Nov 122013

Community is such an important thing. You don’t notice how much you need it until you realize you don’t have one.

Growing up in a big Catholic family there was that built-in community at church but at a young age I realized I didn’t believe and felt like I was always standing just outside of that. I didn’t belong at church or the youth group. I was still the outsider. I floated in and out of other communities, religious and philosophical.

I know it’s probably normal to look back on the “old days” or historical time periods and think “things were better back then” but sometimes I really do believe it was. Before the day of the internet and easy access to everything, people were more in touch. Towns were smaller, everyone knew each other and (hopefully) helped each other. Growing up in a bigger city (Seattle) I never really felt like there was a close-knit community.

When I started running I found a community that I FINALLY belonged in. I was so happy! I was never into sports as a kid and discovering fitness later in life, I finally saw the benefits of activities like that. There really isn’t anything quite like being part of a team. Running is a pretty solo activity but you better believe you’re still part of a team if you’re a runner. You have other runner friends. You guys talk and rehash race weekends; you share in the anticipation and the woes of training; you have a common bond that brings you close to sometimes perfect strangers–the #runchat Twitter chat is a perfect example! This can lead to big and awesome things.

So when that community is gone, what happens? With various running injuries over the years, I’ve taken numerous breaks from running. I always had cycling to fall back on. Even if I wasn’t part of the running community, I still was part of some kind of cycling community. I could discuss centuries with other riders, what their favorite bike was, what GUs they preferred…the list is endless.

Then that was gone, too. Gone were the summers where I was super focused on getting my mileage up so that I would be able to participate in an epic ride.

I wanted this post to be an open dialogue about community; how to find your community, how having a community changes us, how to cope when you don’t have one…so what say all of you?

Nov 072013


What I love most about Suzanne’s weight programs she’s designed for me is the self confidence it gives me. I always always always leave the gym feeling stronger than I did when I walked in. It’s expected now. It makes me feel powerful and happy.

One of my favorite new moves that Suzanne sent me is the Weighted Plank Pulls. This move is HARD. Seriously. Not only are you doing a plank with only one hand, but you’re trying to stay in the same position while you pull the weight back and then forward again. This is a killer ab workout. My body is usually shaking by the last few reps!

Another new one for me is the Eccentric Incline Pushup. She has me doing this to “failure,” meaning you do the exercise as many times as you can before your muscles just give out. So far my “failure” for pushups is 10. I’m hoping as the weeks go on that number goes up a lot more.

She also suggested I start doing this triceps stretch during my cool down session. This isn’t a new move for me, but it’s definitely one I neglect. I am pretty good about stretching after my workouts now (too many injuries woke me up to that!) but for some reason I always forget to stretch the upper body too!

The other night I went to Body Pump. I’ve been trying to go again once a week. In the last two months I’ve been half a dozen times or so. I’m not currently doing a program from Suzanne and just needed a change up in my workout routine and schedule. While it’s sometimes difficult for me to make it to class, I’m always glad I go. Even when I’m hobbling around for days afterwards!

So last night at Body Pump there was a new teacher and he was much harder than the others. I don’t know why, it’s basically the same routine every time, but for some reason it was more challenging. There were several moments in the class when my muscles were shaking and sweat was dripping down my forehead that I wanted to quit. He said “You came here for a reason, WORK IT!” And I reminded myself, of COURSE this is going to be hard, that’s why I’m here! The challenge is good for me mentally and physically. The difficult workout gets me out of my rut, pushes my body to the limits and it MAKES ME STRONGER.

The next night I went to Spin class. I went back a few weeks ago for the first time in over a year. The first time I had some knee discomfort–difficult to say if it was pain because I am so hyper sensitive now! I took a few weeks off from spin and went back again. I told the teacher before class that I might leave half way through and told her it was due to an injury. I hate leaving a class mid-way through because I feel like it’s rude and disruptive. She said that was okay.

The class was challenging but unlike last month, I took it easy and didn’t try to burn out right at the beginning of the class! The session was all hill climbs. I went easy on the resistance (I still added resistance, just not as much as I’d normally do) and there were a lot of standing climbs, which also helped. This time I made it through 45 minutes of class.


As I left early the instructor said at least I made it longer than half way and she was right! I did what I could at the time and listened to my body when it was time to go. My knees were feeling okay during class, after class and the next day. I’m hoping that next time I go I can stay for the full hour!

Every day I get stronger and stronger. I can feel the weight lifting sculpting and shaping my body and as I walk around I can feel the difference it makes in my knees. Dare I say, my knees are getting happier?