photo by Steve Penland

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If You Don't Use Your Brain, Your Whole Body Suffers

If you don’t use your brain, your whole body suffers.

This is one of my brother-in-law’s favorite sayings, and today I am reminded of its truth: I didn’t use my brain, and now my whole body is suffering. Or at least part of my body. The part I sit on.

When I started the new skating season in April (after having the month of March off), I figured I’d be smart. I knew Coach TieGuy would have me jump right into the dryland workouts, and doing dryland when you haven’t done dryland since last fall is a painful proposition. So I decided I’d ease into the program by splitting the first workout and doing it over two days instead of one.

The problem is, when you haven’t done dryland in 6 months, 25 minutes of down time is just as bad as 50--the next day I was hobbling around wondering who was holding the blow torch to my butt. And the next day. And the next. Eventually, of course, the pain went away and I was able to complete the rest of April’s dryland workouts without a problem (other than the stares I incurred from little soccer players as I turnskated around the track in my new favorite dryland location, the local sports dome).

Then May came, and the Oval opened for inline skating. My workouts in May are usually part dryland and part skating, and then segue into pure inlining (on the Oval) for the rest of the summer and early fall, until the Oval closes to prepare for ice and I’m back to dryland again. I think most long track skaters do mostly biking and dryland and weights in the off season, but I like to skate—I’m lucky enough to have an Oval to skate on in the summer, and my technique can use all the time on skates it can get. Plus, I don’t like biking and I really don’t like weights—so I skate.

This May, though, the wheels started to come off (figuratively, not literally—I do know enough to tighten the axles once in a while) during the second workout. Slow, sluggish, hitting the wall at 300 meters into any effort of skate—in short, feeling just like I had before I was diagnosed hypothyroid and got on meds. I got my labs redone, and discovered my thyroid hormones were indeed low again, but medication adjustments take time and there were plenty of bad workouts to come. I fact, the bad workouts are still coming, and this led directly to my once-again-flaming glutes.

In the past, it was very easy to decide when to bag part of a workout. I just skated as hard as I could and if it started to look like falling over or puking might be imminent, TieGuy might tell me to cut the workout short. Now that I’m on my own, though, it’s trickier. At first, as sluggish lap followed sluggish lap, I was determined to do it all, no matter how badly I did it. When you’re really, really sucking, though-- when endurance laps that should average 46 or 47 seconds are hitting 57’s and 58’s, and when tempo laps that should be 41 are 51--it gets harder and harder to stay mentally tough. And, since the dryland is the stuff I dislike the most, the dryland was the first stuff to get abandoned when I couldn’t take it any more in a workout. Add that to a couple of weekends at the cabin when I shirked my dryland duties, and I hadn’t done any down time for about three weeks. (The photo above is of the best possible dryland situation: on the deck at the cabin, overlooking Lake Superior. This photo, of course, is from last year, when I still actually did dryland at the cabin…)

Then I called TieGuy last weekend for the weekly whinefest update. He wanted me to cut back a bit on workouts, since things are still not going well. He did, however, want me to be sure to do the dryland.

So yesterday I did my 3minutes of 5 different exercises (Dryskate, Turnskate, Squat, Karlstads, and Dryskate Squats, for those of you who want to get specific) as well as 1 minute of 4-square in each of 4 different directions, and the skating part of the workout. Turns out, 15 minutes of downtime when you haven’t done any in 3 weeks is just as bad as 25 minutes when you haven’t done any since fall, and the blowtorch has been re-applied.

So it’s true. If you don’t use your brain, your whole body suffers. Or at least part of it.

Next time, I’ll think twice before I skip the dryland.

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