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Why Being Strong is Important

After last weekend’s test of strength- a long run followed by golf, I was happily surprised at how good I felt. I knew going into a 1 week golf vacation things would get interesting and I was right. I have been golfing for much longer than I have been running-nearly 35 years-but I am not a great golfer. I am good enough to get out there and play in a league, with the guys, or in an occasional tournament. But because I don’t play consistently, every year when I get back out on the course it is like starting over.

Every year for the last 15 years I have started my golf season with a marathon week of golf, sometimes playing as much as 9, 18 hole rounds in 6 days. By the end of my so called vacation my right arm would be ready to fall  off. The last 3 years have not been as intense, but this year we decided to go for a 5-6 round week in 5 days: that’s 108 holes of golf, which for me means over 9000 swings.

I am also in the last 6 weeks of training to run a 25K trail race, and have recently amped up my mileage and conditioning to prepare for my longest run ever. This week during my so called vacation, besides 5-10 hours of golf each day, I tried to add running or weight training into the week. I brought some mobility bands and balls with me, trying to take good care of a tight calf and tennis elbow so as not to make matters worse.

The first day of golf came after a total of 4 hours sleep the night before in order to catch an insanely early flight. I barely got through the round. As a matter of fact, I was so tired by the last hole I swung way too hard and tweaked my lower back, pretty badly. I had to limp off the golf course. I was hurting and it was day 1. I thought to myself, well, maybe I am not as strong as I think I am. I kept moving, and stretching, tried lunging and squatting in the fairway, and did some hip and pelvic mobility as soon as we got back to the room. I had no idea what to expect the next day. But, after a good meal and a solid 9 hours of sleep, I woke up the next day feeling ready to go. My back/hip issue was non existent. Apparently I popped it back into place.Temperatures for the day crept slowly into the 80’s, eventually reaching 89 degrees. My plan was to run after golf, but I decided to wait until the temperature dropped to 82. I also decided it would be fun to run along the beach. As the tide came in. Well, running turned into jogging, sprinting and dodging the tide, getting stranded by a tidal stream. I had to sneak through a private resort to make my way out to the road and couldn’t run more than a quarter of a mile without stopping to catch my breath. I forgot how long it takes to get acclimated to running in the heat. I decided at that point, my next run would have to be in the morning before golf. So much for 800 meter intervals. But running 3 miles in the heat on the beach after golfing all day was a plus-and I ran in my flats and had no achilles pain. I decided to mix it up the next day and try my hotel dumbbell workout.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see if there were any cross fit gums near my hotel-and there were not. But there was a YMCA a mile up the road! After my 18  holes of golf on Wednesday, I went to my hotel workout room first-just to see what they had for equipment, and it was pretty much a room filled with machines. There was not a free weight in the room. I told my husband I was going to the Y and would be back in an hour. It was a great gym, with everything I needed to do not only a dumbbell workout, but to do my barbell workout! I decided to stick with my hotel workout because I could not figure out how to use the powerlift and I was a little too embarrassed to ask. I was happy to get some strength training in, and it was a good test for my elbow which had been under some pretty good stress the last few days. It was still pretty sore, but not getting worse.

Day 4 became a day of golf and more golf-36 holes of golf and no run. A golf course covers between 4-5 miles, and even though we use a cart, there is still plenty of walking. I was also still building my golf stamina. One round of golf for me still requires over 100 swings; double that and you are now talking 9-10 hours, 8-10 miles, and over 225 swings. Golf was the WOD on Thursday. After Thursday I iced my elbow.

Since I had not run since Tuesday, and we had a 9am tee time on Friday, I decided to run my mile repeats on Friday BEFORE golf. It was humid, but only in the high 60’s when I headed out to the nice flat stretch of road along the beach just after sunrise. It was quiet, I had my music and I felt tired, but good once I got going. After my first mile, I decided I would turn around and head back toward the resort, and continue with mile three beyond the resort, and then back again for a total of 4 miles.  I felt good running a pace just under  10 min mile and kind of stopped paying attention to my stride when suddenly my right toe caught the sidewalk. My hands went up in front of my body instinctively and I watched myself go down, eventually landing on my hands and then my right knee hit first and I skidded along the sidewalk coming to an abrupt halt. Ouch. I was face down on the sidewalk and my knee was burning but I was able to stand up. A passerby checked to make sure I was ok, and other then a bloody knee and road rash up my right thigh, I was fine. I did a quick joint check to see if anything hurt and surprisingly I was really, really fine. I started walking back toward the resort and after a half mile I decided to pick up the pace and jog only to get back quicker, and I felt fine.

After getting cleaned up I went out and played 18 more holes of golf. We got back to the resort later in the day and my husband made a point to tell me I was not good at resting. “You have to be moving all the time, why is that?”  He thinks I do too much, and sometimes I do, but it is all relative. He would have played 36 holes of golf every day because he is a good golfer and he golfs with ease. I could easily go for a run every day and the gym because that is what I am good at. But I was able to golf and doing something I am not great at because I was strong enough to add that to my plate. I was strong enough to hit a gazillion golf shots and run on the beach and go to the gym and fall without breaking a bone or tearing anything. Maybe I was tired which is why I didn’t pay attention and focus on my feet,

but really, sidewalk cracks happen in life. Things happen unexpectedly that catch you by surprise and being strong makes you more resilient.

So take it from me and get strong so you can do what you want to do when you want to do it. Get strong so when you fall you can dust yourself off and try again. Get strong so you are not left sitting on a park bench watching life go by.




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