A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Not being able to do proper cardio was giving me ANXIETY with a capitol A!

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Warning: This post is a bit random. I am operating on very little sleep. Please don't hate me!




The good news is I am slowly, but surely, able to do cardio again. I have been doing some sessions on the elliptical and my knee has felt great during and after. It still feels puffy and it’s uncomfortable to bend it completely, so it’s not 100% but I would say it’s 75%. My elliptical sessions at first only lasted 20-30 minutes because I was being very careful to EASE my way into it. I didn’t want to go hog wild and hurt something or slow progress. These sessions were at a resistance where I was still able to talk and carry on a conversation. Steady-state cardio at its finest.

Except I’m not a huge fan of steady-state cardio! (Unless it’s a long run or something specific for a certain race I’m training for.) I’ve become more of a fan of the shorter, intense workouts. I feel like my body gains so much more from 20 minute intervals on the arc trainer than plugging along on the elliptical or spin bike in a steady-state for an hour.

I tried the arc trainer a few days ago and was able to do intervals very close to the intensity I did pre-surgey. But I am going to back off. After two days in a row of 45 minute sessions, I think I need to give my knee a break for a couple more days. It's so hard to hold myself back. I want to train at an intensity level that challenges me, but I also have to look at the big picture. Running. Boston. Jumping. Squating. Trail runs. All these things are coming my way, I just have to be patient!

So if steady-state is all I can do at the moment, I have to accept it. I am very thankful I can finally do something. For the first week, I didn't do any cardio at all- only 3 upper body strength training workouts. (I don’t do the same muscle groups two days in a row… I am a firm believer in 48-72 hours rest in between so my muscles can rebuild and really get the gains I am aiming for!)

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know I struggle with taking simply one complete rest day a week let alone SEVERAL. But my surgery forced it on me. It’s all part of the process. But I will admit to you…. Not being able to do proper cardio for a week was really giving me anxiety. Not knowing exactly when I'll finally be able to do all the high intensity things I love is also giving me anxiety.


Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?????


Easy. I don’t want to gain weight- unless it’s muscle. I don’t want to lose the muscles in my legs. I don’t want to lose the conditioning level I worked so hard to achieve! Now of course, resting for a week or two or even three isn’t going to make me fat, slow, and lose muscle. But remember… I don't know how long it's going to be until I can really push myself again. I have to be careful.

Why am I telling you this? Because in some ways, I have made HUGE PROGRESS in my body image, eating habits, training habits… everything. But I still struggle. Not all the time, but sometimes, I still have those unhealthy thoughts in my head. (Mainly when I am not in complete control of my workouts.... like, uh, NOW!) I am nowhere near perfect, and when I spout off advice in this blog, I assure you it’s advice I know to be true, but is not always easy for me to follow myself.

One other thing I want to mention, and sorry if this post is a bit discombobulated... but I don't know what to eat on rest days. On training days it is easy. I know what I have put my body through during my workout and I know what kinds of foods I need to refuel and rebuild. On rest days I thinking... okay... what is this food for right now? Does this make sense?

Sorry for a long winded post that sort of jumped around and featured no colorful pictures. I'm too tired to add any at this point, so you will have to deal with just my random thoughts today.


Do you prefer steady-state cardio or HIIT?
How do you deal with anxiety? (Besides running- ha!)
Do you eat differently on training days and rest days?

26 comments:

  1. I love steady cardio! Maybe I'm weird. I like a hard steady pace on any equipment. I do hills or intervals on elliptical a lot though but only because it just never feels like I get a great workout on tha thing.

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    1. My favorite place to do steady cardio is a long, beautiful run, or a long run on trail. :) Yah elliptical is my LEAST favorite piece of equipment.

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  2. Just breathe and remember this to will pass! You will get there! I don't eat any differently on training days vs non training days although I am less hungry after my runs.

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  3. This post reminds me so much of how I used to think and feel a few years ago that I just had to comment. I found eating stressful unless I'd got a good workout in that day (or knew I was going to later), I found it hard to rest completely even when I was ill or simply too sore or physically exhausted from a previous workout and/or long run. But let me tell you something - you know what happened when I stopped exercising like crazy and continued to eat anyway - nothing. Except I started feeling less tired and anxious, after a while. I gave up dedicated exercise (both cardio and weight lifting) over a year ago, and the only real change that's happened is that my cardiovascular fitness has decreased a little. And I feel a million times better (it's funny, because I didn't realise how tired my level of physical activity was making me until I actually stopped!). For the first six months I did not look any different at all. The weight I eventually gained (which isn't loads) was intentional and happened later on, after deliberately increasing my food intake above maintenance in order to gain, not because I was underweight, but because I knew it would do me good. But I've maintained muscle mass (and definition) and strength, presumably through day-to-day stuff - walking, cycling to work, carrying things, and so on. You know, just using my body for normal stuff. Your peak fitness decreases after a relatively short period of lessened activity, but your base fitness doesn't just disappear, most certainly not after a week or two. You'd have to spend a few weeks or months on complete bedrest.

    Anyway, just thought I'd share my experience, for what it's worth. If you're happy with the way things are, great! Just ignore my comment as a piece of unsolicited and unwanted advice. But when I was in a similar position, with similar anxieties, I wish someone could have reassured me that the world will not come crashing down if I stopped exercising. :)

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story! Your advice an sentiments are very much appreciated. While I do know everything will not crash down if I stop exercising like normal (my normal), it is still good to hear reassurance from someone else! If things DO come crashing down it's because of what's going on my head and that's all. I've soooo been in the place you were. It sucked.

