Tag Archives: progress

My 6-month run challenge: week 13 (on why the barre helps my running)

Earlier this week, as I was dreadmilling it, I realized something (or maybe the better phrase is, I re-realized it!). The barre really helps my running and this little run challenge I’m doing for myself!

Listening to music as I powered through some interval work (which I happily embraced this week…yet another thing I can’t get used to, actually *liking* interval work!), I looked at my reflection in the blank TV screen and I consciously shifted my shoulders down and back. Adjusting my posture naturally as I had started to hunch slightly. The fact that I noticed that instantly and adjusted my posture was so interesting to me. It’s one of the things I am learning during barre n9ne certification, all about proper alignment and how to spot when clients are out of alignment and how to adjust them. And having good posture while running helped me breathe better and feel stronger (maybe the ‘stronger’ part was more mental than anything) and also maintain a strong core, too.

What else have I noticed? My legs are so strong, stronger than they ever were even when I was doing a lot of heavy weight training on my lower legs. My quads, hamstrings, glutes…strong. Able. Pushing me through my run with Meaghan on Wednesday, and up one of my most dreaded hills (even she muttered ‘well this hill sucks!’) and faster than I’ve run before too, I’m pretty sure. Because as I huffed along after that hill, she mentioned we were running 9:15 miles – ! – which is at least 20-40 seconds faster than my normal and even that small increment of speed was hard and I labored, but I did it, thankful for a strong running partner (and patient one, too!) that pushed me out of my comfort zone for 6.4 miles.  Having strong legs is a major factor in how  much better I feel when I run, especially when I run outside. I compare it to how I felt last year and my legs just felt heavy and weighted down (which they were, literally, since they definitely weighed more then too!) and it made each run such a labor, but not in a challenging way, but in a ‘too hard’ way. (if that makes sense).

And lastly? Shin strength. Wow. I don’t think I have gotten shin splints once in the last 8 months or so. This is compared to last year, when I would have to space my runs at least one day, usually two, days apart to rest my aching shins. Compare to to this week and I ran 5 on Sunday, 5.5 on Monday and 6.4 on Tuesday. Zero shin pain. (thank you releves, and uber barre work!!)

It’s been a solid week for my run challenge, with one more to go tomorrow. Depending on how tonight’s 3-hour barre n9ne training goes (with another 4 hours tomorrow!), I’ll decide how far my run tomorrow will be, but no matter if it’s 3, 5, or 7, it’ll be my fourth run for the week, meeting my goal.

What a difference 13 weeks and 8 months of barre n9ne makes.

Happy Friday, friends! Make it a good one, will ya?

**asslap to everyone adding some sweat to their lives, no matter what form it comes in…yoga, running, walking, swimming, kickboxing, barre, you name it, it counts ;-) **

My 6-Month Run Challenge: Week 6

New Year, new tweaks to my 6-month run challenge! Whooooo’s with me?! 😉

As I alluded to yesterday, I am all about unseating comfort zones. And that includes this little run-challenge. Now that I am deeper into it, I think it’s worth adding some tweaks and variety to keep the progress going, while not getting too comfortable in the ‘routine’ of it, too.

So what did I decide?

Change up the intervals, of course.

And add hill tempo/interval-y things.

Eek.

The fabulous Samantha over at Running and Cupcakes (who I got the chance to MEET finally!! Wheeee! On New Year’s Eve, no less, and it was utterly fantastic. More on that later, though, I got a fun idea for a post…end side note) posted awhile ago about a scary good hill climb & tempo interval-ish treadmill workout that caught my eye for two reasons:  1) eek scary, hills AND intervals? Um no. 2) *grumble* I need to focus on hill conditioning.

You see, I avoid hills like the plague. I will re-route my planned route around a big hill if I can avoid it. I won’t even attempt to run on a few of the side streets near my place because they start on a huge hill. Or…worst case, I decide upfront that I will walk them. Bad. bad. bad. I need to quit the avoidance and just learn to run them properly (since I tend to just run as fast as I can up them, poop out and then start wheezing. Doi. Stupid.)

