Fleeing the City

I am currently sitting in a motel room in Hope after consuming a delicious, late dinner at an Italian restaurant across the street. My husband had previously made plans for us to go to Harrison for the weekend to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Before he left for work this morning he said he’d really like to leave today and spend the night in Hope. Even though I am generally the sort of person who likes carefully laid plans, I am still able to be flexible and fly by the seat of my pants…even if I’m praying the entire way that we’ll be able to find an available hotel room! We did. It’s nothing fancy, but we have a king-sized bed and I’m drinking some wine out of a small glass that was wrapped in paper on the bathroom counter. And all of this is perfectly lovely! We aren’t high-faluting kind of people and, when this is your first kid-free, sporting event-free, multi-night trip away from home as a couple, well, let’s just say that we’re grinning like idiots. The rest of our weekend should be a little bit fancier, at least the hotel room, but we shall have a good time regardless.

Since we had already planned on heading out Friday morning, I knew that I’d need to get my final training session of the week done today. My work day was short and sweet, and I was at the gym within a half hour of finishing work.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0) 4 sets @6-10 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6, 85 x 5

main event: 90 lbs x 10, 95 x 10, 90 x 9, 90 x 7

Surprisingly enough, the back was probably the least achy while arching in several weeks, which was nice and enabled me to pretty much do my normal bench set-up.

2. high bar squats (3-0x0) 3 sets @8-12 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 6, 95 x 6

main event: 105 lbs x 11, 105 x 12, 105 x 8

Something is going on with my left leg/knee, sporadically and annoyingly. It began to be a bother again during these squats, mostly as I’d finish each rep and lock it out. Even with walking later it would randomly hurt. <sigh>

3. close grip bench (3-1×0) 2 sets @8-12

80 lbs x 11, 80 x 8

4a. back extensions

x 12, x 12, x 12

4b. leg raises

x 12, x 12, x 12

The leg raises were less of a bother on the back today as well! Can I call that progress?

 

Friday Fatigued?

It’s been a rather good day. With my current work schedule, Fridays are my Mondays. I don’t often get too caught up in negative feelings about particular days of the week. Sure I look forward to my weekends as much as anyone else, but Mondays have the same potential to be good days as any other day of the week. I slept okay last night but was awake more than asleep for at least an hour before my alarm, which isn’t a good thing when the alarm is set for 4:45 AM, but I got out of bed feeling mostly rested and ready for the day. Work was good, a smooth day with lots of laughter and connections. After work I hit the gym for my final session of week 3. This week was about incurring fatigue; however, for the most part, I felt stronger this week than I have for a while.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 4

main event: 100 lbs x 6, 100 x 6, 100 x 6, 100 x 6

2. high bar squats (3-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 7, 65 x 5

main event: 95 lbs x 12, 95 x 12, 95 x 12

3. close grip bench (3-1×0)

75 lbs x 12, 75 x 11

4a. 45 degree back extensions

x 12, x 12, x 12

4b. leg raises

x 12, x 12, x 10

End of Week 2

I have now completed week 2 of my new training program, and I’m happy to say that this week was better than the first in several ways. I felt stronger. My reps felt and looked better, and there has been less muscle soreness.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 5

main event: 95 lbs x 6, 95 x 6, 95 x 6, 95 x 5

2. high bar squats (3-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 8

main event: 90 x 10, 90 x 10, 90 x 10

3. close grip bench (3-1×0)

70 lbs x 12, 70 x 9

I kept my feet on the bench for the second set, because the back was feeling achy with the arching.

4a. 45-degree back extensions

x 12, x 10, x 8

4b. leg raises

x 12, x 8, x 6

The leg raises were very uncomfortable on the back, which is why the reps dropped so drastically. But I think it was a good session overall.

Week One Done

The low back has been quite achy since Thursday’s deadlift session.  While still not as bad as it has been previously, I am frustrated by this reappearance and doing what I can to attack it. As I was warming up at the gym this morning, the ache and discomfort persisted and made me wonder how I’d be able to do my squat sets when I could barely do a body weight squat.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 6, 65 x 5, 85 x 4, 95 x 4

main event: 110 x 3, 110 x 3, 110 x 3, 110 x 2

The back discomfort made arching uncomfortable, so I minimized my arch during the warm up sets by having my feet on the bench…barely since the benches are not very long. I don’t like to do heavy sets without the use of my legs though, so I put my feet down and had a small arch for the working sets. Even then, I was a little slow getting up after each set.

2. high bar squats (3-0x0)

warm up: 45 x 8, 65 x 10

main event: 90 x 10, 90 x 8, 90 x 8

The weight was light, but the slower eccentric and higher reps made these sets anything but easy. The back was less bothered than it was doing body weight squats earlier, but it still wasn’t completely normal.

3. close grip bench press (3-1×0)

65 lbs x 12, 65 x 12

These were done with my feet on the bench again because of the back.

4a. back extensions

x 12, x 12, x 8

4b. leg raises

x 12 , x 10, x 8

The back extensions actually felt good on the low back, but my hamstrings were screaming in agony. The leg raises, however, were like torture on the back.

Week one of the new program is complete.

A New Beginning

I received week one of my new online coaching program yesterday, but I wasn’t able to get to the gym until after work today. It probably wasn’t the best time to train, but sometimes you just got to do what you gotta do! I worked a closing shift last night, and the night owl woke up pretty much as soon as I slipped into bed. Between a brain that wouldn’t shut off and shoulders that couldn’t quite seem to get comfortable, I didn’t sleep too well. I worked until 5:00 tonight, which meant I wanted to hit the gym as soon as possible, before eating dinner and winding down for the night and my weekend. I was under-caffeinated, tired, and feeling sluggish.

