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Friday, November 30, 2012

Feelin' it.

Another great couple of days in my little workout world. :)

Yesterday I went to Muscle Fusion X and enjoyed an awesome, high-intensity interval training session.  After class, Misty and I spent about an hour doing my second leg workout for the week.  The routine included walking lunges, lying hamstring curls, glute kickbacks, lateral lunges and using the multihip machine to do inner/outer thighs.  It was a little tough to get through a leg workout after doing MFX for an hour - my legs were already fatigued from doing jumps, lunges and squats in class.  It's all good, though.  I am really enjoying the burning I feel in my glutes and hamstrings today.  I love being able to feel the change.

This morning I was back at the gym for yet another session with Misty, my last big strength training session for the week.  We worked chest, shoulders and triceps.  Thankfully, the pain in my bicep wasn't too bad and actually, I didn't even notice it much while doing today's exercises.  After weights, I went to Misty's spin class.  So good.

More realizations today.  First of all, some people whine, some people just do things and ignore any pain, discomfort or opposition they may face.  It takes a conscious effort to shift your thoughts away from the negative and just focus on the task at hand.  Similar to the last 6.2 miles of a marathon, I am finding there are moments while lifting weights that my body is telling me, "enough already", but I must ignore it and push on if I want to see improvement.  I am taking a cue from Misty on this one - she's one of the toughest women I've met, both physically and mentally.  I know I can do it because I've had to do it several times before during some of my hardest long runs and races.  I almost think it takes even more strength and mental focus to hang in there to the end of an hour or more of lifting because it would be easier to quit.  When you're running a marathon, of course there is always the option of stepping out at any time (though not an option I've ever allowed myself), but it's less likely because there are all the other people around you that are still going, and people on the sidelines cheering you on, helping you keep the momentum going until the finish line.  When you're lifting and in a weight room filled with other people just mulling around, resting between sets and casually walking and chatting, it takes a lot of focus to push through those tough sets towards the end of the session.  Your muscles are fatigued, your mind is starting to wander, and there's plenty of distraction.  I have to keep reminding myself that it's those last few reps that matter the most.  The ones where my arms are shaking and my head feels like it's going to explode - that's where the most gains are made.  I really need to work on getting tough.  I don't like feeling weak.

Tomorrow is my last (official) meeting with Misty, probably for a while.  (Sad, sad day.)  She's going to be doing another body assessment on me, since we're two weeks out now.  After that, we'll do some ab exercises and then I will have gone through all of the exercises she has me doing on my schedule and I will be on my own.  I am motivated by the fact that today while I was working out, Chris (who was doing his own strength training at the time) came up to me and said he could already see changes in my arms and back in just these two weeks.  That's awesome.  That makes me excited and hopeful.  My short-term goal is to feel good enough to post some progress pictures for you all in another 6 weeks.  We'll see... :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Training with Misty, day 6.

On Wednesday of last week, I made my first attempt at a pull-up and worked my biceps so much that I could barely move my arms for several days.  Yesterday was attempt number 2 at the same workout.  I prepared myself mentally for what I knew would be a tough workout, but I felt determined going into it that I would have improved over last week.

So as Misty and I walked into the weight room and she asked, "Okay, pull-ups.  Are you ready for this?"  I reluctantly but firmly said, "Yep."  As I stood on the little stool and grasped the bar, I bent my knees and lifted my feet and Misty held them, telling me to use her to push against with my legs as I pulled myself up.  For some reason, I have a hard time allowing myself to push against her, so on my first try, I pulled up but barely was able to pull up a few inches.  Finally, I relented and as I tried for the second pull-up, I did dig my feet into her just a little, enough to actually get my head up near the bar.  But as I did, still mostly using my arms to pull myself up (and less correctly, not mainly using my lats to initiate the pull-up movement) I felt a searing pain through my right bicep.  In a split second, all the pain from last week that had finally receded was instantly back, and then some.  And the fact that it was only in one arm let me know that I had actually pulled the muscle.

I did finish out the set of pull-ups (I think I did 7 or 8 of them), though I was forced to get a lot of help from my legs and from Misty.  Instead of doing "super sets", as Misty calls them, where I do two different exercises back-to-back without rest - in this case it would have been the pull-ups alternated with rope bicep curls - she had me just do one at a time, resting in between each set.  I did a second set of pull-ups, this time using some hand/wrist straps to help take some of the pressure off of my grip as I pulled up.  The straps actually helped a lot, but a little too late since I had already hurt my bicep.  My third set of pull-ups I did on the assist machine, which felt the best of all. :)

As I moved on to the next sets of exercises, my right arm was screaming at me every time I did the bicep curling motion.  Misty decided to cut out the rest of my bicep exercises and we just spent the rest of our time focusing on my back exercises.  I did iso-lateral rows, close-grip lat pulls, standing cable push downs and lower back extensions.  It was a great workout, but I am super bummed about my stupid bicep.  I spent the rest of the day yesterday icing it every couple of hours, taking ibuprofen and drinking extra BCAA's (Branch Chain Amino Acids) in my water.

