Monday, December 27, 2010

Working Out by Feel

I spent several years of my life "in training" for the sport of running. I also dabbled in cycling and was eventually led to the sport of triathlon.  I took a brief gander at some of my old logs from the 90's when I was in full on triathlon training mode.  The logs noted tallies for each week in individual hours of running, cycling, swimming, yoga and strength training. I also tallied what percentage I spent in each HR zone during each phase of the year.  Crazy.  I'd average 15-23 hours of training per week .... and I was a minimalist compared to the other pro triathletes. I have notes upon notes of my training, how I was feeling, goals, etc ..... I can't imaging putting in those hours now, nor do I have the desire. 

I no longer keep a log on a regular basis, although I have for a period of months when gearing up for a half IM event in recent years. Of course I encourage my athletes to keep a log not only for their review, but for mine as well. Often times we can see patterns or trends that lead to great performances .... or sometimes illness (getting run down).  It's also a reality check of consistency of training and volume.  These days, I train by feel and by listening to what my body and spirit needs. Sounds corny, I know.  There has been a bit of a shift in my approach to my own training .... which has become more "fitness" based.  My motivation to workout has nothing to do with a race schedule or performances.  I workout purely to feel good, move my body and nurture my spirit.

One of my top 5 all-time workouts, occurred recently while I was in NJ, and now officially what I call my home away from home. Who would have thought I'd become a Jersey girl?  I am happy to say that I firmly believe that my achilles tear that has plagued me for over a year is finally and officially mended!  With that being said, I am very tentative with running these days to avoid any set-backs.  Heck, after months and months of no running, what's the rush to get back into it?  My recent run workouts have been more a combination of walking and jogging.  I have yet to go out for a full on run ... and frankly, I'm scared to do so even though my heel will probably be fine.  My top 5 workout consisted of a 7 minute walk to the boardwalk followed by another 3 minutes once I hit the boardwalk. I then alternated 5 minutes of jogging with 5 minutes of brisk walking.  It was cold outside however the sun was shining and I was able to stay close to the boardwalk shops and feel the heat of that sun.  I spent one hour of jogging and walking while looking at an amazing ocean view (much like the picture).  I was the only one on that boardwalk with the exception of one or two other walkers, some just out walking with coffee.  I did not care about pace or heart rate.  It was all easy but it felt so good to move and breathe that fresh ocean air. In this case, as with many of my workouts lately, the goal has been to just move in whatever way feels good. Sometimes it's in working out with weights, sometimes it's just walking (or walking and jogging combined), sometimes it's getting in the pool and swimming long, but easy. I put in a couple of 3000y workouts lately and was in the moment of each lap versus thinking about what came next or how many more yards remained of the workout.  I workout once per day, usually getting in 45 min to an hour or exercise. I mountained biked with friends a few weeks ago, spending 90 minutes or so on completely wooded, single track, mostly up or downhill terrain. It was a blast .... pure joy and a great workout. 

I've been tired for the past several months for reasons that I can't really explain but can say it has to do with some changes going on in my body.  I'm in the process of having things checked out and figured out.  So, my motivation to TRAIN, is almost non-existent however my motivation to EXERCISE is a constant.  I choose my workouts based on what feels good that day or what my spirit needs.  If I've been in a negative environment or been in situations or conversations that drain my own energy, my spirit needs fresh air and time alone.  If I'm feeling like I want to work hard and really sweat, I'll get it out in my own spin class, or take a class. Sometimes a brisk walk with the dogs serves as my workout (they walk fast). 

I did my one hour walk/jog workout again on Christmas morning.  I read an article in the local paper about a 53 year old guy who has made it a tradition to surf every Christmas morning. He's been doing it for years. I set out to look for him .... and I found him out there in the ocean waiting for a good "ride."  My guess is that surfing fuels his spirit and being out there alone, in the cold water on Christmas morning served as his spiritual ritual. Something that is very personal to him.  

