I've accidentally upped my exercise regime.
I'm supposed to be careful about how much I put my body through, but in my defence, it wasn't really supposed to work out like this. It started when I began to have swimming lessons a couple of months ago. My intention was only to try to become a more efficient swimmer. The muscles in my arms and shoulders are the most affected by my MS and are both weakened and vulnerable to muscle wastage. Most of the exercise I take is centered around running, and although that's great, it doesn't do much for the muscle conditioning of my upper body. I do some exercises as I get out of bed on three mornings every week, but if I was going to swim, I wanted to make sure I was getting the maximum benefit from my effort.
As it turned out, I was hardly using my arms at all in the water; whirling them around whilst my legs put in most of the effort. A little bit of coaching and I could already feel the difference just in quite how tired my arms and shoulders were when I got out of the pool. I was given some drills, and with the incentive and the focus given to me by Lucy, my instructor, I quickly found I was swimming some 1500m+ every time I got into the pool, and I was using up one of my two rest days in the week to squeeze in another session. My overall mileage in the pool each week probably more than doubled.
In addition to this, my boss expressed an interest in doing some running at work. He's trying to shift some weight, and has been doing stirling work throughout the winter months by cycling the 40 minutes each way between home and work. The weight is coming off, but he was wanting to do more. I generally go out running every Tuesday lunchtime with another of my colleagues. In that session, we push each other reasonably hard: left to my own devices, I tend to run slower in my second mile and faster at the start and end of a run. My colleague is the reverse, and so we act as a spur to the other to run a little faster and harder. Although keen to encourage my boss, he didn't want to muscle in on that session and force us both to run slower.... so we added a session on a Friday lunchtime. We only go out for a little over three miles, and we generally run a good minute per mile slower, but it's more than enough to get a bit of a sweat on and to feel the burn in my muscles. I already swim on a Friday night, so that's a double session day..... which I'm really feeling when I go running on a Saturday morning.
As I say, I need to be careful and listen to the signals my body is giving me. I forced out 6 miles on Saturday, swam 1900m on Sunday and was subsequently exhausted on Monday. I ran on Tuesday lunchtime, but it was hard and, given that I was injecting that night, I decided that Wednesday was a day off.
The injection often leaves me worn out, and indeed, I was barely able to get out of bed on Wednesday morning and needed to take one of my pep pills before 10am. Sometimes it's as important to rest as it is to exercise.
I didn't feel too bad at football today. Not great - I always find the stop-start nature of football much harder than the rhythm of running - but my biggest problem was the deep, needle-shaped bruise extending into the muscle of my left thigh that I could feel every single time I took a step.
Am I going to rest tomorrow? No. Of course not. I'm going to go running with my boss at lunchtime and then have a swimming lesson in the evening.
I might be stubborn, or I might just be an idiot, but I'm not dead yet. Until you die, live.
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