Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Checking in, not checking out

Concentrating on being healthy is tiring! As a teacher on summer vacation, I'm wondering how I survive working full time on less sleep. I've been taking naps nearly every day. The upside has been that my laundry consisted of just bathing suits, workout clothes and pajamas this week.

I had a great training week, 22 miles in all. Our five miles of bridge repeats were faster this week by 30 seconds! And, I took a whole minute off my 5K time this week. Motivation (and consistency) has been a key factor. I've been able to meet my running partner in the mornings when I would normally be getting ready to go to work. I also joined in on the Runner's World Sub-30 Facebook group. Their conversation is non-stop and almost makes you feel guilty if you're not out there doing something. They have been a very inviting and fun group to get to know. And, who can resist getting up early for these views:
I'll admit I've fallen a bit off the schedule, but with a bigger focus on the running, driving my daughter back and forth to work and other activities (open mic nights, chi running clinics, etc.) I've managed to get behind by two workouts. I've now done the Define: Lower and Define: Upper twice. They are pretty short and I feel like I'm getting better at them as time goes on, although triceps pushups continue to be difficult. The Sweat workout is about double in length and much more taxing. You spend long periods of time on each leg doing multiple exercises. I'm looking forward to trying Core this week. I'll also admit that I haven't been faithful to following the eating plan.

This is another active, highly engaging online group and source of motivation. Everyone checks in often about their food or exercise for the day. People comment on eachother's posts and encourage them, especially when they are seeking help, advice or just a nudge to continue. I am surprised not to see a bit more interaction from the host, Shay Carl, though. I do continue to watch his vlogs, and his Shayloss channel has some beautiful footage of the activities they are doing in Idaho. It certainly makes me want to go join him on a hike. I'm proud to say I lost 3.4 pounds the first week. I've been relying more on the MyFitnessPal app and counting calories. The app is really eye-opening as far as keeping track of the macro-nutrients, as well as other vitamin and mineral intake and sugar. I've learned I definitely need to focus more on cutting out fat and sugar.

Finally, it looks like I'll have the best motivation coming up: This week I signed up for the Outer Banks Half Marathon in North Carolina. It will be state number 14 for me!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's Like Riding a Bike

What a beautiful morning for a bike ride! The only problem was that it's probably been over a year since I've been on the darn thing! I opted for an easy route, from one beach parking lot to another along scenic A1A; the round trip was 13.8 miles and we did it in an hour. I remembered to take my feet out of the clips at each stop and have no marks or bruises on me- it was a good day.
Afterward, my husband and I enjoyed breakfast out at a new coffeehouse. We had egg sandwiches and hot pressed coffee, yum! Not exactly on the PiYo eating plan, but I'm trying to make it all work this summer.

Today was Define: Upper Body. Yup, I'm a runner and have no upper body strength. I definitely felt weak in my wrists and shoulders when I had to hold my own body weight, but I'll make progress, right? I really liked this workout as I felt there were enough reps of each exercise to feel the impact and then need to take a break. It was a really short video, only 20 minutes long and it focused on core in addition to the upper body. I like that the plan calls for the repeat of the two Define videos this week so that there is more practice with the exercises and the ability to take them a bit deeper once they have been learned.

I had taken a break from the Kettleworx video series as I wasn't sure how it was going to mix with the PiYo and if it would be too much for me. Today's PiYo video was short so I opted to try one of the short, 10-minute Kettleworx ab workouts. This was much more my current speed. The warm-up was the same and then the exercises were slower movements and transitions. Most of them were done for one minute each, allowing time to watch the first one as a demonstration and then dive right in.

I also lounged by the pool with a good book and ran some errands. Not bad for summer vacation!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bridge Repeats

Day two of the Summer Slim Down started in the dark. The alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. so I could meet my running partner to do 5 miles of bridge repeats, the closest thing we can get to hill training here in Florida. Well, my legs were burning! We figured out it had been 6 weeks since we had run the bridge! Non-existent hill training, combined with high humidity and no breeze to speak of, left us both drenched! It looks like this will become part of our summer maintenance schedule. We cooled down with a walk under the bridge and had some beautiful views:

Day two of the PiYo Challenge called for the Define: Lower Body video. This session was about 25 minutes long but went by super fast. The exercises included plank, downward dog and the warrior poses. There was movement in each of the poses to strengthen and increase flexibility. This is one of those workouts where I know I'll see improvements quickly. Once you get used to doing the poses, you'll be able to just follow the cues and not have to look at the television. This will allow for greater concentration on improving the poses and movements. I can't wait to try the Define: Upper Body tomorrow.

