Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesdays on the Run: My Cross Training Wish List

Hey everyone! I'm linking up again this week with Patty, Erika and April for Tuesdays on the run. This week we're talking about cross training.

When I was a new runner and heard "cross training", I thought, cross country running? Like in high school? Nope. It's any other kind of exercise, and it's important because it helps you get stronger and become a better runner.

Imagine the mess Katniss would have been in if she hadn't cross trained.

As I've talked about before, variety has not been my strong suit. I like my cardio--but I'm getting better about it. I'm currently doing a strength training plan that incorporates running. Baby steps! But I have a whole list of things I'd love to do once I'm stronger:

Rock Climbing: When I was younger, I did a lot of rappelling and climbing. I spent a good portion of my summer attached to a mountain (thanks, Girl Scouts!). I'm not as brave as I was when I was a kid, so I'd be happy to find a rock climbing gym and scale pretend mountains.

Rowing: Another childhood love was canoeing and kayaking--something else I haven't done since early college. When you're a kid you don't really think about the health benefits of tooling around on the water, but rowing is a great upper body workout.

Paddle Boarding: Right now, I can only imagine how challenging this would be for me because my core is really weak. I think it looks like a lot of fun, though.

Aerial: Okay, guys. This is waaaaaay down on the wish list because I'd probably do myself great bodily harm if I attempted it right now. But wouldn't it be awesome to swing around in the air in an aerial silk? And, um, be strong enough to get up there?

I'm inspired looking at my list. Good thing today is arm day, huh?

A penny for your thoughts: what's on your athletic non-running wish list?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekend Report

I'm going into week 3 of the Run Builder strength training plan, so I thought I'd share my progress and goals for the week.

(On a side note, every time I look at "Weekend report" all I can think of is the little song from the Octonauts: "creature report, creature report, CREATURE REPORT!" Anyone else? Just me? Okay then.)

Anyway, back to it. 

Last week I only missed one workout. I have the "at home" version of the plan, but I find it difficult to do the workout designed for chest and back at home. It requires sitting on an incline for a lot of the exercises and I don't have anything that works quite right, and I didn't make it to the gym. Other than that, I was pleased with how well I was able to stick with it last week. The exercises, while still challenging, didn't make me feel like I was going to pass out this week, and I started to see the scale move a little. This is what this week looks like:

Monday:  HIIT and core
Tuesday: Arms and cardio
Wednesday: HIT and core
Thursday: Chest, back & shoulders (I'll probably do a little cardio, too)
Friday: Legs
Saturday: Running a 5K!

My eating last week was mediocre. My actual meals were pretty healthy, but I did a lot of snacking that wasn't. I did a little meal prep today for the week and plan to finish up on Monday--today got away from me a little and I wasn't able to do everything I wanted. But it's already better than I did last week, so I guess I'm headed in the right direction. 

Even fruits and veggies have rough days.

My top 3 goals for next week:
1. Do all my workouts
2. Keep the processed snacks in check--one a day.
3. Make the most of my mornings. I've been doing the Abundant Mama "Rise & Shine" Challenge (more about that later this week) and I've really been enjoying it!

This week also starts homeschool pre-k for my Little Man. I'm keeping it very low key, but I still can't believe we've reached this milestone. Wish me luck! 

 A penny for your thoughts: what are your goals this week? Have anything fun planned?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Afternoon Workout--Who Would Have Thought?!?

I'm not sure why, but when I started this health & fitness journey, I felt like it was a law that I had to wake up early and work out. That if I didn't get up before the sun and run a gazillion miles, I wasn't doing it right.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I'm not much of a morning person--and when I do get up early, I like to take it slow and easy. Read a book. Sit by a window. I'm not a "get up and go" person. And yet for the past couple of years, I've been scheduling early morning runs and crack of dawn classes and been schlepping my way through them. Then mono hit, and I had to focus on actually getting enough sleep. Which meant if I had a late night or my son woke me up in the middle of the night, I had to get extra sleep or my health would suffer.

When I started the strength training plan at the beginning of the month, for the first week it didn't happen because I couldn't cram it in during the morning hours. Finally I told myself that I was going to do it whenever I had time--and it turns out I have time mid-afternoon.

I was shocked when I saw how much I liked working out in the afternoon! It helped me get through my afternoon slump when I usually start snacking. And best of all, it took the pressure off getting up early and beating myself up when it inevitably didn't happen. I've been doing my cardio in the afternoon, too--as long as I get it in before 4:00 or 5:00 I'm good. Any time after that and I'm a little wired at bedtime. I'm still doing my long runs in the morning, for timing and the fact that it's still creeping up into 90's in the afternoon here.

I know it sounds crazy and really obvious. If something isn't working for you, you change it. I guess I just felt like to be effective, I had to be an early bird.  I feel so free by this new discovery!

A penny for your thoughts: when do you like to workout? How do you schedule things to suit you the best?

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Cheat Meal...and How it's Just Messing Everything up

My eating habits are all over the place.

When I do a detox, like cutting out all processed sugars or dairy for a week or two, I do really well. I have resolve.

But when I go back to my "regular healthy" eating, everything falls apart.

I've been trying to follow the  "80-20" rule...eat healthy 80% of the time, and treat yourself 20% of the time. I saw it summed up really well in an article recently:

Read the whole article here.