So…after chatting with Samantha to better understand WTF a tempo run is (since I still don’t quite get it, though I get it a teensy bit better now…though I still wonder, why run slow if my goal is to increase pace? But for this run, the purpose of the first half was to burn out the legs, not the lungs, so in this context, I ‘get’ tempo runs. In every other context, I still don’t quite ‘get’ it even though I try…end side note. LOL), and figure out what pace I should aim for, I set out to get this run over with on this morning.

Here’s what I did (some modifications):

1.5 mile steady state at 6.0

1.5-2 mile: .5 incline at 5.5

2-2.5 mile: 1.0 incline at 5.5

2.5-3 mile: 1.5 incline at 5.5

3-3.5 mile: 2.0 incline at 5.5

3.5-5 mile 2.5 incline at 6.0 (whoa nelly, this is when my hamstrings REALLY started to burn!)

5-6 no incline 6.2 (this felt like I was running downhill after that incline!)

AND DONE!

While I did not bump up the incline to 4.0 as Samantha’s plan had, this was my first time trying this and I honestly didn’t want to kill myself or scare myself away from this run, so I took it a little slower, and let me tell you, I was dripping sweat. Everywhere. Gross. (TMI) But those 6 miles freaking flew by.

And what did I notice? My lungs felt great during the majority of this run, even though I was basically running up a steady incline for 4 miles! Steady inclines, vs. straight up kill-me-now hills are my nemesis, so to be able to run this and not feel like I was going to keel over was a huge rock for me! I also noticed that my hamstrings and glutes really took a beating on this run and it’s something I need to focus on more – strong hamstrings – to be able to power through hills consistently. So, long story short? I am thrilled with this run and will be adding it in either weekly for awhile or every other week on my interval day.

I also realized that this is the third week in a row where 2 of my 4 runs will be outdoor. To say that in January is HUGE for me. I literally never run outside from October – April in years past, and to be at this stage and feeling good running outside in the cold is more huge progress. As is being at 7 miles for my ‘long’ runs in January. Usually I hover around 3-5 max all winter and then have to claw my way back all spring. Not this year 🙂

Now it’s your turn…report back! What did you do this week? Anyone doing my run challenge care to report back? 😉

**asslap to everyone adding some sweat to their lives, no matter what form it comes in…yoga, running, walking, swimming, kickboxing, barre, you name it, it counts ;-) **

My 6-Month Run Challenge: Week 4 (and 5)

I’ve realized that when I share updates about my 6-month run challenge that I am posting after the actual week has passed (for example, this is week 5, yet I am posting about week 4), so I am going to combine this post, talking about last week and this week. If that makes sense (last post can be read here)

(and I hope these don’t become boring…if they do, feel free to skip them, I just really would like to chronicle what I am learning and areas I want to keep focusing on each week!)

So, what’s working?

Well, honestly, everything is working! I am absolutely loving this little plan I’ve carved out (with some helpful advice from all of you, friends! Thank you all for weighing in on everything from stretching, to intervals, to cross-training) as it is a) keeping me motivated to keep adding mileage each week and keep to 4 runs per week as much as possible and b) pushing me to run outside more.

What I noticed today, when I went to a spin class (I’ve been doing spin on my own, with the help of Cathe Friedrich’s CycleMax on my iPhone, super useful so I don’t have to go to a scheduled class if I don’t want to) is that spinning is most definitely helping to condition my lungs for speed bursts and labor-intensive breathing (very similar to how my lungs feel when I do intervals, since they both have a lot of what I’d call bursts and troughs). I actually do NOT use my inhaler when I spin, and while I noticed more tightness in my chest, it was bearable. It makes me think that eventually, I can start weaning myself from the inhaler altogether. I tried doing that a few times earlier this fall, but it was a total fail. I think I will try doing it on shorter runs here and there and see if it’s feasible or not.

