Thursday, October 31, 2013

Shifting Focus?

At my recent PT appointment I had (or rather, was given) an "aha moment". 

One of my biggest frustrations right now is going to the gym for hours each week, doing every strength exercise I can, but still not being able to fend of injury. Isn't building strength supposed to be the holy grail for runners and injury prevention?

Well, apparently it's not necessarily that easy. Who knew?

So, I was complaining to my PT how my back hurts, my hamstring hurts, my IT band hurts, my foot is achy . . . and wasn't all of this supposed to be gone now that I'm not running? What gives? He explained that you can be quite strong, but still not recruit the correct muscles. For instance, you can do lunges all day long for your butt, but if your body isn't recruiting the butt muscles to do the lunges, then it isn't really going to help. 

Some of us need more help with our fine, small muscles before we start focusing so heavily on our big strong ones. Well, huh

My PT worked on my back and core some (OUCH) and taught me a whole bunch of new basic exercises to help strengthen my core, my butt and my hamstrings. 

I left the appointment with a list of things to do 3-4 times a week-- and it's seriously going to take me easily 30 mins each time I do it! But I made me think, maybe instead of ramping up my strength training, maybe I need to reign it back in a little bit. Instead of loading up a barbell for back squats when I get to the gym, I can do simple, specific "donkey kicks" and keep focused on my back and core to make sure that they are properly engaging as I do them. 

Of course, it's not an all or nothing thing, necessarily. I can still go to the gym and lift my weights, only now it's under the caveat that I'm really focusing on my core while I do so. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Latest Obsessions

Here's another really scattered post for you. I bring you my latest obsessions:

1. I sort of refused to listen to Miley Cyrus's latest (is it the latest?) single "Wrecking Ball" because the video is so god awful. But then I saw her perform it on Saturday Night Live and I let myself fall in love with the song. Hannah can SING, people. 

2. While picking up dried seaweed and Clif bars at Costco I discovered my latest must-have gadget:
Samsung Galaxy Note ® 10.1 WiFi 16GB Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0
It's the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. It's literally just a giant version of my cell phone, which, by the way, I freaking LOVE. How cool would a bigger version of it be? The answer is very, very cool. 

3. I have been ordering clothes off of the interwebs like a crazy person. Unfortunately, I have also been returning about 90% of what I have been ordering (not only am I super hard to fit at 6' tall, but apparently I am super picky, too!). I got a box of workout gear from Sierra Trading Post and was super excited that I managed to get my hands on this fantastic top that looks cool AND fits my long torso!

What is driving me CRAZY is that I can't find a back shot of the one I bought. Mine is just like this, only in gray. The detailing on side is so funky and different, I'm a big fan. 

4. This following one is an obsession, just not a good one. You know how I quit running for a little while so I could spend some time not in constant pain and feeling good and getting stronger? Well it turns out that it isn't just running that my body hates, it's just about every exercise that I love to do. I'm still having almost constant hamstring and IT band pain, as well as my achy-breaky foot and now my lower back has joined the party. Wahoo! I don't even know what's going on with my back, because I woke up last Saturday with it crazy sore and I didn't even work out on Friday. 

5. As we steam-roll right in to three holidays that are sweets-heavy, I am feeling obsessed with not letting myself slip down the rabbit hole of inhaling every sugary treat that comes within 50 yards of me. I wish I knew exactly how I was going to make this happen . . . . so I'll just have to work on that. Any suggestions???

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Scattered Post

I have lots of little things to write about.

1. I have been doing more research on becoming a certified personal trainer. It's kind of exciting to think I'm moving in a direction that is something for ME and maybe even potentially a career? We shall see, don't want to put the cart before the horse, as they say.

2. My darling hubby turned 40 this week. FORTY! It's kind of unbelievable, because when I was young and my mom turned 40 she was old. But now? My husband isn't old. I'm pushing forty, and I'm not old. My friends who are all over 40 aren't old . . . . it's kind of mind-boggling. Matt looks so young, I joked with him that some day I will be accused of being a cougar because I will look older than him (even though I'm 4 years younger). 

