Run.Rest.Ride.Repeat

An important part of racing is rest.

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Wish it was summer and we were enjoying the good life…Oats takes his rest very seriously.

Now I just need to tattoo that to my forehead, backwards, so I can learn my lessons haha. I am on the opposite spectrum of most – taking it ‘easy’ or days off can be very psychologically challenging for me. Therefore, the week before a race is often fraught with worries about lagging, feeling heavy or slow.

I make an attempt to scale back the week before in a big way.

What does this look like this week? Well things vary, but ideally…

  • Monday- light gym workout with pushups/stretching.
  • Monday night- like, a 15 minute ride on Oats haha. I was tired!
  • Tuesday- Not running to work this week! No treadmill run at the gym and light stretching only, with my rehab exercises.
  • Tuesday night- No dressage lesson. Light ride on Oats.
  • Wed – Not running to work, and I might do some weight machine work with stretching/rehab.
  • Wed night- day off riding! Bathroom cleaning and TV watching night.
  • Thursday- Day off working out and going out for lunch. Go me! I almost never do this. As a creature of habit, it makes me feel uncomfortable when I deviate from my routines.
  • Thursday night- jump lesson!
  • Friday- Light barbells work with stretching/rehab exercises. No squats/cardio warmups. 5k total jog to Dr’s office for foot treatments in the AM.
  • Friday night- drinking wine 😉 Day off riding.
  • Saturday- Light ride on Oats, and no hills or any other runs.
  • Saturday night- no wine. Boo!

So that’s my plan and I am sticking to it!

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Part-Time Friends (Jump lesson!)

We have been working on some really interesting jump exercises recently. Every lesson I come in with anticipation and sometimes dread, ha, to see how much Nicole will challenge both Oats and I.

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I am ready to accept the challenge!

This week we worked over 3 bounce x-rails (bounce-bounce-bounce), and then eventually into a course that had some interesting technicalities. Boy did we struggle with the bounces- I almost ATE it when I got left behind, and then bounced in the butt with the saddle and ended up on Oats’ neck. Whoops! Yikes!

Anyways, we also incorporated jumping a small jump, like a rail on the ground basically, on a 10-metre circle. Oats was really good at it, and did it three times in a row even.

Course time: Start on the left rein to the three bounce jumps. Left turn at E in a 10-metre circle over the small jump. Continue left and go across the diagonal, jumping the skinny on an angle. Going right now, jump over three bounce jumps. Right turn at E in a 10-metre circle over the small jump. Continuing right, go over the diagonal jumping the skinny. Continue right over the oxer, landing at ‘H’ and cantering into a ‘tear drop’ shape, jumping the single fence along the long side. Canter left lead into a 20-metre circle, ending the circle by turning in to ‘X’ and jumping straight down the middle, ending at ‘C’.

We aced it!

sort of- ha. But it was a great workout and an excellent challenge for the both of us. Whoop.

Learning to appreciate

 

I was at the gym at lunch today (work has a fabulous gym, good treadmills, TV’s that mostly work and lots of equipment that is in good condition) and I was kind of feeling grouchy about ‘having to’ workout at lunch.

I was feeling kind of blah, draggy – end of week blues- and not exactly looking forward to lifting some weights. I’ve been yawning a lot in the gym this week, the weather has been mediocre to outright bad, and I blame not running for most of it. Cardio tends to jazz me up and I’m not relying on it this week, as I am trying to save my legs (perhaps unsuccessfully, given how much I have been riding lately!).

But then when I was looking at myself in the mirror, with my hand-weights, I realized something: Man, I am SO LUCKY I get to do this at all. Lift weights. See a measurable difference in my body. Go to the gym at lunch. Work out, push myself. Run races. Ride horses. So fortunate!

This, coming on the heels of a pretty shitty ride on Oats last night. I let my ego get the best of me, and the ride flip-flopped between ‘good’ and ‘a fight’ where I was unreasonable, edgy and frustrated with him and myself. I hate those rides, and I often say I need a witness or an audience, to help me be better to myself and more forgiving with my horse. SIGH. Why do I always learn that lesson the hard way? The only thing I am happy with is how great my lessons were this week- two of ’em! And they rocked! And that these instances of frustration/edginess/anxiety/tension/anger are getting further and fewer apart. One day, I might not have them come up at all.

Until then…I can be very glad with what I have. And what I have the opportunity to do! My pony is a babysitter, he took great care of me in my jump lesson and he is a very forgiving sort. I need to be the same.

I also have a great physical body that is showing me every time I push myself how much I can do. Wow! It’s crazy! I enjoy seeing photos of myself in my athletic endeavours, because a few years ago I would never even dream of doing the stuff I do now. I love it.

