workout

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This year started out with a big, sweaty bang. I signed up for two serious races (a long course triathlon and a half marathon) taking place in the spring, which meant that from January until mid-May, my ass belonged to the gym. And the pool. And my bike. You know what I mean.

I followed a pretty intense training schedule leading up the Leadman 125 Tri in April, but, happily, it absolutely paid off. I finished my first serious, major, for-real-I-am-not-even-joking endurance event with a smile on my face and, well, maybe not a spring in my step, but I didn’t shuffle across the finish line, either. It was incredible. Hell, it was life changing.

I took a few days easy after the race and then jumped right back into training for the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. I upped both my running and my wine consumption in the month between the two races (which, for the record? Not the greatest idea to book two races like this so close together, but I had friends involved in both and just couldn’t say no), and set a goal to finish without hating life (which is more than I can say for any other half I’d done before that). I not only finished happily, but I set a PR. And then I drank ALL THE WINE. It was a big win for me, for sure.

Go Team Wine O! (It's legit. We had shirts.)

And now everybody’s asking what’s next.

I’m not totally sure. I’m planning a sprint tri over the Fourth of July weekend, and hoping to kick a little butt in the swim portion of an Olympic distance relay triathlon later that month, but as far as The Next Big Thing? I’m just not sure.

I want to tackle a half Ironman distance race, for sure — after the two races this spring, I know I can do it. But I need to decide which one I want to do. I’ve kept the training up, for the most part (although I’m certainly a little more lax about some of the longer workouts right now since I don’t have a Scary Freaking Race staring me down), so I should be able to prep for one with two or three months’ notice, but … I don’t know. Do I do it soon, while I’m still pumped up from the spring races? Augusta is in September, which is definitely doable. Or do I hold off until spring? Or next fall? Or …

Sheesh, you want to talk about first world problems? Which big fancy race do I do next? Wah, wah, wah. I kind of want to slap myself. But I also want advice — have you done a half Iron (or similar) distance race that you absolutely loved? What made it perfect for you? (Or, if you did one and hated it, I want the scoop on that, too.)

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Most gym etiquette is really just common sense. If you get up from a machine and leave a sweaty ass print, wipe it down with a towel. If a lady is running vigorously on the treadmill, it is inappropriate to stare, no matter the bounciness of her breasts or cut of her shirt.

But, this winter has found me in the pool, which, due to a long streak of chilly weather, has seen at least two to a lane almost every time I’ve gone. And while most poolside rules of etiquette are either A) posted B) ridiculously obvious, there seem to be a lot of people who ignore them, so I thought I’d list a few ways not to be a tool at the pool.

Wardrobe

Every couple of months (or more, if you swim really frequently), enlist a pal to look at you in your suit while wet, front and back. If it’s see-through, it’s inappropriate. Go shopping. That especially goes for the 65-year-old man with the flesh colored Speedo. You all, I really wish I was joking. You have no idea.

Boxers are not pants. Guys, I understand that the locker room attaches to the pool area, and if you forgot something, it seems like it should be fine to walk out in your boxers — they cover about the same amount as a bathing suit, right? WRONG. We know what could come swinging out of there at any moment, and we don’t want to look — believe me, we do not want to look — but we can’t look away. Just put on some damn pants, man.

Ladies, before you haul yourselves out of the water, take a quick second to make sure everything is in place. You know what I mean.

Manners

The sign on the wall states that you must share your lane if someone is waiting, and if more than two people are sharing the lane, you circle swim. So, dude, share your lane. You were stopping at the end of every 50 before I walked up, and I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that you suddenly had to start a super long set, swimming right down the middle, just as soon as I approached.

That being said, if you’re the one walking up to the lane, make an effort to catch the swimmer’s eye before you jump in and almost land on my the swimmer’s head you jerkass. If the swimmer is clearly in the middle of a long set and not looking up, sit on the edge and try dangling your feet for a second to get their attention. If you just jump in and start swimming at me, at best I’ll be startled (and pissed), and, at worst, we will crash, I will be furious, and both of us will be hurt. But especially you. You will definitely be hurt.

