Tag Archives: training

Pregnancy challenges – 22 weeks

One of the themes that’s developed as I’ve written this blog has been dealing with the unexpected challenges and setbacks that are a part of being active in the outdoors (and a part of life in general). Whether those come in the form of mental blocks like fear or pushing outside of my comfort zone, or in the form of physical setbacks such as injury or ability or weather. We all have dreams and goals and ideas about how we want things to go. When something gets in the way of those, we sometimes learn more about ourselves than when everything goes perfectly. I think about that quite a bit, and so I write about it quite a bit.  Sometimes the story ends with pushing through fear or discomfort to accomplish my goals, sometimes it ends with changing plans or backing down instead. No matter the outcome, I always grow as a person. Every time.

When the situation is one in which I can’t do the things I want to, I refer back to wise words from my kettlebells instructor:

Focus on what you *can* do, not on what you can’t.

20 weeks

Me at about 20 weeks

As of writing this, I’m 22 weeks pregnant (right around 5 months), and this pregnancy is turning out to be a lesson in exactly that. Focusing on what I *can* do.

For years I’ve followed adventurous and active women who have chosen to start families. They have awed and amazed me, and helped me to believe that I could do it, too. That if I have a child I won’t have to hole up in my house and never see a piece of rock again. It’s just not true, and these women have showed me that time and again.

Many women are able to stay active throughout their pregnancies, continuing their activities with adjustments along the way. I’m grateful to women who have written about their experiences for all to see.  Erica Lineberry has had two children now. With both, she climbed hard throughout her entire pregnancies. Michelle Kobzick was ice climbing in her pregnancy harness all winter last year. Amanda Mary Perry owns a gym in Boston and just had her second baby. She made adjustments to her fitness routine, but was rocking pull-ups until the very end. I’ve watched women in my own life do the same thing. Women 9 months pregnant kicking butt at the climbing gym. And just this last year I got to see a woman in my kettlebells class train throughout her entire pregnancy. It was awesome.

I’m pretty active. I love to climb, and I love my 3x/week kettlebell classes. Both challenge me mentally and physically and have become anchors in a somewhat hectic life. As soon as I had some confidence that this baby was going to stick around, I ordered a maternity climbing harness. My plan was to climb until the baby popped out, and to keep my kettlebells training up as well.

But then there are those setbacks. The unexpected ones that don’t fit into the arbitrary goals that we set for ourselves. Mine? Pregnancy related pelvic instability that suddenly made climbing really painful. This happened sometime around 17 weeks. One week I was working on my 5.11c project at the gym, and the next week I couldn’t climb a 5.6 without a lot of pain. I thought I had injured myself somehow, but later found out that it’s very much pregnancy related, something that happens to some women, but not all. Although I can mitigate the discomfort, things probably won’t fully stabilize until I have this baby. My dreams of climbing right up until the end just went *poof*.

As far as my workouts go, I had to stop doing about half of the movements that are a regular part of our classes. They were just too painful. I knew I would have to make adjustments along the way, but never imagined the adjustments would be so dramatic so early on.

So, back to the motto: “Focus on what you *can* do, not what you can’t.” Another lesson, for me, in being flexible and adjusting my plans and expectations based on the current situation. That’s definitely not something that’s ever come naturally for me, but it’s a skill that climbing and physical training has been teaching me over the years. I’m much better at it than I used to be.

I had to reevaluate. Ask myself *why* it’s so important to me to keep climbing and training throughout my pregnancy. Turns out that the most important thing for me is staying active and feeling strong (which are good for both me and my baby). With a bit of creativity, I can still do that. I’ve made a list of movements that don’t cause any pain and my kettlebells instructor has developed a training plan for me that uses only those movements. Three times a week I can still get my heart rate up and a good sweat going. I can still lift bells above my head, I can still do push-ups and swings and cleans and snatches and planks and deadlifts. I’m able to stay active and feel strong.

New trellis for the garden

New trellis for the garden

So there’s lots that I *can* do, despite the things that have been crossed off the list. I’m keeping up some level of fitness even though my body isn’t working exactly how I’d like it to and that is awesome. Without climbing this summer, I have a little more free time, too, which I’m enjoying quite a bit. I’m a homebody at heart, and not pushing myself outside of my comfort zone feels totally fine right now. Maybe I’m not out having a bunch of great adventures, but I did build a pretty sweet trellis for my spaghetti squash yesterday.

