December Goal Check-In

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It’s almost time to say “sayonara” to 2015! But before we go, I’ve got one final monthly check-in for this calendar year.

I’ll be doing a more thorough review of the year’s goals in an upcoming post. In the meantime, however, this one’s more about progress made during this last 31-day push.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest:

1. Seeking Balance

After November’s turkey trot, the racing bug bit me hard (if you can call it that…because I’m not able to actually ‘race’). I wanted nothing more than to get a holiday run on the calendar, but cooler heads prevailed in the end when I realized that we had too much going on with baby stuff, holiday prep and travel.

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Instead, Ben and I opted to keep December low-key when it came to pre-planned fitness events. We had enough to keep us busy between work, doctor’s appointments and parties, so workouts ended up becoming more social as a result.

Here’s a tip: If you’re feeling over-scheduled, kill two birds with one stone and make a fitness date with friends. Not only will you get to re-connect, but you’ll also work off some of those extra cocktails or cookies in the process!

2. Training Smarter

Dear Running,

As much as it pains me to say this, we’re going to have to take some time apart. It’s not you — it’s me — and I hate to do this to you because you’ve always been there, but I hope we can try again when the time is right.

Love, Me

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After a decent five-miler earlier this month, I had a no good, horrible, very bad treadmill run mid-month that made me 99.9% sure running is off the table for the foreseeable future. Despite my best efforts — support belt, cushy shoes, hydration, slower pace, etc. — it was uncomfortable bordering on painful, so I cut my planned four-miler in half and ended up making up the difference with walking.

I’m thankful to have made it this far with intermittent jogs, and I’ve been keeping consistent over the holidays with lots of walking and at-home body weight workouts, all of which were much easier when on the road without regular access to a gym. It was all about being flexible, cross-training and modifying when needed!

3. Facing Fears

Aside from this week, I’m giving myself a pat on the back for continuing to make it to the pool regularly. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s quickly becoming a favorite activity because it feels so lovely to give my joints a break from all the extra weight.

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The toughest part remains just getting there, but once I hit the water it’s all good. And I’m pretty sure Baby H is happy, too, because is feels like s/he just chills out once I find my zone while bobbing back and forth down the lane.

And, yes, believe it or not — I’m looking forward to continuing this little tradition into the New Year, too.

4. Pushing Myself

It took a combination of objective and subjective feedback this month to realize that as I enter the 3rd trimester, “pushing” is a relative term — as in, balls-to-the-wall workouts are now a no-no, if not an impossibility. Rather, it’s all about consistency and keeping myself in check…which sometimes proves to be a challenge in and of itself.

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Thankfully, though, I’ve been utilizing a great book from one of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates and fellow preggo, Sharlene Murphy: The Pregnant Athlete. It debunks the myth that you can’t have a safe, healthy pregnancy and maintain a high level of fitness — and it’s been a great source of motivation and inspiration when I catch myself occasionally getting bummed out about what I can’t do right now.

Another tip: Focus on the positive. Just as every pregnancy is different, so is everyone’s range of activity while pregnant; even if you can’t push like you’re used to in one area, there’s a good chance you can still make progress in another.

5. Giving Back

Our lovely LUNA crew was out representing in full force despite of less-than-desirable weather for this year’s Holiday Half on December 13. Of note was the aforementioned Sharlene, who completed the 5k at nearly 39 weeks pregnant, and Katie Wilkes for successfully running her first half marathon. Way to go, ladies!

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And in other news, we’re hard at work assembling our 2016 team. As of December 15, we officially closed applications, so we’re now in the process of reviewing all of them and making some tough decisions (we got so many great applicants; thanks to everyone for your interest and enthusiasm!) before notifying our new team leaders.

We’ll be making the official announcement in January, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, please give us a follow via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts so you can stay in the loop during our upcoming season.

How’d you do with your 2015 goals? 

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Race Report: LifeTime Fitness 2015 Indoor Triathlon

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Although I said I’d hold off on registering for another triathlon until I work on my swim, I couldn’t help myself when I found out that the Indoor Triathlon Hour powered by Life Time Tri and IRONMAN would be happening while I was in Michigan.