Here's where I get into trouble: when I eat a "cheat meal", it's all downhill from there. Once I have that cupcake, or mac & cheese, or pepsi, I have a hard time stopping. And then my day is shot and I get really frustrated with myself because what it all boils down to is that I don't seem to have much self control. I almost always start out the morning well--lemon water, granola, fresh fruit. But if an early lunch is a cheat meal? Forget about it.

I figure I have a few of options. One, I can make my treats and cheat meals dinner time only--limiting the time I can get into trouble. Two, I can make my treats far less frequent--maybe once a week and planned. Or three, I could just stop eating treats entirely. This is my least favorite option, and one that I feel is pretty much unrealistic. I do pretty good on a 2 week detox, but I think I would just end up binge eating if I went down this route.

This is on my mind tonight because my eating habits on weekends are awful--we're always busy and less structured than weekdays, which makes it easy to eat poorly. Then by Monday I feel disgusting and it takes me a couple of days to get over the weekend. Not a good system.

Not only am I concerned about this because I just need to have better eating habits, but I feel like I'm sabotaging my workouts by what I put in my mouth. It's just so hard to break a lifetime of bad eating habits.

A penny for your thoughts: do you have cheat meals? How do you balance eating treats along with healthy food? 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TotR: Mantras

Today I'm linking up with Run the Great Wide Somewhere, My No-Guilt Life and MCM Mama for Tuesdays on the Run. Today's topic is running mantras.

When my family and I were driving to Orlando for my first Princess Half marathon (my very first 13.1!) my husband was really into Fun!'s album, Some Nights. I learned almost all the songs off that album during that road trip, but a line from one song stuck out to me, and it became the theme of my half marathon:

"May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground. Carry on, carry on."

I don't know how many times I repeated "carry on" to myself during that first big run. It stuck, and now I say it to myself often--and it always brings me back to that amazing feeling of finishing my first half marathon.

A penny for your thoughts: do you have a running mantra? How about a mantra for life?

Monday, August 11, 2014

FitBit Flex Review--Does it Work for Runners?

 My husband recently got me a FitBit flex to help me keep track of my activity and miles. I've been using it for a couple of months, and I thought I'd share my thoughts on it.

A little bit about the flex: it tracks your steps and active minutes, distance traveled, calories, sleep quality and the length of time you sleep. The flex is a little device that fits into a wristband and is waterproof. You can order different colored bands, and Tory Burch recently designed a bracelet that fits the flex if you're looking for something less athletic-looking and willing to pay a (significantly) higher price.

First, the good:

I really enjoyed being able to track my progress throughout the day. Seeing my steps motivated me to get off the couch during my afternoon slump. And it's proof positive that chasing kids around all day is not a legitimate form of exercise.

A typical rest day for me--I don't move as much as I thought!

I also love the silent alarm feature. You set the alarm, and the flex vibrates at wake up time--waking up only you. This has been great for me, since the last thing I want to do when I get up to run at the crack of dawn is wake up my whole house.

On the same note, I love the way the flex  records sleep quality. You can track the hours you sleep and see when you wake up or are restless at night. This has been a really big help in keeping me consistent with my sleeping patterns--an area I really need to work on.

The battery life is pretty good--I charge the flex every three or four days, and it only needs to be charged for an hour or so.

The flex also has it's own calorie tracker and food diary, which I found frustrating to use. It doesn't have a very comprehensive database of food. However, it does sync with My Fitness Pal, which I've used for a long time. When they two connect, they share information, giving you a more accurate calorie count for the day. Hurrah!

And now...the bad.

I've had some trouble connecting the flex to my iPhone. It feels like every couple of days I have to reset the flex to make it sync--which doesn't make me lose any data, but it's still frustrating to have to do. The fitbit website does offer a lot of tech support, which is nice.

The biggest issue I have with the flex--and the thing that will keep me from using it exclusively--is the activity tracker and GPS. The flex has some desirable features for a runner like GPS mapping and an interval timer with both voice and vibration cues. However, I've found it to be off by nearly half a mile on every run I've taken it on. It also doesn't seem to pick up on "active minutes" very efficiently--for example, I ran about 4 miles over the weekend and, while I'm not the speediest person on the planet, it only showed 6 active minutes. I'm not that slow! I can go in and enter my runs manually, but that tends to throw off the whole thing.

Overall, I like the flex as an activity and sleep tracker, but I'm still on the market for a device to use for running.

A penny for your thoughts: do you use an activity tracker? Do you have multiple devices?

Monday, August 4, 2014

August: Time to Pick up the Pace

I'm really excited it's August. For the majority of spring and summer, I've been on a self-imposed running hiatus. I've done a little running, but mostly it has been about getting healthy after a bout with mono and building up my strength. I spent all of July focusing on nutrition and strength training, and I feel better. MUCH better.

But now it's August and I get to RUN! My fall races start in September so I'll be picking up the pace starting this weekend. Regular runs are back on my weekly calendar and I'm happy. I'll be working on speed work, which I'm a little nervous about. I've never really done speed work before. I also plan on keeping up with my strength training. I just purchased the She Sweats 12 week Run Builder program and I'm really excited about getting started. I've been eyeing it for awhile and watching as other people progress through it, and I've been really impressed with their results.  One of my challenges has always been consistency, so my goal this month is to stick to the Run Builder plan and my long weekend runs. My goal is to be up and running (pun totally intended) by the time October rolls around and I start training for The Glass Slipper Challenge.

A penny for your thoughts: what's on your calendar for August? Do you run a lot in the summer or do you wait for cooler temperatures?