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Pushing Yourself in Your Normal Workout Routine

It might be the former athlete in me, but part of my mind games is to pretend I am in some sort of competition. I do it when I am working out alone in my home gym. I find myself pretending I have to reach a certain point by a certain time to “win.” I guess this is where I let my imagination run wild…maybe that’s why Barbies were never my thing, no competitive edge. ANYWAY…

I try hard to hit 4-5 rounds when I am doing 20 minutes AMRAP. If I get an additional one, I feel like I pushed myself enough.

sly smile; totally going to hit my goal today
sly smile; totally going to hit my goal today

Now, the dangerous thing is when I am in my Orange Theory Class. There are days when I can stay in my own head space and try to pick a calorie burn to beat. For example, I always try to get as close to 500 calories burned. Some days (like today) it just isn’t possible, because the second I lay down to do crunches my heart rate drops. The other way I push myself is picking someone in class to “beat.” I try to match reps, time, and speed. Usually this is when I end up blowing my calorie burn goal out of the water. The person has NO IDEA I am challenging her, it is my own victorious little secret.

Didn't hit 500 today; it was a weird workout day
Didn’t hit 500 today; it was a weird workout day

FlyWheel also affords me that opportunity. I worry less about turning up the resistance to the highest point in the range and more about getting my heart rate up and pushing the power level. I want my name to be in the top 5 spots, I know I will never be number 1 my little beefy legs can’t take it, but I set a goal at the beginning of class and aim to meet or beat it.

It’s those head games that keep me motivated and push me to work harder each time. Of course, every once in awhile you need to kick it up a notch…I will be letting you know what that is like with a review of the 90 minute Orange Theory class later this week.

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Spinning Might Be My Third Love

It is kind of sad that in order for me to get to a spin class these days, I have to be in NYC. It’s not that Delray doesn’t have spin studios (PurCycle and Flywheel aren’t too far away), it is just that their class schedules aren’t really conducive to mine.

It is partially my doing — I prefer morning classes because I feel more in control about making them, but  there is just no reason to go to a 5:45AM spin class when you don’t need to be in an office all fancied up. At the same time, the latest evening option is at 6:30PM and THAT is only  twice week.

Since I’ve been traveling a lot in the last three months, I’ve found myself at Studio 360 at least twice a week for a spin class. I love them — it almost like they were made for fitness-obsessed travelers like me. I don’t have to worry about renting or bringing shoes, I don’t have to worry about a towel, and I don’t have to worry about a water bottle. Studio360-1

It doesn’t hurt that they are around the corner from my hotel of choice and takes me 4 minutes max to walk there, so when I am going to a 6:30AM class I am not getting up at the crack of dawn.

The bikes are also insanely easy to use. I like that instead of your standard “turn up the resistance” you have a range to work from and it shows up on your little computer on your bike. It makes it so much easier for you to go at your own pace AND still get a really good workout without feeling like you are phoning it in.

The music is good, and the instructors are insanely nice. I’ve been to a 45 minute and 30 minute class, both equally tough and with good music. The 30 minute class just never lets up, you go right from warm-up to hills and sprints and keep going. There aren’t any “active recovery” segments, it is just cardio blasting the entire time to fit everything in. For mornings that you don’t have a lot of time this is the perfect way to go. Studio-360-1024x589

They have a “Signature Series” that I am just dying to try because its 40 minutes of spin plus 20 minutes of yoga. It is the perfect combo.

 

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Building a Complete Home Gym

This has been the longest stretch I’ve gone without belonging to a big box gym since I was a newly minted entry-level PR person barely scraping by in NYC.  Getting into a long-term relationship with a gym is almost as serious as getting into a long-term relationship with a significant other.

My gyms have always been within walking distance, had classes that fit my schedule, and had enough location options that I could avoid the crowds. So that’s what I tend to look for when committing. There just wasn’t a good option near me, so I just bought packages at local yoga studios, a spin class here and there, and made use of my tiny apartment gym. With marathon training looming, I didn’t need much. Now that time has past and I am getting bored/antsy with my workout limits. (There aren’t even two benches to do these fancy squats I want to do!)

