Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Off-season training

It's been a while, yet again. With so much going on this month, I haven't had much down time, let alone time to train. I've just done the bare minimum running the past two weeks while celebrating Christmas with my family and fighting a nasty sinus infection.

My most significant workout this month was a couple weeks ago when I met my friend, Stephanie, at the gym. She agreed to show me some plyometric exercises she does in preparation for her fitness competitions. (Before going on, let me give you some give you some background info.)

I met Stephanie through Runner's Edge about 10 years ago. We ran our first marathon together and trained together for several others after that. A few years ago, she suffered a knee injury that kept her from running long distance. Eventually, she got better and was able to run a little. But, wanting to push her body more, she decided to enter her first fitness competition last year. Since then, she has become one hard little body and has started her own personal training. Check her out on her new website - http://www.figuresorority.com/

So, back to Thursday. We met at the gym early in the morning. When I first got there, I warmed up by jogging on the treadmill for 10 minutes. Then, we got down to business. She decided to mix up some weights with the plyo drills. She started me off with 10 lb. dumbells (20 lbs. total). Let me just say that I never do more than 5 lb. dumbells on my own at home, so this was a stretch for me. Not wanting to give up before I even started, I agreed to the 10 lb. weights. Now, bear with me, I don't know the name for all these exercises, so I'll do my best to explain. We started with raising the dumbells from a squat to the chest, then raising them overhead. I repeated this set 12 times. Next, we moved onto a plyo drill. This was the pattern for the rest of the workout - weights/plyo/weights/plyo.... Weights consisted of bicep curls, tricep body pushups, straight arm lifts (not sure if this is what you call them). Plyos consisted of various jumping exercises - jumping on the weight bench, jumping over the bench, hop skips, and squat jumps. They didn't take long. The goal was to do three sets of these eight exercises. I did 12 reps of the weights alternating with 10 reps of the plyo. Somewhere in the second set, I started feeling light headed. I tried pushing through, but I had to start taking longer breaks in between exercises. Even with the rest and drinking lots of water, the light headedness didn't go away. By the end of the third set, I couldn't finish the final plyo. My heart was racing, the gym was spinning, and I was feeling all out of sorts. I felt the blood rushing from my head and hands and was starting to see stars. Fearing I was going to faint and embarrass myself and my friend in front of all these huge muscle men around us, I sat down and tried to get myself together. We tried heading over to the mats and ab machines on the other side of the gym, but I could only make it halfway across before I felt dizzy again. I sat down a few more minutes and drank some more water. We eventually made it to the mats, but I still couldn't stand. Stephanie showed me how to use one ab machine, then I had to lie back down on the mat. We finally came to the conclusion that I probably needed to eat something since the water alone wasn't helping. Stephanie ran and got me a quick sugary snack. Soon after devouring it, I felt more like myself. My color came back and the world stopped spinning.

I learned a valuable lesson that day - I may be able to run decently, but my other muscles are still weak. I have a long way to go if I want to get in really great shape overall! Stephanie is amazingly strong and fit. I am impressed with her ability to do the workout she showed me with such ease. I should mention she was using heavier weights and continued her workout for another hour after I left. She is one dedicated woman!!

I was curious to learn about these plyo exercises as I've heard they are really good in helping you run faster and preventing injuries. I will definitely use what I learned, but will have to do better at hydrating and eating before I do these exercises AND listening to my body during the workout to adjust if needed. I won't push through like I did before!

Funny how this is supposed to be my "off-season," yet I keep finding ways to push my body to it's limits. I think it must be a way for me to keep preparing myself mentally for the hard marathon training I'll be facing in 2010. I think in a previous post I mentioned that my winter training offically began. Maybe I was a little too intense about that and I should stay focused on just staying healthy and watching my limits. Soon enough, I'll be setting my New Year's resolutions and will be getting serious about my marathon training. Until then, I'll enjoy these final days with family and friends and eating a few more yummy treats as I'm winding down 2009.

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