Thankfully today is another leg work day, so I can let my arms rest and hopefully tomorrow my chest/shoulder/tri workout won't be impeded too much.  I am LOVING these days with Misty.  Every day I find myself getting more and more excited about doing work in the weight room and using strength training as the focus of my workouts.  I never thought I would feel this way.  Lifting weights has always been a secondary and frankly, less important part of my fitness routine due to my love of a good, hard cardio workout.  I wish I would have discovered sooner that weight lifting is what will change the shape of my body.  It hasn't even been two full weeks yet and I can already feel some changes.  I won't say I can "see" the changes quite yet, but I can feel it coming.  Besides, Misty made me look her in the eye yesterday and promise that by next summer I would happily put on a swim suit and go out, in public, and swim with my kids.  I haven't felt comfortable in a bathing suit since having kids.  I really, really hate to be seen in a bathing suit.  That has to change.  It's stupid.

Anyway, after doing weights yesterday, my schedule called for a "short run".  I opted to just use a treadmill while I was already at the gym and sweaty.  I did a 3.5 mile run in about 35 minutes and called it good.  Today after my leg workout, I get to do Muscle Fusion X with Misty, too.  It's been two weeks since we've had this class, because of Thanksgiving last week and I am super excited.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shoulders, Core, interval run.

Another great day at the gym.  I started out in the weight room with Misty.  Today we worked on shoulders and abs again.  I'm still feeling a little anxious about how I will be able to do some of the exercises on my own when Misty's not right there with me.  For example, while doing planks today, she put a 25 pound weight on my back.  How will I do that when I'm working out alone?  When I was doing lateral and front raises and reverse dumb bell flys, I couldn't even lift my arms all the way to where she wanted me to without her giving me a little "lift" at the top.  I know it will come with time, but it is kind of frustrating.

After another humbling hour in the weight room, I went upstairs to a treadmill and got busy doing my interval run.  I did it the same as last week, topping out at a max speed of 8.7 mph.  I did a little over 4 miles in just under 40 minutes, with a cool down for another 10 minutes after that.  Some of the self-esteem I lost in the weight room was retrieved when another woman at the gym came up to me as I was finishing my run and said she was amazed that I could run for that long.  Considering that a 40 minute run is "short" for me, I was flattered.

Tomorrow, a new day full of fun challenges.  I get to give pull-ups another try, and hopefully I won't put my arms out of commission for another week! :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

My new happy place and relationships...

I actually have a few different "happy places", depending on my mood.  Sometimes it's on a long run alone or with a good friend, sometimes it's on a drive or hike up in the beautiful mountains, sometimes it's in a spin class with one of my favorite instructors, sometimes it's on a date with my husband and sometimes it's simply at home with the kids around me - sometimes. ;)

Today I discovered a new "happy place", and that's in the weight room, training with Misty.  You see, in order for it to be a happy place, in my opinion, you need to be sensitive and receptive to the feelings provided to you by that place or setting, whether it's a feeling of peace and tranquility, endorphin release, calm, joy, learning or excitement.

As I've been going through these training sessions, I've made several realizations.  I think it's in our nature as human beings to be naturally drawn to certain people in our lives for various reasons.  For the most part, I think it's common for us to be drawn to the people who bring out the best in us, the ones who, for whatever reason, are able to tap into our internal desire to be better people.  I've found that special connection with a select few in my life.  My husband, of course (and thankfully), but throughout the years there have been a few others I have come in contact with who have touched my life in such a way that I wouldn't be the same person without their existence.  I treasure those people immensely and I hope they know who they are, though maybe I should reach out and tell them more often.  (This life is short, we all should.)  Misty has quickly become one of those people in my life.

This year has been a turning point for me.  Despite all that I've already accomplished during my lifetime, this seemingly endless quest to conquer my physical body and gain control of things I've previously felt out of control over, was what had me searching for answers.  Right now, the answers seem to be coming in the form of gaining strength, more strength than I've ever had before, both physically and mentally, and being in control of how I choose to fuel my body.  I really believe that the combination of these two things are what will bring about the changes I am looking for.  And it's not just about how I want to look on the outside, or what physical feat I may be able to accomplish next, but also about finally gaining that sense of who I am and what I'm worth.  Anyone out there who may also be a victim of sexual abuse, such as I was at a young age, can probably also understand the power and healing that can come from gaining control over such things.  It's taken me a long time to understand this concept and effectively put it into the context of my life.

