Jumpsquat Girl’s ankles snap off

Okay, so my feet are still attached to my legs, but boy are my ankles flimsy!  I went for a walk/power walk yesterday, following up on Wednesday’s swim, and my right foot kept rolling to the right, on the outside of my foot.  Today my ITB hurts, and it’s my left ankle that’s killing me.  What?!

I might even take the ice pack from my lunch box and apply it to my leg.  I want to run without *much* pain again.

When I was 18 to 20, and now I’m 31, I ran four miles four times a week, sometimes outside, sometimes inside.  I’m sure I didn’t have this routine for two years non-stop, but it was around that range.  I ran 5k’s that won awards in my age group.  I enjoyed running and always pushed myself to a seven-minute mile at the very end of each run.  I was really proud of that, and I still am.

Now, my knees get sore, my ankles, apparently, want to separate from my legs, and my heart rate soars.  Will I ever be able to run–and enjoy it–again?

At runs and triathlons, I would see all these women whom I presumed to be in their 30s in great shape, with ropes of muscles and firm jaw lines.  Somewhere, I heard that people can reach their peak fitness levels in their 30s, but then I’ve also heard that the body begins to fall apart after 30.

Is the difference a state of mind or is it purely physical?

The last thing on my mind today is that I’ve found two triathlons in which I’m interested.  One is a “super-sprint,” which is “super” short for a tri:

200-meter swim

8-mile bike

1.5-mile run

The thing is, it’s in July.  I don’t know if I’ll be ready to run steadily that far, especially after the other activities, by then, and I do know that it will be very, very hot.

The second race would be a regular sprint (about a 440-meter swim, 10-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run) in September or October.  I kind of want to try both, but I guess time will tell if I’m ready for the first option.  I’m still going to shoot for my original goal, a traditional sprint in October, and if I happen to be ready for something else before then, I will take it on.  

For now, I’ll ice my ankles, watch my heart rate, and try my best.  That’s all I can do, right?

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Jumpsquat Girl does the frog

“Press your feet together,” she said, grabbing my feet and pushing them toward my body. “Like that!”

When we got to the edge of the pool, she pulled herself out, quickly laid a towel over a rubber mat, and asked if I’d ever done ballet.

“Do I look like I’ve done ballet?”

“I don’t know who’s done ballet!”

“I’m not coordinated enough. Anyway.”

My trainer, a 19-year-old former ballet dancer and gymnast (and, apparently, swimmer), lay on her belly in a cobra pose–pelvis down, legs back. Then, she put the soles of her feet together.

“Like this,” she said. “Butt down. Like a frog. This is the frog stretch in ballet.”

It was my turn again: shove off the wall, hold the kickboard, and focus on bringing my feet together, tucking my knees toward my chest, and then kicking back, both legs together. Never had I put so much effort into breaststroke. And it was hard.

I used to enjoy doing triathlons, and I was a fast swimmer compared to others in my waves, but did I even really know how to swim?

There I was in the pool yesterday, learning to swim for what seemed like the first time.

While I took years of lessons as a kid, I was too preoccupied with the prospect of drowning to really learn.

I’m trying to say that I used to think I was good at this thing, and now I’ve learned not that I’ve done it wrong, necessarily, but that I can improve. It’s humbling. I’m taking in more water than I’m splashing, and I even accidentally spat all over my trainer.

The point? You’ve got to have fun, remember not to hold your breath under water, and not be embarrassed to do the frog.

Jumpsquat Girl gets her tri on

My fitness goal is to finish in a sprint triathlon in October.  This is going to require convincing myself I’m disciplined.  It’s going to mean getting outside to run and bike and hours spent in a chlorine-filled locker called the indoor pool.  Soon, the outdoor pool near work will open for the summer, and I’ll be able to feel less confined.

Right now, I’m in the heady, everything-is-full-of-wonder-and-possibility phase.  I bought a new bathing suit and goggles.  A new heart rate monitor/cadence sensor/pool watch is on its way.  I have indulged in a couple of new workout tops and shorts.  I know none of this will magically make me perform better (though the heart rate monitor certainly can’t hurt), but all this prep makes me feel more confident. When I feel more confident, I perform better.

The other day, I ran for the first time in about two years.  When I was in college, I ran four miles four days a week, on a treadmill.  Now, I can barely handle a five-minute jog.  But you know what?  I did made it through those five minutes.  

At one point, I actually thought I was going to throw up, and that was the worst part mentally.  “Why is this happening?!  Why is my body against me?”

