Saturday, June 5, 2010

Drop and Give me ... Eight?

That's right. Eight. That is how many push ups my weak little arms could squeeze out with out breaking perfect form or wanting to die. Ok my arms aren't really that skinny. They are toned enough from my years of competitive swimming, but nothing too impressive. Not that I want to walk around looking like the hulk (although I do love green!) but my upper body deserves some attention too. Why should my legs get all the glory?

Here is the thing with me. I love a challenge. If you tell me I can't do something, I want to do it that much more. I want to prove you wrong. If you push me down it I will only come back at you that much stronger. So when I started hearing about this 100 push up challenge I was very intrigued. First step was taking the initial test. I felt like I was back in high school again doing the presidential fitness challenge where the only think I was good at was the sit and reach and ironically pull ups.

After much procrastination I finally talked myself into if after one of my shorter runs. Although my body wanted nothing more than to lay down and not get up for two days I figured my legs got a workout now it was time for my arms. All I had to do was keep my body in a straight line, lower myself to the ground and push it back up again. How hard could it be? Obviously harder than I thought when I hit eight I was done. I took the words of advice on the site and didn't push to hard, I would rather start a level lower and work my way up than start to hard and burn myself out. Eight. I sat there on the bedroom floor feeling somewhat defeated, like I wanted to do more. I wasn't sore, or tired, shouldn't I be hurting?

Week one. Day one. It was a Monday, Memorial day to be exact. After a easy five mile run with Mom and Boyfriend, before packing up to head back to Philadelphia, I pulled out my yoga mat and set up in my dad's office for the first set of push ups. 6, 6, 4, 4, and then as many as I could do (at least 5). With the rest period of about 60 seconds between sets it was feeling a little difficult but not impossible. Before I knew it I was done. I was beginning to think this would be the best workout challenge ever.

And then I woke up Tuesday morning with my arms and abs the most sore they had been in months. And I loved it. I rarely have the energy for abs or upper body once my weekly mileage goes above 20. It just doesn't feel like a priority as much as getting my rest. But this was great. Doing push ups after running doesn't tired me out as much as I thought it would, and with how sore I was feeling I actually felt like it was going to make me stronger. For the entire day I was constantly stretching out my arms and abs. After some quick Google research I found that it was my Pectoralis Major that was feeling it the most - obviously I hadn't used those in a long time. The program calls for three days a week, and suggests Monday Wednesday and Friday, which I had intended to stick to except my arms were still sore after Wednesday's run. Day two would have to wait

Week one Day two. Thursday's run was six miles. I didn't finish until 9:30 at night, and if I didn't make time to squeeze in my push ups I was afraid I would have to scrap the whole week and start over again on Monday. Not that I would have lost a whole lot of progress. I was one day deep and it took me two days to recover. I really did have weak arms. But I don't like to fail, so even though it was late, and I was hungry, I made myself do those damn push ups. Day two's sets were 6, 8, 6, 6, as many as you can (at least 7). Let me tell you it was not getting any easier. I would get halfway through a set and use the same mantras I would for running. 'Halfway there' 'Just four more' 'Stay calm and keep going'. When it was over the only thing I could think about was "Yes! Now I can finally eat dinner!" and promptly inhaled a tuna and cheese sandwich.

I almost expected to wake up Friday with the same sore arms and abs that I had on Tuesday but I did not. I awoke with the usual all over body tiredness that comes from consistent training but my arms, they felt pretty good. The question was, am I getting stronger, or was I doing my push ups wrong.

Week one Day three. I am on vacation. Ok so I'm really an hour or so outside the city staying at a hotel for a friend's wedding. But I'm in a hotel so it feels like vacation. People come in every day and make your bed, there is free coffee and not much to do but lay around and watch TV and browse the internet until it's time to start getting ready. Oh yea and this little matter of 13 miles. Which turned into 10 treadmill miles in the hotel gym as soon as I realized our little hotel was on a very industrialized stretch of main highway and I had no clue at all where I was or where I would go. I had not planned to take my phone and so for the safety of myself and the peace of mind of Boyfriend I toughed it out and went to the gym. The gym that was smaller than our room but came equipped with two fancy treadmills and a decent TV to help me pass the time. Two hours later as I hopped off I figured I might as well stay and do my pushups before heading back to the room. Day three: 8, 10, 7, 7, max (at least 10). I needed the music from my IPod to pump me up. Doing the second set of 10 was definitely a challenge. Doing the third and fourth sets felt ok, and the last set I managed to do all 10 and was just happy to be done.

Now that one week of the program is behind me, I wonder how much I really care about being able to do 100 push ups. I really like that it makes me stop and focus on my upper body. I haven't even looked at week two yet but part of me feels like it would be worth while to repeat week one just to make sure I'm not killing myself. Either way, I'm feeling pretty strong and loving the new addition to my workout regimen. My arms don't look any different, but I am optimistic, remembering how much work and how many months it took for my legs to get as toned up as they are. And like everything else in my life, I am willing to put in the work for the results that will surely follow.

xx Sara


Rachel said...

i've been thinking about doing the push up challenge for a while. ever since i started running i've kind of ignored everything but my legs. i usually just feel too tired, but you make me want to give this a shot!

Matthias said...

Hey, I notice you visited the hotel gym. Would you mind writing a review at