Today while I was working with Misty, she said a few things to me that were a little revealing about how I may be perceived by others.  I could really feel the sincerity behind her words and her genuine desire to see me succeed at reaching my goals.  She is helping me realize that 37 years old is not too old to change your life, no matter what has happened in the past.  It's never too late to try to become the person you've always wished you were.  Setbacks are inevitable, but persistence always wins out.  This I know from training for and running my first marathon at the age of 35 after never having been a runner previously.  Misty is helping me put that tenacity I've learned into practice in the weight room, which will change me.  She's helping me see that I am a lot stronger than I thought and her confidence in my future success makes me want to try harder and do more.

Not to mention the fact that she is an endless fountain of knowledge concerning all things physical fitness and physiology, and you all know I'm a virtual sponge when it comes to learning about this kind of stuff.  Hence, my happy place. :)

Now, on to today's workout!  We did legs again and it was awesome.  I love feeling a little shaky and weak in the knees after a good leg workout.  After about an hour and a half in the weight room, I had just enough time to go to the grocery store for an interim shopping trip and then back to the gym for a spinning class at noon.  Spinning was also awesome.  I think that since cutting back on my spin classes from 5 a week to two, my body craves that incomparable sweat purge because I'm pretty sure I sweated more today than I ever have!  I love it!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

On my own again.

This week has been great, but a little weird for me.  I felt like I got a fresh, fast, running start, with three wonderfully hard days in a row of working with Misty.  I was feeling inspired, motivated, encouraged and ready to dig my heels in and get going on creating the new me.  Then Thanksgiving threw me a little curve, requiring a change in my routine, followed by these past two days of missing Misty while she recovers from her back injury, stalling my forward momentum.  I just don't feel like I get the same intensity of workout when I'm doing it on my own, versus having Misty right there with me.  My husband tried to help me out by throwing out a "You got this, girl!!" every once in a while.  I guess that's his best Misty impression.  It's just something I'm going to have to work on - making myself lift heavier, lift harder, lift more, regardless of what's going on around me.

Yesterday I did that second leg workout, which went alright, though I'm only minimally sore in my legs today - not a good sign.  Today I was on my own again, so this morning I went to the park and walked for about 5.4 miles.  It actually felt really good to be out in the brisk morning air.  Helped clear my head.  Then this afternoon, Chris and I went to the gym where (with his help) I did my last strength training session for the week - chest/shoulders/triceps.

I was happy I made it through the whole workout, which took me just under an hour.  My biceps and forearms are still dishing me a great deal of pain.  So much so that I woke up several times during the night due to the discomfort and feeling a bit of anxiety over the impact this pain and limited mobility might have on my workout routine.

I am trying consciously to maintain my current level of enthusiasm for my new routine.  Not that I don't want to do it, I do.  I have to keep remembering my goals and reminding myself that it's going to be a step-at-a-time type of deal.  Just keep lifting, just keep lifting...

Thankfully, it sounds like Misty will be back to help me next week and I will be able to fill in the gaps in my training.  By the end of next week, I should have a pretty good handle on what I will be doing on daily basis for the next 7 weeks or so.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Disappointed, but not all is lost.

Today I was supposed to meet Misty at the gym to do a chest/shoulders/tricep workout followed by a spinning class, also taught by Misty.  Unfortunately, I got a text from her early this morning saying that she needed to rest because of her menacing back injury.  She suggested I do my 2nd weekly leg workout today instead of what was on my schedule.

I have to admit, I selfishly felt a twinge of disappointment.  I look so forward to my training sessions with Misty and I'm also hesitant about doing them on my own.  Obviously though, Misty's well-being is infinitely more important than my insecurities, so I just needed to get over myself and get to the gym and get it done.

The leg workout consisted of different exercises than my leg workout earlier in the week, so I had to sort of guess at what she wanted me to do for some of them.  Thankfully, my husband was able to come with me and he helped me with some of the machines and he also helped me keep my form in check.
Lateral lunges

Glute kickbacks

It was probably opportune that things worked out this way because my arms are still unbelievably sore and tight from my bicep/back workout on Wednesday and I'm not sure how well I could have done another arm workout today.

It took me about an hour and a half to do my whole leg workout, which included 6 different exercises, 4 sets of 8-10 reps each.  When I finished, I had just enough time to rest for a few minutes before going to spin class.  My performance during spinning was a little lackluster as well; my body is feeling pretty depleted at this point in the week.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  I am happy that I have this opportunity to challenge my body this way.

