Archive for November, 2009

By the way…

I am officially registered for my first half-marathon!

Charlottesville Half-Marathon


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Misty Run

I braved the weather to do my run today.  It wasn’t supposed to be raining any more, but there was still a misty light rain and gray sky to deal with.  The workout was supposed to be 2 miles, then 5-7 by 1:00 aerobic intervals followed by another 2 miles.  I forgot to map out a route beforehand, so just went by time to gauge the distance, running a little more than 20 minutes for each of the 2 mile portions.  Supposedly, I did just over 5.1 miles, but it definitely felt longer.  It was really hard to keep going and not finding an excuse to stop and walk.  I have noticed some little indications that my body is not as used to running as it had been before the tri.  My left ankle has born the brunt, and gets quite sore.  I am pretty sure this is just a conditioning issue, and will get better.  I also think I might need some new shoes.


Duration – 1:16:51

Calories – 611

Max Heart Rate – 189

Average Heart Rate – 139

Maybe I’ll do some yoga tomorrow for my workout since I’m not lifting this week.  Not sure when I’m going to get to run on Thursday, but hopefully will work it out.

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Catching Up…

I’ve been lax in posting my workouts since last week!  I’m doing much better at actually doing them though, so that’s progress.  First, a challenge update- I exceeded my 320 minutes of exercise for the last week, but did not reach 80 ounces of water each day over the weekend.  I didn’t think drinking 80 ounces would be as hard as it is!  At work I have no problem, I just fill my 32 ounce Nalgene and down 3 of them throughout the day.  When I’m out and about and doing errands or getting things done around the house on the weekend, it’s hard to remember to stop and drink water.  This week is going to be especially hard for this because with the Thanksgiving holiday, I have four days not at work.  I’m going to make an extra effort to keep my water bottle with me and drink throughout the day.

I think I left off my workouts with last Monday’s lifting and Tuesday’s run.  After I posted, I realized that my run workout was actually supposed to have another 2 miles after the intervals, but oh well! at least I’m running again.  Wednesday was the B workout from stage 3 of NROL4W:

A. Barbell Romanian deadlift / bent-over row – 3 sets of 6 @ 65 lbs barbell with 105 s RI

B1. Partial single-leg squat – 3 sets of 6 @ BW with 105 s RI

B2. Wide-grip lat pulldown – 3 sets of 6 @ 70 lbs with 105 s RI

C1. Prone cobra (home gym substitute for back extension) – 3 sets of 90 seconds @ BW with 105 s RI

C2. YTWL – 3 sets of 6 @ 5 lbs dumbbells with 105 s RI

D1. Swiss-ball crunch (long-arm variation) – 3 sets of 6 @ BW with 105 s RI

D2. Hip Flexion (incline reverse crunch) – 3 sets of 6 @ BW with 105 s RI

D3. Lateral flexion (Swiss-ball side crunch) – 3 sets of 6 @ BW with 105 s RI

This was an interesting workout.  There should have been an “E”, the Prone Cobra, but because I did it in place of the back extension,  I skipped it.  I’ll need to increase from 65 to 75+ for the Barbell Romanian deadlift / bent over row as 65 pounds was much too light.


Duration – 1:22:19

Calories – 488

Max heart rate – 159

Average heart rate – 121

On Thursday, I gave myself a rest day.  It was raining and the forecast for Friday was sun!  So I decided to swap my Friday rest for Thursday.  I’m really glad I did because Friday was beautiful!  Even though I had to run in the dark, it wasn’t too cold or miserable.  Plus, I got the bonus that Curtis came with me!  We did a 4 mile run followed by 4 gentle pickups for a total of ~5.2 miles.  We walked after the four miles and between each of the pick-ups and at the end to cool-down.  I actually felt really good during the run.  I settled into a pace easily and I probably could have continued passed the initial four miles easily.


Duration – 1:14:28

Calories – 741

Max heart rate – 196

Average heart rate – 159

Saturday, I forfeited my workout in favor of getting my house clean.  It’s not quite up to snuff, but I’m getting there.  I had really let things go over the past few months and need to get organized and clean.  It felt good to get things done around the house and I don’t mind one bit that I missed a workout for it.

On Sunday (yesterday) morning, Curtis and I ran about 3 miles.  I didn’t feel nearly as good as I had on Friday, and I’m not entirely sure why.  Maybe just an off day?  It was a slow run, but we did make a few stops for Tara and road crossings.


