Thursday, July 28, 2011

Weighty Matters

I've extolled the virtues of my Vibrams five finger shoes, and have waxed poetically about how much they've helped me start running again. I started a new experiment back on June 12th, but I wanted to wait to make sure it stuck. Well, it has more than stuck, and even after taking a break from July 4th to July 26th due to traveling and having friends in town, upon starting up again yesterday things are going just as well.

I'm talking about lifting weights. Not just dumb bells, but being able to lift free weights again. On June 12th, Bobby and I started lifting weights together on Mon/Wed/Fri. We do three sets each of three exercises- squat, dead lift, bench press. Weight is added with each set, so that the reps are 10-8-6 (sometimes that last set is only two or three reps, just as many as you can squeak out). The first day I started off just lifting the bar- 45 lbs- for all exercises. This was too light for squats/dead lift, but a bit heavy for bench press (I was able to do a full 10 reps, but I was feeling it). Progressively over the weeks we added more weight each time, until, on the 4th of July, I had progressed to being able to easily bench press 65 pounds, I could push through  a few reps at 75 pounds, and, more incredibly, I was able to squat and dead lift my body weight- 135 pounds!
In spite of my bum hip/crap back, this actually happened
In the grand scheme of weight lifting, this is not some crazy impressive stuff. But in the grand scheme of my old creaky hip, this is incredible. The first few weeks, my left hip would just ache and ache in between sets of squats. Not in a painful, stop doing this way, but in a painful, "you're strengthening me and pulling me back into place and I've been effed up for a decade and this will take some coaxing" kind of way. It felt disconcerting, but I felt in my gut that it was not a "STOP" kind of a pain, but a "be careful, but keep it up" kind of pain.

Yesterday was my first day of lifting since we left for vacation, and man I am feeling it today. But I was able to do even more reps at 135 pounds on dead lift, and I only lost 10 pounds on my squat. My bench press has slid back a bit too- I was at the point where I could press 75 pounds a few times, now 65 is feeling a bit tough- but I know it will all be coming back to me soon. And more than that, I'm excited to see where I'll be after a year of lifting. I have some lofty goals, but I think they're reasonable. And after only a few weeks of squats, I can't believe how much muscle I've gained. I'm not much bigger (girls can't bulk up like a dude, despite all the fear mongering around weight lifting) but my shape is already changing. I've also noticed that I'm stronger on my bike, and running is easier, too. All in all, I'm over the moon happy that I'm at a point where I can throw some weights around again.

Since this is a fitness update kinda post, I figure I'll throw in a C25K update here at the end. Since coming back from the Texas road trip beginning of May, I've found it hard to get back into running. I averaged about twice a week from mid May to the end of June, and I made myself swallow my pride and start over with Week 3 to be damned sure I didn't tweak my back/hip or hurt my feet. A short road trip since then, then a long road trip, plus the focus on weight lifting has put C25K on the back burner. It's not turned off getting cold and crusting to the pot, it's just kind of simmering away in the background. I'm more than happy to continue to take C25K very slowly, because I think this is crucial to why my hip/back have been able to adjust to running, and why I have not screwed up my knees. I'm going to be at grad school orientation from Sunday, July 31st through Thursday, August 4th, so for now I'm focusing on getting back into the swing of weight lifting this week, and I'll start C25K up again next week. However, I know that all the biking and weight lifting I'm doing are also helping me to become a better runner. After the Texas road trip I came back and really fell in love with biking, and for two weeks all I did was bike, no running, but I was averaging 60+ miles a week. After that stint, I went for a run, and it felt so easy. Cross training for the win!

I will definitely have to specifically focus on some running come next week though, because I'm registered to run Warrior Dash on August 20th. I'm excited and nervous, but who wouldn't be, if you're going to be jumping over fire, and crawling through mud under barbed wire? Seriously, check out that link and look at the course. It's equal parts funny and kind of ridiculous.


  1. The Warrior Dash looks like INCREDIBLE fun!

    I wish there was one closer me : (

  2. I wish there was one closer to you, too! All of my friends who have done it have loved it. I'm really looking forward to how zany it is. They also have live bands all day, and at the end you get a turkey leg, a viking hat, and a free beer, lol. I love ridiculous fun stuff like that for adults :)