Matt and Iris about to dig in to their sushi.

Anyways, we went out to dinner and Menchie's the night before his birthday because he wanted to be able to go to Eloise's soccer practice on his birthday since he is a coach. What a good dad! Of course, we had a little party before soccer, because hello! 40 is a big deal!

3. I am doing some "fun" things with my PT right now. He does muscle activation technique, so he does all these weird little adjustments to my feet and then has me stress them, then he adjusts some more and, well, I don't really understand the whole thing, but he is really excited about how it should help me and believes 100% that I will be running again healthier than ever. I love that attitude! 

4. Along those lines, my hamstring and foot were hurting again after my last few days of exercises. UGH. My last workout before a day off included running a lot of stairs, which in hindsight maybe wasn't the best idea ever. 

5. Since this is happening as I type, I will include a picture of my 2nd grader practicing the same math my 4th grader is doing. The back story is, I volunteered in Iris's math class today and was totally blown away watching them do multiplication and division in a completely different way than I was taught when I was that age (well, we didn't learn this level of math until we were a little older, but I digress). Tonight for homework Iris and I were showing Eloise how to do a two-digit multiplication problem and she was totally following along, so I kept going. She understood it and is now working on her fourth problem of the evening. I am cracking up because she doesn't understand some of the basic addition involved (she hasn't learned that, yet) but is getting this much more complicated stuff. 

Eloise conquering the big math.

If you are interested, she is doing the "area method" to solve her equation. You can google for videos if you are so inclined! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This Past Week (or so) of Workouts

I finally feel like I had a solid few days of workouts. Whew! 

Warm-up, then-
*15 mins elliptical
*3 sets of pistol (one-legged) squats. I am supposed to do twice as many on my weakling leg (the left), so I did 10 on the left and 5 on the right for each set. 
What I am working on with my pistols, and what you should pay attention to, as well, is keeping your hips level, your butt back, and your knee tracking over your foot (not collapsing in). I will venture to say it is "easy" to do a pistol with bad form, but much harder with good form! To make them a little easier to do with good form, stand in front of a mirror and hold on to something to stabilize yourself. 
/*3 sets of 10 inverted rows
\*3 sets of 10 push-ups
*3 sets of 10 lunges w/ a 20# dumbbell in each hand
/*3 sets of 8 cable squat rows
\*3 sets of 5 hanging knee raises
*2 sets of 10 "Pink's Plank" (walk out to plank, do a walking plank, then a knee tuck on each side, and that's one!)

walk the doggy

Warm-up, then-
*12 mins of HIIT on the rower
*Dirty Thirty

Thursday: off

Warm-up, then-
*10 mins HIIT on rower
/*5 sets of 6 pull-ups w/ the band
\*5 sets of 6 back squats w/ 65#
*3 sets of 6 bench press with a 20# dumbbell in each hand 
/*3 sets of 10 Russian twists w/ 25# plate
\*3 sets of 10 walking planks
I loved this workout. I had to go to the gym really early so I was home in time to shower and get ready and get to work by 8:30. There is something really nice about being up and moving before the sun-- though I'm glad it's not a regular occurrence for me! I also walked the doggy after work. 

*20 mins rower
*stretches and pistol squats
*100 10# wall balls
I wanted to make this an easier day, and I think it pretty much was. The wall balls were intense, but that only took me about 5 mins or so. 

Warm-up, then-
*10 mins of elliptical
/*3 sets of 8 clean and presses w/ 45# bar
\*3 sets of 8 thrusters w/ 45# bar
*3 sets of 10 single leg dead lifts w/ 25#/30#/30# dumbbells in each hand
*3 sets of 8 hip thrusters with 25# plate (first set I used both legs, the last two one leg at a time)
*3 sets of 8 tricep dips
*3 sets of 4 (on the right) or 8 (on the left) overhead lunges with a 25# plate
*3 sets of 8 hip raises on the weight bench 
This was a fun workout, and I decided to write it all out while I was on the elliptical instead of winging it. I also did this entire workout in the weight room--usually I'm all over the gym using different stuff. Not even sure how long it's been since I have done that! 

