Tune In

sickness, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge

I have DVD programs for cardio, strength training, and yoga, and I’ve relied on these for years. On running days, I wake up and I jog the same trail, albeit different distances, on a regular basis. There are good reasons to avoid the same routines and paths, but I embrace the repetition.

Today was a strength day, so I whipped out my barbell set and selected a DVD from my strength program. The workout was surprisingly easy. When I am well, I can finish the hour-long program in an hour.  I compare that to two days ago, when I was in the early stages of recovering from a cold. Fatigued, and probably a little behind on calories, I had to stop every 5-10 minutes for a short break. Tuesday’s hour-long workout took more like 75 minutes.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 6.03.55 PMI like doing familiar routines because it allows me to objectively assess how I’m doing that day. Am I phoning it in, or am I doing my best, even though my performance is lacking? Did I eat enough, did I eat the right foods? Am I doing too much? Should I stretch or rest tomorrow because my body needs a break?

I can ask myself these questions because the routines leave mental space available for contemplation. I think it’s important to tune in daily and assess how you’re doing – mentally, physically, and in all areas really. Since I typically exercise early in the day, I can adjust my plans based on what I’m discovering in my early morning movement.

Do I ever bring in new programs/routes? Yes, whenever it’s time! After all, the point of the sameness is listening to what my body needs. And every once in a while, it asks for something new.

About those kettlebells…

Temple Building

Nearly two weeks ago, I asked about kettlebells. Folks on Twitter, Facebook and my blog responded, and everyone who did had something good to say.

  • It’s fun (men and women).
  • It’s a good workout (men and women).
  • It feels more feminine to me (women).

Out running errands around that time, I spotted a Pilates studio. Kettlebells practically leapt from their signage, and I smiled at the synchronicity. Once home, a quick search brought me to their website, and a phone call led me to their studio this morning.

The studio offers a one-on-one kettlebell fundamentals class. It’s designed to get you ready to join their group kettlebell classes, but I wanted some in-person training on technique for at home workouts as well. YouTube told me there are a lot of interesting exercises one can do with a kettlebell, and common sense told me there are just as many interesting ways to injure yourself.

My instructor was Ingrid, a tall, slim woman with long dark hair. She was friendly and very focused on coaching me in the proper technique. I performed a range of exercises for upper and lower body incorporating pulling and pushing motions, and a swing. The swing she tells often takes weeks or even months to perfect, and she complimented me several times during the session on my form.

She especially made note of the way I didn’t hunch over for various poses where your chest is out and shoulders are wide. That’s something I’ve grown into through a combination of dance and working on moving with grace. I know for sure I used to hunch and shrink. “You’ll advance very quickly,” she said more than once.

Here’s Studio Lotus. This is their Pilates equipment. The kettlebell training was in another room.

Although my ultimate goal is to find more at-home workouts, I do plan to visit the studio for group classes when my travel schedule allows. I can tell I got a good workout today, and I’m sure I’ll have even more evidence (hello fatigued muscles) by tomorrow.

What about kettlebells?

Temple Building
My namesake looking strong and fit.

I’m thinking about kettlebells. I heard of them long ago, but when I saw videos of folks kettlebell routines, I was never moved nor motivated to try them.

A few years have passed and like most things other than liver, I’m reconsidering. I enjoy the building strength aspect of strength training, and although my current barbell based program is fine, and sometimes even fun, I want something new.

One of my friends has recently begun kettlebells. What about you? Have you ever tried them? Did you like them? Why, or why not? Leave me a message in the comments…

 

40 miles

Temple Building
Today I hit my goal of 40 miles.
Today I hit my goal of 40 miles.

 

Each month during “running season,” I set a mileage goal. Most of the time it’s 50 miles, but this August I cut it to 40 so I could add strength training to the mix. Some months it’s down to the wire in terms of whether or not I’ll hit that magic number. In fact, one month it seemed so unlikely, I pretty much gave up.

Last month was another close call. On the very last day of July I ran a personal long of over six miles in order to pull out a victory.

I was very proud of myself, but I’m not a fan of close calls. I just can’t stand the tension. So although today would’ve been optimal for cross-training, I opted instead to head out for the winning miles.

For my troubles, I spotted a deer. And although I wasn’t able to snap his picture, I was able to at least say hi before he dashed back into the woods.

All in all a challenging but satisfying run.

runkeeper FB

Today, again, I ran.

Temple Building

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 10.23.08 PM

And it was a great run, too. I lifted weights yesterday, which means squats among another things. And although my legs started to feel it toward the end of today’s 3-miler, I really can tell the difference. I really love the difference.

I saw my two regulars today. I’ll call Ivan and Dan. I’ve never spoken to either of them except breathless good mornings or smiles or waves. They are both mustached men. Ivan bikes. Dan runs.

Ivan and I often arrive around the same time, which is interesting to me since I don’t have an official start time. But time and again, there we are. He pulls up in his Jeep, unloads his bike, straps on his helmet and rides off into the distance as I’m walking up to the start. We don’t see each other again until the next morning I’m out for a run.

