Mondays I have two “workouts”. I put that in quotes because the morning workout is usually a pool swim, and at 2pm I have a standing appointment with Jill Miller, a yoga teacher friend. Some weeks we do bodywork – it’s not massage when there’s screaming involved – and sometimes we do yoga. More and more we’re doing strength training because my limb tightness, fatigue, and muscle pain can be attributed to asymmetrical physiology, or sympathetic pain from bad form, or just the miles of abuse that endurance work puts on the body. I have been getting pain in my meniscus on the right knee for several months. I could medicate it to shut up the pain, or choose the harder path which is to build the muscle tissue around the knee so it’s stabilized. The same goes for my forward shoulder rotation (hours in front of the computer and on the bike), my tight groins, and my middle thoracic region. All of this body awareness is the result of going to yoga three times a week for several years and learning my anatomy from the inside – feeling my way through the musculature and joints, learning where I’d compensated for weakness instead of correcting bad form, and how I carried tension all over my body.
Just a side note – look at obese people sometime and evaluate how they hold themselves and how their body has adjusted to compensate for the extra mass. Men’s bellies pull their middle back forward, when the sit, their thighs rotate outward and the pelvis tilts to accommodate the rotated hip socket. The shoulders round forward, the neck is pushed forward away from the spine, crushing the throat. These are extremes, but they underscore how the body adjusts to the stress we put on it. Athletic training can do just as much damage by training in a single plane, or direction of movement. Triathlon, for example, propels forward in single-plan movement. There is no adduction or abduction of the legs (like making “angel shapes” in the snow). There’s almost no twisting outside of the freestyle swim, and yet the majority of our power comes from our hips and the strength of the abdominal trunk. This is why it is critical to do strength training outside of your multi-sport training. The risk is to be in the same stress and risk of injury as the obese, sedentary person.
Today we experimented with plyometrics: explosive bursts of exercise involving jumping, squatting, twisting, and more using weights and stretchy bands substituting for weights. It kicked my ass – and made me feel a little better for having missed my morning workout. I have amassed a motley collection of exercise equipment over the years, and now own the weirdest thing – a BOSU, which looks like a giant diaphragm. But doing squats, pushups, and sit-ups on the BOSU keeps everything more interesting. (Where interesting=hard, wobbly, shaky, and difficult.)
The trick is doing this twice a week. On top of six days a week of “regular” training.
Because there’s so much free time.