Despite its challenges, nothing could have been better for my personal fitness than this pandemic.
Working from home saves me about 90 minutes of commuting. By the time I add that to my usual workout allotment, I can put in over 2 hours of gym time most days ~ especially while winter keeps her thumb on my riding opportunies.
Since our new treadmill arrived in early December, I've found myself on an unusually cardio-heavy binge. Don't get me wrong: I still believe that strength training is queen, especially as we age. Nevertheless, I have really been digging the cardio.
The great thing about having extra time is that I've allowed my usually-overzealous mind to settle into a very gradual building phase, particularly in the running department. I've been a casual runner since undergrad: did a half-marathon once, incorporated hill sprints for HIIT, enjoyed some trail runs.
Over the last year, though, I've battled foot pain courtesy of bunions, flat feet, and (my podiatrist informed me in a frustrated tone) longish toes. Seriously? Yeah. Apparently, my toes are long enough to place extra burden on my already-taxed forefeet. Awesome.
Anyway, orthotics are helping. I've spent the past two months reintroducing running to my repertoire...veeeeeery gradually. By "gradually, I mean that I started with one-minute jog, one-minute walk intervals and took 8 whole weeks working up to 40 minutes at a 12-minute mile pace.
Not fast. Not impressive. But right where I needed to be.
As I walked and jogged, day after day, Tommy talked about systems and structures. Our systems are things like respiration and circulation; our structures are our muscles, tendons, and bones. Both need to be brought along slowly enough that we don't injure our weaker bits because the rest of our components feel strong.
You know what? It feels fantastic. I love the exhilaration of stepping with confidence onto a foundation that was built slowly enough to be solid. Feeling my lungs and muscles burn with effort, not with pain. Layering capacity on those systems, those structures, one tough workout at a time.
Of course, I never complete a single run ~ nope, not a single one ~ without the horses on my mind. Their turn is coming. Spring lies just beneath the four inches of snow that fell last night. I can feel it.
I've been spending time with my new mare lately, touching up her feet and lunging her a bit in the round corral. She has the foamy sweat of a seasonal pasture potato, but the energy of a spring wind. It would be so easy to climb astride and ride too fast, too far, too soon.
I'm grateful to have the benefits of long, slow distance freshly drilled into my brain. In the coming weeks, all the hard workouts will be for me. My mare will get the easy ones, week by week, until what once seemed hard is nothing at all, and what once seemed impossible is only a stretch away.
Thanks for dropping by! I'm an endurance rider in the northwest region of the United States. This blog is about the practicalities of distance riding and the practice of being my best self for my horse. I hope you'll come along for the ride.
The Sweaty Equestrian