Hopefully tomorrow Misty will be able to return to the gym to round out the week with one final session together.  If not, I will be on my own to figure out the chest/shoulder/tricep workout.  I can do it, right?  Silly question... :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Switching it up for the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I started my day with a bit of a turkey trot, like many of you runners out there!  My friend Lisa and I ran one of our favorite routes, a total of 12 miles.  Normally Thursdays will be another weight training day, followed by Muscle Fusion X, but today the gym was closed so I got to do my long run (otherwise reserved for Saturdays).

Despite the fact that I could still barely move my arms because of the muscle soreness from yesterday's workout, we had a great run and a decent pace: 9:42 min/mile.  When we finished I came home and did my ab workout for the day, per Misty's instructions.  It took me about 15 minutes to do 3 sets of 4 different ab exercises, 20 reps each.

By the time I finished that, I was running pretty low on energy and feeling total body soreness.  Still, I mustered the strength to make 2 clean pumpkin pies and clean dinner rolls, my contribution to the delicious Thanksgiving dinner we enjoyed with Lisa and her family.  Today I'm thankful that I didn't have to worry about making the bulk of the holiday feast and especially thankful that since Lisa is also a clean-eating lifestyle follower, we had lots of good, clean foods to choose from and everything was delicious.

Any of you braving the crazy crowds in the morning (or tonight for that matter) to hit up the big, Black Friday deals?  Not me.  I hate shopping and I hate crowds even more.  Instead, I'll be hitting up the gym for another training session with Misty, followed by a spin class.  That's a much better way to spend Black Friday, in my humble opinion. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Training with Misty, Day 3. Arms shake much?

Holy freakin' cow, my arms have almost completely lost all functionality since finishing my workout with Misty this morning.  Today we did biceps and back, exercises such as various forms of the bicep curl, isometric rows, lat pull downs and...ahem, pull-ups.  I had to giggle a little when I saw on the paper with my schedule typed out on it, Misty had put "Pull ups (assisted if needed)".  As if I could do them UNassisted!  Ha!  Okay, I now have a new goal: at least one good pull-up, on my own.  I'm not sure how long it will take for me to be able to do it, really, no idea.  All I know is that we did the pull-ups first in the workout (using the machine that "helps" you) and moving on to the second set of exercises my arms were already shaking.

The next 50 minutes or so were sort of a blur, as I grunted and groaned my way through the most painful arm workout I've ever done.  No joke.  I couldn't feel my fingers by the end and the calluses on the palms of my hands have been throbbing all day.  My hands are still shaking tonight as I try to lift my soothing cup of Ginger Snappish herbal tea.

What does this mean to me right now?  That I have been sorely underestimating my strength and ability to push past what I thought was too hard.  I have not been demanding enough of myself.  As I was doing the last set of bicep curls using a bar, my muscles were just completely giving out as I tried to slowly lower them for the eccentric contraction and the weight would just "fall" down to my thighs.  I kept thinking Misty would see this and say, "Okay, that's enough reps."  But nope.  Instead, "Just 3 more!"  This is how my body is going to change.  I can feel that now.  I just hope I can keep this level of focus and determination so that when I'm doing all of this on my own, I will be the one saying, "Just 3 more!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Training with Misty, day 2!

Here she is ~ Misty!  Beautiful inside and out.  I just love her.  I felt bad that she was nursing a back injury today.  Injuries suck. :(

Don't let her pretty smile fool you, she's hard-core.  She doesn't go easy, and I found that out today when my shoulders felt like goo after our training session.   We spent an hour in the weight room with today's focus muscle groups being shoulders and abs.  After we finished, she had me do an interval run on a treadmill.  After a 10 minute jogging (5.5 mph) warm-up, I took it up to a max speed for 30 seconds, which for me was 8.5 mph, then bump it up a level for the next 30 seconds - 8.7 mph.  Then back to 5.5 for a one minute recovery before doing it again.  After a few sets at that speed, the max speed was gradually brought down, until my 12th interval set was at 7.0 mph and 7.5 mph.  Then I finished with a 10 minute cool-down at 5.5 again.  45 minutes and 4.25-ish miles later and my interval run was over.

