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Misadventures in Marathon Training

30 Jul

plaza de cesar chavez. where we were SUPOSSED to end our saturday run.

Hello friends! A and I are two weeks into training for our half marathon and already we’re racking up stories. This weekend we were set to run 5 miles in downtown San Jose. I had the brilliant idea to run the first loop of the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll course, as it’s about 5 miles. And there’s no better way to prepare for a race than run the course, right? As it turns out, not always.

The first mile was a non-starter. Literally. There’s a big difference between running a race in downtown with all the streets shut down and running on a Saturday morning with all the traffic lights fully functional. Our first mile looked like this: run a block, wait for the light. Run a block, wait for the light. Run a block…you get the idea. Things picked up once we got into the more residential areas and were able to run for longer stretches. Until our IT bands got simultaneously pissed off. But we pushed through, looking forward to a long stretch once we were done.

A, being a much stronger athlete than I, went ahead and flew down the course. I got a text from him around mile 3.5 saying he was almost done, and even through his texts I could hear that he was hungry. Sadly, A didn’t bring any cash, so right before I sailed into my big 5-mile finish I popped into a Starbucks to get him a bagel. Because I am such a good wife. I missed my last turn (really miss those well-marked Team in Training routes!), but knew where my end-point was, so adjusted and got back on course. I ran into Plaza de Cesar Chavez up to the Poo Statue just as my RunKeeper app announced that I’d hit five miles. Success!

see? it’s a coiled snake, but really it looks like coiled poo.

I looked around for A…no A.

*ring ring* “Honey? I’m at the poo statue. Where are you?”

“The poo statue? What? I’m at San Pedro Square.”

“…..Why are you in San Pedro Square? Our ending point was Plaza de Cesar Chavez.”

“You were supposed to run through here. I thought I’d come and meet you since I hit my five miles early.”

“I missed my turn after 2nd street, so I didn’t go through there. Ok, never mind. I’ll come find you.”

“No, don’t come here. Just meet me back at my office at the car, since we have to go there anyway.”

“Right….I totally know how to get back to your office from here.”

I didn’t.

I ended up wandering around downtown San Jose for another half hour. Which translated into another mile and a half of walking on a bum IT band. Boy, did we stretch afterwards!

The Good:

  • A and I hit our miles under less than ideal circumstances. There were a few moments there where I thought we were going to get into it and let our frustrations out on each other, but in the end love and patience won out and we built each other up instead.
  • I unintentionally did more than a 10k, waaaaaaay more miles than I’ve done since April, and more than a smart increase for distance training. Still, my body handled it, and I’m really feeling my strength training and yoga are paying off. Win!
  • A foam roller is the best purchase we’ve ever made. We rolled and rolled and rolled on our IT bands, and the next day we felt fully recovered. No kidding. I did not expect that, especially after my unintentional 10k. Stretching works, and we are rock stars!

The Bad:

  • Waaaay too many stop lights.
  • Jerk-ey guys hollering at me from their front porches. Haven’t had to deal with that in a while. So glad I’m an iHollaback girl!
  • Missed turns and detours cost us a lot of time out of our Saturday. Oh well, live and learn.

The Takeaway:

  • Unless it’s an out-and-back, we will not try to intersect the other person on the run and meet up at the end. Because sometimes people get lost. And hungry. And hangry. But no matter what, we’re dealing with it together. And that makes all the difference.

So that was our Saturday! How was yours?

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13.1 – We’re Only HALF Crazy!

23 Jul

Happy Monday everybody!

Last week A and I started training for the San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon in October, so I thought it would be a good time to do a running update. This will be A’s first half, so he picked the event, and we’re so excited to be doing this together!

I really wanted to run two half marathons this fall, but sadly I did not get into the Nike Women’s Marathon, so I’m looking for another fairly local run. If we get the money together and there are still spots open I’m thinking of signing up for the Big Sur; it’s supposed to be gorgeous.

Anyway, having run one of these already myself, I was put in charge of making a schedule for us to follow. I trawled for information on the internet, took into account our fitness levels (mostly mine; A is in much better shape than I, and is also a far stronger runner. The punk.) tried to remember everything I learned from Team in Training last year, and came up with a schedule I’m pretty darn proud of, if I do say so myself. It fits our life: moderate to good fitness levels starting twelve weeks before the event, Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday run days to avoid yoga and strength training classes and give us two days of rest and recovery a week. It’s definitely not the only way to train, but it works for us. And I stand by what I’ve said before: if my training has proved nothing else it’s that if I can do it, anyone can!

I wanted to share that we’ve started training with you because I’d love to know if you’re training for an event, and if so, what you’re doing. Also, I thought it would help keep me accountable. (Not that A isn’t doing that already. You should hear him if I even think about missing a day!) Nothing like putting a goal out there on the internet to keep you moving!

So what about you? Are you looking forward to any events this year?

“If It Wasn’t Hard, Everyone Would Do It.”

