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Toughen Up

I have an on and off relationship with strength training. I wouldn’t call it love-hate because I actually really enjoy strength training, I just….forget to to do it. More often than I should.

Oops.

This is what usually happens in my brain:

What workout are you going to do today, Sam? You haven’t lifted in a while. You should lift. Maybe upper body work. Remember how you said you wanted to be able to do 20 real push-ups in a row? 2012 is almost over and you totally can’t do that. So stop sucking.

I begin my day with all of these great intentions – I’m going to strength train that day, no matter what.

Then my day gets busy and all I want to do is spin or run, especially when I don’t have time to do cardio and lift because of the 6464654892 things I attempt to tackle on my to-do list on a daily basis (that number, I admit, is a rough estimate).

So then I do my cardio and am happy. Until I remember how much I really need to lift, so I vow to make it happen the next day, and the  conversation above begins again.

In an attempt to break the vicious cycle, I’ve had a few things working in my favor:

  1. The company that employs me. Fortunately, my company really pushes health and wellness initiatives in the office, then rewards us with free things for participating. Um, done and done! Recently, there was an eight-week strength training initiative at work, when I had to lift – targeting different muscle groups each time – at least three times a week. Nailed it! 
  2. Friends that like to lift, too. When you work where I do, it’s not uncommon to hear about one person killing it at a Tough Mudder one weekend, another dominating an IronMan the next, and yet another tackling a half-marathon. Sure, they’re all cardio-heavy activities, but there’s a decent amount of strength required to perform well in each. So when they’re all going to lift, I want to go lift, too. And then I see it happening on Twitter and I really want to do it.
  3. My Type-A personality. Lately, I’ve been whipping out my trusty calendar and penciling strength training in! BOOM! Better yet, I make an appointment (so formal, I know) to lift with friends, which means I’m not allowed to bitch out. DOUBLE BOOM.

So when I heard that Abby was hosting a strength training for runners clinic this week, you know that went into my calendar.

abby

A small group of us met up at Cynergy PT, where we went over a lot of basic strength exercises, which was a great reminder that keeping things quick and simple really does help. We don’t even need weights if they’re not around. In fact, we only used a resistance band. It’s so small and easy to transport. Isn’t that nice?

We did exercises for about 20 minutes (short and sweet), talked a bit and then I got to test this crazy machine that I’ve been curious about for a while.

The Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

back

I told you I like to do cardio. I like it even more when it feels like I weigh about 25 pounds. I can run really fast then and it doesn’t really feel like I’m doing too much, when normally I’d be gasping for air.

run

Plus, I get to wear these really sexy shorts.

shorts

Oh, so you’re wondering how the Alter-G actually works? A quick summary: the anti-gravity chamber (the thing I’m trapped in) fills with air and gently lifts you to take the weight off of your joints – it’s really helpful for those who still want to run but are recovering from injury, or for pregnant women. You can take off anywhere from 20-100% of your body weight, which basically means it feels like running on a cloud.

legs

I ran with 75 percent of my body weight, meaning I took off 25 percent (for those who struggle with math, like me). I only ran for about seven or eight minutes, but you can schedule 30-minute sessions anytime you want. And you don’t have to be injured to use it (clearly, I’m not)  – I chatted with Dr. Karyn Keating afterward and for $250, you can book 10 sessions, and for $150, you get 5. Um, that’s cheaper than 5 classes at SoulCycle or Flywheel, or basically any other group exercise class in NYC. Awesome. I’d love to go for a three or four mile run on this thing to see how I feel after.

So basically, I’m trying to lift more. And defy gravity. Winter is basically here (how is it December 1st?!), which means I’m about to start hiding in the gym. No more excuses.

What about you? Tell me about your stories with lifting heavy things and putting them back down. And have you tried the Alter-G? 

 

Workout Windup: Hittin’ the Weights

That’s right everyone, Workout Windup is back! For those of you who are new to this neck of the blog-o-sphere, workout windup is my way of keeping track and setting myself up for a great week of workouts. It gives that level of accountability, while hopefully encouraging you to set your own weekly goals for some seriously awesome sweat sessions.