That was a tough workout, mostly because going into the run my legs were already tired and sore from yesterday's leg work.  It's all good, though.  I'm no stranger to pain.  I can already feel the change. ;)

I've been keeping a written journal of my food and exercise for the past few days, and will for the next couple of weeks while I'm getting used to my new training routine.  I also keep a blank page in between each day so that I can write down any of my thoughts about a specific exercise, how I felt before and after, or even just some positive affirmations.  I am determined to get rid of all the negativity that I've always had a tendency to hold on to.  I am the queen of self-deprecation no more!  Even though through these first couple of days I'm realizing how much I'm lacking in over-all body strength, I keep reminding myself that it WILL get better, I WILL get stronger.  With each day I'm gaining the knowledge and tools I need to succeed at this; each 1-2 hours I spend with Misty are like a crash-course in physiology and kinetics.  I'm just trying to take it all in and make the most of this week that I have with her before I'm left to do this on my own...for the rest of my life. :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Training with Misty, day 1.

I had the best day.  One of my biggest worries about my new training plan has been not knowing how I would learn to feel truly "comfortable" in the weight room.  The machines, the bars, the weights, the buff people making lots of grunting noises...it's all very intimidating.  I learned today that sometimes (and let's face it, a lot of the time) our fears are unfounded.

This morning I met up with Misty and as I did a 10 minute jogging warm-up on a treadmill, she went over my new schedule with me.  It looks great, actually.  Not only is she giving me more than an adequate amount of my favorite cardio stuff - spinning and running - but even all the strength training excites me.  I realized today that most of the strength training I've been doing on my own was not near enough, both in weight and variety of exercises.

Once I finished warming up, we got busy in the weight room.  Today we did legs.

(These aren't mine, but they could be...hehehe.)

We spent almost an hour and a half, and still didn't even do all the sets of everything that I will normally be doing.  It took a little longer because she had to go over a lot of the basic stuff with me, because I pretty much had know idea what I was doing.  Thankfully, she was patient and helpful and completely focused on pushing me.  At the end of the workout, I realized how many other people were buzzing around the weight room and I had no idea.  I was so tuned in, soaking in everything Misty was teaching me, that I was oblivious to what normally would have been the deterrent keeping me from spending too much time in there.

Part of today's training also included a spinning class.  I chose to go to the evening one, so after doing leg work with Misty, I had time to come home and clean the house before the kids got home from school.  I stopped every once in a while to practice my dead lift form.  I couldn't get it right for the life of me when we were working on it at the gym, to the point that Misty actually removed it from my regimen.  She said it would be worse to do it with poor form, since I could hurt my back.  I practiced it so much today though that I'm hoping she will be willing to add it back in soon.  Also, I don't think my butt muscles have ever been this sore, especially this soon after a workout.  I hope that means I did some things right. :)

Now I'd better go get some sleep.  Another training session tomorrow, and this one includes an interval run.  Should be fun!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Finally, some changes.

Hey, everyone!  After a week-long hiatus from blogging, I'm in the mood to post again.  I had several reasons for not posting every day this week.  Mainly, my mental and emotional states were a little funky, so I thought it best to just lay low until I felt a little more "sorted" out.

Of course, just because I wasn't blogging, doesn't mean I was being lazy in my workouts.  I ended the week having done 4 strength training sessions, 4 spin classes, 2 Muscle Fusion classes, a 5 mile walk and a 10.5 mile RUN.  (See?  Still running. :)

My most pressing news is that this morning I had my first (official) meeting with my new trainer, Misty.  I am beyond excited to get this opportunity to work with her.  I felt like a little girl on Christmas eve last night as I laid in bed thinking about getting to talk to her about my fitness goals, anxious to hear what she would have to say about how she can help me.  This is a HUGE luxury for me.  As you all know (thanks to this post), we live a very simple life.  Not many luxuries here.  After several discussions with my husband, I wavered back and forth between being okay with spending the money on myself in this way or not.  I finally decided that it was worth it to me at this point in my life.  I haven't gone into this commitment lightly.  I've been watching Misty at the gym for the past 9 months, taking her classes, been inspired by her zeal for fitness, her charisma, strength and amazing physical prowess (I MUST get a picture of this woman for you all to see what I mean - she is awesome!) and I am certain she is the one I need to help me become who I'm trying to be.  She understands the human body so well, in it's functionality and capacity to be it's best through proper and smart training and nutrition.  If I can't get into the best shape of my life with her training and guidance, and finally be at peace with the shape of my physical body, then I will have to come to terms with it, knowing I did everything I could.

It might sound kind of cheesy, but knowing I can trust in her is a big deal.  I am not someone who concedes easily that I can't do everything on my own.  I've worked really hard to get myself where I am today, and pretty much done it all on my own.  A year ago I never would have even considered using a personal trainer, but after being at a standstill with my fitness level and not seeing the changes I would like to make to my physique, even after working so hard all the time and trying to eat well, I realize I need her to give me that outside perspective and expertise.

