Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hurts So Good!

I knew the first few weeks of training were going to be a bit of trial and error, but necessary to evaluate my limitations. After another week or so, I think I have a little bit better understanding- but it did come with a cost. Minus the two days I was down sick (very grateful it wasn't a whole week, like others with the same flu!) training was mostly treadmill and strength training.

Saturday, I took a hike up Big Baldy, a 3.5 mile hike (5.6 km.) with 1000 ft. (304 m.) of vertical gain per mile. It's a nice little mountain located on the west side of Mount Timpanogos and a jumping off point for the Everest Ridge route that's particularly popular in winter here (Utah). While the distance wasn't trying, the challenge for me was the elevation gain. I greatly underestimated how weak I was from being sick; it took me two full days to recover. What I'm observing is that my recovery isn't as quick as it was before I got sick- something I'll have to take into consideration from now on. That judgement lapse aside, it's hard to have a bad day in the mountains! The view was amazing and well worth the effort. While the distance is shorter than the Elbrus Race, this trail will work well while I'm getting back into shape.

To change things up this week, I've returned to one of my old favorites: bleachers! As a bobsledder, I would get giddy thinking about running bleachers in the summer. I just LOVED the challenge; sweat dripping down your body, muscles pumped and music booming in your ears. I love the solitude of an empty stadium, full of promise and potential victory for those who are willing to put in the effort. To me, it's inspiring. There are tons of workouts possible when running bleachers, everything from sprints and plyometrics to long slow endurance training. Some I've picked off websites and added to and some I've been doing for so long, I hardly remember who I learned them from. You can cut down the warm-up time if needed, my warm-up's are a bit longer, since it takes me longer than average to get warm.

Here's one of my favorite plyo workouts to get the quads and glutes burning:
- 10-15 minute warm-up jog or speed walk
- 5 minutes easy bleacher jog (up and down)
- Jump up each step, one at a time with two feet together until you reach the top. If you want to kick it up a notch, drop your rear with each landing into a formal squat. Keep an eye on your knees and don't let them go over your toes.
- Side squats across the top to the next section of steps
- Easy jog back down
- Side shuffle back to your starting point
- Repeat

For endurance and base strength, here's the workout I did this morning (remember, I'm a beginner right now, so feel free to ramp it up):
- 10-15 minute warm-up jog or speed walk
- 5 minutes easy bleacher jog
- Walking lunges up each step until you reach the top, concentrating on getting that perfect angle to engage the glutes. If the steps are too small, you may want to skip a step to get the right angle. Keep chest up and resist using momentum- allow your legs to do all the work. 
- Jog across to the next set of stairs
- Sprint down, concentrating on keeping abs tight and body centered. Think, 'fast feet'. If you have balance issues or are feeling extra fatigued, use your common sense with the speed.
- Repeat

With so many plyometric exercises available, there are a ton of variables that can be worked into a good bleacher workout. Today, I followed my workout with some more treadmill time, half a protein shake, tuna and a lot of water. With recovery being my biggest enemy, it's vital that I give my body all the advantage I can.