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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Pumping Iron and Running Trail

Each day that passes brings me closer to a full recovery of these herniated discs.  I very seldom feel any pain from my spine these days. I only feel nerve pain going down my arm into my fingers a few times a day, usually while driving.  I no longer have a numb hand.  Thank goodness!

Two weeks ago schools were closed for MEA.  Being the goal setter that I have become these past 10 years, I decided I wanted to run 4 consecutive days. I was off Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Why not try to run each day, right?  Thursday and Friday went great. I ran 5 miles each day with Topaz at Lake Maria State Park and it was fabulous. Saturday came along and after about a mile I began to have quite a bit of tingling and numbness. I stopped running immediately and began walking, the nerve pain went away. Thankfully.  I was fine the remainder of the day, no additional pain.  Sunday came along and I was able to run another 5 miles, no problem.  I'll take it!  If I am able to run two days in a row without pain and need to take a day off before I run again, I am fine with that. I truly am thankful just to be out in the woods, able to run whenever I can, and will walk when I must.

I began going back to Gold's two weeks ago as well.  It was a big moment for me. I recalled vividly the last time I was there. Troy warned me not to go and lift. He could see that I was in pain, but I told him "I'm only going to lift legs" ... famous last words. That was 3 months ago and I hadn't been back in the gym since. I was in so much pain.

I started by working full body-light weight, high reps. I had minimal nerve pain, it really wasn't too bad. It was there though and let me know when to stop. I found that I could use the elliptical machine without much pain but oh how boring is that?  Staring at myself in the mirror while on that machine drove me insane. No thanks.

The next visit to the gym was a repeat, full body, light high reps. Minimal nerve pain. I was just happy to be back, but at the same time, I was upset at my level of fitness, it had really declined.

Last week was better. I broke my lifting into 2 body parts and began with bi/tri.  My right arm is as strong as it was, but oh boy, my left arm has a case of  muscle atrophy. I don't know how the muscle and nerve is all connected but it has certainly done a number on my strength. It can't ONLY be because I didn't use my left arm for a while, it's not like I had it in a sling for 12 weeks but boy, by the loss of strength, one would think it had been casted for 12 weeks.

Bi's went OK, I can DB curl 30-35 lbs with my right arm, then for left...10 pounds!  10 and it was shaking like a frickin' leaf.  I was on one hand, devastated by my loss of strength, but on the other hand, happy that I was able to at least be in the gym, working toward a higher level of fitness. It felt good to be back.

Tri's were something else. Right arm, no problem, no loss of strength, I maintained it. So glad I continued to eat all of the protein and take the BCAAs :) Left arm, sad.  Skull crushers:  lay back on bench, right hand, 20 pounds, I grabbed a 10 for my left. Big mistake. As I began the motion toward my head, bending my elbow, the weight totally took over my strength, pulling my arm past my ear, my hand dropped the dumb bell and hit my face, crashing to the floor. Thankfully it only nicked the side of my face, along my hairline. I couldn't believe it. I sat up, looked at myself in the mirror (the whole wall is a mirror and I was facing it) and just watched the tears roll down my face. I felt SO sad, angry and weak. I felt like a failure for some time, then collected myself and walked to the rack, taking a 5 pounder. I was just glad it wasn't a pink dumbbell. I was able to complete the movement with the 5 pounder.  As I was working my tricep I felt it cramp, like a charlie horse. I had to massage it out. I completed a few other tri exercises, mostly went through the motions with light weights and reminded myself about the last time I lifted and how much pain I was in. I reminded myself that I was no longer in pain, I was here at Gold's, working my muscles, I was taking the first steps to becoming strong. I checked my tears, my sadness and began to smile. It really was good to be back!

Since then I've noticed that my muscle memory is coming back. My shoulders and arms are beginning to look strong, to be strong. My pushups are better, I don't have to have all of my weight on the right side. My workout today was chest and although I struggle with the left arm strength I know it will come back. If this was easy I wouldn't want any part of it.

After a good hard chest workout I came home to pick up Topaz. We headed out to Lake Maria for a run. What a beautiful afternoon!  Wind blowing around the autumn leaves, a high of 60 degrees, just fabulous!  We ran 7 miles without a twinge of pain. Tomorrow I'll try it again.

So yeah, pumping iron and running trails..less than before, more than last month. I'm truly grateful to be able to lift and run again.  Man, how I have missed both. I'm looking forward to beginning a Crossfit class next.