I’m pretty amazed at what my body is doing right now. It’s incredible that it inherently knows how to grow a human being. The little one is already moving around enough for me to be able to visibly see my stomach moving. It’s weird and cool all at the same time that there’s another person in there. And at the end of this whole thing, that little person will be joining our family. Definitely worth a little discomfort and time away from the climbing walls.

 

Mountain Training 2014 Progress Report

Seth and I will be spending close to two weeks in the mountains this August. I’ve mentioned briefly that stairs are one of our modes of training. Things started out a bit rough (see here), but are definitely improving.

There’s a set of 134 steps near our house, each step being 6 inches tall. We did a bit of math and determined that climbing that staircase 15 times equals approximately 1,000 ft of vertical distance. We’ve been heading over there weekly with packs on and adding a bit more as we go. Sometimes we’ll mix in doubles (2 steps at a time) with singles to mimic the higher steps involved in 3rd class scrambling, and to keep our brains occupied as well.

I’m hoping that all of this stair climbing with a weighted pack will get me close to where I need to be for our trip. It’s hard to know how climbing a bunch of stairs at 800 ft. above sea level will translate to hiking up a mountain at 10,000 ft. I do know that our stair workouts are feeling quite a bit easier than when we started, so progress is being made. Surely it will at least partially translate. That is what I’m telling myself.

This week will be a big one, we have four days of stair climbing planned, and then I have my kettlebells classes as well.

I’m so very excited to get back here:

Grand Teton

Three weeks and counting!

Back to it.

Ok, guys and gals, I have a confession.

KettlebellI took three months off of kettlebells. There, I said it. Oh, and before that, I hadn’t been super consistent… for a while. You see, my instructor left the gym I was going to, and then there were the holidays, and then I was able to train with him again which was awesome, but it wasn’t as convenient of a location, then I went on a climbing trip, and then I had this shoulder thing…

I rationalized it (see above). And it actually seemed ok for a while. In fact, I enjoyed the time it freed up for me… It’s good to take a break sometimes (that’s actually true). However, I took that break and I RAN with it. I wasn’t training, I wasn’t climbing as much, and my responsible egg and banana breakfast was replaced with cinnamon buns… you get the picture.

There was definitely a feeling of rebalancing, figuring out my priorities. I often feel like I’m trying to cram too many things into the little free time that I have. And there are so many things that I want to do (including having some unscheduled free time)! But, I was feeling the lack of exercise and excessive pastry consumption. A few extra pounds appeared; I wasn’t feeling as strong or confident in my movement. I felt different, and I didn’t like it.

I kept telling myself I’d just train at home. I have kettlebells here and know the basic concepts of how to put a workout together. But, it turns out that I’m not good at training on my own. As in, I don’t really do it. My shoulder’s happy again, I’ve run out of excuses, so I’ve returned to Ron’s kettlebell classes (sidenote: Ron’s awesome).

The problem with taking time off of any physical activity is that it hurts when you start up again. That’s the phase I’m in right now. Also, I know what I used to be able to do, so I try to jump right back in at that level. And then I’m crazy sore for the next three days. Ouch.

It’s my second week back now, and this morning I felt like I was finally making progress again. It felt good. I love the feeling of swinging a bell. It’s powerful, and it makes me feel like a badass. Who doesn’t like feeling like a badass?

I’m glad to be training again, glad to have that back at the top of my priority list. I’ll be even happier when my body gets used to it again. That should be just about the time I’m heading out west for some mountain climbing. Yay.

Do you find that it’s harder to go back to your exercise routine after some time off? What keeps you motivated?

Training for the Mountains: Minnesota Style

My plans for August include, among other things, climbing a big mountain. From the bottom to the top is 7,000 vertical feet, 5,000 of those hiking with a heavy pack. So I’ve started amping up my training to prepare.

They say the best way to train for hiking uphill with a heavy pack on is to hike uphill with a heavy pack on. What do you do if you’re a Minnesotan with limited access to large hills? The next best thing:

In absence of mountains, stairs will work

In absence of mountains, stairs will work

On Sunday, Seth and I threw ropes and climbing gear in our packs and set out for these stairs. They’re 6 inches tall, so 2,000 steps is 1,000 ft of vertical gain. 134 steps … I did the math and determined that we should climb up and down the stairs 15 times. No big deal.

