Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

I spent 3 hours at the gym today.  Three hours!!

There was a time when I wouldn’t even consider spending 30 minutes at the gym, let alone 3 hours — and the kicker is, I actually enjoyed my time there.  Luckily I was able to take my time today as I didn’t have to work.  And I got a lot done.

First, I did a 45 minute Level 1 yoga class.  I love the stretching that it provides as well as working on my balance.  I’ve realized that I need to do yoga at least once a week to keep my hips from tightening up and causing all sorts of problems.

Next, I ran 3 miles on the treadmill, gradually increasing my speed until I was at a 9:45 minute mile for the last half mile.

Next, I did two sets of weights.  I have to say, I really don’t like weight lifting, but it is something I know I have to do for my health, and I’m hoping that someday I might actually enjoy it like I now enjoy running.  Weight lifting the last two weeks has made me feel stronger and more lithe.

I’ve also been doing a lot of core work lately, which today included quite a grueling core workout in yoga, and doing crunches and obliques on the weight machine.

After all of that, I changed into my swimsuit and spent 10 or so minutes in the steam room to relax.

What a nice way to spend the day!

One more thing….

I wore these at the gym today

As I was finishing my last set of weights, a woman on another machine told me how much she liked my outfit and wanted to know where to get it.  These are the Road Runner Sports High Speed Compression capri.  I love them!  Thanks, stranger, for the compliment!


Read Full Post »

This was written a few months ago and published in the monthly U.S. Running Room magazine.

When I first started running, I would wear headphones every time I went out.  It was all I could do to get outside and trudge out 3 miles.  It was painful, and not at all fun.  Where was this “runner’s high” I had heard so much about?  At least the upbeat tunes of Lady Gaga kept me distracted from my grueling pace.

But at some point, that all changed.  Now, I leave the headphones at home.  At first, it was mostly for safety and training – too many race courses don’t allow headphones.  But now, it truly has become about getting a chance to “clear my head.”  Those 5 miles, alone on the trail, are my chance to think through anything that has been bothering me and come up with solutions to any problems plaguing me.  I’m a bit of a worrier, and at times my anxiety can get a bit overwhelming.  In fact, just last week I had a miserable day.  I was crabby and cranky, easily upset, worried and anxious, and generally unpleasant to be around.  When my running partner didn’t show up that night, I almost chalked it up to more bad luck and called it a day.  But instead, I went out for a short run.  It was only 2.5 miles, but it was in the cool fall air, with a light mist falling, and no one was on the trail.  When I got home, I realized that I was suddenly in a better mood.  I had a chance on the trail to work through everything that had been bothering me.  And that’s when I realized that prior to that night’s run, I hadn’t been out for 4 days.  That’s like a decade in a runner’s world.

When I look back at the person I was a year and a half ago, before I started running, I discover that I’m a completely different person.  Not just in size, eating habits, or physical health, but my emotional health has improved 10 fold.  I’m less irritable now, I don’t get as upset about schedule changes, I’m more patient, and I’m more determined and ambitious than I was before.  I’ve realized my own self-worth.  All of that could have taken years to do on a therapist’s couch.

Now I know that running truly is “cheaper than therapy” and I’ll proudly wear my Running Room shirt with that slogan, if only to send a message to newbies that someday they will feel the same.

Read Full Post »

I promised a review on the Bondi Bands I ordered and now that I’ve had a chance to use them several times, and in several different situations, I can give all my loyal readers my take.

Quick summary: Totally awesome.  Why haven’t I bought these before?  Where have they been all my life?

A few days ago I was at the gym and saw a woman with this beautiful paisley headband/bandanna on.  I frequently have problems with sweat rolling into my eyes and I hadn’t yet found a sweatband that didn’t make me look like a total dork.  My solution in the past had usually been just making liberal use of that scratchy towel they provide you at the gym.  It worked and I had no reason to think that there would be another solution until I saw this headband.

When I got in my car I immediately pulled out my Blackberry and did a google search.  I found the Bondi Band website immediately.  I scrolled through some of the options on my tiny screen and came to the conclusion that I absolutely had to have one of these things.

As soon as I got in the door at home I pulled up the website and started surfing.  Bondi Band offers multiple products:

  • Wicking sweat towels
  • Light sweat wicking headbands
  • Heavy sweat wicking headbands
  • Wicking hats
  • Wicking ponytail hats
  • Swim caps
  • And more!

The Light sweat wicking headbands are made of lycra and come in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns.  I ordered the Pleasant Perfume version.

I also ordered three different Heavy sweat wicking headbands.  These are made from a CoolMax material and are specifically meant for working out.  I ordered the Sun Symbol pattern in white for myself, the Coach band for my husband who coaches track at a local high school, and one for my 17-year-old runner cousin that says “Some girls chase boys – I pass ’em.”

