Archive for category Strength Training

A Marathon and Goals for April

Yesterday, I had one of the best double-digit runs, ever.  The weather started a little humid and mid-50s, but cleared up and the sun came out. I ran with the dog, Tara, as well as three other friends and two more dogs. We started on our usually long run route, but instead of doing an out-and-back as we usually do, we mixed it up and turned off at 5 miles to create a loop through town. It’s amazing how a few miles of new scenery can invigorate a long run. On my shorter runs I routinely switch directions and mix things up with new side streets, but on the longer runs I’ve been doing the same route for quite awhile so it made a huge difference to change the route so much.

I think I’ll try to come up with another couple of courses for double-digit runs over the next few months to keep things interesting. It is going to be even more important as I ramp up the mileage for…wait for it…marathon training!  I finally committed and registered for the Richmond Marathon on November 16 in Richmond, Virginia. I am so excited at the prospect of finally tackling 26.2 miles!  My friend, Caitlin, and my hubby are going to run it too, so I’ll have plenty of support in my training here in Kansas and my family in Virginia is already on board with being our support crew while we’re on the East coast.

With such a big race on the horizon, I would like to get back into the habit of setting regular goals throughout the year.  I only set one goal for running for the year and that was to run 1000 miles, which I am a little behind on reaching with my current monthly totals (197.95/1000).  Tomorrow is April 1st, so today seems apropos to start setting some  monthly goals.

Goals for April

1. Run 100 miles in the month. I’ve run just under 200 miles for the year so far, so 100 this month will put me back on track for an even effort in the rest of the year for reaching my 1000 miles goal.

2. Do at least 1 day of weight lifting per week. I would like to start one of the New Rules of Lifting programs again. I’m leaning toward New Rules of Lifting for Women because I’m already familiar with all the moves, don’t need any new equipment, and they’re fairly short routines for the first few months while I’m still in school. My plan is to start by going to the gym this Tuesday during my long lunch break.

3. Prepare 1 new recipe per week. I really enjoyed finding new foods to try and meal-planning during my paleo experiment, and would like to continue adding some fresh new ideas to the repertoire.

4. Do at least 30 minutes of yoga per week. My flexibility is abysmal and running keeps me too tight, so I need to invest more time into stretching and flexibility. I think incorporating yoga into my routine will be a great way to accomplish this.

5. Research the possibility of an early summer triathlon. I’d like to find something to fill the gap between my half marathon training and the beginning of my marathon training. If I find a race that is within an easy morning drive, register and organize my training plan.

Do you have any tips for a first time marathoner? Do you set goals for yourself throughout the year?

Yesterday’s Training:

10.01 mile run

Today’s Training:

Rest day

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Have I Ever Mentioned that I’m a Planner?

In my updated training plan, Mondays are for strength training and stretching, so I did a super-short strength routine and a 30 minute yoga routine at home before school this morning. To continue my experimentation with breathing patterns, I chose a DVD yoga routine that focused on breath work. It wasn’t my favorite routine. While the stretches were decent, they weren’t as extensive as I would have liked and the pace was much slower than I prefer. Also, it was primarily sitting and reclining poses, with no standing poses that I can recall, so there wasn’t much variety. I did think it was good to revisit my breathing and work on deep belly breathing without the added complexity of timing it with running, but I don’t think I’ll use this routine again.

For my newly added strength training component, I would really like to get back into weight-lifting. I used to lift fairly regularly, but got out of the habit and let running take over, including only the tiniest body weight strength training. Now that I’ve decided to only run 5 days a week, I think I can fit in at least one day of weights if I can go before school in the morning or during a lunch break in the afternoons. I hope to figure out a good way to work weights into my schedule to start next week. I think this will be a really important part of injury prevention moving forward.

In other news, I am about 99% sure I am going to register for a marathon in the fall, just not sure which one yet. I think it will likely be in October, which means I’ll have to start seriously training in June! That will be about 6 weeks after my half marathon this spring, so I’m also thinking that will be just enough time to squeeze in training for a sprint triathlon. The Topeka Tinman Triathlon is June 15 and has both Sprint and Olympic distance options that might work perfectly into that 6 weeks.