In an effort to inspire the community to consider and commit to racing triathlon in 2015, LifeTime Fitness created the event as a way to offer an inspirationally-charged, safe and indoor environment for athletes of all fitness levels to experience the nation’s fastest growing sport of triathlon.

I did a similar event last year at a different location, and while my distances were slightly shorter this time for the same time-frames (damn!) — 10-minute swim/30-minute bike/20-minute run — I can’t complain too much because my training has been consistent but not particularly focused lately.

My wave — the first of the day — started promptly at 8 a.m., so I arrived about 20 minutes early to check in, get my cap and number and get organized in the locker room transition area. And then it was go time!

Swim: 10 minutes = 17 lengths

Clean, clear water and only two people to a lane? Now, that’s how I start to get my swim mojo back.

And apparently my lane buddy, Eric, had the same idea. He’d done outdoor triathlons before but had a bad swim experience recently, as well, so both of us joked about just wanting to just get through that part of every race.

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Since the lap pool there has five lanes, they limited each heat to 10 people. By the time I had arrived, people were already starting to warm up, so I hopped in and swam one length to try to get the pre-race jitters out.

This is about when I also noticed that my wave-mates were a pretty athletic looking bunch. I was one of three ladies, and I could tell quickly that this wasn’t a group who was trying triathlon for the first time; these people were here to kick off their seasons, so I figured I’d just try to keep up.

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My adrenaline didn’t work in my favor because I went out way too quickly. And the combination of being against the wall (aka swallowing back-splash) and getting bumped a few times took me right back to my Olympic triathlon back in April, and I could feel myself start to panic.

This is where the giant countdown clock came in handy, though, because I’d raise my head at the end of the lane and think, You can do anything for five more minutes. Gradually, I got my rhythm back and, thankfully, the whistle blew for us to stop after I’d gotten 17 lengths under my belt.

Bike: 30 minutes = 7.7 miles

Although they gave us a generous 10 minutes to transition from the swim to the bike, the time flew by. I tugged off my suit in the locker room, threw on my Coeur kit and headed upstairs to the bike area that they had sectioned off by the cardio equipment.

For some added motivation, we could watch Ironman videos on the projection screen, so I snagged a front-row seat for the action. I didn’t have my bike shoes to be able to clip in, so I secured my running shoes in the pedals and prepped my nutrition: a bottle of water and a trusty Chocolate Peppermint Stick LUNA bar.

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And we were off again! The music pumping nice and loud, so I tried to ride to the beat and turned down my resistance as much as possible to gain some of the ground I lost in the pool.

I got the feeling that a few of my heat-mates train together because they rode in a group and were encouraging each other throughout the ride, which was inspiring to hear. We pedaled furiously as a small crowd gathered to watch us push onward, still dripping a bit from the pool, but smiling from ear to ear.

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I think the bikes may have been calibrated differently from last year’s race because my just-under-eight-miles seemed like a conservative estimate for how strongly I felt like I was riding (especially after getting a comment form one of my heat-mates to the same effect). But, regardless, I stayed pretty steady throughout, ate and drank consistently, and was proud of my overall effort.

The second wave came up to join us with about 10 minutes to spare in our ride, so we pedaled as a large group for the final portion. Their energy was a breath of fresh air after hammering away on the stationary bike, and just a few minutes after they got settled the whistle blew for our final transition.

Run: 20 minutes = 2.69 miles

We had five minutes to get from the bikes to the treadmills, but they were just a few yards away, so I grabbed a towel and got situated quickly because I already had my Hoka Conquests on.

My heat-mate next to me had a treadmill malfunction at the very last second, so he scooted over to another machine just as they started a countdown to the third and final portion of the event.

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Because I’ve been managing what I’ve self-diagnosed as some SI joint pain (note to self: must continue to work on my lack of ankle mobility, which is likely the culprit!) since my marathon, my plan was to run a conservative first 10 minutes and then gradually increase my speed over the next 10 minutes to warm up properly.

I started off at 6.8 mph and increased to around 7.5 when one of the volunteers came by, daring me, “I think can go faster than that.” Yep, she was right; I wasn’t really out of breath, so I pumped it up a few tenths of a mile every minute or two until I was up to 8.5 mph 15 minutes in.

