I WILL run a Half Marathon this year

20140306-105609.jpg

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?

Advertisements

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!

20131015-112558.jpg

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!

My Precious

20131010-135122.jpgLOVE LOVE LOVE. New sneakers, finally! 

I have been on the hunt for new sneakers for about a month now, and I finally decided to get the pair that I came back to over and over again. I was pretty certain from the start that I wanted Nike Free 5.0. My real dilemma was what color?! There are so many options, I just couldn’t take it! I finally went with the pair that first caught my eye and it’s been a match made in heaven ever since.

Ok, I have only used them twice (I got them less than a week ago and I have been recovering from a nasty cold, OK?!?!), but so far so good!

I have only been able to use them at the gym, though.  The real test will be when I can finally get these babies out on the road for a good run. I’ve done a couple of miles on the treadmill in them but you just can’t tell until you are outside.

I still haven’t registered for my next 5k race in December, but I look forward to training for it in these bad boys!

Back to Running

Ever since the Color Me Rad 5k over the summer, I have seriously fallen off my running game.. something I promised myself I wouldn’t do.

20131004-104313.jpg

Well, I have another race to look forward to and it’s time to get back into it! In December, I plan to do Hot Chocolate Run 5k for Safe Passage! The run is in support of an organization against domestic violence. I haven’t signed up just yet, but I definitely plan to.

My brother has done it in the past and convinced me to do it with him this year. And by “with him,” he doesn’t really mean “with him” since he is a beast. The most we will be doing together is drinking the complimentary hot chocolate together at the finish line. Last year, he placed 196 out of almost 3,500 runners… really? (Insert unamused face here). I think it’s safe to say that I will NOT be running with him this year. He will be nothing more than a tiny ant in the distance to me.

Anyways, I started running again this week. I hadn’t run more than a mile since my race (more than 2 months ago) because I jumped right back into heavy strength training as soon it ended. I was nervous that I had lost it.

So, on Tuesday the goal was to do 2 miles after some weights, and I was able to do it much easier than I anticipated! I mean, yea, I struggled a little bit toward the end, but it wasn’t as painful as I envisioned. I also didn’t do it as fast as I would have liked, but what did I expect? Like I said, it had been a while. My boyfriend/trainer said that it was easier than I expected because not only have I been doing .3-.5 mile warm ups before and/or after lifting, but also because a lot of my workouts consist of cardio-type lifts, such as super-setting and drop-setting. So, my body hadn’t fully forgotten.

I have 9 weeks to train. Based on this week, it should (hopefully) be cake – assuming I commit to training regularly!

Skinny VS. Fit

I am a fraction of a pound away from having lost 30lbs. I have probably lost closer to 35lbs of body fat, but I have gained muscle so I stick to calling it based on the scale.

My body has changed in ways that I didn’t imagine it could. When I started this weight-loss journey 6 months ago, I obviously had high hopes… but there is always a slight trickle of doubt that burrows it’s ugly head into the back of your mind.

I’ve realized that how your clothes fit is a much better indication of your progress than the scale is. A lot of my clothes don’t fit me anymore – even things that I fit into before I put on some weight. The other day I wore shorts that I hadn’t worn comfortably in probably 4-5 years. I repeat my work outfits on a weekly basis – a good and a bad thing! Good, of course, because I would rather my clothes be big than too tight. Bad, because getting dressed in the morning is so difficult! A pair of pants that used to be tight are now huge, sagging on my butt and giving me a bit of a MC Hammer crotch!

20130904-115849.jpg

People have been noticing my progress much more lately than they ever have. They say “it takes 4 weeks for you to notice your body changing, 8 weeks for your friends to notice, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world to notice.” Well, that has been true for me in a sense. Not those exact numbers, but the concept.

My friends, family and coworkers have been commenting on my weight-loss more frequently over the past month than they have since I began this process – almost as if all of my hard work just started to show. I have been noticing, obviously. My immediate family has noticed. My boyfriend has noticed. But it has taken some time for others to really see the changes in my body.

