Challenge Accepted

First things first… I joined a challenge group. I never thought I would ever do such a thing, but I did and I am really excited about it.

You always see big Instagram pages posting before and after shots of their client’s bodies and people get completely sucked into it. The progress is evident, however, it seems like everyone is a trainer these days. How do you know you will be working with someone who REALLY knows what they are talking about?

I have been following this Instagram page, @katiesfitscript, for quite some time now. The reason I like her so much is because while she is quite clearly in shape herself (she’s a hardcore marathon runner with the most kickass abs I have ever seen) she is also a nutritionist. Great, a runner who also lifts heavy weights and knows her shit in the kitchen. Seems legitimate to me!

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I mean come on, talk about #bodygoals

So, I checked out her website and found that she has a bevy of training and macro planning programs. Great – what I was primarily looking for was some running guidance. So, I reached out – kind of thought it was a shot in the dark – and was pleasantly surprised to have received a response informing me of what programs she thinks would work for me. I was just about ready to buy one when I saw a post on her Instagram of one of her clients – it was a before and after shot with a caption explaining that she is not really one to advertise her programs this way, but that this was a result of a challenge she started earlier this year. She was starting another one soon and wanted her followers to be in the know if they were interested – so I looked it up and inquired about whether or not it would be conducive with half marathon training. It was! And the best part was that if I joined the challenge, I could get the running program for free. Sold.

This morning I joined the challenge and was immediately presented with the “Blueprint Macro and Meal Planning Guide” which is filled with all sorts of information about how to count macros, workout plans, meal plans, etc. I may have to toy around with the recommendations since I already eat pretty well and am not new to exercise. I think I am most excited about being accountable to someone else. Plus, there is a challenge group on Facebook which I think will be the place to judge how people are doing.

I started my morning off right with a carefully calculated breakfast using MyFitnessPal. I haven’t used that app in ages but will definitely be using it for this.

3 Egg Whites, Grape Tomatoes, Spinach, 1 Slice Lowfat Cheese

1 Banana

= 225 Calories, 18g Protein, 37g Carbs, 0g Fat

Hopefully by the end of the day I will figure out what my macros should be so I can gauge what my daily consumption should look like.

Wish me luck!

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Let The Training Begin

I’m alive. I swear. I might have gone missing for close to two years, but I am back and perhaps more determined than I ever have been.

Remember when I swore I would run a half marathon in 2014? Well, I didn’t. But I am making that promise again and this time I plan to keep it.

I used to be able to run fast and  long. Well, long for me. Not the kind of long that I want to be capable of. Then I stopped running regularly and focused the majority of my fitness attention on lifting weights. I lifted, I lost, I kept lifting, I plateaued, I fell off, I gained a little here, I lost a little there, and so on. Oh, I also moved too… out of the country. I live in Grand Cayman with my boyfriend now; the same one that helped me lose weight when I first started this blog.

I have yet to find the perfect balance of running and lifting, but I am getting there. A little over a month ago I made the decision to just do it; to just start running again. I think what kept me away from it was the fact that I knew I had fallen off and was afraid of how hard the first months of training would be because I’d been there and I’d done that. And it wasn’t fun. But I knew that if I just dove in reminding myself that it is OK to run/walk at first, and it is OK to not run for time but for distance, then I would get back to where I was slowly but surely.

And it is slow. But it is also sure.

I have dedicated my Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings to running at least a 5K, and then filling in the remaining gaps with lifting and some yoga. Unfortunately, it gets hot enough here that if you don’t run bright and early or after the sun sets, you’re likely going to have a miserable time. So, I started by doing the majority of my runs on the treadmill (“dreadmill” more like it) at the gym, with the occasional dip into the heat. Each week, I would try to add another half mile or so to gradually build up my distance, until accomplishing the 5k distance became, well, easy. So far my longest has been 5.3 miles. I typically start around 5.8 speed and end up at 6.0. Not fast, but again, distance – not speed.

