Marathons and Ragnar and Tri’s Oh My!

I went through a period of feeling like I would never run again, never race again.  I know that sounds melodramatic, but it’s where I was mentally.  The ankle pain was ridiculous for weeks and when you’re in that mode it gets difficult to imagine doing the things you love again.  But, now that my ankle is feeling stronger I’ve been more confident in registering for races and looking toward some pretty nifty new goals in 2016.

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My yellow brick road. 🙂

I had thought that once I had finished 2015 I would have completed my first marathon.  It didn’t happen and won’t at this point.  I’m okay with that.  However, I thought that I would have moved on to some other things.  I wanted to start looking at multiple marathons in one year, a 50K, Ragnar Relay and I’ve been interested in triathlons for a few years now.

The 50K is not going to happen, so let’s just scratch that right now.  Goals need to be realistic.  I think 2 marathons in one years is a pretty good start as far as endurance running is concerned.  I want to get those under my belt and then see how a longer distance feels after completing those.

Ready for Women Rock 2014!

My ruby slippers. 🙂

However, the rest of it seems… kinda feasible!  Multiple marathons should be a go as long as I’m diligent in my recovery, pay attention to my body, and avoid injury at all cost now that I know injury is an actual thing that actually does happen if you’re not careful.  My BRF is captaining a Ragnar Relay team that we’re organizing for August, and I’m looking into triathlons.  By “looking into” I should have said “learning how to swim”.  So stay tuned on that one.  Adventures in not drowning soon to come!

So that is what is going on this week.  Otherwise I’ve just been focusing on getting back into shape, losing a little weight and making sure I don’t forget to take care of this ankle and take it for granted.

 

Why are you Hitting Yourself!?

I had a really interesting epiphany today.  And that is that if something hurts, you probably shouldn’t do it.  Seems logical enough right?  During this injury I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I hurt myself in the first place.  And I did do this to myself which makes it all the more frustrating.  There was no freak collision with a vehicle, no tripped in pothole, no rabid animal.  Just me, overusing my ankle, repetitively slamming through the pain for almost three and a half hours.  And so I’ve spent the last 6 weeks reliving that run trying to figure out why it happened and what I can do to prevent it.  I know I pushed too hard – but why would I do that?

I was at the gym today doing some lunges with dumbbells.  About halfway through the set I felt a really bad pain in my tailbone, almost like my spine was on the brink of shattering.  This was definitely not a “just push through and feel the burn” kind of pain.  It shouldn’t have been there and I had no business continuing.  But I didn’t stop.  I checked my form, decided that was fine and I should keep going.  The only thought I had was “It’s fine, I’m almost through the set and then it will stop hurting”.  And then it occurred to me.  That is exactly how this ankle issue happened.  And it’s exactly how the plantar fasciitis happened a few months ago, and it’s exactly how the exertion migraines happened with the weight lifting that landed me in the ER before that.  It’s that concept of – this is okay because eventually I’ll reach my goal of what I want to do, and the pain will stop.  What I’ve learned however, is sometimes the pain doesn’t stop.  Actual damage is a real and present danger.

At any rate.  Marathon training (even marathon training recovery) is still giving me powerful lessons.  I didn’t finish all of the sets and did eventually stop the stupid lunges.  When I started exercising a long time ago I had had trouble motivating and pushing myself and would phone in half my workouts.  Then I learned to love pushing myself and loved finding continual improvement.

I’ve learned another valuable lesson today though, and that is when to pull back.  When to check myself and realize I am human, and do have limits.  It’s humbling, but it’s real.

Weekly video update – not much but still doing what I can. 🙂

Happy National Running Day!

What a cool day.  I’ve loved watching my twitter feed blow up with running stuff all day. 🙂  I got in 2.3 miles myself this evening.  We’ve had crazy thunder storms in my area of Minnesota all day today but I finished my 7 max pace sprints on the treadmill followed by some strength training.  I am pooped!  I’ve somehow been able to get through all of my planned workouts this week, even with the recovery issue.  IMG_0439

Happy National Running Day!IMG_0438

Marathon Training Recap – Week 1 (with video)

Yay!  First week of marathon training is done!  Video recap below. 🙂

This week’s workouts were really tough.  I had to push out my usual Thursday run to Friday which put some difficult speed work (for me) the day before my long run.  I will try to avoid that in the future and give myself the rest day between.  Those back to back runs were just a struggle.

