.


  1. I'm impressed. With the bruising on your calf - ouch! With the 25lb push-ups. And with that lamb shank - looks so good!

  2. I must be weird, because I show up at the gym and try not to make eye contact or speak with anyone. That's pretty awesome that you could do so many push ups with a 25 lb plate. I really can't do any push ups. I'm a weakling. I try, but my little T-rex arms just shrivel up and collapse.

  3. That dinner looks so good! Wow to three course takeout.
    I can't believe people keep going to the gym for social reasons...? Sure it's nice to see the same sweaty faces every day, but no way that's what keeps people going..?
    Good for you you are back to running / no walking! Enjoy. And very nice shoes.

  4. I'm stuck back on the part where you put a weight plate on your back. I'm picturing myself trying to do that and then crushing my tailbone or something. I am not so coordinated with my hands behind my back; it's a miracle I can make a ponytail. Also, that takeout looks amazing.

  5. Okay, so this is kind of nerdy, but you might be interested in this:,+Deci+00.pdf ...most of us are intrinsically motivated to run, we love running, we do all these strength workouts because we enjoy them AND they're good for our running. And there's a whole subset of people who are extrinsically motivated to exercise - by the fact that it's good for them in the long run, by commitments to friends at the gym, etc. The paper I just linked to describes all the different levels of extrinsic motivation. It's a bit jargon-y, but worth reading!

    Also, if I tried to do a push-up with a weight plate on my back, I feel like it would surely slide off and hit me in the head. Colour me impressed.