I’m also noticing that I actually really am starting to LIKE running outside in cold temps. And that is yet another thing I never thought I’d say (in addition to liking intervals! My former nemesis!).

Last week, I ran outside two days in a row. First, one of my best runs ever, and then the next day, Jess and I ran AGAIN outside, since it was freakishly warm. It was super duper windy though, and I felt like my legs totally crapped out about halfway. I went balls-out during the first half of the run, against the wind, and that extra resistance totally did me in for the second half of the run back. I really battled with myself to keep going, but I did, and Jess pushed me even when I took a few walking steps. She’s all “you can recover but still run, come on, let’s gooooo!’

Bully.

(at least she didn’t make me do farklets again!!)

And this week? I ran outside once – with M, no less, and he always shies away from it, since he has worse asthma than me when he runs. But he also admitted to liking it (okay, like is a strong word. He thought it wasn’t AS BAD as he thought it would be. Semantics…). So, we had a nice 5 mile run outside together yesterday, and I loved it! Saturday, Jess and I kick off the first-ever barre n9ne #rundate before the 8:30 Method class…reallyreallyreally excited for this little program to kick off, and hope it takes off, since we’d be running it (no pun intended hehe). So, that will be two outdoor runs again for me this week, if not three…

Because, I am inching my way towards thinking about doing my ‘long’ run at 7 miles outside on Friday. IF it’s not too cold and IF I can possibly find a running partner (ahem). 😉

We’ll see.

Either way, I am stoked at the progress and know that with each week, I’ll get stronger and gain more much-needed endurance (the windy run last week was evidence that my legs need to boost up stamina-wise, since that 6.5 miler took a lot out of me!).

I’m still taking it week by week, but let’s just say that the thought of a half marathon at some point in 2012 is becoming less and less scary for me.

Never say never.

🙂

**asslap to everyone adding some sweat to their lives, no matter what form it comes in…yoga, running, walking, swimming, kickboxing, barre, you name it, it counts ;-) **

My 6-Month Run Challenge: Week 3

Week 3 of my run challenge is in the books! And honestly, with each week, I feel better and better and more excited at the progress.  My legs feel stronger and not as fatigued with the routine I’ve built around it. I am honestly already so glad I decided to do this because if I am feeling this good after three weeks, I can’t imagine how I’ll feel after three months, let alone 6!

This past week is when I realized just how much stretching is pretty crucial to my challenge and to running generally, for me. Because I have the world’s tightest hip flexors ever. No joke. They get downright achy after I run and when I’m sitting all day, and in barre n9ne classes, while we always stretch and the moves are definitely strengthening them further, I find that I need to stretch at least twice a day during the day. I realized this after embarking on one of my ‘maintenance/recovery’ type runs last week, where my legs just felt like lead and would.not.move. Every mile was awful, and I barely made it to 3 miles. Instead of trying for 5, I hung it up, and stretched. And stretched. And stretched some more (thanks for your tips, ladies! Ah the world of Twitter!). Because I had my interval run planned for the next day and I wanted to kill it. And I didn’t want to move it to a different day either (I am super stubborn when it comes to changing up my routine once I’ve set it in my mind. I know, I know, I should chill a little on that!).

And whatdya know? Wednesday came and I knocked out almost 6 miles of intervals!! I extended my ‘rolling intervals’ routine from last week, starting with 1.5 steady run, then starting at 6.5, I ran 1.5 mins, then recovered for 1 minute, all the way through 8.0. Holy fast at that last one. I actually had to hold onto the rails at one point, because I legit thought I’d fall off. And after all was said and done, I felt awesome after, and sweaty like whoa.

One thing I did not accomplish last week was an outdoor run. I was psyching myself up to get my 6.5 mile ‘long’ run done outside on Saturday, but given M was going to do his weight day, I didn’t want to run outside alone. I know, wusstastic. But I ended up having an awesome run inside, my longest dreadmill run to date, in fact! And I opted to listen to music (combo of David Guetta and LMFAO kept me pumped up! This week I shall add Jock Jams. Don’t judge.) and that totally made the miles fly.

