Enter Sandman?

It is two o’clock on this Saturday afternoon, and I desperately would like to have a nap. Sleeping during the day is not something I normally do. I might try to nap, but it seldom works for me. I wonder if I’d be able to nap if I wasn’t in pain while lying down, but then again, if I wasn’t in pain I would probably sleep better at night, wouldn’t need medication that makes me drowsy, and wouldn’t feel exhausted all day long! I’m stuck in a vicious cycle.

My ability to maintain some semblance of sleep for as long as possible has been fading. It’s like the earlier sunrises is connected to my sleep patterns. Despite a bedroom that is very dark with the blinds tightly closed and never sees the morning sun, I have been unable to hold onto sleep beyond six most mornings. Some mornings are earlier. If I am extremely lucky, 6:30 or 7:00 would be “sleeping in.”

I was awake and out of bed by six this morning. Not even a half-hour later, I began to notice a disturbance in my vision which was getting worse by the second. Ocular migraine with aura. I’ve had them a handful of times over the past four years. The visual disturbance part doesn’t last very long; in fact, my vision was back to normal within five minutes. It’s the headache after which is most bothersome. Almost eight hours later and half of my head is still hurting. The headache is moderate enough to be a nuisance but not debilitating.

Despite the headache, I did get out for a few hours with my husband this morning. He had a few little work-related errands, so I tagged along for the ride and the neighbourhood yard sale being held at one of his destinations and we finished off with a stop at Costco. Sitting in the car was painful. Walking through the small neighbourhood was tolerable but uncomfortable. By the time we got back home, I was wiped out and done in. My feet are burning and tingling with shots of pain. Pain is running down both legs from buttocks to ankles: burning, throbbing, crackling live wires.  Muscles are twinging and moving in my calves, hamstrings, and feet. Half of my head feels hazy, pained, and heavy. Closing my eyes for ten or fifteen minutes would be wonderful, I think, and yet, how could I possibly nap through all this pain?




This is how my mind works…

Several days ago already, I was mentally planning and arranging my time between then and my competition, because time seems to be something I don’t have a lot of right now. Today is day 6 of 7 consecutive work days. Two open shifts. Three closing shifts. Today is 10:30-6:30. Tomorrow is another open shift. I knew that I would need to go to the gym on Monday and Wednesday. Monday wouldn’t be a problem, but Wednesday wasn’t looking appealing with a mid shift sandwiched between a close and an open. I like sleep. I need sleep. I am usually drained by the end of my work week, and I am feeling that way already but I’ve got two shifts to get through yet. When would I be able to get to the gym on Wednesday?

Obviously I had two choices: before work or after work. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t thrilled about either choice. Before work would mean sacrificing some sleep after a late night. Going after work would have me scrambling to train, eat, and unwind before getting myself to bed early enough to get enough sleep prior to waking up at 4:45. As unappealing as my choices were, I knew that I could make each of them work. I could get up early and go. I could survive an open shift on less sleep. I can do all of that and more, but I wasn’t happy about it. I’m in the process of water loading, which means drinking a ton of water and making frequent trips to the bathroom. It feels like I have so much to get done before the competition and no time to do any of it before I finish work early tomorrow afternoon. Excuse my little whiny moment!

In my brain I like to look at all the angles and options and then come up with a plan. My plan usually also has options in case I hit a snag along the way. So, I decided that it would be better to potentially lose a bit of sleep last night in order to get to the gym early this morning. I can function on less sleep than I get, but I definitely do not like having my time crunched together at the end of the night, trying to fit everything into a tight space. I was awake at 7:10 this morning and at the gym ready to train at 8:00. Today’s training was super easy, because I am 3 days from competition. I performed all three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlifts. At 50% for 3 single reps. Twenty minutes later I was finished without even breaking a sweat. Everything moved well and felt good.

Shortly I will be on my way to work. Hopefully it will be a day that seems to pass quickly, because I definitely feel exhausted and it wasn’t from the gym. But at least now I only need to worry about eating, drinking more water, and unwinding in the 2 hours between finishing work and crawling into bed!

