Category Archives: Exercise

A little bit stronger

I have never considered myself particularly strong, physically. I’ve never considered myself particularly athletic. But lately, that’s changing.

I was the kid always picked last in gym class. When we played volleyball, I would always step away from the ball coming at me, instead of hitting it. Or if I did hit it, it usually either went straight up or into the net, because my goal was just to keep it away from my face. When we had to play softball in gym, my solution was to go as far outfield as possible and feverishly hope a ball never came my way. If a ball did come my way, my attempts to throw the ball were beyond pathetic. Athletic, me? No way. Strong? Definitely not.

I’ve been running off and on for years and years, and still never considered myself athletic. I used to run to the beach and then go swim for a mile and run home, but I still didn’t feel athletic. Athletes were the popular kids in gym class, they were on teams, I just went running and swimming. I wasn’t a runner or a swimmer. But you know what? I got to the 20-mile run in a marathon training program before I had to walk away from the marathon. I am a runner. I am athletic.

I started rock climbing with Husband, and while I felt stronger, I still didn’t feel strong. But you better believe it takes major strength to rock climb.

I always wanted to be really toned – toned arms and shoulders, toned legs, flat belly. But at the time, I wanted it more for physical appearance than for strength.

But once I started yoga, I realized how much strength you need to do and hold poses. It doesn’t matter what you look like – if you aren’t strong, you will know it. When I started, I did not feel strong.

I kept going to class, and gradually, I started to be able to hold poses longer. I started to actually be able to focus on my breathing in the poses, and not feeling like my whole body was pleading with me to stop. Some poses that were a big struggle to me at first, now I can get through holding the pose for as long as they hold it.

My yoga instructor gave me the greatest compliment the other day, that I am getting so much stronger and she can see it in the poses I do. It felt like such a major victory. Yes, I am getting stronger. Yes, I am strong now.

The toned arms and shoulders that came from developing that strength were now a nice by-product, not the goal. Finding and developing my own strength was the real goal.

How you fuel = how you perform

I eat really well for the most part. I can’t eat gluten, dairy, or soy, so that eliminates a lot of potential junk right off. I can’t really have a lot of processed sugar, so I pretty much stay away from sugary treats.

In general, I fuel (and hydrate) myself well in order to feel good, to have energy for exercise, to give my body lots of good nutrients.

But even on days when I technically eat good things, it doesn’t mean I’m properly fueling my body.

Take yesterday. In terms of food quality, I ate really well. Lots of veggies. Fruit. Beans. An egg. Amazing Grass Green superfood powder. Probiotics.

But I didn’t eat enough – I was low on calories. Low on water. Low on protein.

By the end of the day, I was tired and dragging. I perked up after dinner and more water, and figured I was fine.

And then I got on my yoga mat in the hot yoga studio this morning.

And oooh boy was it challenging. I was tired. I felt sluggish. I couldn’t maintain my concentration. The heat started to feel more intense. I certainly didn’t feel up to pushing myself hard like I normally do. There was just no energy reserve to pull from.

I seem to forget this lesson from time to time. You can’t perform if you don’t give your body what it needs. And that means enough water, enough calories, enough of all the necessary stuff -carbs, fat, protein, vitamins.

So today I’m back to doing a lot better.

I have two hours of yoga planned for tomorrow, and then a date with Husband. I have to fuel up!

Decision

I’ve been thinking about the marathon a lot. Wondering if I should try to run it, wondering if I would be able to run it. Thinking more and more that I would not be able to run the marathon next weekend, considering that I haven’t been able to be awake for more than half a day without needing to sleep and rest, and considering that just walking down the hill in my neighborhood and back makes my chest hurt quite a bit.

I came to peace with the best decision for me, possibly the only decision – I will not be running the marathon.

Initially, I was thinking that I would look for a marathon maybe two months out, and jump back into training from that point. But I came to another decision, one that is just as important for me. I was really getting burnt out on training. I was very much looking forward to the marathon being over so I could stop having such a regimented training schedule. I wanted my weekends back.

Right now, I can’t run the marathon, but also, I have lost the mental drive needed to really focus on marathon training. I decided I’m not going to actively train for any races right now. When I’m healed, I’m going to concentrate on hot yoga, and running, but running without a training program. Running when I want to, for as long as I want to. Running for fun again. I have some big things going on in my life right now, big in a good way, but I don’t have the capacity to focus on work, the big focus in my personal life, and additional marathon training.

The marathon training is on hold indefinitely, for now, but I know without a doubt I will run a marathon, and I will kick butt when I do run it. For now, my focus is back on just exercising for health and strength and great fitness.

