Back to our regularly scheduled programming of training with J on Thursday mornings. It has been an uneven week, lots of peaking peaks and exploration of valley floors as far as my mood and emotions scale. Despite the slides down, my outlook feels far more upbeat and positive, particularly toward the gym and it’s offerings. I am actually surprising myself in the things I would do if I spent even more time there. What a strange turn of events.
It was review day, and back to our TRX roots as an alternative to Monday’s routine. Still fun, still interesting, still challenging. Today’s list:
TRX Ham Curls
TRX Skater Squat
TRX Triceps Extension
On the first grouping, guidance is 2 to 4 rounds with 10 to 15 reps (per side where applicable) and 3 to 5 rounds with the same 10 to 15 reps (per side where applicable). In my latest quest to do all I can do, I push for at least 3 sets/rounds per grouping and maximum reps. A lot depends on time available, and it seems like with these I should have time available at the end of my allotment to explore or revisit other favorites. Energy is another matter entirely, but we shall see.
Our sessions are relaxed and thorough – I learn as much about myself as I do the exercises J is teaching or critiquing. My improving attitude toward the gym also helps when there is frustration looming with something new, because instead of listening to the voices whispering that I am never going to get this, I am not good at exercise, I am shit, worthless, and stupid (voices are BRUTAL), I am focused on trying to learn the subtle nuances of how it feels to my body and listening carefully to what J is saying. I remind myself that practice on my own will offer improvements, refinements, new discoveries, and that there are endless review days in my future if needed.
I worked really hard today, as I typically do on training session days, but I am again looking forward to tomorrow morning and test-driving on my own. Some things are getting easier (TRX skater squat is improving, I think) and some things I just feel the need to tighten up and work at more consistently (TRX movements listed above, all of them). Progress.
There is a sense of satisfaction and control that comes from the daily workouts. As irritating as the comments from others about doing too much and overtraining, the feelings of accomplishment outweigh my aggravation. I am truly starting to understand why people say exercise is great for stress relief, because now that my mindset has matured somewhat, I can see that turning my focus to the technical details of the exercises could be a direct benefit and positive distraction to whatever is biting from the work day.
Now that my gym routines and time spent pursuing them have become more set on the schedule, I wonder what I used to do that was filling those blocks of time. Getting more sleep? Surfing the internet? Reading for fun? Working? Mindlessly running my hamster wheel brain on some other obscure topic or issue? Since nothing very specific is coming to mind, I imagine it was not very important or memorable. I am pretty content the place where I am dwelling right now, although I have some new thoughts and ideas about where I might like to progress next.
February approaches, and M is already thinking about spring trail running and summer racing season. He is feeling a wee bit out of shape, indulging in some depression eating, and there is a perceived failure to increase his weekly mileage weighing right now. M runs every single day, but sometimes it’s only 2 miles, others it 5 or 6 miles, whereas he would like to be running 10 to 12 miles daily and 5 or 6 miles on his rest days. This is just his choice of training and after this many years, I am accustomed to the ups and downs of it and how the winter and his seasonal affective disorder impacts his moods and motivations. But until he snaps out of that and gets back to his normal high mileage days, he is considering going back to working out twice daily a few days per week. One would be a mileage workout, the other would be for speed. Or one would be running with a local group for fun, the other for his personal objectives.
Bottom line, he is considering working out in the morning and once again in the evenings. Our life and lifestyle is such that it does not bother or impact our activities as a couple/family, and I am in fact contemplating what it might be like to join him (only I would go to the gym) on his second training nights.
Maybe I am truly becoming a gym rat. I have no idea, because labels do not matter to me. However, if I were to do so, second workout would be primarily for fun … and I am as shocked as anyone to see myself typing those words in this context.
I mean, there are Lists I like a lot more than others. There is always at least one series of exercises on each list that I really enjoy and look forward to performing. Of late I am really focusing on the little nuances and technical aspects of things, listening to J’s comments and critiques and filing them away to get out and explore further when I am on my own in the gym. It’s little things about major players – squats, lunges, curls, deadlifts, etc. – but it feels like I win big when it becomes automatic to do it more correctly or according to the latest series of cues. My training brain is becoming like a sieve absorbing and filing away all this new stuff about exercises I know.
I am also thinking about the doubling up a couple of times each week to work at my mental game. Just today J was talking about how the mental focus needs to sharpen to maintain form as the muscle fatigues. While probably everybody and their pets know that, it was kind of a refresher course on a very basic concept for me. Are the exercises he is teaching getting more challenging? Yes, I definitely think so, and of course it is appropriate that I would make forward progress. But from when we started, I never thought I would be doing a lot of stuff I do now without thinking twice. Exciting times.
For these 7 months it has been a scramble to learn the basics, to practice them until I feel competent and confident I at least know how it’s supposed to work. Now I understand the logistics of learning new stuff, practicing new stuff, asking questions and reviewing and refining new and older stuff. But the mental game is hard to sustain when I feel fatigued and tired and find it easy and justifiable to stop. We’re broaching higher reps and greater numbers of sets, and it feels like another form and type of advancement. I am not so terribly ambitious that I want to be or get way further ahead faster that we are proceeding, but I can feel the allure of the new challenge and the next big thing. My brain is wrapping around and accepting the idea that it is no longer if I can learn how to do these things, it is how well I learn to master these things and escalate them to some unidentified maximum benefit.
I am not exactly sure I am wording this correctly, but I am not longer fearful of not being capable of learning and doing, of wasting J’s time because I am some sort of exercise idiot. Thinking about it, I am not sure I am afraid anymore, period. Intimidated, maybe; there is this room full of big, clunky, mysterious equipment and weight plates that seems as if it is meant for other members who understand what they are doing and where they want to go with it.
Then there are other rooms with machines that work specific body parts and isolates muscles and does all this stuff. I used to watch people from my treadmill or arc training perch and wonder what they were doing, if they could feel the right muscles working in the right ways before they moved on to the next machine in line. I am not afraid or intimidated by those, yet I feel no particular enthusiasm about or pull toward investigating them either.
The big freemotion cable machine still looms large, and I am sure we will revisit it into the future. But I am in no rush right now. I will figure it out once I am faced with its intriguing options again.
I think I like the dumbbells and TRX and bands for a couple of reasons, the first being they are familiar and what I have trained with primarily thus far. Familiarity is a good thing in my case. The second is there is this undeniable thrill of pride when I can get through a whole set of something with whatever weight of dumbbell or color of band I am using. The TRX stuff has it’s own complicated set of emotions and feelings, majority of which are very positive emotions and feelings, but it’s a similar thing, especially when a new one is introduced that makes my muscles feel completely different even though I have been working those muscles diligently and consistently for months. From prior experiences with machines that work various isolated parts of the body, I have never had that sort of zowy-powy feeling before. It is a rush that surprises me when it happens, because geez … drippy sweaty and gross is not a good look for me.
Times they are a-changing.
So while I am still pondering the idea of doubling up on workouts a couple of days per week, I know that I have found myself saying and thinking that going back to the gym after a particularly rough days sounds appealing … as opposed to collapsing on the couch with something I know is probably not good for me to be eating and that was purchased just for the reward of getting through a crappy day. I would really like to unlearn that behavior.
Perhaps I really could be evolving into the poster child for exercise really doesn’t suck and need not be despised on sight. Stranger things have happened, but probably not lately.
Happy Thursday everyone!