Oral surgery and the accompanying medication that I probably should not have taken still kicking my butt today.
Be advised -- in my humble opinion, after this ordeal -- when a medical professional advises you to have a certain procedure and/or prescribes medication for something, you don't necessarily have to follow orders blindly.
Take it from me -- ask some questions first.
If I had asked what one of the medications was all about, I'm pretty sure I would not have taken it.
On top of some nasty side effects from some very innocent-looking little round pills, I noticed for the first time this morning some horrendous bruising on the inside of my right elbow, where an apparently marginally competent dental assistant or whatever drew a bunch of blood from my arm at the onset of last Wednesday's appointment.
Drawing blood at the dentist?
It's a part of the procedure they use to mix with bone graft particles or something to aid the healing as part of this dental implant procedure that I underwent.
I found this out when the nice lady asked me which arm I prefer blood drawn from, and started wrapping a rubber tube around my bicep. I asked her what this was for, and THEN she explained things, which I remembered from my last dental implant years ago.
Note to medical personnel -- it's OK to explain what is going on to patients. In my case, this information will not freak me out. Knowing what is going on will make me feel better and more relaxed.
Anyway, so now, I'm sitting watching some NCAA basketball, and waiting for these nasty drugs to leave my system.
Live and learn.
I did somehow manage an excellent vaulting session this morning, in which I made a lot of progress on some technique I've been wanting to improve.
So all is not lost on the training front.
What did you do today?
Still recuperating some from that somewhat brutal bit of oral surgery yesterday, so not much in the way of physical activity today.
In fact, I nearly left work early. I was really tired from being up half the night, unable to fall asleep. My mouth is still a little sore, and I'm pretty much a big baby when it comes to pain and sickness. Give me a simple headache, and I'm ready to go to bed and pull up the covers.
The dentist advised me to take it easy for at least a couple of days, so as not to disturb the bone grafting and stitches that he used to try and make sure this tooth implant doesn't fail, like the last one did. If I got the blood pumping too much, it could cause bleeding, and dislodging of the graft materials, and no telling what all.
But I did manage to get out in the garage this afternoon, and pump out six reps of my low-bar routine, and I must say progress is definitely being made, albeit maybe a little slow.
On my first rep, I was able to completely stop and hold myself in the air before my feet made contact with the ground. Same thing on the second rep, and again on the third -- which has never happened before. Usually, by the time I get to rep no. 3, I'm not able to stop myself from going all the way down. The next three reps were fairly controlled, but no longer was I able to keep myself from dropping all the way down.
So ... success is becoming more and more in focus.
I'm excited about my vaulting lesson coming up Saturday, and two weeks after that comes the Texas Senior Games.
What did you do today?
An exciting hour-and-a-half of dental surgery this afternoon, so no kind of strenuous activity for a couple days, at least.
Kinda sucks, because I was excited about trying a fix tonight for my pole vault take-off position that I think I figured out from looking at some photos of myself at a practice a couple weeks ago.
I have a lesson Saturday with a former national champion decathlete who owns a pole vault facility down in Austin, and I'm pretty excited about that. Along with the fix I think I figured out for my left arm position, I think Ben is going to really help me figure out the timing that is going to improve my swing a lot.
When I jump now, and do it fairly correctly, a little ways past horizontal is as high as I get going over the bar. Sometimes, I get my feet and legs up fairly high -- maybe 30 degrees above horizontal? -- but nowhere near going completely upside down, or even close to upside down. If I can get up to 60 degrees, maybe a little more, that would be terrific.
What it is, is a matter of understanding the timing, along with some incredible core strength, which I do not currently have but am working on. I'll get there.
So, no jumping today, and no working out.
I'll probably go to the gym tomorrow and see what happens. The dentist said just to watch for "oozing," and if the river starts to flow, probably need to back off and give it a rest.
A few years ago, I had the tooth at the same site where I had the surgery today extracted, and I wound up in the emergency room with uncontrollable bleeding -- I was spitting small buckets of blood every minute or so into the front flower bed at home -- so I'll be more careful this time.
Interesting story about that hospital visit ... the first thing they did when they finally got me back to an examination room, or whatever the hell it is, was to draw some blood out of my arm. As they filled one and then two of those big vials, I started to black out and see white spots everywhere.
