Winter Fitness Plans

January is almost over, so I’m a bit late with this, but it took me until mid-month to really decide what my new fitness plans were.

With Marathon training taking over as my fitness goal from April or May through the end of October of 2015, I hadn’t really thought about what would come next. I figured that once the marathon was over, I would be totally sick of running and as the weather got too cold for me to comfortably run, I would once again become a gym rat.

But no, when the marathon was over, I really still wanted to run, and I missed my Saturday long run tradition. Throughout November and most of December, I continued to run 3-4 times a week (spurred on by the unseasonably warm weather) while slowly incorporating back in the strength work that had steadily declined during my training. I took a few fitness classes here and there to mix things up. With a week home for Thanksgiving, a few days away for Christmas, holiday parties, and some busy times at work, however, I didn’t make much progress. I definitely regained a little bit of strength, but not as much as I could have.

Not to mention, all of my runs were done basically at the same pace, not exactly an easy run, but not quite a tempo run, and were from 4-8 miles, which really wasn’t developing my fitness in any way. At the same time, after 4 months of challenging, strict training, I felt it was ok for me to take 2 months to basically do whatever I wanted on the fitness front.

Then when I got home from my week-long vacation from Barbados, during which I really couldn’t exercise like I normally would, I finally felt motivated & ready to take on a new challenge and a new routine. I had long been debating upgrading my limited gym membership, which came with limited hours, to a full gym membership, since it was challenging to find time to make it to the gym and work as much as I wanted to, especially when not working at home. By mid-January, the cold had finally set in, and it would be difficult for me to continue running outside comfortably. I bit the bullet, upgraded my gym membership, and decided I would start working out early in the morning.

I always wanted to be an early-morning exerciser, but never thought I really could. But I thought I’d try it and see what happened. For 4 days in a row, I got up at 6am, left the house at 6:30am (with a thermos of coffee in hand, of course), and was working out shortly after 7. And guess what? I loved it! It’s hard for me to wake up, but once I have had my coffee and I arrive at the gym, I actually feel full of energy. And it feels awesome to have completed my workout and gotten ready for the day by 9am. I also took that first week back to try out some new fitness classes and workouts and develop a routine. It’s now been 2 weeks, and I LOVE it. I feel totally invigorated by finally having a routine, structure, and goals again.

So what are these goals?

  1. Get stronger, but don’t stress about it, and listen to my body. (I.e. Do NOT lift if I still feel at all sore.) Last winter, when I tried to get stronger, I made a few mistakes, like lifting too often for what is enjoyable for me and complementary to my non-lifting activity level, not eating enough to support muscle growth, not resting enough etc. I think there were a lot of factors in play, but this is why I’m stressing listening to my body this time around.
  2. Get faster! Running season may be over, and I’m super proud of being able to say that I successfully conquered super long distances, but I really want to be able to run faster than I currently can. 10-minute miles are my “easy” pace on flat terrain, with 9:30 being my “comfortable” pace. For my fitness level & motivation, I should be able to do a lot better than that. And so…I will be interval training!
  3. Do yoga at least once a week. Yoga is the best. Enough said.

So here’s what my weeks will look like

Monday: 5-mile interval run: Short intervals (1 minute or less)
Tuesday: Strength Training
Wednesday: 5 mile interval run: Long intervals (.25 miles or more)
Thursday: Strength Training
Friday: 5 mile run: Hill intervals OR steady-state
Saturday: Body Combat (Fun martial arts inspired workout)
Sunday: Yoga (It’s all stretching & releasing, so I count this as my rest day!)

For my interval runs, the 5 miles includes a .5-1 mile warmup and cool-down, with 3-4 miles worth of intervals. While I generally find running on the treadmill boring, constantly changing up the speed and incline makes it, dare I say, actually FUN! I really enjoy the challenge and the constant variety. So far, these workouts are feeling great, so let’s hope I actually make some progress.

For Strength Training, I will probably do a more detailed post at some point, but I’ve been doing 4 sets each of the following exercises: Deadlifts, Stationary Lunges, Goblet Squats, Dumbbell Chest Press, Seated Row, Captain’s Chair (core exercise), Side Raises (oblique exercises), Assisted Pullups, and Resistance band Side Leg Lifts. I’m already seeing an improvement in strength, and I think 2 days of full-body will really work well for me.

One last thing: I’ve decided to track both my running and my strength training, so I should be able to easily see the progress I’m making. I’ve never really done this before, so it should be interesting!

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