Thursday, February 14, 2013

2013 is EPIC so far...

     I can't believe that we are halfway into February! What a wonderful year this year has been already! I was so excited about this new year 2013! I had a rough 2012 by my standards and was in need of a fresh start. I learned so many lessons in 2012. I plan on using those lessons to not make the same mistakes twice and truly make 2013 EPIC!
     Athletically, I've learned to keep my chin up, to keep going and to not slack off! Rest is good and needed but not days and weeks of rest! That's just lazy for me! It's hard to stay consistent and get up early and plan ahead. But it is necessary to success! I realized in 2012 when my marathon did not go very well, that I needed to take cross training seriously! When I am consistent with my yoga, Pilates and strength workouts, my running improves. I feel strong. I feel confident. I will not allow my cross training to slack off anymore! I have learned that it is way too important and essential to my athletic goals and dreams! Plus I just feel better!
     Along with staying consistent with my cross training, I have paid more attention to my nutrition. Thankfully, I have developed over the years an incredible will power over unhealthy foods. I just don't buy the stuff! Even if it's on the table at work, I can walk on by without even a second thought. It can be done. You have to decide what you want more. I decided a long time ago I wanted a strong, healthy and slim body! I work hard for that and say no to a lot of things! But don't get me wrong, this girl can eat! I believe in moderation. I plan for times like trips to Disney and Super Bowl weekends!
Marathon Weekend eats at Disney! So yummy!
     I try to eat as healthy as possible every other moment! And my healthy stuff is good! At least I think so! But I enjoy cooking and enjoy all types of foods! I don't say no to veggies! I try to eat fresh as much as possible. I don't buy a lot of things in boxes, cans or bags. I try to stick to the perimeter of the store like I have read in so many articles! It's true! That's where the good stuff is! I always use fresh veggies & fruit - never the canned stuff! When you start to look at the ingredient lists on some of these foods we buy, it can get pretty scary! And the sodium content on items can be really astounding! I'm a control freak - I want to control what goes into my body! That's how I stay healthy! So many people were sick after this year's marathon weekend down at Disney. Flu season is in full swing. I'm as healthy as a horse! And I believe it is because of the level of fresh fruits and vegetables I eat on a daily basis!
A healthy snack - fresh berries & Greek yogurt
Lunch at work - peppers, hummus, avocado on a whole wheat wrap with cottage cheese

Recently, I have been working with a local nutritionist, Marni Sumbol, and she has helped me fine tune my eating. I never liked the idea of food journals and never thought I would ever write down what I ate. However, in order for her to help me, that's exactly what I had to do! She suggested a few tweaks to my daily diet, rearranged the snacks I usually ate to give me optimum fueling and helped me make dinner a wiser meal! I have had so much trouble with dinner! I tend to eat way too much. Too much pasta. Too much protein. Not enough veggies! I love the veggies that I make so increasing my intake of that was easy! I needed to cut back on the protein & carbs. I thought I would be hungry but I wasn't!
A healthy, portion controlled dinner
     Personally, I learned from 2012 to stop settling! I'm not going to compromise any longer for what I really want in my life! Whether it be a relationship or a career move, I have to find what makes me happy. Call me picky, but I'd rather be alone than unhappy. Family and true friends are the best. We meet people through so many various avenues these days! It is so exciting to find a friend who really gets you that you would have otherwise never met if it were not for the social media crazy world we live in today!
My friends - all were met through Twitter! All are fabulous friends!
      Dreams are already unfolding for me in ways I never imagined! And there is so much more to come! I'm going after what I really want. I'm not afraid to ask for what I want anymore. I just do it! It's amazing the results I've had recently! This summer, at a blogger's conference I heard Lou Mongello, from the WDW Radio Show, speak. He said that you have to treat what you want "like a job." I'm working on that. Having a "real" job makes it hard some days, but I have a goal and I will get there. Little breaks keep happening and, as Joel Osteen said in a recent sermon, a shift is coming. I can feel it!

Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
Life is a broken winged bird
that cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams go
Life is a barren field
frozen with snow.
                                                                                   Dreams by Langston Hughes

     I'm so thankful for these lessons learned and for the blessings I have had already this year! I am really looking forward to what's to come because it is truly going to be EPIC!

     How are you learning from last year and making this year better??

