Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Because sometimes we tend to block things out...

"Maddy, since I'm going to have some down time before we go rock climbing tonight, do you think I should go for a run, start training for our upcoming stair climb, or do the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD?"

"Well, Jenny, you've said before that your Jillian Michael's workout involved a lot of arm workouts, so I would stick to that for today. You wouldn't want to kill your legs before climbing!"

Maddy was right on both accounts.

For her latter point, you really don't want to kill your legs before climbing. A common misconception about climbing is that it involves mostly your arms. People think that if you have strong arms, you should be able to pull yourself up a wall with ease. While it is true that the stronger you are, the more success you'll have on a route, people tend to forget what a crucial role legs play in the climbing process. Our friend Teddy Westside would take this to an extreme sometimes, when he'd ascend the wall using nothing but his arms... both legs flailing in the wind. While he may have made it to the end of a route on occassion, he would also have tired out his arms enough that he would have to spend the rest of the evening watching others. And complaining. Incessantly.

But ask any experienced climber, and they'll tell you just how important it is to use your legs. Your legs are significantly more powerful than your arms, and as a result are much more capable of propelling you up a wall (there is a reason that we walk on our legs rather than constantly doing hand stands... and only part of it has to do with head rushes). Everyone that has ever coached me up a route has always yelled something about trusting my legs and getting my feet up to the next hold. I never hear "ok, now kick off the wall and use just your arms to get to the next hold." In fact, I've had the most success when I rely entirely on my legs for vertical movement, and use my arms to mostly stabilize myself against the wall (which, granted, is still really tiring).

I'm not trying to downplay the role that arms play in climbing, but if you ever try a route with sore/achy/tired legs, you'll likely be in for a much more unsuccessful night.

For Maddy's first point, she is correct in that I have said that the 30 Day Shred involved a lot of arm workouts. Jillian Michaels has you do regular push ups, walking push ups, and traveling push ups. She makes you do punches while holding weights and you spend a third of the time holding plank position (not to be confused with planking). Then there are the bicep curls, arm raises, etc. But it seems that I had focused so much on the arm workouts, that I had completely blocked out how many leg exercises she makes you do. So while Maddy was right that I had said that Jillian Michael's workout was mostly geared towards arms, I had been incorrect when originally mentioning it. I was reminded of this fact yesterday when I was following along with the DVD and was told for the billionth time that we were going to do more lunges (not an exaggeration... we did literally one billion sets).

The point of the story is that in trying to find a workout that wouldn't tire my legs out before rock climbing, I ended up doing one that made simply walking or standing difficult as well as made me wish I had had a straw for the applesauce I ate with dinner (because lifting the spoon to my mouth was proving to require far too much effort).

On the bright side, I'm really sore today (but not detrimentally so), and it's pretty awesome.

When you rock climb, do you focus on legs or arms? Have you ever blocked something like my leg workouts out only to have it bite you later? Should I try working on not visibly wincing every time I stand up or sit down due to my achy legs?

P.S. Even though I was already really tired out before climbing last night, I did manage to make it up a couple new routes clean. It was pretty exciting!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I don't know what I was worried about...

While I may have dreaded the seemingly inevitable dangers and terrors that lurked behind every wall and up every route last month, now that I have finally made it back to the rock wall, I am happy to say that my concerns were completely unfounded. Actually, I disagree (with myself, apparently); my concerns, though exaggerated, were legitimate (but I am still happy to say it). Every injury, even one so minuscule as my thumb, should be taken seriously (I mean, not serious enough to go to a real doctor, but serious enough to whine a lot), and unlike Corbin Bleu, I had no intention to "push it, push it to the limit, limit."

Last month, when Maddy and Hannah invited me rock climbing with them after a 2 month or so hiatus, I was absolutely terrified. I was pretty much recovered from my thumb injury, but since I had never been given a go ahead from a doctor (mostly due to the fact that I never saw a real doctor), I was worried about how climbing again would affect my thumb. Rather than just Jump In (more Corbin Bleu references, anyone?), I decided to wait just a little bit longer (but also unlike Corbin Bleu, I didn't decide to spend that time practicing my double dutch skills). About a fortnight later, a couple people from my kickball team invited me to go climbing with them, and I figured that then was as good of a time as ever to try my hand at rock climbing again (yay for hand-themed idioms!).