Here’s what next week looks like.

training week 2

 

In other news, I took a break off of dieting.  It’s just been one of those crazy hectic weeks and I didn’t feel like logging anything which isn’t like me.  I’m not eating badly, just not counting every little thing. 🙂  Do you ever have one of those days?  Or weeks?

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Also, saw some geese yesterday on my long run.  Cute!

 

I’d App That

If you haven’t guessed already, I love documenting and tracking everything about my fitness.  Here are a few of my favorites that I use on a weekly/daily basis.

What are your favorites?  What am I missing? 🙂

  1. MyFitnessPal – I use MFP daily to track calories in/out.  (1,070 consecutive days going strong!) (Free!)
  2. MapMyRun – I signed up for the MVP access on MapMyRun (includes all MapMyFitness apps) and love this app for tracking my runs.  The route genius feature is ultimately what sold me on this over Runkeeper which was my go-to prior to MapMyRun. (Free but I payed for the MVP version, I think $20/year?)
  3. Gipis – I use Gipis for my marathon training plan.  When I start a run I initiate Gipis and MapMyRun simultaneously so the data is saved both places.  For treadmill runs I upload to both manually after my run. (Free!)
  4. Fitbit – I took a year off of Fitbit only because it was becoming something of an obsession.  However, I just picked this back up again recently to track how my steps add up with my marathon training.  I am also interested in tracking my sleep to be sure I am getting enough rest as well. (The Fitbit app is free but you purchase the device.)
  5. FitnessBuilder – I’ve been using Fitness Builder for my strength training workouts.  Right now I’m working through the dumbbells program twice a week since I have that equipment both at home and at the LA Fitness I frequent.  I like that it has timer and you can save the weights used.  The weights used on the same exercise last time are shown below which help me gauge what to use for the current workout. (Free!)
  6. Withings – This app links to some other apps I have like MFP.  I mostly use this to log my weight.  I weigh-in once per week on the scale which then sends that data to the app on my phone.  (App is free but you purchase the scale.)IMG_0268

That’s all I’ve got for now!  I’ve tried many others and either disliked or become bored with them.  Would love to know what else is out there though.  Happy Tuesday everyone!

Training Plan #57

Guess what kids?  I have a new training plan!  Shocked?  You really shouldn’t be.  I change my mind on my training every 10 seconds.  When it comes to picking a plan I have the attention span of a 3 year old.

What happened to Simply Shredded and 20 miles a week?  I will spare you the details (because they are boring) but in a nutshell, no strength training (not even body weight training) on Dr.’s orders until mid April.  Definitely cuts out the dead lift, bench press and barbell squat in Simply Shredded.  Also, as it turns out 20 miles is a lot to squash into my schedule each week.

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I have been wanting to run this route for over a year and finally did it! Victory!

And thus, a new training plan is born. 🙂  Since I can’t do any strength at the moment, I have the opportunity to focus on my running.  Last week I ran sprint intervals a couple times, did some cross training on the bike and topped it off with a 12.5 mile run from my house to work with a friend on Saturday.

My BRF just started using a new app called Gipis so of course I had to check it out.  I really like that it gives you an estimated race time and shows how you can improve.  It is super customized to you and your goals.  It adds a good combination of easy runs and speed work.  So I’m going to try the Gipis, spruce it up with a little cross training and some hypothetical strength training days (for later).  And there you have it, my latest and greatest.Capture

Monday: run & strength
Tuesday: run
Wednesday: cross training & strength
Thursday: run
Friday: REST
Saturday: long run
Sunday: cross training

I’d like to say that this is *the* training plan that will support me all the way to marathon day.  But let’s be honest folks, it probably isn’t.  I know I will probably “upgrade” to something newer, better, shinier, fancier.  The good news is, I’m still learning what works for me, I’m still getting stronger and faster.

And I’m not stopping.  Ever.

1,000 Days of MyFitnessPal

Crazy milestone.  I’ve logged into myfitnesspal.com (MFP) every single day for the past 1,000 days.  I’m not sure if that’s dedication or insanity but there it is.  Here are some things I’ve learned through my experiences the past 1,000 days.