After the 8th trip back down, my legs were involuntarily quivering and I felt like a complete wimp. We took a break, ate a banana, and finished up our 15. Felt pretty good, patted ourselves on the back, continued on with our days.

My ‘up’ muscles felt fine. My ‘down’ muscles…. not so much. Yesterday (the dreaded 2nd day), my calves were so tight that I couldn’t walk normally (I still can’t). It’s been a physical comedy over here, trying to walk, trying to stand up from a seated position…. I resisted, but finally had to break down and explain to my kettlebells instructor why I wouldn’t be joining class. His response was sympathetic, and so perfect:

“I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve been a victim of my own zeal.  I would be a rich man” – Ron Wetzell, RKC

A victim of my own zeal. Yep.

Lessons learned:

1. Sometimes less is more. Take it slowly and figure out where you’re at *before* leaping headfirst into 2,000 steps up and down a staircase with a weighted pack….

2. Walking down a set of stairs is a different motion that hiking downhill

3. My calves need some more training before heading to the mountains

I’m hoping to be healed up enough to return to my kettlebells training tomorrow. Then another crack at the stairs on Friday. Maybe I’ll dial it back to 1,340 steps….

 

35 Trad Leads in 2014

Nice rest halfway up Indian Head. The climb continues up and over that headwall above. Taylors Falls, MN.

Nice rest halfway up Indian Head. The climb continues up and over that headwall above. Taylors Falls, MN. Photo: Russell Lane

I’ve been learning to lead trad (traditional leading is when a climber places their own protection in the rock as they climb). My first pitch of trad was last year in the Black Hills, my second was this past spring in Red Rock Canyon. It took me some time, but I was able to lead a few pitches on that spring trip, a couple of pitches in the Black Hills last month, and a few in Minnesota as well.

My goal this season: 35 pitches of trad leads in the 2014 climbing season.

As of today, June 11, I’m at 10. 25 more to go. The list as it currently stands:

Red Rock Canyon, NV:

Taylors Falls, MN:

Black Hills, SD:

Looking forward to getting more leads under my belt this summer!

 

Changing of the Kettlebells Guard.

The only thing constant in life is change.

That’s how the speech started. Ron had just put us through one of his grueling workouts. Purposeful and calculated, as always. Ladders of strength and conditioning in neat little packages.

He left with very little notice, and very little fanfare. He kicked our butts one last time, gave a short speech at the end of class, and he left.

If I look back through my life, I can point to a handful of people who have had a real, lasting impact on me. People who acted as mentors, either purposefully or not. People who helped to guide me, encourage me, and served as examples of what I aspire to be. Ron is one of those people. He’s passionate about training, about kettlebells, and about teaching, and his enthusiasm is contagious.

Ron leads a kettlebell demonstration in downtown Minneapolis.

Ron leads a kettlebell demonstration in downtown Minneapolis (photo courtesy of Hennepin County Government Center).

I began kettlebells at a small studio near where I work. I loved it right away, and was hooked, but a few months later, the instructor closed up shop and moved across the country. I didn’t know where to go. My husband stumbled across Southside Kettlebells on a bike ride, and I went to a class the next week. That’s where I met Ron, and that’s where I stayed.

I was still new to kettlebells, and new to strength training in general, but eager to learn, eager to improve my form, my strength, and my conditioning. Ron took me under his wing, like he did for a lot of students. He encouraged me to work hard, I developed good form, I got stronger, my fitness improved, and Ron was always there, guiding me in the right direction.

Photo credit: Hennepin County Public Affairs

Photo credit: Hennepin County Public Affairs

Ron helped me figure out how to eat correctly to fuel my body for training. He took extra time to help me correct form and meet my personal goals. I wanted to learn how to do pull-ups, Ron gave me a program to follow, progressions that would get me to my first one. And then, when I got that first strict pull-up, Ron shared it with class. Both congratulatory for me, and inspirational to others. Kettlebells training took me to the top of the Grand Teton last year, and that fitness is with me on all of my adventures. My quality of life is greatly improved, and Ron’s support has played a significant part in that.

So, for Ron… thank you. Your generosity, compassion, and dedication to your students will be missed by all who attended your classes. There are many of us who are truly your students, and a hole will be felt for quite some time. You, and your particular brand of ass-kicking workouts, will be missed at Southside.