This week, I have 1-2 outdoor runs planned and I will at LEAST do one outside. AT LEAST. I have Thursday and Friday off (off through January 3, actually!! Woo!) and have a rundate with my sis and friend Steph planned for Friday, which should be a great way to get that 6.5 mile ‘long’ run in again (will bump that to 7 miles next week. Good timing given aforementioned time off, and I can hopefully run outside at a later time of day when it warms up).

So, once again, what about you? What did you do this week for your own self-challenges? What worked? What didn’t?

**asslap to everyone adding some sweat to their lives, no matter what form it comes in…yoga, running, walking, swimming, kickboxing, barre, you name it, it counts ;-) **

I need to remember this anytime I tell myself I am not a 'runner'

My 6-month Run-Challenge: Progress – Week 2

Again, not my a$$, unfortunately, but I love this pic!

As I kick off week 2 of my 6-month run-challenge (see week 1 here), I am already feeling better and more hopeful that this challenge will do more than just get me through the winter months of running. It will give me the confidence back that I’ve lost and I, for the first time, think this challenge will also improve my pace and endurance. And that last part? Excites me.

I haven’t truly felt excited about running for awhile. Let’s be honest. That half marathon attempt in August truly obliterated it. But then the day I just ran brought it back, gave me the boost I needed to believe I can.

This past week, I ran my very first interval run that I actually liked (whereas last week I blogged about just how much I hated them! Who knew?!). Why? Because of a huge tip from Heather…I am not giving myself enough time to recover from each speed burst. Duh. Why didn’t I think of that?! So, with that advice in mind, I set out to do what I concocted as ‘rolling intervals’ where I ran about 2 miles steady (my 6.0 pace), then did 1-minute intervals starting at 7.0 (through 7.5) and 1-minute rests (3.5 walking pace). Once I hit 7.5, I bumped that up to 1.5 minute intervals and 1-minute rests (3.5 walking pace), until I hit 8.0 (and was at about 4 miles). I finished the last mile out steady state (and felt like my 6.0 pace was practically walking! Ha!). I got off the dreadmill and was SO happy, it felt great. That run high that’s been alluding me? Found. 🙂

The other thing that’s making me so excited about this challenge is in talking to Samantha over at Because I Can, who, just a year or so ago, was having similar breathing issues and was on her own quest to increase her pace etc. She’s run some marathons, half marathons etc., and has kicked ASS (with the help of the awesome @RunBikeSurf!). Her pace is incredible. I aspire to it, quite frankly (perhaps not *as* speedy, but to know in a year, she’s accomplished SO much, just makes me excited at the prospect that I too could improve quite a bit in these 6 months).

She’s been giving me some great advice and tweaks to my weekly run schedule that I think will completely help me in so many ways. For example, on Saturday’s run, she suggested I add in 1/4 mile striders, where I increase my pace be .2 or so for every last 1/4 mile of my run, and that will eventually help me run faster (where that bump up in pace will eventually be what feels more comfortable and my usual pace will feel slow). I took her advice and added that to my run on Saturday (6 miles, for which I fought every mile, I really wanted to quit at 4 miles, my legs just felt like lead) and again, hopped off, feeling accomplished and excited. Hello run high…again!

So, this week, my plan is to again tackle those intervals, aiming for 5-6 miles total. I also plan to do 6 – 6.5 on Saturday’s run (which is a run/barre/run date, so that run will be outside and I can’t wait!! Yes, you read that right! I got some new outdoor running stuff that should help me not fear it so!. I also plan to do at least two more 5 mile runs (maybe even outside on Tuesday with M, again!), this week (goal of 4 runs per week).

So…report back! What about you? What did you do this week for your own self-challenges? What worked? What didn’t?

**asslap to everyone adding some sweat to their lives, no matter what form it comes in…yoga, running, walking, swimming, kickboxing, barre, you name it, it counts ;-) **