It’s Sunday morning at 8:30 am and I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my pajamas writing a blog post. This is odd if only because this is the time usually reserved in my hectic schedule for plodding through the streets in neon fabrics and getting sweaty in the trails with my friends. I’ve taken a week off so far hoping that the rest and light cross-training I’ve been doing will improve the situation with my legs… which are still bugging me. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve narrowed the problem down to a sciatic nerve issue. It’s not pinched. It’s not compressed. It’s just irritated because I’ve let my core strength fall below the threshold whereby the abuse I put my body through is mitigated by strong muscles that prevent too much injury. The balance has been tipped, and I need to rest, strengthen, and rebuild before I start pushing myself back into the winter of training. So, I’m missing my Sunday run. And this probably means I’ve written off the whole “half-per-month” plan as I would probably die on the side of the route if I tried a half right now. Frustration fills my legs as they itch to get out on a trail, but that is quickly countered by a familiar tingling in my tissues. Soon… but not too soon. *sigh*
Self diagnosis is an art form. Or just stupid… one of the two.
Last time I had this little bout of sciatic nerve issue, I had a full round of tests and the doctor concluded that I needed (a) rest (b) painkillers and (c) to work on my core strength. I played along with the first two, but scoffed at the third because, hey, I run… I’m in shape, right?
One year later, I’m experiencing waves of identical symptoms, the most annoying of which is probably the unpredictable cramping of my calf muscles.
Hack : Core Strength
Thus I turn to technology and the epic lazy approach to fitting in core strengthening exercises into my day.
Oh sure, for you it’s easy. You get home and do a hundred crunches every night before your fifty-klick run as you gulp down a protein shake all the while writing a best-selling How-To-book on the same subject. Or, you’re like me, and you sit at a desk for eight hours straight, need a calendar reminder to pop up and tell you to use your legs for something besides a convenient place to store your shoes, and are lucky enough to squeeze in a run a few times a week let alone anything resembling a weight training regimen.
Technology this time comes in the form of my phone. Actually THERE IS an app for that. Multiple apps, in fact, and since I’m carrying this little device around with me for two-thirds of my day “why not” I thought “get it involved in the lifestyle change that is going to be necessary in fixing up my seemingly threatened lifestyle?”
I have a “Brad’s Workouts” calendar.
1) Calendar – Oh neat, you don’t even need to pay for this one… well, besides the cost of the phone into which it is built. I link my calendar up to my Google account which means I can have multiple calendars, each for a wide variety of things that would smash up against each other in reality. For example, I have a “Brad’s Workouts” calendar. It’s not shared. But it is set to nag me with multiple reminders (by default) and everything is colour-coded to look really important while not clogging up the rest of my day with the sense that I really do have no time for anything, any more than necessary at least.
2) Reminder Apps – Additionally, a dedicated “to do” list app breaks you away from the more strictly scheduled actions. I mean, it’s great to block off a couple hours on a Wednesday evening for “Drop in Running” but I don’t like so much to book my other stuff. For one, if I dismiss the fifteen minute reminder for a bike ride or a weight workout, it’s gone. If I use a checklist, well, it nags me until I actually do it. I recently scored a free copy of “Due” from Starbucks which is really simple and I’ve been giving it a whirl for this hacking effort, but there are literally thousands of these kinds of apps out there.
Setting some defined and reachable goals.
3) Challenge Apps – I know I don’t push myself hard enough. Improvement comes from motivation to go further than last time, and I discovered that there are bunch of little apps out there for not only nagging you to improve, but tracking and pushing and setting some defined and reachable goals. For example (buzz marketing time) my core strength effort is going to be supplemented with a little app called “200 Situps” which is a classic app that I bought back with my original iPhone a few years ago and never did much with… sadly as it turns out. This little app challenges you to build up to being able to do 200 situps (properly, in the back-friendly crunch way) which it does by setting up a four-day-per-week program complete with initial test, interval timer, reminders, and animated tutorials.
Obviously none of this is going to fix anything overnight, and the important part of this whole thing is that technology is not a solution… it’s a tool. And even if that tool isn’t left to gather dust in your basement, you can hit your thumb with a hammer just as easily as you can hit the nail.
[Achievement Unlocked: Daily Metaphor in a Blog Post!]
I’m just going to aim for the nail a little more carefully for the next while… because the roof seems to be leaking.
That I need to work on my strength if I want to keep pursuing my running.