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!

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….

 

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

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

Kettlebells in the Park

We didn’t make it to our regular Tuesday evening kettlebells class last night. So, Seth and I grabbed the bells we have at the house and walked over to the neighborhood park for our own workout.

I’ve always loved the *idea* of swinging outside, and doing my own workout, but I’ve avoided it because I was self-conscious. Turns out, nobody really cared. We found our own little spot and weren’t bothered by anyone. And we got to enjoy the beautiful fall evening while we were at it. Continue reading

Finding My Inner Athlete

One of the main proponents of “Hardstyle” Russian Kettlebells is that strength is a skill. It’s more than just building strong muscles, it’s learning how to coordinate those muscles to do that press, that squat, that pull-up, etc. Strength is a skill. It can be learned.

I am reminded of an article I read recently in Psychology Today titled “The Trouble With Bright Girls.” It was an interesting read. I’m not sure I agree with all of it, but the part that really struck me was this:

bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.

As a former ‘bright girl,’ I was used to many things being easy for me. I was good at school, especially math and science. I was a good musician. These things came easily for me, so I pursued them. On the other hand, I wasn’t good at history or geography. I wasn’t a great reader. And I definitely believed that I was innately good at some things and not others, and accepted that that’s just the way things were. Continue reading

Videotape Yourself Climbing

A few years ago, my friend and awesome climbing partner, Zack, brought his camera to the climbing gym and took some video. He set it up in the corner and filmed us climbing a few routes. I teased him for it.

Then, I watched the videos and realized what a great tool they were! Especially as a beginning climber, I was able to learn a lot from watching myself.

Reasons why watching yourself climb is helpful: Continue reading

Staying Healthy when Life Gets Weird

The blog’s been a bit quieter than usual lately. Mostly because I’ve been quieter than usual in general. I’m in the midst of a nine-month stint of overnight shifts, and my usual hermit tendencies have been amplified as a result. Numerous studies have been done on the physical effects of working at night and sleeping during the day. In addition to affecting amount and quality of sleep, it affects hormone production and very basic things about the way the body functions.

In response, I’ve been making a very conscious effort to maintain my health physically and mentally. This is always important, no matter what my situation is, but when there’s an extra item in the negative column working against me, it seems even more so.

So, here’s what I’ve been focusing on:

Continue reading