Breakdown to Breakthrough

9 Apr

Breakdown: The Shoulder

I did something to my shoulder. Here’s how things went down:

  • Wednesday Night: It all started at Speed and Agility class–the Alien Endurance book camp-style class that involves a lot of Plyometric exercises, sprinting and running in odd formations around cones. I hadn’t been since September and decided it was high time to get back to work.
    • I did descending sets of Burpees and V-Ups starting at 15 of each. I made it down to the 2nd to last set before Commander made us stop. So, if I do the math, that adds up to 127 of each exercise. Then I did some fast twitch muscle drills and then I ran 10 x 100 meter sprints at negative splits.
  • Thursday: Swam 2,100 yards of mixed drills and multiple 100s.
    • That night, I ran 5.5 miles of mostly bridge repeats.
  • Friday: I was off. My right shoulder was starting to feel a little wonky but I was sore all over from the class so I didn’t think anything of it and stupidly decided against ice and ibuprofen. No idea why.
  • Saturday: I donned the wetsuit for a 30 minute open water swim. The shoulder felt tight but I was only “aware” of it in the last, oh, 300 yards.
    • Then I ran 10.5 miles.
    • By mid-day Saturday, the shoulder ballooned up to like 3x it’s normal size (OK, that’s an exaggeration but it got very puffy) and started to ache.
    • It ached all through the night, and yet I still refused to take any anti-inflammatories. Why am I so dumb? Your guess is as good as mine.
  • Sunday: I opted against sleeping in and decided instead to get my 90 minute bike out of the way while everyone else was at church or eating Cadbury Cream Eggs and spiral ham and/or matzoh.
    • The shoulder was really burning after the ride and so I finally bit the bullet, came home, dosed myself with Advil and spent the majority of the day strapped to a bag of ice.


Delaware is out to get me. Delaware is one of my teammates. I prefer to refer to her by her proper name, Delaware Amante de Perros Grandes, but Delaware is easier to type. She’s made it her singular goal to beat my time in our next race. Bets are being made and smack is being talked. I LOVE this sort of thing as the idea of someone hot on my tail only makes me work harder. It brings out the rabid competitor in me. The pic below is of me taunting Delaware with the phrase, “Numero Uno. NUMERO UNO,” when she didn’t show up to speed class on Wednesday.

So basically, my desire to thoroughly throttle her ass at the next race made me overtrain a bit. But it’s all good because, as luck would have it, she’s injured too! That sounds awful. She’s probably going to read this and I know she knows I don’t actually wish her any ill-will, but at least for the moment, the playing field is leveled off a bit.

I would like to make it abundantly clear, however, that this was an over/misuse strain from which I am almost totally healed.

I would also like to point out that had Delaware not challenged me, I would not have overtrained a bit this week and therefore, I wouldn’t have found the antidote to ego, rabic competitiveness and performance addiction.


Dandayamana-Janushirasana:  Standing Head to Knee. It is a yoga posture that looks like this:

Huiping Mo, Bishnu Ghosh Cup Champion demonstrates standing head-to-knee pose. photo: Bikram Yoga College of India

Breakthrough: Head to Knee

OK, technically, all of yoga is the antidote but I happened to have my breakthrough yesterday in standing head to knee. Here’s the deal with this pose:

  • You have to work on this one in stages:
    • First, you grab your free foot and hold it so your leg is bent at a 90 degree angle and your upper body is sort of folded over your quad, abs engaged.
    • Then you completely lock your standing knee.
    • Once your standing knee is locked, you can raise your free foot so your leg looks like Huiping’s leg in the left-most picture. See how her right foot is like bending back towards her face and her achilles is totally stretched out and both of her knees are completely locked? That is a perfect foundation.
    • So, you stand like that for a couple of seconds and then you start bending your elbows down below your calf (middle picture), curving your spine and continuing to look forward.
    • THEN, at the very end (final picture), you curve your spine even more, fold your head into your chest and place your forehead on your knee. And you stand there. And you try to breath. And not fall over.

I wanted to bail on yoga last night because my shoulder hurt. But then I decided I had to go. Sometimes you just have to go to yoga and so you do. Anyone who practices regularly knows what I’m talking about. I knew it would probably be a hard class because I pretty much couldn’t lift my right arm over my head without some discomfort and my range of motion was subsequently compromised.

Because I went into the class knowing it would be challenging, I gave myself a pass to “work only to the point possible for today.” As opposed to most days when I ignore my body and try to muscle it into every single posture based on what I have done or feel like I should be able to do. Because I was “injured,” I let go of all expectations. Just showing up and trying my best would be success.

I have been practicing Bikram yoga for over four years now and last night, LAST NIGHT, with my busted right shoulder, I got my damned head to my damned knee and held it there for about three full seconds, with control, before I fell out of the posture.

I’ve been working up to this point so it’s not like last night I just magically got my head to my knee. My leg muscles are stronger, my balance is improving, I’ve made a few tiny adjustments to body position over the last few weeks, so I knew eventually it would happen. But it happened last night specifically because I wasn’t trying to make it happen. It happened last night because I surrendered a little.

I will not surrender to Delaware, however. Come what may. Though I will be more mindful of my body over these next weeks leading up to Tri Miami so that I am fit and healthy enough to dash her hopes and dreams. But only until I cross the finish line, then it’s big hugs and vegan cupcakes.


One Response to “Breakdown to Breakthrough”


  1. Further Adventures in the Breakthrough Zone « mymultipersonality - April 10, 2012

    […] that made me think again about my yoga practice. And Standing Head to Knee (the posture of the week, it seems). And how the instructors always tell you to get into that […]

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