If you’re a seasoned swimmer and you see someone who looks completely clueless trying to find a lane, for the love of Pete, throw them a bone and share your lane — it’s scary to be the new kid, and the pool can be intimidating.

And I have one parting word of advice. It’s not really etiquette, I guess, but it’s something I’m ashamed to say I need to remind myself of more often than I should. Your workout is not more important than someone else’s. Yes, it’s annoying that the Gentle Joints Zumba Party for Centenarians (and Beyond!) takes up three of the five pool lanes and the fluff from someone’s Depends is floating by your face. It’s frustrating that you’re having to share a lane with Splashy McDrownerson and you’re choking on the wake he’s creating. But everyone is there to work out, get a little fitter, and feel good about themselves, so just mind your own business, knock out a few laps, and remember that you were probably once a Splashy, and one day, god willing, you’ll join that Swimming for Seniors class.

(Also, don’t pee in the pool. EWWW.)

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The road in my 'hood. It's not exciting, but it's a good place for a quick run.

It is official. I’ve signed up for my first Olympic length triathlon — St. Anthony’s, which takes place in St. Pete on May 1. For those who aren’t familiar with triathlon lengths (and, if you don’t do triathlons, I can’t imagine why you would be), Olympic isn’t quite as scary as it sounds — it’s a 1.5k (.93 mi) swim, 40k (24.8 mi) bike and 10k (6.2 mi) run. Yes, it’s long, but each leg, on its own, is totally manageable, so my hope is that, after training properly, the entire thing will be not only manageable, but fun.

Or at least won’t cause any lasting pain. You know, whatever.

(If you want to know more about why I’m racing, I’m going to be doing a monthly update on my training over at Fit Bottomed Girls — you can check out my first post on that now, if that sort of thing floats your boat.)

At the risk of sounding like a giant conceited bitch, I know I can do this. I’m not sure how fast, but I know that I can show up and cross the finish line and not be the last person to do so. The harder part comes in the meantime — finding a balance between focusing on the training and focusing on family, and when I read this post today, I realized it was something I’ve thought a lot about, but I haven’t really talked about all that much.

When I signed up for the race, I told Jared that I was going to make a point to not let this take over my life and my time. It’s all too easy for me to get totally swept up in a project and start to neglect other things I love and enjoy. And while I don’t want to stifle the competitor in me too much — I’m proud of my “go hard or go home” attitude — I also know that the super slight possibility of earning a medal isn’t anywhere near worth causing issues at home.

bike

Yes, that's a chili pepper on it. And no, that's not the *only* reason I bought it.

It’s not just time, either, although time spent training is certainly a factor. It’s money as well — triathlon is not a cheap sport, which isn’t exactly a surprise to me, but, well, I’m having to really watch myself to keep from spending boatloads of money on things that, admittedly, would make training easier, but aren’t totally necessary. I bought a very nice used bike (isn’t she pretty?), and I’ve gotten a couple new bathing suits on sale (dude, you do not want to know how bad my old one was getting. Because, yes, I basically had just one that I wore for every swim, and, well, it’s about done).

But it would be frighteningly easy for me to have spent hundreds more dollars on gear and equipment already, and I know I’m not quite done. And since we don’t have hundred dollar bills lining our handmade Italian shoes in our fancy custom closets, and I have yet to figure out how to teach my dogs to shit gold, I’m also conscious of the fact that money I spend on this race impacts what Jared and I get to do together — I sure as hell don’t want the fact that I wanted a cuter bathing suit to be the reason we have to pass on going to dinner, you know?