So I went to the gym today, and followed Misty into a room I didn't even know existed.  A cold room with harsh fluorescent lighting, mirrors covering one entire wall, a desk, chair and a scale.  Any semblance of self-assured-ness was checked at the door, as I was weighed, measured and pinched with the fat measuring calipers.  My weight was no surprise, neither were my measurements, but I had no idea what to expect with the body fat percentage thing.  I might as well just tell you that my body fat percentage was 25.5%, since I'm sure I'll be updating you later as this number goes down! ;)  I actually had to come home and do a little research online to find out where that percentage put me, compared with the norm.  This is what I found:

Body Fat Percentage Women 25%

This is on the low end of what’s average for most women and is characterized by a shape that is neither too slim, nor overweight. Curves in the hips are usually more apparent along with more fat in the buttocks and thighs. A 5’4” women who weighs 130lb and has 97lb of lean body mass has 25% body fat.

Sounds about right, I guess.  Now comes the hard part: letting go of my old training routine and embracing the new, lower cardio, higher weight-training regimen.  I haven't seen the official schedule yet, as Misty is still putting it together, but starting Monday and for (at least) the next 8 weeks, I will be doing 2 runs a week - one shorter, one longer - 1 or 2 spinning classes, 2 Muscle Fusion classes and 6 days a week of strength training in the weight room.  I am actually looking forward to doing something a little bit different.  I realize I'm going to really have to dig down deep and channel my inner "beast" to attack the weight room with such fierceness.

I know some of you may be wondering why I feel the need to "change" who I already am, after all, I am physically fit enough to finish a marathon, so I must be doing okay, right?  Well, I know you all know what it's like to not feel completely comfortable in your own skin, to be focused on each flaw instead of relishing the good things about ourselves.  I basically feel trapped in this body that I know has the potential to be so much more functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.  I may not be able to get rid of all of the stretch marks or cellulite, but I am certainly going to try to tone up as much as I am capable.  I've seen others do it, so I know I can do it too.  It's just going to take a little time.  Good enough is never enough for me.  I've already seen such improvements with my running in the past few months as an effect of the minimal strength training I've done on my own, that I can only imagine the strides I can take in the future, after I've transformed into a lean, muscular machine. ;)

And speaking of running...I also have some more distant goals involving running.  In May, I'll of course be running the Ogden Marathon, which has become a tradition, of sorts, for me and my running mentor to do together, so I'm looking forward to that.  I also have another (big) goal: my friend Lisa and I have decided we're going to tackle our first official Ultra-Marathon!  Yep, you heard me - ULTRA!  In June we're going to embark on a 40 mile adventure to Bone and Back (that's actually what the race is called, "To Bone and Back", since it goes from Idaho Falls, Idaho to Bone, Idaho and back)!

So lots of interesting posts to come, as I share my thoughts with you during this new phase in my fitness life...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

At the week's end.

This was a rare week for me.  I hardly did any running.  I did a couple of miles on Tuesday, walked 4 miles on Wednesday, ran laps at the gym on Thursday and then again today, as part of the cardio intervals during Muscle Fusion X class.  That's it.  Oddly enough, I don't even feel that bad about it.  I rationalized it with the fact that I just ran that half-marathon one week ago, and I did 5 1/2 spinning classes this week.  That's still quite a bit of cardio.

Yesterday Chris and I went to a spinning class at noon, then this morning we went to an early spin class, but only stayed for about 30 minutes because there was another class that coincided with it that we wanted to go to.  It was a Muscle Fusion class taught by my favorite, Misty.  Normally Muscle Fusion is just a series of choreographed, lighter weight strength training exercises using a barbell and free-weights.  But today, Misty gave us the option of adding the cardio intervals, such as we do during Muscle Fusion X.  I opted to add the cardio, as did most of the class.  So for an hour and 15 minutes, we worked on legs (squats, lunges, jumps), triceps (overhead press, dips), chest/shoulders/lats (push-ups, clean and press, lateral flies), biceps (bicep curls with a barbell for about 4 minutes without a rest) and core (a variety of crunches).  All of that broken up with laps run around the track, football feet with squat jumps, jumping jacks and jumps using the bench.  Great class, awesome workout.

Tomorrow - a rest day, then we begin again.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Another couple of days...

Yesterday I was still feeling so exhausted from my workouts on Monday and Tuesday, that all I did was go for a walk at the park for about 4.25 miles.  The rest of the day I did things around the house, but mostly felt like laying down and taking a nap.  It didn't happen.

Today I went to the gym after dropping the kids at school.  I worked on triceps for about 20 minutes in the weight room, then went to my usual spinning class.  No intervals today, but still an excellent cardio workout. Then at noon I went to Muscle Fusion X.  That class never fails to completely drain whatever juice I have left in me.  Today was no exception.  We did another new mix of cardio and strength intervals, including skaters, jumps, dead-lifts, bent-over rows, squats, lunges, more jumps, running laps, barbell press, crunches, push-ups, more jumps.......