The eating plan went well today. I still have to concentrate on getting all of the servings in, especially the vegetables and protein. I'm not finding myself to be hungry during the day, which may be why I'm hesitant to eat what seems like extra food. I have stayed within my calorie goal each of the two days, even though my running partner delivered home-baked cookies to me this morning. Thankfully, they are "healthy" chocolate cookies made with avocado instead of butter, so I didn't mind indulging in a little dessert.

On a personal note, I'm just so proud of my daughter who started her first job today as a CNA at the local hospital. Disregarding the messy bathroom selfie, does it get any cuter than fitted purple scrubs?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Slim Down

Since I had a whole series of medical issues last summer, finally resulting in surgery to remove my thyroid, my weight has fluctuated at an all time high. Surgery is well behind me. My medication seems to have leveled out. I'm back to running consistently. I'm off work for the next six weeks. Gee, there are no excuses left - time to get down to it and lose these ten pounds.

PiYo Challenge
I saw an ad for Beachbody's new workout and thought it would be perfect cross training for running. It is a combination of pilates and yoga, designed to build strength and flexibility. Today, a Monday after the long holiday weekend, was as good as any to begin the eight week program. The first workout, Alignment, was more of a video to watch. It gave the fundamental yoga poses and the modifications for beginners. I tried a few of them out, but mostly just watched. I had attended yoga classes before, but this was the first time I could actually see some of the poses done correctly and incorrectly instead of just trying to go by feel. I'm sure I'll be feeling tomorrow's workout much more than today's practice session.

The PiYo eating plan is interesting. It kind of reminded me of Richard Simmon's Deal a Meal from way back when. The booklet instructs you through the calculation process to find out how many calories you'll be aiming for - it recommends that you stay within 200 calories of your goal. Then, based on the plan, it gives you the number of servings for each of the five categories: primary vegetables, secondary vegetables and grains, fresh fruit, lean protein and healthy fat. Looks like I'll have to increase my vegetable and protein intake and lessen my fat intake.

To give myself further motivation, and increased accountability, I have joined an online dietbet. It is being hosted by Shay Carl, a vlogger that I watch regularly. I thought it would be fun to connect online and share experiences. I can't believe how many people are signed up and how much money is in the pot. First, you join the game and pay the $30 entry fee. Then you have to take pictures, and have them verified. The pictures don't get posted, thank goodness; they are only sent in to try to assure there is no cheating. The goal is to lose 4% of your body weight in the next four weeks.

My own 5K Challenge
I read an article a couple of months ago in Runner's World about working on your 5K time to boost speed and endurance during training. It has not ever been a distance that I focused on as my races are half marathons. I usually train using the Galloway run-walk-run method. I've played around a lot over the years with the intervals that I use and seem to be getting a good result. A year or so ago, I had worked myself up to run the entire 5K distance and had gotten my time as low as 28:58. This has been something I've been wanting to work toward again, so I tried it this morning. Mind you, I was lazy and didn't get out of bed early enough so it was sunny, hot and humid for my run. I also had to pause twice. I made it two miles, and needed a short break. Then I ran another half mile and took another rest. My time was 33:23. Wow, a lot had changed. I'm hoping to get one of these in every week and monitor the progress. I will change the workout to record the mile splits in the future. Have I mentioned I'm loving all these geeky reports from Garmin Connect?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sweating in the Summer

Wow, it's hot out there!

Summer in Florida is the toughest time to work out. It can be done, but really needs to be done early and I've found myself in the habit of sleeping in already! I did go out for my regular "long" run on Saturday morning. We decided to maintain with about 20 miles each week, doing 6-7 miles each time we go out. Yesterday we ran 5 miles, then did the boardwalk stairs that stretched out to a mile, and then ran the last mile on very tired legs.