Duration – 42:49

Calories – 409

Max heart rate – 187

Average heart rate – 156

After lunch, we took Tara to meet up with a couple people who also have German Shepherd Dogs to let the three dogs play together.  It was a blast!  We took a short hike in the woods to a secluded wooded area and just let the pups run.  Tara is super-fast, and the other two (who are still puppies) were having a grand time trying to catch up to her while she was bounding around the woods like a deer.  I wish I had her enthusiasm and speed!  She certainly shows me up!  When we brought her home last night, she passed out and hardly wanted to move again till this morning.

Today is a scheduled rest day for me.  Mom and I are taking off weights this week.  We do take off completely every so often to get some extra recovery time and since we’ve started this new stage and it’s Thanksgiving this week, we thought it would be a good opportunity.  I’ll be back to the weights next week.  Tomorrow is another 2 mile run plus 5 aerobic intervals and another 2 miles.  There’s only a 20% chance of rain for tomorrow evening, so hopefully I’ll get to run outside.  Otherwise, I may just have to bite the bullet and head to the gym.  I’m not a huge fan of running in the dark, but it’s not so bad having Tara with me.  I need to get her a light up collar and reflective leash so that we can be a bit safer out at night.

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The 5 Biggest Workout Mistakes

A few days ago, I received an email from my gym with a link to this blog post by Brad Schoenfeld.  The 5 Biggest Workout Mistakes.  And yep! I have made each one of the mistakes at some point in my life.  I have even repeated some of them multiple times.  Shocker, I know!  I think his assessment is dead-on for people working out to lose weight and improve their fitness in general.  All too often people embark on their fitness journeys with little more knowledge than “moving more equals weight loss.”  When, in fact, there are specific things that they could do to maximize the benefits of their workouts.

#1 Performing Cardio Over Weight Training

Boy, do I wish I had known this was a mistake years ago!  I spent a lot of time at the gym doing steady-state endurance exercise on the elliptical and not nearly enough time in the weight room.  Being a swimmer through high school, I started competing in the longer endurance events (500 meter freestyle) at meets.  In spite of my workouts, I continued to eat and gained a ton of weight during high school.  In college, I was able to start eating a bit better, walking everywhere and going to the gym.  I lost some of the weight, but had been long at a plateau by graduation.  I hovered around 150-155 up until January of this year.  At 5’7″, I was not fat, but was not completely happy and wanted to get in better shape.  Not to mention I had a wedding coming up in June!  I started working with a trainer in small group sessions and learned to lift weights.  The scale didn’t necessarily move a whole lot, but I started to notice a real change in how my clothes were fitting and pretty soon all my jeans (size 10) were falling off of me (literally).

#2 Using Weights That Are Too Light

This is not something I’ve been guilty of lately, but I absolutely remember being told that women should not lift too heavy for fear of bulking up at a gym I tried out in high school.  They advocated lifting light weights for many reps.  Lifting too light does not build muscle.  Stressing your muscles forces them to get stronger and grow.  The reason this is so critical to weight loss and fitness is that bigger muscles = higher metabolism.  As soon as I started lifting heavy, I found that I needed to greatly increase my daily caloric intake to about 2300-2400 calories daily from ~1500-1800 to avoid fatigue (as an aside, a diet mistake many people make is eating too little! You need fuel to grow muscles, particularly protein!).  A really nice side effect of lifting heavy (and increasingly heavier) weights is that a lot of daily tasks (i.e. carrying groceries, opening heavy doors, lifting things) became a lot easier, and I had a lot more confidence in my ability.

#3 Not Having a Game Plan

This is something I constantly struggle to do.  Unless I am in training for something, I tend to just wing it at the gym and do whatever I’m feeling.  I have found that having a training plan for each workout and for future workouts keeps me excited and motivated to train.  Not to mention, it provides focus and a specific goal for each workout.  It also has helped me expand my gym repertoire.  I don’t just go and do the same set of weight machines followed by however much cardio I’m feeling for the day.  I do weight training on specific days of the weeks to maximize my recovery time and carefully plan my endurance workouts to ensure that I am balancing the various types.  Although right now, I am taking a break from swimming and biking in favor of improving my running, so not as much a concern there.  But I do still make sure to have one rest day from both weights and running per week.  Occasionally, you may see an “active recovery” day from me, but it would be some other type of low intensity workout.

#4 Training Too Frequently

Working out for hours a day, every day does not work.  It results in overtraining, fatigue and major set backs in exercise ability.  Our bodies need rest, it is just as important as exercise.  On this note, another mistake is not giving your body the fuel it needs to recover.  I alluded to this earlier, but eating less and less calories is not always the answer.  Sometimes to overcome a plateau or get to the next level in fitness, we need to increase the calories and nutrients we are providing our bodies.  I strongly believe that my body existed in a state of “starvation” mode for years and held on to a lot of extra fat because I simply wasn’t providing the calories it needed.  I frequently skipped meals and replaced them with diet sodas in college.  I was giving myself the illusion of being full but not providing appropriate nutrition, so my body had no choice to hold on to those fat stores.  Once I started eating more, the pounds dropped a bit, but more importantly, my clothes started fitting looser and my body fat greatly decreased (down to 17.4% a few weeks ago!)

#5 Expecting to See Immediate Results

Starting a fitness plan or even changing an existing plan (or lack thereof- see #3) is taxing on the body.  It is not unusual to see initial weight gains from swelling during muscle recovery.  Schoenfeld says that after 8-12 weeks is when you will see a noticeable difference.  It’s important not to get discouraged in the first few weeks and trust that changes will happen.  This is something that is a constant work in progress for me.  I’ve been known to weigh myself every day, but it’s really been much more helpful to see the change over longer periods of time and use other indicators like how clothes fit and measurements to determine progress.


Staying fit is a lifestyle, and I have no doubt that I will continue to make mistakes.  But luckily, I now know how to recognize them and how to fix them and why they’re mistakes.  Are you guilty of any of these workout mistakes?  How do you get yourself back in line?


NROL4W and a RUN

Yesterday, I started stage 3 of NROL4W.  Stage 2 went by so much faster than Stage 1, it was much better.  I did not get completely bored with the exercises in this stage, so it was much more stimulating.  I left my workout log in the car, so I’ll have to update with the actual exercises and weights next time I blog.  For the most part, I felt like a lot of my weights were too light.  These were all new exercises for me, so I was going easy to try and figure out what I should be lifting.  One thing that was not easy, though, was the body weight matrix.  It’s 24 squats, 24 lunges (12 each leg), 24 lunge jumps (12 each leg), and 24 squat jumps.  Times two.  At the end of the workout.  It was tough.  I was really worried that my legs would be super-sore today, but surprisingly they were not.  I had some slight stiffness, but no where near the pain I had last night!  I’m excited to do another new workout tomorrow.
Heart rate stats:

Duration – 1:31:50

Calories – 572

Max Heart Rate – 182

Average Heart Rate – 127

I took Tara for a run after work tonight.  We ran about 3 miles and walked an additional mile or so.  I also included a few intervals at a faster, but not anaerobic pace.  I’ve decided that I really need to run on a plan, so I’ve decided to do the half-marathon training plan in Runner’s World for the next 9 weeks.  Tonight was supposed to be a 2 mile run with 5-7 aerobic intervals of 1 minute each.  It was dark and difficult to see my watch to check the time, so I just counted/guesstimated the time.  I can’t believe how good I felt again tonight.  I’ve really expected to struggle a lot with my endurance after taking so much time off of running consistently, but my base must have been better than I thought because I’ve not had much trouble at all and really am holding myself back.  I’m starting to get excited about next season!


Duration – 1:12:10

Calories – 567

Max Heart Rate – 197

Average Heart Rate – 144
My challenges have gone well so far this week – I’ve had more than 80 ounces of water yesterday and today and am well on my way with exercise minutes, having already finished more than half of my workout minutes for the week. 🙂

Update – my NROL4W workout…

Stage 3 workout A:

A. One-armed dumbbell snatch – 3 sets of 6 @ 20 lbs DBs

B1. Dumbbell Single-leg Romanian deadlift – 3 sets of 6 @ 10 lbs DBs

B2. Barbell bent-over row – 3 sets of 6 @ 45 lbs Barbell

C1. Dumbbell single-arm overhead squat- 3 sets of 6 @ 5 and 10 lbs DBs

C2. Dumbbell incline bench press – 3 sets of 6 @ 22.5 lbs DBs

D1. Plank – 3 sets of 90 seconds

D2. Reverse wood chop (modified) – 3 sets of 6 @ 20 lbs DB

Body-weight matrix – 2 sets

24 squats

12 lunges (each leg)

12 lunge jumps (each leg)

24 squat jumps


B1, B2, and C1 were all much too light and need to be increased in my next workout.



