I’m a total science nerd.
I actually feel my blood pressure rise when debating with people why the soreness they feel 24-48 hours after a long run or workout is caused by lactic acid build up. I probably go way too far in depth when explaining to a new female client that she doesn’t need to fear weight training and will not by any means “bulk”. And I’ll be the first to sit here and defend someone as to why they train the way they do, and not the way the current fitness trends claims they should train. (Specificity, kids…not everyone needs Beast Mode 24/7/365. Actually, no one needs that, but I digress.)
Since I found myself with an umbilical hernia last fall, and it’s subsequent surgical repair this spring, I’ve found myself back in “runner” mode. As in “what should we do for a workout today? I know, LET’S RUN!” (repeat the next day, and the day after, and the day after that…). I couldn’t lift without straining the hernia (or the subsequent stitches), so I ramped my mileage back up pretty quickly, with a few marathons in the early spring (including that one on a treadmill) and the 50+ miler a few weeks ago. And in doing so, I kind of let everything else in my fitness world go to *&^$.
I know, some of you are thinking “Ummm…you just ran 50 miles at once. I highly doubt you are NOT in shape”. But here’s the thing, fitness is far more than being good at one thing, it’s about being good at everything your body is capable of. Textbooks will tell you that there are five components of physical fitness, and they are:
1) Muscular Strength: “The muscle’s ability to exert force for a brief span of time.” For example, a one rep max.
2) Muscular Endurance: “The ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles, to sustain repeated contractions or to continue applying force against a fixed object”. For example, how many pushups you can do.
3) Cardiovascular Endurance: “The body’s ability, over sustained periods of physical activity, to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues, and to remove wastes”. In other words, how far can you run before your lungs say “forget you, I quit” and your muscles quickly follow suit.
4) Flexibility/Mobility: “The ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion”. I’m willing to bet most of us struggle with this one.
5) Body Composition: “The ratio of lean body mass to fat. Lean body mass represents the weight of water, muscle, bone and internal organs.” This one is always a struggle for me. Am I in the healthy range? Yes. Do I eat too much pizza and really enjoy microbrews? Yes again. Life is short. I like good food.
But today I want to talk about #4: flexibility and mobility. Both of which, I am seemingly lacking.
Within 48 hours of moving back to SC I started working at a new gym, which also includes a CrossFit box, where my BFF Hope happens to be a coach. Needless to say adding CrossFit to my training was pretty much non-negotiable. I breezed my way through the foundations course (a.k.a. “moves you need to know before any of this will make sense”) and have since been to a couple of classes.
Where I realized I am, in the words of Hope, a “hot mess”.
(Sorry, no “hot mess” pictures yet. I’m too busy trying to get my legs to cooperate with “pigeon pose” rather than remember to take a picture of me sweating my butt off in the CF box. So here’s a pic of my current happy place: SC trails. I found some.)
Between distance running (a widely known culprit for tight hips and hamstrings), sitting in my chair for long periods of time (a necessary evil in the writing world, but also a cause of muscular imbalances), and recent abdominal surgery, my body truly is a hot mess. I have been unable to get myself into position to do many basic movements because frankly, my body just doesn’t “bend that way”. At least not yet. My dreams of ramping up my training have been halted while I spend time stretching, foam rolling, and working on basic squat form while avoiding an unnecessary pelvic tilt. And my hip flexors? They hurt. A lot. It’s been frustrating, humbling, and sort of humiliating (I am a fitness professional after all, I should have addressed these issues long ago)…but it is necessary. As Hope reminded me this morning, “you have to learn to walk before you can learn to run”.
The point of this post is to urge all of you to really evaluate your fitness as a whole.
Runners, are you strength training? Because you should be. Osteoporosis is no joke. Gym rats, are you conditioning your cardiovascular system? Because you should be. Your biceps look great and all, but heart disease is the #1 cause of death in our society. Specificity is fantastic, and having a sport or activity you are passionate about is amazing. But for the sake of your body…the same body you’ll have 20+ years from now…don’t forget to address ALL of the components of fitness, or one day you might regret it.
Trust my hips on this one.