Monday, December 5, 2016

How I rock the Off Season

Ahhh, the off season.
While some might view these words as profanity, I have grown to appreciate this quality time.

Of course, the weather has turned messy and we are still a treadmill free family, so perhaps this makes limiting my pavement pounding more pleasant.

UGH. Winter.
So yes, it did snow today. And yes... Our treadmill has gone back to Jesus. This is a sad story but as upsetting as it is, it happened at a relatively good time. I would be quite upset to have this kind of calamity befall us in the midst of marathon training. At this juncture, we have had time to mourn the loss and make plans... RIP.

RIP Treadmill... 4 Boston Marathons later....
I had a pretty solid month long "break" in June, which I never expounded upon. Since I am essentially in the same place now, I decided that the internet deserved details.

My rest season got off to an odd start. Hartford left me pretty tired. Getting "rest" post marathon is tough because of my active job so I felt a bit slow to recover fully. A non-running related ankle issue sidelined me just enough to allow myself the time to properly heal.

A side note, since I don't always share every detail! After any marathon I spend the next day or two making sure my muscles get some VERY light work, an easy spin, a nice walk to get blood flowing. And THEN: I take a full 10-14 days OFF. Then, I *might* throw in a few little runs. I rarely get back to much of any structured work until 3-4 weeks post marathon. 

After a couple Disney races in early November, that were slightly outside of my fitness comfort zone (but were meant to be for fun, and were!) I got back to the business of rebuilding.

Step one. Invest a little cash money in myself. I get a few Chiro/ART treatments to deal with any imbalances or muscle issues that may have developed. Done and done.

Step two: evaluate how I am feeling, and get ready to do some general strength work! (and no, this is not a four letter word in my life!) 

I know I'm not the only distance runner who feels like this. You finish a marathon training cycle, and once the taper, race and recovery are done, you certain that you the most out of shape human on the face of the earth.
Maybe the legs are still good for something. Maybe not. But, if you are anything like me you feel that you have zero core strength, weak puny little arms, hips that are one bad step away from needing a replacement and the flexibility of a block of concrete.

So, I embark upon The Great Rebuild.
Which I quite enjoy.

Since November 14th I have been plugging away, in an attempt to turn the abs of jelly into the abs of steel. (and the hips of near replacement into the hips of thunder. or something...?)

I imagine that if you follow me on Strava you are like "wow, Sara has totally quit running!" This isn't entirely true as I have been enjoying several pleasant runs per week. Just enough!

On my other days I have been riding away on my OWN bike trainer! I have had a bike for years but am a wimp about riding it on the road. There are many logging trucks around here and I have a major fear of getting flattened! Basement riding is a whole different story though. Safe. Cozy. And all kinds of fancy on Eric's trainer, until it became winter and he needed it again. Thank heavens for facebook bike groups where we can find inexpensive used trainers! I am so pleased at how this small addition to my collection of gear has improved my off season life.

My own bike on my own trainer
The moral of the story is, I am up on that thing a few days a week merrily sweating along.

I also do a lot (for me) of strength work. I make use of what I have here and try to do a balanced blend of core and legs. I don't do a ton of upper body work, I basically spend half my day shoveling and such. Anymore seems like overkill. (Well. I do lift plenty of 16 oz beers and 1/2 pound steaks to my face... but that's the only other lifting that I do.)

My kind of lifting ;-)
I think simple is key. I don't want to have to buy tons of equipment, or a gym membership. I tend to rely on tried and trusted exercises (squats, lunges, and the like) as well as the Oiselle Dozen. Basically, a combo of well known strength exercises put in order to kick your butt and buff up your running muscles. (or, any muscles..)
I also like this combo of exercises AKA the "standard core routine".

I have never been strong in the stretching and rolling department. During this time, even THAT gets to make an appearance! Again, just basic and functional crap. A little yoga, a few dynamic exercises, certainly nothing groundbreaking. Eric helped me with my hamstrings with some partner stretching which was glorious. ("oh "partner stretching"  is that what they call it these days...?... knock it off....)

When I am marathon training, I enjoy it. It is structured, and I thrive on that structure.
In the off season, I have FUN. If I wish to try something, I do. I toss all expectations, I never look at my watch, I am completely flexible (although, not flexible like a gymnast. at all.)
If working out starts to suck, what is the point? I like to enjoy the majority of my workouts, and after a long training cycle it's extra important to spend time having adventures.

I'm currently starting week 4 of rebuild, Winter Edition. And it is going well.
Boston training begins on January 1st (yay!!!) Hopefully by then I will be a bulletproof, terminator like mega athlete.
Or. More likely. A person who has a little more core strength and, possibly, flexibility.

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