If you’re new to reading, you’re probably learning (especially after this post!) that I am extremely Type A about planning my training. Spontaneous workouts have never worked for me. I used to go to the gym without a plan and I would just wander around doing various exercises with no rhyme or reason. I was constantly discouraged because I never felt like I had any tangible results. I wasn’t improving in my lifting, in my running ability, or in my general fitness; but when I switched to creating a detailed plan for each day and tracking my progress, I was able to achieve my goals in training and see what I needed to work on when the goals were a little more elusive.

Now, I have a spreadsheet to track all of my workouts, which are already planned for the next 7 months (!) and entered in my Google Calendar. After each run or workout, I enter the details into the spreadsheet, which tracks my mileage for the week, month, and year. It even automatically calculates how many miles I’ve put on each pair of running shoes! I get immense satisfaction from inputting all my data, and it makes me really motivated to follow the schedule. I know I’m obsessive, please don’t judge! 🙂

Sometimes, I wish I were a person who could be more spontaneous – who could go out and just run as far and as fast as they can each time and improve, but I know I am not. I’m neither motivated enough to keep myself working without the accountability of my schedule, nor am I mentally tough enough to push myself enough to make progress. So for now, I’ll cling to my detailed training plans and love every second of preparing them and recording my progress.

Are you a planner or are you more spontaneous in your workout regimen?

Today’s Training:

  • Strength (once through)
    • 15 push-ups
    • 30 crunches
    • 60 second wall sit
    • 15 triceps dips
    • 60 second plank
    • 30 lunges (each leg)
    • 20 squats
  • 30 minutes of yoga (breath work)

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Emotional

The packing has begun. I got a lot done yesterday and even more done today. I’ve got one room mostly packed with just a few odds and ends left to take care of. I also started on a second room and have a huge pile of things to donate and three huge black trash bags full of garbage. Curtis also started packing the basement. We only have about 17 packing days left and I’ll be working 12 of those days. Crazy.

What with packing all day and a phone call that upset me a bit, I didn’t feel up to going to the gym. I am trying to have some genetic testing for a hereditary type of cancer that I am at risk for inheriting and the doctor’s office is not on top of things. I had to call the insurance company and speak someone who knew nothing about this specific test and I think he just told me what he thought I wanted to hear. Finally, I was able to find a number for someone at the insurance agency who deals with this test specifically, so I’m hoping that things will be ok. I’m waiting for some paperwork in the mail, but fingers-crossed things are taken care of now. I just want it to be over with and get the results!

Needless to say, I was a bit emotional yesterday and a workout probably would have made me feel better, but I opted to stay home and go to the gym this morning instead. Curtis and I both went to the gym and it was surprisingly busy for a Saturday morning, but fortunately, after our warm-ups both squat racks were available for use. I did NROLW Stage 5 Workout B:

A. Barbell Romanian deadlift/bent-over row – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 100 lbs

B1. Partial single-leg squat – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 1st @ 20 lbs, 2nd/3rd/4th @ 22.5 lbs

B2. Wide-grip lat pulldown – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 95 lbs

C1. Back extension – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 35 lbs

C2. YTWL – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 12.5 lbs

D1. Swiss-ball crunch – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 12.5 lbs overhead

D2. Hip flexion – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ BW (Prone Jackknife)

D3. Lateral flexion – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ BW

Then I did intervals:

1 min @ walk 3.5 mph

2 min @ run 12:00 min/mile

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

2 min @ run 12:00 min/mile

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

2 min @ run 12:00 min/mile

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

2 min @ walk 3.5 mph

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

2 min @ walk 3.5 mph

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

1 min @ run 12:00 min/mile

5 min cool down

I wanted to add another interval to the normal HIIT prescribed by NROLW. I needed more recovery than usual today and had to walk after the 3rd and 4th intervals. I think I may have been a bit dehydrated and that probably played a role. My heart rate got up to at least 200 bpm during the 3rd interval, so I made sure to recover to the 150s range before beginning the 4th and 5th.

