Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Searching for the Sweet Spot

Growing old is a process. One is aware of the changes as years pass and yet -- at least for the stubborn ones like me -- it's not always easy to accept that while our minds may still be youthful, our bodies are aging. Even healthy bodies age. No arguments about that. It's my belief that to a large extent we control how well our bodies age -- by making choices such as exercise over lethargy, nutrition over fast food, smoking or not, and so forth. But that doesn't stop the process, which all the while continues in the background regardless of how well we feel, how healthy we are.

So, where's she going with all this? I'm going to being at a place where my body is reminding me of its true age. Not in any awful way -- I've not developed any illnesses. But, I have been pushing my body with exercise and have found that I'm just going to have to slow it down a bit. The question is, how much?

For example. For weeks now there's been a bit of a muscle or tendon pull in my right shoulder, in the back.  Clearly exacerbated by all the upper body exercise with 12-pound dumbbells. So, I decided to channel Greg and listen to what he would have told me, which is to take a week off and let it rest.

Greg would no doubt not have told me to do what I opted to do instead -- which is increase the intensity of my cycle machine workout from 3 days per week to 6 days per week! I've had the machine for less than a month, and while I've tried (really, I have) to take it slow, let the body get used to the new muscle use slowly, I still haven't done it slowly enough. Apparently.

This week, I also opted to begin doing two 30-minute sessions per day, rather than one 45-minute session, because my heart rate, erratic as it is, doesn't yet return to a good number quickly, so it runs high past the 45-minute cut-off for cortisol control even though I slow down the intensity of the workout for 10-15 minutes ahead of time. This way, I get a good workout on the bike, do some abs afterward, and get in almost 45 minutes while letting my heart return to normal. That seems to work. Good news and bad news: my abs have really strengthened over the couple of months I've been doing this, and I can do far, far more that in the beginning so I push it -- abs fine, back not damaged, but achy.

What's different is that doing it every day, with increased intensity, wasn't a very wise move! Again, I haven't damaged anything, merely produced lots of aches and pains in places where I wouldn't expect them, as well in places where I would expect them.  Yesterday, one day into the new regime, my right knee was acting up enough that I didn't do the second 30-minute session. Again, listen to the body, let it rest. That knee has had it's share of problems over my lifetime, and I'm not sure exactly when it started. All those miles of pushing a heavily-laden bike up and over Rocky Mountain passes probably didn't help. But I've also taken a few nasty falls while hiking, with that knee invariably taking the brunt each time. So it's cumulative.

So, this morning I tried to find a magic gear and speed that would keep the heart rate in the right place and keep less stress on that knee. We'll see if that works. Feels OK at the moment. The logical thing to do would be to take a day of rest, go back to doing this every other day, but there is no way I am going to take a week off from no exercise at all! Nor do I want to release my commitment to workout 6 days per week. That's where the stubborn part comes in.

I'm really not going anywhere else with this. No more philosophy. It's what's on my mind, and as you know, whatever's really on my mind generally hits these pages -- the release of writing is a beautiful thing. Even if the writing is not.

No comments:

Post a Comment