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.

source

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?

Advertisements

What’s Happening Wednesday: Goals

After this week, there are 6 weeks left in 2011. That is absolutely insane. I guess time flies when your head is stuck in multiple 10 pound books.

I don’t remember the exact day that I started running, but I know that it was around the middle of November 2010 and that December is when I really caught the running bug. Thank God I lived in New Orleans at the time and it was sunny and beautiful. If I had been in VA I definitely would’ve put it off until the Spring.

I’ve accomplished some great things this year: I ran my first mile without stopping and my first 5k (with my Dad!) in March, started this blog in April, finished my first half marathon in June, and as of last weekend, I can run 6-7 miles comfortably without walking.

I’m proud of my first year, but I have BIG plans for 2012. This will be the year of the athlete. I have tons of races I plan to run and ambitious goals I want to accomplish. But before I get ahead of myself, I want to make sure that I finish this year strong with a solid base to start from in 2012.

Here are my end of the year goals:

1. Finish 2011 having run at least 250 miles for the year. I’m currently at 184 miles. (I’m hoping to quadruple this number in 2012)

2. Run the Ashburn Farm Thanksgiving 10k and Hot Chocolate 15k with no walking (except for water stations if I have to).

3. Stick as closely as possible to my running schedule. 4 runs per week (1 tempo, 1 easy, 1 long, 1 recovery).

4. Run on ThanksgivingChristmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. (Then I don’t have to feel as bad when I eat 3 pieces of Sweet Potato Pie!)

5. Believe in myself. 2012 is going to require some serious confidence. Right now, every time I finish a long run, or fight to get my breath back instead of walking when I feel like my lungs might collapse, I’m shocked. The reality that I can run still hasn’t sunk in yet and I need it to. In the words of Kara Goucher (and Nike), these last 6 weeks are going to be about working hard, believing in myself and believing in the run.

Long Run ‘List: Solo Edition

I have a 7 mile solo long run scheduled for tomorrow. For my last 2 long runs, I’ve had an amazing running partner to distract me from the pain of the last mile with his corny motivating speeches and offers to pull me through the last mile. I usually love running alone, but now I’m spoiled. I contemplated doing the 7 miler at my gym in the Cardio Cinema, (last night they were playing Save the Last Dance!) but that would be too mind-numbingly easy. And I’d prefer to save my treadmill runs for really bad weather. Hence the Solo playlist. Solo jam session on the trail tomorrow!

{source}

1. Chris Brown. Forever :: This song will never get old. Remember that SYTYCD routine w/ Comfort and Twitch? I imagine myself doing that when I’m running. If only I could dance…

2. Madonna. Miles Away :: I secretly love Madonna. That is all.

3. Gyptian. Hold You :: Reggae is the only genre of music I can dance to without feeling like the most awkward person in the room. This is my favorite reggae song right now. There’s a remix with Nikki Minaj that is pretty good too. I can’t believe I just said that…

4. Beyoncé. Why Don’t You Love Me :: Don’t let the title mislead you…this song is all about confidence. And running has given me more confidence than I’ve ever had. It also helps when you’re going through a breakup. He doesn’t want you? Who cares?! All this running is gonna have you looking like Beyoncé and then he’ll be sorry. (disclaimer: you’re gonna need to add some lunges, squats, crunches, reverse crunches, bridges, and leg lifts to all of that running in order to get Beyoncé’s body. and possibly some implants.)

5. La Roux. Bulletproof :: There’s a rule for long runs: if you can’t hold a conversation, you’re running too fast. If you’re running solo, try singing “this time babyyyyyyy, I’ll beeeeeee bullettttttproof.” If you can’t do it, you’re running too fast.

6. Glee Cast. Last Friday Night :: Every song Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) sings gets downloaded onto my iPhone immediately. I’m gonna listen to this tomorrow and pretend that I had a crazy Friday night instead of studying Con Law at Starbucks until it closes.

7. Those Darlins. Night Jogger :: I have no idea how I even know this song. It probably has to do with the fact that the lyrics include this gem: “you got your favorite song so keep jogging on. you’re burning fat, you’ll never look back. night jogger…what you running from?” I can’t believe someone actually wrote and recorded those lyrics. I love them for it.

8. Ellie Goulding. Under the Sheets (Jakwob Remix) :: I first heard this song in this video and downloaded it immediately. It is quite possibly the most perfect running song ever created.

9. David Guetta feat. Usher. Without You :: This video makes me laugh. Usher is singing his heart out to the victim of another failed relationship while David Guetta and friends are having a worldwide dance party. Which is what I do every time I hear this song. Every. Single. Time.

10. Lady Gaga. Beautiful, Dirty, Rich :: If my little sister, Joi, and I had a reality show, this would be our theme song. Either this or All I Do is Win. Jerrell and Joi Take DC. Fall 2013. (I am 100% joking for those of you who are unsure)

destroy yesterday.

