Oops! Time got away from me. I neglected to post my Week 5 wrap, so I'll drop it in below with Week 6.
I may not have been writing about it, but I've certainly been doing the work. Here's what's up:
Horse Days Are Back
I feel like she needs some quieter, less challenging attention to ease some underlying anxiety. I've backed off from the usual CA Method progression to really listen to her and give her time to think. I started with simple grooming and have added daily bits of things she already knows: a little bending here, some hoof handling there, some yielding of hindquarters or run-up-and-rub, but nothing too intense or for very long. She seems to respond best when asked quietly, then left alone, rather than being drilled. Interestingly, this is consistent with what a few students of Arabian bloodlines predicted. It also fits nicely with my current lack of facilities, giving us productive, relationship-building time while the ground dries out.
My Running Goal is Set Too Low
...the one about running a 10k at a 9.5 minute mile pace, that is.
Why do I think it's too low? Because I finished this week's long run of 6.89 miles at a 9:47 pace. And it's only mid-February.
Don't hold me to this just yet, but I'm thinking of adding a half-marathon completion to my goals list. I have two, main hesitations: Can my feet handle it? and Do I have enough time? Time in the days, that is, for enough training miles. I'm not sure. But I'm pondering.
Since I'm on the subject, here's my Week 6 wrap:
It's hard to see without paying careful attention, but I took this week a little on the easy side. For one thing, I had the first-day-of-period blahs on Friday, so I gave myself a pass on the strength workout. I also did more hatha yoga and less of my usual vinyasa. I felt like I needed it to facilitate recovery from my Week 5 long run. See below:
8.66 miles! Okay, yeah, I know. It's not much in the broader running world, but it's farther than I have run in...well, geez...probably since I last training for a half-marathon in my early 20's. So I'm pretty happy about that!
I'm Bored with My Strength Programming
Since about October 2021, I've been using the Ketogains Novice 5x5 Strength Training Program. It was a perfect way to recommit to strength training after a few years of inconsistency. 5x5 programming is an old friend (it's what I started with some 15 years ago), and the minimal time commitment of about 35 minutes, 3 days per week, was attractive.
I definitely made gains. I've put on considerable muscle mass and strength, and only had one setback when my old SI tweak flared up. Adding regular mobility work at the beginning of the year has kept me feeling fantastic.
But, now I'm bored. Being bored of my programming makes me reluctant to train even though I know it's one of the most important things I can do for long-term health. So...time to mix things up!
I'm looking into some MAPS programming from Mind Pump. I've followed these guys for years and concluded that, once you look and listen past their "bruh" exterior, they're actually extremely knowledgable, experienced, and service-minded. They also happen to be having a Valentines Day sale -- 50% off all programs -- that I just learned about by signing up for their emails. Cool. Happy hearts day to me!
I'm Writing, Just Slowly
If anyone is wondering what happened to my thoughts on being an athletic rider, I haven't forgotten about the series. Writing anything useful takes a surprising amount of time, but I'm working on it. I think it's valuable stuff. Stay tuned.
If you haven't followed The Sweaty Equestrian on Facebook or subscribed by email (use the little form in the right-hand sidebar), today is the day!
And there we have it! Month 1 of 2022 is in the books.
I love this time of year because the weather, bad as it is for working with horses, gives me plenty of time to focus on my own fitness. Sticking to my 2022 Theme & Goals has been positively easy on the gym end. I've been 100% compliant with my plan -- including the hardest part for me, which is actually doing the mobility work.
My plan to include frequent, small doses of mobility exercises actually turned into a habit. I've stuck to those pre-run mobility flows, post-run foam rolls, and pre-life muscle activation routines. (There was one day I had to race to a work meeting right after my run, but I went back to the gym to foam roll right afterwards.) I think the key is keeping the mobility sessions short, short, short!
And guess what? My grouchy knee is hardly making a squeak. My lower back is pain-free. My shoulder is bearing up to increasing loads on the bar. And that makes me happy.
Here are the stats:
Want to hear something interesting? Since Mr. Sweaty and I gave up alcohol (as a daily thing, not completely and forever) after a family member's pancreatitis attack led to a night in the hospital, we have noticed the following:
No developments on the new property or horse fronts to report. Both remain on hold courtesy of snow and mud. I'm dying to get out there and work with the horses, but I know they are going to need consistency and moving-of-feet (even more than usual, that is) for the first couple weeks to get them back in the groove. I'd rather wait than risk injury on poor footing. Soon, though. Soon.
Well, this has been an interesting week. Mr. Sweaty and I spent Wednesday night in the ER with a family member. Everything turned out okay, but let's just say we all got a wake-up call on the hazards of long-term alcohol consumption. Everyone knows about the liver, but I'm here to tell you that your pancreas has an opinion as well. Not a good one.
In fact, Mr. Sweaty and I have decided to embark on an experiment in nixing the booze. We both tend to nerd out on health metrics and such, so it'll be interesting to watch the impact on everything from sleep to skin to body composition. Stay tuned.