The items arrived quickly, within three days of ordering them.  I first used the lycra version as a headband after a late night out when I felt absolutely no desire to get up early and shower before heading out.  As described on the website, the headband stayed put throughout the day.  Because it is a wide headband, you can fold over the top or bottom to wear it wider or smaller.  I received several compliments on my headband and have worn it several nights since then.  It is perfect for just pulling my hair back after a long day at work.

Next I tried out my “heavy sweat wicking” headband with the sun decal.  I wore it for a 3.5 mile run at the gym, both on the track and on the treadmill.  The headband stayed put throughout my workout.  It didn’t ride up in the back or in the front, which is the trouble I’ve often run into with other headbands.  Additionally, I didn’t need to use my scratchy white towel at all during the workout.

Next came the real test: today I wore it during a spin workout.  For some reason I sweat a lot more when I bike, so I wasn’t sure how well the headband would fair.  Again, it stayed put throughout the workout.  I did have to use my towel during the workout, but mostly just for the beads of sweat that were forming just above my eyebrows.  Otherwise, none of the sweat that normally trickles down my forehead and into my eyes made it past the BondiBand.

Since the BondiBands are only $8 a piece, I anticipate ordering a lot more in the future.  I particularly think they’ll come in useful when it starts getting warmer and I spent a lot of time outdoors running and biking.  I’ll probably invest in one of their triathlon themed headbands for the tris I have planned for this summer. Or maybe this one:

I think this phrase might be apt as I’m slogging my way through a race this summer!

So now I have to ask: anyone else have suggestions for running/biking/swimming accessories that I just have to try?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Read Full Post »

If you’re new to running or fitness, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.  If you’re an experienced athlete and you know anything about me, you know that this statement is patently false.

First for the non-experienced: two a days are basically when you workout twice during a day.  Usually you allow at least a few hours of rest between workouts.  It seems that generally athletes will do their workout in the morning before work, and then return to the gym (or the streets) for a second workout after a day at the office.

Now for the experienced athlete who knows me: Yesterday was my first two-a-day, so there.

I gotta tell you; yesterday after my first workout of 2 miles (which was agonizing) I went home and ate lunch.  Then I decided to step on the scale.  Probably not the best order of business for my day, sure.  But I was almost 7 pounds heavier than when I last stepped on the scale.  Remember a few days ago when I said that I had burned off all of those post-holiday and post-travel calories and had dropped back down to my previous weight?  Well, a few weeks after that I got a tattoo on my shoulder and so I could wear a sports bra, and therefore couldn’t workout for almost two weeks.  If you recall from my training postings last year, I mentioned that once I start to make excuses for not working out, it’s easy to keep that momentum going and find myself several months later saggy and out of shape.  So the same happened with this tattoo.  I couldn’t go workout.  For the first week I found myself missing my workouts.  I wanted to go run (strange, no?).  But the second week it was kind of nice to just sit around and relax.  And then when the third week approached and my tattoo was pretty well healed and I could go back to the gym, I still took another few days off, making excuses left and right.  So here I am, about three and half weeks post-tattoo, and I’ve gained 7 pounds.

Now, part of the reason I’m really enjoying this whole running thing is that I can eat good food and (for the most part) still lose weight.  So while I wasn’t working out, I was still eating that “good” food, in the same quantities I was when I was working out 5 days a week, which inevitably led to weight gain.

So that 7 pounds on the scale was a bit of a shock and served as a kick in the butt to get moving already!

Since I’m doing the Falls Duathlon April 30th, I figured this was just as good an opportunity as any to try out my ability to run two miles followed by three miles.  So after working 7 hours at The Running Room (did I mention I work at The Running Room now!) I went back to the gym and ran 3 miles.  And it was actually quite exhilarating.

Turns out, there are actually benefits to doing two a days.  Check out these posts:

  • Double Duty – Runner’s World magazine explained the benefits of doing two a days and suggests ways to schedule your workouts.
  • Two-A-Days – Russel explains why he uses two a days to help him prepare for races in cycling
  • Joe Friel’s Blog: Two-a-days – Joe outlines the advantages and disadvantages for doing two a days

I figured I had better do at least one two a day in my life so that I can justify wearing this shirt to workout in:

I’ve had this shirt since at least August and I’ve always felt a little like a liar wearing it at the gym.  Now at least I can say I’ve done it!

What say you, reader (if you’re out there): Do you do two a days?  If so, what is your schedule like?  Do you like them?  Do you avoid them like the plague?

Read Full Post »

I know I said this a few weeks ago, but keeping progress in perspective is just sooo important!

I’ve been having a few “off” weeks – making excuses for not going to the gym, skipping my “rest” workout, and only doing my runs.  But even a “slow” week now is 10 times better than a week a year ago.  A year ago, I never went to the gym.  Okay, that’s not exactly true either, but I very rarely went to the gym.  In fact, I didn’t even go to the gym enough to get my attendance discount at Mayo – that’s only 30 times in 3 months!  Fortunately, the last quarter I was able to get in a lot more than 30 visits to the gym, and finally earned myself that coveted gym membership discount.

