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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Weird Wednesdays

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I’ve had an unexpected development with my extreme enthusiasm for tough strength training- I keep sitting out my Wednesday morning runs.  I’ve woken up each Wednesday to find that a pretty key area of my body is sore.  Last week, it was my quads from the stationary lunges and an intense spin class the following day.  This week, I have a sore hip flexor, I think from squats because this happened the last time I integrated squats into my routine.  That time, I didn’t pull back on my schedule though and tried to blow through it.  It wasn’t disastrous, but I think it remained sore longer than if I had just let it rest.

So for the last two weeks, I’ve skipped my runs on Wednesday.  In fact, I’ve ended up taking an out-right rest day, save for possibly a dog walk.

In the past, I haven’t liked taking a rest day smack in the middle of the week, when I need the energy surge that my morning exercise provides the most.  And while I was training for my half, I would totally feel guilty if this happened- as if that one run would make or break my training (I knew it wouldn’t, I was just in that mindset).

I was initially annoyed both Wednesdays, but I’m realizing how much I actually appreciate it.  For one thing, the sore areas certainly benefited- they were generally gone or minimized by Thursday so I could dive back into the swing of things without prolonging the discomfort.

More importantly, I’m really enjoying running again, both mentally and physically.  Granted, I haven’t been logging tons of mileage- my planned four miler this morning would have been the longest in a while, but I cut it to 2.5 miles after being up much of the night with a sick pup.

A shortened run is worth it to take care of this little man.

But the quality of my runs are greatly improved.  For about a month before my half marathon and the couple of runs immediately following it, I just was not on my game.  Luckily the race itself was a great run, but for all others I was constantly having some sort of leg ailment, mostly in my glutes, and I was just feeling tired and not thrilled to be on the road.

Ever since I’ve returned from vacation and started returning to my familiar morning paths, I’ve noticed a vast improvement.  My legs were a tad sore initially from using those muscles again, but they quickly fell back into habit.  I haven’t experienced the tightness and soreness, or the accompanying lethargy.  Each run just feels good.  Even this morning, I felt a little sleep deprived and knew I was going almost embarrassingly slow as a result.  But my body felt good- so I felt good, and just went with it.  It’s good to be back in that place.

Sure, I think part of it is that the sun is now up around 6 a.m. and my runs are primarily sunlit- always a helpful motivator.  But I really think my improved running experience stems more from allowing my muscles rest when needed, coupled with working them in other ways through spinning, strengthening and yoga.

Yes, I want to add on more mileage.  But without a major race on the horizon until September at the earliest, I’m going to do it oh-so-slowly in an attempt to maintain the running quality of my excursions now.  I may want to improve my pace, but at this point I’m actually really content with where I am if it means that  I continue to use the big grin emoticon on Daily Mile the vast majority of time.

I want most of my runs to feel this happy!

Right now, quality is far more important to me than any other running indicator.  And if more rest and lower mileage are the means of achieving that, then I’ll take it.

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May Markers

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Given my inspiration to elevate my fitness regime and that we’re starting a new month, I felt it would be a good time to take all that energy and give it direction.  I have some goals for this month that I hope to achieve to keep my motivation, and to increase my body’s strength and endurance. Since April was pretty hectic for me, I didn’t really set any goals, but I feel like now is a good time to remedy that.

One caveat: I’m about to transition to a new job.  That’s partly why the end of March and April were so hectic- in addition to my first half marathon, my spring break and some other stuff, I was interviewing and then getting a security clearance for my new position (it’s with the federal government, nothing super fancy, clearances are pretty routine in this area).  I’m planning to go into this more later, but I’m anticipating longer work days, and definitely a longer commute, which may throw my work-out schedule off for a bit while I figure everything out.

Still, I want to have some goals to gauge potential progress.  I just won’t beat myself up if some of it is a casualty of the new lifestyle.  So, here’s my May Markers:

RunningRebuild my running base.  I want to build my endurance so that I’m regularly running 4-6 mile runs about 3 days a week, and then a longer run on the weekend of 7-8 miles.  Don’t ask me why I’ve settled on these numbers.  I just know I want to move beyond the 3-3.6 miles I’ve been trekking lately.  I also think running these distances regularly will help make training for my next half easier.

Strength Training: Keep mixing it up.  I’ve talked about this a lot the last few days, so I’ll just say that I plan to keep my muscles on their toes by changing my routine every week, and upping the intensity.  There are so many studies that say it’s good to modify your routine, otherwise your muscles adapt and don’t improve anymore. Also, you don’t get bored, which means you’re more likely to keep doing it.

Strength Training: Take core strengthening classes. My core is the one area of my body that I’m struggling to really improve.  I’m upping my planks, and adding new exercises, but I just don’t feel or see it.  I did really feel it in Pilates and at the end of my spin class today with some of the strengthening exercises we did.  I think it’s an area that I just do better when I have someone else telling me what to do and ‘watching’ me, making sure I don’t slack off on it.  I don’t do it purposely, but I do think I sometimes don’t hold proper form.  So I’m going to try to work this in more.

Cross-training:Expand my spinning and yoga class repertoire.Last weekend, I took a Pilates class.  This morning, I had a different spin instructor who incorporated new moves and some strength training in the end.  I’m finally ready (and brave enough) to try a full Vinyasa class.  I had been hunting around for new studios and classes to join in the spirit of keeping things fresh, but have been turned off by the addition fees.  I then realized that I have plenty of variety in the classes I already pay for- I just need to take advantage of them.

Personally: Just keep enjoying life.  It’s been a good last few months.  I’m planning to keep it that way.