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Running on the dreadmill can be an absolute drag, so I always cover up the screen with a towel to avoid focusing on the numbers. If I look down thinking “I must have run at least 3 miles by now” only to see that I have only gone 2.2, my mood will be shot. Staring at the numbers ticking away can break the run, so the habit of covering the time and distance has helped me a lot. I also never listen to my playlist in the same order so that I can’t estimate how far I should be, given the song I am on. I try to psych myself out by switching to the next one halfway through, or starting a song over before it ends, so that I eventually stop paying attention to how many minutes of music I must have listened to.

After the 5k got easier, I decided it was time to get my butt outside. Some people say that you’re always faster outside than you will be at the gym. So, one completely odd day, I ran 4 miles in the morning on the dreadmill and then decided to run again in the afternoon (do not get used to this). We have one car so I brought it to my boyfriend and ran home. To my surprise, I kept the 3 miles just under a 10 minute pace. 9:58/mi after already running 4 in the morning? I’ll take it.

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After having a pretty successful start to my new running journey in March (25.5 miles run; 22.5 of which was done in about 2-2 1/2 week’s time), I set a goal of 40 miles for the month of April. Well, in less than three week’s time, I surpassed that goal with a total of 41.25 milesI have 3 more distance runs to go this week, so I am hoping to add another 10 at least. But, if this week is anything like the last three weeks, I am guessing it’ll be a little more than that.

I went for my second outdoor run on Friday around 6:15AM. There is a golf course right next to our apartment that has the perfect 5K route, and a couple of side streets if you are feeling ambitious and want to detour to rack up a bit more distance. I completed 3.1 in 30 minutes, or, at a 9:41/mi pace. I was satisfied with that, though I would obviously have preferred a faster time.

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There are two half marathons that I am eyeing: the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Brooklyn in October and the Rochester, NY Half in September. Not sure which one I am going to do yet, but I am determined to rack up my miles in the coming months to prepare for whichever I choose!

Let the training commence!

 

I WILL run a Half Marathon this year

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It’s time to find a balance. I struggle with finding a good combination of lifting time and running time. How does one become both a body builder (of sorts) as well as an accomplished distance runner?

I love a challenge – it’s when I perform my best. During the month of February, my goal was to run 35 miles. That won’t sound like a whole lot to the average distance runner, but for me it was a challenge since I spend just as much time – if not more – doing strength training. I met that goal and have set my next at 40 miles during the month of March. 

Somehow, it’s only the 6th of the month and I have already run 11/40. Off to a good start, I’d say!

First of all, I have upped my warm-up distance. I used to do a mild .3-.5 mile on the treadmill or the elliptical to get warmed up before lifting. However, I recently started to run a mile as fast as I could. This week I have accomplished some of the best mile times I ever have! Yesterday I did it in 7:29, which is a little less than a minute faster than my best mile time from just a month or two ago. Running the distance at a faster pace – whether it’s just the mile warm up or a longer run – is becoming easier and easier by the day. Even though a mile isn’t too long, the speed will help with conditioning and being able to last longer distances.

Usually I do the bulk of my running after I have lifted (unless it’s just a running day). By the time I get through with strength training, the majority of my energy is drained and I can’t put as much into my speed and mileage. This is why I need to find a balance. I need to find a way to give both types of workouts my best, rather than feeling exhausted for one or the other due to pushing it hard on the first.

I truly want to try running a half marathon at some point this year.

There is a race in Hartford, CT in October that has a great course according to some of my runner friends. I am confident that I can get there if I can find the right balance and training routine. My fear is focusing too much on one thing and losing on the other. I know that to an extent, my strength training will likely suffer during the heavier running months, but I guess that comes with the territory.

Another struggle will be pushing myself to increase my distance appropriately over time. The other day I ran 4.53 miles and felt like I could have gone further – I haven’t run that far since track in high school! I was getting so used to – and too bored with – running a certain distance on the treadmill and then telling myself “ok, that’s enough”. You can only cover so much distance on a treadmill before the feeling of not going anywhere just gets flat out boring. However, it’s too cold out and icy for me to get back to running outside.