What I’ve found though is that my area isn’t really catering to a young professional….more like someone who has retired or can do a 9AM class, which makes it really hard. Who can make a 9:15 cycle class? I mean come on!

There are gyms that are just equipment and therefore much cheaper, but I would have to drive 15 minutes to get there. GASP, 15 minutes you say, but it is on the highway and can get really backed up. Also, it is AT the mall…that’s just like tempting you way too much.

Unfortunately it just isn’t feasible to join a spin studio, a yoga studio, AND a gym to gain access to all the equipment. It really isn’t even feasible to join even two of those.

So, instead I am thinking of building out my home gym a bit more. We already have a few essentials (TRX; varied dumbells, jump rope, glides, resistance bands, pull-up bar); plus a ridiculous amount of DVDs (thanks, friends)…so now I need to figure out what else is needed. My running list is below, but would love some other must haves.

1. Medicine Ball — for slamming and ab work

Medicine Ball

2. Plyo-Box — one of the most versatile tools you can have in your home gym…you can jump, squat, bench dip, and step ups.

3. Barbell & Weight Plates — deadlifts and weighted squats are much easier to complete with a barbell

4. Bosu Ball — another all purpose tool

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5. Heavier Kettlebells — right now we only have 3lbs and 5lbs…we need some heavier ones to do more workouts (Again Faster has some relatively inexpensive options)

6. Adjustable Step — different from the plyo box, but something I can also lay on and step on k2-_d6fea17a-f47a-4d04-90be-134fa2052189.v1

 

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Soaring with My Team

I am all about the team bonding. Sometimes we do it with a fry basket and wine; but I really love it when it involves some sort of funtivity.

On one of my recent trips to NYC, we decided to try our hand at aerial yoga. I love aerial yoga, it is an entirely different challenge because it has the potential to be completely embarrassing. What better way to build camaraderie with your team but do something completely embarrassing?

I did a little research and found Om Factory. With two locations (one in Union Square, one just  outside of the Fashion District) it made it easier to find a class that would fit our schedule.  We hopped over to Amanda’s class, which was a level 1/2…so my little newbies were a little concerned.

The way Om Factory describes its aerial classes pretty much makes it everything but intimidating.

“Everyone who enjoyed swinging on the monkey bars as a kid is encouraged to try out this fun fusion of yoga and aerial arts.”

Luckily, the rest of our class didn’t mind our constant need for hand on instruction and giggling. I was just a few days away from the marathon and was so happy to have us focusing on hip openers. I’ve always enjoyed yoga as an option to cross train for running, but aerial yoga truly gives me that extra lengthening. image (22)

In truth, I have always wanted to be a Cirque du Soleil performer — and aerial yoga is the closest thing I can come to actually doing it!

Watch us swing!

So we giggled our way through class and somehow convinced the instructors to not throw us out, and stay after for a photo shoot.

The studio is cute, and they have all sorts of other classes that I am dying to try. Yoga inspired by break dancing? Sign me up. Aerial Circus? One step closer to fulfilling my dream of being a circus performer.

 

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2014 New York City Marathon Recap

My head wasn’t in this race for the last few weeks. Training was hard, I thought about just not running a few times, and shook it off. As race day loomed closer my anxiety level continued to heighten, but at that point nothing was going to keep me from running.

I broke one of the number one rules of racing — I ran in something new. Let’s be honest though, by the time the weather report was calling for 30 mph winds with 40 mph gusts, I wasn’t going to be running in ANYTHING like what I had trained in. I bought a new pair of compression tights the day before hoping that it would keep me warm.

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I left with plenty of time to make it to the start line. Or at least I thought I did. Here I was concerned that I would be outside freezing for two hours — instead I stressed over getting on a train. Who’s bright idea was it to not run the 6 on a weekday schedule MTA??? From the ferry to the start line the buzz and camaraderie was amazing. It is one of the reasons I so love running.

The Irish gentlemen behind me at the porter potties were honestly hilarious, and the Peruvian in my corral was in the same boat as me, having not trained in this cold weather we huddled together praying for warmth.

Every time the cannon (which ominously sounded like the one from Hunger Games), my heart surged. Finally, it was time. It was my turn to run one of the greatest marathons in the world. And I was as ready as I could be.