The other thing about spending a night in the ER is that you don't get any sleep. Plus, I managed to aggravate a spot in my back that tends to go into spasm. All that gave me a chance to explore how I could adjust my workout plan to accomodate reality. (Look at me learning to accept setbacks in my old age! Instead of pushing through no matter what, I actually honored my need for recovery. Yay, me.)
I'm a fan of intentional recovery, as opposed to just rest. There's a big difference between spending an easy day foam rolling, walking, and taking an Epsom soak versus lounging on the sofa with a bag of Cheetos.
I took a cue from this oldie-but-goodie All Banged Up post by Whole 9 and focused on anti-inflammatory nutrition, bodywork, and gentle movement. I did more yoga and less strength training than usual. My running mileage actually came in about the same; I just bumped the days around a bit. And (not reflected in my tracker), I also walked a lot.
In other news, we met with the excavator at our new property. Despite a foot of snow, he was able to give us the good news that our ideas for the house and barn area will play nicely with the land itself. Hooray!
We're currently waiting on the building designer to bring back draft house plans. In the meantime, I need to sit down with a map of the acreage and plan for fences. I'm thinking of creating three pastures of roughly 10-12 acres each. (File that project under Reasons to be Fit!)
Speaking of being fit, I finally managed to get Ledger out for a walk-trot in hand. This was dual-purpose: I need to get my body ready for an off-treadmill 10K in late March, and Ledger needs to ease (mentally and physically) back into work. We're limited to the roadside for now because everything else is made of ice and mud, but he sure seemed to enjoy the diversion. That makes two of us!
Well, boys and girls, here we are. Two weeks of 2022 are already in the books. How is your year going?
I feel like I've been super focused on a handful of different things. As usual this time of year (when it's too slick and muddy outside to do much with the horses), fitness gets a lot of attention. Here are my stats:
I didn't muster the attention to subtract out my warmups and cooldowns from my runs, so my paces are still skewed to the slow side. Maybe I should put a notepad on the treadmill to help me remember. My weekly mileage already nudged above 20, but I'm feeling great so I guess that's okay!
I need to go buy some trail running shoes. My plan is to slowly add mileage in the great outdoors to prepare for that trail 10K in March. The treadmill is great, but I know it's just not the same! I'll start with paved roads due to the weather and move to trails ASAP.
Speaking of ground: Exciting News!
Mr. Sweaty and I closed last month on 40 acres of land. It's an hour's drive northeast of our current farm, nearly adjacent to thousands of acres of public land. My little distance-riding heart is about to explode! We met with the builder last week to start on on designs.
Here's a sneak preview:
We're headed out there today to start figuring out where horse facilities and fence lines might go. Lots to do, gotta go!
My first week of 2022 has been a balancing act. In the gym, it was a case of injury vs. ambition. I'm excited about chasing some new running goals, but it's sooooo easy for me to add too much, too soon.
My problem (which is, as Clinton Anderson would say, a good problem to have) is that my systems are fit enough to overstress my structures. And that's exactly what I did during the last week of 2021. I did a hard, fast interval run that gave me an exhilarating aerobic push -- just what I was looking for -- but also woke a familiar pain in my shins.
Often confused with shin splints, compartment syndrome causes pain due to expansion of the muscle beyond what its inflexible fascia sheath can accommodate. It initially impacted me on endurance rides. Trotting downhill was especially brutal, and I'd end races with my shins so swollen the skin was shiny. I'd hobble around for weeks afterward, feeling as though my legs had been beaten with a 2x4.
Foam rolling, custom orthotics, and compressions sleeves all but eliminated the issue...until that interval run. Since then, I rekindled my relationship with my ice pack and The Stick. I also kept running, but I dialed it back a bit.
Here's my weekly wrap:
Total: Just shy of 18 miles, which safely within the 15-20 mile range that I'd like to maintain most weeks throughout year. I kept myself to one V02 max workout (you're welcome, shins) and added a weekly long run. Well, long-ish. Baby steps.
The average paces look even slower than the really are because my warmups and cooldowns are included. Calculating this way is easy because the treadmill keeps track for me, but it's a bit demoralizing. I'm slow, but I'm not that slow! Maybe I'll actually do my own math next week.
Happily, I stuck to my mobility goals. I ended the week feeling better than I started, shins included, without compromising my workouts overall. I did cut the lower body work out of one strength session due to a tweaky knee, which I'm pretty sure was compensating for its neighboring shin.
Speaking of systems (respiratory, circulatory, etc.) and structures (bones, ligaments, etc.), my own experience this week serves as a good reminder as I look ahead to spring conditioning for the horses. They, too, build aerobic capacity much faster than their tissues can remodel. It's my job to throttle them back.
After all, I'm supposed to be the one that knows better.
One more thing: Mr. Sweaty and I both signed up for the Owyhee Off-Road Challenge 10K. It's not until late March, but I'm already excited! The course includes a very long uphill section, which motivates me to do plenty of incline work...starting as soon as I get my shoes laced up.
Thanks for dropping by! I'm an endurance rider in the northwest region of the United States. This blog is about distance riding, training, and the practice of being my best self for my horse. I hope you'll come along for the ride.