Hearing that people are taking note of my progress has been such a confidence-booster, especially considering all of the time, energy and effort I have put in. However, many people keep saying how SKINNY I am getting. “Gosh Katie, you’re just melting away,” “Where is your body??”, “You’re so skinny! 30lbs? Maybe you should stop!” While I am sure they mean well, it’s not what I am going for and I don’t want people thinking that.

My goal is not to be skinny. My goal is to be FIT. 

I lift weights. I am gradually becoming toned. I am not skin and bone – which is what I consider skinny. I actually still have a ways to go before I am actually “skinny.” There is a huge difference between melting off the fat by dieting and/or increasing cardio for exercise, and eating clean and doing heavy strength training. I am leaning out, gaining muscle, and getting HEALTHY – not skinny.

Here’s to not quitting!

Quiet Morning Run

I was SUPER productive this morning and went on a run at 6am. Who am I?? It felt WONDERFUL.

I have the Color Me Rad 5k in Boston this month and I HAVE to step my game up. I have been running at the gym much more frequently than I was at the beginning of my workout program. I have also been running in a park nearby my house on the weekends. However, I am definitely not in 5k shape yet and I am determined to get there, or as close to it as I can!

20130702-091058.jpg

I set my alarm for 5:45am, unsure of whether or not I would actually get up. Much to my surprise, I sprung out of bed and was hitting the asphalt at 6 o’clock on the dot.

The air was cool after a lot of rain yesterday, and the streets were empty. It could not have been more perfect.

The route that I took is typically pretty busy, with heavy traffic on a regular basis, and people walking and biking on the sidewalks. I passed one other person and maybe four cars in total. The streets were mine. Excellent.

I only went 2.11 miles but that’s more than any other morning! I only walked for about 1-1.5 minutes which is progress, but I need to push myself to fight through the feeling of wanting to break for a moment.

20130702-091150.jpg

There is something totally relaxing about running in the morning. It gives you a time to think and enjoy the peace while preparing for the rest of the day. I definitely need to do it more often. I feel so accomplished and my day has hardly started.

I got home and was drenched in sweat. Just the way I like it.

The plan is to hopefully hit the gym at the end of my work day. It’s supposed to be a leg day, with a few exercises that I have only tried once or twice. Maybe I will even run again. We’ll see how I feel by then.

Squat Challenge – Accepted!

20130501-144200.jpgAfter a grueling leg workout yesterday, one of the fitness coaches at my gym asked me if I would be willing to give his squat challenge a try. I was surprised and excited to hear that he thought I was one of the only females at our facility that was physically capable of handling a decent amount of weight if I put my mind to it. Now, there aren’t exactly many females at my gym that lift weights at all, but I am still going to take it as a compliment and let it boost my ego a bit anyways.

As soon as I heard “challenge,” my ears perked up. Maybe I should have waited for him to explain what the challenge was before I enthusiastically agreed. But hey, it’s only going to help me!

He wants to do a pyramid workout, where the end result is to see what my one-repetition maximum squat weight is. If I understood correctly, we would start with a small amount of weight – maybe just the barbell, or the barbell plus 20lbs (10 on both sides) – and do my regular amount of reps (about 12). Every time we add weight, he would have me do one less rep, thus ending at 1 rep with my max weight. Based on what I have been doing, he believes that my minimum weight is probably 145lbs, which is already 20lbs more than what I have done so far.

Yesterday I squatted 6 sets of 12, beginning with 15lbs on both ends of the barbell and ending with 40lbs, making my highest weight 125lbs. I probably could have done more if my legs were not already exhausted from my single leg presses. He advised me to begin my workouts with the squats so that I can give it my all, so I will have to try that next time. The rest of my workout consisted of weighted step-ups with two 15lb dumbbells, and a quick 10 minute run on the treadmill.

The great thing about this challenge is that it will give me an idea of just how much I can lift, so that I am not taking a wild guess and starting with less weight than I could be. I am looking forward to it and nervous just the same! He tells me that he has been wanting to work with a dedicated woman to see just how far they can be pushed, but that most people that he has approached are afraid of extreme muscle gain. They don’t trust that the female body simply can’t gain the muscle mass that men do. So, here’s to hoping that the end result is a nice bikini-ready bottom!