Miles 1-10

Going into the first stretch, I decided to go at a comfortable pace and not fight the wind. Good thing, since while on the Verrazano I was practically going sideways. My slower pace had me feeling really strong as I wove my way through Brooklyn. I was so incredibly impressed with spectators. I had never traveled outside of Manhattan to watch the marathon and really didn’t know what to expect. The energy was infectious and I loved every moment of it. Especially as I rounded around mile 4 and saw one of my colleagues with a glitter filled sign!

so strong
so strong

Miles 11-20

As I rounded into Queens I was still feeling quite strong. It was the first place I would get to see my husband, and my favorite little person (Sofia), who had instruments to make noise as I came by. I made a diagonal bee-line for them, so happy to have them out there supporting me. This was especially helpful as I was one mile out from Queensboro Bridge, which I knew was going to be the toughest part of this part of the race. I was so focused on just getting through to Manhattan that I didn’t stop to take pictures of the scenery like so many others were around me. I regret it now, but I do think if I had stopped I might not have started up again.

The wall of sound is real people, and it was awesome. As I began my trek north to Harlem, I saw Janie and Marissa and got a surge. As I headed up in mile 20, I started to feel the wall approaching. I took my first walk break, and then I saw Shari…got a hug and started up again.

Look I was actually smiling on that bridge
Look I was actually smiling on that bridge

Miles 21-26.2

I started playing head games at mile 21. The ‘ol “5 miles, you do that every day” and the “you can’t quit now, this is the easy part.” I started the marathon shuffle and just kept going for as long as I possibly could. The wind was picking up again, and making it a little harder. The mind games continued, as I the “rolling hills” continued to take a toll on my legs. At mile 25 I just couldn’t do it any longer and decided to walk so that I could run across the finish line. Had I not walked I might have finished before 5 hours, but I still feel like it was the right decision.

I did it, I did it!
I did it, I did it!

I was so happy to have crossed the finish line before dark, and while it was a PR, I ran one of the best marathons in the world, and I finished.

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Preparing for a Race (with travel)

I was lucky that my first marathon happened to be in my backyard. It was easy to prepare, I simply had dinner went about my normal routine as if I was just going out for a long run. This time though, things are a bit different…given I will be in a hotel and not in the comfort of my own home. It requires more planning and testing well in advance. My trial run in NYC was just a few weeks ago, and I did everything as I planned to do it this week.

 

Massage: Three days before, one day after

As I noted a few weeks ago, I tried out Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage NYC. I don’t think I have ever felt like jelly after running 20 miles, in a good way. Beret is a runner herself, and certainly knows all the key areas that can be a bit “irritated” from all that use. Before jumping on the table, we sat and discussed specific issues I was having (again this was immediately after my run so there was a lot of stiffness), and she focused on my hips at my request. This wasn’t just your standard massage. There was this stretching element to it, that really got into those hard to reach spots. I recovered so quickly, that I was able to run on Tuesday as if I had done an easy five miles. I will be stopping by for a pre-run massage this week.unnamed

Yoga: Stretching, stretching, stretching

If I “rested” without doing anything for three days leading up to the race, I would probably gouge someone’s eyes out due to an increase in stress and anxiety. So I focus on lots of yoga days….and different kinds of yoga so that I can get into all the little tight spaces. I recently went to Studio 360 for a Vinyasa yoga flow. There are a few reasons I loved this yoga/cycle hybrid studio; one of which was the fact that they provide yoga mats and cycle shoes free of charge. Another, is the fact that the classes are small and you get one-on-one instruction. The class I attended was Sunday morning and with only two other people, it was practically private. I’ve got two classes picked out for this coming week.photo 3 (3)

Dinner: salt and carbs

At this point I know what is going to go down best, unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of cooking at home. So I’ve scouted the restaurants that are nearby and selected three options for dinner. Though I’m angling for an invite to my besties…..you know who you are ;).

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Race Week Is Here!

After two really incredible stressful weeks where I was home for a total of five days, I am getting ready to hop on a plane again bound for NYC. While I am going early for work, I have to somehow remain focused on the fact that race day is Sunday.