"Did y'all just give me something," I asked, "because I feel like shit."
Before I passed out, they hooked me up with some saline solution or something, and pumped me back up, but that was one of the dumbest things I'd ever heard of -- somebody comes in due to loss of blood, and they can't stop the bleeding, and the first thing you do is start draining more blood?
Anyway, that's about it for now, folks.
I finally got one of my bluebonnet paintings to actually look a little bit like bluebonnets, so I 'm going to work on that tonight. So far, my bluebonnets have always looked like they've been trampled on by a family out taking spring photographs amongst the wildflowers.
These look OK, I think.
More tomorrow ...
OK, so I didn't get up again this morning at 5 to knock out an early-bird workout session.
Honestly, it's not really about laziness, but has a heckuva lot to do with lack of sleep. I've had sleep issues for 20 years now -- even underwent an overnight sleep study many moons ago, and take medication at night for restless leg syndrome -- and sometimes, like last night, it takes hours to fall asleep. Not only that, sometimes I wake up five or six times during the night.
Not conducive to restful, restorative slumber.
My wife, on the other hand, gets up at 4:30 nearly every morning during the week, but she sleeps like a rock and goes to bed at 7:30, 8 o'clock.
I just can't do that -- go to bed so early.
Even if I did, I'd lay there wide awake for no-telling-how-long. It just wouldn't work at all.
So that's a constant struggle for me.
I'm a writer, and I enjoy painting acrylics, and evenings are prime time to scratch my creative itches. I'd stay up half the night, if I could get away with it. But, eventually, I force myself to hit the rack, tired or not, and it's a coin toss on what kind of quality of sleep I'll get any particular night.
But, anyway ...
Today, I had some things to do after work, and so I didn't make it to the gym, and it was already getting a little late by the time I got home, so the only thing I accomplished workout-wise was my low-bar routine. A couple days ago, I was slightly discouraged with it, since it seemed like I wasn't controlling the movement the way I had been. But this time, I was nearly able to hold my position again as I lowered my hips and legs down toward the garage floor. I was nearly able to completely stop on the first rep, before my feet lightly touched down.
The second rep was about the same, and the third rep unfolded a little bit quicker. The next three reps, it was impossible to lower myself slowly, and my feet plopped down onto the ground -- which was not unexpected.
I could feel definite progress in the first two or three reps, so all in all, things are going well.
Pole vault practice tomorrow night, and a lesson from a pro on Saturday.
Texas Senior Games coming soon.
I expect good things.
What did you do today?
OK, I was going to fib a little about my plans for the first day of two-a-days today, as I hit the home stretch in preparations for this coming June's National Senior Games in Albuquerque.
Instead of getting up at 5 a.m. to hit the first workout of the day, I re-set my alarm and woke up just early enough to have a little coffee, then get ready for work.
I did make it to the gym this afternoon and had a really good workout, and I plan to do some before-bed yoga in a little while, so I was going to report that I did the yoga this morning, so as to successfully fulfill the goal I mentioned in yesterday's blog.
I couldn't do it.
I'm such an honest person, it's ridiculous sometimes.
But since I AM doing the yoga later, and I DID make it to the gym earlier, I suppose we can still count it as a successful two-a-day.
As always, I tried to set a new PR (personal record) of some kind during my gym workout. This time, I definitely set one PR, in the leg press, and I'm pretty sure another one, in the incline dumbbell bench press.
In the leg press, I did five sets with eight reps at 180 pounds, eight reps at 230, six reps at 270, six reps at 360, and four reps at 450. That last set was heavy. If you're moving heavy weights like that, make sure you pay attention to your form, execute the movement smoothly, and don't hold your breath -- it can spike your blood pressure, for one thing, and for me, holding my breath during the concentric portion of the lift (the pushing part) creates a lot of cranial pressure/sinus pressure. It hurts!
I finished with a set of four reps at 55 pounds for the dumbbell inclines. Back in the day, I was maxing out with 65-pound dumbbells for the regular bench press, so that ain't half bad.
I also did some step-ups holding dumbbells (15 and 20 pounders); did some barbell dead-lifts; some dumbbell shoulder presses and small barbell shoulder presses; some machine bench press; some rear delt raises; and a couple sets of side laterals.