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I was hoping to inch up the speed to 9.0 mph like last year, but I started feeling a little lightheaded with three minutes to go, so I gritted my teeth and ran on. Maybe increasing the speed wasn’t an option, but I sure as hell wasn’t backing down at that point!

When the final whistle blew, I ended at 2.69 miles. Not PR territory, but a solid performance with an average pace of 7:26/mile, so I’ll take it…especially considering I’ve eaten my weight in Christmas cookies over the past few weeks.

It was also a wake-up call: Fitness-wise, I’m close to what I was last March, so I’m happy to have been able to maintain. Training-wise, however, I’ve got to dial things in better if I want to progress. And, nutritionally, I think I did ok, but probably could have used some extra oomph for the run in the form of Osmo or Tailwind in addition to the LUNA bar.

All in all, it was an event I’d highly recommend, especially if you’re looking to kick off your training with a low-pressure race and get a baseline in place.

Congrats to everyone who participated, and cheers to a successful 2015 racing season!

Barry’s or Bust: Taking to LA to test the ‘Best Workout in the World’

 

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It’s a good thing typing only requires moving my fingers — because pretty much every other muscle in my body is sore today after yesterday’s field trip down to LA for my first taste of the serious sweatfest that is Barry’s Bootcamp.

The Los Angeles-based company, whose popular program combines treadmill sprints and strength-training intervals for hour-long workouts, is coming soon to San Francisco thanks to Adam Shane (owner of the SF franchise). He invited a group of us to see firsthand how the brand earned its reputation as the “Best Workout in the World” among celebs, athletes and enthusiasts alike.

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Among our travel crew were a few of the new Barry’s SF instructors, who just so happen to boast beauty, brawn and brains (we’re talkin’ Ivy league-educated, PhD-toting fit pros here), which is very much by design. Shane hand-picked the team himself, selecting some of the city’s top trainers with a goal of whipping the Bay Area into shape like never before.

On the day’s agenda? A double-whammy workout with not one, but two (!) Barry’s classes — some morning madness at the Sherman Oaks location with master instructor Martin George, and some afternoon abuse with ‘entertrainer’ extraordinaire Seth Gee.

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By the way, get to know these faces — Barry’s SF instructors Tommy, Erica and Tommy — because you’re going to develop a love/hate relationship with them when they kick your ass in class come this spring.

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Back to the workout: Each class is split between high-intensity treadmill cardio and weight lifting moves on the floor. But the real kicker is that the instructors switch it up every time, so you never know what to expect — and neither does your body, which is what makes these moves more effective that some other super-repetitive routines.

Thursday was ‘core’ day, so George told us to grab a few dumbbells and take to the makeshift step stations for a series of crunches, lifts, twists and other forms of abdominal torture. All I know is that I was seriously struggling — and that every bit of my midsection got worked to submission.

And just when I thought I may have to wave my white towel in defeat, we swapped placed with the treadmill group.

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I relaxed a bit as I cranked up the speed — after all, I’m a runner, and the treadmill is my ‘security blanket’ — but after a series of sprints, hills and backwards drills (on a 12 percent incline, no less), it sunk in that there would be no room for slacking off, zoning out or taking a breather during class.

George seamlessly struck a balance between monitoring both groups, shouting out intervals to the runners and counting down sets on the floor, plus orchestrating music and lighting changes while simultaneously giving feedback on form.

We swapped places twice more for a total of three different treadmill segments and three floor sessions each, and before we knew it the class was coming to an end. We did a quick cooldown stretch and promptly collapsed outside in the sun for a few moments to recover and figure out how we were going to make it through another hour of this kind of intensity later in the afternoon.

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After a quick snack (it’s important to refuel within 30 minutes after class to help your body recover and repair) and change of clothes, we headed down the street for lunch and to meet with company CEO John Mumford and President/Founder Rachel Mumford to learn a bit about how Barry’s came about.

