Since starting my blog in 2015, I’ve harped on the importance of regular weightlifting and alternative aerobic exercise, which for me has been deep water running and StairMaster. I call these running equivalents, or REQs. Along with generally running four and sometimes five days a week, the weights and REQs have seemed a good balance to keep in reasonable racing shape and though slowing with age, feeling spry enough.
Then along came COVID-19, shutting down every gym and pool for the foreseeable future. As luck would have it, the day things closed down I tweaked a hamstring. Not badly, but enough to affect my stride and really slow me down. It’s been three weeks and I still feel stiff as a board the first couple of miles running, never really loosing up. The fix for something like this the past years has been hitting the pool, StairMaster and a variety of leg weights and stretches to allow the hamstring, calf, quad, or whatever is troubled to settle.
So why are weights and REQs so effective? One, they allow for a full range of motion, lubricate the joints, and get the blood flowing to the injured parts. Two, they stretch the running tissues that yes, can be stretched with a rope, but it’s great to do a lot of it while moving. Three, it’s a full lower body workout that allows for a vigorous aerobic workout. The weights, mostly using a variety of machines, benches, and free weights, enable a full body workout, neck to toes. I don’t do killer weights but enough to build or at least maintain strength.
So, without those options, I’ve been relegated to walking, a bit of bike, and pretty slow running three or four days a week. Somedays the hamstring feels a bit looser, but mostly it’s staying put. I went to the outdoor track yesterday thinking that would be incentive to pick up the pace. But as evidence to how out of synch I am, I left my Garmin at home and had nothing to track my time with. Maybe that was good. I doubt I approached an 8:00 pace for the 800s I ran. Sometimes better not to know. Bottom line, I cannot recall ever feeling this stiff, this old. I trust it is not the new normal!
The point is, as I have long suspected and professed, weight training and REQs work! I’m living proof, not in the pudding, but in the plodding. That’s the only way to characterize my gait lately. We’ve got a while before the gyms and pools open up again and like most runners I’m not very patient. I can’t wait to get back there and balance things out. Meanwhile, I’ll keep stretching and doing lightweights at home. And probably at least for a while — keep plodding!