Thursday, January 31, 2013

February Goals

Wow -- I seriously don't know where this week has gone! Or this month -- can't believe it's almost February! January really flew by for me. I'm not sure if it's because I have been getting used to a new schedule this month or what, but seriously -- where has the time gone this month??!

January Goals
Get back on the running schedule - start training for March half marathon. Fit in my long runs -- made it up to 11 miles for longest run this month. I'd like to get to maybe 15 before the Shamrock'n Half.
Do speedwork once a week in running. Did not do well with speedwork at all this month. I probably only did one day of speedwork. So, this is staying in my goals list for February. Instead -- I did a lot of plyometrics workouts (via P90x)
Try to get to the pool at least 3 times this month: Actually did GREAT with swimming. Went once a week, and have more swimming on tap for February. I have really been enjoying this.
Finalize your spring race schedule. I think my schedule is pretty firmed up. Lots of races scheduled! Check it out here.

February Goals
Do speedwork once per week in running
Try out running one day per week over lunch
Keep doing core, hip and glute strengthening exercises -- at least twice per week
Stretch for a few minutes every day
Focus on posture during the day (stop hunching over at the computer)

I told TorontoRunner that I wore a super bright workout shirt this week like she did last week (yep, on just a regular day too, not even for working out) and she asked me to post it. So, here it is:

Need your sunglasses for that one? Loving the neon pink! :) I wore it with a sweet chevron BIC band -- but unfortunately didn't get it in the photo. Next time for sure.

I'm so sore today from my P90x workouts this week! Had to do two days in a row rather than every other day because Ryan and I were tired from our bike ride this Sunday. Oops! At least we are listening to our bodies, right? I'll be giving you an update on my first month of the workouts soon -- keep an eye out for that.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dead Legs

Oh my legs are seriously sore this morning!

This weekend we spent a lot of time exercising. So it's no wonder that I'm feeling like I have dead legs.

On Friday, Ryan and I did our usual P90x legs and back day. This one never feels any more difficult while it is going on, but always makes me so sore the next day!! I guess that means it must be doing something.

Saturday we headed to the pool for a swim. I managed to complete 2000yds. It felt harder than last week, but I actually don't think my time was much different. I am really enjoying swimming lately. It's a nice way to get a good workout without putting to much force on the legs.

Then, Sunday I did a short run in the morning (4.5 miles) followed by a 38 mile bike ride with Ryan and our friend Josh. First bike ride of 2013! It was a beautiful day for a ride--about 55 degrees. We had some wind though, so by the end of the ride we were pretty exhausted!

As a fun perk though we stopped in at a new brewery that was ing the route to do a beer sampler and enjoy some more time in the sun. By the way, if anyone is out in Northern California, I would definitely recommend checking out Berryessa Brewing Company. They even had some people playing music.

Needless to say, after all of that my legs were feeling pretty sluggish on my morning ride in. Haha! I bet they will loosen up throughout the day though.

Hope you all had a great weekend too!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Working Out with Tony

Tony Horton that is.

Tony and I started a 90(ish) day journey about two weeks ago into the world of at-home strength training. I have been meaning to tell you guys about this, but somehow the post just hasn't gotten written until now! I've done the P90x program before, but this time around I want to write a few blog posts about it.

image source:

My starting point:
Although I was still regularly working out at the gym, I felt like I was mostly maintaining strength rather than improving. The P90x program focuses on muscle confusion, and therefore an increase in both muscle and cardiovascular fitness. I thought completing this routine again could change things up for me and improve my muscular strength all around.

I won't be following Tony's plan to a T because I want to make sure I have enough time to fit in cardio (running!) workouts (for half marathon training!). So, instead of completing the plyos, kenpo or core synergistics workouts, on some of these "cardio" days I will go for a run or a swim. I also plan to go to yoga at my gym most weeks instead of completing that DVD. In addition, on running race weeks, I may take off from doing the legs day right before the race.