Yesterday’s run was too slow. Last week I failed a midterm. Today I skipped a workout. Tonight I skipped some homework. Everyday I cheat on my diet. Twice a day I wonder if I’ll ever get any faster. Right now I’m thinking about waking up in the morning and leaving all of that on the pavement. And that’s really all I’ve got.

Thirsty Thursday: Running Gear*

*Obviously the title Thirsty Thursday isn’t really appropriate for this post, but it’s catchy and I’m going with it.

Last week, I introduced you to some of my favorite running fuel products. This week, I’m going to introduce you to my favorite running gear. This list is definitely an ever-growing one so you can expect a sequel to this post in the future. I’ll also do a separate one for running/workout clothes.

1. iFitness belt 

{source}

This is my 2011 version of that awful neon fanny pack I used to wear in the 90s. I’m all about safety when I run so I always carry my iPhone, ID and a little cash on me. On longer runs, I also bring a pack of Shot Bloks. I can fit all of that in this pouch and I promise you it doesn’t ride up. I have a big butt and a smaller waist so everything rides up on me. I can literally jump up and down in this thing and it says in place. I bought it at the RnR San Diego expo last year and it was definitely worth the $25.

2. The Grid

{source}

First of all, if you’re a runner, or any type of athlete, and you don’t own a foam roller, you are missing out. Foam rolling is SO good for your muscles and can get you through those muscle aches/tension when you can’t afford regular massages. Foam rolling is also good for building core strength. I try to foam roll after every long run and also on days when my muscles are feeling tired and/or tight. The Grid is so amazing because it’s designed to mimic massage and the different surfaces apply varying amounts of pressure. The first time I used it, I kept yelling out in pain, but immediately after, my legs felt so much better. I’m addicted to it now.

3. The Stick

{source}

I wish I could carry this thing around and use it all day long. It looks so weird, especially when you’re actually using it, but it’s so great. According to the company, the Stick is like “a toothbrush for your muscles.” While foam rolling targets large muscle groups, the Stick can hit those little tight knots that you just can’t get rid of. I use the Grid first and then I spend extra time rolling each part of my calves, hamstrings, quads, IT band, etc with the Stick. I have perpetually tight calf muscles and this is the only thing that really helps. Beware: your arms will get tired if you have a weak upper body like me.

4. Lululemon Sigg 1L Sport Top Bottle

{source}

So this item is obviously not necessary to run well, but I still recommend it. I love what it says (“I run because I can…but really I jog”) because that’s definitely how I feel these days. I also love the color and the size. It stays cold and the water doesn’t end up tasting more like the bottle than water (you know that happens sometimes). But mostly, it’s cute. So buy it.

5. Garmin Forerunner 305

{source}

I know this looks more like a computer than a watch, but it seems a lot bigger than it actually feels. This GPS watch tracks your time, distance, pace, heart rate (optional), and running route. You can also set intervals (for example: if you are doing a walk/run program, you can set it so that it beeps when it’s time to start and stop running) or pace parameters (it beeps if you run too fast or too slow). It also comes with a USB cord so that you can upload your run data to Garmin Connect, an online running log, or sync to another website like Daily Mile. There are debates about whether or not this type of running technology makes runners focus too much on the numbers, but I think it’s the best piece of running gear I’ve purchased. It’s really motivating to see how many miles I’ve done and how my pace continues to improve every time. For beginners, I would also recommend the Garmin Forerunner 110. It’s a little less expensive and is a lot simpler. I used that to train for my first half and I still wear it on easy runs when I don’t care about all of the extra numbers. It’s also smaller and wears more like a regular watch.

This is just a starting list of my running essentials and I encourage you to start your own. Read different reviews and take the time to decide what’s best for you. Some people can run with just a pair of running shoes and a tech shirt. I’m one of those people who wants all of the latest gear and the hottest running clothes. You may fall somewhere in the middle. Whatever works for you is what you should go with. And as always, if you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know! I specifically want to know what people think of the Nike+ Sportwatch. Ever since I watched that Ellie Goulding video, I’ve been dying to get it. Is 3 GPS watches too excessive? You can never have too many back-ups right?

it’s like nothing else.

I saw this video over the weekend and had to share it. I love it when I see celebrities running. The “I’m a Runner” column in Runner’s World is my favorite part of the magazine. I just love hearing their reasons for loving this sport the way I do. In the video, British singer Ellie Goulding said that running was the best high she’s ever experienced and I completely agree. Running does something real for you. Something that goes beyond losing weight or getting in shape. It’s about escaping the craziness of the world. It’s about pushing yourself. It’s about learning how to lose your breath and then regain it without stopping. It’s about pushing through that first miserable mile (or 2) so that you can get to the elusive runner’s high. And when you finally get there, you wanna do it all over again.

*song in the video :: Ellie Goulding. Under The Sheets (Jakwob Remix).