WHW: Mixing It Up.

You know those people who decide to try something new/visit a new place/take up a new hobby and literally spend hours reading about it, researching it and planning it out before they start? Yeah…that’s me. When I first started running, I spent hours reading articles on RunnersWorld.com, stalking running blogs and printing out beginner’s training plans. That’s just how I am. When I say I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it well.

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During that early “research” period, I read articles/blog posts about the difficulty runners have with cross-training. They know they should do it, but can’t find the time because all they do is run. I just knew that would never be me. I wanted to become a runner, but I just couldn’t see myself running 6 days a week and doing nothing else. Here I am, 13 months later and I run 5 days a week and squeeze in a yoga or Pilates class maybe twice. All I ever want to do is run. I love yoga, Pilates and Zumba, but somehow running always wins out.

But after two weeks of no weight loss (no weight gain either!) and two runs during which random pains started up in my legs, I know it’s time to get serious about cross-training. Running has done amazing things for my cardiovascular fitness and my body has definitely gotten smaller, but I don’t really see any definition besides my calves. I’ve also noticed that my core is still extremely weak and let’s not even talk about my upper body. Nothing has changed since Middle School when I could only do 1 pull-up. Except now I probably couldn’t even do one. If I want to become a well-rounded runner, and athlete, I have to start building strength.

 

I really don’t want to overdo it and run the risk of an injury or tiring my legs out too much during training for RnR USA, but I do want to make sure that I’m working my entire body and not just my legs. So the plan is to do at least 3 strength sessions each week (Pilates or a Tone It Up! workout). I’d like to do some other form of cardio as well, so I’m going to attend a Zumba class twice a week. (I know the elliptical would be good for me, but if I’m going to spend an hour on a machine, it’s gonna be a treadmill.) I’ve decided to save yoga for my rest days since it gives me a really great stretch but not enough strength work.

I’m hoping this plan will give my body the push it needs to get through this plateau and will enhance my half-marathon training. I’m going to start scheduling my cross-training the way I schedule my runs so I won’t be tempted to skip them. I know that once I get into the habit of going, I’ll love it and won’t want to stop. I’m breaking the curse of the running-only runner one Zumba class at a time!

How do you work cross-training into your schedule and how has it improved your running?

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Let’s Recap: Week Two.

Week 2 of RnR USA Half training wasn’t as great as week 1. I didn’t run as many days as I had planned to, overslept for TWO group runs and I definitely didn’t do enough cross-training. Thank goodness I’m finally finished with finals tomorrow (!) and I’ll have time to get back on track.

Monday, 12/12/11 – Rest

I had plans to go to my second Power Yoga class at the gym, but I woke up with a terrible sore throat and stuffy nose. I probably could’ve pushed through it, but I figured a complete rest day wouldn’t hurt either.

Tuesday, 12/13/11 – 1.79 miles in 21:01 (11:42 avg. pace)

Tuesday morning I woke up planning to hit the gym right after my 2pm final (law school finals are usually 3 hours long) to do 35 minutes on the treadmill followed by an hour long Pilates class. Turns out we only had 1.5 hours to take the exam and I only needed 40 minutes. I was back at home by 3:30 watching the end of Crazy, Stupid, Love in bed. I took advantage of my free time and didn’t get to the gym until a little before 6 leaving me with 20 minutes of run time before my class. The Cardio Cinema was full so I grabbed my iPad and turned on Sex and the City 2 to entertain me. I started at 4.8mph, but pushed it up to 5.0 for the last 10 minutes so I wouldn’t feel so guilty for skipping 15 minutes of my run. p.s. Watching movies on the treadmill is the greatest idea ever and I want to hug whoever thought of it.

Wednesday, 12/14/11 – Track Workout: 6 x 400 at 9:30 avg. pace (2.24 miles total including rest periods)

I skipped last week’s track workout to attend a Con Law final review (which I ultimately skipped too) and the excessive rainfall. I was really nervous about this workout because I’ve never done a structured speed workout before, but it wasn’t bad at all. We were instructed to do 4-6 quarters (1 lap) at 10k pace. I didn’t know what pace to choose so I picked 10:00/mile. It seemed comfortably hard to me and I knew I could sustain it easily for a lap. I started each lap at a 10:00 pace, but couldn’t stop myself from speeding up. At some points I was running as fast as 8:35/mile and each lap ended up between a 9:19 and a 9:45 pace. Oops. Next week, I’ll focus on running much slower than I feel I should at the beginning of the lap and trying not to speed up too much.

