Tuesday, April 28, 2015

In Physio Focus

I have been staring at this white screen way too many times in the past month, wondering what I could write about. Last time I wrote it was all about doing more of what made me happy. And I did follow suit, however these opportunities were far and in between. There is a sort of lassitude that is slowly creeping in. The less I work out, the less I am motivated to do it, kind of -
"without running, what's the point?". I know it's silly, but I am slowly losing the passion, the fire that ignites my willpower. Without races on the horizon, without a coach, without a plan, it's easy to fall back into the couch potato routine.
Pretty sure I was about to cry. Thank God for that Larabar.
I managed to drag my sorry ass out for a swim every week, hot yoga once a week and a bike ride or two every week, mostly outdoors. However, I've only tried running once for 15 minutes, and that was rather uneventful. Another reason for this decrease in activity has been because I've started working with a new physio therapist and I was told to stay put. Everything has to be "easy" and no runs longer than 20 min for now. But I am very busy taking care of my hips and glutes. All physio work is targeted towards strengthening these areas, so I've been trying to be a good student and fit in as many exercises as he prescribed.

I went to see this guy, who was recommended to me by half a dozen people for being the best at fixing wonky knees and shredded IT bands. I could not afford going last year because I had maxed my physio budget before my IT bands decided to go on strike. But as the new year started, I made it a mission to have a gait analysis done and find out what it would take to fix my legs so I can return to running. His practice is just 5 min away from my office, so that worked out perfectly. The good news is that I run well and he had nothing to say about my gait. He said things like "natural ability", "great posture", "talent" blah blah blah. Maybe he was just trying to be nice. But anyway, then he went on giving me the not so nice picture about my strength. "You are nowhere near as strong as you should be for doing the kind of distances that you chose". Or rather, I am not strong in the places that I should be, like hips and glutes. I've heard this one before... But only now I've been given extremely specific exercises that target precisely those areas. And gosh, he has me working hard.

He said that if I were to do just sprint triathlons or run 5Ks, he would have just told me to go home and not bother, but since I made him understand that running long distances is important to me, he is committed to seeing me returning to doing what I love. And he wants to follow me throughout the entire season to make sure I keep on doing things right. Not once he tried to sway me away from doing long distances or to tell me that I am destroying my body, like many other therapists said before. He isn't Lisa Bentley's PT for nothing. I really liked the guy. He also took time to explain every single exercise and how it affected my body. He puts a lot of emphasis on doing all exercises with such focus and purpose, it's almost intimidating when you think about engaging all these muscles during a single stretch or exercise. Like the bridges below. Try doing them on your heels, tilting your pelvis, squeezing your butt and the legs to keep them close to each other. And don't forget to breathe. Ouch.

He has me on a 40% mobility, 40% stability and 20% strength routine. I don't have the video to share with you, but when I run, my knees collapse inwards and good running technique can only take me that far before knees and hips start complaining. It's all normal since I sit at least 10h a day and then I add more sitting on the bike. So now I have to get up every hour and stretch my hip flexors and IT bands. I have to do a variation of the "couch stretch", by using my desk, with a good posterior pelvic tilt and glute recruitment, at least 5-6 times a day. At home, I get to do daily bridges and work with bands, and a thousand jumps and core stuff. Here's what this week's torture session looked like:
  • 10 x bridges 10 sec on/off 
  • 10 x bridges with leg and arms lift 10 sec on/off 
  • 5 x 5 lateral steps each direction with 2 bands 
  • 12 cross leg stretch on step and opposite side lunge, each leg 
  • 5 x 10 basic stance hops 
  • 5 x 10 left leg runner forward stance hops 
  • 5 x 10 right leg runner forward stance hops 
  • 5 x 10 forward/backward hops 
  • 5 x 10 forward/backward hops with open/close stance 
  • 10 cross step and side lunge with bands, each direction 
  • 10 x 10 sec low plank with arms on bosu ball
  • 5 x 10 sec side plank with leg lift each side
Band Level Up! Twice the bands, twice the resistance.
Sweat makes perfect
Can you guess how sore I am? These exercises make me grunt and sweat with each step! But after 2 weeks of work, the PT seems to be happy with my progress, so fingers crossed that I'm on schedule for his 6-8 week prediction of seeing real improvement (aka no more pain while running).

