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“Scheduling time for personal change” or “OMG I went running for the first time in a year!”

16 May

Making a workout schedule for myself this month is one of the most helpful things I’ve done in a while. I always make daily to-do lists for work items, have a monthly plan for my business, Trainer Link, and even have a task list with my business team…but for fitness? I usually just wing it and hope that winging it equals out to about 4 workouts a week. Well.. guess what… wingin’ it isn’t always the most effective plan. Now that I have a lil’ sched, I know exactly what I need to do and am mentally prepared to plan and attack it the night before.

On the schedule for yesterday’s workout was “2 miles of any kind.” I wrote “of any kind” because it’s honestly been about a year since I’ve gone a run, so I wanted to ease the pressure a bit by allowing myself to walk or even bike. Why? Well, actually, running was all I used to do. Coming off of the track team in high school and going into college, I thought running solved everything. And so I ran for 11 years–hitting the pavement to eek out at least 3 miles a day, day after day, waiting for my 6 pack to arrive (it didn’t). Well, after enough time, my knees started to hurt me. Not only that, but people around me who were veteran runners started saying, “Just wait until your 30, you’ll have no knees left to run on. But hey! Enjoy it while you can!” So I freaked out, found an alternative that I love, and never looked back.

But for some reason, when I sat down to write that schedule, I decided that maybe it was time to bring running back into my life a little bit. My reasoning what this: I can’t do strength training every day of the week, and I’ve gained a little weight over the past month due to meeting people in coffee shops and grabbing whatever random food I could (i.e. chocolate chip muffins, quiches with tons of cheese on them, and lots and lots of energy bars). I could stand a little more cardio in my life to balance things out. Amiright?

So I set out yesterday morning with Dave and Sancho by my side for the run. Honestly, it felt kind of weird at first. I forgot how to synch my breathing with my stride. I remember back when I was a runner my breath was almost like a drum beat. I knew exactly when it would hit in between each step. Yesterday I sounded like a tamborine falling down a flight of stairs. But by the second half of the run, it felt good again. It felt natural. My lungs remembered that burn. Unfortunately at the last quarter mile mark my left knee started to hurt, but I walked the rest of the way home and it was fine. Today I did my beloved high intensity interval training, and then tomorrow it’s another 2 miles.

Change is good :) . It was a really fulfilling way to start out my 27th year.

P.S. Check out the beautiful necklace Dave got me for my birthday. In person, it sparkles like the ocean.

I Can’t Run For Long. Am I In Shape?

13 Feb

When I used to focus my exercise solely on running–after competitive running in high school, that is–I thought that I wasn’t in “good” shape unless I could run three miles under thirty minutes without breaking a sweat. And by that benchmark, well, I was actually never in shape again after 21 years old, which was quite discouraging. I remember when I lived with my parents in Long Island, and my commute to work in Manhattan was an hour and half, I was waking up at 5:45 in an effort to keep my runs constant. If I missed a day, I had to get a run in the next day or else, well, I suppose I was afraid I’d turn into jelly. Or, that all the work I’d put in years prior on the road would dissipate in a matter of hours. So there I was, almost every morning, getting my three in. If my miles were in, I was strong.

about to go for a run, circa 2009, in Brooklyn

About to go for a run, Brooklyn, 2009. Why do my legs looks so unattractive?

 

Now, after a year (holy smokes, almost exactly a year!) of focusing on high intensity interval training, my idea of being in “good” shape has completely changed. The only straight running I do is 6-10 minutes on the treadmill to warm up. And most times, I never go faster than a speed of 6. If you told me two years ago that this would be me, I wouldn’t have believed you. The only thing I knew was running. I even used to run twice a day because I craved it so much! Not breaking 6 on the treadmill to me then might as well have not counted at all.

Well, this past Friday I went on my first run in a long time.

I was away for the weekend in Fredericksberg, Texas with Dave, and he wanted to hit the pavement. He asked me if I would go with him, and my answer was a shaky yes. I talked myself into it in my head. Why not? I thought. It’s been long enough without it, and maybe it’ll be nice. Plus this is our romantic weekend away, and it wouldn’t be too romantic if I left him to run by himself while I did push ups in the room. After the internal pep talk, I said to him a little more confidently, “Okay, I’m just scared because it’s been a very long time. Can we go slow?” He obliged, and off we went. It was raining and a little chilly, but that was good because it made me feel like I was superwoman. My first thirty steps felt fantastic. My body knew what to do–all was not lost! I’m back baby! I thought. We headed out of the bed and breakfast entrance, and made a right turn. Bam. Huge uphill. I honestly didn’t even realize it until we were midway up and my lungs and legs were burning. “Well jeez!” I yelled (more like huffed), “What a way to get back into it!”, to which Dave replied “You got this! You’re doing great!” It felt weird to be encouraged up that hill, but I needed it. And we were only two minutes in.  To my left were rams, fenced up in someone’s backyard (this is Hilly Country Texas, people). They looked at me with their heads cocked to the side. #epicfail?

sheep in fredericksberg texas

When we reached the top of the hill, we ran to the end of the block and stopped to stretch at a telephone pole. I stared at the rusty nails in the wood that once held local garage sale and lost dog posters as I stretched my hamstrings. “Wow, I’m really out of shape,” I heard myself say…but am I really? A year ago I couldn’t do one freakin’ push up without dropping to my knees, and now I can. A year ago I was struggling to push my suitcase into the overhead bin on an airplane, and now I have no problem (well, depending on how many pairs of shoes I pack, heh). I realized, being in shape is all relative. For my current goals and physical capability, I’m cool with not being able to hit three miles out of the park on a run. You can’t have everything at once (unless you’re training for a triathalon I suppose, then you might need to). In fact, it’s completely okay to not be good at something. Even if I used to be great at it.

