Workout Freewrite | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Temple Building

In January 2012, I hung up my running shoes and started exercising indoors.

One month into a 12-week fitness program, I placed a full-length mirror in the living room. I spent six mornings a week engaging in high intensity cardio, and seeing the results from day to day – chiseling, bloating, and stops between – proved motivating.

April 1, I went for my first run of the year. I ran a personal best. It burned, though.

Shortly thereafter, I began another 12-week program. This one was weight lifting (Pump). Normally I dislike lifting. Go to a gym and lift free weights or get on those machines? It ain’t happening, son. In grad school I discovered BodyPump, a full body barbell class choreographed to the latest hits. I loved it. When I recently discovered a home-based version of the same class, it was a done deal.

The first day was glorious. I’m probably the only person who smiled during deadlifts and clean-and-presses. It felt good to know a strong body was in the works.

It takes significantly more mental energy for me to go lift weights than for me to do cardio. This, despite the fact I know a strong body is in the works.

Pump has 10 tracks: warm up, squats, chest, bis, tris, back, lunges, shoulders, abs, and cool down. The lunge track remains the most difficult. The last couple of times I finally managed to finish the whole set. Barely.

I resumed running during the designated cardio days. My July goal was 25 miles. I was up to 50 miles a month when I quit for TurboFire. I can’t believe I waited so long. I missed being outside. And who knew how much thinking and processing I do while running!

July 21 was the last day of Pump. I took a couple of weeks off to give my body a rest from the weights, but I focused on getting in some miles. I surpassed my goal of 25, hitting 36 by the last day of the month.

My August goal is 50 miles. I’m in it to win it.

I’ve been sleepy the past two days. I’m realizing it’s likely I’m just not eating enough now that I’ve returned to a serious workout schedule! I’ll fix that beginning tomorrow. Earlier this year I figured out that even if I don’t feel hungry, midday sleepiness usually means I’ve run out of calories. Totally forgot that. Here I was thinking I needed to search WebMD for unexplained fatigue.

I’ve had a couple of people tell me my body was “ridiculous.” (Shout out to the well-meaning Brit on Twitter who didn’t realize this was a compliment). If I would seriously commit to clean eating, I’d agree more wholeheartedly. I love my body though, especially my donk. Even my here today, gone tomorrow abs.

Monday, I lifted weights for the first time in nearly 3 weeks. It felt great! It was hard, and I broke a sweat. But the awesome thing about lifting is increasing your weight over time, witnessing yourself get stronger. So powerful!

I feel like a warrior goddess when I work out. I’m getting my body ready to do beautiful and important things in the world.

Music and Running

Temple Building

According to this article, music can boost your running performance by 15%. Some of my most satisfying runs have been to music. But some of my fastest have been with no music. Unless you count the cadence of feet hitting pavement and rhythmic breathing as music…

I think a lot when I’m running, and if music is playing, I also match my stride to the tempo. But I also adjust my stride when I find a nice breathing rhythm, too. With music, I’m often jamming while jogging, but not necessarily pacing according to how much energy or breath I have. This is great fun, until the music holds me back. That’s when it’s time to update the playlist, or turn the music off entirely.

Do you run with music, or breath?

After 12 Weeks

Temple Building

It’s April 1st, and today I was supposed to “rest.”

I spent the past 12 weeks doing a high intensity cardio program, TurboFire. I enjoyed it a great deal. I lost body fat and a few pounds (no mean feat when you already exercise regularly), and gained cardiovascular fitness. I also embraced my newly realized love of exercise and made the 6-day/week workout non-negotiable. It reaffirmed my need for routine and structure, despite my love of freedom and flexibility in my work schedule.

I debated long and hard about continuing the program for another 8 weeks or moving on to something else. I decided the fact I was feeling so attached meant I needed to break away and move on. As of next week, I’m beginning a new regimen – Pump (a full body weight training program) 3 times a week, plus cardio (running) 3 times a week.

So that brings us to today.

I ventured outside for my first run of 2012! I wish I could say it was glorious. It was definitely a good run, and I know for sure my cardiovascular fitness has improved. Breathing was easy and I had plenty of air, even when I pushed my normal pace. The problem? Lack of “rest.”

TurboFire is all choreographed kickboxing, squats and plyometrics. Running four miles was easy on my lungs, but my glutes and quads had commentary.

A lot of it.

I had to walk a little bit and/or slow down during the burn. Still, I’m excited to report I hit a new personal record:

1st run of 2012 = personal record!

My previous PR was my last run of 2011, so it’s a happy surprise that my new one is my first run of 2012. Here’s to continued temple building.

Don’t have to like it to love it.

Temple Building

In recent weeks I’ve started to pay more attention to myself. I used to be fairly good at this, but in the hustle and bustle of daily life, meetings and must-dos compete for my attention, and my inner voice often gets silenced in all the noise.