What else can I share? Maybe a little more of that stuff that makes me happy? It may not have been all unicorns and rainbows, all the time, but sure it did the trick, at least for a while.
Warm enough to wear my new Coeur bike jersey
Riding my bike with hubbs
Channelling my inner cycling diva before falling on my face (true story)
I knew I could turn the gloom around. Now that was a beautiful day worth reminiscing. Just looking at these pictures makes me smile!! 

What else did I do that made me happy? 

First, I got my NCCP coaching certification. Yessir!! I am supposed to sound legit and shit when I talk triathlon now. Just don't forget to talk to your doctor before doing anything I say, mmmmkay? Not that I plan on giving up my day job for becoming a coach any time soon... But at least I keep my mind entertained with knowledge since I cannot keep my body busy with practice.
Second, I managed to renew my Hot Yoga pass! For cheap. And I'm not even a Goodlife member. Don't ask me how I did it, as it may, or may not have required a pig tail and the blood of a virgin.
Last but not least, I met a bunch of friends and we had dinners and fun together. Friends make everything better!! Here is Phaedra and I eating ALL THE SUSHI and chatting up a storm. I love this girl!
Okay, I think that's enough smiles and good news to redeem this post. What say you? Here I click Publish.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Do more of what makes you happy

"Do more of what makes you happy" - It's the key to bouncing back up, and a mug that I've seen on Pinterest and bought earlier this week because I need the constant reminder. There aren't many options, but when Mother Nature gives you two days at +10C and sunny skies, you take time off from work and go for it!
So  I took Thursday off and along with Good Friday and the weekend, I knew I was in for a treat. After starting the day with a steering committee meeting that I had to hold over the phone since it was super important (and I was the host), I turned on my "Out of Office" notification and called it a day work wise. I could not wait to get the fun started!

Truth is, I didn't quite know what to do with myself. Zin was working, the kids were in school and I had no plans on having fun alone. I spent a few hours on the couch, but I don't even remember watching TV. I do remember counting down the hours to the moment I'd go on a bike ride with hubbs though. Eventually, it happened.

Empty roads, a strong head wind and patches of snow still on the ground. And a crooked horizon because I am out of practice taking photos while I ride.
I also had a crooked helmet because it hadn't been worn it in months and who knows what happened in the garage while it was sitting in its box? Oh well, stop looking at the helmet and look at our smiles instead. I *think* Zin was smiling.
It was a short hour to reunite with my bike and my balance skills. But also with all the feelings that bring me happiness, even temporary like the endorphin high. It may have only lasted for an hour, but it filled the day with enough awesome to make it memorable.

And the next day? Guess what? I did it again!! This time I took a few folks from the tri club to Belfountain and we ended being on the roads for more than 3h. It was still windy and cold, but the company warmed my heart. And this smile? It stayed the entire weekend!
Not even the aborted run on Saturday could kill my mood. I spent most of this short break watching movies (Mad Max 1 & 2, Into the Woods, The Imitation Game, Annie) and doing things that I love. Okay, folding the laundry doesn't count. That always sucks. But I cooked healthy food and it turned out pretty tasty (yay me!), took care of my sore muscles by stretching, rolling and icing. I even did a strength workout focused on my hips and glutes.

I talked to my mom and my best friend in France today, I put on my compression tights which I haven't worn in months, I even went on Zwift island for another spin to help my legs recover from the failed run.

What else? Long weekend shenanigans aside, should I mention that on Monday I ran 30 minutes non stop? That almost did not hurt. On Tuesday I went to the pool where I introduced two new members of our club to our swim workouts. I swam a few lengths too, the first in weeks. I didn't like it, but what else is new? I prefer showing people good swimming technique from the deck rather than getting wet. Besides, I'm such a mediocre swimmer that nobody should take my own swimming technique as gospel. Do what I say not what I do, okay? And with this last thought, maybe it's worth mentioning that I also signed up for  a NCCP triathlon coaching course this coming weekend. Don't you worry, I'm not going to give up my day job yet, but at least I'll feel more confident about the advice I give to people starting in triathlon, who ask for it quite often. I really enjoy seeing people falling in love with the sport and I believe that having a good mentor makes a big difference. As I will be spending this year on the sidelines due to my injuries, at least I can make myself useful. And that makes me happy too.

"Do more of what makes you happy" is going to be my mantra and one way out of this. I give you my word.