Still, I know that having this extra thing that’s just mine (well, I’m training with my friend Jodi and working with my coach, Patrick, but, you know what I mean) is good for me, and Jared has been really supportive of both the time and money I’m spending. But I’m wondering how the rest of you find balance between interests that threaten to suck up a lot of time/energy/money and the other important things in your life, like family and friends. Do you create a schedule? Play it by ear? Just go with it?

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It’s the same damn thing every time.

This summer, I was on a roll, baby. I was doing a fairly decent job of watching what I was eating, and I was tracking my calories in (using Calorie Counter on my phone). I was working out most days of the week, relying on the Insanity workouts and mixing in some running and swimming and classes at the gym. I felt fantastic. The numbers on the scale were going down, I had lots of energy, and I felt really proud. I could see the difference in my arms, in my abs, in my face. I remember thinking (the same way I think every time I start to lose weight) that I would never — NEVER — see certain numbers on the scale again. Why would I? This is clearly how I’m supposed to live.

And then, a couple of months ago, I stopped weighing myself daily. I don’t remember the exact reason why, but it’s always essentially the same thing, something along the lines of “had friends in town/went out for pizza/drank myself silly/overindulged at breakfast/went out to eat again/drank a bit of wine to unwind from the crazy weekend” and, after all that, I thought I’d give myself a couple of days to get back on track. “By Wednesday, or Thursday at the latest, I’ll have lost that weekend weight by eating right, stepping away from the chardonnay, and getting in a couple of extra workouts,” I undoubtedly told myself. But then there was pizza left in the fridge, and I was probably too lazy to cook on Monday, so I ate crappy again. “But it’s just one extra day. I can totally undo this damage,” I surely said.

And of course, I didn’t track my calories on those days, because, well, it would just be embarrassing to admit how many calories I was taking in. And besides, it was just a little bitty temporary detour. I was going to get back on track at any time. Any time. But I didn’t, so I continued not weighing myself (because, you know, if I don’t see the numbers, then they might not change!), and, when certain clothes got a little snug, I just wore different ones! Never mind the fact that my maxi dress no longer fell in a straight, fluid line from the band below my bust — if I stood just right and sucked in a little, you totally couldn’t tell. If I positioned my face in a certain way, the extra, I don’t know, faciness was completely hidden from view. Problem solved!

And then, there was the breaking point. This time, it was Thanksgiving, but in the past, it’s been birthdays, vacations, a picture in a bathing suit, etc. It became completely clear that I was on the brink of letting things get out of hand. I can tell you all day long about how I’ve never been “thin,” and how I’m big boned and have a lot of muscle, but the biggest bones and all the muscle in the world weren’t adding up to the numbers I saw when I finally stepped on the scale on Sunday. I was devastated, and furious. Furious that I let this happen and furious that I let a stupid number on a scale make such an impact on my attitude. A few (or a lot of) extra pounds doesn’t make me less of a good person, but you wouldn’t know that to talk to me right after weighing in.

So, I recommitted to eating well and working out hard. And joy of joys, the weight started melting off right away. As it always does, when I’ve been stuffing my face with cheese and booze like I’m the second coming of Henry VIII. The elation! The pride! It’s incredible! I feel so full of hope and optimism right now — will this be the time I (finally) reach my ideal weight? Will I figure out this moderation thing (because it is not a word in my vocabulary) and learn to keep that number low without feeling like I’m missing out on the fun things in life?

Or will I do the exact same thing I do every time, and work really hard to lose a few pounds, then throw it all away after a weekend of excess, and start the cycle all over and bury my concerns in pizza?

(You know, until I realize it’s time to start weighing in again.)

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A big part of why I work out is because I like how it makes me feel. I also like that it lets me get away with eating a few slices of pizza now and again without having to buy all new pants — don’t get me wrong.

And I’m not just talking about the runner’s high, although that’s very nice. No, I mean the way working out makes me feel about myself. I feel proud that I’m out there, working hard, pushing myself. I feel proud of what my body can do. But there’s more.

I’ve been noticing more and more that different exercises provoke very different feelings. