By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
July 17, 2016
Last week, I actually took a vacation. A few years before, I spent a few days in Washington D.C., which happened to be the closest thing to a vacation I had experienced in my adult life. I find it interesting how some people can take this idea for granted, like it is guaranteed fixture with your life span. One thing that always bothered me is the trope about traveling when you are young, regardless of your money situation. Well, I am not that reckless so to speak. Being the logical, numbers kind of guy is what often times keeps me out of a lot of arguments, because in the end, the numbers never match up. This is the reason why I never jump into bad political debates and why I rarely go head long into something anymore. There will always be some sort of argument or statistic that will stand against me. To keep my mindset simple to explain, I will utilize an old sports argument that I actually have had with some people. I would like to think I won but then again, you can never really argue with a New York Yankees fan. Some baseball groupies (primarily at ESPN) like to call Derek Jeter one of the greatest players ever. Sure, there is no denying his off field sexual exploits (and his recent marriage) make him one of the all time lotharios of sports while also producing no illegitimate kids, his numbers just don’t stack up. His fielding was average the second half of his career, he didn’t hit for power and his numbers may have been skewed due to playing 70 games against four teams with typically lousy pitching (yeah, the AL East was a nightmare for the longest time!). He was a good player and certainly one of the cultural tour de forces of my generation, but he was nowhere near being in the top 25 of the all-time list, which a lot of knee jerk apologist have done. If anything, little known Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was an equal player, despite playing in the same era but not having the benefit of playing in New York (Biggio played in Houston). Does this mean Biggio is an all-timer? Probably not, but you get my point in regards to the hype versus reality. So anyway, to get to my point, taking an extended look into something and measuring the statistics may be a boring and inconceivable way to live, but it is the way I live much of the time. That’s why I love and appreciate something more. Some might call this a weird way to live, but for me, it suits me just fine. It should not be surprising in regards to my personality, considering I love lists and schedules and statistics. I guess this sort of thing makes me laborious to be around.
On the other hand, the great part of coming back from any extended leave of absence is the idea of rebuilding…the idea of starting anew. For nearly two weeks, my schedule was pretty much thrown into a mixer and noodle into something unrecognizable. For someone like me, adjusting an already set schedule is not too hard, but it is a pain in the butt. When I dropped a 45-pound weight on my foot a few weeks ago, it sent my workout regimen into a little bit of a tailspin. I couldn’t run because the tightness of my shoes aggravated the tender spot where my muscle and skin were healing. So that meant a lot more working out and a lot of cycling at the gym. It worked out perfectly because I latched onto a friend and also got a free one week pass at Chuze. But that all ended the week before I went to Denver. Heck, my first three days on vacation pretty much resulted in nothing for me, for I was much too busy helping out with various things and watching my little nieces and nephew. The other problem of course was my lack of sleep, for I had a really difficult time of getting any “zzzs” the first couple days up there. It wasn’t because of the hotel, just the arrangement. I dealt with it like a champ, but conjuring the energy to actually do something was sort of problematic. I managed to get some other physical activities in during my extended time in Denver, and the weather made it much easier to adjust my schedule to get the optimal level of training needed. It seems kind of weird and you might not believe me, but going to Denver, in spite my body feeling rejuvenated and energetic, kind of messed with me. I’m not going complain about it, for I really enjoyed the trip, but coming back to Tucson has made me realize this city and this state in general are just not a good forum for progressing with my health during the summer time.
I say that because of the heat, which is once again just messing with me in more ways than one. With the days getting longer and the humidity starting to creep in, my usual sleep problems came back on the first night I slept in my own bed again. What really causes problems for me is the lack of energy, and I can definitely feel it as the day goes on. I don’t really know how I am going to combat the return of this problem, but like always, it will have to be the result of a lot of guile and effort. I’ll admit, the first two days back in Tucson, I was pretty darn lazy. I didn’t even want to spend all that much time at home, for my body just felt awful from the heat and I ended up watching a few movies instead, languishing in the comfort of movie theaters. Heck, on Monday, just walking my dogs was kind of a chore. And that is the conundrum I think so many people have with getting healthy in my city. It is no surprise that Pima County (the county Tucson is in) is one of the most unhealthy in the entire United States. Of course, this mentality might be from the fact Tucson’s public facilities are still somewhat limited to a city of its size, the main reason I’ll always use is that it just demoralizes people. That sure as heck did the trick for me when I first got back into town. On the way home from Denver, my heart just sank as the temperature gauge in my mother’s car began at 95 or so and continued to shoot up to 108. That can be kind of a downer so to speak. Either way, I still had to get my butt into Parsons on Tuesday, and I needed to be ambitious. Since I went more than a week without any weight lifting, and I had to put together a workout that was both challenging with weights that would not kill me too much.
My first day back in the actual gym, I wanted to do a little bit of everything. So I did some bench pressing, dead lifting, back squatting, overhead pressing and some barbell rowing. Now, I didn’t try to go too heavy on any of these things, merely because I knew it would be suicide and a good time to potentially get hurt. Now, I kind of hate keeping the weights low in this regard, but the is part of the process when you are doing five sets of five for each movement including a warm-up round (and in regards to deadlifts and back squats, I do a couple rounds of really light stuff to get the body working right). I stuck with 135 on the bench, 255 on the dead, 135 on the row, 115 on the overhead and 185 on the back. Yeah, to some of my stronger and more healthy peeps, that is pretty light for most occasions. But here is the reason why I didn’t go nuts…the residual soreness and pain would hit me hard. I was not a happy camper for the next couple days, for my legs and my shoulders instantly felt the work I had put in the previous session. Here is something else I have been noticing lately…the heat is starting to aggravate my tendinitis. I say this because my grip has been a little off and my forearms have been somewhat stiff for a good week. Right now, I’m just dealing with the problem so to speak, but it can affect you (as in writing on the computer). When I came back into the gym a couple days later, the folly of my thinking was complete. I was just a sore mess.
I was unable to run the previous day, but during the evening when I do my trotting, it was over 100 degrees!! Typically I try to tell myself not to run in that weather, and the soreness pretty much allowed me to put it off for a couple more days. Thursday at Parsons was a bit more functional, with the only really hard things I did being five sets of five of the hang clean and the front squat. I could have combined them into one exercise and take it from there, but I wanted to work two specific movements while also maximizing the number of things I wanted to accomplish for the day. I will admit, the front squats really aggravated my already sore legs, but that is the price you often pay for getting off the schedule and then getting back on it. I’ll admit, this week has not been a good one for me, but like I mentioned before, everything serves a purpose when it comers to fitness.
I hate working out during the Tucson summer time. I have always said this and I will most likely believe this until the day I die. I tried a little run on Friday night but died after two miles. It is not easy so to speak, especially when you were not knee deep in the much for a good while. I will make a much more concerted attempt tonight, possible stopping by Reid Park to get more mileage in at a well lit park that is a bit flatter than the home course (which will also allow me to run a little later). I honestly think the inclines played a large role in running me out of gas this past Friday night. Or it could have been the heat. I will always go with the heat. I can also attribute the soreness, because my body was still in a state of shock so to speak. I mean, the worst part about Saturday was the fact I really needed to rest my legs and feet, and they got destroyed while helping my father change out an actual Mastercool cooler. Oh, and we were doing this in the middle of the day, with 102-degree weather and on a second story roof that maybe had a 45-degree angle. It was utterly horrible on my legs, and I decided not to run that night not due to the loss of fluids and the beat down of being in that kind of heat for four hours straight, but mainly because my legs were put to waste. Just imagine having to watch your step and maintain balance for nearly four hours! Personally, I was really glad we finished when we did, because I don’t know how much longer my legs would have lasted.
Anyway, the challenge of this week is finally over, for I can finally start thinking about doing all the things I want do once again whitely initial shock my body went through is finally over with. I intend to actually get my gym membership this week, no longer using other people and free offers to get my official jollies. Yup, I will be part of the system soon. And I might have to start exploring the lost art of the morning run, even though it is not my style. It is clear that in my old age (ha, a 38-year saying such things!) I have to start thinking about my long term health in regards to the heat exposure. I’m not talking about my body actually being exposed to the heat, I’m talking about the mental state the heat leaves me in when I fail at something. I got to tell you, nothing makes me lose hope more when I have trouble just getting three miles under my belt. Alas, those are the challenges awaiting and unlike Denver, the sweet refreshing “chill” of 90-degree summer weather is not in the books. I’m stuck with that anger inducing kind of heat, the kind that makes a person want to sit at home with a fan join them 24-7. Hopefully my week of adjustment is enough, because I certainly don’t want to prolong the process too long. I already feel like have gained a couple pounds, even though I shouldn’t worry about that thing. But you know me, that will always be the constant battle.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.