Saturday, October 22, 2016


Balancing the Fitness Load

I am a planner.
Almost everything I do is part of a plan.
When I started lifting weights in 1985, I recorded my sets, reps, weights, dates, and exercises.
Some of this I picked up from reading several magazines and online sites on exercise.
They taught that progress came in spoonfuls and fractions of an inch over time.

Visible changes were difficult to see in the short run.
Some of my interest in recording data was my genetic disposition to plan everything out.
I assumed that it would be useful to know my physical baseline to be able to see if the exercising was doing any good.

2016 has been an interesting year for my weight lifting.
I started out just trying to maintain what strength and mass I had left.
Aging is not fun to watch on oneself.
The normal progression - or rather, regression - is to lose strength and mass as the years progress past the age of 40 or 50.
And I have experienced this slow decline.
I have fought it kicking and screaming the whole way, as much as I could.

And one more thing - as you age, your body takes longer to recover from exercise - both after each set during the workout, and after each workout session.

So.... I set my exercise program to be simple to do.
It consisted of simple compound exercises that mostly used my bodyweight as resistance.
One set of each exercise, three days a week, and a run on Saturday morning, mainly because I love running.
The exercises were:  push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, and standing barbell curls.
All upper body exercises.

My leg work consisted of my hill run each Saturday morning.

But gradually my body became accustomed to the work load, and I found myself seeking more work.
So, I increased my exercise to two sets.  (I will present more details of this progression in another blog post)
Soon, I was craving more work, and went up to three sets of these same four exercises
Then, I felt that I needed to find some alternate exercises to work these same areas of my body.
So some workouts stayed the same and other workouts involved different exercises.
Then I decided to add some leg work to compliment my running.

All of this culminated in the inclusion of deadlifts into my exercise plan.
Deadlifts are, along with squats, an exercise I love to hate.
They are hard work, and involve almost your entire body.
They call into service your thighs, back, shoulders, chest and arms.

They require strict form and, if done incorrectly, you can injure yourself.
So it was with some caution and concern that I scheduled three sets of deadlifts in my Friday workout.
I kept the weight to 95 pounds to break myself in to this new exercise.
The concern had to do with my recovery time - how long would it take my body to recover from this new (new in this year - I have done them before with more weight) exercise, and would it adversely affect my run.

I wrote all of this to write this.....
I had a fantastic run this morning.
When I first started out, my left hip and knee were acting like they wanted to collapse with each step.

I was concerned that I would have to cancel my run if things did not improve.
It took about a quarter of a mile in the 40 degree darkness for things to sort themselves out.
But eventually everybody got happy.
It was in the darkest parts of the road that I realized that I had a big full moon to light the way for me.
Thus, I did not need the little flash light I had in my hand JIC.

As I started up the steepest part of the hill, I found myself running slower than I could have.
I call it passive running.
Just bopping along at a certain pace because it is comfortable.
This is instead of putting just a bit more effort into your stride and push against your capability.
I called to mind the mindset of my new athletic object of admiration, Katie Ledecky, who pushes herself every lap of every day of practice, so she can win races.

I am not trying to win any races these days, but I am trying to challenge myself.
So I put a little more effort into my run today.
Just a little.
I was mindful of my heavy workout yesterday.
Would any extra effort empty my bowl of Wheaties before I reached the end of my course?

I decided to push this a bit.
To my surprise, I felt strong - as evidenced by my level 2 breathing the whole way.
I pushed my pace both up the hill and down the hill to the end.
I was able to push hard all of the last quarter mile of my course and sprint the last 200 feet or so.

Another Ledecky finish.

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