Garmin Forerunner 220
I was able to try out my new toy for the first time. I have had a Garmin Forerunner 301 for years. I've noticed that the GPS seemed to be not picking up as well, plus, it was having a more difficult time charging. I'd have to really wiggle the cord and find just the right spot in order for it to charge. Over the course of the last year and a half I've tried out several other Garmin models, but hadn't found one I really liked. On some models, I didn't like the touch screen or the sensitivity. On a couple of the models I couldn't hear the beeps. Some models didn't have the features I wanted. You get the idea.

In the end, I spent a little more than I intended and went with the purple and white Garmin Forerunner 220. I opted to go with the heart rate monitor, but since I'm not used to wearing one I forgot to put it on yesterday. I loved the fact that it beeps and vibrates - perfect for races! I was a bit disappointed that it didn't come with a printed out manual, and will have to look up some of the features, like how to program workouts, connect it to My Fitness Pal, etc. I was happy with the ease of use on my first run. I will try it later this week with some intervals and the heart monitor.

Garmin Connect
One of the things I really liked was the Garmin Connect. It has enough data to geek even the least techie person out! I liked that it documents the exact weather during your run - yes it was 100% humidity on Saturday morning. Another thing that I was very interested in was the cadence. Apparently I need to speed up my footwork, something to work on. One of my goals this summer was to work my way back to running and improving my time on the 5K distance. I will certainly be using the splits to watch my pace.

I did finish the Kettleworx Cardio on Wednesday. I did the second set and the cool down with the kettle bell. I definitely felt it for a few days. I think this is one of those workout programs I will have to build up to. I plan on trying a couple of the 10 minute workout sessions next week.

Since the weather, and my sleeping habit, were not conducive to running this week, I completed another 30 minute session on the elliptical.
Overall, it worked for me this first vacation/holiday week. Time to step it up for next week!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tropical Storm Arthur

Yesterday was the day I had set aside for a reboot of sorts. It was my first day of summer vacation, so I could devote more time to the cross-training that I think will help my running. Not to mention that I seriously need to re-evaluate my current eating trends.

Since I have no races on the immediate horizon, the plan was to go into a maintenance phase of running. I would run 5-7 miles 3 days per week and then spend more time doing cross-training: biking or kayaking with my husband, making use of the dusty elliptical in my exercise room, adding in some workout videos, etc. I may try to add in one 5K each week just to try to see some progress.

Day 1 Run:
I woke up bright, or rather dark, and early to meet my running partner for 5 miles of bridge repeats and then a mile run. The first thing I notice on my phone was a tropical storm warning on the weather app. Geez, what a way to start the day, not to mention my summer vacation. Looking at the hourly weather, it didn't look so bad and it wasn't...until I got about halfway to our meeting spot and then the sky opened. What a downpour! It eased up as I pulled in to the parking lot, but as we were discussing what to do, it started again. Knowing the bands would continue, we opted out of our run for the day. No, I don't run in the rain - unless I've traveled and paid for a race.

Day 1 Elliptical:
I came home and lounged around, had another cup of coffee, and some breakfast. After an adequate amount of digestive time, I hopped on the elliptical, and since this machine had spent months collecting dust I began my workout on the lowest resistance setting and sweated it out for 30 minutes.

Day 1 Kettleworx:
A friend from a virtual running group I belong to had offered up her set of Kettleworx videos. I snagged them and invested in a 15 pound kettle bell. It is marketed as a 6-week transformational program. So, I began with day one, Kettleworx Cardio...and I got halfway through. Yes, I am out of shape, but even more so, I have exactly no upper body strength. I did the warm up and the first set. At one point, when the workout went to using one hand for the weight, I had to pick up a smaller dumbbell instead of the kettle bell. It looks like I'll have to work myself up to this one, so I'll complete the second half of the video today.

I felt good after completing something, and not just giving in to the urge to sit on the couch with a blanket and read all day in this crummy weather. I woke up sore this morning so I know it is working. Let's see what I can do today!