Friday, January 14, 2011

Stairway to Health

My employer has issued a Workplace Wellness Challenge to all employees.  The challenge, called Stairway to Health, is to take the stairs more often.  To complete the challenge, each participant must use take stairs (up and down) from the 10th floor at least 10 times between January 14th and February 14th. 

Each participant is required to log the number of trips they make as well as the days in which they take the stairs.  There will be a draw prize for each person who completes the challenge as well as a prize for the person who does the most amount of trips.  Most of you know how competitive I am, so I have decided that I will be aiming for top prize.  I figure if I take the stairs up and down from the 10th floor two or three times each work day I have a great shot at taking home top prize.  If I hear rumblings that I am not in the lead I will use my lunch breaks to top up my totals.

Unlike my regular motivation to simply do what it takes to win, I see this stair challenge as a great off season training tool to improve my cycling.  I have found that it is getting more difficult to fit my required training into my day as my little guy gets older.  Because Lachlan is much more active than when he was a baby or toddler, he now takes up a lot more of my spare time in the evenings.  I used to be able to sneak down and do a workout in my basement in the evenings but now I find myself busy playing goalie in my living room or setting up Hot Wheels race tracks.  Please don't think that I am complaining as I love spending time with him; what I am getting at is when priorities take up more of your free time, you find less time to dedicate to your hobbies.  Fitting my fitness into my work hours has now become a necessity with how much of my time is required at home.

I will update this page with my number of trips and how my perceived fitness is improving.  I challenge you to start a similar competition in your workplace.     

January 14th to 24rd

I wasn't sure how I would do in this challenge.  I know I am stubborn enough to do what ever it takes to complete my goal so I thought there was a chance I would be in for a lot of pain; after my first attempt it was much easier than I originally anticipated.  I was able to run down all 10 flights and run back up the first six flights and walk the remaining four in 2 minutes and 20 seconds.  Not too shabby.  My next timed attempt was 2:15 and by the end of the week I was consistently coming in at 2:05.  Unfortunately, I was also becoming more and more fatigued as I was running the stairs 3 times a day.  I was looking forward to getting some recovery time in over the weekend and see how I was able to hit the stairs with fresh legs. 

The weekend didn't provide me any recovery as I ended up playing hockey on Saturday and went for a 4 hour ride on Sunday.  I bonked after about 2 hours and 45 minutes (had no idea we would be out that long so I was very under prepared) and still had over 15 kms to ride back to my vehicle.  I knew I would be a bit sore the next day but I was going to attempt to keep up with taking the stairs.  As I climbed the stairs from the ground floor to the Mezzanine I felt a shooting pain in my left knee.  I know I am stubborn, but I also know when my body is telling me to stop.  I jumped on the elevator as I didn't want to risk causing further pain and discomfort.  I suspect this is an over use injury so hopefully if I dial things back for a couple days the pain will go away.

Total count for the first week: 17

January 25th to 31st

I did the stairs on the 25th at noon and felt okay, but spin class that night confirmed my suspicion that I was dealing with an over use injury and it was time to back the effort off.  I was having issues keeping it correctly aligned and although I was able to realign it several times, it didn't hold for more than a couple minutes at the longest so I pulled the plug and packed up my gear half way through the session.  Anyone who knows me is aware that for me to give in would require a significant amount of pain and discomfort, which was definitely the case in this instance.  I was able to spin lightly but as soon as I tried to apply power I would get a sharp pain in the back of my knee as if a large needle was being inserted over and over again.  Unfortunately I am calling it quits for the week and feel quite disappointed about it.  However, long term health is much more important that winning a stair challenge or training for a race season.  A week off would probably be good for me anyway.  I did the stairs on Friday to check how things felt and the knee felt better but by no means was it back to normal  .I did the stairs Monday morning and the knee was definitely.  My heart rate was high when I reached the top, but that is normal and expected. 

Total count for the second week: 3

February 1st to 7th

More issues this week.  My knee was feeling normal again but what wasn't normal was the feeling I got Monday night/Tuesday morning that made me shoot out of bed to the bathroom.  Let's just say I was 'firing on all cylinders' and I was back and forth numerous times over the next 6 hours.  I was feeling a bit better on Wednesday morning but there was no way I was about to do stairs with no food in my system since Monday.  Thursday came and I was feeling considerably better than the previous morning but I was late so again, an elevator ride for Gord.  Wow – the excuses are really starting to pile up.  This is what lack of motivation looks like, kids!  Friday I was feeling better so I trudged up the stairs a few times and I felt good.  Monday came around and I was able to knock off a few more sets of stairs.     

Total count for the third week: 4
February 8th to 14th

Last week!  I was able to get up the stairs every day this week except for 1 day.  The final two days I managed to get up and down twice.  I need to make sure I don't put myself into an overuse situation as I was after week 1, but I need to keep up with it at least once a day. 

Total count for the forth week: 8

I have to say I have definitely noticed a change from week 1 to completion.  My legs have a bit more 'snap' and I even noticed I have a bit more definition in my quads.  Don't laugh - for someone who looks like they are riding a chicken, that's a big deal!!  I am not really tiring by the time I reach the 10th floor and my heart rate is much lower by the time I get to the top than it was when I started.  I am looking forward to continuing to take the stairs after this challenge is complete.  For any of you who are stuck at a desk for the majority of the day, I highly suggest you get out get some exercise while at work.  Whether it is taking the stairs rather than riding the elevator or going for a walk during your lunch break, every little bit counts.
Grand Total: 32

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