Someone in the class requested we do a little extra work on hamstrings and glutes, so we used a stability ball to do hamstring curls:


I'm realizing that one of the biggest benefits I'm getting from this class is the amount of confidence I'm building.  Each time I finish another hour of Muscle Fusion X, I feel a little bit more powerful, mentally and physically.  There are moments I find myself having to use little mental tricks to push through when my body feels like quitting, often times telling myself, "You can run a marathon, you can do this class for an hour without stopping."  It's tough and every time I do it, I feel stronger.

Right now I feel a little bit like I'm in a training limbo.  I've discussed my (tentative) goals on here already, but now that I have my last race of the year behind me, I find myself without a schedule, without a plan, once again without a concrete goal.  Thankfully (hopefully) I am supposed to finally be getting together with my trainer sometime next week.  I have been chomping at the bit to get with her and get moving on a training plan and forming some realistic goals with her help and it looks like the time will be coming soon.  In the meantime, I've just been trying to focus on doing what I already know to do - I've been doing several days of weight training, along with several hours of cardio a week in the form of spinning and some running, and I've been keeping my diet very clean.  It's starting to click in my mind that this whole thing is a daily~monthly~yearly~life long process, and that I will never actually reach an "arrival" where I can say, "Okay, that's it!  I'm exactly the person I've always wanted to be and I'm 100% content with where I'm at."  Because then what?  What would we do if we ever did find ourselves in that state of mind?  I can't even imagine it, anyway.  I always think there's room for improvement somewhere.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

**Batteries low.**

While we were running the half-marathon on Saturday, the fitness instructors from our gym were in Salt Lake City attending a day-long training workshop where they learned lots of new health and fitness related stuff to share with their classes.

So when Chris and I went to a noon spinning class yesterday, it was no surprise to me that our instructor, Brandi decided she was going to give one of the new techniques they learned a try.  The concept was all about intervals, which isn't necessarily "new" to the fitness class world, but this type of intervals for a spinning class was a lot different than what we are used to doing.  Basically the class went something like this:

  • 8-10 minutes of low intensity warm-up, going up to about 60% of our max exertion
  • 30 minutes of 1 minute intervals: 30 seconds at a maxed out exertion (90% +), 30 seconds recovery to bring our heart rate back down
  • 20 minutes at a level-paced exertion, about 80%, for maximum fat burning
By the time we finished, if we were doing it right, we should have felt completely depleted of energy, which we did.  Chris and I both felt on the verge of losing our lunch. ;)  Brandi suggested that we should only do that intense of a workout about every 2-3 days.

So guess what we did?  After dinner, we went back for more.  Yesterday was Chris' day off from work and we went to the noon spinning class because we wanted to do something, but I usually like to go to the Monday evening spinning class.  So we went to Misty's 5:45pm class, where she also tried out the interval workout.  After her class, we went home and within about 5 minutes of laying down in bed, I was asleep.

This morning I was back at the gym for my next workout.  I started out in the weight room and actually had about 30 minutes to spend doing some heavy lifting before going to another spinning class.  Brandi was the instructor again, and she had told us yesterday that those of us returning in the morning for her class, that we would not be doing the intervals again, since it was too close to the other class.  But guess what?  She changed her mind when she saw that there were only 3 of us, including her, out of our class of about 20 people who had been there for the Monday noon class.  She wanted them to get to try out the interval technique, too.  Yay for us. ;)  She conceded that those of us who had just done this workout the day before (twice, some of us) could modify some of the intervals if we needed to.  Of course, I did not want to modify my workout, so I did what she told us to do, which was basically the same workout as yesterday.

When I left class, I felt pretty tired, but it didn't fully hit me until I returned to the gym today at noon after grocery shopping for Muscle Fusion class (also taught by Brandi).  At least I felt a little consolation during class that I had a comrade in fatigue with Brandi!  She was tired, too.  All the reps, especially the lunges and squats, were harder than usual.  But I made it through and now I'm completely wiped out!  3 high-intensity spin classes and 1 muscle fusion class, (oh, and I did a 20 minute run on a treadmill and 30 minutes of weights) all within a 24 hour period.  Maybe tomorrow I should rest?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Just Cuz Half Marathon 2012!

Sorry it's taken me a couple of days to pull myself together enough to get a post done about my half-marathon experience on Saturday.