A friend of mine sent me a suggested half marathon training schedule where you add a mile to your “big run” each week up until race day, and my brother told me that I need to be running 15-25 miles a week when it comes down to the serious half marathon training. So, while my goal for the month is currently 40 miles, I’m thinking I may need to reevaluate and set weekly goals instead.

Any suggestions?

Keeping it up over the Holidays

I am happy to say that I managed to keep up with my exercise over the holidays!

The end of December is notorious for excessive eating, drinking and vegging out – all of which I am admittedly guilty of. However, this time around I did not fully neglect my body. Throughout any kind of fitness journey, we all must remember that it is OK to spoil yourself now and then. Countless times over the last two weeks I heard people say they couldn’t eat this or that because they “always gain weight over the holidays”. Umm, hello? We all do. It’s normal!

Multiple occasions filled with socializing with family and friends over holiday snacks, meals and drinks are crammed into one week and they are not typical of our regular diet.  Unless you are used to mimosas, baked brie and holiday cookies on a daily basis (invite me over), of course your body is going to react differently!

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Two of my holiday gym workouts were nothing short of loco. I typically have designated muscle days – one day will be squats, lunges, leg presses, etc. another will be shoulder presses, military presses, front raises, etc. – but I just went at everything. One day I did shoulder presses, curls, military presses, bench presses, a few ab workouts, squats and lunges. I attempted a post-lifting run and pretty much ran two steps, laughed at myself for even trying and crawled to the locker room. So, rather than depriving myself of or kicking myself for having that holiday treat that I really truly wanted, I just made some time to squeeze in my runs and gym trips. When I couldn’t do either of those, I improvised at home. I not only allowed myself to enjoy myself, but I also felt much better.

My other crazy workout was similar in that it had a lot of variety, but I targeted different muscles and tried some lifts that I don’t do very often, such as pull ups and dips. I used to do those on a regular basis and now I almost never do.

Oh, and yes… that IS 270lb leg press, thanks for asking. Multiple sets of 10 reps – cake! Pretty soon I will be adding more plates!

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I made a trip to Montreal between Christmas and New Years with my family. Obviously we had a lot of beer and poutine (which, by the way, is unbelievable). My body hated me after that poutine, but it was so worth it.

One morning while everyone was still asleep, I rallied myself out of bed and went on a quiet run. I almost didn’t go because it was freezing and I was exhausted, but I told myself that I would regret it later if I skipped out.

The streets were absolutely dead – I saw maybe three or four cars drive by – and totally slushy from some overnight snow accumulation. Despite the conditions of the roads, it was awesome, peaceful and felt great. I wasn’t running for time, wasn’t looking to maintain my average pace… I was just running. I went just under 3 miles and shockingly came in just about 20 seconds more per mile than what I typically do. I thought for sure it would be much slower as I was slipping and sliding and navigating my way through unfamiliar streets.

Along my way I came across a beautiful cathedral which was a nice find, and it was really cool to check out the neighborhoods and cafes along the way.

You can always make time for exercise! No excuses!

27:23

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27:23 Time; 8:49 per mile pace; 1002 place out of 3522 runners.

I’ll take it!

The Hot Chocolate 5k for Domestic Violence has come and gone and I am pretty satisfied with how I did. Considering the hills and how FREEZING it was (about 20 degrees I believe), I was hoping to come in under 29 minutes and surpassed that by more than a minute and a half!

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For weeks I had been telling my brother (who runs cross country and completed the race with 7 minute miles last year) that if he felt like I was going too slow for him then he shouldn’t feel like he has to stay with me. However, he made the decision to run with me the whole time despite the fact that he could do better, which I was very grateful for.