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cross Training is KEY!

     A few of my friends and followers have asked about my cross training, so I thought I would do a full post on what I do each week. As a runner, I have always included cross training as part of my training. Unfortunately, I have not always been as faithful to it as I should. I have learned my lesson and am seeing the tremendous benefits cross training has brought to me, particularly during my recent injury as I was continuing to prepare for my upcoming marathon. I did not want to lose any fitness and needed to keep my body strong so that it would be able to handle the distance. Well, if you read my post about the WDW Marathon, then you know it all worked! Here is what my routine looks like.

                          My Weekly Schedule:
Monday: Strength Training & Pilates
Tuesday: Yoga & Run
Wednesday: Strength Training & Pilates
Thursday: Yoga & Run
Friday: Strength Training & Pilates
Saturday: Long Run
Sunday: Yoga

Strength Training:
     My strength training consists of mostly upper body work. With my recent shin splint issue, I have added a few exercises with resistance bands to help keep my shins strong. I have a routine I go through with each workout. It never changes. I add weight or reps as I get stronger or in the case of reps, if I have more time to workout! 
Received this when I bought my weight bench at Target.
     I used the chart that came with my weight bench to develop my routine. I've added various exercises from magazine articles. There are so many different moves you can do and so many tools you can use! I have been buying weights over the years as I get stronger. I'm up to 10 pounders now but I don't use them for every exercise. Some may laugh at this light weight but I like my results! I'm not hurting myself or making myself so weak I can't function the rest of the day!
My various weights, resistance bands, an 8lb. medicine ball & yoga block
     I also have learned that the body is not in perfect health at all times so keeping those lighter weights around is a great idea for recovery from injury! My weight training on average now takes about 30 minutes. I started with 20 minutes and have worked up to this by adding various exercises. I also include incline push-ups and dips in this routine - no weights needed! I would love to be able to do a set of REAL push-ups one day but my body is not there yet!

     Also part of my strength training day is a session of Pilates which usually lasts about 45 minutes. I do this right after my weight routine. I swear by Pilates if you 1) want to help with back pain and 2) if you want abs! Mine are pretty tight - just gotta lose the layer of "fat" to reveal a little more! Who doesn't, right? One caution with Pilates though is that you must use proper form or you will hurt your back! I started with the basic Windsor Pilates DVD and added a few extra moves over the years. The DVD explains proper form and after doing it so many times you will start to hear her voice in your head even when not using the DVD! I basically memorized the routine but also wrote down the moves just in case I forgot.
How my obsession started!
     I have a book that explains all about Pilates, who Joseph Pilates was (yes, that's where the name comes from - a real person!), and great photographs and descriptions of poses to help you do it right. After being told recently that I had "weak hips" and that it would affect my running, I have added some poses from this book as well as a few basic moves to increase hip strength. I'll try anything to get stronger and stay away from another injury!!!
Great book for really understanding Pilates
     This is the one area where I need more consistency! I have been told by several sources that yoga is the perfect compliment exercise for runners. There are books, DVDs and recently I have even seen classes that are offered that are all named some variation on "Yoga for Runners." I have been doing yoga for almost 20 years! I jumped on the bandwagon in my late teens and never got off! I started with a VHS tape at home and went to a few yoga classes at my local YMCA. Recently, I have attended a few classes that are offered for free at my local Lululemon store. These have been really fun because they host a different studio each month so you can try different types of yoga to see which you like best. It also introduces you to local studios and teachers in case you decide you really want to attend classes.
     I have used the same video for years. Again, I have memorized the entire routine so I no longer use the video.
Yea, I know - Kathy Smith? It's a good video though!
I have my own playlist I downloaded from iTunes years ago that makes me feel all -"Eat, Pray, Love" I'm in India at an ashram-like. I love it!
My Yoga Playlist
     My goal each week is to do my full yoga routine the morning of each of my run days. I then run after work in the evenings. That does not always happen (darn bed!) but that is the goal! I also have a yoga app on my iPhone called "Yoga for Runners" that I use after every run. It is a short 15 minute post-run yoga routine and it stretches me out perfectly! Sometimes I just want to get cleaned up or eat after my run but I always make time for this. It is so short there is no excuse for me not to! I am always glad I did the routine!
Great app for pre & post run yoga guidance!
     As with my Pilates routine, over the years I have added extra poses to my yoga practice. Sometimes I just want to try something new or challenge myself. So I have several other DVD routines and a great book to help me get the poses right! One of my favorites when I want to do more than just stretch and meditate is my Yoga Crunch DVD. It's a great workout and there are some really challenging moves! Yes, you can really work up a sweat with yoga and this DVD will do that!
Great Yoga workout!

