Starting 2017 is frustrating as I have a bit of an injury. My right knee is quite painful when coming down stairs or walking down a slope.
Now I know that knees can be quite problematic and as joints go they are complicated. Many people cite knee problems when explaining they’ve given up running or can’t start in the first place.
What makes this even more frustrating is that it is probably self inflicted. Allow me to explain. A while back I had a review in the gym with one of the trainers who gave me an updated training programme which introduced a few new resistance machines. Overall he was pretty good at estimating my strength and knowing which weights to use. For most this was fairly accurate but not the Leg Press.
The Leg Press is for strength training and benefits numerous muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments from the waist down. In fact here’s a shot of the very machine:
You place your feet on the black plate, lean back and push yourself up the rails, so really you’re pushing your own weight plus whatever weight you select. Luke the trainer had programmed me to use 40kg 15 times and then repeat after a 30 second rest period. I dutifully did this during a few workouts but to be perfectly honest, this was just too easy. I reprogrammed my settings (which you can helpfully do on-line) and upped it to 50kg. I could notice the difference but again it seemed so easy. Again I upped it to 60kg which was a bit more like it but I was still completing the exercise without too much difficulty.
So a couple of times when I was on the second set and feeling fine and near the end, I decided to push the 60kg with one leg. First my left leg for two pushes – blooming hard but okay. Next my right leg for the last two pushes – again hard but okay.
Next exercise was on the treadmill and it was then I could feel my knee hurting a little. Not being one to back off from the slightest niggle, I carried on and after another minute my knee was fine so I completed the rest of the 20 minute run.
It was the following morning as I came downstairs when I could feel a terrible pain shooting all around my right knee. This was very strange, hadn’t had anything like this before so I was puzzled. Walking on the flat was fine, no sensation at all. So the only explanation I can find is the Leg press. Serves me right for pushing 60kg (90% of my body weight) with one leg.
To compound this I have been running most days at Christmas, even Christmas Day! In view of my knee I have kept these runs fairly short to about 30 mins each time. I can still feel my knee is grumbling when I walk downstairs so I’m going to have to swallow some pride and stay off the Leg Press for a bit. Shame, I thought pushing 60kg with one leg was pretty good for me.
Other aspects of 2017
Being the born optimist, I’m not going to be held back on enjoying health improvements this year. As I’m pretty healthy, you might wonder what I mean.
Firstly I have put on some extra – and unwelcome – weight this year and my BMI has hit 23.9. I feel heavy and I don’t like it. Some of this weight gain can be explained by Christmas excesses but the reality is that it has been creeping up for the last 18 months. Not sure why but the most logical explanation is my metabolism is gradually slowing and the classic point of calories in : calories out. Simple as that.
I am enjoying building up improved all-round fitness. Although I can run well and cycling reasonably well, I know this can be improved further with better all round strength and flexibility. Having had a few months of going to the gym for a post-work session I can certainly feel the benefit, so I’m wanting to build on this further.
The fitter I am, the better my mental health
The fitter I am, the better my mental health. I have proved this to myself time and time again. I am not immune from the effects of stress and anxiety – fitness has been an incredible answer (or treatment?) for this. It is now a year since I started with my local authority as my new employer. I can tell you this carries much less stress than compared to the murky world of criminal justice. Nevertheless I can feel myself being hard on myself – I’m often my worse critic. Added to that I am STILL learning the new job (every week I come across something completely new to me) and arguably my performance needs to improve significantly.
I often come across – online and in person – people who inspire me. A common thread are those who are older and wiser and have achieved some great things with endurance, overcoming health problems and sheer determination. I like people. I like meeting people and chatting to learn all about them. In fact I sometimes get in trouble at home for asking too many open questions – “tell me about the time when you…..” or “tell me about your day….” and the response is sometimes brusque in being told “Don’t you Probation-talk me!”. And that’s probably a fair point (sometimes).
So here’s to starting 2017. What will it bring? The answer is impossible to predict but life is such a fascinating and rewarding journey. I’m simply looking forward to the new year unfolding day by day….