Tuning into myself as of late, I’ve noticed that I really enjoy exercise. I’ve been running for a couple of years now, but I don’t run every day. In fact, I strive not to run every day because of its high impact on my already injury-prone body (thanks to gymnastics, track, and cheerleading in my youth, as well an awful, yet persistent, habit of sitting with one leg underneath me). So I’ve been purposely scheduling off days to rest my body, and also, depending on my schedule, to sleep past o’dark thirty.

But I’ve finally discovered that my day goes and feels differently depending on the inclusion or exclusion of exercise. Even if it’s a short walk to run an errand, or dancing around the house, I just feel better when I make a concerted effort to move. Chalk it up to endorphins, but stagnant energy is transformed, and I have momentum to keep it moving.

The hardest part, of course, is getting started. Some mornings it does take a bit of self coaxing to get out of bed – especially if the weather isn’t ideal or I haven’t slept as much as I’d like. But invariably, if I get past the “Don’t wanna!” stage, I always find myself at “So glad I did!”

With that, I’m striving to exercise more frequently, even if it simply means dancing out to Beyonce’s Get Me Bodied a couple of times.

The inner voice says it’s ready to move. It’s time my body listened.

Shout out to my line sister Dina, for sharing this great video recently.

Personal Record

Temple Building

Today I claim total victory. I ran a personal best, smashing all of my previous times for an average pace below 10 minutes a mile.

This is huge news for someone who never thought she’d run distance for fun, and who once believed the occasional dip below a 12-minute mile was cause for celebratory cheers.

Typical pace from earlier this year.

And this, in a nutshell, is one of the things I most love about running.

Running is a daily opportunity to set tangible goals and work toward them. Funny thing about running – it brings you face to face with reality. Sometimes the weather isn’t cooperating; do you run in the rain or sweltering sun anyway? Sometimes your body isn’t cooperating; do you wrap the knee or rest it? Sometimes time isn’t on your side; should you cut your run in half or just wait until another day? Or maybe the laundry has piled up; do you wear those uncomfortable shorts and hike them up the whole time, or…?

Decisions. It’s extremely rare when I can say my run and the stars are in complete alignment. Despite the snooze button, my failure to wash clothes, Mother Nature’s quirks or anything else, I often decide to run anyway.

And maybe today’s run sucked: I was slow, it was hard to breathe, I was hot, cold, etc. Maybe today’s run was perfect: I hit my target pace, I had great form, it was a glorious temperature with a refreshing breeze. But true glory lies within the confines of whatever the circumstances are. In other words, no matter what, I have the opportunity to do my best – realizing that “best” may look very different under varying circumstances.

Today’s circumstances were pretty favorable. And in the past week I’ve surprised myself, shaving two and a half minutes off my “typical” total time. For the first time since I began running over two years ago, the 10-minute average pace was within my grasp!

Monday’s run was literally a couple of seconds shy of the 10-minute pace. I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as I yanked my skort up and down throughout the run, finally stopping to give it a good pull.

This is what a wardrobe malfunction will do.

Going out this morning, my aim was what it always is – to have fun and do my best. Honestly, I didn’t think I had it in me to top that 10:01 pace today. Usually, I run fastest after more than a couple of days of rest. When I touched the gate at the end of my run and stopped the clock, I cheered my time. 39:10 (9:48 average pace). Total victory!

Now that’s what I call a personal record!

I have no idea what my next run will be like. Will it be warm or chilly? Will my knee be irritable? Will I add back all the time I’ve shaved? I don’t really know. But I do know that I’ll enjoy my run, and I’ll do my best, whatever that means at the moment. In the end, I can’t win in the past. I can’t win in the future. I can only win in the present moment. And so can you.

Beats Per Minute

Temple Building

So yesterday Erika asked what’s on our running playlists. Now, I’ve had two versions of my playlist (3 mile and 4 mile) for over a year. It’s important to say up front, I spend countless runs skipping through songs and testing sequences to get my playlists just right. Once they are, I tend to use them until I outpace them. Nerd, OCD, whatever. I like the music to be energizing, but I also like to sync my steps with the beat. This means the BPM has to be perfect.

Some of my best songs come from pre-made cardio fitness compilations. They’re the right BPM and are already cross faded to blend nicely from one to another. I then mix in songs from my personal collection and voila!

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) my pace is quickening, but my playlist (namely the 4 miler) has remained the same. That means it’s time to rearrange, test new songs and the like. I tried mixing things up today for the first time. Catastrophe.

That’ll be a new project, but for now, here’s the answer to the question. I am generally done with my run by the end of track 10, but the other songs are there for cool down, and the occasional 5 mile stretch.

My usual 4 mile playlist. I'm generally done by the end of Track 10.