Thursday, 12/15/11 – 2.45 miles in 30 minutes (12:15 avg. pace)

An off day. Didn’t want to run at all, but I forced myself into the basement and onto the treadmill. Had really tight calves for the first half of the run, but otherwise my body felt great. I just couldn’t get my mind into it. I started at 4.8 for mile 1 then pushed it up to 5.0 for mile 2 and then accelerated my speed by .1 every minute for the last 5 minutes. I was so frustrated after all that when I looked down and my garmin said I was only at 2.45 miles. I still don’t trust that foot pod. My Nike+ app said I did 2.53, but I always go with whichever one is lower just in case.

Friday, 12/16/11 – Rest

Saturday, 12/17/11- 6.01 miles in 1:12:16 (12:02 avg. pace)

I overslept for my =PR= group run on Saturday. I went to bed Friday night with a terrible toothache (who even gets those anymore?) and woke up 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. I thought about rushing to get there, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to run well, so I decided to put it off until later in the day. It would be a welcome study break.

It was so gloomy and cold outside that I put the run off until 3pm when the sun came out for a split second. I was about 10 seconds from driving to the gym and doing it on the treadmill, but I told myself that my lungs needed the fresh air and my legs needed the extra work on the roads. Miles 1-3 were great. I felt great and my breathing was relaxed. And then I got to the turnaround point. I blame the geese who had pooped all over the sidewalk and made me hop around for the first 2 minutes of mile 4 because after this point, my legs decided to die on me. The sides of my feet started throbbing (does anyone know why this happens?), my ankles started hurting, I felt a little shin splint coming on in one of my legs (can’t even remember which one it was now) and BOTH knees started hurting. I guess I’ve been loving the treadmill a little too much lately. I finished without any walking (besides the pauses at stoplights) and I even sped up to 11:48/mile for the last mile when I was so tired I could barely see straight. I’m happy I finished, but I’m really hoping that next week’s 7-miler is much better. I definitely won’t be missing any more group runs! Lesson learned.

Sunday, 12/18/11 – Unplanned Rest

I stayed up late studying on Saturday and when I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I went to bed. 2 hours later, I was still tossing and turning trying to will myself to sleep. Needless to say, I overslept for run club this morning. I was so mad and thought about going late, but an extra hour of sleep won that battle. It ended up being a Sunday Bumday and I was ok with that.

Totals –

miles this week :: 12.49

miles this month :: 46.74

miles this year :: 315.04

Let’s Recap: Week One.

I made it through my first full week of half marathon training and I am so so so happy with the way it turned out!

Monday, 12/5/11 – Power Yoga (Vinyasa) for 1 hour

Went to my first flow yoga class. My legs were feeling really tired after the Hot Chocolate 15k and I needed a good stretch. This class gave me that plus a good sweat. I loved the challenge and can’t wait to go again. I also learned some great new stretches for my legs and hips.

Tuesday, 12/6/11 – 2.52 miles in 30:06 (11:56 avg. pace) + 1 hr Pilates class

One thing I love about my training schedule is that my weekly runs focus on time instead of distance. Over the last two weeks, I had some bad runs and races where I walked a little bit. I understand that this is a process and that will happen from time to time, but it was a definite confidence boost to hop on that treadmill and run for 30 minutes without stopping. I was tired, but I definitely could’ve kept going which is exactly how you’re supposed to feel after an easy run. I set the speed to 4.8mph which equals out to 12:30/mile, but my nike+ app says I ran 30 seconds faster than that. I felt pretty good and didn’t feel like my breathing was labored, but I’m going to wear my heart rate monitor next time to be sure that I’m keeping it easy.

After my run, I went to a Pilates Fundamentals class at my gym. I’ve been once before and loved it. The class was just what I needed. We did strength moves for our hips, legs, shoulders/arms and core. I felt challenged and sore but not to the point where my runs will suffer. I think Pilates and yoga will be the perfect cross-training for my training schedule (plus a Zumba class when I can fit it in). After the run and the class, my body felt amazing. If that’s not incentive to keep going, I don’t know what is.