Friday morning, I woke up early when my cat jumped on my head and the dog was being crazy.  I swear, my house is a zoo in the mornings if I’m not up when they want me up!  As a result, Tara and I got to take a nice long 40 minute walk to get both of us some good exercise before work.  I did not manage to drink my full 80 ounces Friday or Saturday.  I was quite busy at work on Friday with a meeting and didn’t have chance to refill my bottle in the afternoon.

Yesterday (Saturday), I went for a run (with Tara, of course!).  We left the house just before dark and ran for about 45 minutes and about 4 miles and walked for an additional 15 minutes.  I’m trying to slowly increase my mileage back to where I was at the triathlon, but I’m finding that I haven’t lost much endurance fitness.  I’m definitely slower than I was, but I feel pretty good after getting through the first 10-15 minutes.  I’m really glad to be getting back in the groove.  I need to stop using the early sunset as an excuse from running.  The roads around me are fairly well lit, and with the dog, I feel very safe (even though she’s a big teddy bear!).  I do have heart rate stats, but I’ll have to look them up and add them later today.


Duration – 1:00

Calories – 617

Max Heart rate – 187

Average Heart rate – 162

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Today ended up being an unscheduled rest day.  I got home a little later than I planned and it is still nasty outside, so I just made dinner early to eat before Tara’s obedience class.  I am actually quite exhausted!  I’m so glad tomorrow is Friday because I could really use a little extra sleep.  Curtis has been battling a cold the past couple of days, so I’m really hoping I don’t catch it.  Short post tonight…not much to write about.

I’m still working on my 80 ounces for the day, but fully expect to finish up before bedtime.

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Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Cold, rainy weather is not very motivating for working out!  I actually got in a run with the dog last night before the rain started.  We ran for about 30 minutes and walked for an additional 15.  The first 10 minutes were hard, I really had to work to convince myself to keep running.  Tara sets a faster pace than I usually start, which didn’t help me pace myself.  I ended up being quite proud of my effort, and probably could have gone for longer, but I decided to stop at 30 minutes.  This was partially due to the fact that it was very dark already, and partially due to my lack of run training lately and not wanting to push it too hard the first time back out.  If it’s not raining too hard tomorrow after work, we might go for a bit longer, but I’m going to play it by ear.

Heart rate stats:

Duration: 44:13

Calories: 457

Max Heart Rate: 192

Average Heart Rate: 163

Tonight, I almost bailed on my weight lifting workout when my mom called me and told me she wasn’t going to workout tonight, but I was already part-way to their house, so decided to go anyways.  Tonight was my last workout of stage 2 of NROL4W.  Wow!  That went by so much faster than stage 1!  Here’s the workout:

A. Wide grip deadlift from a box – 2 sets of 10 @ 115 lbs barbell with 75 s RI

B1. Bulgarian split squat – 2 sets of 10 @ 25 lbs plate with 75 s RI

B2. Underhand grip lat pull down – 2 sets of 10 @ 80 lbs with 75 s RI

C1. Reverse lunge from box with forward reach – 2 sets of 10 @ 12.5 lbs dumbbells with 75 s RI

C2. Dumbbell prone Cuban snatch – 2 sets of 10 @ 12.5 lbs dumbbells with 75 s RI

D1. Swiss ball crunch – 2 sets of 10 @ 45 lbs plate with 75 s RI

D2. Reverse crunch – 2 sets of 10 @ BW with 75 s RI

D3. Lateral flexion – 2 sets of 10 @ BW with 75 s RI

E. Prone cobra – 2 sets of 90 s @ BW with 75 s RI

I forgot my heart rate monitor, so I have no stats for tonight.

In other news, so far I have made 80+ ounces of water every day this week, and did 45 minutes of exercise all three days, so I have 135 minutes so far.