A pretty decent workout.
The only thing I didn't get to today was my low-bar hip raises. I was going to do those after I got home from the gym, but I figured my shoulders and arms would be too wasted to try to hold myself upside down on the bars. So I'll save that one for morning.
I will get up this time.
Hold me to it.
I'll report back tomorrow.
What did you do today?
Today was a day off from any kind of training.
Instead, I went and helped out at a junior high and high school pole vault meet down in Austin. I worked one side of the standards, adjusting the position of the arms that hold the crossbar for the various jumpers. Basically, some vaulters want the crossbar standards set closer to the take-off area, and some further away. It's a matter of personal preference, jumping style, and can vary not only from day to day, but jump to jump, depending on a number of different factors.
Tomorrow, though, starts the big push toward the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, in the middle of June.
I'll drag myself out of bed -- no matter what -- at 5 a.m. to ramp up the workout schedule. Mornings, I'll go outside and do the low-bar drill, probably jump some rope, and do some speed drills. Maybe sometimes, stay in the house and do some new yoga for athletes, with this new DVD I got last week.
Afternoons, I'll either hit the gym or go to vault practice.
Combine all that with working on my new book about this whole pole vaulting and fitness journey, getting my personal training business off the ground, recording videos and learning to edit them for an upcoming YouTube channel, and continuing my freelance writing career, and I'm going to be a little busy.
But it's great.
I'm preparing for Career no. 4, and it promises to be the best career yet.
After high school, I enjoyed being an electrical draftsman, but I was young and dumb, and didn't appreciate or take advantage of an opportunity that could have had me retired and financially independent a long time ago. My newspaper career was highly enjoyable, and my teaching career has led me to everything else that is going on right now.
So, all in all, no major complaints.\
I'd better go now and set that alarm clock.
Oh, boy ...
A beautiful pre-Spring day here in central Texas.
Arguably the nicest season of the year in the Lone Star state doesn't officially arrive until next week, but, hey, close enough. Beautiful, clear blue sky, a little chill in the air as fall tries hard to hang on, but all in all, a great day for ... a workout.
I started out today with my low-bar routine, which was a little discouraging today. I thought I was making progress with this difficult core-strengthening exercise, but this morning, I wasn't so sure. Granted, I do the reps wearing 5-pound ankle weights, which makes it extra tough, but still ...
For the last rep, I took off the weights, and was able to control the movement pretty well, instead of my feet slamming down onto the ground.
Then, it was off to the gym, where I got in a nice hour-long workout -- treadmill to warm up, then a combination of free weights and machines.
One thing I typically try to do at the gym is set a new PR (personal record) in something each visit. Today, it was leg press. I did five sets, ending with four reps for 430 pounds.
Not bad for an old(er) guy.
What did you do today?
The first time I walked the famed Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in northern Spain, I learned quite a bit about walking.
At first, it was brutal -- walking all day long carrying a too-heavy backpack, up and down hills, over uneven, sometimes unstable surfaces. After about a week, I managed to cultivate a massive blister on the ball of my left foot. Every time my foot made contact with the ground, the pain was excruciating, and when I stopped to rest, it throbbed and pulsated like something out of a cartoon.
Eventually, the blister healed and life was good again. The thing I learned from that is to always take a break after two or three hours of walking, remove shoes and socks, sit for a half-hour or so, and let everything dry out, before continuing. Also, not to ignore so-called "hot spots," when any sort of irritation develops with the feet.
Something else I learned about walking -- it may seem obvious, but never occurred to me before the Camino -- is that the body is designed for walking. It enjoys movement.
Still another thing is that when you walk for any distance, or length of time, you develop a natural rhythm, and if you simply let your mind go, not think about it, your body will go on "cruise control." Your body will move at its natural pace, and your mind is then free to think about other things. Or think about nothing. To just observe and absorb the sights and sounds all around you.
Sort of a walking meditation.
That brings us to today's message -- walking.
Walking is a wonderful exercise program, and a great way to get in shape -- physical and mentally.
According to various guidelines, older folks like us should participate in some mild form of exercise at least 2.5 hours a week. That computes to 150 minutes, and if you walk for 30 minutes at a time, that's five days of walking -- a good amount for starters.