Wednesday, 12/7/11 – 3.77 miles in 45:04 (11:56 avg. pace)

Thanks to the rain this was another easy day. I headed to the gym and decided to try out the Cardio Cinema for the first time. Best decision of the day! They were playing Crazy, Stupid, Love which I’ve never seen so it was the perfect distraction from the dreadmill. I did 30 minutes easy followed by 6 thirty-second strides (2 at 6.0mph and 4 at 6.5mph) with 90 seconds rest in between (at 4.5mph). The strides were comfortably hard and I probably could’ve gone faster but I wanted to test things out, focus on keeping good form at a higher speed and finish feeling like I could’ve done more. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, 12/8/11 – 2.5 miles in 30:00 (12:00 avg. pace)

First outdoor run of the week. I wanted to do the track workout I missed on Wednesday (due to rain and a finals review), but it was better for my schedule to do a 30 minute easy run. My goal was to run for 30 minutes straight and to keep my pace as close to 12:00/mile as possible. Miles one and two were 12:12 and 12:11 respectively and when I saw that I was behind, I pushed it to 11:20/mile for the last half mile. I’m really happy with that time because not only was I able to stay close to what I can do on a flat treadmill, but I was also able to push it at the end when I was getting tired. I definitely felt this run more in my legs with the little rolling hills which was good. I needed to wake them up a little after an easy first half of the week.

Friday, 12/9/11 – Rest

Finals started on Friday and I thought about taking a yoga class before or after my first one, but I figured a day of complete rest would be fine too. My body is loving this recovery/base building week in my training schedule. It was exactly what I needed after a few heavy weeks training for the 10k and 15k.

Saturday, 12/10/11 – 5 miles in 1:02:08 (12:25 avg. pace)

This was possibly my best long run to date. It was my second group run with =PR= Distance Training Program, but since last week was a recovery run for most people (after running various races last weekend) it was really the first official long run. I brought headphones with me so that I wouldn’t get caught up running with other people and fail to keep an easy pace like I did last week. As much as I love having running partners, I’ve noticed that sometimes it’s enough to know that I’m a part of the group.

My goal was to stay as close to 12:30/mile as I could the entire time…

Mission accomplished! I started dragging a little bit during mile 4 from a combination of little hills and hunger, but I pushed through it and even sped up at the end. It’s amazing what scaling back can do for your running. I ran consistently this week, but I lowered my mileage/speed and my legs really appreciated it. I’m crossing my fingers that I feel this great throughout this entire training cycle!

Sunday, 12/11/11 – 3.55 miles in 43:35 (12:16 avg. pace)

Today was my first run ever with a run club. I joined Jessica from Pace of Me at her new Lululemon/Reston Pilates run club. I can’t say enough good things about it. We started with a short beginner’s Pilates class taught by Jessica’s sister, Jodi (and assisted by Jess!), before heading out to the W&OD trail for a 40 minute out and back run. We split into groups of runners, run/walkers and walkers. I decided to go with the run/walkers since I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with the runners. I ran the first 2 miles with a girl about my age and then ran/walked the last 1.5 with the sweetest lady who just started running and was having trouble running nonstop. I did a 3:1 run/walk interval with her and it reminded me so much of myself last year. When I told her we had hit 3 miles she got so excited and said “My husband will be so surprised!” Running with her couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed a reminder of how far I’ve come and a moment to be proud of that, before I really begin pushing myself in this training cycle. No matter what happens, I have finally become a runner and that’s all I wanted in the first place. I seriously cannot wait to go back next week!

Totals –

miles this week :: 17.34

miles this month :: 34.25

miles this year :: 302.55

let’s recap.

I’ve been really diligent about recording my runs and workouts every day so I figured I’d share them. When I first started running I had no clue what I was doing, and still don’t sometimes. I really wish there were more running blogs for beginners so I’ll start and hopefully there will be more when I’m not a beginner anymore.

So here’s the recap:

Monday, 10/24/11 – Rest

I had planned to do a strength workout and a Zumba class but law school got in the way and I spent the morning finishing a paper instead. An extra day of rest after last Saturday’s 5 mile run was probably good for me anyway. I want to build my mileage slowly so that I can stay healthy and injury-free.

Tuesday, 10/25/11 – 3.1 miles in 40:10 (12:57 avg. pace)

Ran downtown around the Tidal Basin and took a little monument tour. Read about it here.

Wednesday, 10/26/11 – 3.11 miles in 37:58 (12:12 avg. pace)

It was a dreadmill day thanks to the rain, but it turned out to be the fastest 5k I’ve ever run. I’m counting it as my first official tempo run.