Household Fitness Challenge

When we were kids, we didn’t exercise. We played. We ran around chasing our friends, playing tag, going across the monkey bars. We had contests to see who could jump the highest, run the fastest. We got on our bikes and rode around the neighborhood, not because we were trying to lose weight, but because it was fun.

The reason why climbing and kettlebells have stuck with me is because they’re just plain fun. Yeah, they both present challenges, and they’ve gotten me into the best shape of my life, but I wouldn’t have stuck with them in the first place if they were monotonous or just something I knew was good for me.

tally

Our pullup tally. Lookin’ good!

See the chart on the right? That’s a pullup tally for Seth and me. Every time either of us does a pullup, we make a mark on the tally sheet. Together, as a team, we’re seeing how long it takes us to get to 3000. Fun, right? We started on Dec. 5, and as of the writing of this post, we’re at 935.

Why 3000? I have no idea. It’s just the number we came up with. It’s high enough to keep us interested for a while, but not so high that it doesn’t feel attainable.

Here’s why I’m loving our household fitness challenge:

  • There’s a lot of motivation in doing the challenge together. We have a common goal, so we cheer each other on and get excited about our progress. It’s a great boost for morale, and not bad for our relationship, either.
  • Since our pullup abilities are not equal, working as a team has eliminated feelings of inequality. We’re both contributing towards the same goal, so it doesn’t matter that he’s able to put in twice as many pullups as I can. No biggie. What matters is that we’re doing pullups!
  • There’s something really rewarding about ticking off tally marks and watching them grow each day.
  • It’s healthier than an ice-cream challenge

Just doing a few pullups as I walk by

You can do a team fitness challenge, too! Just find a partner, or partners, and choose a goal. Make it something specific and measurable such as number of pushups, miles run, burpees, rows, whatever. Make a tally sheet, shake on it, and go! It’s fun. You’ll probably think so, too. And if you decide to do one, let me know in the comments. I’ll cheer you on.

December Hibernation

I’ve gone into what I can only describe as hibernation mode. Not super inspired to go to kettlebells classes, not jonesing to climb, not wanting to do much of anything that involves leaving the house. It’s dark, it’s grey, it’s cold. Give me a warm beverage and some slippers, I’m staying in.

These guys know what I'm talking about.

These guys know what I’m talking about.

I remember this happening last December as well. I inadvertantly took three weeks off of kettlebells classes and just did other things. I think it’s a good thing to do every once in a while. Just take a breather from the normal stuff. Give my mind and body a rest.

We went to the climbing gym this week, my first time in almost three weeks, and I just climbed stuff that was fun. I stuck mostly to routes well within my comfort level, and then I worked on one challenging project with some of the climbing crew. It was fun and relaxed, and there was no pressure put on myself to perform in any way. We laughed and had fun. Continue reading

3000 Pullups

The tally. Page 1.

3,000 pullups. That is our goal.

Now that I’ve joined the team of people who *can* do pullups, Seth and I have set a little challenge for ourselves. Together, we are working to rack up 3,000 pullups.

The number came about sort of randomly; at the time my max was 2 reps and his was 4, so he was going to do 2000, and I’d aim for 1000. Instead, we decided to squish it all together and work as a team for the full 3000. As you can see, he’s far ahead of me right now, but he did a full workout with pullups and squats yesterday, whereas I went to kettlebells and had only a few left in me when I got home.

We’re going to be pullup champions when this is done.

Pull-Up Progressions by Ron

Woooo!

Well, it’s happened. I have finally successfully completed my first strict, tactical pull-up! And my second one, and my third!

If you know me, you know that this has been a long time coming. It was well over a year ago when I made this a goal for myself. Why did it take so long? I was impatient. I would work on it for a while, get frustrated, stop. Then I’d get inspired again and work on it some more, get frustrated, etc. etc.

I spoke with Ron, one of my kettlebells instructors, about this goal. He gave me a progression to work with, and it didn’t involve a band (which is good, because I use a hangboard instead of a bar). The progressions worked. The key to getting the progressions to work, however, is patience, which I lacked. But eventually I adopted the attitude that I would just do a little work each day, working from wherever I was, and before I knew it, I was there. As Ron says, there are no shortcuts.

Below you will find the progressions I used. It’s important to give each step its due diligence before moving on to the next. Patience and consistency in practice. Slow and steady, the turtle and all that. Continue reading