Fortunately for me, I’ve solved the “slacker” problem, at least for now – I hadn’t yet registered for the 10K race I am planning on doing in January, so I think I was able to push my training to the back of my mind.  Now, however, I’ve registered myself and my sister to do the 10K on January 30th in Kansas City and, once again, I have a goal for myself that I must complete.  On January 30th – which is, holy crap, only 3 months away – I have to be able to run 6.2 miles (my current max is still only 4 miles – but again, keep that progress in perspective, Tiff!) and I’d like to be able to run at a 10-11 minute mile pace.

Progress on that front has actually been pretty good.  My race pace September 4th was 13.5 minute miles.  I am now consistently running 12 minute miles.  I’m hoping that in 3 months I should be able to cut at least another minute off my mile.  I’m going to have to cut two minutes in order to keep up with my sister though, so I guess it’s time to get out and run!

Read Full Post »

When I am struggling for inspiration to actually get myself off my butt and go for a run, I find reading about other runners’ successes is very helpful.  Even reading tricks and tips from blogs or advice columns about weight loss, exercise, or running is helpful.  Somehow, knowing that someone else out there is exercising and I’m not is a powerful motivator.

Here are my top recommendations for reading material:

  • Runner’s World (either online or subscription magazine – a great resource)
  • Athena Diaries (an inspiration for all the plus size women out there – this blogger now does ultra runs!)
  • Renee’s Ramblings (a local runner friend of the family — Hi Renee! — she bikes, runs, and bakes!)
  • Plus Runner (another great blogger who shares her experience as a plus size triathlete and runner)
  • Slow Fat Triathlete (I picked up this funny and useful book right before my first triathlon)

Leave your suggestions in comments!

Read Full Post »

Running Buddy

Before I talk about my new running  buddy, I want to talk about the health assessment I did at the Healthy Living Center on Thursday.  It had been more than 2 years since I did my last health assessment, so I wanted to see what my improvement would be like.  Unfortunately, they have a few new tests, so I couldn’t compare everything.  But the things I could compare — holy crap!  I’m totally awesome.

I am more than 10 pounds lighter than last time I did this test, which to me means that I’ve actually lost more than 15 pounds since I started training, since I know I weighed more last winter than I did 2 summers ago.  But besides that, the most interesting thing is that my extremity measurements didn’t change much.  That means that I’ve gained muscle, but also that I don’t gain weight in my extremeties and, unfortunately, gain it all around the midsection and boob area.  However, another positive number was that my strength tests all went up by at least 11%.  And my resting heart rate was 10 beats slower this year than it was two years ago. 

So that was exciting.  It’s nice to see progress even if, as I said the other day, it’s not as progressive as you would like.

So on to my new running buddy.  Yesterday I was supposed to run 3.5 miles.  It’s been unseasonably warm in Minnesota over the past week and on Sunday it was close to 80 degrees when I went out for a run in the afternoon.  So I haven’t had to purchase winter exercise gear just yet. 🙂  I decided that since it was so nice outside, I should take advantage of the weather and go running outside.

Now, I’m not normally an “outside” type of girl.  I get bit by bugs.  I don’t like sunscreen and I don’t like getting sun burnt.  I don’t like wind.  I don’t like running hills. 

There are a lot of things I don’t like about running outside, but fortunately for me, none of them really matter.  In the end, running outside is so much better for me than running on the treadmill at the gym.  So I force myself to do it, if only occassionally.

Yesterday I decided to take my dog with me.  Boscoe is a mutt that we rescued from Paws & Claws, the local non-profit animal shelter about five and half years ago.  Boscoe is the absolute best dog in the universe, there is no doubt about that.  He is super cuddly.  He is well behaved.  He likes running around outdoors, but he also likes to be lazy.  He does lots of cute tricks.  He likes kids and other dogs.  And, like all dogs, he makes me smile every day when I get home. 

But he also just loves to go for car rides and runs.  So when I suggested he go for a run with me around Silver Lake, he was ecstatic.  After gathering up the necessary gear and making sure he pooped before we got there (I just hate having to carry around a poop bag), we were off. 

My plan called for running 3.5 miles.  The Silver Lake loop is 1.8 miles, so I decided to just go ahead and do the two loops for 3.6 miles total.  I put the Gentle Leader on Boscoe and headed out.  By mile 2, the dog was exhausted.  And even though I exchanged walking for running every couple of minutes, I still had to drag him behind me for a good part of the run.

When we got home, he just collapsed on the floor and groaned and proceeded to sleep for the next couple of hours. 

At least my running buddy made me feel successful.  If I can run longer and faster than my dog, I call that an achievement.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »