This past week went by even quicker than the one before. It was full of ups and downs, primarily because of the rainy and stormy weather, and ended with a very exhausting, but surprisingly enjoyable workout on Saturday. Training-wise, my week didn’t start off very well. I spent most of Monday either stuck in traffic or at IKEA, so I didn’t have enough time to do Monday’s workout because it would have been too long and Herbert was already starving when I got home. I decided to cycle on the indoor bike as long as possible, around an hour. To be honest, I was still extremely exhausted from my previous workout that I didn’t mind not having to do intervals, but I have to learn to be a bit tougher. (Most) Austrians like to complain, but Tina usually doesn’t let me, which I appreciate very much. One morning, I arrived at the club and started telling her that I was feeling really tired because I’d had a rough night with lots of nightmares and was still exhausted from my workout the day before. She turned around, grabbed a packet of Dextro Energy from her locker, gave me a stern look and said: “here, eat this and stop being tired right now.” Haha. I love it. Anyway, I think taking it easy on Monday was a good idea because I already started noticing my heart rate getting lower than normal. Unfortunately, my Garmin didn’t record the workout properly, which is why I couldn’t upload anything to Strava.
Tuesday’s workout in the single scull was very exhausting and frustrating because it was quite windy. Thankfully, it was a session without intervals, but I couldn’t do the technique drills I was supposed to because of the waves and the whitecaps. It’s already started getting dark noticeably earlier than a few weeks ago, which complicates doing a longer workout in the evening. After the session in the boat, I finished the day with a few core exercises. I think I am finally getting used to burpees. Yes!
Wednesday’s workout in the single scull was even more frustrating than the one the day before because in addition to the wind, algae were “on the loose.” About a decade ago, the water quality of the Old Danube, where we train, got so bad that the government decided to plant algae that were supposed to clear up the water. It worked quite well, but they didn’t take into account that the algae would take over the whole body of water and make it impossible to row or swim in certain areas. Therefore, it is necessary for the so called mowing boat (Mähboot) to cut the algae almost every day, usually in the morning. On Wednesday, two or three mowing boats were “roaming” the water, causing a large quantity of algae to float on the surface and later find themselves caught in my fin. I had to do 300m intervals and sometimes, I kept pushing harder and harder, but was only getting slower and slower because of the algae holding me back. I did enjoy the intervals though, in spite of the “handicap.”
On Thursday, I had my first one-on-one personal training with Max at the Crosszone. We primarily worked on my weight-training technique and it was a lot of fun, not just because I realized that I wasn’t doing everything wrong. Max was especially pleased with my renegade rows and backsquats. Fortunately, I was also able to do kettlebell swings without hurting my back for the first time. In week one, I was so frustrated that I wanted to throw the kettlebell out the window, but sometimes, it just takes a bit more practice. My lower back is also the primary area I have to strengthen in the next few months. Since we’ve started working with Max, my back strength has already improved so much. A few years ago, I had so much lower back pain that I could barely walk. It was a time when I wasn’t rowing much because we were living in Canada, but I never stopped exercising altogether. I guess it just shows that even if you work out regularly, some muscle groups can still remain weak if you don’t do targeted exercises. Especially as a rower, all muscles have to work together really well for the stroke to be harmonious and dynamic and I am very pleased to see that I am headed in the right direction.
On Friday, Tina and I finally got a chance to do a quick workout in the double scull before we had to attend a short first aid course at the club. We definitely don’t have enough time to train together at the moment, but we immensely enjoy it and love our boat. We still have to work on completely synchronizing our rowing styles, particularly our power curves, but thankfully, we have about a year until the first important international competitions start. Like most days, I finished the sessions with a few core strength exercises, this time three rounds of tabata (hollow rocks, superman and burpees).
As usual, Saturday featured the most exhausting and nerve-wrecking workout of the week. Tina switched around some of her training sessions to get more workouts in the boat, but since I had my personal training session on Thursday, I wasn’t as flexible. Consequently, I would have had to do the torturous workout, a combination of intervals on the erg and strength exercises, on my own if Herbert hadn’t agreed to join me. I was so scared of the session that I couldn’t get out of bed and only arrived at the club shortly before noon. It was as hard as expected, but I surprisingly enjoyed the portion of the workout spent on the erg quite a bit. The distance we have to row in each round increases every week, so it is getting more and more mentally challenging. Herbert, in any case, is still much sorer than me. Apparently, even sneezing hurts. Welcome to my world, dear husband!
Since I can’t remember in detail what I ate for every meal, I would like to talk about a few foods that I have enjoyed recently.
Kale is one of the healthiest foods in the world, with a perfect score (1000 out of 1000) according to the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. It is very high in antioxidants, Vitamins A, K and C (one cup contains more than the recommended daily intake), several minerals, including magnesium and calcium, and omega 3. Most fascinatingly, it has more calcium per calorie than dairy. Read more about plant-based calcium sources and why they are superior to animal sources here. As you can see, kale is a true superfood! I became addicted to kale while living in Canada, and was very frustrated when I realized that it was very hard to find in Austria. Right before our move home, I purchased a large variety of kale seeds and planted them in my grandmother’s garden. I was very pleased to see that the climate was very favorable and my kale plants started growing like weed. In our second growing season, we now have almost unlimited supply of kale, which I am quite happy about.
Last week, I had a delicious nourishing kale salad almost every day. I am planning on writing a separate post on how to “dress up” your salads, but it is worth mentioning here that I have been trying out different vegan caesar salad dressings, in addition to my go-to balsamic vinegar and pumpkin seed oil vinaigrette. Since I never liked the “classic” caesar salad before becoming a vegan, as I am not the biggest fan of crunchy salad leaves, I don’t actually know what it is supposed to taste like. However, I am usually not obsessed with replicating non-vegan dishes, but just like food for what it is. My favorite dressing is the one in this Oh She Glows recipe, but I prefer using cashew butter instead of soaked cashews because I like the consistency better. Kale chips are also extremely delicious, but I suggest eating kale raw because the cooking process destroys nutrients.
Again? Yes! I love oats because they are so versatile and healthy, as I have explained more in detail in previous posts. This week, I made raw oatmeal and loved it. You basically soak whole oats overnight and blend them with bananas and spices in the morning. It is another quick recipe for a nourishing pre-workout breakfast. I also made cookie dough balls from the Oh She Glows cookbook, one of my favorites, which I will definitely review at some point. They are very easy to make and the perfect snack when you are craving sweets, which I usually do after workouts.
I love all kinds of sprouts: alfalfa, mung bean, broccoli, lentil, radish, and many more. I have a sprouting station with many different sprouting containers, and I intend to post a picture in a separate post on sprouts. Sprouts are great because they are cheap, always taste fresh if you harvest them right before eating them, and are extremely nutrient-rich. In fact, the sprouting process increases both the enzyme content, as well as the bio-availability of proteins (amino acids), minerals and vitamins. You can read more about sprouting in this informative book. Last week, I had a few mung bean salads with herbs, hemp oil and apple cider vinegar, as well as “enhanced” several pasta dishes with alfalfa sprouts. I particularly love spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, topped with alfalfa sprouts. Delicious!