Cross training

I definitely know that mixing up exercise routines are important, as is cross training. For me, this is particularly important because my legs get unhappy if I am running too much, or too many days in a row.

After two days of running, today was a cross-training day. Husband will attest to the fact that I am not by nature a morning person. I don’t spring out of bed at first light (or before!) and when I get up, I tend not to wake up and immediately feel filled with energy, ready to tackle the day. I like sleep, and I like to eeeeease into mornings.

So, morning workouts are particularly challenging for me! Add to the challenge of not being a morning person, but I also really don’t like alarms going off. I have a habit of setting my alarm the night before, with plans and high hopes of being a good exercise dooby, and getting my workout out of the way in the morning. What frequently happens is that I will wake up, usually about an hour or two before the alarm is set to go off, and turn it off (One of my superpowers is that I can wake up when I need to, so I can turn off the alarm and still wake up when I wanted to). But then I’ll wake up again when the alarm would have gone off, and will quite happily talk myself into staying in bed longer.

This just sets up a bad spiral. I feel guilty for missing a workout, and then have to pep myself up all day to make sure I do the workout that night.

But today, today I was victorious. Woke up when I had planned to (without the alarm). Got into a pretty strong argument with myself, in my head. Finally managed to kick my own butt, got up and headed off to the gym at our subdivision clubhouse.

The funny thing is that even I don’t like the act of getting up early, I actually really enjoy it once I’m up. The world was dark and quiet this morning, with some fog in the air. The gym was mostly empty. And I got to watch the world start to stretch and stir and wake up as the sky began to lighten. It just felt peaceful, and of course I also get the satisfaction of knowing I put in a good workout!

Details:

Stationary bike, 17 minutes, with 8/12 intervals (8 seconds hard/12 seconds recovery, lather/rinse/repeat). I HATE the stationary bike, but this is definitely a good workout!

Treadmill, 9 minutes, incline level 12, speed 4mh

Run with the bats

Unlike last night, when I had no motivation to run, tonight I couldn’t wait to go for one. The weather was gorgeous today, with temps in the low 70s by the time I got home from work. Dusk was settling in, and the country road that I ran on was mostly quiet. For most of my run, my only companion was the occasional bat. I was proud of myself – I didn’t freak out, or assume that they were going to attack me. Trust me, I’ve had both of those reactions before!

I felt like I was running a bit slow, and I had to stop and walk for about 20-30 seconds three times, but that’s ok. I still got in a great run, and I’m quite happy with my efforts tonight.

Overview:

Distance: 3.26 miles

Total time: 26:43 minutes

Pace: 8:12 min/mile

Getting past the “don’t wannas”

Up till last Sunday, I was doing great on my running program. I was running 4 or 5 times per week, and had been for a few weeks. I could manage to motivate and go for a run even if the anti-run gremlins were out and about.

Then last week hit. I strayed from my strict dietary plan – I had fries with regular ketchup (high fructose corn syrup and sugar), and got some movie candy when Husband and I went to see The Social Network last weekend (more sugar and corn syrup). Now,  I know better, and I very rarely cheat, but sometimes, it’s hard to always eat a perfectly clean diet.

My skin started breaking out, like I knew it would. But I was out of my steroid skin creme, which will clear my skin when I have a flare-up. I don’t like using steroids in any form, but I do know that they will help me.

I didn’t have any refills left, and it took a few days for the pharmacy and doctor’s office to sort it out. By the time the prescription was finally filled, I’d had a flare up for about 4 or 5 days.

I can’t exercise when I have a flare-up, as the sweat just further irritates my skin. But the longer it goes on, the worse it becomes, till I have break out patches all over. After a few days, it starts to make its way further into my system, and I get run down and very drained. When I finally got the medicine on me, it took a few days to clear up and for me to start feeling better.

Which brings me to today. I missed my long run this weekend, and today is scheduled to be my high-intensity interval run. I didn’t get up this morning to go to the gym, and by the time I got home, I was tired and feeling definitely unmotivated. The LAST thing I wanted to do was go workout, even though I knew I would hate even more missing another workout.

Husband got me out the door tonight, by reminding me of how unhappy I would be to miss a workout, and how I would be glad that I had went.

He was right. I went, I pushed myself hard until I couldn’t go any more, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that I beat back the “don’t wannas.” Sometimes, the gremlins are extra loud, but fighting them off feels pretty good 🙂

“Just do it.” – always good motivation from Nike.

Run:

24 minutes

2.89 miles

17 intervals (30 seconds as hard as I can, 30 seconds at a recovery run pace)

5 minute recovery pace run after the first 10 intervals

A good, solid interval run.