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!

Back into Strength Work

During marathon training, from June to October, I began strength training with a routine mainly focused on core and upper body, with a little bit of hip stability work. This routine was a step back from the more intense full-body strength that I had been doing over the previous winter. During the second half of training, I got bored with that routine, and my strength training became yoga here and there, short & random upper body/core workouts, and just plain rest days.

I don’t regret moving away from strength training, especially in the month leading up to the marathon, because it allowed me to both mentally and physically focus more on running. I think that is part of what allowed me to do so well during my first marathon. However, I definitely lost some strength and muscle definition, which wasn’t ideal.

For the past three weeks, I’ve been intending to get back into some more serious strength training. At the same time, after spending four months on a strict, challenging marathon training plan, I also wanted to take a more laid-back approach to exercise, and simply do the workout I felt like doing each day. That led to very little strength training, as I kind of lost all of my motivation to do so when I was running so much. I’ve been taking a strength class on Fridays, but it’s already become too easy (it focuses on lighter weights/endurance, which ends up being ok for upper body, but way too light for lower body exercises, and the core work is also too easy.) I’ve also been doing short 20 minute circuits of core/upper body work. Somehow, I just really didn’t feel like doing any serious strength work.

I’m glad to say that this morning, I think I finally changed that. I took Monday off from exercise, due to a slight hip flexor strain (which is all fine now). Tuesday & Wednesday I ran 5 miles each morning, early, because I had to be at work at 9am. (Like a normal person…ha.) This morning, my schedule was flexible again, so I decided to actually get in some strength work and go to the gym in the morning.

I went in with no plan. Thank goodness I have my personal training certification and can actually get away with that. I made up the routine as I went along, trying to work all of my muscles, and somehow I got in an amazing 45-minute total body workout that I actually *gasp* enjoyed! I thought I’d share it with you below in case you are looking for some strength training inspiration.

I felt pretty great during the workout, but quite jello-y afterwards. Seriously, replying to emails made my arms tired.

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And this is probably how I’m going to feel tomorrow, especially since this is the first real lower body strength work I’ve done in like…6 months?! Let’s hope I survive.

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Anyway, let’s get to the workout!

For this workout, I paired two exercises together to form circuits, alternating between sets of each until I had completed 4 sets of each exercise. (So the entire workout is 32 sets of exercises total!)

1a. Assisted Pull-ups x 90 lbs. counterweight x 10 reps
1b. Bench Press x 55 lbs x 10 reps

2a. Captain’s Chair Leg Lowers (Core work: Tuck knees, extend legs, lower with control) x 12 reps
2b. Seated Rows x 55 lbs x 10 reps

3a. Static Lunges x 25 lbs x 12 reps/side
3b. Side Lying Hip Abduction with resistance band x 15 reps/side

4a. Side Hip Raises x 12 reps/side
4b. Deadlifts x 65 lbs x 10 reps

Enjoy the workout!

Workouts {Week of 11/9}

Hi everyone! I hope you all had great weekends. I’ve been enjoying the cool fall weather and got in a great 10 mile run on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking of running, my workouts lately have been a bit random, but I’ve been pretty fine with that. Right now my plan is to run a few days of the week, get in a few days of some type of strength training, and to take some group fitness classes for fun.

Here’s what my workouts looked like last week:

Monday: 5 mile run
Tuesday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: Body Attack (45 minutes high intensity cardio + some strength)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Forge (60 minute strength class w/ some cardio intervals)
Saturday: 10 mile run
Sunday: 30 minutes Body Jam (dance!) + 20 minutes core/chest strength training

For the upcoming week, I’m still not planning out my workouts ahead of time, and just seeing what I feel like doing each day (or the night before). Still, I  hope to get in a little bit more strength training, or at least more challenging strength training.

I still have a limited gym membership, so I can only go from 9am-4pm or after 7pm, so it’s been more difficult to get to the gym during the week since I’ve been working pretty much full time now. I might have to upgrade! We shall see…

On the food front, I tried out a possible recipe for Thanksgiving last night, and it turned out great! This was Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls from Oh She Glows. It was on a list of Thanksgiving recipes, and seemed vaguely Thanksgiving-y with the walnuts and cranberries, but it turned out to be just like baked stuffing. If you’re still looking for some vegan-friendly Thanksgiving recipes, give this one a try! I’ll definitely be making it again next week :)

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