Sunday, April 12, 2009

My hormonal milieu

As you probably know, my training has been irregular with weekday workouts getting pushed aside by the working world pretty frequently. I've spoken about the slippery slope with respect to diet and carb cravings. However, I find that there's sometimes an equally dangerous slide when the workouts don't come regularly.

It's not any one thing I can put my finger on, but the loss of routine hurts in more ways than you might expect. Not only do I miss out on valuable training time, but I lose my training mentality. The notion of a Running Grace still sounds cool, but motivating to do such an ugly metcon does not come as easy. During the week, my body is adapted to resting comfortably in the evenings (even though that resting is usually me working on the computer). It takes some planning to convince my body to get off its ass. The other problem is my planning. I've had this nice CFSB program going - squats Saturday, deadlifts Sunday, metcon Tuesday, front squats or cleans Wednesday, and press Thursday. However, that neat little schedule hasn't been kept since the third week in March, and it was only kept once prior to that. Being off schedule isn't bad in-and-of itself. (Y'know, constantly varied and all that.) The trick is to not get thrown by it, to keep training when the opportunity presents itself, to not say because there's only a half-hour available that there isn't time to train. However, that's exactly what happened - too often. I got so wrapped around what my next workout would be that I'd put it off for a day, so I'd have time to do the workout I had planned, and then wouldn't have any time the next day. It's something I've been known to rant at others about - to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good - whether we're talking training or diet. Forget about 3-on, 1-off or 5 days a week; in March, there were many more days I didn't train (18) than there were days I did train, and I'm barely breaking even this month. (The scary thing is: I'm supposed to be getting ready for the Games.)

So, I've missed a bunch of training days. It happens to all of us at one time or another. My timing is particularly bad, but somebody doing a bad job of squeezing in workouts isn't something new. What I find interesting is how quickly my energy levels changed as I reduced my activity level - how comfortable the couch would look when I'd get home at 730 at night. That's the time I most often start my workouts, but after a long day at a desk and a few days without a workout, my body was fully adapted to inactivity and pretty happy with stasis.

The weird thing isn't that the body adapts to the easiest form of existence it can. That's the way we evolved to minimize stress. Unfortunately, it's my stress levels that cause the most trouble. It's not the stress of a high-pressure job. There's lots to do, but it's pretty interesting, and the long days come with comp time that I'm sure to put to good use. However, the travel and the associated diet, the disrupted schedule that has me working some nights and weekends, nights with too little sleep, and the challenge to find time for myself and my family amidst the increased workload, produces a classic physical stress response. My cortisol levels shoot up; I get inflammation of joints and tissues; and my work capacity suffers. It's like I get all the problems of overtraining without any of the benefits of the training that got me there. I'm doing a strength bias program, where I'm trying to encourage anabolic metabolism, and the rest of my life is telling my body to catabolize itself. Thus, some of my reduced training load is simply a sign that I'm listening to my body, doing what I need to do to keep putting up PRs when I do train, but but that doesn't mean I haven't also been slipping into some bad habits.

Part of the stress response is that I found myself craving carbs - more ice cream, dried fruit, chocolate-covered espresso beans (yum), a beer or glass of wine; even the bread looked good at Easter dinner. Fortunately common sense won out on that count, and I settled for a modest dessert of cheesecake with syrup-laden strawberries and a side of ice cream. Yes, this was a deliberate indulgence - an admission to myself that I'd slipped and might was well enjoy it, because it was high time I cleaned up my act. While this sounds like the classic case of giving up on discipline altogether because I slipped up a bit, it worked. My diet has been dialed-in these last two days - starting with an 18-hour fast from cheesecake until late Monday morning, done with the express intent of getting my insulin levels back under control. This is a strategy I've employed of late, when travel and a hectic life get in the way of a sound diet, I work in a fast to help get myself back on track, and then I return to the strategy of Just Eating good food.

I had every intention of working out last night - hitting that lovely row-burpee-run WOD that is just the sort of metcon Rx that my I need. Unfortunately, work kept me going until far too late, so today I ducked out of the CT office in time to visit CFCC and suffer whatever WOD Tom had cooked up for everyone.


Dynamic mobility sequence (hips and ankles)
Shoulder mobility drills
3 x 10 of supermans, mtn. climbers, situps, lunges
30 jumping jacks

Skill work
Power cleans 75x10x4 - focus on efficiency of movement and finishing with elbows up and active hip

50 squats - 2 16K KBs in rack
250 single unders
10 floor wipers


Tabata rowing


Tom actually had the fish game programmed for his athletes. I took on the tabata myself. Needless to say, it sucked. I really lost it on the last three rounds. (I was on a 960m pace before that.)

A pretty short session when you get right down to it, but I needed to just be given a workout and do it. I had my rings, jump rope and DBs with me, but figured the external motivation and a workout partner would do me some good. Good to see Tom's new place. It's in the back of a kickboxing place with a climbing wall. I could make good use of those facilities, if I get there earlier in the day before the kickboxers show up. They've even got a climbing wall. Hopefully, however, my travelling days are numbered and within a couple weeks, I'll only be down here occasionally. While I'm here, however, I might as well make the most of it. On that note, I was too tired to shower and then head out to dinner, so I stopped at the grocery store and made a nice dinner - tuna steaks in coconut milk with an arugula/spinach salad. Maybe not the most impressive workout, but I got the most out of my day.




Great post and right on point with where I am right now. My motivation is in the schedule and preparations required to get everything done for my new job have played havoc with my daily routine.

I am also not the most focused individual, so any deviation from what has worked in my past generally has less than satisfactory results.

Thanks for sharing....


Jenn said...

Great post, Patrick, and very timely with my own situation right now. It's comforting to know that even a serious CF'er (yes, I think of you as a serious CF'er - one I look to advice and knowledge) like you struggles with motivation from time to time.

Generally, going to the boards or blogs like yours helps immensely in getting some of the mojo back.

Patrick Haskell said...

No matter what level you're at, CF metcons just plain suck. Gasping for breath, trying not to puke, and wondering whether the next rep is going to result in the barbell landing on you is no fun for anyone. For most of us, the boards, our affiliate, or our various outlets for sharing this suffering is a big part of how we manage to keep pushing through the pain. Misery loves company.