The story’s a great one — Mumford recognized the potential in developing Barry’s Bootcamp’s program and lifestyle into a recognizable brand after religiously taking bootcamp classes from Director of Curriculum/Founder Barry Jay years ago. She convinced her husband to invest initially, and then eventually take on business operations and strategic planning — and the rest, as they say is history.

photo 2 (15)After a little time to digest (apparently if you puke mid-class, you get a t-shirt; no thanks), we headed over to West Hollywood to the original Barry’s Bootcamp location for our afternoon class with Gee. I was concerned the session might be a bit repetitive due to the same cardio/core focus as our morning workout, but Gee immediately had us grab a weighted ball and set the treadmills to dynamic mode (you’ve got to propel the belt yourself)…there’s no such thing as the same two workouts here.

Although we followed a similar class structure — three sets on the treadmill and three sets on the floor — the exercises, intervals and overall feel of the session were completely different. In between ‘sprints’ where we ran with all our might on a non-powered treadmill, we did kettleball-type swings, dead lifts and a bunch of Russian twists — but no single exercise on the floor or segment on the treadmill was repeated from the morning’s workout.

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Don’t let those grins fool you — we were happy, but certainly hurting, after a double dose of Barry’s. In fact, after a ride back to the airport and a quick dinner together, most of us looked like this on the plan ride home: Exhausted!

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My takeaways from the day?

It’s a serious workout. Don’t expect to waltz your way through class; although the moves are modifiable, you’ve got to bring your A-game. At more than one point, as I was struggling for just. one. more. rep, I looked around and saw that everyone else around me was hurting just as badly (yes, even the biggest, buffest guys!).

It really works. Not only does the body part focus change each day, but the individual instructors have their own respective styles and moves. You might swap back and forth from floor to treadmill all workout or you might have a 30-on/30-off day, so your body and mind are constantly working to adapt.

It’s ideal cross-training for athletes. As I was telling Shane on the plane ride home, I’ve been slacking on my strength training, core work and interval training in my quest for pure mileage on the bike, in the pool and on the road during training season. So this is an awesome way to mix things up and train away any weaknesses in between — not to mention a great way to maintain fitness during the off season.

It’s damn fun. Between the instructors, lighting and music, the mood in the room is amazing. Very no-nonsense — you’re gonna get a hardcore workout — but you’re not gonna get yelled at or intimidated. You can focus on beating your personal best, or motivate yourself by trying to keep up with the person next to you…but either way, the time will fly by and you’ll be wanting to come back for more.

For more information on Barry’s Bootcamp, check out their website here. And stay tuned, Bay Area friends, for the opening of the new SF location this spring! 

Jump-start 2014 with this ‘New Year, New Outlook’ workout

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Happy New Year! Your motivation is probably at an all-time high — so now is the time to take advantage of the new-found burst of energy.

No gym? No equipment? No excuses. This simple body-weight workout can be done in the comfort your living room (however space-challenged you may be), and the only thing you’ll need is a timer (my favorite is Gymboss) to count down the intervals…and maybe a towel to mop up all the sweat.

The workout itself consists of four circuits of four exercises. Each circuit’s exercises efficiently cover one (or more!) of the following elements: Cardio, Upper Body, Lower Body and Core. If you’re unfamiliar with a move, just Google the name for a list of descriptions and/or demo videos.

It’s an easy way to trick yourself into a quick — yet intense — total body workout and to get that jump-start on 2014’s fitness goals.

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Undo holiday damage with ‘Deck the Halls’ workout

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‘Tis the week of Christmas, and you might be feeling less than motivated to break a sweat amid the festivities. Or maybe you’ve been cooped up inside, and the opposite is true: You’re just itching to burn off some extra energy.

Either way, I’ve got a great solution that’s both challenging and fun — all you need is a deck of cards and some comfortable workout clothing and shoes…no other gear required!

Work through the entire deck (52 cards) if you’ve got the time or the inclination; otherwise pull one at a time, performing the prescribed moves for a set number of cards (e.g. 25 cards’ worth of moves) or duration of time (e.g. 30-minutes worth of moves).

If you’ve got access to machines and want a more cardio-focused workout, add a five-minute warm-up and cool-down, plus five-minute intervals on the machine every five cards.

If you’ve got weights and want to work in additional strength training, try holding them while performing some of the moves (lunges, squats), or mix things up with a set of bicep curls, shoulder presses, rows, etc. after every few cards drawn.