You know what, though?  My trainer just said, “So we’ll power walk.  We’ll run more next time.”

After that run/walk session, I was empowered.  I told everyone I knew and plastered it all over social networks’ walls.

Tomorrow, I’ll hit the pool for the first time in maybe a year (not sure).  I remember loving swimming more than running or even cycling.  I know my heart rate will be high, but that’s okay.  I’m going to do what I can, and I’m going to enjoy it.

A couple of words about trainers:

1. Find one who challenges you.  After all, you’re paying good money to be challenged, not to chill over coffee.

2. Find one who respects you and your limits.  A good trainer should look you in the eye.  A good trainer needs to listen and communicate with you so that you don’t get hurt but still meet your goals.

3. Find one who knows what they’re doing.  This should go without saying, but there are trainers out there who stick with the books more than others.  It’s important to trust them because they’re going to be working with your form and helping keep you from injuring yourself.

4. Find a trainer who will work for you.  What I mean by this is that the trainer should be coming up with plans when you’re not around.  He or she should be taking notes as you work out.  

You are worth the trainer’s time and attention.

Let me repeat that: you are worth the trainer’s time and attention.

Don’t be that proverbial doormat.  Respect yourself.  Ask about qualifications, go to classes the trainer teaches at the gym, and, if possible, talk to others who have worked with this trainer.

I’ve worked with (now) four trainers in the past few years.  I can tell you that it can be expensive, but with the right trainer, the experience can be totally worth it, especially if the training keeps you from getting hurt, which I am prone to do.

Jumpsquat Girl is back!

It’s been a while, folks. It’s been a long, long while. Injury and apathy have kept me from exercise, honestly. Why not be honest, right?

I had back issues about a year and a half ago that really set me back, leading to three MRIs that showed three slipped disks. I went to rehab for it for a month or so, and then I started working out again, slowly, one machine at a time. I hired a personal trainer so that I could build strength in a safe way.

At the same time, though, I felt rough. I’d gained weight due to lack of exercise and the side-effects of medication. Until very recently, when my doctor said it would be possible to lose weight while on the meds, I was apathetic. If exercise wasn’t going to help, why do it? I got sad because I had enjoyed training for triathlons and taking boxing classes so much. I missed my athletic friends with whom I’d enjoyed biking early in the morning on paths that cut through woods, just this side of a highway.

In the time since my last post, I have developed tremors. I am figuring out what to do about that, medically. Meanwhile, I’m self-conscious of running, walking, and even standing.

My new trainer (the other one changed jobs), a sprightly young woman, really is empowering. She didn’t second-guess my goal of finishing a sprint tri by October at all. In fact, she said, “Let’s get outside,” and she had me running in bursts. I hadn’t run in about two years.

Afterward, my knees were incredibly sore. However, some ibuprofen and ice cured that. Endorphins raced through my brain. Synapses fired. Though I felt a bit defeated by my own mind and body, thinking, “This is embarrassing–I used to do so much better!”

However, that kind of thinking kept me away from the gym. I want to be in the gym again. I want to have goals, and I need the social aspect that I miss so much.

Now, I’ll write again. I’ll tell you about my journey as I deal with my disorder while working toward the triathlon goal. I will have to listen to my trainer and my body so that I don’t get hurt again.

It’s totally cliche, but the right attitude can make a big difference in quality of life. Sometimes it’s really hard when my hands and legs are shaking. It’s hard when kids ask what’s wrong with me.

This isn’t a pity party. That’s not what this blog’s about. My goal is to archive my journey and maybe provoke some smiles.

See you next time!

More endeavors to pursue

The spring air is calling my name!  

The other day, I had a lightbulb moment: I could just add a rack to my road bike and commute on that!  There’s a bike rack at work, and I think it’s pretty safe, and I can even use multiple locks if I want.  I’ve got a couple of bags with panniers that should work.  I’ll pick up some cleat covers today, too.

I also want to swim again.  Yesterday I bought a bargain Speedo suit at Ross for $17.  I still have my goggles and a new swim cap, which I bought at the end of last summer.  With my Y card in hand, I should be ready to go!

Of course, this doesn’t mean I’ll give up boxing.  It just means I’m looking for more ways to be active outdoors, enjoying the Florida sunshine before it gets too intense.