He talked me through the whole thing and was an awesome coach! Whenever I felt like I was getting tired, he would motivate me to go faster. When I was running a good pace, he would tell me I was doing a great job and to keep it up. When we passed the 1 mile and 2 mile marks, he would let me know whether or not we needed to pick up the pace in order to break 30 minutes. Little did I know, we were well below 30 and he was just trying to help me do my best!

I planned to run with my ipod to keep track of my time using my Nike app, but I was convinced not to so that I don’t obsess over my times throughout the race. So glad I didn’t! I was able to focus on my stride and pushing myself without freaking out if the Nike lady came on in my headphones to tell me that my average mile was higher than what I wanted.

After the 3rd or 4th hill (I was told there was only one. Lies!), I had a brief moment when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish well. My brother told me how close we were to the finish line and we BOOKED it. I have no idea where that last burst of energy came from, but we sprinted the last .3-.5 mile like nobody’s business.

I felt so great after the race, and so proud that I beat my last 5k time by probably 6 minutes. Now to register for another!

Running, Running as Fast as I can

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The Hot Chocolate 5k For Domestic Violence is this weekend! I have just one more serious practice run before my second road race ever! I’m excited but also a little anxious because I am running with a 17 year old cross country runner…

Since I got my new sneakers, I’ve covered just under 30 miles – not a lot but exciting to watch it add up. It’s amazing to me that some people do marathons, the majority of what I have done, in just one day! Loco!

It feels like I have run a lot more than I apparently have, but that’s probably because I run with higher frequency than I do distance per run. I have been running pretty regularly on the treadmill, always doing at least a mile, but unfortunately have not made it outside as much as I would have liked. Before I go into work, it’s dark. When I get out of work, it’s dark. Not a huge deal but also not the biggest fan of running at night by myself.

It’s December and I live in New England. I expect the race to be cold, and because I have not run outside enough, that makes me nervous! I don’t run well in the cold and I haven’t been training myself to get used to it. I did a short run over Thanksgiving break outside with my brother, and it was freezing and extremely windy! While he ran along like a gazelle, I was wheezing like a maniac at his side. Any tips on cold/windy weather running?

I would love to be able to give a 10K and Half Marathon a shot next year. I just need to find a way to balance serious strength training and serious running. After I ran the Color Me Rad 5k over the summer, I fell off my running routine because I was anxious to lift again. I have lifted less the past few weeks so I could focus on my running, and I am very much looking forward to starting again after this weekend’s race.  I don’t want to lose any progress I make with either!

 

Treadmill vs. Nike+

Does anyone know whether the treadmill or Nike+ is more accurate?

20131015-111935.jpgI ran on the treadmill at the gym yesterday and used my Nike+ chip as backup for tracking my time and distance.  Nike told me that I went .21 further than the treadmill did, with my average pace being 8:34 and my best mile being 8:24, while my treadmill mile was 10:26.

I ran until I hit a mile on the treadmill just to be sure that I actually completed the distance I wanted – if I went a little further, great. However, I am unsure which device is more accurate than the other. Because I am training for another 5k (and hopefully something bigger down the road), my times are important to me!

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I’d like to think that Nike+ is more accurate (obviously I would LIKE that), not only because my mile is better but because my time is more in line with other runs I have done. The day before yesterday I ran outside using the chip and it told me that my pace was 8:48 per mile. I have also done other runs using MapMyRun and GPS, and the Nike times are closer to those than the treadmill is.

Now, I am POSITIVE that I was running faster yesterday (treadmill) than I was the day before (outside). This leads me to believe that between my Nike+ and MapMyRun data, the apps are more accurate than the treadmill. But how can I be sure?

Has anyone else experienced this, or have any insight as to which is more trustworthy? I understand that treadmills are calibrated to measure your speed and distance using the belt and that Nike uses the sensor to calculate your stride, but I don’t understand how there could be such a large difference. My brothers who are both runners have always told me that your time on foot will always be better than on a treadmill, but I wasn’t expecting this!