Saturday, 22 June 2013 03:12

Parachute Runs: My Personal Training Story

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       Parachute Runs

 

A Tuesday afternoon in June around 1600hrs.

 

I am driving home from work and looking forward to today's PT session. My sisters wedding is just over and I am still buzzing from the compliments on my appearance. I am a lean, mean, exercising machine.... the best I have felt and looked in over a decade. Perhaps DT will be inspired to ask me to marry him... perhaps I can reach 60kg, what about the city to surf run in August... endless possibilities... I am strong of body, I can do anything.

 

Training gear laid out this morning before leaving for work. Scramble into size 10 shorts and fitted climacool tank top... Lace the new running shoes... I flex appreciatively in front of the mirror before heading out. I can do anything.

 

"Hi Joe, what have we got today?"

 

"Hey Jenny, How are you? Today I thought we might visit an old friend!" he says with a laugh.

 

I survey the neatly laid out circuit and offer a small groan... skipping, boxing, free weights, hurdles, medicine ball, agility drills and some parachute runs.

 

"No problems Joe, I can do anything!" also with a laugh

 

I strap on the heart rate monitor, eyeing the skipping rope suspiciously...

 

"I can do anything" I repeat the mantra over in my head... god I hate skipping!! I am not the biggest fan of the agility drill either, dreading the heavy feel of lactic acid in my legs as I imagine sidestepping between the cones.

 

"Only 8 stations in the circuit, Jenny. 2/12 minutes per station and a 30 secs rest in between stations. We'll take a rest after the first run through and then hit all 8 stations again on the second run. How does that sound?"

 

"Great" I say through a forced smile. I survey the circuit again; it doesn't look so bad but 2 * 2 1/2 minutes of skipping and that bloody agility drill.... that is going to hurt. I motor through the hurdles, the agility drill, exercise ball and boxing drill. Joe offers encouragement and instruction. We joke occasionally and make small talk between stations. The heart rate monitor beeps reassuringly... I'm training in the target zone and I am feeling pretty good. I have enough energy in the tank and the troublesome Iliotibial Band (leg injury) is holding up.

 

The heart rate monitor beeps reassuringly as I start the skipping rope station. Joe stands in my peripheral vision.... he notes time frames...

 

"30 seconds Jenny", Well Done

 

I focus on the tree line.... single left foot skips, single right foot skips, throw in some double skips. My arms are tiring but I can do this. My skipping has improved so much since we started, must be all the bloody agility work!

 

"2 minutes Jenny, fantastic effort. Keep it going we are almost there Jenny"

 

My legs are tiring. I throw in a couple of double skips to finish! Heart rate is 180bpm. beep, beep, beep, beep. Joe is clapping...

 

"Well Done Jenny. Great form at the end Jenny, loved those changeover's".Beep, beep, beep

 

I'm absolutely stoked with my skipping effort.. I'm tired but I know that physically I can do it all again.... I wind down and recover during the medicine ball and the free weights station.

 

I knock the parachute runs on the head. 6.19 seconds for 40 metres. I maintain this and run the next 4 * 40m all under 6.3 seconds even though the wind has picked up slightly. 8 stations down and only 8 to go. Joe and I talk about his new puppy. I can do this. I grab a drink.

 

"Ok Jenny, where would you like to start"

 

I survey the stations again... I can do anything.. they all look pretty reasonable to me.

 

I decide to easy into it and choose to sandwich the stations I find less mentally and physically challenging around the skipping stations. I complete the boxing and medicine ball stations methodically. Too Easy. I attack the skipping drill with new found energy. Joe keeps an eye on the time, checking the stop watch and offering encouragement. Despite the occasional stumble I knock the skipping drill on the head. Beep, beep, beep, the heart rate monitor offers encouragement. Next stop hurdles. one.

 

Parachute runs next... this should be easy. I'll rip through these, then the free weights, exercise ball and finish with the agility drill. I wonder what Derick (DT) will cook for dinner?