My recent "shift" in how I view my workouts seems to encompass just that .... each, if not most workouts serve as something personal. Today, I'll go out for a walk in the snow with the wind whipping around. There is something about being out there in the elements that brings renewed energy.  I can't say if or when my motivation to TRAIN for races will make an appearance. My guess is that it probably will for a short period of time this summer.  For now, I enjoy "exercising."  It's a joy I'll never take for granted!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Poem For Spring from Debbie Woodbury (my sister)

A Poem for Spring- with love from Debbie

It starts with light
lingering longer each day
Reminding us that
cold and dark are moving on
that hope and renewal
appear each day in nature’s offerings
Clues we need only observe

Snow recedes
Pungent, mud smell of thawing earth
fills us with the giddiness of spring
The belief that anything is possible

Crocuses magically appear around the front yard maple tree
then suddenly,
from within the matted tangle of the still-dormant cattails
comes the blessed sound
of peepers.

What conductor signaled this overture?
Who decided that today would be THE day
to announce the precious return
of this reassuring symphony?

The mingling of welcome music with the
happy conversation of the chickadee
playfully hopping from perch to perch at the feeder
ceaselessly chattering, “Chicka dee dee dee!”
too busy to stop and rest

Song of the robin
a rich rising and falling of notes
“cheer up, cheer up cheer up,” she croons
while hopping along the ground,
grabbing juicy earthworms to fill her red round belly

Each day a new gift
Forsythia, daffodil, tulip
the poking out of brown earth and barren branch to reveal
Something green
Something hopeful
Something precious
~To my boys on Easter~

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Little Steam Room Etiquette Please!

I sometimes have to think a bit about whether or not I should blog about certain subjects because I know there are people out there who read this blog that see me in a professional light. Today's blog is a questionable one, but I can't resist because the hair on my arms (at least what I can find) is still up.

One of the big draws to the local athletic facility where I work out is the steam and sauna rooms that are attached to the women's locker room. The men have both in there locker room as well. I'm drawn to this place because of the pool and because I grew up using this facility (including some day care programs when I was 3 and 4 years old). So there is a bit of nostalgia going on here.

I'm not a sauna or steam room kind of person and I wasn't sure why until my recent experience in the steam room really nailed the hammer on the head. I thought I'd start treating myself to a steam when I got out of the pool to relax a bit and sweat out some of the chlorine from my body. The winter air has been dry and I also figured some moist heat would be good for my skin. I put in one of my longest swims in a while and was looking forward to a relaxing steam. I felt a bit tight so couldn't be a better time! So, into the steam room I went with my bathing suit, flip flops on, a towel to put beneath me, and my water bottle. Of course, it was dark and steamy in there. I noticed a figure to the left side as I walked in so I sat on the right side bench, closed my eyes and tried to get into a relaxing zone. The steam started to gradually ease up (just a little) and the women across from me said; "It's really warm." Well, I opened my eyes for a split second and there she was literally butt naked because she in the yoga plow position. It wasn't the nakedness that shocked me, it was the plow position. Okay, that's not cool with me but apparently she seemed to feel totally relaxed doing her stretch routine, naked, with no towel on or underneath her. What was more frightening was that I knew her (not well, but has been an acquaintance for years) and would never guess that she'd be in THERE doing THAT. I went back to focusing on my breath but it did not last long because the suction sound of water under what had to be her butt as she moved snapped me out of my zone. I decided that I was out of there after she transferred into a seated quad stretch. What was next? The pigeon pose? A headstand? I was waiting for the "ooooohhhhmmmmmmss" to begin.

Look, maybe it's me that has the issue. Obviously it is. I recall using the steam room in the past and having the same kind of experiences (however there were no yoga poses) and feeling, well ... a bit uncomfortable. Clearly my issue. Folks, we are not in the privacy of our own home so I don't really want to know what you might do at home if you had your own private steam room. This is a public place. Can't we all just sit there, covered with a towel at least, and sweat? The stretching room is just down the hall from the locker rooms. Maybe take a steam and then go there to work on yoga.

I've been a bit on edge this week. Not sleeping, working a lot, trying to squeeze in some of my own workouts and not refilling my own "chill" tank enough. Looks like the steam room is out for me as a form of relaxing. Gee, I don't dare try the sauna!