Many moons ago, I ran into an acquaintance who obviously had lot a significant amount of weight. I asked Karen what she had been doing.
"Just walking," she said, explaining that she went home after work and walked for one hour every day. That's it.
For beginners, an hour a day may be too much to handle right at first. Maybe start with 20 minutes. Get yourself a sturdy pair of comfortable shoes and some good quality socks -- try and avoid all-cotton socks, which can cause blisters -- and find a good, safe route. If nothing else, walk around the block a few times. If there's a park or designated walking trail nearby, even better.
Start out slowly and gradually increase your pace. Take it easy at first. Let your body fall into a natural rhythm. One foot in front of the other. Let your arms swing naturally. If you run out of breath, you're pushing too hard, Back it off a little.
As your endurance increases and your legs get stronger, you can add 5 or 10 minutes at a time to your workout. Eventually, work your way up to an hour of walking at a brisk pace, enough to make yourself breath hard, but not become completely out of breath. Any time you exercise, you should be able to carry on a conversation while you're doing it.
When you really get going, try holding a pair of lightweight dumbbells as you walk, or strap on some ankle weights.
I've walked with a weighted vest, and that is an excellent workout.
So there you go.
Take a walk.
You can do it.
Maybe there really is something to the whole Daylight Savings time hangover thing.
Today, I felt much better. Hit the gym and managed a good nearly hour-long workout. I did nine minutes on the treadmill to get the ol' blood moving, then went through a sort of circuit routine with free weights, machines, and some plyometrics.
I did incline dumbbell bench press (maxed out with 55-pound dumbbells; a new record, I think), followed by some seated cable rows, and dumbbell step-ups. I threw in some cable crossovers, some box jumps with ankle weights, rear delt raises and some side laterals. Not a brutal workout, but decent.
Tomorrow, I'll head out early for the two-hour drive to New Braunfels for jumping practice with the gang -- my fellow Masters vaulters, Cyndy, Jane, Jorge, and Frank. I used to jump with these guys and gals every Sunday, but since I've switched to a training facility much closer to home, I don't get to see them very often. It'll be a lot of fun, as always.
Also, it'll give me a chance to jump at some bars. Where I jump now, I mix myself in with various size groups of teenage vaulters, and because of sheer numbers, I think, they don't use crossbars very often at practice -- partly, at least, to save time.
But with the Texas Senior Games coming up next month, I need to see what I am clearing these days. I've only jumped at a bar twice, I think, since the National Pole Vault Summit in January. I cleared a personal-record 7-9 there, and I'm hoping for 8-6 at the next meet, although I'll be happy with 8-feet and another PR.
Here's a little at-home workout I came across today from menshealth.com. It's a circuit program, designed to be executed with little or not rest in between sets. Repeat each exercise three times.
- Plank (hold for one minute)
- Mountain climbers (30 reps)
- Alternating reverse lunges (20 reps)
- Plank up downs (10 reps)
- Squat jumps (5 reps)
Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.
You can do it ...
I think this whole daylights savings time hangover may be dissipating.
Today, I gave it a little rest. The only thing I did as far as training was my low-bar, hanging, reverse-crunch exercise for vaulting. Supposedly, this thing starts to kick in after about a month, and I'm finally starting to see some real results.
On my first three reps, I was able to lower myself from a hanging upside down in a ball position, dropping my hips toward the garage floor slowly, slowly, slowly until my feet touch the ground. Especially on the first two repetitions, I could almost stop the movement and hold my feet off the floor..
When I first started -- three weeks ago, I think it was -- all I could do was grab the bars, flip myself upside down, hang on, start lowering my hips, and bam! Feet slam onto the floor.
After a couple weeks, I started getting a little more strength and control.
Now, it won't be long before I can lower myself, hold it, and then work on raising my hips back up, until I'm upside down again -- a complete rotation. When I can complete 5-6 reps of that, then I'll extend my left leg in a pole vault-type take-off position, and complete the same movement.
When I can do that, then it will be time to move to a high bar for the same routine.
Even though that's the only exercise I did today, it was pretty exciting. I know I'll jump another PR (personal record) at the Texas Senior Games next month, and I think I can get at least 8-6 at Nationals in June.
Remember, folks, consistency is the key.
What did you do today?