A friend that I used to run with wanted to get together and do a non-running workout-- it was great, since I can't run and she wants to do more strength! I felt like she was sort of looking to me to make a suggestion for what we should do, so I came up with something really simple. We met somewhere that had bleachers and did three rounds of running up and down all the stairs--so nine times up and down, I think (this doesn't hurt my foot like regular pounding during running) and then we did 10 push-ups, 10 tricep dips, 10 squats, 10 sit-ups and 10 lunges. We repeated this four times and ended with another round of running the stairs. My friend seemed to really like the workout, so that was exciting! She is a marathon runner who needs to incorporate more strength in to her schedule. I thought it was fun, but not very challenging. Maybe it would have been if I had picked up the pace and stopped gabbing so much, haha! 

Anyways, I have had this little bug in my brain for a while about the idea of becoming a personal trainer. It was fun to sort of act as a little personal trainer today, and I got excited thinking about doing more workouts with my friend, if she wants to. When I came home I googled "how to become a personal trainer", because, well, duh, that makes sense, right? (no really, I have no idea). Anyways, that's a stupid thing to google because there are no clear answers. It seems like there are a million different roads to take, so I should probably start by talking to people who have been there/done that to see what they think. 

Did you have a fun week of workouts? Ever google "how to . . . . " and gotten no clear answers?  

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Salmon Field Trip

I was recently lucky enough to chaperone my fourth grader's field trip to the Cedar River to watch sockeye salmon spawn. It kind of blows my mind that I have lived in Seattle for more than a decade and have never once witnessed this with my own eyes.

All those oblong reddish things are the salmon.

In short: it was very, very cool.

The first thing we saw before even getting to see salmon was a pair of bald eagles hanging out in trees right near us. I don't think I had ever been so close to an eagle in the wild before. 

The kids in the class knew more about salmon than I do (which isn't hard, I basically know nothing about salmon) so I spent the day absolutely soaking in the information shared by not only the teacher, but by my daughter and her classmates and the other chaperones on the trip. 

Iris hanging out by the river.

We learned about the path the salmon take to get to this river, which is not an easy feat, coming in off the Puget Sound, then going through a set of locks, down the ship canal that puts the salmon through two lakes (Lake Union and Lake Washington) then they swim south to the bottom end of Lake Washington before they start heading up the Cedar River. I never, ever knew so many salmon made their way through Seattle's waters. I have no idea why I didn't know this, because I have visited the salmon ladder at the Ballard Locks before, I guess it just never occurred to me where they ended up after that! 

Sneak attack selfie. 
(p.s. that is my new favorite scarf. 
I wish I had a better picture of it to show you, but it's this one from H&M.) 

We learned about what makes an environment good for salmon (like lots of small rocks on the river bed and a windy ((as in, it winds back and forth)) river so there are spaces for salmon to rest). We also learned what doesn't make an environment good, like all sorts of pollution, and invasive species choking out trees along rivers that are necessary for shade.

This was my favorite picture of the day, which is how it look after I "instagrammed" it. 
It looks like a painting, doesn't it? I wish I had a watercolor of this. 

We learned quite a bit about the ways that humans have totally wrecked the natural flow of a salmon's life and their ability to spawn, which shouldn't have been as big of a surprise to me as it was. It turns out that basically all of the salmon we saw were a result of local hatcheries. It was uplifting to know that humans are trying to do some good, too. After messing everything up first.

After we finished at the first part of the Cedar River we loaded back on to the bus (oh, I don't miss those stupid yellow busses!) and went to check out a weir.

The picture above is overlooking a weir. This weir is at the mouth of the Cedar River and it is designed to trap sockeye salmon in a pen. the pen is in the middle, and there are "gates" on the left and right of it, preventing salmon from getting through, so they end up swimming in to the pen. The weir is designed to only trap sockeye salmon, and they are collected from the pens (if anything other than a sockeye is trapped it is released) and then trucked to a facility that harvests the eggs and sperm and makes new little sockeye salmon and puts them back in to the river. I didn't exactly understand every detail of why this was necessary, other than, if this didn't exist, the sockeye wouldn't really be able to reproduce in the numbers they are now. You know, because humans wrecked everything. 