I have to be honest, that my training has slacked the last two weeks due to straight up exhaustion. Luckily I somehow managed to time all of this travel for Taper Town, so while I feel bad, I don’t feel nearly as bad as it could have been. In fact, I don’t think I have ever been so happy to be tapering in my life.

This will be me...hopefully
This will be me…hopefully

I received my bib number, and wave information a few weeks ago. I was initially (and still am) slightly disappointed that I am in the last wave — mostly because I feel like I am going to miss out on some of the great spectator memories — but have started to think positively about it. For example, I am on the top of the bridge, and am less likely to be urinated on. (score) If you would like to follow my race you can do so by going here.

bib

I played with this fancy excel document that Kristin sent over several weeks ago, and figured out what pace I need to make my goal time. Amazingly, when I plugged it all in it actually looked doable. I started to think “maybe all that training in the summer heat is going to actually pay off.”

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I am equally nervous and relieved that the race is this Sunday. Training has been excruciating, and I know if I ever decide to do this again a run coach will be part of the “must gets.” I’ve reached the point where I just want to cross the finish line, and not do any significant damage to my body (crossing fingers on that last one).

Now it is time to figure out the playlist…honestly it is the hardest part of race week.

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Marathon Training Week 15

Like many runners I know I am very superstitious when it comes to my pre-run routine. The foods I eat, the way I lay out my clothes, down to what socks I am wearing and whether they match my outwear. All training I ran in conditions that most likely would not be the same as race day, unless a ridiculous heat wave came through NYC in November. Two things could happen: (1) I could possibly run much faster than I had been running or (2) the shock of different weather could present other challenges. So when the opportunity to run my 20 miler in NYC presented itself, I decided it needed to happen.

I treated this very much like a trial marathon-weekend run…from packing, my meals, and post-race activities.

Although the bridge on Linton has given me some hill training, I knew it wasn’t really going to prepare me for the real deals. So I asked Kristen to map a route with bridges. She really delivered with four, including two from the marathon route. As the day grew closer it looked like I was also going to have to complete my first training run in the rain. Amazing how I made it through 15 weeks of training in Florida with no rain. How is that even possible?

It was cold and literally rained the entire time. We started off near Prospect Park, headed to Brooklyn Bridge, swung back around Manhattan Bridge, through several neighborhoods in Brooklyn (Park Slope, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, hipstertastic places), the Pulaski Bridge in Long Island City, and then over the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan and into Central Park just like race day. Three boroughs in just about 3.5 hours. As we rounded around the West Side the shivering set in. Apparently my “rain” jacket wasn’t waterproof enough for this much rain. I couldn’t really feel my fingers and the idea of two more miles just didn’t seem feasible.

What I learned on this run (other than needing a better rain jacket), is that  I am going to finish this race. There is a good chance that if I keep myself healthy with stretching, icing, foam rolling and sleeping, I could PR it. But even if that doesn’t happen I know I am going to cross that finish line.

photo 2 (4)

Monday: yoga

Continuing to do active rest days to keep my legs active.

photo 1 (4)

Tuesday: 4 miles

Did a mixture of speed work, endurance and hills to keep myself interested on the treadmill.

Wednesday: 5 miles

I have a big work project looming and there was a significant amount of frustration and anxiety building, which fueled a very fast post-work run.

Thursday: travel day/rest day

Up bright and early to head to NYC, so turned this into a rest day.

Friday: yoga

I downloaded a new ashtanga series from Cody App, and although it said beginner I found it really challenging. More to come on that.

Saturday: 20 miles

Pretty much gave you the run down above, I know it is going to be a hard race…and I really just want to finish.

Sunday: yoga

Went to a studio down the street from my hotel, and essentially had a private class. More to come.

photo 3 (3)

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Marathon Training Week 14

I’ve decided that all big birthdays should be accompanied by a big race. Once we hit October this week people started asking if I was ready….and my response was completely focused on the race. Explaining that my 20 miler was coming up and I was hinging my preparedness on how I felt during that run. Turns out they were talking about me turning 30 the day after the marathon. One track mind over here, or maybe selective memory?