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Before MFP in March 2012

Let’s first paint the picture:  Rewind to June 2012.  I had previously tried tracking calories using SparkPeople.com with little success.  I would use it, not use it, use it, not use it – you get the idea.  I was visiting my sisters in Virginia when my youngest sister suggested myfitnesspal.com.  She said her (now) husband started her on it and liked the

My first day logged on MFP.

June 3rd – My first day logged on MFP.

usability.  At first I was a bit skeptical since I already had SparkPeople but figured I’d check it out.  Loved it.  When I found out there was a streak counter for days logged in, one thought came to mind “oh it’s on like Donkey Kong!”.  I’ve logged in every day since.  When I first started using the app I wasn’t very active.  I hated working out and just figured if I ate less I didn’t have to exercise.  I was a busy mom, chasing my kids, playing with them in the yard etc. and figured that was enough.  Looking at my diet now, I ate pretty poorly back then.  Lots of pizza, convenience foods (think EZ cheese, pop tarts, mountains of girl scout cookies).  Whatever was easy and whatever I wanted.

I started using the app to just see what I was eating.  From there I started slowly reducing my calories and did my best to stay within about 1,200 daily since that was what MFP recommended for my height.  It wasn’t easy and I often had “cheat” days where I didn’t feel like logging all my food.  But I did continue to log in.  Every. Single. Day.

January or February of 2013 I realized I needed to start exercising.  I realized I liked the MFP app so much I might as well see if there is anything that rewards consistent exercise the same way.  Enter Nexercise.  I don’t use this app anymore but I can’t tell you how big of a part this app played in my journey to health and wellness.  You get virtual badges for doing different kinds of activities or more minutes of an activity.  It counts everything from house cleaning to badminton to swimming.  It even listed specific brand exercises like those found on BeachBody.com.  There were weekly points where you could compete with strangers or your friends.  And boy did I!  I told myself that it didn’t matter what exercise I did, I needed to do something every day.  And I did.  And I discovered a whole world of new activities I love.  I jumped rope, I logged seemingly endless hours on the elliptical, I played baseball with my kids, I did yoga, I walked (I walked a lot), I biked, I took fitness classes for the first time in my life.  I was so excited to see my Nexercise steak continue and rack up the points.  I also noticed that MFP gave you extra calories for eating with all of this activity.  Now we’re talking. 🙂  I started logging my food more consistently.

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First 5K – May 10th, 2013

Enter (my now very best running) friend.  I saw on her Facebook page that she had registered for a night time glowed up 5k.  It looked super cool.  She invited me to come.  My thought was I could never run for 3 miles.  She was super encouraging and said it was okay to walk and some of the others who were going would be walking too.  I remember this vividly: I was at a hotel in Wichita Kansas for work and wanted to see if I could do it.  I got on the hotel treadmill and huffed and puffed for about 46 minutes.  I walked, I jogged, walked some more, cursed a little.  But I survived 3 miles.  I registered for the race that night.  I kept up with my other activities but didn’t really train for the 5k.  When race day came around I some how ran (okay, slowly jogged) the whole darn thing.  I was on such a high, within the week I was asking her when we could do another race.  I was hooked.  I registered for a 10K, but knew I needed a training plan.  I completed every day of the couch to 10K program sometime during that Summer in preparation for the race at the end of August.  In total I ran 9 races in 2013, including my first half marathon.

With my boys after finishing my second 1/2 marathon - September 2014.

With my boys after finishing my second 1/2 marathon – September 2014.

I kept up with running and eventually didn’t need Nexercise anymore to motivate me to exercise.  I continued to log everything into MyFitnessPal.  I took a couple months off in Winter for a surgery but jumped back in with my first race of 2014 in March.  Eventually after much research I realized I need to start strength training.  I discovered that endless Capture2hours of cardio are not going to get me to where I want to be in regards to my physique, strength and endurance goals.  In May I began the ChaLean Extreme program from BeachBody but abandoned it after about a month when I joined LA Fitness and started working with a trainer instead.  My sister also helped me get started with eating IIFYM-style after I saw her using it with great results.  Increased calories to support my fitness was great.  Additional muscles and strength were also an added bonus.  I kept running.  I racked up a total of 467 miles in 2014 and finished 20 races. I continued to log into MFP.

