Let’s take this outside

Did you spend most of your life outside when you were a kid? I did. What was there worth doing inside when the weather was nice? Outside there were tire swings, roller skates, creeks, and trees. I spent as much time reading under those trees as I did climbing them, but still, I loved it outside.

TRX at the park

Atomic push-ups

As an adult, I spend too much time inside. One of the many things I love about travel is just being outside all day. But there’s no reason I can’t find ways to be in the fresh air, under the sky when I work out. So when my friend Sarah suggested we meet in my favorite park to work out one morning, I loved the idea.
We met bright and early the morning after the 4th of July – kind of appropriate, since my friend is a Marine veteran. She brought her TRX, and concocted a heinous plan to run up what we all call Dog Hill (the steep, long hill where locals like to let their dogs play) in between sets. What sets you ask? Did I mention she was a Marine, and therefore one tough workout partner?

We did rear leg elevated lunges, and single leg squats, ran Dog Hill, and repeated. Then for good measure we threw down with some atomic push-ups (feet in the TRX, knees to chest in between push-ups) and TRX rows. Don’t forget the hill runs in between. And after.  I might add that I hate running. But when a freaking *Marine* is running up the hill for the umpteenth time you can’t wuss out and whine that you don’t feel like it. So run I did. And we encouraged each other through our progressively more fatiguing sets on the TRX. To be quite honest, I felt a little like I might throw up by the time we were done. Not quite — just enough that I knew I’d had an arse-kicking workout, the first one I’d had in a while.

We’re doing it again tomorrow. I can’t wait to  get outside and get working.

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Gearing up

It’s time for a new challenge.  And a new adventure. Goals with numbers land me in the hospital. How many plates can I put on the barbell and still lift it=spinal surgery. How many pull-ups can I do=rhabdo. And any goal related to a number on the scale is the last thing I want. (Hi, I’m Dana and I haven’t stepped on a scale in 7 months since the great and horrible six-pack experiment.)

So I’m gearing up to join a team with my husband and race through the high desert of Colorado on a multi-sport adventure. The Adventure TEAM Challenge this September will put me to a whole new kind of test as I climb, raft, mountain bike and hike at a mile elevation, part of a five-person team that will include two people with disabilities — one in a wheelchair.

If anything will knock me on the head and make me stop feeling sorry for myself for all the things I can’t do because of my assorted and sundry injuries it will be this race.

World TEAM Sports provides opportunities for people with disabilities to compete in sporting events. Not only does this chance help the competing athletes overcome challenges they can feel amazing about, it inspires spectators. I know, because I watched their documentary Vietnam, Long Time Coming, last year and cried repeatedly watching veterans overcome huge physical and emotional challenges to bike from Hanoi to Saigon. And I know if they can accomplish such a mammoth undertaking, then this utterly non cardio-conditioned wanna-be racer can get ready for a two-day challenge.

I’ve experienced personally how much competitive sport has transformed my life, and injuries notwithstanding, the confidence I’ve gained has made a whole new world possible for me. If I have a soapbox it’s that more people — especially women, and especially people who may not think they have what it takes — experience this change.

So I’m going to raise money – lots of it, more on that later – to join this race, and I’m going to train for two days of high-altitude sports that I am a complete beginner in now.  With maybe a dozen climbs under my belt, a few days of rafting, and a brand new mountain bike I broke in with an immediate crash, I’m gearing up for a summer of training for this blissfully number-free goal: to complete the race and not let my teammates down.

It takes some creativity: I can’t run or do lunges because of a janky toe. I can’t load my lumbar spine. And with newly re-knit muscles in my biceps, shoulders and lats (they ripped away from the tendons just a few months ago) I can’t lift to failure. My new friend is the TRX in my garage gym.  With the bad foot in the strap I can do lunges that are even harder than the garden variety. I can do hamstring curls that will strengthen my underdeveloped hamstrings. And since I’m still feeling sketchy about pull-up I can do rows on the TRX to work my upper back. I’m also loving push-ups with my feet elevated in the straps.

But mostly I’ll be on my new bike, planning climbing getaways in Red River Gorge, and hopefully finding somewhere to raft. I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer than gearing up.

 

 

Rx: TRX

My sports doctor is a good guy. Instead of washing his hands of me and saying I’m just too accident and injury prone to keep working out, he wants to help me find things that will challenge me. (I guess if I were cynical I’d just think my insurance company has probably paid for, I don’t know, at least a few mortgage payments for him. But when he waved my inches thick file at me and said he wants it to not be any bigger 20 years from now, I’m gonna go with he’s actually a good guy.)

I’ve completed my post-rhabdo sentence of boring elliptical work which I served at the nearby public gym where my punishment included watching dudes massacre proper form on lifts and young ladies perform perplexing movements with tiny weights. I got my doctor’s all clear to go back to working out just a few days before leaving for Italy. I wasn’t ABOUT to risk getting hurt before that trip so I went pretty gingerly back into upper body workouts.  But I wanted to really get back to work when I came back from Italy, and I’d be on my own. (Clearly personal trainers and I are not a good match.)

“Try a TRX,” my doctor suggested. Hmm. I tried one when I was doing physical therapy  during the Injury Chronicles Part I and remember being surprised at how challenging it was. “It’s your bodyweight, so you shouldn’t be able to hurt yourself,” he said. Ah, so that was the selling point. After all the things he’s told me I *can’t* do, it’s nice to have the seal of approval for a change, so I went right out to get one. And actually the TRX folks were kind enough to provide me with one. It arrived while I was stuffing my face with pasta and pizza and gelato in Italy.

The pizza at Da Attilio's in Naples was worth the flight.

This pizza, at Da Attilio’s in Naples, was worth the flight.

I have stopped feeling guilty about not working out when I travel. I just don’t, and that’s ok. Which is weird because I would have given almost anything just to do some push-ups from Jan 1 through mid March, I finally got the go-ahead, but once I was in Italy I couldn’t care less (although I was amused by the Italians who wanted to feel my bicep, so I guess I didn’t wither away like I feared I would).

First TRX workout

Anyway, I came back with a hard-earned pasta belly and a raring urge to get into my garage gym and just do some hard stuff. I wasn’t sure, despite my little bit of previous experience, how hard a couple of straps would actually be. Then I did a test that came in the packaging. And oh. my goodness. It’s hard all right. I noted my results (max reps in one minute) for each of these  and will check again in 30 days: Chest press 16, biceps curl 17, hamstring curl 24, crunch 28.

I like that I have no idea what constitutes a good result. It doesn’t matter. Improvement matters. Sitting in a hospital, looking at an MRI of my damaged muscles and discussing necrotic tissue with my doctor put quite the damper on my desire to compete or break any more arbitrary records. But that doesn’t mean I stopped caring about meeting challenges. So my first challenge is just to beat those numbers after 30 days.  I’ll let you know.