It was another awesome race, a gorgeous day and a great experience.  This particular race began 8 years ago when a group of running friends wanted to do an autumn half marathon race while training for a full marathon, but there wasn't a local race to do so they started their own.  It has since grown into a decent size race of several hundred runners and it's all about fun.  Each year the race directors designate a specific theme and runners are encouraged to dress up and be crazy.  This year the co-directors couldn't agree on a theme so they decided to have two: Zombie Apocalypse and Joe-Fro.  While I enjoy seeing the creative costumes and makeup the other runners come up with, I'm not too much into dressing up for a race myself.  I just wanted to get out and see what I could do on this half-marathon.

As I told you before, the only other (official) half-marathon I've done was the Pocatello Half-Marathon in September of 2010.  Since then, I've done 5 full marathons, improving my times significantly.  I was excited to see how much I had improved on my half-marathon time, as well.

The race didn't start until 10am, so in the morning I had time to eat a good breakfast of oats with fruit, flax, nuts and honey before getting ready to go.  Chris drove me to the bus loading area, where I met up with my friend Lisa.  Our plan was to run the whole thing together, using a 6:1 run/walk ratio for the entire 13.1 miles.

The shuttle buses took us up to a place called Crystal Summit, which is above Pocatello.  The course winds it's way down the mountains, the first couple of miles being mostly steep downhill, the rest of the way is more rolling hills, until we reach the finish at a park in town.

We couldn't have asked for better weather!  It was sunny and about 35 degrees at the start, warming up to the 50's by the time we were done.  There was very little wind, which is unusual for this area and the time of year, but we were not going to complain about that!

Lisa and I kept right on track with our 6 minutes of running for each 1 minute walking break and the first 7 or 8 miles literally flew by.  When we reached mile 11, there was an aid station known as "Temptation Station," stashed with a variety of cookies, chips, Hostess treats, pop and even Jack Daniels!  Lisa and I stuck with water. ;)

We were getting close to finishing and as I looked at my Garmin, I knew we were likely to reach the goal I had set for myself, which was to run it in 2:10 (or less).  In order to reach that goal, we had to maintain an average pace of around 9:50 min./mile.  As we came up over the last little hill and down into the finish line area and I saw the big timing clock - 2:04 something - I was ecstatic!!  Two years ago I ran my first half with a time of 2 hours 37 minutes (11:55 min./mile pace and that was running the whole time, no walking breaks)!  Saturday I ran a half-marathon in just under 2 hours and 5 minutes, averaging a pace of 9:33 min/mile - with walking breaks!!

And what else?  I didn't have any knee pain!  None!  I guess taking a "rest" from running the past week and a half or so really helped.  While I've had some (whole body) soreness since the run, I still haven't had any knee issues and my soreness is pretty mild.  I gave it my all and got great results!  A couple of things I learned from this experience: having a running partner that "fits" with you in terms of pace, personality, compatibility and strength is invaluable and can be an excellent training tool.  Thanks, Lisa! :)  Also, using the Galloway run/walk method makes me a faster runner, particularly on longer distances.  Look at the photos (and there are plenty more on my facebook page, if you're interested: Redheaded Road Runner on Facebook), notice the smiles on our faces in all of the pictures?  This race was fun, challenging, exhausting, exhilarating - exactly as all races and long runs should be. :)   

P.S.  Oh, and I also learned that it IS possible to have Halloween candy in the house and to NOT eat it!  5+ days post-holiday, the kids have eaten almost all of their candy, and I have not had a single piece! ☺

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How high can you jump?

Today's workouts wore me out, no doubt about it.  I did my usual Thursday routine: weights first for about 20 minutes before enjoying a great spinning class.  That was all fine, but Muscle Fusion X took the last of my strength for the day.  I came home from the gym ready to collapse into bed.

Most of the workout was okay, many of the same exercises we usually do in this class, including skaters, jump kicks, overhead press with the barbell, lunges - that sort of stuff.  But we also did jump squats...a lot of them.  3 sets of 32 jump squats.  I thought I was feeling it at the end of each of those sets, but I think I'm just now starting to really feel it!  My legs ache.

Jump squats - This woman looks way too happy about this.  She must not have had to do 96 of them. :)

Tomorrow is a rest day for me.  Normally I do a spin class on Fridays, but I think it might be wise to let my legs rest so I can at least make a respectable attempt at a decent half-marathon on Saturday.  I'm totally just running this one for fun - the weather looks to be perfect, I get to run with my friend and it's a lot of downhill - but I still have a goal in mind.  I've only done one other 'official' half-marathon in my short 3 year running career and it was the first race I ever did.  My time on that one was 2:37 (I'd only been running for 6 months at the time) and I've improved considerably since then.  It would be cool to see how much improvement I've made over the course of the past couple of years.  Send happy running thoughts... ♥