Thursday, 10/27/11 – Rest

Like Monday, I had planned to do a strength workout plus a Zumba class but I didn’t wake up until 11am. Once again, I blame law school.

Friday, 10/28/11 – Rest

I had full intentions to hit a yoga class at a new studio I found before I had to go babysit, but Grandma called. And when Grandma calls, you can pretty much forget your plans. I barely had time to eat before it was time to go take care of a few kiddies. And eat kiddie pizza. fail.

Saturday, 10/29/11 – Ghost, Goblins and Ghouls Spooktacular 5k (3.1 miles) 2.51 miles in 31:19 (12:26 avg. pace)

If you read yesterday’s post, you already know that the race didn’t happen for me, but I did do a quick treadmill run. After 2 days of rest, I definitely needed it.

Sunday, 10/30/11 – 5.54 miles in 1:14:27 (13:24 avg. pace)

Super slow long run on the National Mall. I kept a pretty even pace throughout, but I slowed down and relaxed at the lights and when running through crowds. It was the perfect way to end my week and make up for yesterday’s not-so-great treadmill run.

 

Totals – 

miles this week :: 14.26

miles this month :: 41.14

miles this year :: 157.11 (I’m missing my mileage from January and February before I got my first Garmin watch)

training.

For those of you who are dyingggg to know my current training plan, I’ve decided to grant your wish. And by “those of you” I mean my 3 loyal readers lol. Anyway…I have 3 races coming up in the next month and a half so my training is specifically geared toward making it through those:

 

{click on the calendars to enlarge them}

JRG’s Training Calendar Key:

Easy: 13:00ish/mile pace. This is a slooow pace but it allows me to keep going without walking so I stick with it as much as possible.

BGR! Standing Run: Black Girls Run! group run at the National Mall in downtown DC. This weekend will be my first one and I’m so excited!! Check out their blog and find the Facebook group for your area. I’ve only scheduled the one for this weekend because I want to see how much of a hassle it is to get downtown that early in the morning (8am). If all goes well, I’ll make this my official weekend routine for the next few weeks.

TIU Strength Workout: Tone It Up! is my new fitness obsession. The TIU trainers, Katrina and Karena, post a new workout video every Tuesday and their strength circuits are ah.may.zing. They’re difficult but definitely worth it.

NTC Strength Workout: Nike Training Club is a great iPhone fitness app geared towards women. You can choose what kind of workout you want (Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong, or Get Focused) and then the app provides you with videos demonstrating the specific moves and the amount of time you should be doing them. You can also set your own playlist.

*Since I’m a beginner when it comes to strength training, my goal is to start with 2 strength sessions per week. I’ll alternate between TIU and NTC to mix it up.

Zumba: Cross-training (XT) is so important to me because I am deathly afraid of getting injured. I tried a few cardio machines last week (elliptical and arc trainer) and I definitely got a good workout in but I was bored to tears. I think Zumba is going to be my XT of choice for now. My gym has the BEST instructor ever and I know that the dance moves are helping me to condition my entire body. I’m scheduling it twice a week, but if I can ever squeeze an extra class in I will definitely do it.

Yoga/Stretching: I love love love yoga. Last winter I developed a slight obsession with Bikram (hot) yoga but my dad talked to the doctor and came home proclaiming that anyone who does Bikram will end up with kidney failure so…that’s out. This week, I’m going to try to find a studio that I like but for now I’ll stick to the yoga classes at my gym and the plethora of yoga DVDs that I already own. I’m also committed to foam rolling and rolling my muscles out with the stick every night before bed. It’s all about injury prevention people!

The last thing I’ll be doing that isn’t on the calendar is the thing I fear the most: ICE BATHS. My plan is to ice the usual suspects once a day (knees, shins, achilles tendon, etc.) and then after each long run, I’ll take a 15 minute ice bath. I’ve never done it before but I know it’ll make a huge difference in my recovery. My legs are getting cold just thinking about it.

***

So that’s my schedule from now until December 3rd when I’ll run the Hot Chocolate 15k at the National Harbor in Maryland. The next morning, I’ll begin my half marathon training with =PR= Training’s Winter Distance Training Program in Reston, VA which I’ll write more about later.

I’m headed to get a quick yoga session in before a full night of babysitting! Happy Friday :)