The first night back was a little rough. Not only was I climbing in front of people I have never climbed in front of before (causing the self-conscious part of my brain to kick into overdrive), but I kept worrying that with every hold, I was breaking my thumb more and more (note: I never actually had it confirmed that my thumb had a fracture to begin with... it was only conjectured after looking a fuzzy x-ray). Also, it had been so long since I had been on a wall (or fallen off a wall) that it took me a while before I was comfortable with heights again (well, as comfortable as I used to be, which isn't saying much). Bouldering was especially embarrassing, as I would get scared and step down from basically every route I tried (and yes, I say "step" rather than "jump" or "fall" because I was usually still close enough to the ground to calmly step down (ha! calmly... that's a good one)).

Since then, though, I've gotten my climbing confidence back and I'm actually somehow less afraid of bouldering routes than I used to be (I even jumped down from the top of each route I finished last night rather than slowly climbing down as I'd been apt to do before). Even better, my thumb is feeling way better than I imagined it would! Since climbing again, it's been popping and aching much less than it had in the previous couple months. Jeff says that it's because I'm starting to work it out again. I say that it's because it has been a few months and time heals all. Regardless of the reason, I'm just pleased that I don't have to worry so much now (hopefully).

If I have had little to no issue with my thumb thus far since restarting climbing, should I call myself healed or should I still keep an eye out for trouble? Is Double Dutch really that difficult or impressive as Corbin Bleu makes it appear in his movie Jump In? Are my completely nonsensical and mostly Disney Channel Original Movie themed asides starting to get obnoxious?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Win or Lose, We Booze

A little over a month ago, one of my long-time friends called me up from out the blue (or more accurately, texted me up) with a new and exciting opportunity. He was forming an adult, recreational kickball team (with the team name Win or Lose, We Booze*)! It took me a good 3 seconds of deliberation before my mind was made up: I had to get in on that action. Not only would it afford me the opportunity to finally have something in common with one of my coworkers (who kept regaling us with tales of his kickball league last spring and the hilarity that would inevitably ensue during the course of each game), but it would also give me a chance to reclaim yet another favorite elementary-age past time of mine that had, until now, been long forgotten.

Was I nervous? Sure. The only kicking I had done since those recesses of yesteryear had been either on football fields at half time (when I was in drill team) or as an accompaniment to screaming whenever Hannah wanted to go to Jin's Asian Cafe in College Station for dinner. In addition, I knew from past experience that my catching and throwing skills left much to be desired (I wasn't benched for multiple seasons of softball for nothing). Regardless, once Jeff assured me that no one actually expected me to have any talent whatsoever, and that this was going to be a purely social league, I was very excited.

Doesn't our team look so fun?
We've now played four games, and while we've lost every single one of them (we were so close to winning one when the other team had forfeited in order to watch the World Series, but when game 6 was postponed, so was their forfeit reneged), it has definitely been worth it. I've made some new friends, tried something new, and gotten slightly better at running short distances (although catching and throwing are still definitely not my strong points). I've also been pretty good at strategically placing myself in center field, flanked by athletic gentleman, in order to ensure that I can do as little damage as possible (much like the strategy I employ when playing Super Smash Bros., as Princess Peach is pretty good at floating in the corner of the screen unnoticed).

With only three games and a tournament left in the season, there has been talk of enrolling in some other team sports, but I fear that more mainstream sports may have a bit more a serious strain about them. The novelty and lighthearted nature of kickball are what make the games fun (we actually played one really serious team last week, and it just looked like they were all having a horrible time because they were way too into it and constantly frowning - I mean really, when you're 10 runs ahead, you might want to loosen up some). I'd definitely be on board for another round of kickball and potentially a team for dodgeball, but I don't think anything more serious would interest me (although I will say that volleyball was the one sport that I didn't totally suck at as a child)... so we'll see how that goes.

Here's hoping that this week's game will go well!

Have you ever participated in any of those adult recreational sport's leagues? Were you forced to play kickball in elementary school P.E. classes? Next time around, should I put "Fish Guts" on my jersey, instead of my last name, in honor of Mark from Blink 182? 

*Disclaimer: Boozing not dependent on winning or losing; ties and/or forfeit included. We come for the game and stay to party.*
(That's what we have written on our jerseys!)