January 2015

January 2015

MFP has changed my life in a gradual yet wonderful way.  I wake up, I shut off the alarm, I log in.  Every day.  I’m the most in shape I’ve ever been in my life.  I love trying new things and being active with my family.  I have discovered a love of racing and am excited to start training for my first marathon in June.

And that, my friends, is how I’ve spent my first 1,000 days on MyFitnessPal.

Pick a lane? No thanks.

We’ve all seen that driver on the interstate, weaving all over the place, always trying to get in a faster, better lane.  This has pretty much been my approach to exercise from day one of my journey.  I’ve changed my training plan several times to the point where I rarely actually finish a training program.  There’s always something bigger, brighter, shinier around the corner.  After numerous attempts to complete as seen on TV type workout plans and failing, I one day told myself it didn’t matter what I did as long as I did something for exercise every day.  And the freedom in that variety is what got me going and hooked on fitness.  I did the elliptical, I did YouTube videos, I walked my dog, I jumped rope, I swam with my kids, rode my bike, did yoga, took classes etc.

In almost everything else I crave routine.  My mornings are coffee and talk radio in my car.  Every week day.  I buy the same running shoes when my old ones wear out.  I have a 16 year supply of perfume (same one I’ve been wearing since I turned 15).  Exercise for me has been the healthy dose of variety my life needs.10535615_10204454717304821_5735394766138690464_o

Through my trial and error process of fitness I’ve found that I truly enjoy running, paddle boarding, cycling and weight lifting.  I love the strength and physique I get from lifting.  There is no better feeling than the pride and glow of finishing a long distance run or race.  And paddle boarding and cycling are just fun for fun’s sake.  SUP and cycling for me don’t even feel like exercise. I would do them if there were zero physical benefits.  (Lucky for me there are though!)

Yay!  Exercise!  Healthy and wellness!  Where’s the problem?  I’m starting to get more serious about my lifting and my running (26.2 on 10/4/15).  After last week’s sickness and subsequent gym hiatus, I’ve been so happy to be back in the gym and making progress.  I’m getting stronger on my lifts, and I’m really enjoying it.  I’m also starting to look at marathon training programs since Spring will be here before we know it and I know I’ll need approximately 18 weeks of solid training.  Unfortunately some of my 1621786_10204793492373986_702821337161782815_nrunning acquaintances have questioned my low mileage and have made mention that I will need to stop lifting once I start actual marathon training, else I risk losing endurance. There is the concern that the additional bulk of muscles could cause running slowness.  On the other side, my lifting acquaintances have said that excess endurance running will ruin the coveted strength and muscle gains.

I don’t want to be spinning my wheels, putting in a lot of extra work just to have everything cancel itself out.  So are these my choices?  Option A.) Give up the heavy lifting, focus on a textbook marathon plan with some occasional body weight movements, or Option B.) Give up on the marathon and commit to a serious lifting routine with occasional high intensity interval sessions for cardio.  I have never been a rebellious individual.  I pride myself on doing most things by the book.  But when faced with these two scenarios I say “nope”.   Through the magic of wpid-wp-1424402190800.jpegGoogle I am finding there are is a super secret Option C.) – Hybrid training.  This page actually explains it very well.  I can have the best of both worlds without risking exhaustion or stalled progress!  Hybrid training combines specific training runs with heavy lifting.  What I love about this is that there is a way to do it and still have rest days and make improvements. I can have my cake and eat it too (and boy do I love cake!).

What does this hybrid training look like for me and my goals and fitness level specifically?  I’m not exactly sure yet.  More to come on that later.  But again, that’s the magic of the internet.  I know I’m not the first person to want the best of both worlds.  I’m embracing my lane changing habits to find what will work for me.  It may be a little risky, but that’s part of the fun. 🙂

 

Simply Shredded (weeks 1-4) Results & Review

Here we are at the end of week 4 of Simply Shredded.  I won’t write out the entire workout but I am including a link to my training plan and updated training plan.  As I got started with the Simply Shredded program I needed to change some things to continue to incorporate my running.  So how did it really go?  Did I stick to my exact diet the entire time?  Did I really drink a gallon of water every single day?  Did I run as much as I wanted to?  The answer to all of those is no.  No, no, no.  Nope, not at all.  I’m a human being after all, not a machine (contrary to popular belief, and not in a good way) but I did keep track of everything; good and bad.  As it turns out, I’m a documenting freak so it was fun for me to keep track of all of these nuances.  I also put a heck of a lot of work in this month.  Hope you find it helpful.  Otherwise, it’s just more documenting for me to keep to review later – win/win. 🙂

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Starting picture on the left through to the end of week 4 pic on the right.