I might break the rules and do another workout tomorrow evening. It will be more than 24 hours rest so I think it’ll be okay just this once. I’ll play it by ear tomorrow if I’m overly sore, but I expect I’ll be able to do the last workout A of the phase.

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Workout with Mom

Today was the first time in about a month that I’ve lifted weights with my mom. We had been lifting regularly every Tuesday at her house because she has a full squat rack, barbell, dumbbells, weights and cables at her house, but I’ve been on the road so much recently that we haven’t had the chance. It was really nice to spend some time together and great for a change of scenery and pace from the gym. I did NROLW stage 5, workout A:

A. One-armed dumbbell snatch – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 25 lbs

B1. Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 40 lbs

B2. Barbell bent-over row – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 95 lbs

C1. Dumbbell single-arm overhead squat – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 20 lbs and 40 lbs

C2. Dumbbell incline bench press @ 28 lbs

D1. Plank – 3 sets of 120s with 120s rest @ BW

D2. Reverse wood chop – 3 sets of 4 with 120s rest @ purple band

Body Weight Matrix (24 squats, 12 lunges each leg, 12 lunge jumps each leg, 24 jump squats) x 2 reps

After my workout, I rushed home to shower and change for a dinner out with some friends. I stuffed myself at a delicious Lebanese place, and it was so worth it. 🙂 Hope you had a great day!

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The Sounds of the Weight Room

Being away so much over the past few weeks has really done a number on my nutrition. I have not been following my plan for calorie intake or macronutrient ratios. I also usually try to eat mostly “clean,” which I think to mean whole real foods, not processed junk. I’ve resorted to fast food and/or prepackaged foods while traveling, especially in the airports. Today marked day one of getting back to tracking my food keeping portion sizes down and eating “clean.” I’ve gained about 3 of the 6 pounds I had lost when I started watching my diet again in April. I’d like to lose those and a bit more to get back to my happy weight.

After work today I had a doctor’s appointment and then I went straight to the gym to lift. It was nice and early in the afternoon and the gym was pretty much empty. It was kind of weird because ALL the personal trainers were there having a meeting. They sat in a big circle in the back of the gym. I guess it’s not really weird…

My workout was Workout B of Stage 5 of NROLW. I started with the same warm-up as yesterday (squat to stand, lateral lunges, reverse lunge with twist and overhead reach, and inchworms). I then did barbell Romanian deadlift/bent-over row combo warm-up (with 6 reps @ 45 lbs (just the bar), 3 reps @ 65 lbs, and 1 rep @ 85 lbs) before beginning my work out.

A. Barbell Romanian deadlift/bent-over row – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 95 lbs

B1. Partial single-leg squat – 3 sets of 4 reps each leg with 120s rest @ 20 lbs DBs

B2. Wide-grip lat pulldown – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 90 lbs

C1. Back extension – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 35 lbs

C2. YTWL – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 12.5 lbs

D1. Swiss-ball crunch – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 10 lbs DB held overhead

D2. Hip flexion (reverse crunch) – 3 sets of 4 with 120s rest @BW

D3. Lateral felxion – 3 sets of 4 with 120s rest @ BW

E. Prone Cobra – 3 sets of 120s with 120s rest @ BW

I skipped the prone cobra today. It tends to really make my back sore (and not in a good, “I just worked my muscles really well” kind of way), so I don’t really care for it much.

One of the trainers lifted after their meeting and he was almost comically grunting with every pull. “Uhh!” “Ahh!” “Urghh!” He did some “motivational breathing” (that’s what I’m calling it anyhow) as he did his lifts, it sounded like, “tse tse tse.” I find all the grunting and noise-making to be quite amusing and entertaining. I really don’t have anything against it, I just don’t really think it makes that much of a difference that it’s necessary. I don’t do it, and pretty much lift silently. One guy recently was encouraging himself as he was pressing a load, “You got it, push! Do it!” Blah blah blah. I guess to each his own! If it works for you, it works for you. Not my style, though.

After finishing listening to the weight room symphony, I jumped on a treadmill to do some intervals. As planned, I did 1:00 minute at a walk to warm-up to it, 2:00 minutes at a 12 minute mile pace, then began the first interval for 1:00 minute at 6:40 mile pace. Rests were always at 12 minute mile pace. I did four total intervals at the 6:40 pace. I think next interval session I will either increase the number of intervals or recover at a faster pace. That should be on Friday, so I’ll keep you posted.

 

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A Weekend Workout

It felt really nice to wake up in my own bed on Saturday morning! Friday night ended up being a pretty late night with my flight delays, and then Curtis had trouble getting to the airport to pick me up because of construction on the road. We didn’t end up getting home till around 11:30 PM and we stayed up for awhile watching Inception with his dad who was in town for the night. I love the feeling of getting into my own bed after being away for a while. There’s something about it that just makes me really feel like I’m home.

Needless to say, I didn’t want to get out of bed on Saturday morning! Curtis and I decided to go out for a late breakfast, which was really more of an early lunch. He was planning to go into work for a few hours afterward and since we didn’t want to drive two cars, we decided to just take one and I would run home from his office after I had digested. His office is only about 3 miles away from our house, so usually it’s a nice short run. Yesterday, it was incredibly hot and the trail has zero shade along it, so it wasn’t the best conditions for running only a half hour after a meal, but I made it. 🙂 It took me a long time to cool off once I got home – I spent about 30 minutes lying in the hallway under the ceiling fan to cool down.

Later that day, I met Curtis at the gym to lift. I did Workout A of NROLW Stage 5, which took me about an hour and fifteen minutes including my warm-up. My warm-ups consist of 5 repetitions of squat to stand, 5 repetitions of lateral lunges on each leg, 5 repetitions of reverse lunges with twist and overhead reach on each leg and 5 repetitions of the inchworm exercise. After my usual warm-up, I did a specific warm-up for my one-armed dumbbell snatches. I did 5 reps each arm at 12.5 pounds, then 3 reps each arm at 20 pounds, and 1 rep each arm at 22.5 pounds. Then I jumped right into my workout:

A. One-armed dumbbell snatch – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 25 lbs DBs

B1. Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 37.5 lbs DBs

B2. Barbell bent-over row – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 90 lbs BB

C1. Dumbbell single-arm overhead squat – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 15 lbs and 30 lbs DBs

C2. Dumbbell incline bench press – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 27.5 lbs DBs

D1. Plank – 3 sets of 90s with 120s rest @ BW

D2. Reverse wood chop – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 27.5 lbs/27.5 lbs/17.5 lbs

Body Weight Matrix – 2 sets of 24 squats, 12 lunges each leg, 12 jump lunges each leg and 24 jump squats with twice as much rest as work time

First Start: 1:03:50     First End: 1:07:20     Total: 3:30

Second Start: 1:14:20     Second End: 1:17:49     Total: 3:29

The last time I did this workout, I was sore for about four days afterward! That’s pretty unusual for me, but I think it was from doing the Body Weight Matrix after not doing it for awhile. This time, I increased weights on everything and I don’t feel overly sore, so I guess I adapted pretty well. The only change I’ve made is decreasing the weights on the Reverse wood chop on the third set. I have been unable to keep good form and straight arms at the weights I’ve been using. As a result, I haven’t been using my core as much as my arms, so by decreasing the weights I am able to use proper form. I’ll slowly work my way back up, but for now 17.5 lbs was about as heavy as I could handle with good form.

My plan for the week is to lift on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to catch up to where I expected to be by next week. I might also try to add some endurance work as well.

Have a great week!

