Over the course of the past week there have been two instances that really highlighted some new things I need to focus on while getting back in race-shape. Allow me to share these with you.
First, K. and I went to COSI to see this very awesome Sherlock exhibit. Since we still had a few hours before the museum closed, we spent that time actually participating in some of the interactive permanent exhibits. One of the areas, Life, has you do a series of tests to give you a sense of your overall health (seeing as these tests never included entering a lot of pertinent information, I would certainly not consider this a professional diagnosis, but I digress). We participated in four different activities to test strength, flexibility, resting heart rate and active heart rate. Other than my slightly higher than usual resting heart rate (while at my marathon training peak I had my HR under 50 and felt good about it. Obviously I’m not running enough these days. Thanks for the reminder, COSI) I felt pleased with my overall health minus one glaring failure: flexibility. This was absolutely no surprise, I’ve always struggled with flexibility thanks to my crazy tight hamstrings but the results of my test were honestly embarrassing. For this highly advanced test, you sit on a bench with your feet against a wall. While keeping your legs straight you push a bar and it measures the distance that you were able to push. The female average for my age group was something crazy, like 14.5. My results? 1.6
This is how I felt after seeing that. (image stolen from the internet)
On Monday, we were treated to a 10-minute chair massage at work. I was very much looking forward to this as my shoulders/back have been feeling extra tight lately. Now I’ve always known that my back is not in a great state- lots of knots back there. Admittedly I have pretty poor posture and the hours that I spend slumped over my computer at work each day certainly don’t help. I went into this chair massage thinking I would walk out full of relief (10-minutes should be enough, right?). Not for me, apparently. This woman didn’t even attempt to hide the shock she felt when she started working on my neck.
Her: “Is it always this bad?”
Me: “I never really considered my neck to be a trouble spot, actually. My shoulders and back are full of knots though. I’m kind of a high-stress individual that carries it all there.”
(begins to move her hands to my shoulders) “Oh my. Well, let’s just focus on this unhealthy knot in your neck and then we can talk about what to do about the rest.”
This poor woman spent more than the allotted 10 minutes on this one small area and informed me of all the options available to me through work. She encouraged me to call and schedule an appointment with a stress specialist (oh the things that exist in our world!) to work on breathing techniques and relaxation. She also reminded me, multiple times, that I can get regular massages covered by my insurance when my back is in this state.
These two incidents, happening in less than a week, really reminded me that I need to focus even more on the overall state of my body. Sure, I eat relatively clean and I love a good cardio workout, but my body needs more than that. I’ve flirted with yoga but I’ve never committed to a studio (yes, for financial reasons but even more so because I’m so embarrassed by my inflexibility) but I think it might be time to take the plunge. I’ve found a few groupon/yelp/living social deals at some reputable studios around town and I’m just kind of weighing my options at this point. My hope is that my joining a studio and practicing more regularly I’ll be able to get more actual assistance from the teacher and not just struggle through the parts that require me to touch my toes (because spoiler alert: I can’t). Are any of you yogis? Yay or Nay on joining a studio?
As I dive back into a full on training plan and begin to daydream about the races I want to run this spring/summer/fall I want to commit to doing better things for my body. Working on stretching is obviously key, but focusing on stress management and my mental health is equally as important. It’s easy for me to run, generally (just don’t look at my Garmin data from that past few weeks) but it’s all the other stuff that starts to fall away. Now is as good a time as ever to start making these changes, right?