Progress Photos

Discovering Quads

I’m over a month into my hip injury… and I still have quads?!

Unflexed vs flexed!
Unflexed vs flexed!

(Kindly excuse the crappy phone photo. And the hilarious pose that’s necessary to photograph them.)

I didn’t even know I had much quad at all until I casually investigated yesterday and witnessed the above. It was like finding an entirely new body part. I was so mystified–especially because the only difference between these two photos is flexing! And I couldn’t even fully unflex in the unflexed photo because my quads just were not having it.

But anyways, thanks to my hip injury (see the fun details in my last post), I was afraid that having to forego leg day would mean no more legs. Well, leg muscle, that is. I just recently acquired all of it, so I’ve been afraid that my body will revert to it’s natural, gelatinous form.

7-03-14 038
Exhibit A from just one year ago. (Also, featuring the lovely, non-gelatinous G of P&P holding the flag)

Gotta love having legs that flatten out like pancakes. Seriously, my former body type is best described as “gelatinous.”

And now, I’d say “jello with a surprising amount of muscle underneath.” I’m getting there one step at a time, regardless of how much my hip wants to sabotage me. 😛

Check ins

Hip injuries: The killer of leg day (and dreams)

At the beginning of April, I got too ambitious. Something about my spring break filled me with renewed motivation and a desire to not only be a lifter, but… a runner!

I’ve been doing some occasional HIIT on the treadmill for months, but decided that in April, I wanted to get some endurance. So I started C25K, wrote an enthusiastic blog post about it, and was having a grand old time. I was lifting 2-3x a week and running 2-3x a week, and loving every minute of it.

That is, until my hip decided that it was having none of it.

Ironically, the day I got injured is the day I wrote that post about: the first day I’ve tried running outside since December. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I suppose running downhill for awhile messed me up in a way that didn’t present until the next day. I was still in pain but tried running again 2 days later, this time on a treadmill, thinking I just had a tight muscle and it would go away.

Nope! Massively intensified pain.

Since then, I’ve been limping pretty badly, and haven’t been able to run at all. It’s hard to get dressed in the morning or even stand up. But apparently I’m stubborn, because I’ve still been walking ~5 miles a day (although still lower than my usual 6-7), and doing my lifting: including squats and romanian deadlifts and whatnot. I finally went to the doctor after 3 weeks, upon realizing it hadn’t improved in the least bit. She didn’t say anything conclusive at all except that I need to wear my running shoes everywhere instead of my usual converse, stop doing leg work (goodbye, squats and deadlifts), and see a physical therapist.

It’s a good thing my running shoes are neutral colored and match with everything. (Not.)

I had my physical therapy appointment last Thursday, and he seemed a bit mystified by my injury. He wasn’t sure what it was either, but his best guess was some kind of hip flexor strain… even though those usually clear up in 1-3 weeks. (?!) I can’t see him again any time soon because I’m leaving town, but he said that he’d like to see me in the fall if it’s still bothering me. If it’s still bothering me in 3 months I’ll probably have a meltdown.

The best/most hilarious part is that I learned that I’ve been standing and walking wrong all these years. Apparently my core and glute muscles HATE activating so I walk and stand in the laziest way possible, putting all my strain on my hip flexors. I’m quite sure this is from years of having literally no muscle beyond what was absolutely necessary to survive. My body is apparently incredibly adept at avoiding using or building muscle whenever possible 😛

So it’s been exactly a month, and now every lifting day is arm day. I’ve been doing the core work that he assigned me and standing/walking with better posture, but things haven’t improved since physical therapy. I’ve had to give up my goal of being able to run a mile without stopping by summer. (Since my summer starts in a few days…)

And boy do I miss leg day. 😦 But I’m holding out hope that I’ll be better soon!

Food & Exercise Diaries

Learning to run: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Hope you all had a great weekend!

I thought I’d share the newest addition to my exercise regimen: endurance-based running. I’ve always wanted to be a runner, but assumed I just didn’t have what it takes. I recently realized that that attitude is completely silly, though: the only difference between me and “real runners” is years of hard work and discipline.

About 6 months ago, I traded in my elliptical habit for HIIT (high intensity interval training) running–taking the plunge despite my messed up ligaments and strangely creaky/crackly joints–but hadn’t made too much progress. With HIIT, you alternate short bursts of high speed with rest, such as walking 3.5mph. I loved how running felt, but sprinting for 30 seconds at a time wasn’t doing anything for my endurance. I realized my ultimate running goal is to be able to go on long outdoor runs, especially along trails. And for that, I really need that endurance!

So 2 weeks ago, I started (my own modified version of) “Couch to 5k,” which is a running program that pretty much takes my HIIT routine and slows it down, gradually increasing the running interval length until you’re running a 5k without breaks. It feels weird going from 9mph to 5mph, but I now know that this is what it takes: slow and steady will win the race someday.

The reason it’s modified is because I started it a little bit harder, but am going to progress more slowly. It’s 3 days a week, but I’m also lifting 3 days a week–my body isn’t recovering as quickly as I’d like yet for constantly progressing 6x/week workouts!

Once I’m able to run for longer without stopping, I’ll gradually increase the speed. And then maybe I’ll feel like a runner at last! 🙂

Outdoorview
There’s nature out there?!

A few days ago, I ran outside for the first time in ages, this time at my slowed down speed. It was embarrassing, especially running by fraternities and sororities having barbecues, but I got over it. I saw sights I’d never seen before: I ran to a trail head and back, with the goal of someday being able to run along the trail itself!

I'm pretty much a turtle right now. (the pace is averaged between the walking and running)
I’m pretty much a turtle right now. (the pace is averaged between the walking and running)
Postrun
Blurry post-run selfie… because I was happy, trembly, and the light was dying. 😛

Thanks for reading!