However you do it, enjoy! And maybe even challenge your relatives to get in on the fun to make fitness a family affair this holiday 😉

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Four quick workouts to fight treadmill fatigue

Photo credit: TriathlonMagazine.com

Photo credit: TriathlonMagazine.com

If the heat, humidity and scorching summer sun are making it tough to keep your cool when exercising outdoors, there’s no shame in taking it into the gym (just ask @RunEMZ!).

But don’t waste a workout; rather than running on autopilot, try tackling a new challenge with one of these 30-minute treadmill routines:

1. Take a hike. 

If you can’t hit the trails, mimic it indoors with a workout that combines brisk walking with various inclines to target your quads and butt.

Try this: 

  • Walk at 3.5 miles per hour on a flat belt (zero incline).
  • After the first minute, increase the incline by one percent every minute until it reaches five percent, and stay there for five minutes.
  • Next, lower and raise the belt by five percent every two minutes until you’ve been exercising for 20 minutes.
  • Spend the last 10 minutes repeating the first segment in reverse (starting at five percent incline for five minutes, gradually decreasing the incline by one percent for each of the last five minutes).

2. Roll with it. 

Once you’ve mastered walking at a small slant, it’s time to kick it up a notch and pretend you’re jogging on the rolling hills of San Francisco. Play with the speed, incline and duration to create a program that fits your needs, continually testing your limits to see greater gains in endurance.

Try this:

  • Start slowly at five miles per hour and a one percent incline for the first three minutes.
  • Bump up the speed to 6.5 mph for the next three minutes, but keep the incline the same.
  • Then, slow down to 5.5 mph, raising the incline to three percent.
  • Continue in three-minute intervals, pushing for higher speeds and slopes when your initial levels start to feel easy.

3. Play with speed. 

If sprinting in place for 30 minutes sounds like torture, try a few fun tricks to keep your mind occupied while you rack up the mileage. For example, if you’re watching a 30-minute TV program, try sprinting (80 percent of your all-out effort) during the commercials. Or if music is your motivation, make a special playlist and pick up the pace for every other song.

Try this: 

  • Take a deck of cards and get creative by assigning a speed or incline by suit, color or number.
  • Shuffle, and keep them in an envelope on the treadmill’s control panel.
  • Every two or three minutes, draw a new card and do what the card says, which adds a nice element of surprise.

4. Tone your total body. 

A circuit workout is good for both calorie burning and short attention spans. Sure, it requires some coordination hopping on and off the treadmill to perform a series of exercises in between sprints, but there’s nothing like knocking out your cardio and strength training workouts at the same time.

Try this: 

  • Warm up on the treadmill for five minutes at a light jog.
  • Hop off, and do 15 push-ups and 15 lunges.
  • Get back on the treadmill, jogging for one minute, sprinting for 30 seconds. Repeat this interval pattern three times.
  • Hop off and do 15 bicep curls and 15 tricep dips. Repeat the treadmill segment.
  • Get back off, hold a plank for one minute, and then do 15 shoulder presses. Repeat the treadmill segment.
  • For your final strength segment, do 15 squats and 15 dumbbell rows.
  • Hop on the treadmill one last time for a few minutes to cool down.

“Mix it Up” lower-body treadmill workout

I used to skimp on lower body strength training because legs get enough of a workout during weekly runs, right?

Wrong.

It’s a common misconception that strength training for the lower body is not necessary for people who do a great deal of cardiovascular exercise. But simply moving your lower body is VERY different than strengthening the muscles there.

Regular lower-body exercise not only increases bone strength, improves balance and stamina and decreases injuries to knees and hips, but it also helps slow the physical weakness that is part of the aging process and maintains balance, stamina and confidence.

I learned this the hard way during my last round of marathon training, so this time I’m not taking any chances. Here’s a fun four-miler that incorporates bouts of leg exercises between five-minute run segments on the treadmill:

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For even more of a challenge, feel free to play with the incline. Aim to maintain at least a one percent grade throughout the workout to help prevent shinsplints, but if that’s too easy, adjust it up a few percentage points for a great way to increase the intensity of your workout without having to increase speed or impact on your body.