Just need a win

Actually had a pretty decent weekend, but it was book-ended with some real disappointments- both at work and at home.

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Little Oats in the back. Photo courtesy of Nicole G.

At home, we took time off on our busy Saturday (that could have been spent at a race, or doing something) to look at a really awesome house…That unfortunately everyone else thought was awesome too, because when we put an offer in, it got totally rejected and it was NOT a lowball offer, except in this market it seems like if you’re not offering 30-40k over asking, then it is? WTF?

So yeah, our weekend was spent making and losing an offer on a house. OH well…

My rides went really nicely with Oats, some small jumps on Saturday and some work w/o stirrups that really made my abs hurt, surprisingly and then some flatwork on Sunday that had me cantering him so strongly forward and up in the bridle that I was stunned! Who is this powerful horse and what did he do with my sluggy pony?? This new Oats, wow…He has me amazed.

I think dressage has really paid off for him! His canter is now so powerful that I don’t know what to do with it?!

I also went on a decent run- 9.5k to break my new runners in (Brooks Ghosts, they come highly recommended) and then on Sunday I went to run a few hills- 5k of hills for 30 minutes, a good short but quite tough workout. The shoes performed well, I like the amount of support they have on the downhills. My heels feel very nice in them.

So this week kind of started with a blah note. At least I hope the weather is ok?

Thanksgiving weekend recap: The fire inside.

Peaceful fall

Peaceful fall

So, when I last left, I was practically running out the door to get away from work and was desperate for a weekend, any weekend, so long as it long!!

No sooner was I relaxing into my weekend (hard-won) on a sleepy Saturday morning when I woke up suddenly and unpleasantly with a horrible wrenched neck. It was excruciating. I couldn’t look to the right, the back of my head/neck hurt, it hurt to chew anything – my jaw ached, and my shoulder/neck area felt frozen and throbbing, alternately.

Greeeattttt….

No rest for the wicked?

Secretly, I hoping to run to the barn on Saturday, where I would ride Oats and have my husband pick me up from the barn to go straight to my in-laws farm (maybe soon to not be their farm if the sale goes through, more changes,. eek!!). Instead, I could barely walk.

Walking even jostled my neck horribly. I was in a ton of pain, on muscle relaxants and alternating hot/cold therapy to just be somewhat mobile. No running for me. I decided to ride anyways (because I’m insane??) but my husband had to help me get Oats out of his pen, groom him- it took forever – because he was so muddy, and lead Oats to and from the arena.

Yeehaw a skinny!

Yeehaw a skinny!

Once I was on, things were ok, though I couldn’t look right at all and was very uncomfortable trying to go right on Oats. He was a good sport though, and seemed very careful with me–even though we were doing a bit of jumping!

Oats taking care of me.

Oats taking care of me.

We got some photos, and I hopped off gingerly, and Ian led Oats back to the barn and helped me untack, carry my saddle back to the barn, and unbridle Oats. That was pretty funny, he tried to pull the whole bridle off Oats’ head w/o undoing the noseband, but did manage to get the throatlatch off. Oats was like WTF? But he’s a good pony now and didn’t take advantage…

We called it a ride, and headed off to the in-laws farm. There, I upped the painkillers a bit and enjoyed some pear picking in the pouring rain (hah!!) and a lot of good quality hot tub and wine time. Sure didn’t hurt my neck situation at all, but mannnnnn did I feel it the next morning…

My neck was pretty much healed by Sunday morning but my wine hangover had a ferocious hold on me. I was like, I’m hungry!! I’d eat something…”I feel sick!!”….I’m hungry!!! I feel sick!!

All morning. Gag.

I didn’t have much time to feel sorry for myself though. We were up and out of the house to cheer on my friend who was running his second marathon!!! Gidget was miserable, whiny and annoyed at waiting around to watch. I was pretty happy though, we managed to cheer him on and get a great photo too! He did awesome.

Great work!!

Great work!!

Then, I felt inspired….

And not quite so sick anymore.

So, like the crazy person I am, I decided to run to the barn, ride, and then maybe run home. Note: this is not a short distance.

My own horse-half marathon? A new challenge? A way to work out the extreme pressure and anxiety I’d been experiencing throughout the week, and was too injured too often to resolve it through exercise?

No matter the reason–I was going to DO IT!

And so, I did. And you know what? It was fine. I jogged to the barn, waved hi to my friend Sarah who saw me at an intersection- and said I was crazy, haha. And I rode and STILL had too much ‘intensity’ in my ride on Oats. Luckily he is still a forgiving pony and he was a good boy for me, even when I come to the barn ‘running high’ and with extra energy I can’t resolve normally.

