- If you want to get stronger, up the weight a little every once in a while. Go a little further, a little faster. In the beginning I would use the 8- or 10-pound weights or medicine balls, but now I try to see if I can go heavier, like 15 to 20 pounds, for exercises such as lunges and squats. I can always go back down if it’s too much. At the same time, don’t struggle with weights that are obviously too much for you. Ask a trainer for help when you can’t figure out the right weight for you.
- It’s not a race. When I first started I would rush to do rep after rep without really giving myself a break or really letting myself feel anything. Remember to take your time.
- Ask for another demo when you need it. The trainers are there to help; use them as a resource. Let trainers know when you have an injury; they will show you a modification.
- Watch what you eat before class. This is common sense, but I keep making this mistake. I am hungry every minute of the day and I make not-so-great choices when I am. It’s not fun at all to feel like you’re going to puke after an all-out pace on the treadmill.
- Show up a little early if you care about where you start. I like to get the running out of the way before weights, but if I am not early, the treadmills fill up and I’ll get stuck on the rower or in the weight room. It’s all mental — you do the same exercises — but I want to run first.
- Instructors matter. All of the trainers have been great, but some motivate me more than others. My enjoyment partly depends on their energy level, their playlist, or their personality. By now I know what to expect from the trainers at my local studio so I plan accordingly.
- Stay for the stretching. Some people leave as soon as the session ends, but I highly recommend the stretching afterward. I would even add more when you get home or before you leave.
- Sign up for class ahead of time. Some sessions regularly fill up. You’ll guarantee a spot in class and will mentally prepare yourself. Plus, if you sign up you’re more likely to go in order to avoid losing a session because of a late cancel. Make time for fitness!
- Make friends. While you don’t have to chat the entire time, smile, nod or high-five your fellow Orangetheory members. You’re all in this together!
- The only session you regret is the one you missed. On days when I didn’t feel like working out yet made it to class, I’ve always been grateful to myself for getting there.
Monday: I took a necessary rest day after two days of tough workouts.
Tuesday: 30 minutes of yoga at home.
Wednesday: Group training for my half-marathon. We started with a warm-up run of about .6 mile, then began our first station, in which we did knee jumps. Then we ran about another .6 mile and went to the next station for side skiers. We ran between each station. Other exercises were squats, lunges, jumping jacks and butt kicks. Our runs totaled 3.6 miles.
Thursday: Orangetheory class included 4 minutes of medicine ball core work. (1-minute toe touches, 1-minute leg lifts, 1-minute single-leg V-ups, and 1-minute sit-ups with ball smash.) I thought it was 5 minutes, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the last minute was. Our row-run workout block was the following:
- Row for 90 seconds, 1-minute push on treadmill and 30-second all-out.
- 75-second row, 1-minute push on treadmill and 45-second all-out.
- 60-second row,1-minute push on treadmill and 1-minute all-out.
- 75-second row, 1-minute push and 45-second all-out.
- 90-second row, 1-minute push and 30-second all-out.
- End with 1-minute all-out on rower and treadmill.
- 4-mile warmup
- .6-mile run (.5 at push pace and .1 at all-out pace) with a 3 percent incline
- 200-meter row
- .3-mile run (.2 at push pace and .1 at all-out pace) with a 9 percent incline
- 400-meter row
- .6-mile run (.5 at push pace and .1 at all-out) with a 3 percent incline
- 200-meter row
- .3-mile run (base pace)
- 400-meter row
- About .07 all-out run at the end.
- Floor exercises included lunges with Bosu ball twists, side crunches on Bosu ball and Supermans on the Bosu ball. My abs should feel it for a couple of days.
Yoga minutes: 70.
Physical changes are not always immediately obvious. Keep working. You’ll get the results you’re looking for. Also, life last week was deflating. Sometimes the biggest victory of the week is making it to a fitness class or the gym. That’s OK. At least that’s what I tell myself.
It’s satisfying to finally get started on half-marathon training. I felt productive and energized. My plan for training is to participate in group training through Lifetime Fitness two days a week, yoga at least twice a week (once at home and once in the studio), Orangetheory twice a week and running on my own (or with my running group) once a week. Let’s see how it goes!
Monday: 3.2 miles with my running group in Uptown Chicago. I picked up my group T-shirt and caught up with running friends. We don’t really run for time — it’s kind of impossible given all the traffic lights we hit on our route. It was 30-something degrees, but it felt good to run. I love cool-weather runs!
Tips and reflections:
- Making plans to run has worked so far to keep me on track. It feels awful to let people down by canceling; avoiding that feeling is a good incentive to sign up for group runs.
- I should have listened to my body. It clearly needed a break Sunday. Take your rest days!
- New gear is a great motivator as well. The cute new C9 sports bra made me feel strong and fit, even though I have a long way to go. The fact that it was a tiny bit snug was inspiration to get in shape.
- Switch up the routine. I like to do different workouts, which is why I love Orangetheory. Keep it interesting; keep it fun! If it’s not fun, why do it?
- Participate in the social media conversation. Use hashtags that connect you to people interested in working out or training for a goal. I have found so much encouragement and inspiration by connecting with runners and yogis online.
How’s your training going? How do you stay motivated?
I rocked out workouts every day on the week I resumed my workout recaps. There’s something about the beginning of the month and goal-setting that motivates me to work out. Also, I felt guilty about overindulging over the past few weeks, and I want to get in better shape. Highlights of the week included making a new running playlist, signing up for group half-marathon training and breaking in my replacement Brooks running shoes after losing mine in Costa Rica. Please share your workout progress with me — let’s keep each other motivated!
Sunday: Orangetheory and 5 minutes of yoga. 1.2-mile sunset walk/hike. I burned 674 calories at Orangetheory.
Tuesday: 25 minutes of yoga was all I could do at home. This is why I need to get back into the studio: too many distractions and questions while I am trying to meditate. PSA: If you have a yogi in your life, let them practice in peace. The world would be a better place.
Wednesday: Orangetheory plus 5 minutes of yoga. My all-out pace was 7.8 mph (about 7:53), which is my fastest ever! We also did two all-outs on the rower, and my entire body was feeling the burn. My paces were 10:00 minute/mile for base, 8:56 minute pace for push and up to 7:53 for all out on the treadmill. I was proud of my effort on this power day (sorry, not sorry for the humble brag). I burned 671 calories.
Thursday: 30 minutes of yoga. I just free-flowed, doing whatever felt best.
Friday: Orangetheory class. I ran 2.5 miles during the treadmill portion. My all-out wasn’t as fast as Wednesday’s; I just couldn’t do it that day. We repeated 500-meter and 250-meter rows in between sets of floor exercises, so I was feeling the burn again. It was an endurance day and the floor blocks focused on the upper body. We did pikes to knee tucks on the ab dolly, chest presses, pull-ups from bridge using the TRX straps, and lots, lots more. I burned 616 calories.
Saturday: Orangetheory. I should have gone to yoga at the studio instead, but I’m proud of myself for going to five sessions in one week. I took it a little easier because I felt dizzy the night before and that morning. I wondered if it was dehydration, hunger or sleepiness, so I tried everything ti feel better. At least I got a workout in. … Floor exercises included pull-ups with the TRX strap, V-ups with weights and mountain climbers with a foot on the bench.
Yoga: 40 minutes so far.
*I am compensated for clicks and purchases through affiliate links.
- Medal Holder Rack. I found thousands of options on Etsy and many of them can be customized. Similar options abound when you search. I find it helpful to read some reviews from the vendor before selecting your gift.
- Halo Headlamp from Nathan. If the runner in your life prefers evening runs or pre-sunrise morning jaunts, a quality headlamp will allow him or her to see better and stay safer. This one is a little pricey but may be worth it for the enhanced visibility. Your runner will be prepared for the popular Ragnar Relays and other races around the country that require headlamps to be worn at night.
- Travel Stick roller. I own this and love it. It’s portable and comes in handy after races and training runs.
- Runner’s World subscription. Whether your loved one is a new runner or a more experienced one, he or she will appreciate the wealth of knowledge in Runner’s World. The magazine teems with running advice, recipes, gear recommendations, and articles about runners.
More Gift Ideas**:
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Last week was a recovery week in my training program. This worked out perfectly because I needed to taper before Ragnar Del Sol.
Monday: This should have been my rest day, but I skipped training over the weekend to celebrate my birthday in Rocky Point. I ran/walked 7.75 miles during the warmest part of the day. I could think of nothing but an iced lemonade, so I satisfied my craving with one from Luci’s Healthy Marketplace afterward.
Tuesday: My birthday gift to myself was attending a Skullpt Fit class at Sutra Midtown that was taught by Vo. This was my first Fit class, and I’m so glad I signed up. It was a challenging, high-energy strength training session that included lunges, arm circles, burpees, and 7 and a half minutes of non-stop core work set to high-tempo music. Vo brings tons of enthusiasm to the class, even calling himself a dance instructor. He reminded us that we’re all “getting fit, ladies!” I worked up quite the appetite, so I satisfied my hunger with a breakfast burrito from Luci’s Healthy Marketplace. Later that day, Graham and I went to Runner’s Den to buy me new running shoes, one of my husband’s gifts to me. I’m excited to go back to running in Brooks shoes. Happy birthday to me!
Wednesday: Rest and recovery.
Thursday: More rest and recovery, as well as packing for Ragnar Del Sol! I went shopping for my snacks and did my laundry so I’d have enough clean socks and sports bras. You’re welcome, teammates!
Friday-Saturday: 14.4 miles at Ragnar Del Sol! (Recap coming soon.) My average pace was about a minute shorter than it has been lately, so I was proud of that. The tough part for me was running with a cold. I felt congested and had a cough and runny rose on top of the lack of sleep that comes with the race. But for the first time I was not too sore to walk afterward. I credit my marathon and Ragnar training.
Sunday: I woke up from 12 hours of glorious sleep ready for a day of relaxation. I sipped tea from my new favorite mug, a birthday gift from my amazing friend Charlsy.
Weekly goal: 24 miles
Actual mileage: 22.15.
#1800MinuteChallenge: 1,137 so far.
February mileage: 70.81 so far.
If you search for yoga poses for runners online, you’ll see countless sequences. I would argue that pretty much any yoga pose is beneficial for runners. But each runner yogi has his or her favorite poses to work out the kinks.
My favorite poses to do before or after runs are:
- Downward-facing Dog with a twist. Afterward, I also bring my right foot behind my left ankle and then shift to the left to get a side stretch. Repeat on the other side.
- Pyramid pose. This pose gives just the stretch I need after running. You can clasp your hands behind your back, let your hands come down to the floor, or even bring your arms out like wings.
- Low Lunge (Anjaneyasa B) to half split. First I hold a low lunge for a few breaths, and I might raise my arms up or clasp them behind my neck. Then I bring my hands down next to my feet and shift my hips back to straighten my front leg. I am gentle at first and may not fully straighten my leg. I flow back and forth from lunge to half split.
- Lizard pose. Sometimes I lower my back leg all the way down; other times I stay on my forearms and keep my back leg off the ground.
- Pigeon pose. Nothing feels better after a day of sitting at a computer desk than this hip opener. I like to fold forward first for a couple of minutes before attempting to grab my back foot for the full variation.
- Wide-legged fold with folds and twists. Folds are great for stretching out the calves, hips and hamstrings and calming the nerves. I love to incorporate twists into the pose as well.
- Malasana. This hip and groin opener, while intense, also feels great after a day of work. It also helps work on steadying the mind and the breath because I have to really focus on my inhales and exhales.
1. Find training programs, playlists and tips. Runner’s World and Women’s Running are just two of the thousands of pinners providing useful content about running. I try to stick to sources I deem credible, but you can follow anyone you believe has helpful information.
2. Test out recipes. Healthy eating is an integral part of training. An increase in exercise doesn’t justify eating junk food every night (Sorry, folks!). Seek out recipes that help satisfy your hunger in a smart way. Countless graphics list ideas for pre-race foods. Use them as inspiration to test which fueling methods work best for you.
3. Search for cool races around the country and world. Looking for your next race? Use the search method to find themed races such as mud runs, relays, and color races. There’s no shortage of lists of best marathons and half-marathons, either.
4. Get motivation through quotes. Chances are you follow a pinner who routinely pins quotes. Create your own inspiration board to peruse when you need a boost of motivation.
5. Shop for running apparel and gifts. Find the proper attire for the season’s weather, look for fashionable clothes to fit your personality, or simply replace your aging running apparel. You’ll often find reviews and lists of the best new gear or running shoes as well.
6. Share your accomplishments and lessons. Take part in the conversation by sharing your own blog posts or infographics with your followers.
The theme of marathon training last week was Test Your Limits. If the soreness in my right calf was any indication, I think I did just that.
Monday: Rest day. I went to happy hour with a former co-worker and indulged in even more cheese and chips to follow up my Super Bowl Sunday. At least I began the day with some light yoga and foam rolling.
Tuesday: I started my morning with some sun salutations (in my kitchen — my new favorite place to do yoga in my house) and foam rolling. I was amazed at how just a few minutes of this alleviated the soreness I had in my right calf. After work I ran 4.9 miles. I somehow turned around too soon during my out-and-back run. My pace ranged from 10:43 to 11:14 per mile. The soreness in my right calf reemerged, but I persevered — and I followed the run with more foam rolling.
Wednesday: 2.5-mile interval training. I finished 1 mile at a warmup pace, followed by .5 mile at the fastest pace I could muster. I slowed down for .25 mile and then sped up again for .25 mile. I finished the rest at a slow pace. The pain in my right calf resurfaced. I resolved to focus more on self-care over the next few days rather than mileage.
