It is very rare for me to be sore, achy and hurt all over. But I am. You name it, it hurts. It hurts to touch, to move, to stand, to sit. I now understand why people join a bootcamp or a gym and then end up hating life. Exercise is meant to be fun! Enjoyable! Invigorating! But the pain…man it sucks.
As many of you will know, I recently returned from a 3 1/2 week vacation in Africa. I went on safari, slept on a house boat, visited the beautiful Victoria Falls, partook in wine tasting at vineyards outside of Cape Town, and did very little exercise. So, getting back into it has been difficult, both mentally and physically. Before my vacation, I had been working out at least 5 times a week and told myself “I will do small HIIT circuits in my room every day, make sure I keep up with my prehab exercises for my running, and go for a run or two when possible.”
In reality, I did no exercise whatsoever for the first 10 days (apart from some bush walks in Matusadona National Park with our guide Steve). On day 11, back in Harare, I did a small HIIT circuit at 8am in my room. I gave up half way through because it was already 30 degrees and I couldn’t make myself do any more burpees. Defeated by burpees…not my usual MO. Days 12 to 22 I did a few 5-15 minute ab circuits and went on two 8km runs (one when it was 32 degrees and in a wildlife reserve, without any water, leading to us stopping every 2km or so ‘to take a photo’ (aka catch our breathe and try not to die) and one 5km run…but I basically had 3 1/2 weeks off.
And it was glorious. For once, day after day, I woke up not sore or tight or in need of a stretch. I didn’t have to fit in a run or a weight session before work, or after. My weekends, my days, my time, was all mine. I ate and drank and felt no guilt about my workout that day. I felt relaxed, refreshed and recharged. Who would have thought not exercising could be so nice!!
So when I got back to NZ this past weekend, I initially thought “Maybe I don’t get back into my old exercise routine, I liked a bit more spare time, maybe I lay off for a bit…”. Even thog h it was a beautiful weekend and normal me would have been dying to get out in the sun and run around the bays. I thought ‘hmm going to the beach and drinking. A bar in the sun…much more fun than starting my running routine again!’
Then I remembered that I signed up for a 60km ultramarathon in Feburary 2016. Fourteen weeks away. So choosing not to exercise is not an option. I have to get back into it…something that my body is currently hating me for.
So my past three days since ‘getting back into it’, my exercise schedule has looked like:
- Monday 10am: 6km run along Oriental Parade and back via Maida Vail Road (elevation gain of 168m) on Monday morning;
- Monday 12pm: Acro-yoga for 90 minutes on Monday afternoon;
- Monday 6pm: Sleep…
- Tuesday 5:45pm: Metabolic at HealthFit with Mish
- 21-15-9-4 workout
- 15kg sandbag hug squats
- GHD sit ups
- Ab workouts – 30s on, 15s rest, 25s on, 15s rest, 20s on, 15s rest, 15s on, 15s rest, 10s on, 15s rest, 5s on
- Running man
- 21-15-9-4 workout
- Tuesday 6:15pm: Personal training with Mish
- First PT circuit (3 rounds)
- 27.5kg static lunges (x15)
- 4kg DB forward and reverse lunge (x12)
- Second PT circuit (2 rounds)
- 70kg leg press (x15)
- 32kg cable woodchopper (x12 each side)
- Swiss ball jack knife (x15)
- First PT circuit (3 rounds)
- Wednesday 6pm: Run group (twice up Mt Vic – 7.5km, 328m elevation gain – up to 136m and back down again, then repeated back up to 136m, and back down)
- Wednesday 7pm: Restorative yoga
My Tuesday evenings are usually a good combination…Mish works me hard but it doesn’t affect me too much the next day. But oh my god I woke up Wednesday morning hurting. All Wednesday I was hurting. Everywhere. My abs and legs. But also my vehat, my shoulders, my back. Those burgers annihilated me. And yet I still had run group to look forward to, which involved not one but two climbs up Mt Victoria. Honestly I almost cancelled. I thought ‘why am I doing this to myself?’ but also ‘how did I go from being a machine to useless in three weeks! This isn’t fair!’ But I knew that there was no point having a tantrum and that I had go to run group and show Greig that I was serious. I had to get back into it. Rip off the Band-Aid, just get back into it and give 110%.
I hoped that the run up Mt Vic would loosen my muscles, make me feel real confident and great and give me lots of positive energy. What actually happened was that I spent those two kilometers thinking “It hurts it hurts it hurts. Why does it hurt oh my god I want to stop. Why can’t I walk? Maybe I can walk. No one will see me walk. Maybe I walk for ten seconds. No you have to keep running. But ow it hurts I don’t want to. I give up I’m pulling out of the ultra. I thought running was meant to be fun!! I can do it I can do it. F!@# now it is raining too! Life sucks”. I turned around at the 2km mark to ensure I got two climbs in, and on my descent, things changed, I thought “Hey, no knee pain, that’s good. The rain is starting to die down a bit. You know what, that wasn’t too bad. It’s only 2km, I can do that again. Come on you can do this. It’s nice running downhill. I can breathe again.”
Of course, leading to the second climb back up – and wow what a change mentally. I knew it hurt. I knew it was hard to breathe. I knew it was raining and that it was hard work and it sucked. But all I could think was “Yeah I am doing this, come on one more time up, just 2km to go, just 1.9km, just 1km…” until I reached 400m away and sped up, reaching the 2km turnaround point feeling great. Relieved. And proud. Sure, it wasn’t fun, it sucked, but I did it. I could have said no, I could have gone home and given up and felt sorry for my poor aching body, but I did it. 7.5km up and down hills, done.
But it also gave me a really nice understanding of why people say they hate to run, that they hate to exercise, or how people really struggle with it or give up after one or two tries. And it also helped me understand that sometimes, the pain and the aches never feel worth it. I just have to focus on the fact that it will get better, my body will re-adjust, the aches and pains will lessen and I will get my running and gym mojo back soon enough. Until then, I have a massage booked in for tomorrow afternoon for an alternative form of pain (needling and deep tissue massage…), and I think I will be taking it easy this weekend (with a trail run and light gentle weights!).