These kinds of field trips are my very favorite. I have been to the zoo three times as a chaperone (three times too many, if you ask me) and I find those trips just horrible and exhausting and, honestly, not that educational. Everything about the salmon field trip was not only educational, but a lot of fun. I personally feel like connecting kids to animals and the environment in this way will do a lot more for solidifying a love for protecting the environment than checking out exotic animals in pens. 

But what do I know?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Deadly 30

Wednesday's workout was 12 minutes of HIIT on the row machine and then Blonde Ponytail's "Dirty Thirty". I would like this workout to henceforth be known as "Deadly Thirty". If you finish the workout alive, you win!

I am a bit of a HIIT wuss, so my time on the rower went like this: 3 minutes at a comfortable intensity, 1 minute at high intensity, 2 minutes comfortable, 1 minute high, 2 minutes comfortable, 1 minute high then 2 minutes cool-down. I think when I get less wuss-like I can do my high:comfortable intervals a little closer together. I feel like I could do the rower all day at a comfortable pace, but the second I thorough in the high intensity I feel like I am going to die.

Have you ever used the rowing machine at the gym? I would never have tried it before my trainer made me do it. Well, I would have never ventured off the elliptical without her, but that's another story for another day . . . Anyways, my trainer taught me good form and what a HIIT workout looked like on the machine. If you're interested in venturing in to the land of the row machine, check out fitknitchick's post about just this very topic! She even has a great workout listed at the end of the post. 

Back-tracking a bit, while I was warming up for my workout the idea of doing the Dirty 30 workout came to my mind. For the record, I typically hate these kids of workouts, but I am no dummy, I know how great they are for you, so I do them anyways. I really hate that they make you feel like you are going to puke and/or die, but it's for a relatively short amount of time, then you're done! You can go as fast or as slow as you want, but the catch is, the faster you go, the worse you feel, the slower you go, the easier it is . . . but typically you will just want to get this sucker OVER with. 

I was super pleased that I finished a few seconds faster than I did the last time I attempted it, even after doing the rower first this time. Yay! 

The Dirty 30 is 30 each of:

1. Power lunges
2. Walking planks
3. Squat jumps
4. Push-ups
5. Butterfly sit-ups
6. Split-jack lunges
7. Plank jacks with knee tuck
8. Skiers
9. Sumo squats
10. Burpees

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happy, Happy Birthday, To Me!

Well, it's official. I am another year older! My birthday was this past weekend, and I know it's selfish to say, but my birthday is probably my favorite holiday of the year. It falls during the middle of my favorite month and, well, I get to eat cake and ice cream, and what's better than that? 

This year we chose to visit family in central Washington for my birthday. It was nice to not have to be at home so I didn't end up spending the whole day doing chores or something else lame. Instead, we all went to a farm where we picked some apples, checked out the pumpkins, went for a hay ride, watched a pumpkin cannon do it's thing, and had some treats. Much better than chores!

My big gift this year was a new cell phone. I wanted to put off getting one for a while as there wasn't a lot of room in the budget for one right this very second, but my previous phone was fading fast. Luckily T-Mobile has a new deal where you can pay off the phone monthly with no interest, so that's what we signed up for, easy peasy! 

I got this new beauty (it's the Samsung Galaxy S4):

Oh it is so, so, SO nice, you guys! It makes my old phone look like I using a piece of driftwood. I had always thought I would transition to an iphone now that T-Mobile has them, but it turns out, I'm an android girl through and through. My ONLY complaint about not getting an iphone is that it's so much harder to find cute phone cases when you don't have an iphone! I went to Target today and they literally had an entire aisle of iphone cases, and like 4 of every other brand. Combined. 

