Still Working Through The Pain (or I’m Going To Stay Positive About This)

This past week of workouts ended up being another struggle. As I mentioned last week, I did something to my back and that really threw things off for me. But at least the nausea was gone and I was ready to feel like myself again. That’s not how this past week went, but I think I did end up finding the best in the situation.

Monday’s workout was a strength day and I was ready to be back to normal with my bike work. I was feeling good (this workout was right before my back pain started) and I was excited to see what I was going to be able to do.

The cardio work did include hills, but they weren’t super high inclines. So I was keeping my bike resistance levels close to what I’m used to. We had rounds of hill work and flat road work and each round the incline/resistance level went down by 1. I started 1 level higher than my new all out level and didn’t worry about pedaling too fast. And it felt great when the resistance level was getting back down toward where I’m used to being after having such a high level earlier. When we had our all outs, since I had so much work using resistance levels I decided to have the level at my base level but I pedaled much faster. It was an interesting difference from what I’m used to doing. I don’t know if I’ll do that all the time for my all outs, but it could be something good to have as an option when I have strength days in the future.

On the rower, we had rounds of stroke count work. We started with doing 20 strokes on the rower slowly to get as many meters as possible. Then we had lunges using the medicine ball. Each time we got to the rower we went down 2 stokes. Because I was going so slow, I didn’t get that low with the stroke count. I tried to keep the stroke rate below 16 strokes a minute when with normal rowing I’m usually between 25-30. It is so hard to go that slowly, but I know that was the purpose of that workout and I’m glad I really tried to do it that way.

And on the floor we had 2 blocks and it was a lot of upper body work. The first block had bicep curls but we were balancing on one leg while doing them. That was definitely an added challenge, but I took my time and put my foot down to regain my balance when necessary. We also had tricep extensions on the straps and goblet lunges. And the second block had regular bicep curls, regular lunge, and tricep extensions using the weights. It was interesting to see how I felt between the two blocks since they were essentially the same exercises but different ways of doing them.

Wednesday’s workout was a mix of endurance, strength, and power and because of my back I had to be careful with what I did. I knew that working out wasn’t going to make things worse unless I was careless in what I did in class. Every time I worked on stretching things felt better so I was hoping a workout would do the same. There wasn’t too much I had to modify which was nice, I just had to take things a bit slower.

For cardio, we had 2 blocks with a similar pattern. We started with hill work, then we had a flat road push pace, and we ended with rounds of 30 second all outs with recoveries between. For the hill work, I kept it where my push pace resistance level usually is. I didn’t want to strain too much because I was worried I would put that strain into my back. I did work hard, just not as hard as I would have done if I was feeling ok.

On the rower, we had sprint rows and we were supposed to do power jacks with a medicine ball between each row. I knew that I shouldn’t lift a weight over my head and I didn’t want to have to bend over to grab the medicine ball each time I was going to use it. So I did regular squats instead and that worked just fine for me. We also had all out rows to match with the cardio side when they had them. I was able to do a bit better with those rows because they were so short.

And on the floor, we had one long block. We had front squats with dumbbells, upright rows with dumbbells, double crunches, goblet squats, lateral raises, and swimmers. I had to modify the front squats because I couldn’t hold the weights up that high so I did them as regular squats with weights. I also had to go much lower with the weights for all the exercises. Some of the exercises did use my back so obviously I needed lighter weight for those. But even the goblet squats had to be done with a lighter weight because I just couldn’t pick up the heavier one. Considering what the workout could have been and the modifications I could have needed, I was very happy with the limited modifications I had to do.

Friday’s workout was a mix of strength and endurance work. My back was doing much better than it was on Wednesday, but I still had twinges of pain when I moved certain ways so I had to be careful with what I did and how I moved. Unfortunately, one of the ways I felt pain was when I hunched over to adjust the resistance levels on the bike so I had to be very careful with that.

The cardio work was a mix of push paces at a flat incline and push paces with hills. But because I struggled to adjust the resistance level, I just used my new base pace for the base pace moments and my old push pace for the push paces no matter if there was incline work or not as well as the all out. Limiting it to those 2 levels helped a lot because I didn’t have to adjust things that often. I know that it didn’t make the workout as hard as it should have been, but it did allow me to have very little pain while on the bike.

