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?

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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!

Let’s go to the gym and take pictures of ourselves!

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Nothing drives me more crazy at the gym than people who are NOT there to workout, but to make sure that their friends know that they paid a visit.

I got to the gym on Monday evening, and blocking the entrance to the locker room was a teenage girl. She was dressed in skinny jeans, Timberland boots, a see-through lace tank top and ENORMOUS hoop earrings and was taking pictures of herself in the mirror. She didn’t bother to move out of the way when I entered, so I carefully eased myself by her to avoid a photo-bomb. Wouldn’t want to ruin her new Facebook profile picture.

A few minutes later I am on an elliptical warming up and I notice the same girl on one of the treadmills in front of me. She is walking – in the same outfit, boots and all – with her hands on her hips and making a kissy face over her shoulder. To her right is a girl in similar attire taking her picture. What?

I looked around to see if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing and realized that I was one of many people watching this ridiculousness. Who goes to the gym simply to take pictures of themselves “working out”..?

This goes on for a few minutes until all of a sudden, as she is popping her booty out and striking a pose, she goes FLYING off of the treadmill.

……….. I DIED. On the inside.

Sorry hunny, you deserved that one!!

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!

 

Two Months in & Sore as Hell

As of yesterday, I am 2 months in to my new routine (9 weeks as of this weekend)! My weigh-in this morning shows that I have lost 13.3lbs! Woohoo!

I am definitely seeing some progress here and there. I have lost a decent amount of weight in my chest, my arms are less flabby and my pants are starting to feel loose. The other day I wore a pair of pants to work that used to be tight, and I spent half my time hiking them up!

Below is a side-by-side (or in this case bottom-to-top) comparison of my arm. The top picture was from April 5th and the bottom picture is from just a couple of days ago. I see slight differences but can’t tell if it’s good progress or bad! To me it sort of seems like there is less muscle, but it could just be that it is just less fat surrounding the muscle.

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Thursday’s workout was deliciously difficult. I am definitely feeling it today and my butt and thighs are STILL unhappy with me from Tuesday’s ass-whoopin’. Love it.

Here is my workout from last night:

Warm-up: Elliptical for 5.5 minutes; 4 Sets/12 modified push-ups (2 regular, 2 diamond); Stretch

– Free-weight Chest Press: 12 Reps/5 Sets; Two 15lb dumbbells**

– Close-Grip Chest Press: 12 Reps/5 Sets; Two 15lb dumbbells**

– Lateral Raise + Front + Press Combo: 10 Reps/5 Sets; Two 5lb dumbbells

Weighted Glute Bridge: 15 Reps/5 Sets; 20lb bar

– Incline Dumbbell Curls: 10 Reps/5 Sets; Two 15lb dumbbells

– Bicep Cable Curls: 12 Reps/5 Sets; 20lbs on both cables

Cool-down – Treadmill – Run, 10 minutes

** I alternated between Chest Press and Close-Grip Chest Press and counted that as one set. Apparently this is called Super Setting. (Learning new things every day!)

Like I said in my last post, I signed up for my first 5k race which is taking place in late July! So, of course I had to switch things up and hit the treadmill last night. I normally end my workouts on the bike — occasionally on the elliptical. I was happy to find that I was comfortable running for the duration of my cool-down, and had I had the time, could probably have gone longer. I think that now that I have something to look forward to… I will need to try and mix in a run a few times a week.

Hooray for progress!