I’m not going to be perfect.  That’s for sure.  There are going to be weeks (yes, weeks) every once in a while that I miss boxing.  I’m not going to ride everyday, probably.  I’ll aim for it, but heat, rain, and exhaustion might just get in my way.  Swimming and commuting provide the biggest hurtles because they’re new to me this year (though I’ve done both before, so I know what to expect), and they both involve a lot of preparation.  Plus, swimming involves near-nudity, so there’s that.

I’ve also been knitting a lot, and I know that’s not really athletic-themed, but it’s taking up a lot of my free time (in a good way).  I’m looking for more balance, though.  That’s all.

Jumpsquat Girl has Adventures

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been through a lot in terms of fitness.  Not only have I been boxing it up, but I also participated in a wheelchair rugby fundraiser, picked strawberries (yes, that’s fitness!), and participated in hot yoga, a first.  All of this occurred while my back continued to recover and revolt (wash and repeat).

Wheelchair rugby was awesome, but it was not flattering.  We were all attached to $5000 wheelchairs with big elastic straps that made any fat on our bodies squish either up, down, or both. Then, we made fools out of ourselves trying to turn the chairs right but inadvertently going left, moving backwards, and clanging against others as we tried to make ourselves available for throw-ins and passes.  Ah, but we were great passers!  

Lauren, her husband Adam, their friend Allison, and I played two twenty-minute games back-to-back, and, while we lost both, it was a lot of fun, especially when we played with one of the actual quad rugby players!  Basically, the fundraiser was for a quad rugby team (people who are quadriplegic or paraplegic).  I highly recommend the experience, as I wanted to just get up and run to where the ball was being tossed so many times!  After a while, though, we agreed that we were learning to become one with the chairs.  

This past weekend, after Saturday boxing, Lauren, Diana, and I went strawberry picking!  It was a gorgeous 60-degree day.  This was my first time, and I was surprised to find that we weren’t hitting the wilderness but rather attacking cultivated rows of strawberry plants.  We picked adjacent rows and went for it, learning that, like much in life, the best results were yielded with patients and looking underneath the leaves for what was just waiting to be picked.  My back ached a bit from the bending over and squatting, but it was nothing crazy.  We left feeling satisfied that we’d picked our own snacks for the next couple of days.

Last came hot yoga, on Sunday morning.  I’d practiced yoga before, for about six years, actually, until I was about 23.  Yoga had a big impact on my life in that time when I had gone through a break-up and was living by bouncing home-to-home as a house-sitter for the summer.  When the studio changed locations, for some reason I quit, and that’s when I very seriously took up Spinning.  I’ve done it off and on, usually on my own, since then.

Well, hot yoga involved many of the same moves, just in quicker succession and with less repetition in a 95-degree room with I’d guess about 60 people.  Wow!  I couldn’t look behind me because I get so claustrophobic.  I did well for about half the class, or at least as well as could be expected for someone who’s out of practice and dripping sweat.  But then chair pose twisted to the right and bam! my back was done.  

I was not thrilled.  I sought solace in child’s pose but then thought I’d pass out.  I cried.  I actually cried in yoga, but I don’t think that anyone could tell–even if they were paying attention–because of the sweat.  Perhaps the sweat made me more prone to crying, such as in those sweat tents where people bond and tell the stories about all the horrible things that have happened to them.  Lauren saw me and offered sympathy, telling me to relax.  I breathed.  I told the instructor, eventually, and she was very compassionate.  I sat there, and my right ankle tingled with pain, in addition to the searing pain in my lower back.

In the end, I would try hot yoga again, but only after bringing my practice up first the traditional, cold-air way.  I also now know I need to seek the professional help of a doctor and a massage therapist.  Don’t worry, there will be more to come, even if I need to step out and observe for a while!  I really hope I can keep up with boxing, though, even if it’s a light version.

And that’s it for the past two weeks!  Please send happy muscle fiber thoughts my way, and stay safe while you work out!  Protect yourself, and always lift heavy objects with your legs, not your back.

When and Where to Throw a Punch Without Hurting Anyone Purposefully

A. The shower.  This offers immediate cleanliness for any sweat, and you can make as many echoing “cha” noises as you like.

B. Boxing class.  This one might sound obvious, but you need a place and a time when punches are both structured and free-for-all.  I love “showing off” as much as I can to the instructors, slamming the white dots in the middle of mitts and aiming high (towards the fictional opponents head) on bags.

C. In dark alleys.  Just start punching.  See if anyone fucks with you then.

D. At your desk when your co-workers start quoting Dr. Who.

E. In a bar when someone’s picking up your bff.

F.  When you see a spider.

G. When you see a wedding or kissing pic on facebook.