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3 Steps Forward + 2 Steps Back

April 1, 2010 Family, Fitness, Food No Comments

My training has been going very well, if I do say so myself. I can go longer, harder, and with better form than I was able to go before. My times are faster. And certainly my fitness level for the end of March is leagues above what it has been in years’ past. I feel STRONG!

Until last week.

I hit a wall. It might be the wall of the “fitness plateau” so many people are familiar with, though I’m not totally convinced. My fear is that it is actually the wall of Hormone Hell. For those not familiar with this kind of phenomenon:

  • Getting out of bed seems like far too much work (unless the fire alarm is going off, which it is not).
  • Finally pull yourself out of bed to pee, realizing how hungry you are. You eat yogurt and granola and fruit and a piece of chocolate for breakfast.
  • An hour later, hungry again. You eat more chocolate.
  • Drag yourself to work out, only to find your average speed has dropped by 2 mph seemingly overnight and your legs have been replaced with heavy clubs.
  • After your shower, you put on street clothes, only to find they have shrunk. Back to the spandex!
  • While walking the dog, you are irritated to the point of near-strangulation every time he wants to sniff and pee his well-known favorite spots.
  • Thinking of what to fix for dinner, you settle upon something with melted cheese, carbs, and chocolate.
  • Husband comes home and you fret over why he didn’t ask a third follow-up question to how your day went. Is something wrong? Is he mad at me? I wonder what I did!
  • After either picking a fight or giving the silent treatment, you pour one more glass of wine and settle in front of the TV, waiting for the day to end. Tomorrow will be better!

No? You are not familiar with this? Hmm. Well, it doesn’t really matter what it is, I guess. It happens to the best of us (even men experience a shift in testosterone that throws things out of whack) and the best we can do is keep on keepin’ on. And that’s just what I did!

Greg planned a 50-mile bike ride in the East Bay for us to have a change of scenery. I was hoping for a nice, flat ride that would last approximately 3 hours. What I got was a ride with 5000+ feet of climbing and took nearly 4 hours, and it was the first real indication that things had shifted for me. I actually looked down at my bike several times, trying to see if something was dragging or my brake pads were rubbing. My legs felt like they should be propelling me at my usual speeds of 19-20 mph on a flat road. No, I was going 15 mph. Every hill felt like torture. In fact, if you look at this Elevation Chart, you can see a god-awful hill at about the halfway point. I wanted to die. What’s worse is that Greg wasn’t quite sure where we were going…so there was a good chance we were climbing for no reason. I was certain my eyes were shooting daggers at him, but it turned out just to be tears. I turned one switchback and saw such a steep grade ahead of me that I had to get off and WALK *gasp!*. I was only going 2.3 mph and could not figure how I was going to keep my pedals turning. I let a couple of tears fall and got back on to keep pedaling when the grade eased up a bit. Admittedly, the views from the top were spectacular, but I was not really in a good place to appreciate them. Near the end of the ride, Greg made another wrong turn and I rammed my chain ring into my leg trying to make a quick exit from my pedals. Not a fun day, my friends. Not a fun day. Perhaps you noticed the calorie burn for that ride on the Garmin page (3,761 cal)? Even this consolation only almost helps. It was that painful.

Sunday didn’t go much better. The prescribed workout was to run 100 minutes. I set out along the Bay Trail on that sunny afternoon. The first mile usually doesn’t feel great, but it improves from there. It didn’t this time. Nope. It didn’t ever improve. I was listening to my “happy juice” on my iPod and still struggling to find the groove. I knew I wouldn’t make it 100 minutes, so settled for 90. I walked for 2 minutes at the 7-mile mark to stretch out my right hip and try to get my form back. That worked wonders for me. Walking is a real mental no-no for me, but this time it really helped. I made it almost 10 miles in that 90 minutes and that was good enough.

The workouts the rest of this week have been reasonably light, which has been welcome. Things have still felt slow and heavy, but I am proud of myself for getting out there and doing it. My hope is that by pushing myself through the hard, tired, heavy times, I’ll emerge on the other side of this wall/plateau/hell and be stronger for it. I’ll gladly take two steps back to gain three steps when it counts.

Effort only releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.       — Napoleon Hill

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