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Free Training

It used to be that I could go to the gym, do my workout, shower and get home without speaking to a single person. It’s not that I’m antisocial or anything, but usually I prefer to just get my workout done, and get out. I’ve never really had a need to be buddy-buddy with anyone at the gym. Lately, it seems like I’m just a magnet for conversation. Yesterday, I got to the gym and the main floor was relatively quiet, but the weight room was pretty busy for a Friday evening. After a quick warm-up, I dove into my NROLW routine. After a few sets, a guy came up to me and asked if what I kept my legs straight or bent doing what I was (single-leg Romanian deadlift) and whether it worked the hamstrings because he had been having trouble with his hamstrings. I said yes it did and briefly explained how to do it so I could get back to my next set. A few sets later and go figure, the guy is trying the move! And his form was all wrong. I felt obligated to go correct him because the way he was moving he was bound to hurt his back. I never thought for a second that he would actually try it right then! His form in the next few reps were much better, thank goodness. I think he must have thought I was a trainer or something at first. He made a comment about getting some “free training” and I made sure to tell him that I was definitely  not a trainer. Through all this, I lost track a bit of my rest times, which kind of bugs me, but oh well. I hope the guy has better luck with his hamstrings in the future and doesn’t hurt himself doing anything he tried because I did it first!

My workout was NROLW stage 3 workout A.

A. One-armed dumbbell snatch – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 17.5 lb DBs

B1. Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 30 lb DBs

B2. Barbell bent-over row – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 85 lb barbell (1st set) and 75 lb barbell (2nd and 3rd set)

C1. Dumbbell single-arm overhead squat – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 12.5 lb and 25 lb DBs

C2. Dumbbell incline bench press – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 22.5 lb

D1. Plank – 3 sets of 120s with 105s Rest @ BW

D2. Reverse Wood Chop – 3 sets of 6 with 25 lb (1st set), 20 lb (2nd set), 25 lb (3rd set)

Body Weight Matrix – 2 sets (24 squats, 12 lunges each leg, 12 lunge jumps each leg, 24 squat jumps)

Eating-wise, I’ve stuck to the plan the last few days. Thursday ended with 1772 calories, Friday with about 1685 calories and today (Saturday) with about 1886 calories. Today was a little high, but yesterday was a little low and I worked out, so I thought it would even out a bit. Friday and Saturday are approximate because we went out for dinner on Friday night and I had leftovers (white pizza with red peppers, mushrooms and artichokes) today for lunch. It was delicious and worth every bite. 🙂

Tomorrow morning we need to get to the gym between 8 AM and 2 PM because it closes early for Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter!

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NROLW workout

I should have gone to the gym straight from work, but I didn’t. I almost talked myself out of going at all. Somehow, though, I managed to drag myself there at 6:00PM. It was really crowded in the free weight area. Out of about seven Olympic barbells, only one was available when I got there (they’re spread across several benches and two squat racks). I think every personal trainer had a client there tonight and all the “regulars” were lifting too. It was a madhouse. Normally I lift at my mom’s on Tuesdays so I guess I usually just miss this peak time. Thank goodness I won’t have to deal with it again. Fortunately, it worked out that everything I needed was available when I needed it with the exception of 10# dumbbells for YTWL.

Anyways, without further adieu, here is my workout. All exercises were 3 sets of 6 with 105s rest.

A. Barbell Romanian deadlift/Bent over row @ 65#
B1. Partial single leg squat @ 15#
B2. Wide grip lat pulldown @ 75#
C1. Back Extension @ 25#
C2. YTWL @ 7.5#
D1. Swiss ball crunch @ 15# (overhead)
D2. Reverse crunch @ BW
D3. Lateral flexion @ BW
E1. Prone cobra @ BW for 90s

Intervals (15 minutes)
1 min @ 3.5 mph
1 min @ 4.0 mph
1 min @ 5.0 mph
1 min @ 8.0 mph
2 min @ 5.0 mph
1 min @ 8.5 mph
2 min @ 5.0 mph
1 min @ 8.5 mph
2 min @ 5.0 mph
1 min @ 9.0 mph
1 min @ 5.0 mph
1 min @ 4.0 mph
Machine’s cooldown.