Finally, I also won't be following the nutrition plan. Instead, I will focus on healthy daily eating and limiting unhealthy foods in my own way. While I realize this will probably not allow me to have the best results possible, I want to make sure I am leading a sustainable lifestyle rather than going on a "diet".

In my previous rounds of the program I never made before and after measurements, but this time I am because I'm interested in how much I will improve. (Side note: I don't like to worry too much about weight or size, and I don't think we should compare ourselves to each other, but I am hoping to show some measurable results.)

Overall my goal of completing this round of P90x is to tone up and encourage a total body workout. I have also been struggling a bit at the gym, so I think this will be a good change for me right now.

image source:

Measurements & Before Photos
Day 1:

Looking at my before photos, I think I could maybe improve right away by working on my posture! 

Waist (at narrowest part): 29 inches
Hips (at widest part): 37.5 inches
Thighs: 21 inches
Biceps: 12 inches

I will post some thoughts after each month of the program to let you know how it is going and some of my reactions to it.

Keep Pushin' Play!

Anyone else have strength related goals they are working on? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lovely Long Weekend

Sorry its been a bit since I last posted, but I wanted to have a relaxing weekend away from the computer!

Friday I was stuck at the car repair shop for most of the day after I took my car in for an oil change and they found important work to be done. Boo! Luckily the weather was amazing (finally warming up a little!) and I was able to take a little walk during my wait.

 On an exciting note though, on Friday I won an entry to the Oakland Running Festival! Thanks Pavement Runner! I haven't ever run in Oakland before, but I have friends who live very close to the race start/finish so I'm really looking forward to checking it out!

Saturday and Sunday were typical weekend days with a swim Saturday and long run Sunday. I have been trying to work on my swim form, and I think it is finally starting to improve! I'm planning to buy the Total Immersion book or DVD for some more tips since I have heard it's pretty good.

I also wanted to give you guys an update on my hip/ is starting to feel a little better. Earlier last week I was really feeling good -- I think the exercises you guys recommended have been helping -- Thanks Yum Runner, Cait and Holly!! But, Friday I did a tough legs workout, which caused me to get SUPER sore though Saturday and Sunday. I was nervous about my long run Sunday, and ended up cutting it a mile shorter than I had originally planned. I did some stretching and foam rolling after though, and I think that really helped too. Yesterday and today I woke up feeling great! Seems like I'm on the right track.

Otherwise we spent the days going to the movies (saw the Hobbit -- it was good!) and out to dinner, and watching football (while resting after running). We also went for a walk around the neighborhood one day. Nice to not have anywhere to be sometimes and just relax.

Ryan and I both had Monday off (does happen very often!), so we decided to enjoy the day by going wine tasting in Amador County. It was great to get out with friends! 

What did you do this weekend?

When is your next race? I have my first half marathon of 2013 coming up the first weekend in February! The Davis Stampede!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Strengthening and Stretching

Although I truly enjoy running, and other endurance type athletic activities, I think it is critical to maintain a strength program to keep my muscles from always doing one activity.

Unlike many runners, I actually ENJOY going to the gym and strength training. Many people say they find working out at the gym boring... but I think that if you are prepared with at least an area of the body you want to focus on, or a list of exercise options, you can make it interesting and fun!

Here are some ways to mix it up:

1) Focus on a different part of the body each day you go. While this may not be ideal if you are only making it to the gym one day per week,

2) Try doing some super sets. Instead of just sitting around and waiting for a while between sets of exercises, do two or three exercises in a row. It will help you keep your heart rate up and keep you moving. Your super sets can be focused on one muscle group to make it extra tough, or do a few muscle groups (like, quads then hamstrings) to rest one group before coming back to it.

3) Work out with friends! Just like running, having a workout buddy can make the gym a lot more fun since you will have someone to talk to. Plus, I've found the time it takes your friend to do a set is often the perfect amount of rest.

4) Do a workout video. I don't mean an aerobics video, I mean a strength training one. A few popular options right now are Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, or the P90x program.