The Goal: Reduce fat/lose weight

Results – Pics & Stats
Yay!  All this hard work seems to be paying off.  I lost 4.5 inches and 4.5 lbs these last 4 weeks.  Not too bad!  I’ve included a chart with measurements taken after each week along with some pics.  I did my measurements, weigh ins, and progress pics every Saturday morning before breakfast to stay consistent.  (The “starting” picture is a bit dark as I had to take them earlier than usual that day.)
measurements

Workouts
I followed the Simply Shredded program for my strength training.  I worked on increasing my weekly running mileage and made sure to include some HIIT to get my heart rate really going at least a couple times a week.  I didn’t always do the ab exercises that Simply Shredded recommends on Fridays.  No real excuse for that other than I work abs pretty regularly with my trainer and just didn’t feel like doing abs those days. 🙂  The calf exercises were also hit and miss.  I go to multiple locations of my gym chain and some of the locations don’t have those machines.  I also figured my running worked my calves pretty well.  I would say I did those about 75% of the time or so.  I did increase an inch in both calves which I was pretty excited about.
workouts

Nutrition
Followed IIFYM as best as I could (see other post on nutrition).  I wanted to cut (lose weight/fat as apposed to gaining or maintaining) but decided to first start with maintenance calories since I wasn’t sure how my running would affect my goals.  I calculated maintenance macros for the 4 days of lifting the Simply Shredded program calls for.  I also added in additional calories in the form of carbs for my runs.  For my runs I used this formula: (75 calories x miles ran)/4 = carbs in grams extra that day.  I only ate these additional calories if I felt I needed them.  I usually did use some or most of them on those run days but usually not all.  I did not add any additional calories for my HIIT sessions.  My hope was that this would contribute to my weight loss instead of maintenance.  It seemed to work as I was seeing results each week.  Had I not seen results I would have reduced my intake.

macros

A bit about this chart: The red bolded days are those I did not stick to macros exactly with everything weighed out.  On those days I got as close as I could, focusing on eating lean protein throughout the day but an event or special scenario came up that I wanted

Typical day of eating.

Typical day of eating.

to enjoy without being the kill-joy with the food scale.  I know I was close those days but not spot-on.  I didn’t do any full “cheat” days, just a specific meal on those days highlighted in red.  I thought it was important to note those though.  If wasn’t seeing progress I could look back and evaluate those more closely.

Hydration
I made sure to drink about a gallon of water a day.  There were probably some days I missed by a few ounces but am pretty happy to be close most of the time.

Overall Summary
I’ve really enjoyed the workouts in Simply Shredded.  I love that they are so short I can fit them in over my lunch hour without issue.  I can tell I’m getting stronger with each session.  My struggle now has been coping without rest days.  I have taken rest days here and there by doubling up on workouts the day before or after.  It’s been okay but definitely more effort than my body is used to.  I think it is getting easier though and I am pretty excited about my results!  🙂

Kettlebell Hell!

Met with my trainer today for another circuit workout.  Wow.  I feel like these sessions are somehow getting more challenging yet easier to accomplish.  That may not even make sense and I’m not sure if I even understand it.  Today we did a workout with just one kettle bell.  That’s it.  One tiny little piece of equipment + one awesome personal trainer = one heck of a workout.  The thing I learned about the kettlebell is that it is incredibly versatile.  Did a couple variations on swings, crunches, and my personal favorite (NOT) rows followed by hip raises (ouch).  Powered through it like a champ.  I thought we were using a 10lb kettlebell until I looked at my journal just now.  The thing was 20lbs!  Yay, go me!  I truly feel that these sessions are improving my fitness and are a nice compliment to the lifting and running.  And they’re fun.  Well, at least now looking back at it I can say it was fun. Toward the end of the last circuit I can tell you I would have had something else to say about it. 🙂 Maybe I should rename the post to “Kettlebell Superhappyfuntime” but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Now to round out the week with one more 5 mile run!

In other news I’ve registered for 2 more races since I thought about cutting back.  I may need to seek professional help.