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  4. I can relate a lot of course to what you are going through. For me, and I'm guessing you by your ABC's post, that you tend to be a little anxious, and for me, and again probably you, high intensity cardio actually calms you down? I expend so much of my nervous energy and feel so much calmer when I've had a really good sweat session, so I totally get not liking rest days, let alone several. And I can totally relate when it comes to eating too. It doesn't take me long to feel "dough-y". It's not like my hunger level changes when I don't work out...it doesn't, and I feel like I'm gaining weight. I think the most frustrating thing is just the not knowing and sitting around and waiting for things to return to normal. I keep waking up hoping that this will be the morning my leg pain will go away, or my shoulder pain for that matter. I hate feeling broken. :(

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    1. "I think the most frustrating thing is just the not knowing and sitting around and waiting for things to return to normal" - YES! This, exactly! I would say you and I need to start a support group but I guess that's what our blogs are for. :) I really hope your pains go away soon.

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    2. ha ha true! I think people don't realize that certain people (like me) need their favorite exercises not just as a way to look good, but to feel good inside and out...meaning my brain too. It's like a happy pill for me and when it's taken away it makes me more depressed than probably the average person. Sometimes I want to punch people who tell me just to rest and be patient. ha ha I'm trying but it's hard!

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  5. This was a great post. I am sure from going to a very active lifestyle to a post-surgery lifestyle can be tricky! You definitely want to rest and not rush into exercises that will injure you more! I hope you will stay positive and get through this! Your runs are right around the corner!!

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  6. I prefer steady but switch between the two because the benefits of HIIT is go great and to stick with one or the other can lead your body to get comfortable there. I am the SAME way with the unknown. I'm in a similar situation right now with my career and it gives me tons of anxiety. Something that helps me is to write it all out.

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    1. The unknown is the worst. I agree, having a blog and writing things down helps!

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  7. I like steady cardio because I like running for the time it gives me to zone out. But hard interval workouts make me feel so much better AFTER they're done!

    On off days, I tend to eat normally...but I'm not great at eating like a runner anyway. I just eat what I feel like!

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    1. Ooh good point- I enjoy zoning out on a run too... or listening to Dan Savage. ;)

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  8. I like steady cardio and HIIT. I feel you with the post-surgical blahs - I hate not being able to do some sort of cardio! My first question at my post-op appointment was, "So, when can I run?" (And I'm pretty sure my surgeon wanted to strangle me...haha.) It might be slow, but you'll get your groove back! It sounds like, although it may be hard, you really have a great attitude and are going to come out happier and healthier in the long run. :) You go girl!

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    1. I have my first post op tomorrow... you better believe that is one of my qs!! Thank you for the kind words. :) I am trying to have a good attitude!

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  9. I run 4x a week and am hungry ALL the time, and eat a ton! Of course, I know I'm not as ripped as you are...BUT I actually keep losing weight, even though I'm eating lots on my days off. So I'd say just listen to your body, and give it the same foods you'd eat as if you were training every day...maybe just scaled down a tiny bit. That way when you DO start running again full-time, your body will be ready for it. I am no expert, though - that's just my two cents!
    And drink some ZYM. :-)

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    1. That is awesome that you are able to eat a ton and are still able to lose weight! That's the thing, if you work hard and eat well and eat the right things at the right time, your body adapts and will become a calorie burning MACHINE!

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  10. I am definitely a steady cardio girl. That being said, I really am enjoying the hills and interval workouts this training plan has for me. I was thinking about your knee when I was brushing my teeth this morning....too weird??? LOL. I was thinking about how I have hopefully my last physio appointment this week and then I thought "I wonder how Meg's knee is doing!"

    I'm exactly like you in that I have no idea how to eat on rest days. I feel fat on rest days as well. I'm working on that one. :S

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    1. Woot!! I hope it was your last appointment!

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  11. I love long runs, but when it comes to the elliptical or stationary bike I much prefer HIIT. I have no idea how to really keep myself entertained on those machines for long periods of time!

    On planned rest days I just kind of go with the flow with my meals. On unplanned rest days (aka I'm just being a lazy ass) I still just go with the flow but I try not to eat out, because it's so easy to over eat at a restaurant without even thinking about it.

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  12. I sympathize with how you feel. I had a femoral stress fracture this year and during my time away from running, I was really confused about what to eat, in part because running actually decreases my appetite rather than the reverse. It can be tough. That said, I didn't gain any weight; I began crosstraining as soon as I could, and found my body naturally craves the amount of movement it takes to even out a normal level of intake. You could try this: http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced to estimate your requirements. After all, everyone needs some calories just for things like brain and organ function. It even takes calories to digest food. Also, one week off won't really reduce your fitness level. Vo2max doesn't decrease for two weeks or so.

    As for steady-state cardio vs. interval training, I do prefer intervals. They bore me less, and I particularly enjoy sprinting, as it gives me more of a full-body buzz. But I do enjoy steady-state recovery runs when they're with friends, so I can basically ignore the run and just talk. Steady-state runs when I am alone, at the slow paces my coach forces me to do them, just annoy me, but I know they can result in favorable adaptations.

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    1. Augh, I am sure my Vo2max has decreased but luckily I will be craving those hard pushes to get me back where I was! I too enjoy the steady state when running with friends or if I just need to zone out for a bit. Steady state is really good for that... a "good for the soul" type of thing. That's interesting that running decreases your appetite! I normally have a pretty healthy hunger no matter what sort of training I do. But weight training and HIIT definitely make me more ravenous than say a 6 mile run at an easy pace.

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