Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tuff Stuff

The other day I caught myself walking up the stairs with breathing in and out rapidly while making the noise hoo hoo hoo hoo.

Not like an owl. Like the sound of a person that has found their abductors – and found them in a great deal of pain.

I hurt!

I have spent the past few weeks in pain. Lots of pain.

You know how you think your strong? Like you can do Ironman so of course your body is tough, strong and made of nails? Not so. While triathletes – including myself – tend to have strong endurance, when it comes to actually lifting and moving our own bodies we are quite weak.

I knew this. Or I know this. Whatever. It’s a fact. So I decided to do something about it. Spend enough time looking at photos of yourself in races with a dropped hip when you run or your arms criss crossing across your body and you know what that spells:

W.E.A.K.

I brought in the big guns: a physical therapist. You don’t just have to go to a physical therapist when you are hurt. They are actually very useful and underutilized for people that are healthy too. They can watch you move and tell you where you are weak. And if you listen you will realize that it makes sense.

Dropping your hip when you run? Weak glutes and hips. Crossing your arms across the midline? Weak obliques. Not feeling powerful when you swim? Might want to strengthen your lats.

But wait a minute. I’ve done strength training. Come on, I’m strong. I can do squats holding a medicine ball on an upside down bosu doesn’t that count for something?

Not if you’re doing them the wrong way.

The first thing I learned was how to move. First step: drawing my abdominals in before every move. Try it. I dare you. Lay on the ground, draw your abs inward and now do a crunch. Different, eh? I could crunch all day long. Contract those lower abs and I’m done after like…6.

Then I learned how to activate my glutes. You know how you think you are building a stronger butt with squats, lunges and leg lefts? Probably not unless you are first drawing those abs in and then activating your ass.

Not very good at activating my ass. Learning and paying for it every.time.I.sit.

I got a packet of exercises to do. At first I looked at them and I was like – this? This is it? A butt blaster? Are you kidding me? You see women wearing leggings and Jane Fonda headbands doing moves like that. But me?

No way.

Scorpion? You want me to move like an non-insect invertebrate? COME ON!

But I did it. After all, this was my idea. I’ll play along. I picked the most private space to blast my butt, drew my abs in, activate my left butt check, make like a scorpion and…..OW! Felt like I was scraping my butt cheeks through the whole movement and holding my abs in until they hurt. And while I finally uncontracted both – YOW again! Couldn’t sit or laugh for the next day.

It’s not just the butt blasters, the scorpions. It’s everything. It’s the abdominal draw in followed by the one leg slide. This one makes me want to cry for my psoas. Anything involving isolation, a prone position and my abs – is...not something I like to do. And the one that involves rolling on the stability ball then drawing back up again – I could eke out one of those.

ONE.

Finally – push ups. Oh I can do the push up. So challenge me - push up on the stability ball? No problem. Giving it a try and……THUMP.


*my moufishonsheball*

As you can tell - impossible, when shown the right way. Had to put the ball against the wall so I didn’t get a face full of ball, again.

It gets worse because I have no excuse. I can’t say my weakness is because of an underflated ball or crushed foam roller. Because 75% of the moves involve nothing but…myself.

Myself is weak! My hips have been screaming nonstop. My triceps – the other day I have no idea what I did to them all I know is that 3 days later it still hurt. I can’t tell you how many moves I could just do 2 to 3 times. That would be 2 to 3 repetitions before I was so sore I was done!

How did this happen?

For some reason, we, as triathletes, don’t take our strength training seriously. When we are in a pinch for time the first thing to get tossed is the strength training. I guess because being strong isn’t important or anything like that. It’s not like strength precedes endurance. And endurance is most of our sport….

Hey, lighten up. I did the same thing! I mean, who has time to be sore when there are swims, bikes and runs to be done? Strength training is just the icing on the fitness cake. And we all just want to eat our cake, yes?

*oh boy I love cake i just had a piece the other night and it was covered in thick chocolate frosting and I thought to myself oh cake why has it been so long and where have you been and how soon until we meet again*

I think sometimes we take the same approach to eating. And sleeping. And recovering. Who has time for all of that when – again – there are swims, bikes and runs to do. I think, though, this attitude is very destructive. Take it from me – you can self destruct yourself when you don’t make time for the right things. You can destroy yourself by spending too much time doing what you think you need to do and not enough time doing the other things – like sleeping, recovery, eating, stretching, strength training…….

Yeah.

And so it was time. Time to do the things that made me sore and make time for it. Not only that but to learn to do it the right way. Trust me I was one of those look at me I can do 40 sit ups on the ball. But draw my lower abs in and I can barely balance on the ball. So I have made time. To take it seriously. To spend a full hour doing things that will make me strong. Doing them the right way. Doing 3 if that’s all I can take. They are things that look ridiculous. They are things that hurt for the next 3 days. But they are the things I need. Sometimes what we need is not what we want but if you go around just doing what you want all the time – well, that simply won’t work. For long.

The other day – it finally paid off. I did 15 push ups on the stability ball. Body in a plank position, abs drawn in with hands on the ball. 15 up and down with no stability ball in my mouth.

I DID IT!

I actually said that – I did it. Why? Who knows. How often do you as an adult get to say I DID IT to something new or what you thought would be impossible. Not often so I’ll take advantage of it while I can.

Next up – the push up with the scorpion leg throw over. Oh I’ll do that. It will get did.

*and I will probably not move for the following 3 days*

10 comments:

rr said...

Hey, I have been meaning to do this. I even had a date with the ole PT. But now I'm too scared.. I don't want to hurt!

Amy Beth Kloner said...

My ass, adducters, and hammies have been screamin' too. Have fun trying to sit down on the toilet. You pretty much have to brace yourself, then just fall back.

Iron Maiden said...

As a personal trainer, I looooove strength training and can do just about any of it. But sista, you are right, that stuff you gave me to do last week is no laughing matter (well at least not for a few days)!

Stef said...

Thanks Liz I needed this!

Keith said...

I love my physical therapist. She's done great stuff for my arm, tho I'm sort of dreading my next visit. But I had never in the world thought of visiting one when feeling 'good'. I'm reminded of a famous golfer, who when asked how much one should practice golf, said that it wasn't the amount of practice, it was the amount of perfect practice - anything else was just practicing mistakes. Good on you!

Elizabeth A. Rich said...

I just did the same thing Elizabeth! I knew most of what they were telling me, but it was great to hear from someone who knows what they are talking about and give me ways to overcome some of my 'issues' HA HA HA! Cheers!

Molly said...

In a perverse sort of way, this just makes me look forward to tomorrow's core workout more. I laughed out loud (nervously) when I saw that scorpion pose the other day. I'm sure it'll be more like crying when I try it LOL ;)

Wes said...

Yes! Even after Ironman, who knew my upper body was such... spaghetti? That's one of the reasons I lurve Yoga! It's just my mind, my body, and my weaknesses.

D said...

Why'd you have to go and mention chocolate cake when I've just re-banned it til the end of the season? DAMN!

GoBigGreen said...

You know, even Physical Therapists HAVE Physical Therapists. We wish more athletes would come see us BEFORE they are injured..and...by the way " I have a race in 2 weeks..."

IF you can find someone that isnt going to cookie cutter your workouts and will work with you to get you a functional workout for YOU, that is something that you can build on and take with you as you grow as an athlete.

Congrats on the ball push up and finding your TA and lower abs. It isnt easy!