Thursday: I completed the Yoga for Tranquility and Mindfulness class from Yoga International. Sometimes I prefer to take a class either online or in a studio over leading myself, simply to be reminded to breathe. I also like trying out new sequences. If the instructor suggests a pose I am not ready for I often substitute my own pose, like I did during this class. The teacher instructed Warrior C in this class, which I didn’t feel ready for at the moment. I opted to do Malasana instead, which coincidentally was the next pose she suggested. I also added some chaturanga pushups. The class lasted 33 minutes, which I counted toward my #1800MinuteChallenge.
Friday: The day began with my 5 minutes of sun salutations. After work I ran 5 miles at an average pace of 10:31. The sun is setting later now, and it was nice to not run in complete darkness.
Saturday: I’m the queen of procrastination. I painted part of the kitchen for two and a half hours before running. I’d like to think it was a workout because I had to stand on my tippy-toes and hold my arms up to reach most the areas I needed to paint. The plan was a 5-mile run, but my body was telling me that wasn’t a good idea. I instead jogged a mile and walked 1.25 miles.
Sunday: 14 long, arduous miles. I try to give myself enough time to eat before my run, so sometimes I don’t head out until 10 a.m. or later. There is little to no shade on my running route, and that wears on me. I questioned how I will ever run 26. 2 miles if I can barely get through 14. To be honest, I had to run/walk the last 3 miles.
Weekly goal: 32.25.
Actual mileage: 27.4.
February mileage so far: 39.4.
- I need more strength training.
- I’ve stayed in my comfort zone as far as pace goes, and I need to push myself out of it.
- Variety is key to staying motivated. New trails, playlists and strength training workouts will keep me inspired.
- Social media can keep you accountable. Joining challenges such as the #1800MinuteChallenge and Ragnar Training have given me more reasons to keep going.
I’ve had a lot of excuses for not running lately. That ends now. The week’s theme is Building a Base.
Monday: 4-mile run. I ran the first 3 miles slowly and the last one at a faster pace. My average pace was 9:17/mile. My heart monitor says my average heart rate was 172 bpm and my maximum was 191. I’m surprised I could even go this hard after carrying a 60-pound backpack this weekend during the hike into Aravaipa Canyon. My hips and back still felt sore.
Tuesday: Yoga and 1.5-mile run at Dreamy Draw Recreation Area. Graham sent me a text while I was at work asking me to meet him at the mountain for sunset. We knew it’d be a gorgeous evening because of the nice puffy clouds in the sky after the rained stopped. I raced through post-workday traffic, changed in about 30 seconds in the car, and ran to our usual sunset viewing place. I didn’t even have time to put my hair in a ponytail! Graham followed me on his bike as I ran, shooting video on his GoPro and taking my Ragnar Training challenge photos.
Wednesday: 5.04-mile run. My pace was 9:18/mile, with an average heart rate of 173 bpm. (Max was 191.) It was an evening run, and I had the running trail to myself. I tested out the new headlamp Graham got us; at it’s max brightness it could blind you, probably. (I dimmed it a little and pointed it downward so that wouldn’t happen.) According to my Garmin I burned 540 calories, so I felt less guilty about having a glass of wine with dinner.
Thursday: Yin Yoga at Sutra Midtown. Steven, who was one of my instructors during yoga teacher training, warns you before class that you should be careful driving home afterward. You will feel that zen! Class begins with a flow, by which Steven means you breathe back and forth from a runner’s lunge into straightening that leg. We did one downward-facing dog for an extended amount of time. I remember thinking that it was the hardest down dog I’ve ever done. (We later did two other downward-facing dogs between sides of pigeon.) I didn’t meet my goal steps for the day for the third time since I’ve had the Garmin, but I’m OK with it.
Friday: 3.25 miles. I don’t remember much from this run other than it was around sunset, and I went without a headlamp. I meant to run 4 miles but I didn’t want it to get too dark on me.
Saturday: 2.48 miles. I had planned to run longer, but I’m glad I didn’t, because I ended up having to deal with family drama immediately afterward. This daytime run reaffirmed my love of nighttime runs; it was quite warm!
Sunday: 9.87 mile run. My longest run yet of training. I noticed that the timer on my Garmin wasn’t changing at about Mile 8, so I’m not going to trust my time on this one. It’s as if it only moves if you’re constantly moving your arm back and forth. I’m going to test it next time by also using the Map My Run app. I had more than 20,000 steps on this day!
Weekly goal: 27 miles
Actual mileage: 26.14 miles.