Federicksberg, Texas

So while it felt really strange to round out our run on Friday after a four block loop and be completely winded, I wasn’t not bothered. I was just in a different kind of “shape”. And that’s fine with me.

How do you define being in “good shape”?

A Coconut Water Addiction and 20 Minute Treadmill Workout

9 Feb

I happen to love all things coconut, so naturally when coconut water first blew up on the market two years ago I was extremely excited. Coconut water is the kind of thing I only expected to get when on vacation in the Bahamas from a street vendor (which I always do, except I add a little rum in there, heh).

If you’ve never had coconut water, I’ll try to describe it to you: it has the consistency of water, with a coconuty taste–but not at all like the super sweet artificial coconut flavor that you might expect. It’s a much more delicate, subtle taste, almost as if you were smelling it instead of tasting it, if that makes sense. Because it’s not overwhelming, it’s actually quite refreshing, and as it turns out–BONUS!–an awesome post-workout drink.

coconut water

Let’s look at the factors of awesome:

  • The juice is packed with simple sugar, electrolytes, and minerals to replenish hydration levels in the body. Could that mix be any more ideal? It’s like a natural gatorade.
  • The electrolyte content is more than double that of traditional sports drinks with about ½ the carbohydrates. Bam.
  • Research studies suggest that cytokinins (e.g., kinetin and trans-zeatin) in coconut water showed significant anti-ageing, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic effects. So if I drink a serving a day I’ll turn back time? Sweet, no big deal.
  • Coconut water has been generally offered to patients with diarrhea in many tropic regions to replace fluid loss from the gastrointestinal tract and reduce the need for intravenous therapy. Upset stomach, diarrhea? Move over pepto. Actually… you can stay.
  • If the coconut is ripe the nutrient composition changes and becomes less desirable therefore most commercially available coconut water is extracted from young coconuts to retain the most advantageous nutrient content. Aw, so we’re eating coconut babies?
  • Source, and source, and source

After my workouts, I’ve become addicted to drinking coconut water. Back when I first started doing high intensity interval training workouts, I used to be a slug around work all day after the gym. Coconut water used to really help me pull myself up over that body exhaustion somehow and help me recover into mid-morning aliveness. True story. And in case you’re wondering, no this is not a sponsored blog post, though I wish it was. Coconut water companies, if you’re out there, get at me :) .

20 Minute Cardio Workout

Here’s a great workout to do when you’re short on time, and want to focus on a solid cardio sweat. If I have days when I’m too sore to do anything else, or I just don’t feel like doing any push ups, this is my go-to. I gave it to Dave to do once too, and he said it was a solid workout. So, male and female approved.

This workout was inspired by Fitness Sista. The basic idea is to spend the first half at a steady pace will raising the incline for an uphill, lower body & cardio workout, while the second half focuses on a faster pace–working your legs in a different way while still getting in good cardio. You can use any type of cardio equipment you want–treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster, bike–you name it. You can also go walking or running outside with this in mind as long as you have a little watch to keep time (and if you don’t have a hill to run on an incline, just focus on raising your pace a little every minute).

Here’s a treadmill version:

  • minute 1-2: run at 4.5
  • minute 2-3: bring it up to a speed of 5 (you’ll be steady there for a while), and up to an incline of 1
  • minute 3-4: Raise the incline to 2
  • minute 4-5: incline of 3
  • minute 5-6: incline of 4
  • minute 6-7: inlcine of 5
  • minute 7-8: incline of 6
  • minute 8-9: incline of 7
  • minute 9-10: incline of 8
  • minute 10-11: incline of 7
  • minute 11-12: incline of 6
  • minute 12:13: incline of 2–TIME FOR SPEED NEXT!
  • minute 13-14: raise the speed to 5.5 and lower to an incline of 1
  • minute 14-15: speed of 5.7
  • minute 15-16: speed of 5.9
  • minute 16-17: speed of 6.1
  • minute 17-19: hold at a speed of 6.3
  • minute 19-20: speed of 5.7

Annnnnd done. After burning out your legs on the incline, the speedwork for the last half of the workout will feel really nice (I swear). You’ll feel like a rockstar, and all it took was 20 minutes. No need for 40 on the treadmill–you hear me? Spend that time reading an awesome book or getting a drink with a friend :) .

How do you get your cardio in at the gym? I’m not opposed to long workouts, just prefer to get in and get out.

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