The other big thing I did this weekend was not exercise. It was intentional, I meant to . . . I just didn't. I am starting to see the immediate effects of not having a tangible training goal. Why does it matter if I miss, oh, three days of workouts? It doesn't! Aaaaaand, cue slippery slope . . .  I went to the gym today and felt okay. It is definitely hitting me how lonely it is to work out at the gym by yourself. I hate it. Joining a crossfit gym is likely going to happen sooner rather than later. 

Without further ado, here are some fun photos I took with my delicious, sexy, amazing new phone. I was too lazy to edit these, so they are SOOC, er, P. 

This guy owned the farm we were at and built the pumpkin cannons behind him. 
He was explaining how they worked. And yes, they were super cool! 

The girls looking at pumpkins. We only brought home tiny ones since 
we didn't have room in the car for giant ones! 

The girls eating some popcorn before heading home. 

My birthday cake! Yum, yum. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Slo-Mo is Evil

On Wednesday I had an appointment with another PT who works in the same practice as my other new one. She has a slightly different area of expertise so it made sense to check in with her. 

My appointment was humbling, but only in the very vainest of ways.

You see, I had to be video taped running on a treadmill, running across a room and running up and down the sidewalk. Then, horror of horrors, I had to watch the video with my PT. In SLOW MOTION. Everything jiggles and flops when you run in slo-mo. How did all of those beach babes make it look sexy in movies and tv shows? I sort of looked like a loping cow with wayward skin. Now I want to hide. 

All of that aside, it was a fantastic visit and I got some valuable information. One thing that is hilarious, but also mostly frustrating, is that in the process of working so dang hard for my mid/forefoot landing I inadvertently brought on my stress fractures. Since my second metatarsal is longer than my first, landing on the forefoot is putting a lot more pressure on that metatarsal than if I was, say, heel striking. Some justice, huh? Fix one problem and create another! My PT did say I had really decent form overall, but it was just unfortunate that my bone structure isn't a fan. There are a couple of more minor tweaks I will work on with my form, but I was glad that there wasn't anything glaringly hideous, which means that the work I have been doing over the last year plus hasn't been in vain! 

The other thing my new PT did was cast my feet for orthotics. My feet have all sorts of issues, unfortunately. My PT seems pretty sure the orthotics will help eliminate future chances for stress fractures, so that's reassuring. I get to pick them up in three weeks. 

Shifting gears a bit, I wanted to tell you all about this awesome boxing workout I did with my friend Sarah on Monday. It was an absolute blast and I felt so tough! 

A local boxing gym has classes that seem to cater to just about anyone who wants a tough workout. Some people there were obviously much more skilled boxers, and in very good shape, but if you weren't in great shape, you could easily scale the workout. To warm-up we did a ton (a TON) of jump roping, then a series of jumping jacks, mountain climbers, a sort of squat jump and high knees. Then the trainer set up a circuit in the gym and everyone got a partner. I was glad to be partnered with Sarah, as we are really, really good at yammering our way through a workout. We did three minutes on, 30 seconds off of about 12 or so different stations. We rotated through things like throwing specific punches at a bag (there were a lot of these), a speed bag (loved that one!), doing ab work, hanging from a bar and lifting knees to chest, and getting in a little mini ring with your partner with you and your partner taking turns holding mitts that you punch at (clearly I have NO idea what the proper terminology is for that!). 

It was crazy amounts of fun and I loved every second of it! It was very hard, I was covered in sweat when I was done, but I felt like such a badass the whole time. I really want to take private lessons and learn how to really throw a punch. I also think I need to purchase my own gloves and hand wraps . . . because sharing them is really ewwwwww. 

If you live in Seattle and want to try a boxing workout, send me a note and I will direct you to this gym! If you don't live in Seattle, come visit me and I will take you to class! 

Have you ever tried boxing? How did you like it? 

Ever run in custom orthotics? Were they a life saver? 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Where to Go With My Posts

Okay, I am under no false illusion that posting my workouts each week (running or otherwise) was of much interest to anyone but me-- but now that I'm not running, I am not sure if I should keep posting my workouts. 