 

I strap the parachute on. Despite the wind picking up and the heavy feeling in my legs from skipping I feel OK. Running is not hard... one leg after the other, leg drive, arms like pistons. The first two 40m runs are easy, all under 6.5 seconds. Beep, beep, beep. The 3rd run is tougher. I am tired now and running into a head wind. Joe walk back with me to the mark.

 

"2 more runs left Jenny. You are almost there. You can do it". Beep, beep, beep.

 

"80 m in total is all it is" says Joe reassuringly

 

I can do this. Running is easy. I can do this. I start the 4th run, my legs are very heavy, and I can feel the resistance in the parachute.

 

At 20m I feel like I am running in sand. I can see the 40m marker but it doesn't get any closer. Am I running on the spot? Beep, beep, beep. I can't breath, I can't breath. My chest is tight and I want to cry. I can't do this. 25m, 30m; everything in slow motion. I want to stop but can't. I almost stumble over the 40m marker. I can't breath! I hate this!

 

I place my hands on my head.... I try to focus, slow deep breaths in and out, I sob and can't stop. Joe approaches me.

 

"Try and relax Jenny". Focus on your breathing, put your hands on your head and take slow deep breaths in and out"

 

I am crying now, I can't stop it. I struggle to catch my breath. I can't look Joe in the eyes. I am embarrassed and unnerved. What is wrong with me? Running is easy? I got through the skipping twice. What is wrong with me? My breathing slows and the tears stop. I can't meet Joe's eyes. Joe looks worried.

 

"It is OK Jenny" he reassures me "That is it for today".

 

I try a visualisation exercise; I imagine I am standing on my favourite beach. I can hear the waves crashing gently on the sand. I am able to focus now, my breathing has slowed. I feel calm and the heaviness has gone from my legs. Joe looks at me inquiring. I offer an apology, but I can't explain it. Physically I feel OK, but mentally I am spent. Joe offers simple words of encouragement. I apologise again and try to explain what happened. I don't want him to feel responsible....or think that he over-estimated my ability or pushed me too hard.

 

Physically, the stations were challenging but not overwhelming. It was something else. I grab a drink. Where to from here? Should I chuck in the towel and wrap it up early.

 

I look out over the circuit. 5 stations down 3 to go... Free weights, exercise ball and agility drill. I can do this. Get back on the horse. Trust in my body, trust in my mind. Trust in Joe. I hit the free weights... they are easy. Exercise ball station next. Knock that station over too. Joe offers appropriate encouragement, he is respectful of my non-verbal cues.

 

Last station, the agility drill. Joe looks at me again

 

inquiringly, I nod and say

 

"Lets do it".

 

My legs are heavy; I can feel the lactic acid building up again. Joe runs through the drill alongside me, offering encouragement through his presence. The stop watch beeps. It is over and I have made it!!

 

Joe claps his hands. he is proud of me. I am proud of me, very proud of me. We stretch and pack up the circuit.

 

"See you Thursday at 8am?" says Joe as we walk up to the car.

 

"Sure, perhaps we can do another circuit?" we both laugh.

 

I think about the session and compare it with other we have done. Physically we have been building up to this... I can see it in my reshaped body and also in my cardiovascular endurance and capacity. My mind has also travelled this journey, but I wasn't aware of my developing mental strength.

 

In pushing your body to its limits or its maximum exercising capacity the biggest obstacle you must overcome is not the station within the circuit, the number of repetitions, the kilometres you run, swim or cycle, but the limits of your mind. I acknowledge that in the session, I reached a peak of combined physical and mental exhaustion. Despite the manifestations of reaching a mental breaking point, I was able to refocus and complete the circuit. Just as my quadriceps, biceps, hamstrings are being finely tuned and conditioned, so is my mind... It is just not as obvious to the naked eye.

 

I look forward to the next session, though I am a little afraid of reaching that maximum peak or point again. However, I trust my body can make it through the physical activity and I trust that Joe will push me to that point only when I am ready and will support and encourage me through the process. My level of trust of my mind is not as certain, but I won't know unless I try.

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