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Strength Loss

Woohoo!  Another day of goals being met.  I really think that writing them down and keeping them in my planner, which I obsessively examine every day, has helped tremendously in keeping them on the brain.  I took the time to make myself some perfect scrambled eggs this morning and ate them with a piece of my mom’s zucchini bread.  She makes the best zucchini bread ever, and we had just a little end leftover from the holidays for me to enjoy.  I’m always tempted to make her recipe, but I’m afraid I won’t do it justice, so I’ve never gone through with it.  She does not skimp on the spices, which I love, and it’s very moist and just melts in your mouth.  Yummy!

This morning, I also managed to pack my bag to go to the gym today directly after work. There were no stops on the way today! I went straight to the gym and did my NROLW Stage 1 workout B routine.

A. Deadlift – 2 sets of 15 @ 75 pounds barbell with 60s RI

B1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 2 sets of 15 @ 15 pounds dumbbells with 60s RI

B2. Wide grip lat pulldown – 2 sets of 15 @ 55 pounds (?) with 60s RI

C1. Lunge – 2 sets of 15 @ 20 pounds dumbbells with 60s RI

C2. Swiss Ball Crunch – 2 sets of 8 @ BW with 60s RI

The question mark on the wide grip lat pulldown is because the plates were marked 27.5, but it’s a new cable machine with double cables and I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t only 27.5 pounds total.  Since last time I did this workout last week, I lifted 55 pounds, I’m pretty sure that’s what it was this time.  The double cables must double the plate value?  I’ll have to ask one of the trainers next time I see one wandering around.  Today they were all busy with clients, and I didn’t want to interrupt.

For the Swiss Ball Crunch, I really should add a plate of weight.  I did them with a very slow lowering phase today in order to make them a bit more difficult, and I actually ended up doing extras by accident.  Next time I need to remember to add a weight plate to make them a bit tougher.

You can see how much strength I’ve lost on the deadlifts – I was deadlifting 100+ pounds when I stopped lifting early last year.  I’m pretty confident I will gain the strength back fairly quickly, but it’s kind of disheartening to see.  It definitely made me realize that I need to always keep some sort of maintenance lifting program as part of my training even if I feel like I don’t have time.

I’m going to try and do an easy run tomorrow.  I don’t think I’ll be able to fit in another lifting day this week since I’ll be traveling Saturday – Monday.  I expect to be able to blog throughout the weekend, so I should be able to check in and update on the outcome of my interview (Sunday).  But on the off-chance that I’m too busy over the next few days (unlikely), I’ll definitely update on Monday with a goals check-in from this week and updated goals for next week.  This week’s focus was clearly getting my butt back to the gym and begin getting back in the habit of workout out regularly.  Next week’s focus is going to be getting my diet back on track.  I’ve done a little of that this week, but afternoon snacking has been a little out of control.  I need to make a plan to handle that.

Have a great Friday!

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Uh oh – an injury?

Today started off with a wonderfully relaxed morning of getting ready for work including time to make blueberry waffles with my new Christmas waffle iron!  I even packed my bag to go straight to the gym after work (goal – check!).

Things took a turn when at work today, I realized that I had to send transcripts from the fall semester in to one of the schools by tomorrow! Eeek!  Cue crazy stressed out moment.  Fortunately, I was able to run straight to school to get sealed copies of my transcripts and express mail them for delivery by tomorrow at 3:00PM.  Phew.

I’m finally on my way to the gym an hour an a half later than intended due to my little detour and I realize that my shoulder has started hurting.  I have no clue what I did to it.  It’s not your typical soreness from lifting, and it’s kind of on the back of my shoulder.  Despite my years and years of swimming, I have never had a shoulder injury and I’m a little nervous about it.  I stretched it out really well and decided to lift anyways, it didn’t hurt during any of my moves (NROLW Stage 1 workout A), so that’s promising.  It mostly hurts when I lift my arm straight over my head.  Fingers crossed that’s just some intense DOMS from lifting on Sunday and it’s better soon.

I did manage to increase my weights today, so I think I’m getting some of my strength back!  I hope this trend continues.

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