Now that racing season is on hiatus for me right now and I don’t have a big race lined up until November (as of now), I really want to focus on strength training. I do it as much as I can when training for races, but admit that I’m not always the best at sticking to a solid schedule. Now that physical therapy is over, I’m on my own with scheduling. Lucky for me, I have some awesome blogger friends who have invited me to a bunch of workouts this week, with some other fun things sprinkled in. Here’s what I plan on tackling:

  • Figure 4 on Sunday at 3:30p.m. with blogger friends; upper body work at home
  • Upper body work on Monday at 12p.m.; CrossFit intro class at 7p.m. with Jocelyn
  • Easy 3-mile run on Tuesday at 6:30a.m. (if my quads don’t hate me); Yoga at 4:30p.m.
  • Rest on Wednesday
  • SoulCycle at 7a.m. or 7p.m. on Thursday (wait listed, so hopefully I get in!); lower body work at home
  • Upper body work on Friday at 12p.m.
  • Five or six-mile run on Saturday
  • Upper body work at home on Sunday

 (At FITNESS Magazine’s Meet & Tweet #fitblognyc)

Oh, and I’m thinking about joining a soccer league again, so I can regain my long-lost soccer skillz. I’d like to be less pathetic if I ever get to hang with Mia Hamm again. ‘Cause we’re best friends now. Totally.

What workouts are you rockin’ out this week? And what fun things did you do over the weekend? 

The Power of Positive Thinking

Today, I ran 10 miles. Not only did I run those miles, but I owned those puppies completely pain-free! Wahoo!

I’ve been killing it in my workouts this week, dominating my eats, halting the unnecessary snacking, and tuning in to my body. I am on top of my game. I have felt really good all week and any time a scary, negative thought started to creep into my head, I squashed that little bugger.

Squashed it with my new kicks.

Because brighter is better 🙂

I fully believe in the power of positive thinking. Whenever I get down on myself, it becomes so obvious in the rest of my life. I start eating like crap, I’m tired all of the time and I lack productivity. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t solve anything. I’ve been dealing with this pesky little pain problem for the last month and dutifully going to doctor’s appointments to figure out why my body decided to go psycho right as marathon training is about to begin.

I don’t have a full answer yet (MRI is Monday!), but I’m almost there. I’ve ruled out all of the scary stuff, like blood clots and ACL tears, so now I’m waiting for a final diagnosis. In the meantime, I’ve been cautiously pushing myself through  my workouts. And as I’ve done more, the pain has decreased. Especially as I lift more weights and stretch out in yoga. Cross- and strength-training, you are a beautiful thing.

Even though my body has felt pretty baller all week (can you tell I’m on a runner’s high yet?),  I went into today’s scheduled 10-miler optimistic but knowing that I was going to call it quits once the pain kicked in. I kept running along in this gorgeous 45-degree weather, smiling my little face off like a doofus…and no pain came. I was shocked. I was ecstatic.

I’m sure all of my positive thoughts and 11:11 wishes didn’t heal me, but they definitely have made this process a lot easier. So I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and we’ll see what happens on Monday. Fingers crossed for a good outcome, and if you see the clock at 11:11, make a wish for me 😉

Now you tell me: How do you stay positive through a rough patch?

September in Review

It’s already October 4, so we better get cracking on some new goals! But first, let’s see how I fared in September.

Fitness:

  • Follow half-marathon training plan. Check! I’ve had to make some adjustments because I’m now training for six weeks instead of ten, but I’ve been squeezing in all of my workouts and my body can really feel the improvements.
  • Strength train once a week. Done! I did a strength workout and a yoga session every week except for the week I was sick. So I get a full check for this. I said so.

