I woke up this morning with a very sore backside, likely the result of yesterday’s hilly run.
For the past few months, my marathon shuffle prevented my Gluteus Maximus from firing properly, resulting in some imbalances and left buttock issues that hindered my speed work during most of the training cycle.
This morning I set to work stretching all of those muscles out with a 30-minute yoga session.
For the past two weeks I have been faithful to finding my strength and stretch on a daily basis, two things I let fall by the wayside since I cancelled my gym membership this past summer. (Sadly I do not have a yoga instructor in my house who will straighten my arm out while I am in triangle pose.)
All of this strength and stretching began with the successful completion of a Jillian Anderson workout (I know her last name is Michaels, but I still always call her Jillian Anderson) a few days post-Long Beach. (I tried doing this workout last spring in a planned period of strength and speed, and I wasn’t able to run for days afterward.)
This time around, however, I was able to run the next day, albeit very slowly. Over the past few weeks I have nudged awake many muscles that were happy to sit in the backseat during my marathon training. Like the Gluteus Maximus.
You can see why I was thrilled to wake up sore this morning. It means that my strength work is paying off. Specifically it means that I am able to pick up my knees again and use my GM muscles, muscles I am sure have been mush for months now.
In addition, I am paying attention to my upper body as well. I still do not know why I got such severe cramps in my last marathon, but I know that keeping my upper body erect during the episode was miserable, and I felt very weak as a result.
To help my strengthen these muscles again, Oldest has taught me how to use his bench press.
Though I am only able to lift a little bit of weight so far, already I can do three sets of ten, whereas the first day I tried, I could only manage five repetitions.
I have scaled back my mileage to allot more time for yoga, Jillian and pumping iron, though I know a lot of people who squeeze in two workouts per day to accommodate this kind of training. For now, though, waking up hibernating muscles makes me too tired to workout twice in one day. Also, I hate doing laundry.
Some weeks, especially this one when the weather forecast is ideal for running, will be different. I will want to get outside and I’ll roll my eyes at Jillian and all of her biceps as I close my front door behind me.
But, for me, this is the first time I feel like I have truly committed to improving my strength, and I know it will become more and more important as I age. (I have talked a lot about strength in the past, but I was never able to commit to it long-term. I hope to change that this time, which is why I didn’t want to discuss it until I proved to myself that I could stick to it for a few weeks first.)
And that’s not all. I plan to put these muscles to good use until I start training for Boston full-on in the New Year.
In fact, if all goes well with my schedule, I plan to run a 5K this Sunday.
The 5K makes me extremely nervous because it is so much harder for me than the longer distances.
But it is time to face my fears and rebuild my speed from the ground up.
Ideally, starting with the 5K, I hope to move into the 10K and then run a few half marys before February rolls around, improving my leg turnover as I go.
After I read the Power of Habit, I thought a lot about running and what makes some people stick to their routines while others do not.
Hitting rock bottom in the Long Beach Marathon forced me to face with the fact that I need to make some big changes if I want to continue this silly running hobby.
And so far, committing to ten to thirty minutes per day of squatting, lunging and lifting has already made a significant difference.
(At least if you measure success by the soreness or your backside.)