30 Jun

You all know how much I love me some good fitness inspiration. Whether it’s motivational posters and quotes, wicked workouts, or healthy foods to fuel my muscles, I love getting inspired by all the great fitness info the internet has to offer. Out of morbid curiosity, I decided to peruse some of the top women’s magazine and fitness sites to see what they had to say about working out. What I found reminded me why I tend not to read those magazines in the first place. Take a look at some of these headlines:

The Fastest Abs Workout Ever! Tighten and Tone Your Tummy in Five Minutes.

Three Rules for the Best Weight Loss Workout!

Fergie’s Flat Abs Secret!

5 Smoothies That Really Slim!

5 Minutes to Flat Abs!

Five New Ways to Lose Weight!

Three things pop out to me. First, people love quantifiable numbers. Second, of those numbers, five is the most popular. Third, they all implicitly promise quick, fast, unrealistic results.

Five minutes alone won’t give you abs like Rhianna. It’s a celebrity’s job to look great, and it’s a full-time job. Most of us don’t have that luxury, as we have full-time jobs that don’t involve a personal trainer, so knowing their ‘secrets’ won’t change our life. There are no magic foods that will whittle your waistline on their own with no extra effort on your part. There are no new ways to lose weight. It’s science. Work out and eat right, that’s it. If I’ve learned anything about fitness and working out, it’s that there are no shortcuts. There’s not one magic move, there is no magic pill, it’s just not that easy. If it was, everyone would look like Beyonce.

That’s one thing I love about my favorite fitness lifestyle blog, Tone It Up: they are realistic about telling you that if you follow their workouts, diets, etc. you’ll get out of it what you put in. Work hard and reap the rewards. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

So say it with me, ladies! We reject the headlines that breed a culture of laziness and tell us we’re five minutes away from the waist of our dreams! We won’t lose 25 pounds if we can just find that magic move or choose to take the stairs! We will work for the body we want, stop looking for the quick temporary fix, and be darn proud of ourselves on the other side!

P.S… A just read this and said it’s the same for men and their magazines. “Five Minutes To the Biceps of Your Dreams!” Whatever. Men and women of the world, reject the crappy headlines that hold promises as substantial as air. To paraphrase Missy Elliot, “Is it worth it? Let me work it. I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it.” Let’s flip the script and work it!

Intentionally May

4 Jun

Happy June everyone! May was a pretty good month for A and I; I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of the spirit of my one little word for 2012: intentional, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

If you want to see how 2012 is going so far, January’s wrap-up is hereFebruary, March, and April.

Pursuing the Lord’s heart like I did when I first loved Him.

I think I’m happiest with my progress on this one this month. The more work on my relationship with God, the more I realize hom unquantifiable this goal is. With other intentional goals I san say, “Yes, I had three friends over for dinner, two friends without food dates, four…” You can’t really do that with something as intangible as growing close to the Lord. All I know is that I feel closer to Him, I’m more actively aware of His presence in my life, and I’m feeling the quiet security that comes from being in the word more often. Thank God that He is always there when we decide we want to come back to Him.

Moving into a season of greater spiritual and emotional intimacy with my husband.

We’ve done a devotional almost every night for the last month and a half. This obviously helps our spiritual intimacy, but it’s also slowly but surely building our emotional intimacy. We’ve been using Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott’s Just the Two of Us, a small book that my mom bought us for an engagement present (I think). It’s sweet. A little cheesy at times, which is par for the corse for the Parrotts, but great stories that make us think and are eminently applicable for our marriage.

We also celebrated our six-year anniversary on the 28th. Yay, us!

Making the most of the relationships I have, and taking time to nurture them.

I’ve had some great girlfriend time this month. Lunch dates with my bff, champagne evenings with a purpose, lunch dates with former high school students, grabbing Jamba Juice after a Saturday morning workout with the girls. It’s been a great month for relationships.

Tackling some of the harder things on The List, especially the ones that scare me.

I don’t know about scaring me, but accomplishing #16, planting my container garden, has definitely been a process. Now that they’re in the ground I’m scared…scared that all my plants are going to die without producing. Especially since some of my tomatoes are getting white spots on their leaves. 😦 A tomato-savvy friend told me yesterday to let my tomatoes dry out a bit and not over-water, and it’s raining today! What are the odds? Rain in June in northern California. Arrrrgggghhhh!

Having more people over for dinner, and not letting time/stress/money get in the way of my love of being a hostess.

My buddy Kedrick finally made it back over for dinner, and we had a couple over that we’ve grown to know and love as individuals and have decided we need to hang out more as couples. Considering that this month has been crazy for me, I think two hostess days is pretty good.

Buying locally as much as possible.

So much good produce out right now! It’s super easy to eat locally at this time of year in California. Done and done.

Reading challenging, empowering, quality books instead of solely feeding my brain a mental fast food diet of chick-lit.

I’ve read so many gardening books this month it’s not even funny. All of them are from You Grow Girl, and are wonderful.

