hitting personal highs during physical lows

Last week was a great week for me!  I attended a couple of new classes at the gym, and discovering new ways to challenge myself.

BodyPump was an absolute blast! It’s essentially a strength training free weight workout in a group setting, with music and someone counting reps for you. What could be better? I’ve been trying to add a lot more strength & resistance to my daily workouts but, I’ll confess, I’m a bit of a deer-caught-in-the-headlights when it comes to tackling the machines at the gym.

I know how to work them, and how much weight is good for me. I know how many reps to do, and also how many sets. What I don’t know is which machines are best combined to target specific muscle groups (and in which order). So, for weights, I have tended to workout to DVDs, like Jillian Michaels or Jackie Warner.

BodyPump was a fantastic find, in that it gave me a full body workout with a bar-bell (instead of the dumbbells my workout DVDs use). I also got to do some bad-ass moves like “clean and jerk” and “snatch”. Who me?? Yes!!!  I know, right??? Crazy!

I did a 60 minute BodyPump on Thursday, combined with running 5k. Friday, I saw another BodyPump class offered, so I headed to the gym to catch it. It turned out to be only a 30-minute class, followed by something called CXWorks, a class focused on core. I did both plus 5,000 meters on the rowing machine and 2 miles on the treadmill.

I should note that I felt *really* good after each of these workouts. No sign of any problem. Which is what got me in trouble, I think (that false sense of security). I charged forward without giving a second thought to the sheer number of squats and lunges I had done (with weight on my shoulders) in back-to-back BodyPump classes Thursday and Friday, along with a lot of running and rowing.

On Saturday I decided to try the BodyFlow class, described as part Tai Chi, part Yoga and part Pilates. For someone as ADD as me, this sounded like a winning combo. I have tried and tried and tried to enjoy yoga, but find I’m ready to assassinate everyone around me  quit about 20 minutes in. Way too much nervous energy in me. A cynic would say, well Miss-Attention-Span-of-a-Fly, Yoga could help you with that… [I would then bitch-slap said cynic.] But I digress.

I loved, loved, loved BodyFlow.

People performing Tai Chi Chuan at the Temple ...

People performing Tai Chi Chuan at the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing, China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And, it turns out, I really like Tai Chi. (Well, in fairness, it probably helps that there was a total of 10-15 minutes of Tai Chi, so I didn’t really have time to get sick of it…). I then did another 2 miles on the treadmill and another 5,000 meters on the rowing machine. And still felt all good!

So on Sunday, I decided to try Spinning. Not in a class, rather, my gym has Spin bikes set up with screens and tutorials (on-screen spin teachers, guiding you through the ride, with prompts on when to switch positions, when to increase/decrease tension, when to sprint, when to climb, etc.).  I thought this was a nice way for me to ease into Spinning without the pressure of a class setting and feeling clumsy or uncoordinated in a group.

So I set off to do my first Spinning session (45 mins), followed by 5,000 meters on the rowing machine.

By the time I finished my last stroke, at the 5,000 meter mark, I knew something was wrong. I stood up and felt a twinge in my right hip flexor. Or was it my right knee? Or was it both??  All I knew for sure is that something was wrong with my right leg, and it hurt. To be more precise, it felt like bone against bone, sandpapering itself. Grinding. It felt nasty and gross.

And my mind went straight to… OH NO…What if I have to stop the cardio stuff for a while??? My daily sweats won’t be real “sweats” if I am not running or rowing or cycling or moving vigorously in some form. I clenched my hands as I walked to the change room, mind racing, plotting my next move.

By the time I walked in the door, I was limping and wincing. I took some Ibuprofen and hit the shower. I’m sure I’ll feel way better after the Ibu kicks in, I told myself. Not so much. That evening I iced the area and then soaked in Epsom Salts. Nothing eased the pain. I tried more Ibuprofen. Still nothing.

Finally Monday morning it seemed a wee bit better. In that I wasn’t making painful (involuntary) noises every time I took a step or raised my right foot off the ground. I took another dose of Ibu and tried to take it easy most of the day. I decided to try a late workout on the elliptical here at home. I did 5 miles (in about 60 minutes), stepped off tentatively, and shocked myself when I didn’t feel much pain. It was like a miracle! Exercising seems to have helped my injury. What the what??  I know, sounds crazy, but it honestly felt better after the stint on the elliptical.