  • Go to yoga once a week. Well, I already answered this in the last bullet point. I did it!
  • Do one plank every day. Fail. Major, major fail. The only time I did planks was when it was already built into a strength workout. Oops. I know what I need to work on in October…

Health & Nutrition:

  • Sleep more. Major win. I’ve been doing so much better at getting an adequate amount of sleep, and I’m really proud of myself for that. The computer has been shut off at 10:30p.m. every night of the week and I was usually asleep well before 11 or 11:30p.m. My body is getting into a steady schedule where I don’t even radically sleep in on the weekends, and I really like it. Aiming to keep it up!

  • Eat more veggies. This was an easy check. I love veggies and I only put it on the list because I felt like I was seriously slacking on them in the last few days of August. I’m pretty sure I had a large portion of vegetables in at least one meal a day throughout September. Awesome.

Life:

  • Get a full-time job. I don’t have too much to say here, because there are a lot of things in progress right now. I didn’t get the part-time job I really wanted, but that’s okay because I believe everything works out for a reason. No, I don’t officially have a full-time job now, but we’ll see where the road takes me. I’m working hard every day and that’s what matters.
  • Start studying for my PT certification.  Umm, fail. I didn’t even crack open the book 😦 In my defense, things were crazy at work and I’ve been trying to set up a steady schedule between work, training, blogging, friend time, family time and Dustin time. I’m going to make it happen in October though, promise!
  • Go on date night every other week. We didn’t go every other week, but that ended up being because of money issues. However, we did spend a lot of quality time together this month and are getting used to living with one another. But we do have a date night coming up this weekend! Oh, and that puzzle we bough for Dustin? He finished it in two days. I helped by placing 15 out of 750 pieces.

Overall, I’m pleased with my progress and think I did a good job. Yes, there’s room for improvement, but I think there always is. I’ll be back with another post on October’s goals!

What goals did you have for September? How did you do? 

August in Review

Hey there! Hope you’ve all had a fantastic Thursday 🙂

If you remember, I set some goals for myself at the beginning of the month. Now that it’s September (holy crap), I figured it’s time to take a look back and see how I did! Won’t you join me?

Fitness 

  • Stick to half-marathon pre-training plan. Check! I only missed a few runs here and there, which is 100 percent okay in my book. I need a plan that allows flexibility, and this definitely does. Plus, I’m only in pre-training mode right now. Official training begins Monday, so I aced this goal with ease.

  • Incorporate more strength training. Eh…not so good. I only did strength training twice, maybe three times this whole month. That’s so sad. I used to lift three to four days a week. I’m definitely going to make this a goal again in September, but break it down a little more so that it’s attainable. I think if I write it in my actual half-marathon training plan, that’ll help.
  • Push myself on speed. Win! I have definitely been pushing myself to run at both faster and more consistent speeds. I used to average a 10:00/mile pace and now I steadily stay at a 9:30/mile pace when I’m running at a comfortable pace. When I do a speed workout, I range between 7:30 and 9:00, depending on the distance and how much I’m pushing. I want to continue this into September and increase my speed even more.
  • Continue spinning and incorporate more yoga. Half-check. I definitely kept up with spinning – I go once a week, per my plan. I also did a lot more yoga. I wanted to do it once a week, but that didn’t always happen. I say I made it three out of the five weekends in August. So maybe I get a three-quarters check? Yes? Maybe?

Nutrition & Health

  • Cook dinner. Hahahaha. Unless we count last night’s extravaganza, this was a total fail. I don’t think I cooked a legitimate meal the whole month. Unless you’re like me, and consider pasta in a bowl a legit meal. Whatever, it’s excellent carb-loading and I’m not fancy. I would say I’ll make a conscious effort to drastically increase this next month, but Dustin’s moving in soon, so I know it’s not gonna happen. He’s the cook in this relationship. Perhaps I’ll consider cooking once every other week. That’d be progress!
  • Sleep more. Excluding this week, I get a check! I’ve been putting my computer away at 11p.m. nearly every night, which is exactly what I wanted to do. This week was really busy on the work front, so it wasn’t feasible. I still get a check. I said so 😛

  • Take my daily vitamin. 100 percent yes! I have taken it every. single. day! I put it on my vanity where I get ready in the morning so I see it and just take it while I’m putting myself together for work.