I am actually quite excited with my new program. The first day didn’t feel super great, at least not all of it, and I did drop some weight and sets. It will get better. I know it will. My most recent training had a different focus, so my body has forgotten what it is like to do these sorts of things. It will remember!

1. high bar squats

warm up: 95 x 6, 135 x 6, 165 x 4

main event: 185 x 2, 165 x 4, 165 x 4

The warm up set at 165 felt tough, so I put my belt on for my working sets. 185 pounds felt tough and ugly. Ironically, when I looked at the video after, my form actually looked good, certainly better than how it felt. Still, that weight was tough and I was supposed to do 4-6 reps. I dropped the weight in the hopes that I could at least get more reps in, but the second set still felt quite tough and ugly, especially the fourth rep where I’m sure my chest was lagging behind. The final set was the best. It didn’t exactly feel easy, but the reps felt better.

2. bench press, close grip

warm up: 45 x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 6

main event: 100 x 6, 100 x 5, 100 x 4

Warm ups felt great. The first working set felt good. The fifth rep on the second set misgrooved a bit and felt tough enough to call the set, and I was basically done after the fourth rep on the final set.

3. front squats

65 x 15, 65 x 10

I was given a decent weight range for the front squats, since my new coach is only just learning what I’m capable of and what works for me. Since the front squats have been feeling tough lately, I stuck with the lowest weight in the range…well, for that reason and also that I was feeling wiped out and weak already!

4a. walking lunges

40 lbs x 15, 50 lbs x 15

4b. dumbbell rows

20 lbs x 12, 25 lbs x 12

4c. plank

x 30 seconds, x 30 seconds

4d. dumbbell rear delts

8 lbs x 12, 8 lbs x 12

These four exercises were supposed to be done for 3 sets, but I cut it at 2.

First day done and so am I. Tomorrow I’ll be back for day 2, and then I can get back on track with my regular training days.

Lungs vs. Lunges

I finished my training session a little more than an hour ago, yet I have already been asked by two different people if I had a good session. Most sessions are good. They might not always be easy. I might not always get to do the main lifts I love the most, but training is always a good thing. Today’s training session was generally good, although there was a rough, tough spot.

1a. glute-ham raises

5 sets of 8 reps

1b. front squats-flat shoes

43 lbs x 10, 93 x 6, 113 x 8, 128 x 6, 128 x 6

1c. band pull-aparts-orange band

5 sets of 15 reps

1d. bench press-close grip

paused reps: 45 lbs x 10, 75 x 8, 95 x 8, 105 x 6

touch and go: 105 x 6

2a. low bar reverse lunges-alternating

43 lbs x 16, 93 x 16

This is where I hit a tough spot. The first set of lunges with just the bar was fine. The second set started out okay but soon felt incredibly difficult. Breathing became a challenge, the bar felt heavy, and a sense of panic began to flood my brain. Finishing the set required every ounce of self-discipline and determination I could muster, and even then it was tough. We opted to stay at the same weight for the next set, but my coach told me to stop sooner if breathing became an issue again.

93 x 6

I don’t know which set felt harder! I struggled with balance from the beginning with this set. Honestly at this point in time, I do not recall if my breathing was as much of a struggle after only 6 reps, but I suspect that it was to some degree. As much as I wasn’t keen on quitting after only 6 reps, that feeling of panic filled me again and so I stopped. I know I am wholly capable of doing reverse lunges with that much weight, if not more, on my back, and I am not prone to panic attacks in general. As much as there are moments or situations where I feel anxious, I am not someone who goes full out panic mode. So this was odd and disconcerting. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I hardly slept last night. Perhaps it was my breakfast of cold brew coffee and Fruit Loops. The heat? The pace? My own inner turmoil? All of that or none of it? Some random combination of the above? I don’t know.

2b. glute-ham sit-ups

x 12, x 10, x 15

2c. single arm kettlebell rows

16kg x 12 each

with a strap: 20kg x 12 each, 20kg x 12 each

Confidently Stubborn

Okay, so this week without training hasn’t been too bad, but I am definitely looking forward to walking into the gym in the morning. I have no idea what my coach is going to have in store for me, although I can be fairly confident that my training will be designed to make me stronger and work on weaknesses. I’m ready.

“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” ~ Rosalynn Carter

It would be easy to let my experience at Provincials shake my self-confidence. Although I have grown quite confident in my abilities, I am still humanly prone to stumbling along in the darkness of doubt. Whatever it was that happened in my back on my second squat, it flooded me with fear, uncertainty, frustration, and doubt. I still knew what I was capable of when healthy, but I was suddenly afraid that I might have done more damage to my body. I knew that I have determination and toughness, but are those qualities enough when you’ve been thrown into the fire? In all honesty, as much as I knew that I wasn’t about to throw in the towel and quit, in the midst of the pain and volatile emotions I wasn’t giving much thought to being tough enough to follow through. I just wanted to survive the day as best I could. Earlier this week my coach complimented me on being a person with strong character by pushing through when it was emotionally and physically tough. It’s not always easy for me to accept a compliment, but I’m trying.

Perhaps the biggest knock against my confidence was my failed bench press attempt. My competition bench press has been stuck at 60 kilograms since October 2015, yet I have only attempted a heavier press while competing twice, at Westerns last August and at Provincials last week. Having pressed more than 60 kilos in the gym means that I know I am capable, but my string of failures also plays with that confidence like a cat toying with a mouse. I will keep striving though.

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” ~ James Michener

With my next competition not until November, I have lots of time to heal and train and focus. I definitely have goals for November’s competition, although I am not going to say too much about them for now, partly since a lot can happen between now and then but also because I don’t really have specific targets yet. So far my goals are general. I know I am capable. I just need to be tough enough to push through and to keep trying. Or maybe I am just that kind of stubborn.