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wshaffer
Fitness Report 2: Bane of the Pickle Jar 
10th-Jan-2012 09:24 pm
running, shoes
So, I realized that I've been (not entirely consciously) holding off on doing another fitness report until a) I could get my body fat percentage measured again, and b) I could announce that my stupid bursitis was ALL GONE.

Well, a) was just a matter of waiting for the next convenient date when the folks with the tank were at my workplace. B) is a more vexed question. As far as I can tell, the actual inflammation of the bursa is long since healed, but I'm still prone to getting a slight ache in my left hamstring and/or tensor fascia lata if I overdo it. Determining what constitutes overdoing it is a process of trial and error, because I seldom feel pain while actually exercising. The overall trend is towards less pain and faster recovery when I do get pain, so I'm hopeful that some time in the not too distant future I can call this injury a thing of the past.


I changed things quite a bit after I was diagnosed with trochanteric bursitis in late August. I cut back my running, and then stopped running altogether for the month of October. I increased my strength training from 2 sessions a week to 3, and did my best to keep up my aerobic fitness with 2 sessions a week of rowing on the stationary rower, stationary bicycling, or using the elliptical trainer. I also threw in the odd session of yoga.

In November, I added some specific exercises targetting the gluteus medius to my routine, after reading this article, which suggested they might be helpful in fixing my hip pain. They certainly aren't doing any harm.

Also in November, I started running again. I started with one run a week, interspersing short running intervals with walking intervals. I've slowly ramped up to twice a week, as well as slowly increasing the length of the running intervals relative to the walking intervals. I'm generally covering about 2.5 miles in a run/walk session.

Near the end of November, I tried out indoor rock climbing, and have gone climbing 4 or 5 times since then.

Starting just a couple of weeks ago, I've been doing the workouts from The New Rules of Lifting for Women for the two strength training sessions a week that I do that are not with a personal trainer. I'm hoping that by following a more structured program, I'll be able to make faster progress in a couple of key areas. (Primarily, squat, deadlift, and push up.)



My goals
When I last did a fitness report, I listed the following goals:

  1. To maintain bone density and muscle mass as I age.

  2. To be able to run a 10 minute mile (and sustain that pace for multiple miles), to be able to run 10 kilometers/6.2 miles, and to achieve these goals without seriously injuring myself.

  3. To get stronger. In the long term, I'd like to be able to lift my own bodyweight in the squat, deadlift, and bench press, and to do unassisted pull ups. However, based on my current strength level, these are very long term goals. Short term, I'm looking forward to things like being able to do a non-trivial number of real pushups, and being able to lift enough in the squat that it actually makes sense to rack up the barbell in the squat cage rather than using dumbbells.

  4. To fix my creaky left knee.

  5. To look better.



These still seem like good goals to me. I'd be tempted to add a climbing goal, but I'm so new to that that I don't really have a good sense of what I want to achieve or what's feasible.


My progress
Maintain bone density and muscle mass: Interestingly, while my home scale has shown my weight to be quite stable over the past few months, today's body fat percentage measurement showed a gain of 4.75 pounds, of which 0.77 was lean mass and 3.98 fat. Which meant that my body fat percentage actually went up from 34.29% to 35.65%. Which is pretty much within the error of the measurement technique.

Still, I rather like that 0.77 pounds of lean mass. That's a decent-sized steak!

Running: Well, this one was a bit of a fail, thanks to my first real running injury in the form of trochanteric bursitis. I still think I can achieve this long term, but I do have to be careful about pushing myself too hard too soon. My current plan is to see if I can get myself back up to running 5K distances by this spring. And then, depending on how that goes, work on either increasing speed or increasing distance. But not both at once.

Getting stronger:
Squats: I still have trouble going to full depth, but I've made some progress. Progress is slower than I'd like because of my wonky knees and my general lack of flexibility. I'm currently using about 20-30 lbs. for weighted half-squats.

Deadlift: 50 lbs. Actually, I feel like I can probably do a bit more, but I'm being very cautious with the deadlift until I'm more certain of my form. Last thing I need to do is throw out my back.

Pushups: I can do about 8 consecutive real push ups.

Bench Press: 40 lbs.

Lat Pulldown: with an underhand grip, 75 lbs. Overhand grip, 60 lbs.

Pullups: My trainer has started me on assisted chin-ups. (Basically, we use a bar that is at chin height, and I squat down and then pull myself up, assisting the pulling motion by pushing with my legs as much as is necessary.)

Core exercises: 34 seconds is still my record for the plank. In general, I dread core exercises less than I once did, though.

That's real progress all around, although I feel like I'm making more straightforward progress on the upper body stuff.

My creaky knees: After a period of being almost entirely pain free, I've had a bit of resurgence of knee pain, roughly coinciding with when I cut back on my running. It's slightly different knee pain from my old knee pain - for one thing, the right knee is worse than the left, and for another, it's very much localized above the kneecap. My non-professional diagnosis is irritation of the quadriceps tendon where it inserts above the knee. Standard advice is to stretch/foam roll the quadriceps and IT band, and strengthen the gluteus muscles. (Standard advice for everything is to strengthen the gluteus muscles. Hip pain? Strengthen your butt. Knee pain? Strengthen your butt. Lower back pain? Strengthen your butt. I haven't seen it prescribed for migraines yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.) So, I'm trying that for now, and we'll see how it goes.

Looking better: I think the most striking difference in my appearance is still my posture. My added muscle mass is perceptible in a few places. My upper arms change shape when I move them; I'm rather liking the way I look in a racerback tank top these days. My waist is a bit smaller, despite the fact that my weight has more or less remained the same.

Other observations: I can open jars without using a jar opener most of the time. That's functional fitness for you!

After a long period of being unjustly (I felt) plagued by Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, it has declined to a manageable level: A new exercise or an unusually strenuous workout will sometimes leave me sore, but I no longer expect to wake up in pain after every workout. For a time, I thought that drinking whey protein before or after a workout helped quite a bit with DOMS, but recently the data have been a bit more mixed. My latest hypothesis is that there's a threshold effect for protein consumption - if my protein intake is low, adding whey seems to help with recovery, but if my protein intake is high, it doesn't make much additional difference.
Comments 
11th-Jan-2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
Wow. That is some nice progress.

I agree with you about form, and yay for being careful and working through injury and not around it!

I am also noticing the waist changing, even tho my weight is stable. (I actually gained weight over the last year, going up 10 pounds as I started exercising.)

Climbing goal - hmmm. Might be to choose a route and be able to do it on the first try. It is hard to choose a goal while you are getting started climbing, because there are so many New Things going on at once. Maybe in a month or two, you could make a goal of being able to on sight 5.7 climbs?

go you! you inspire me to keep at it.
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