Monday, February 13, 2012

Carrying the Weight

Check out those quads.
First came the quick machine gun jangle of my dog’s collar. She huffed and shook her way excitedly to the front door. Then I heard the faint sounds of a woman bellowing opera in German. I half opened my eyes, only half recognizing just what in the hell was going on. The front door opened. More collar jangling. My wife’s voice. “Where’s dad? Is dad home?” Then the tumbling of paw steps up the stairs and a wet nose in my face. My wife followed along with her laughter.

“Are you ok?” she asked. “What are you doing?”
“Um,” I blearily said, rubbing my eyes with the back of one hand. The wind pressed against the windows outside and I hunkered down a little further under the covers. “I needed a nap.”
“What are you listening too?”
“It’s German opera,” I said without missing a beat but perhaps wisely missing the “duh.”
“Did you run your 14?”
“Did you go to the gym afterward?”
“No wonder you needed a nap.”

Ah, the nap. I don't think I've taken a nap since sophomore year in college. But after Saturday, I may have to reconsider. After that initial grogginess wore off -- the one where you feel slightly nauseous and out of sorts because, well, you just slept in the middle of the day -- after that, I felt spectacular.

A few years back, I remember sitting on the table at the ortho’s office as he pulled, twisted, and contorted my leg to figure out just what was wrong with that knee of mine.

“What do you do for strength training?” he asked.
I gave an arrogant sniff. “I run hill repeats and about 50 miles a week.”
“Uh huh,” he said, just as dismissively. “You should really get into the gym and lift some weights.”

Then I heard the same from my uncle. And so (many) months later, I found being injured (again) the perfect time to get into the weight room and do something about it. I recruited my friend who has a personal trainer certification to put a program together for me. I have an upper body day (Wednesday mornings) and a lower body day (whenever I can fit it in).

While those upper body days make an afternoon run a tad sluggish, I’ve been trying to find the ideal time to get that lower body day in. I knew I didn’t want to do it on a Friday before my long run. Nor did I want to do it Tuesday night after an interval workout or Monday the day before said interval workout. So, I’ve been doing it early Saturday afternoon following my long run and breakfast club meal, subscribing to the idea that you keep the hard days hard and the easy days easy. That gives me roughly 52 hours until my next run.

After getting up early to run last week and again on Saturday, “it,” as they say, caught up to me. I walked into the house after breakfast, cold-faced, wide-eyed, and slack-jawed. I went upstairs, eyed the bed, and turned away so I could quickly get out of my running clothes and into some gym clothes without being seduced into that perfect homeostasis where the air is cold but it's warm under the covers.

The gym was eerily quiet, made more so by the softly falling snow outside. I shivered watching the flakes fall onto the covered pool outside before lugging some dumbbells off the rack. I methodically went through each exercise, knowing that with each set crossed off, I was closer to that nap.

My lower body workout looks like this:

- 4x10 dumbbell squats
- 4x12 calf raises
- 4x8 deadlifts
- 4x10 kettlebell swings
- 3x10 single leg squats with weight
- 3x10 twisting lunges with a medicine ball

It takes about 45 minutes and not only chisels your legs but gives you the best night sleep of your life week in and week out.

The snow swirled around my car on the way home and the wind pushed my car from side to side. Luckily, my gym is in my neighborhood, so it’s a short drive (.8mi to be exact). In other words, it was the perfect day to pull on some compression socks, flannel pj pants, and a hooded sweatshirt and climb (gingerly) into bed, and close my eyes. And of course, a little German Opera to carry you into dreamland.

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