First things first, I can't talk about being active without sharing the good news from my appointment with my rhuem last week! She gave me the OK to train for a half marathon with the caveat that I have to stop training if I have any joint flare ups. I have my sights set on a trail half in Berkeley in the fall so that is what I will start training for. It's a ways off but I will start to increase my long runs so that I will be more than ready when race day comes! I might do a road half before or after that trail half but I need some clarity on where I'll be living this summer/fall before making that decision.
Back in my pre-RA days, I was pretty active. Actually I'd say I was really active but if you added up the time I spent exercising, running would have accounted for the majority of the time. I ran with my running club 3 days a week and did one recovery run on my own which meant I had 2 tough workouts that focused on things like speed work, hills, tempo runs, etc, a recovery run that was basically what I would refer to as 'junk miles' and then a long run that was ran at a conversational pace. I tried to work in some cross training during marathon training but if I am totally honest, I sort of schlepped my way through cross training activities and would do things like bike for 30 minutes at a steady pace.
Part of the reason my cross training fell under the 'meh' category is because I did not have a gym membership. My condo in Minneapolis had such a nice gym, I just couldn't justify the expense. I also have a gym at my apartment building here in Charlotte but it's not nearly as nice as my Minneapolis one and has way less equipment. So when I got out of the boot for good last fall, I decided to join a gym, which has turned out to be the best decision.
These days, as much as I'd like to be running even more miles than I am, the reality of the situation is that it's just not wise to do so. My joints are still recovering and I have to be careful about how much time I spend running as running is high impact which means it's hard on my joints. So I have been forced to find other cross training activities to fill my calendar.
But it turns out that being forced to try other things has ended up being the best thing for me and I feel more fulfilled by my exercise routine than I have in years. Sure it helps that I am able to run 3 times a week, but I'm no longer slogging through the cross training activities that I do on the other days - I'm actually really enjoying them (for the most part). So how am I keeping myself busy?
1. Strength training. This was something that was sorely lacking in my workout schedule in the past but now that I have a gym membership, I have been taking strength training class, my favorite of which is Body Pump. Rome wasn't built in a day so it's definitely going to take awhile before I start to really notice a difference in muscle tone, but I can tell I am getting stronger and overall I feel more lean.
2. Spinning. OK, I am not even going to pretend that I like spin. I don't. And I know that some people would tell me that if I don't enjoy it, I shouldn't do it, but it's a good way for me to get a 4th day of cardio. I burn a lot of calories, sweat my face off, and am always glad I took the class after the fact. But during the class when the instructor is telling me to accelerate when I'm in gear 18? I want to punch her. And quit. Or both. But spinning does push me out of my comfort zone which is why I keep going back.
3. Deep Stretching. I snagged a deal on 5 classes for $29 at a local yoga studio and have been taking a deep stretch class there. I wish I could take a traditional yoga class but my upper body joints just can't handle things like downward facing dog, or the transition from DFD to high plank down to low plank to blah blah blah. The yogis out there know what I mean. But deep stretch has been great and I have been trying to go once a week.
On any given week, I usually run 3 days, try to take a spin class (this doesn't always happen), take 2 body pump or total strength classes, and go to a deep stretch class. I usually take one full rest day so workout about 6 days a week on average which works well for me. One of Nilsa's goals for April is to get in 30 workouts in 30 days and I am going to try to do the same. That will mean doubling up 1-2 days a week to account for rest days or days when it's just not possible to fit in a workout (which will be the case a couple of days this month due to a crazy work travel schedule). The challenge is also making me think about how to fit workouts into days that I usually would have written off as a rest day in the past due to work travel.
In closing, I'll say that I really can't explain how great it is to be back to running and able to do other things like strength training. I feel like I'm constantly gushing about it to Amber because I vented to her about not being able to active for so long - I bet she likes the gushing better than venting. ;) Being so limited for so long was very very hard on me, especially those 4 months I spent in a boot when I wasn't able to do anything. Life is super stressy lately, but all these work outs are helping me stay sane!
What do you do to stay active? Is there a lot of variety to your fitness routine or do you tend to gravitate towards one activity? Are there activities you aren't currently doing that you'd like to try? I would like to fit in some swimming and try a zumba or other dance-style class as they sound so fun.