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Challenge updates

I’ve not been following through on my challenge to blog more frequently.  I only made it through Tuesday last week!  I really need to get better about this.  Luckily, I’ve been keeping track of my water and exercise minutes in my planner, and I did meet my goals of 80 oz of water each day and 320 exercise minutes for the week.  I did not do well with my exercise plan last week at all.  I’ve just been so lazy about running lately!  I’m still lifting though, so at least that’s something.  The only thing that got me up to the full 320 minutes was a long hike on Saturday at Great Falls park.  It was a gorgeous fall day, so we took the dog and met up with some friends and their dog for a three hour hike and picnic lunch.

Tonight, I was feeling really tired, so my lifting workout was not fantastic.  I did stage 2 workout A tonight:

A. Front squat / push press – 2 sets of 10 @ 55 lbs with 75s RI

B1. Step-ups – 2 sets of 10 @ 25 lbs DBs with 75s RI

B2. Dumbbell one-point row – 1 set of 10 @ 25 lbs DBs and 1 set of 10 @ 22.5 lbs with 75s RI

C1. Static lunge with rear foot elevated – 2 sets of 10 @ 25lbs DBs with 75s RI

C2. Push-ups – 2 sets of 10 @ BW with 75s RI

D1. Plank – 2 sets of 60s @ BW with 75s RI

D2. Modified horizontal wood chop – 2 sets of 10 @ 22.5lbs DB with 75s RI

I forgot my watch and heart rate monitor, so I have no stats for tonight.  I did run .8 mile before lifting as a warm-up also.

Tomorrow, I’d really like to try and go for an actual run.  I think 3 miles is a reasonable distance to get into it.  If the weather is as warm as it has been, I’ll take the dog and see what we can do outside.

Oh! And my foam roller has improved my knee pain tremendously!  I still should probably visit a doctor, but I’m being so lazy about it and I haven’t really had any trouble lately.  I’m going to just keep monitoring it for now, and if it starts to give me problems again, then I’ll definitely make an appointment.  I would hate to have it get worse and not be able to follow through with the half-marathon and half-Ironman next year.

Have a great week!

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Thoughts on NROL4W

PTG asked me yesterday in the comments whether I liked New Rules of Lifting For Women, and I almost said “yes!” enthusiastically and without hesitation, but then I stopped to think about it.  I love lifting, and I really do believe that lifting heavy is the way to do it as the book advocates.  I also really enjoyed reading the book, and while I don’t necessarily subscribe to every detail, the authors make some very good and valid points.   I must admit, though, that the first stage of program in NROL4W was incredibly boring.  There is an “A” workout and “B” workout in stage 1 and you repeat each workout 8 times.  Since I did only 2 workouts per week, that meant 8 weeks of the same two workouts.  Ugh!  It may be a good introduction for brand new lifters, but as I had been lifting for several months prior to starting the workout, I was already familiar with all but one (prone jackknife) of the moves and had a good handle on the weights that I should be lifting.  I do think that for beginners, it is a nice and slow introduction to the equipment and gives you time to play around with weights to figure out how heavy is heavy enough.  But as I said, I didn’t really need all that and already had a good base to get started.

Now that I have moved on to stage 2, I am starting to enjoy it more and find it interesting again.  There were a number of moves in both A and B workouts that I had never done before and since each workout is only repeated four times, I don’t think I’ll get bored by the time we move on to a new stage.  I think that the next stages will keep my interest and I’m really excited about stage 6 and possibly being able to do a chin-up.  I’m going to reserve final judgment for when I finish the program.  All in all, thus far, I would definitely recommend it as a good read for an introduction to lifting heavy.  I would definitely caveat with the information about the first stage, and if I could do it over, I would probably only do four weeks of the first stage or do 3 workouts per week to make it go by faster.  I definitely enjoy it and have absolutely seen results from it in my arms and leg strength.

I almost forgot to mention- one place I think it lacks in the first stage is core work.  I really feel like I lost some of my core strength during that time- I don’t think I was pushed at all by the exercises in the first stage since my core was pretty well conditioned from previous pilates-based stuff.  If I could do over, I would supplement with additional core work.

I’ll try to remember to do a full and more focused review when I finish the program.

In other news, I drank 96 ounces of water to day, but did only 20 minutes of exercise.  I’m going to have to make up some time later in the week to meet my 320 minutes!

I also bought a foam roller tonight!  So excited to be able to use it regularly.