The rower had 2 blocks with similar patterns. We had 2 rounds of a 200 meter row, 2 rounds of a 150 meter row, and rounds of a 100 meter row. Between each row we had medicine ball exercises. For the first block we had medicine ball ground to presses and for the second block we had medicine ball front raises. But I couldn’t lift a medicine ball that way without having pain. So for both blocks I did squats with the medicine ball. It wasn’t working the same muscles we were supposed to, but the muscles we were supposed to be using were the ones that hurt. And for the rowing, I tried to keep my rows as close to my normal times as possible. I had to be very cautious doing them because I discovered doing the proper form hurt more than doing a sloppy form. So I had to be aware of my body position so I didn’t injure myself a different way by having bad form.

And the floor had a lot of upper body and core work which was a bit tough for me. We also had drop sets which ended up giving me a good chance to test out different weights to see what my body could do while hurting. The first block had drop sets with chest presses and regular sets with bear steps and arm raises. The second block had drop sets with tricep extensions with weights and then regular sets with shoulder presses and sit-ups. I did have to go lighter with my weights for the weighted work, but I was doing better than I had done on Wednesday. And the core work wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be, it was just getting into position that was hard. Getting up and down from the ground was harder than the actual exercises.

Saturday’s workout was an endurance day and fortunately my back was almost totally normal. I’m lucky that I only had to deal with the bad pain for a couple of days, but I’m also aware that if I go too hard that I could injure myself again or the little pains I have could last much longer. So I took that knowledge into my workout to make sure I didn’t do anything too crazy.

For cardio we had lots of push paces to base paces. The base pace always matched the time of the push pace before it, but the block had a lot of variety. We had 2 minute, 90 second, 1 minute, and 30 second intervals throughout the time we were doing the cardio block. We ended with a 1 minute push pace followed by a 1 minute all out. And just like on Friday, the only time I had a bit of pain on the bike was when I had to lean over to change the resistance levels. So I kept it simple like I did the day before. So all the base paces were my new base pace and all the push paces were the old push pace even if they were the shorter ones. Usually I would do the old push pace for the longer ones and the new push pace for the short ones, but it wasn’t worth it for me to worry about the adjustments as much. I did use my new all out pace at the end which helped to end on a good note.

The rowing work was 1 long block. We started with a 2 minute row and then we had medicine ball work. Then we were supposed to reduce the row by 100 meters from what we did in 2 minutes and repeat the pattern. Usually I would use an even number no matter how far I went in 2 minutes, but I decided to do the math in my head each time and do what I actually did. The medicine ball work were squats to overhead raises and calf raises. I didn’t do the overhead raise with the squats and I kept the medicine ball at my chest for the calf raises to protect my back. But I felt like I was doing work much closer to what we were supposed to do.

And the floor block ended up being one of the highlights of the workout for me. The first block was almost all work that involved stepping on the bench. Until last week, I wasn’t able to do any exercises like that and would have to do squats or lunges instead. I still had to modify the actual exercises because I can’t do stepping up and down, but I was still able to use the bench. We were supposed to do step overs with crossing the back leg, step down toe taps, and power step ups. What I did was balancing on one leg while holding the straps for all the exercises. Instead of the step overs I basically did single leg squats with crossing the back leg behind me. For the toe taps and step ups I did single leg squats with keeping the leg I wasn’t using to the side. It’s much closer to the work than what I used to do even with all the modifications. The second block was lunges with bicep curls or uppercuts and side planks, all exercises I could do. I had to be careful with the side planks while I was going from standing to the floor and back, but the actual exercise was not painful or difficult.

There was no way for me to know that this past week was going to be thrown off by my back issues. But I am so grateful that it really didn’t hurt my workouts too much. I did have new modifications to do, but I also was getting a lot of stuff done that I hadn’t been able to do until recently. I think there were more positive things about this workout than negative and that’s awesome! My back is still a little tender and I have a few moments of little pains, but I’m doing so much better and I’m optimistic the trend will continue that way.

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