Thursday, March 26, 2009

Before You Bench Your Workout...

Turns out Lance Armstrong broke his collarbone in the bike crash that happened on Monday in Spain. He has to have surgery to repair his right clavicle and will be sidelined for roughly four weeks. He even expects to make it back in time for his next major race before the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia. How does he do it?

Even though the righty can't exactly write legibly or tweet, as he joked on Tuesday, I'm guessing he'll figure out a way to ride in his downtime. Maybe not at normal speeds or positioning, but it's not impossible.

When you're down and out, how can you keep your fitness up without hurting yourself even more, curbing your recuperation time or losing your fit levels. I broke my collarbone a few years back, right after signing up for the Chicago Marathon and the week before my first triathlon. While I couldn't race the triathlon and lost all of my arm strength, I was determined to train for the marathon and keep my legs strong. Here's what I did to keep the pounds from packing on (I wallowed in my misery with some ice cream treats) and the fitness from going out the window:
  • Ride the stationary bike. I used to ride upright as part of my morning workout, but with my arm in a sling, my balance felt off as I sat upright. I switched to the recumbent bike and could pedal away. Granted I was much slower at times and it got uncomfortable, especially on my lower back, but I slogged through and managed to sweat enough to feel satisfied with my workout. Sadly enough, I judge many of my workout successes based on my sweat rate and how wet I am when I call it quits.
  • Walk on the treadmill. This one didn't work as well as I had planned since it never revved my heartrate but I gave it a go when the bikes were occupied or I couldn't stand the thought of pedaling another day. It helped when I found good programming on TV because it was impossible for me to balance on the treadmill and read a book (just imagine another broken bone)
  • Plan long destination walks outside. An obvious solution for a workout with a treat attached as the reward. Granted I think my husband was ready to kill me when I suggested that we walk from my apartment in downtown Chicago up to the West Lakeview neighborhood to get frozen custard. He relented since I suggested barreling through the lakefront crowds during Air Show weekend (if you've ever seen this Chicago sight, you'll know how packed it can get when the weekend has nice weather) so he could see the planes. The custard wasn't exactly his mission for heading outdoors and we'd usually bike there so the walk really needed to be enticing. In the end, our tummies were treated to frozen heaven on a hot day--and the one thing I could manage to scoop into my mouth with my dominant hand in a sling--and our feet were screaming for mercy after being tortured a 10-mile trek round trip. Don't laugh, but we forced ourselves out for another walk in the evening--only 2 miles tops--to partake in free Chipotle.
  • Stairclimbing. I didn't actually try this while I was sidelined, but if you can avoid the stairmaster which might throw the body off-kilter, it could work. I climbed the stairs to and from work every day and the motion never hurt my collarbone, and living in a high-rise with two staircases stretching 50-plus floors, I probably should have visited the stairwells for a different workout. Stairclimbing is great cardio and perfect for building and strengthening leg muscles.
What suggestions might you have for working through workouts when you're not completely intact? I will say though, it's amazing the things you take for granted when everything is operational. But I digress. Yes, sweet treats ease my injury misery and that concrete was my walking reward. Photo grabbed from magicsmarties at Flickr. Posted by Kate

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