Putting my health first and making the time to exercise

No problem. Even being crazy busy I made time for exercise. The only weeks I had trouble was when I was having another terrible bout of insomnia, and I had zero energy for two weeks. I still worked out, but not as much, and definitely not at my full potential.

After several months of trying I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like step class. I’ve given it the old college try, and the only thing I really like about it is doing it with my girlfriends. All in all I’ve decided that I’d really rather spend the hour running. Speaking of which, this month I’m going to be trying to get back into running. I’ve worked on strength training for months, and have been LOVING it, but I miss running. And my stamina isn’t there anymore for running, so I’d like to see that come back up.

If you had a resolution or a word for 2012, how’s it going? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment or link to a blog post you’ve written on this below.

How Tuesday – Make a Rockin’ Interval Playlist

15 May

image from run like noone is watching on tumblr

If you’re anything like me, music is a powerful motivator to get moving. Heck, let’s be real; if you’re a human with a pulse, music is a powerful motivator to get moving. I made a goal for this week: to do something exercise-ey every day. Today I set the alarm early to get up for a 40 minute Booty Call, and I’m goin’ a-running! I’ve had the idea to make a playlist specifically for interval running sessions – because I find it so much more satisfying to run intervals based on the length of a song than on an alarm on my watch – so I thought I’d take today’s How Tuesday to share mine with you, and show you how to take all the guess work out of making a rockin’ playlist of your own, custom made for your workout needs.

Step One:

Decide what type of a workout you want to make a playlist for. I wanted about an hour of music for interval training. Interval training means changing up your pace, so I decided to shoot for a more-or-less equal number of songs falling within three ranges of BPM (beats per minute). For hard running I wanted a BPM of between 180 (optimum running tempo) and 170-ish, for jogging I wanted songs in the 160’s – 150’s BPM range, and for walking any BPM’s in the 140’s to 120’s would do me just fine.

Step Two:

Head over to jog.fm to start looking for music. What’s that? You haven’t heard of jog.fm? Honey, you need to head over there! It has never been so easy to find exactly the music you need to get you going! Jog.fm lets you search music by name, genre, hottest or most added, and – most importantly – by your target mile time or BPM! I spent hours sitting in front of my itunes with a metronome trying to figure out how many BPM my favorite songs were. This takes all the stress and guess-work out of finding exactly the music to motivate you. From jog.fm you can listen to your music for free on Spotify, which is convenient if you have a printed out workout or one from a magazine that you can do at home, near your computer. Jog.fm also links directly to iTunes or AmazonMP3 so you can purchase the music to make your playlist.

Step Three:

Narrow your choices. I searched for music in my ranges and click-clicked away to add to my playlist. Since I love a lot of music, I ended up with over three hours worth of songs. (Jog.fm also tells you how many songs you have on your playlist and how long it is. So handy!) This is good and bad, good because you can make several playlists with different lengths for different workouts, bad because you have to cut so many great songs. Be brutal though; the song you sing your heart out to on your evening commute may not be the song that makes you push through that last ten minutes. Like Indiana Jones, choose wisely.

Step four:

Song order. Arrange your songs thinking about how each one begins and ends. You want to feel like one song leads into another, or at least makes sense for your musical sensibilities right next to each other. For example, I would feel jarred and disjointed going from Bjork to Bon Jovi, but Bjork to Portishead? Now we’re talking.

Another thing to consider when deciding the order of your songs is how you want your workout to go. Do you want to let your tempo rise and fall, or do true intervals by alternating faster and slower songs? I chose to do the latter. I made sure to start with a slower song for a warm-up. In the last four songs I stacked two fast-paced songs followed by two of the slowest songs on my list. I wanted to really have to push at the end, then have plenty of time for a cool-down. I plan to listen to my playlist as-is until I get tired of it, then change things up by hitting shuffle. I think it’s fun when I don’t know what’s coming next, plus shaking up your routine is great for optimizing fitness.

Step five:

Download your playlist to your music player of choice, lace up your shoes, and get your booty moving!

As promised, here is one of the playlists I came up with. There’s a little bit of everything on there, and it really gave my morning run a boost. I went ahead and included the song titles with BPM’s listed below the image.

(click for larger)

  1. Viva la Vida by Coldplay – 138 BPM
  2. Hey Ya! by Outkast – 160 BPM
  3. Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz – 139 BPM
  4. Paper Planes by M.I.A. – 172 BPM
  5. Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springstein – 148 BPM
  6. Ignorance by Paramore – 171 BPM
  7. Spiderwebs by No Doubt – 142 BPM
  8. Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz – 168 BPM
  9. Suffragette City by Bowie – 137 BPM
  10. Objection (Tango) by Shakira (total guilty pleasure) – 179 BPM
  11. Born to Run (natch) by Bruse Springstein – 147 BPM
  12. Misery Business by Paramore – 173 BPM
  13. Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benitar – 181 BPM
  14. The Edge of Glory by Gaga – 128 BPM
  15. Raise Your Glass by P!nk – 122 BPM

What songs do you love to sweat to?

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