We worked through some poles- they were terrible, he does better at jumps- and then a brief lateral session once way each where he was quite reasonable, and he was sooooooo sweaty! I then sponged him off, ate a coconut-chocolate Clif bar, and changed back into my clammy workout clothes and prepared to run home.

The run home wasn’t quite as smooth as the way there- my stomach started hurting a LOT, I kind of blame eating the Clif bar so soon after riding and then running again- and my knee was bugging me a bit, and the noise on my calf injury got turned up too…

But I made it fine, it just took a long time.

So, Sunday was an investment in time. Me time. Time to work out whatever anxiety I had going on through my running and riding.

The next day I felt pretty good, tired, but good. Sometimes the fire that burns inside burns too hot and too bright, and threatens to consume us. My way of dealing with it is through exercise.

Go for the gallop? When Oats learns it’s easier to trot instead of canter…

Dressage lesson last night and I faced it with a biiiittt of trepidation.

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Was he going to be a looney-tunes?

Was he going to cooperate?

Was he going to put up a stink?

Who knows!

After a week off in horsey paradise, one rough ride in the ring, one good ride in the field, I wasn’t sure ‘which horse’ I’d have under me yesterday. We warmed up outside and he was actually fine, our right lead was kind of non-existent, but as I would find out later, that was an isolated incident…

We moved indoors to combat the dust but that wasn’t really a better solution either (my dirt tan was WAY better than my real tan by the end of the ride…). We worked on lateral work, where he was a bit fussy but fairly cooperative. Sometimes when he ‘gives’ it’s like ok HERE I’m GIVING YOU WHAT YOU WANT…And he tries to sort of snatch the reins out of my hands and bring his head down. And I have to be fine with him, somewhat rudely, ‘giving’ to me and to not punish him for it- it’s compliance, albeit with a bit of ‘tude.

We then worked on forward with contact. The -with contact- part of the ride wasn’t really happening, so I let that go and worked on forward. That meant that every time he got fussy and wanted to kind of hop into a canter, I …let him. And I galloped him like I meant it. Every time.

No getting off easy this ride, holy god it was a cardio workout and a half.

So, our ride consisted of GALLOP…working trot, can’t stick the working trot, back to GALLOP…back down to trot, still can’t keep the trot, GALLOP…On and on and on. Karen did explain that with this exercise, you have to mean it, and mean it consistently enough for the entire ride. The idea is to make the thing you want- the forward, contact trot, the easy game, and the thing the horse keeps offering (canter) the really hard work.

It also meant a lot of hard work for me!

He got the picture by the end of the right on both reins at the trot, still a bit of an uneasy truce with the contact and forward pieces, but we did make progress. I think with the week off, he was kind of like, wellll…..

She did say that his canter is looking much better (we only spent like, half our entire lesson in canter…ugh! So tired.) and his lateral work is really sharpening up!

Marking progress: Not good, but better than I used to be?

The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be.

I skipped my riding lesson yesterday because I had a private last week, and wanted to save my poor legs for another race coming up this weekend. Oats and I just hacked, and you know what? I was inspired to do more in my hack than I normally do, just because I was listening to my lesson partner get her lesson in too!

So, Oats and I got a pretty fair workout just by being in proximity. Normally I slack off…If I don’t have someone getting on my case and yelling at me to do stuff, I kind of just do whatever. I know this isn’t good, but in my defense, it is hard to stay super focused all the time, particularly while riding MY horse. Oats is a prime-time ignorer, and can basically trot alllllllll day…

We had one or two instances of struggle. I remember from months ago, early winter/fall, we were having a lot of trouble with him hollowing out and ‘hopping’ and kind of threatening me to avoid contact, and the leg. He pulled a bit of this on a circle to the right (I was asking for contact, and a BIG TROT!). He responded by ‘how about I pop up and throw my head up, while also stalling out?’

I wasn’t perfect (dear god no) but I stayed consistent and was like oh ok, well more outside rein and more inside leg. And kept at it. And he kept at it too! But we got over it. I did let him go into a *nice* canter when he came into it gentlemanly, instead of hollowing and getting balky.

I did, during my ride, manage to bang my freaking foot against the wall a LOT, and we had some bulging issues and almost ran into a few jump standards more than once…That was when I figured out that I was going to have to work on some counter-bend and THEN ask for the inside bend, otherwise= my foot was going to be the victim…

So, we were both quite sweaty at the end, and while there were definitely issues, I was a bit proud that I felt confident enough to push the issue with him a bit more than I normally do, even though it felt rough sometimes. I rode through it, he was good eventually, and we are both figuring it out! What’s not to like, even if I didn’t have a lesson? I still ‘took away’ a lesson in my brain, all on my own!