Excellent book for learning new poses or refining old ones
    With my recent injury I did add swimming to my routine. It is a great workout if you can get access to a pool. My local college campus has one and they offer cheap rates. It was wonderful for keeping my heart and lungs, not to mention the rest of my body, ready for the marathon. Having a low-impact go to exercise like swimming is an excellent way to cross train your body and let it rest from the pounding! I hope to "fit it in" more in the future if for nothing else than to rest my joints and get a great full body workout!
     As you've probably figured out by now, almost every workout I do is from the comfort of my own home. I honestly cannot afford to do it any other way. There is no excuse for not working out when you have your own materials right there in your house. And it really is a lot cheaper in the long run. I have built up my collection over the years. You certainly do not need to run out and buy six sets of weights, fifteen DVDs and a weight bench. Start small and build. I do belong to a gym, Planet Fitness, but I use it only for their cardio equipment on bad weather days or for injury recovery. They are really inexpensive and they do not offer classes. I would love to be a member of a big box gym that offers all the latest classes because I think it would be really fun to be able to try them all out. Right now, that's just not in the cards. I'm quite happy with my "home" results though and will continue to work on consistency. It truly is key in getting the results you want!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Healing & Recovery

Several people have asked about my experience with the Alter-G machine and about my healing & recovery process. So I thought I would share with you my journey so far!


 Seven days before my marathon I decided to see if I could run. Cutting it a little close? Yea! But I needed to test my shin. I was ANXIOUS to test it. I wanted to run. But I was also VERY scared it would only cause me pain. So I decided to test it carefully by using the Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill again. They say everything happens for a reason. My first experience with the Alter-G (read here) just days after being diagnosed with a shin splint was a painful one. I could not even run three quarters of a mile before the pain was unbearable. Lesson: I knew it would hurt to run, full body weight or not. So it would be a good sign if it did not hurt on this machine this time around.
Quite the outfit, huh?
      I arrived at the gym where the treadmill was located and this time so did my trainer! He set me up on the machine and showed me how to use it and I started to walk. I was planning on warming up like usual and then doing 2/1 run/walk intervals like we were planning for the marathon. After about a quarter of a mile warm-up I started to run, a nice easy pace. I was at 60% of my body weight so it felt light and easy. I was running. The distance was climbing. And I kept running. Intervals were out the window. Now all I wanted to see was could I make it to a mile? Or maybe even more!
Look! I'm running!!!
      My trainer left and came back to check on me at about half a mile. I was doing good. I told him about the mile goal. He wandered away again and as I hit one mile he was back cheering me on! I ran a mile pain free! And I was still going! I eventually ran three miles and felt great! No pain whatsoever! I could not believe it! I was so thankful and happy! I had not planned on using the Alter-G again before I left for my marathon but now my plans were changing! I decided to get in one more three-mile session before I left for Disney. It was so good to be running again.
My view from the treadmill...not bad!
     Friday morning at the runDisney social media meet-up would be the first time I ran on pavement in well over a month. It ended up being a blissful and fun 2.5 mile run. I was ready for the marathon, I just knew it!


     After I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon, my trainer suggested I use the Alter-G for recovery runs. I decided to do two sessions of three miles for two weeks. It felt great to just get on the machine and run! It is great for recovery as I was still sore and needed a light run. The reduction of body weight keeps you from pounding so hard and really helps your run feel easier. My second through fourth sessions I even cranked up the speed a little! Talk about effortless speed training! Loved it!
     I ran on pavement on the weekends for my “long” run. I did my Jeff Galloway intervals and it was nice to “hit the streets” again!
Me inside the machine - Great self portrait!
      If you can find a physical therapy place or gym that has the Alter-G machine, I highly recommend it! Don’t try it too soon like I did the first time though! Heal first then start using it to get back out there! And being able to use it for recovery is a wonderful thing! After running 26.2 miles, being able to run and not pound the heck out of your body is great!