I was just happy to have gotten my sweat in, so I didn’t question it.

Yesterday, the area felt even better. Slight tweaks in the right knee, but hip flexor was a lot looser and fairly pain-free. So I decided to use the miracle cure (elliptical) again. But this time, I told myself, if an hour and 5 miles helped, then surely longer/farther would help even more! Right?

Umm, wrong.

I did 9 miles total in about 1:48 minutes. As soon as I stepped off, I knew I had pushed it too far. The pain wasn’t quite as bad as Sunday, but definitely far worse than it was before the 9 miles. I wanted to kick myself. For a smart girl I sure can be pretty stupid sometimes.

I marched (well, hobbled…) straight over to my laptop and started researching hip flexor + knee pain to see what I could come up with. It turns out that the area connecting those two hot spots of pain is the Iliotibial Band (commonly referred to as the IT Band).

I knew about the IT Band, and IT Band injuries from my son’s days playing high school football, where those injuries seemed to run rampant. (And, I confess sheepishly, it did feel a little bit bad-ass that I had the same type of injury as a big ol’ football player..) 😉

I looked up stretches to alleviate and address IT band strain/pain – and found several. With the help of a high-density foam roller and a yoga block I was able to get some good stretching in. After dinner, I went out for a 5k walk (at a pace much slower than I’m normally comfortable with [probably a 3.1 or 3.2], and then I followed that with more ice and more Ibuprofen, and a chillax session for the rest of the evening.

On the good news front, my armband (the fantastic BodyMedia) told me I hit a couple of personal bests yesterday (yes, on a day I was injured!). I took 23,358 steps (new daily high) and I had 1:47 of vigorous activity (the 9 miles on elliptical at lightning fast speed :-)). I realize hitting personal bests on a day I should have been allowing my body to heal wasn’t smart, but, not gonna lie, I did feel really proud that I made those achievements.

This morning I do feel better, although still not as good as Monday. I know there is a happy medium in terms of stretching it out (which the elliptical seems to help me do) and overdoing it (a la 9 miles). So today will be about moderation and allowing my body to fully heal.

I hope to be back on the treadmill, running, in a day or two.

Thanks to all my friends who shared love and support (and suggestions) on how to address the pain. Thank you, love you and owe you!

Get moving!

xoxo nancy


6 thoughts on “hitting personal highs during physical lows

  1. Such great timing on the IT band injury story…..my husband just hurt his 3 days ago, hobbled around, Ibuprofen every 5 hrs, ice and walking ( plus massage) . In two days he was MUCH improved! Our amazing bodies do need to rest occasionally, be nice – it’s the only one you’ve got 🙂

    • Rest is out of the question (no interruption to the 365 days of sweat…) — but I agree, 9 miles was just plain stupid. 🙂 I’m going to do an hour (about 5 miles) on the elliptical today, and then just rest/ice/stretch some more. Hopefully healed in a day or so! Hope your anniversary trip was fantastic! Hugs!

  2. ok woman.. considering i sit on my ass for 8 hrs… 23K steps? my best has been 12K so far in a day… u r not 20 anymore! LISTEN to your body. it will be worse if you get a serious injury and get stuck on the couch for a month

    • I know baby. I only did 13,189 yesterday (6 miles on elliptical + a little mall walking :-)). The stretching is helping immensely — and I feel way better today (best I’ve felt since Saturday). I know I’m very fortunate to have all this free time to get a lot more exercise in than most people, so I’m taking advantage of it. If I suddenly have somewhere to be 9-5, that will change in a big way. Doing what I can – as much as I can – while my flexible schedule allows it. As for you, with the craziness of your move happening, you’ll be burning calories galore! Wish I was there to help!

  3. I started down my own new life path in March. I ate better, moved more, and focused on the positive. By mid-April, I lost 10 lbs. without really trying. You are right in describing life change as a whole package, a change from the inside out and from the outside in.

    • Thanks for stopping by Fay, and congratulations on your success! It’s amazing how much the physical transformation is tied to the emotional/mental transformation. Best of luck along your journey!

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