This week, I went back to only running twice during the week with a swim day. There was still some pain during my long run on Saturday, and I continue to do my new fancy stretches to try to loosen my hips and shins before running. Icing has become a central part of all my post run days…and I am just praying I make it through this.

So we are officially less than a month away from race day, and I am so ready for this to be over.

Monday: yoga

I originally planned a rest day, but I was reaching boiling point by lunch time and decided to walk away for a short 30 minute practice.

Tuesday: 4.5 miles, treadmill, speed work

Painless run, which was quite exciting. I was able to get up to 8.0 on the treadmill and maintain that pace for two straight minutes. I know it isn’t real world because the belt is pushing me, still felt pretty good. My new shoes also seem to be the right fit. photo 2 (3)

Wednesday: 40 laps

Ok, it’s October and I can still swim outside. Point advantage to Florida living today, because it was what I wanted.

Thursday: hill repeats

Headed to my “hill” (Linton Bridge) and ran quite a few hill repeats. Amazingly it was cooler this morning and I thought there was a good chance the weather could be turning.

photo 1 (3)

Friday: rest day

Truncated day so that I could head to services.

Saturday: 12 miles

I felt kind of bad for running instead of fasting, but either way you shook it I wasn’t going to be able to fast because of the run. Also, running 12 miles while the rest of your training group headed out for 18 or 19 makes you feel like you are cheating a bit. Oh well, felt really strong for the majority of this run, feeling a bit more confident heading into next week’s 20 miler.

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Sunday: yoga

Yoga flexibility. It’s amazing what happens when you are completely in tune with your body. It has been my left hip/ITB that has been giving me the most trouble and when I tried to stretch it out you would have thought I was leaning into a wall. I am starting to think the month following the race will be completely dedicated to yoga with a little hip/glute strengthening.

photo 3 (2)

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Marathon Training Week 13

Week 13 of an 18 week plan probably isn’t the most appropriate time to make changes to your training routine, but when you are sitting in a doctor’s office explaining the pain you are feeling in your left IT band and your doctor says you are probably “heading toward a serious injury” you have two choices.

(1) quit and wallow in the disappointment that you are about a month away from the finish line

(2) make some changes and pray that you don’t hurt yourself more and cross that finish line

So I went with number 2, hoping against all hope something I did was going to make a difference, and get me through these last few weeks of training. It was no secret that I have been painfully struggling through my longer runs. Hitting walls at mile 14 that included pain and then run/walking through the rest.

This past week, I cut back on my runs — only two during the week — and decided to go the Hanson Brothers route of long runs. This meant breaking my long run into two days. I don’t know if I fully buy into this method yet, but I had pain free runs this weekend….so who knows.

Monday: yoga/rest day

Had a panel down in Miami so not a ton of time to workout today, did a 20 minute yoga sequence to stretch myself out.

Tuesday: 5 miles

Went to the doctor earlier in the morning, and was told to be careful and start doing this weird shin rotation stretch before I run. I apparently have no hip rotation, which is causing my ITB pain. My evening run was not great, and I felt like there was a sharp stabbing pain in my left leg.

Sunset run
Sunset run

Wednesday: run failure — 2.5 miles

Attempted a treadmill hill interval run with the goal of hitting 5 miles. My legs just couldn’t take it, and I called it quits. Vowed to see if new shoes would make a difference.

Thursday: yoga

Given my 19 mile run looming ahead of me, I decided to forgo day three of running. I did yoga and STILL had leg pain.

Friday: rest day

Services, resting, carbo loading…the normal drill. Got new running shoes….the Brooks Raveena. We shall see.

Less stability might be the key
Less stability might be the key

Saturday: 15 miles

Honestly, it was so humid out. I really did plan to get those additional 3 miles in. But by the time it was 9:30am the sun was blaring and I thought I was going to pass out from heat stroke. I am already getting up at 5:00AM to run on Saturday, I just don’t know how I can physically get up any earlier. Hence the push to the Hanson Brothers training program.

Sunrise run
Sunrise run

Sunday: 5 miles

Legs were still pretty tired, but no pain. Ran in my new shoes, and I felt like I wasn’t pronating as much as I was with the Asics.

 

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