Saturday, September 25, 2010

Get your cross-training where you can

My husband and I have a treadmill in our house, and we absolutely love it. It's in the guest bedroom right now and since we only have guests maybe once every two years or so, we have visions of turning that room into a home gym complete with a weight machine and a stationary bike so that we can alternate the treadmill with other cross-training activities. But seeing as how we're not made of money, all that will have to wait for just a little while.

I've been using my Wii Fit sporadically for cross-training -- the yoga in particular was really helpful when I injured my knee a while back -- but it's kind of a pain to set it up and find the balance board and all of the little feet that keep it level (we do have a place for all of this stuff, but let's just say that with two teenagers in the house, there's no guarantee that it'll all be where it's supposed to be on any given day!) plus it seems to take forever to actually get to the exercises and there's a lot of downtime when switching from one to another.

So I decided to get a workout video, and the one I was hearing the most about was the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. It arrived in the mail the other day and holy cow, this thing is HARD! I had thought I was in pretty good shape, but I wasn't even able to keep up with Level One of this thing, and I was following the modified (for out-of-shape types) exercises! It's not that it's hard to follow at all -- the instructions are very clear and it's a high-quality video -- it's just that it is really a super-intense workout. The actual workout only lasts 20 minutes but you are constantly in motion and keeping your heart rate up for that entire time. My abs in particular were really sore for two days after my first workout!

I had my doubts as to whether I could truly cross-train while using an exercise video, but those doubts have evaporated. I am really looking forward to using this thing on the days I don't run. There are three levels to the workout but right now my short-term goal is just to get through Level One without needing a break!

I will post a full review of this product once I've worked my way up to Level Three, assuming that ever happens.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ups and downs (and I don't mean hills)

So here is my week in review, running-wise:

Had kind of a terrible morning and did not feel like running at all. Got on the treadmill anyway and once I got going, I felt great! I did about a mile and as I was doing my cool-down I thought, "You know, I'm not really ready to stop." So I ended up doing another mile and my attitude afterwards was 100% improved. This was proof to me that running is no longer just something I want to do, it's something I need to do! I am just a happier person when I've put in a good run.

Too busy to run. Not good!

I decided to map out (with CardioTrainer on my phone) a new route that was slightly longer than the 1.84-mile triangular route I had run the week before. I wasn't going to try to run it, just walk it in order to map it (there were trails involved so I couldn't drive it and map it that way). Well, about a third of the way into my planned route it became obvious that my GPS wasn't working again. This was so super frustrating and if I had been smart, I'd have picked up my pace and started running to get out my frustration. But I didn't; I just took a shorter route (walking) home, fiddling with my GPS settings and cursing under my breath the whole way. It was super humid out and it was also trash day in my neighborhood, so by the time I got home I was in a really foul mood, soaked to the skin with my nostrils still full of garbage smells. Not what you would call a good walk/run!

However, I did have a major highlight on Wednesday! I hopped on the computer when I got home and was going to write out my frustrations on Facebook when I saw that I had received a few donations to my Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It turned out I had exceeded my fundraising goal by $30! It really helped put things in perspective to learn that while I was off having a miserable, short, frustrating walk my friends and family were rallying to the cause and helping support me in my upcoming race. So Wednesday ended up being a good day after all!

I gave myself a rest day and felt okay about it.

I made darn sure my GPS was working and set out once again to map a longer route around my neighborhood. I told myself I would walk it but decided I would see how I felt and run some of it if I wanted. I did end up running about a third of it, which felt great. I only ran the sidewalk/road portions and walked the trail portion, and it's a good thing I did because the trails were really washed out and rutted due to some flooding that we had in the neighborhood last week (courtesy of Tropical Storm Hermine, which dumped 15 inches of rain on us in a 24-hour period). I was slipping all over the place just walking it. While I was on the trail a woman about my age blew past me, light and nimble as a gazelle. Sometimes I wonder if other runners feel as weightless as they look! I am a healthy weight for my height but I definitely feel gravity pressing down on me when I run, especially outdoors in the humidity. Anyway, I was hoping this new route would be close to the 3-mile mark so I could use it for 5K training, and it turned out it was 2.7 miles. Not quite as far as I would have liked, but I think I can make up the extra distance by entering a different trailhead than the one I used this time. Oh, and I was able to maintain an overall pace of 14:22, even with all the walking I did on the trail!

So all in all, Friday's run/walk was pretty darn productive and I was feeling good about it. Then I came home and opened my email to find that my "big" 5K that I have been training for all this time had been canceled. It was to take place on a different trail system near here that received much more flood damage than we did, and the trails are just in awful shape right now so they can't do it. That was a little bit heartbreaking, to tell you the truth. I had been looking forward for months to my very first 5K, and this one was going to be perfect because it was happening right in my neighborhood and right after my birthday. Combine that with the fibromyalgia thing and it really felt like a significant milestone. Oh well!

So now I'm setting my sights on the Susan G. Komen race in November. I signed up for the untimed 5K and I'm looking forward to seeing how I do. I would kind of like to pick up another 5K before that, but all of the ones I've learned about in my area are taking place on weekends when we're just too busy to fit anything in.

This week was definitely full of ups and downs, but I am looking forward to next week. The Komen race is all roads and no trails, but I'd still like to work on my trail running a little bit and this will give me time to do it and still recover before the race in November. Onward and upward!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A nice surprise and a new running buddy

Yesterday morning I once again ran the route around my neighborhood that I had run last Friday, when my GPS didn't work. But this time it did! It turns out my wonky multi-block triangular route is 1.84 miles long. I was kind of surprised because I have been taking it way easy with my treadmill runs and am lucky to get to 1.5 miles including cool-down with those lately. Even more surprising was that I was able to maintain a pace of 14:20 while running (and walking, quite a bit) that 1.84 miles! I know that might not sound very fast, but that is a really good pace for me over that distance.

When I got home my hips were on fire (in the bad way) but my knees felt fine. I downed some ibuprofin with my post-run hydration and today my hips are totally pain-free. This has me feeling so confident about my upcoming 5K! I've been in a bit of a panic given the way my treadmill runs have been going, but now I really feel like I can do it. I'm also determined to get off the treadmill and get out on the sidewalks and trails more often from now on.

Speaking of which, I've acquired a new running buddy who will make all that sidewalk and trail running a lot more fun. His name is Rascal, and he is our new standard poodle puppy! We just brought him home on Saturday, after having put a deposit down with the breeder a few weeks before. (I am all about getting a mutt from the shelter, but my husband and kids have severe allergies so we had to go purebred/hypoallergenic this time.) He is too young to hit the road with me just yet, but I have high hopes that he'll be running and walking by my side in another year or so. Can't wait!