Learning from Failing

August 1st, 2012 | Posted by Erica House in Fitness | Health | Life

Well, today was supposed to  be the day I tell you I met my workout goals for July.

 Run a 5k in 38 minutes

 Do 15 push-ups

Instead, I get to talk about over-exercising and debilitating lower back pain.

For July I worked out a total of 1626 minutes and ran/walked 32.7 miles. Almost 400 minutes more than June!

If you look closely at the calendar you’ll notice a few things:

1. There are sad faces on the last 3 Sunday’s of the month. I put those on there when I have a ‘bad’ workout – you know, then one’s when you are really not feeling it.

2. There are virtually no rest days for me aside from the last two of the month when I was virtually confined to my bed due to back pain.

I started to feel tightness in my lower back around July 27th. It became more noticeable when we played tennis the next day and by the day after that I was officially out of commission. The pain travels from my lower back to my hips (which were popping out every time I walked yesterday). On Tuesday I managed to walk around the neighborhood for a mile (in 25 minutes, in the rain) and today I was able to push that to 2 miles. It’s pretty sobering when you go from this one week:

To this the next week:

As a personal trainer I should know better than to push myself this hard. I looked at days I ‘only’ worked out for 20 minutes as my rest days. I’ve realized now that I need absolute total days off from strenuous activity. Even now while I have this back pain (so severe it’s hurting to sit up and type!) I’m trying to find ways I can workout. It’s ironic that this week in class I’m lecturing on psychological therapies which include the foundation of cognitive approaches to mental illness. Cognitive theorists  believe illogical and irrational thinking are the basis for most maladaptive behaviors. I’ve found myself over the last few days getting caught up in thoughts like “If I can’t workout I’ll get fat again” or “Everything I’ve worked for will be lost!”


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Finally, I had to stop and challenge my own irrational beliefs. I’ve lost 60 pounds before, I can lose a few more (if I gain any back). I can get in shape again (if I even lose any muscle strength). One day off from working out will probably not make a damn bit of difference in my overall fitness but it will certainly help in my recovery.

I’ve got big things going on these next few weeks and I can’t afford not to take care of myself right now.

Plus, my favorite stray cat came up to greet me after my walk yesterday and my Amazon package was delivered at the most appropriate bed-ridden time.

I will definitely be achieving my previous workout goals. I’m not sure when so I don’t want to give a new date but I promise you will see a video of me doing those 15 push-ups and kicking a 5k in the face asap. For now – I’m off to pile up some pillows, get on the heating pad, and ponder the eternal debate of Dylan vs. Brandon.

Ain’t life grand?

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2 Responses

  • kalli says:

    erika, i am so very sorry! i get really bad back and hip pain when my hamstrings and hip flexors are tight. i have found that easy strecthing in those areas works wonders and acupuncture! hope you are on the mend soon!

    • Erica House says:

      I think part of this is caused by a lack of stretching post-runs. Matt and I will usually get home so exhausted we’ll stretch for about 2 minutes then go on with our days. No more of that! I’ve been stretching every few hours and would love to try acupuncture!