5) Do a workout from a weightlifting book or magazine.  A few magazines have great workouts in them like Oxygen or Women's Health. I also have a few Women's fitness books that I really enjoy, which you can see more about below.

Fitness or weightlifting books can help you learn more about building a routine, learn how to do the moves appropriately, or see which exercises target which muscles. One of my favorites is The New Rules of Lifting for Women. This book gives a basic program to follow with two different total body workouts. It describes why women should not be afraid of using weights to have a strong and healthy body.

A second great one is the Women's Health Big Book of Exercises. It not only describes exercises for each body area (chest, back, arms, glutes, quads, hamstrings, core), but also explains why weightlifting is important as well as nutrition and some goal-specific workouts depending on your goals.

If you are interested in understanding more about the muscles used for different exercises and the anatomy behind them, you should also check out Strength Training Anatomy.

Another idea would be to get a weightlifting routine set up for you by a trainer at the gym if you can. These trainers can customize a workout for you, and make sure you are performing each exercise the right way to not get hurt. If you haven't done many weight exercises, they can also help you get a feel for what weight to use.

Can't make it to the gym? There are so many body weight exercises that you can do at home with no to minimal equipment like pushups, pullups, squats and lunges. The Women's Health book I mentioned also describes a ton of exercises you can do without any weights.

Do you have any favorite gym workouts to share?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hip Strengthening?

Out here in Northern California, the winter time weather is usually high's in the mid- to high 50's and lows around the mid 30s. So, this past week when every night was down to about 25 degrees, it made me want to just snuggle under the covers as long as possible.

wasn't actually snowing -- just lots of frost on the ground

Despite the freezing temperatures, the sun made my Sunday morning run bearable. I finished 10 miles with an average pace of 9:20 -- sped up the second half for a nice negative split.

Besides running on Sunday, I also fit in a swim on Saturday morning. I'm really trying to start working on my swimming so I can do another triathlon or two this summer. This week I felt stronger than last week, even though I was exhausted by the end. I think after a couple weeks my shoulders will be much more comfortable.

Outside of the workouts, my weekend was full of other fun things like a date night on Friday night with my main man, and a wine tasting with some friends on Saturday. Sunday we spent the day watching football and eating homemade chicken wings. I used this recipe, and it was amazing. Highly recommend if you are looking for a tasty fried treat.

Sorry for the randomness of this post! But, I do have a running related question. Anyone have some good exercise recommendations for exercises glute / hip weakness? I think I'm dealing with something like that right now on my right side. I'd love some ideas if you have any!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Besides my daily workout, most week days I actually get in a small bonus workout...on my commute to work.

We are a one car family, and my husband needs the car most days to get to work. Luckily there is a bus I can take to campus, but it is a few miles from my house.  To get there, I ride my bike.

My husband likes to say that I do a mini triathlon every day. Haha. First I bike 2.5 miles, then I take the bus for 20 minutes, and finally I walk about 0.75 miles. And on the way home I do them all again! I'd say I get a bonus 25 minutes of biking and 20 minutes of walking most days.
I never count this as part of my workouts--just a little perk. I like that my commute forces me to move my body a little during the week since most of my time is spent sitting in front of a computer. Some of you are thinking this is pretty crazy and it probably wouldn’t work for everyone, but it has been working out pretty well for me for a couple years. I bike in all kinds of weather. Lately it has been pretty cold in the morning (~30 degrees) so I bundle up! In the rain, I put on a full set of gear – raincoat, rain pants, and a cover for my bag so all my stuff stays dry. I don’t think this is a commute that I would do forever, but at the moment I usually like it. Plus, on the bus I can read or take a nap.
Once in a while I will bike the whole trip, about 22 miles. But I have to be more prepared to do that.  The cool thing is that if I want to, I can just bike one direction and ride the bus back home since they have bike racks on them!

Funny side item: anyone a scientist? Have you seen the twitter feed #overlyhonestmethods? So hilarious!!

Anyone else bike or walk to work?

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