Dan, on the other hand, doesn’t arrive when I do. Most of the time I go out for a stretch – anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 miles – then I turn around and come back in. I’ll usually pass Dan on the home stretch. He’s a walker. His stride is an interesting cross between a brisk march and a stroll, all while his head tilts a bit to the right. In case I miss the gait, the mustache peeking underneath the army green baseball cap gives the game away. And sure enough, the hand juts out in greeting just as we pass.

A few mornings I’ve gone running much later than usual, only to find Dan on the home stretch while I was just starting. And the other day, I took such long rest breaks, Dan walked past me on the way and turned around and passed me again on the return.

I like seeing them. The regulars. The other day I recognized Ivan’s jeep approaching as I was preparing to turn on the main road leading to the Greenway. And when we both arrived, his wave was a little more vigorous than usual. It had been a few days since we saw each other.

Today, again, I ran. And Ivan biked. Dan walked. We waved and smiled good morning.

 

Welcome back, power.

Temple Building
Greenway creek spotted during a run break.
Greenway creek spotted during a run break.

I lift weights from time to time.

It’s not my favorite type of exercise, but I enjoy it enough to give it a go for weeks or months at a time, and the benefits are definitely worth the investment. A few months ago, I retired the weights for a while. It felt more of a drag than a joy and besides, the weather was finally warm enough for running. Like most things that resonate, I knew I’d pick up the barbell again, but I didn’t pencil it in my calendar.

My runs have been good, but really great. My legs had stamina but lacked power, and I didn’t see any improvement in the offing. For me strength is sexy and it was time to bring sexy back.

About a week or so later, I pulled out my barbell and dusted off my Pump DVDs. I decreased my monthly mileage goal from 50 to 40 to make room for strength training. As expected, the first runs post weights weren’t easy:  

But today? Today was a different story. I started off faster and maintained my pace longer. And unlike recent weeks where my legs worked hard to keep up with my lungs, today they put in equal work.

Welcome back power, I missed you.

Can’t build your temple without laying bricks

Temple Building

Today was a cardio day, but yesterday was weights.

I got down.

Weight lifting is interesting for me. On the one hand, I love seeing progress. I can lift the weight with less effort as time goes on and see real strength. My muscles get sculpted. I lift and carry heavy groceries in a single bound.

On the other hand, it’s hard for me to get psyched up to do it. A run in the early morning? No problem. My favorite aerobic workout before sunrise? No sweat. Weightlifting, however, requires some mental gymnastics to get motivated.

But yesterday? Crushed.

I do a full body workout with a barbell and plates. Ten tracks including warm up, squats, chest, back, biceps, triceps, lunges, shoulders, abs and cool down.

When I first started the program (Les Mills Pump), I wasn’t on the road, so I was able to follow it as outlined each day. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been traveling. That and other circumstances as of late led me to take it easy with my workouts. I found what amounts to a comfortable challenge for each track and stuck with it. For weeks.

In the past couple of weeks I decided if I was going to hang out at these easier weights, I’d really focus on form, and I have. But it was time for more.

Yesterday I felt energized, motivated, and ready for a challenge. It reflects an overall mood I’ve been in the past few months – one of action and forward motion. I’ve not yet blogged about my theme for 2014 (see 2013, 2011) but it definitely incorporates movement. I’ve started new projects and made strides in new areas.

And so yesterday, when it was time to get that barbell out, I knew it was also time to kick it up a notch. I increased weights on all working tracks. I worked harder than I have in a long time and it felt great! I was proud of myself all day and flexed my muscles in every mirror.

One of my favorite things about exercising is learning the lessons my body teaches. Yesterday’s lesson? If you keep doing the same things, you’ll find yourself in the same place. Progress requires effort. Lay down those bricks and build that temple.

When you become stuck in a rut
of apathy, your life stagnates,
leading to setbacks.
~Daisaku Ikeda

Great arms, nice donk, and other reasons to lift

30 Day Blog Challenge, Temple Building

I wrote about prioritizing fitness for National Women’s Health & Fitness Day earlier this month. One commenter, fellow FAMUan Peter McKay, suggested I do some posts focused on strength training. It’s something I’ve done off and on over the years. More on as of late.

I’m not the kind of person who enjoys going to the gym use the machines or free weights, but I found a total body barbell-based program that includeds choreographed reps with upbeat music. I believe there are way too many fitness options to force yourself into doing exercises you don’t like. The program I found was a perfect fit for me.

I’m not an exercise scientist, nor a fitness trainer. I am, however, a few months away from 40 and in pretty decent shape. I lift (in addition to running and dancing) because I like the results.

Here are 8 reasons I lift weights:

  1. New acquaintances compliment my arms. They’re not chiseled, but they are toned. I like them.
  2. I feel myself get stronger each session. Who doesn’t love progress?
  3. My energy is high all day long.
  4. Some say I look like a dancer. My core is stronger and my posture is more erect.
  5. I have more power during my runs.
  6. Thanks to squats, my donk looks nice in jeans.
  7. I imagine myself to be a warrior goddess when I clean and press.
  8. I feel sexy when I’m strong. Don’t you?