First of all, just a quick recap of my workouts for the past couple of days...
Yesterday, I did a fun 14.3 mile run with a friend, Lisa. (More about that in a minute.) I will say that we averaged 10:40-ish min/mile, even facing lots of rolling hills and strong headwinds, so I was pretty happy with that. Then, in the evening Chris and I went to a spinning class.
Today, we were back at the gym at around 7:45 with just enough time for me to squeeze in 20 minutes of heavy lifting before another spin class. After some grocery shopping and lunch out of our "cleanly" packed cooler, we headed back into the gym for Muscle Fusion. Both the spin class and Muscle Fusion were taught by the same instructor, and even though she was feeling a little under the weather, she killed it with a couple of hours of intensely hard workouts. I kind of wish I had had my heart rate monitor on while I was spinning today because I swear my HR never went below 170 bpm, which for me is about 80-90% of my max. I was feeling dizzy and nauseous by the time class was over. Muscle Fusion wasn't as tough as far as the cardiovascular aspect, but my arms and legs were quivering with weakness by the time we were done, and I'm still feeling a little shaky as I write this post!
So back to my run yesterday....
My friend Lisa has also been bitten by the clean-eating bug, so we spent a lot of our time talking about our goals with regards to the clean-diet lifestyle and also our corresponding fitness goals. We talked about running and strength training but didn't really set any concrete goals, at least I didn't. Although I did come away from our conversation with a renewed perspective on what I should start focusing on in terms of setting some goals.
Later in the afternoon as I was trolling the internet, I came across an article written by a fitness model in which she stated that doing too much cardio can actually counter-act your progress in terms of building lean muscle mass through strength training. Apparently, training for endurance sports (such as running marathons) uses so much energy, that your body will basically "eat" muscle tissue for fuel at a certain point, making it difficult to build up new muscle tissue. When we went to spinning class, I asked our instructor Misty about this topic, since she is also a fitness model and an expert on this kind of stuff. She confirmed that what I read is basically right - it will be very difficult for me to build lean muscle, while training for marathons. She told me that if my goal is to tighten, tone and improve muscle definition (i.e. get ripped), I needed to do less cardio. Currently my cardio for the week includes: anywhere between 35-45 miles of running, 4 hours of spinning classes, 1 hour of Muscle Fusion X plus any hiking or walking I may do throughout the week. Misty suggested I choose between this high-intensity training (for marathons) and working on creating a more lean, muscular physique. I'm inclined to just buckle down and hire Misty to work with me one-on-one to develop a new training schedule that will help me narrow down my fitness goals.
In the meantime, my thoughts are swirling around the idea of first, getting my next race finished - a half marathon on November 3rd - so I will continue with my race training for now. Then, after that and throughout the winter months, I will lighten up on the running (maybe 2 days of running 3-9 miles, plus one long run every 2 or 3 weeks just to maintain my fitness level), continuing with spin classes for my main cardio workouts, but spend more time in the weight room focusing on strength training. This is where I need Misty's help, to establish an appropriate strength training plan. While I've gained a minor amount of confidence in the weight room, I still feel like a novice when it comes to knowing the best exercises for certain muscle groups, number of sets and reps I should be doing, and also using some of the machines. I'm thinking I will give this plan about 4 months, which will put me into February 2013, when I will pick up my running a bit and start training more diligently for my next marathon, the Ogden Marathon which is in May.