End of Week 9

I am glad that this training week is finished. It’s felt like a long, tough week, and I suppose I shouldn’t expect much to change over the next few weeks. There’s a competition to prep for, after all!

1. competition bench (2-1×0)

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

main event: 100 lbs for 10 sets of 3 reps with 90 seconds of rest between

Although I felt fine enough when I arrived at the gym, my right shoulder felt a little funky from the very first warm up set. It still feels a bit off almost two hours later. I don’t think it is anything to get excited about yet, but I should make sure I’m doing some band pull-aparts on a daily basis and try to minimize how much I sleep on my right side. As I continued warming up, I made sure to do some stretching and also felt a few more reps at 65 pounds would be beneficial. I was able to perform all 10 working sets without too much difficulty, but I could foresee difficulty coming my way in a short while with close grip bench also on the agenda.

2. competition squat (3-0x0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 7, 95 x 5, 135 x 3

main event: 155 lbs x 6, 155 x 5, 155 x 5

These squats felt decent. They even looked decent when I watched the videos I took, but they did feel a little tough. Not tough in a “that’s too heavy or difficult for me” kind of way, but rather in a “my body feels drained of it’s life force” kind of way.

3. close grip bench press (3-1×0) 6-8 reps

105 lbs x 6, 105 x 4, 105 x 4

Just as I predicted, the close grip bench sets were super tough and not at all fun. I managed to get the minimal number of reps on the first set but barely. The RPE for that set was 9.5 and stayed that way for the next two sets. I don’t like dropping reps, particularly when I’m not even achieving the lowest number in the rep range; however, I’d rather drop reps than put myself into a potentially bad situation, like complete and utterly catastrophic failure. Even though I always have safeties when I bench, I am not a fan of my gym’s benches and safeties. Quite frankly, they suck. There are times when it appears as if the safeties would be too short compared to my bar path. Since I could barely finish the fourth rep each of those final two sets, I figured I should stop there.

4a. back extensions

20 lbs x 12, 20 lbs x 12

4b. side planks

x 30 seconds each side, x 25 seconds each side

Now I am looking forward to a couple of rest days and hoping to feel fresh for Monday’s training session…whatever it may look like. I have a feeling it’s going to be another long, tough, sweat-filled session.

17 290

As much as I love squats and going to the gym, I was kind of dreading today’s training session because of the addition of an extra set of squats. My training over the past six weeks has seen me do 2-4 working sets depending on the exercise and purpose. This week is the first time I’ve been told to do 5 working sets of squats on day 1 and of deadlifts on day 2. Although the weights used aren’t unreasonable, for some reason I still felt a measure of fear about the extra set of squats. Why is that?! I think, for me, squats can be as unpredictable as a wild beast, brutally savage yet equally beautiful. Squats can take a lot out of you, and, if everything isn’t firing properly, a squat can crush you. I approach the bar knowing that I have to be as strong mentally as I am physically, because there are so many tiny details that can go awry and cause my brain to throw out emergency flares. This morning was no different. I felt the fear, acknowledged it, and steeled myself mentally. It’s what I do.

1. squats (2-0x0) 4-6 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 95 x 6, 135 x 4

main event, with belt: 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6

The first working set was a little scary. The weight felt fine, but my depth felt out of control deep. The next few sets were a bit better, I think; however, the final set probably felt the best, the most controlled.

2. competition bench (2-1×0) 4-6 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6, 85 x 4, 100 x 3

main event: 110 x 6, 110 x 6, 110 x 4

3. front squats (3-1×0) 8-12 reps

75 lbs x 9, 75 x 8, 75 x 8

4. glute bridges

95 lbs x 15 x 3 sets

5. chest supported rows

55 lbs x 10, 55 x 10, 55 x 8

And just because I sometimes like to amuse myself with random facts and numbers…

Today’s total weight moved was 17, 290 pounds! That’s almost 2000 pounds more than last week’s day 1. I am currently in need of food and coffee and a nap, yet I still feel the post-training high of a good work out.

10 Hours?!

It’s almost as if my body is gunning for new personal records when it comes to how many hours of sleep it can get while still being physically exhausted. I was yawning by 3pm yesterday. Last night I had 10 hours of sleep. Yes, I said TEN! While sleep is as precious to me as the ring is to Gollum, ten hours of sleep is excessive and not my normal. The trend of waking up reluctantly and still in need of sleep continues. It is now 11:00am, and I desperately want to close my eyes for a long winter’s nap, which would be quite easy to do since I am already practically horizontal. But I start work in two hours. I could be, should be productive with my time between now and then. Ha!

The only thing that did get me out of bed this morning was the fact that I had to go to the gym. At this point, I don’t think I am sick enough to skip going to the gym; however, I feel sick enough to recognize that my performance might be impacted.

1. competition bench (2-2×0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 7

main event: 90 lbs x 7, 90 x 7, 90 x 7

These felt solid today and easier than Thursday’s bench at the same weight. Of course, Thursday’s sets had a different tempo (3-1×0), which could possibly explain the tougher feeling; however, the pause was longer today. I don’t know! Today was a good bench day, I guess.

2. competition squat (3-0x0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 7

main event: 125 lbs x 7, 125 x 7, 125 x 7

The working sets today were 20 pounds heavier than the previous weeks, so I was anticipating a more difficult experience than what I had. The warm up sets felt okay, but the first working set actually felt better than the warm ups. Of course, the weight wasn’t really all that heavy. Sometimes I have to remind myself of what I can actually do.

3. close grip bench (3-1×0) 6-8 reps

90 lbs x 8, 90 x 8, 90 x 8

These were also decent today, although probably an RPE of 8/9 by the final rep each set.

4a. back extensions

x 13, x 12

4b. leg raises

x 15, x 12

Whatever battle is going on inside of my body, I sure hope it resolves itself before Day 1 of next week’s training week. Day 1 tends to be the day that takes the longest amount of time to complete and takes the most out of me physically. Actually, I’m thinking of pushing Monday’s training to Tuesday again next week, because Monday is a holiday. I start work earlier than usual that day and the gym’s hours are reduced, which would mean I’d be rushed and stressed trying to get my training done before work. Right now, I think I can squeeze in a short nap before work…I need it.

Big S, Little S

I love Doctor Seuss. For whatever unexplainable reason, I shall never forgot this:

Big S, little S, what begins with S? Silly Sammy Slick sipped six sodas and got sick, sick, sick!

I rarely get sick. Occasionally I will get mild symptoms of a cold that linger for a few days before fading silently into oblivion. The last time I was actually knocked out by a flu was at the very end of December 2010, which I only remember because I was registered to run in The Running Room’s 5K Resolution Run on January 1st and I was worried that I might not be well enough to take part. While I may not have been fully recovered by New Year’s Day, I did run and did okay. My previous bout with a flu was several years earlier. While I cannot remember the year, I do know that I missed some of my son’s hockey tournament because I was too sick to get off the couch. Before that I don’t remember being sick aside from repeated gallbladder attacks while pregnant in 1995. I might get a stuffy nose or a sore throat, maybe a slight cough, but I seldom miss a beat in terms of energy or ability to perform.

The back of my throat began to feel sore and scratchy Sunday afternoon while I was at work. It wasn’t super bad, more of an annoyance than a problem; however, the throat was the same, possibly even slightly worse the next day and the next. The nasal congestion arrived on Monday. A dry, sore throat and a stuffed up nose are not conducive for a good night’s sleep, so I haven’t been sleeping well for a few nights now. My ability to function hasn’t been hampered, although I have had to resort to the occasional throat lozenge at work to keep my throat moist enough to allow me to talk without coughing. Yesterday at the gym I squatted, pressed, glute bridged, and rowed more than 15 000 pounds, which left me feeling a little exhausted but otherwise okay. I guess I had thought that I might struggle more since I was tired and “under the weather”, but I reasoned that I don’t get truly sick.

Today and tomorrow are my days off. Since I trained yesterday, I knew that I wouldn’t be going to the gym today like usual but on Thursday instead, allowing me the luxury of foregoing an alarm and sleeping as long as my body would let me. I wasn’t expecting to sleep much past 8 at the latest, because, after years of starting work around 5:00 AM, my body has become conditioned to waking up around 4AM and staying awake around 7AM. It has taken almost a year to re-train my body to simply roll over and resume sleeping when it wakes up at 4, but the ability to sleep past 7 has been much harder to achieve. Except for today.

Last night I had 9 hours of sleep! It is quite normal for me to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. (My average is actually 8 hours and 25 minutes, which I know from my Sleep Cycle app.) Although I finally dragged myself out of bed at 8:46, the temptation to stay in bed, roll over, and go back to sleep was intense. Considering the sore throat and stuffy nose, my quality of sleep last night was actually decent…it just didn’t seem like enough. For the first time in longer than I can remember, I probably could have slept the morning away. But I didn’t. I got up, made coffee, and had a bath. I started on the laundry, including my bedding which the cat had thrown up on the night before that I didn’t discover until I was about to crawl into bed and couldn’t be bothered to deal with in the moment, except to wipe it up and throw a towel over the wet spot. Yes, I did.

Mid-morning I began to feel the stirrings of a headache, but it was low grade and nothing I thought I’d need to get worked up about. On a 1-10 scale, it was only a one. A couple of hours later, that headache went from 1 to 100 in about 10 minutes. Now I don’t like to pop pills unnecessarily and will avoid taking anything if possible, but the headache was screaming and only getting louder. I took an Ibuprofen and began to feel some relief within 20-30 minutes. Even now at the end of the night, I can still feel the headache lingering just below the surface, simmering away at a 1 again. The throat isn’t sore like it had been the previous days, but it feels swollen when I swallow. The nose is still mostly stuffy. Do I feel sick? Not really. Yes, I’ve got a couple of minor symptoms. I feel wiped out today, but I wouldn’t define myself as being sick.

I should have another 8+ hours of sleep tonight with no alarm in the morning. Hopefully my sleep quality will be decent. At some point tomorrow morning I will go to the gym for some deadlifts and bench press. Oh, and overhead pressing…which is not a favourite and I’m not excited about at all. I have grand illusions to plan dinners for the next several days, including some of my upcoming closing shifts when I won’t be home to make dinner. It’s time to get my eating habits under control again, which is both exciting and desirable but also slightly overwhelming when I look at how many nights I close each week. But that’s a blog post for another day.

Start of Week 4

I think the only thing I don’t like about Mondays is the accessory work in my training program. There is just something about this day’s accessory work that fills me with a sense of dread as I walk into the gym. This is not how I feel about the accessory work on my other training days. Today was my fourth week with this program, and I still feel the same. By the time I finish my high bar squats, close grip bench, and front squats, I’m exhausted and muscles are quivering. This morning was no exception. I didn’t mind the main lifts, but I had to dig deep to find perseverance to complete the accessories.

1. high bar squats (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 95 x 6, 135 x 4

main event: 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6

The first working set felt off. I realized that I hadn’t put my belt on, and it felt as if my stance was a touch wider than normal. The second set felt somewhat better with the belt and better stance but still a bit tough. The final two sets felt the best; however, I did get a random discomfort/ache in my left leg below the knee.

2. close grip bench press (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6, 85 x 6, 100 x 3

main event: 110 x 4, 110 x 4, 110 x 4, 110 x 4

This felt tougher than last week even though I did the same weight for the same number of reps and sets.

3. front squats (3-1×0)

75 lbs x 12, 75 x 10, 75 x 8, 75 x 8

4a. walking lunges

70 lbs x 12, 70 x 10, 70 x 10

4b. dumbbell rows

35 lbs x 10, 35 x 10, 35 x 7

4c. plank

x 40 seconds, x 30 seconds, x 27 seconds

4d. dumbbell rear delts

12 lbs x 12, 12 x 12, 12 x 10