Life

  • Get a full-time job. Umm, fail. I’m still working on a freelance basis and still searching for something more permanent because like I said, I need that health insurance. I did just have an interview for a part-time job though that I’m really hoping pans out. Fingers crossed!
  • Buy my personal training certification books. Check! I have all three books in my possession and I’m ready to start studying! I have to tell a little story here though: after I posted my August goals, one of my creative writing professors from college, Donna, messaged me on Facebook and told me she wanted to send me an Amazon gift card to help purchase one of my books. She said she was proud of me and told me to consider it an investment in my future. How sweet is that?! She already influenced my future so much because of everything she taught me, and now she’s allowing me to expand my knowledge even more. My heart swells at her generosity and it just goes to show how wonderful my school is. You don’t always get professors who care about you even after you’ve left with diploma in hand. I’m so thankful for them. Thank you again, Donna! ❤

  • Establish a blogging schedule. Mehh. As August moved along, I realized this wasn’t a feasible goal and basically gave up. Right now, my work schedule is too busy for me to try to blog any other time of the day. I work out in the morning, work all day (most of the time I eat lunch while at my desk), attend events for work or blogging in the evening, blog, then sleep. There’s not too much wiggle room. Perhaps there will be later on, but for now I have to stick to the late-night posting. Fresh stuff for you to read in the morning!

That’s it! I think I did pretty well and I had a pretty fantastic August. I’ll be back tomorrow with my new goals for September!

What goals did you have last month? Did you meet them? Tell me!

Making Goals

Whenever I hear the word “goal,” I automatically think of a European announcer during a soccer (I mean, futbol) game screaming:

GGGGGGOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!

Best. Sport. Ever.

I guess it’s the soccer addict in me 🙂

Fortunately, I understand that “goal” has multiple meanings. In fact, I like to set a lot of goals for basically every aspect of my life. Then I create a to-do list to make sure I reach that goal. I’m totally a type-A personality.

Since graduation, I’ve basically abandoned all goal-setting techniques and let myself chill out for a bit. I’m sick of that already, so it’s time to get back into the routine I’m used to. Some big alterations need to be made though because well, I’ve graduated and everything is changing. So I don’t overwhelm you (or myself), let’s take things one step at a time, shall we?

New Fitness Goals.

We already know that I signed up for my first full-marathon on National Running Day. However, the race isn’t until April 2012, so I don’t need to start a training plan yet. Instead, we’ll start small.

1. Increase weekly mileage. 

Lately I’ve been just going with the flow and not really pushing myself as much as I could. I ran 10.5 miles and biked 4.5 miles this last week, which isn’t so hot. I’d like to get back up to 25 miles per week because I plan to run a half-marathon for my 22nd birthday celebration in November (I’m such a nerd). So this week, I’d like to get 15 miles of running in and 5-7 miles of biking. At one point, I want to complete a five-mile run because it’s been awhile since I’ve done that.

Run it out.

2. Get back into strength training.

I really miss it. Besides a few tricep dips, plank sets and oblique twists here and there, I haven’t done any this week. Part of it is because I’m waiting for my brother to look at my back so I don’t injure myself more. The other part is because I don’t have a gym membership while I’m living with my parents, and they don’t have any weights. I was doing body weight exercises before my back really started bothering me, but I quit because the pain was scarily intense. Justin moved home today, so I’m hoping to get back to strength work this week.

Tone me up.

3. Eat more fruit.

Now that summer is officially here, so much fruit is in season! I love basically any type of berry, can’t get enough watermelon, and constantly crave apples and grapes during the summer. I’ve dabbled in the fruit department since I’ve been home, but I plan to dive in head first as soon as possible. I began my dive with this delicious bowl of goodies:

I heart berries.

What fitness goals do you have for the week?