It’s been a while since my last post. I changed fitness priorities for the winter. I’m trying once again to sort out my injury problems before the ultra training grind starts again. So I de-prioritized running and started doing a pretty heavy strength routine along with regular flexibility work. And honestly, this is the best my heels have felt in years. They almost never hurt and I mostly just forget about them. The exceptions to that mostly come after long snowboarding weekends and running after snowboarding. But the difference from now to last year is dramatic. I remember limping constantly in our January Jackson Hole trip last year. Now, i mostly don’t notice anything.
So this is of course without doing much running. I’m getting in 2-3 times per week typically, but nothing more than an hour or so of light running. Nothing long, nothing fast. And I’m not doing it often enough to really build my stamina. For now I’m mostly just trying to maintain until strength season is over. But the good news is that an hour of running doesn’t seem to bother my heels at all. But it can be really hard because my legs are usually dead.
As for the strength, it’s going okay. I’m approaching novice weight levels. That doesn’t sound great, but considering I hadn’t lifted a barbell since high school before this, I think I’m starting to make some progress. There was definitely some shakiness early on because a lot of stabilizing muscles were really weak. But the point of the routine was all compound movements to get all of that stuff. So after 4-6 weeks I started to feel stable. Grain of salt here because I didn’t necessarily know where to start with some of the weights, but I think I’ve settled in to the right range on all of it now. The numbers are November 29th, which was when I was cleared to lift again after my Melanoma surgery to now:
Bench Press: 135 => 175
Military Press: 80 => 110
Barbell Row: 135 => 185
Deadlift: 185 => 275
Squat: 135 => 185
The numbers aren’t 1 rep maxes. It’s my low rep weight to prioritize pure strength. The initial idea behind the workout was 5 sets of 5 reps. Day 1 is Squat, Bench, Row. Day 2 is Squat, Military, 1 set of Deadlifts. Switch workouts every other day. So I’ve been lifting Monday, Wednesday, Friday and trying to run Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday if not snowboarding. One of the first changes I made was changing Day 2 to be a full 5 sets of Deadlifts, Military, then some other muscle group that I didn’t feel like I was getting – like calves. I just didn’t want to do squats every workout and I felt like I needed the back and posterior chain strength from the deadlifts for my heel injuries.
I seemed to regress on bench press after being sick and going to Park City for a week over New Years. But every other lift continued to get stronger. So I changed things again. Now, instead of doing 5×5 reps of everything at high weight I do 4×5 at high weight, then 1×10 or so at 65% of normal and then 1x whatever I can handle at 50% of normal. The idea is to keep the heavy strength portion of the workout but add full muscle depletion at the end with lower weight. It definitely helped me push through my bench press plateau and it’s absolutely killed my legs. I’m curious to see how it all goes after I take 4 days off for a ski trip this weekend and can fully recover.
I’ve also been doing a bunch of lower body stretching in between sets while I lift. I figure I need to rest anyway so might as well put that time to use. So between the strength and the flexibility everything is feeling better. I have another 3-4 weeks of this before I take a week off in Thailand and then start working on running again.
As to nutrition, I started with the bodybuilder mindset that I needed to eat extra to maximize muscle development. But I abandoned that after New Year’s and I’m now trying to walk the mythical line of losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. I’m sure I’m missing out on some potential muscle mass this way, but I’d rather not have to drop a bunch of extra fat when I’m done. It seems to be mostly working but some days I’m just completely exhausted. This week especially has been hard. I did a double of day 1 lifting and running Monday, day 2 lifting Tuesday, running today, and day 1 lifting again tomorrow. I figure I can go a little harder than normal since I’m taking 4 days off after that.
So yeah, it’s all going well right now. I’m curious to see how things hold up once I start building running volume again. It’s bound to be a little tough, but I can’t wait to see what it feels like to not be running on legs that I killed in the gym the day before every time.