I log my strength workouts in a book at home that I bring to the gym, so I always have those at the ready if I need to refer to an old workout, or to track progress. Writing them on the blog is just another record, a digital one, and maybe those posts also serve as an inspiration, motivation, or just a source of information for anyone looking for any of those things. I certainly hope so, but I'm not really sure who reads those posts after they go up. 

Some weeks I get so busy that my weekly wrap-ups are the only thing I get to post all week long. I would hate if: a) the majority of my posts are just workout updates, or b) if I don't post my workouts, will the blog sit quiet more than I would like it to? 

So that's what's on my mind right now. I am actually kind of hoping that I can keep with semi-interesting things to say about my workouts, and try out lots of new things to report on!

Today I did a boxing class and I would love to share about that experience! It was so much fun. And it was nice to be out of my typical gym routine.

I also think the hardest thing about letting go of running for a little while is that I loved the change in routine between strength and running workouts. I loved getting outside to run and then mixing it up with the time in the gym, too. Now, it's all sweaty testosterone dude-filled gym, all the time. I love to lift weights, but that environment gets a little old! 

How do you vary up your strength routine so you don't get burned out on being at the gym? 

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Hardest Job Ever, and a Big Decision

Thursday was a tiring day. I volunteered to chaperone for Eloise's class's trip to the zoo. Holy cow, it's a lot of work. I think it's a lot of work to even be in the classroom with kids all day, and therefor, I conclude that being a teacher is the hardest job ever. Not just physically, even though walking around the zoo for a few hours can be tiring, but I think it is more mentally. Especially as an introvert, because even as an introvert I can enjoy the noise and commotion of a classroom full of small children, but then I come home and just need some quiet. Like even a whole day or more of quiet. Like I need a vacation now. Last year I worked quite a bit in the classrooms at my girls' school, and I hope to be able to do that again this year, so I will probably have to work up my tolerance to chaos.

This morning before I dove in to chaperone duties I got up super early (well, early for me, it was 6:00 am) and went to the gym. It was dark until about half way through my workout, and it was a bit discombobulating to be going to the gym in the dark. I basically never do such crazy things. The workout was good, but hard from start to finish, and not because I picked hard things to do. Definitely was nice to be done working out by 7:20 am, though. 

So, I made a couple of big decisions this past Wednesday. I decided to let go of my goal of running the Seattle Marathon. That makes it 0/2 in terms of marathons I have been able to run/planned to run. Both times I couldn't get my long runs over a half marathon distance before I became too injured to continue. Inneresting. 

I also made another decision to take a break from running at least through Christmas, if not longer. I will probably set another goal race next Spring/Summer and then start building towards that whenever I need to. I might just make my next goal a full marathon (maybe the Rock-n-Roll full?) to see if I can thwart injury by not running "high mileage" for several months at a time. I say "high mileage" because even during my half marathon training I rarely hit a 20+ mile week. That is peanuts for most distance runners. 

My break will serve two, or well, three, purposes. The big two is that it will give my body, and probably more importantly, my mind, time to de-stress. Getting to the point that my injury/running cycle was more stressful than it was fun really, really sucked. 

The break will also serve to hopefully improve my strength. I texted my personal trainer the afternoon that I decided to take my break. I told her I wanted to use the time off to turn myself in to a badass, haha. She responded that I was speaking her language! Basically since I began getting serious about my level of fitness a couple or so years ago I did a huge amount of cardio (running-- or elliptical when I couldn't run) mixed in with varying amounts of strength. Until recently I did two days a week of strength and three days a week of running. I am happy dropping all cardio sessions from my plan for a while, but then what would I do for each workout? Honestly, I don't know how to work out 5-6 days a week without any cardio! So, my trainer will help me with that. I always have in the back of my mind to join a crossfit gym, as well. I don't know why I'm dragging my heels on that. Feels like a huge commitment, I suppose.

I am excited to see where this all leads. Ideally I will eventually be a stronger runner who can take on distance and speed without injury. We shall see!