Today is week three of the boot, and close to week six of my involuntary off-season. Things are healing (oh god I hope) and I'm getting pretty used to a new life of not being a type A neurotic obsessive runner, and instead just being a type A neuroticobsessive human being.
Every morning I wake up, drink my coffee, and head to the pool. As far as training goes, immersed in chlorine with a watery wake-up, I have found myself in a softer world. I like the rhythm of the strokes, the stretch, the flipturns like a metronome, the growing light through the windows. I like pull-buoys and kick-boards and the quiet din and hum. I like the underwater lines, the too-exhausted-to-pull-out-of-the-pool arms, the new strength in my body.
Much like running, my fear of change and love of monotony makes swim workouts enjoyable - I do 3000m straight swims AND 3400m "workouts" AND interval sessions, so it is like practically doing three sports.
Making new friends
Swimming is more difficult with regards to the social aspect. In the pool, the only real "social" aspect is the fat grasping fingers of the overweight man with flippers who swims behind me, but doesn't pass me. In the locker room, I have started to make friends with the other "regulars". Normally, striking up a conversation while one (or both) parties are naked might be considered unusual (to put it charitably) or creepy (to put it uncharitably). However, trail running has given me a high tolerance for getting naked in front of strangers - a tolerance that the strangers, sadly, do not always share.
The plan B workouts
I am still trying to heal one injury, so I don't want to incur a new one. As a result, I take a couple days a week to brave my nemesis, the spin bike. (Okay, I also wimped out with the three days of "snow", completely forsaking my 4-years-in-Ontario roots, and refused to drive to the pool).
It turns out that you CAN, in fact, do a spin bike workout in a boot (if the people at the gym are sympathetic, which they are). The downside if that you have to do an hour goddamn spin workout.
|the blur is the boot|
There are several reasons why I don't like biking. One could be physique. I heard this explanation on how to be a good hill-climber on the bike: "Jump up and down in front of the mirror and make sure nothing jiggles. Then suffer for 15hrs a week of training. You will be a good hill climber." (To be fair, Chessa uses sort of the same program, and it does seem to work for her). However, when my favourite foods include cheese and ice cream with nutella, the jiggle test is a hard one to pass. Also, as an almost-busy-season accountant, I feel like my suffering should be more work-based this time of year.
Another, more compelling reason, is that my ass is allergic to the bike seat. This has resulted in a lot of whining (and potentially some melodramatic-ness), and many in-depth discussions with my triathlete friends about 1) am I wearing padded bike shorts? (sometimes, but they are my Mom's so sorta embarrassing); 2) am I wearing underwear? and a follow up; 3) how many pairs of underwear; because 4) bikers don't wear underwear. Well, I like wearing underwear, so an activity that doesn't require underwear is not an activity I want to be regularly part of. Also I am just balls-out really bad at biking.
I have no motor skills
Both my physio and my massage therapist recommended pilates as a way to get a good workout and build a strong core for whenever the hell I return to running. So I go to pilates class. I am surrounded by 80% super-attractive females with great makeup and 20% ripped guys. So I find the spot at the back of the class next to the girl in baggy clothes. Who, along with EVERYONE else, totally kicks my ass. Pilates is hard! The crunches are hard, the leg stuff makes weird sounds in my hip, and the stuff on my side makes me feel like I am a spawning salmon. 10/10 for a hard workout, 1/10 for me looking at all cool or dignified while doing it.
I used to run hard for double-digit hours a week, do yoga, and walk everywhere...now I swim and make my co-workers walk to the photocopier to pick up my printing, using my boot as an excuse for being too lazy to do it myself (thanks guys!).
To avoid being able to only fit into business-muumuus by the end of tax season, I've had to restrict my food intake. So far, alright. The issue with running less and eating less chocolate is that I'm a bit grumpier. My work is pretty much all guys. Their collective method of dealing with grumpy women is the chocolate approach. However, as we are also accountants, we have a naturally frugal streak. The result? Discounted chocolate. Highlights have been the Feb. 17th Valentines' day chocolate...and the late-February advent calendar chocolate (discounted to 99cents...this was put in our office kitchen and as at today's date is virtually all eaten).
I have pretty much abandoned the idea of being a well-rounded and more interesting person with a new hobby. Instead, I am back to tried-and-true favourites of drinking wine, reading books, writing, and googling potential swimming injuries as a way to keep myself balanced, or at least reasonably-occupied.
Weirdly enough, like a training routine, there is an offseason routine. Like a training routine, this one had an adjustment period, and ups and downs. Maybe this is a break from my running life, what I want my life to be - but it's the life I have. And although I constantly smell like chlorine and all the sleeves on work shirts are too-tight, I get to rock out to concerts on weeknights, be visited by old friends, get that perfect 3-glasses-of-wine buzz with my girlfriends, write the hell out of the ideas swirling around in my head, make non-quinoa recipes, and maybe even learn to do a proper goddamn v-sit one day. So, in the end, like a training cycle, I think I'm starting to hit the off-season sweet spot.
See you all in the pool! (seriously, join us).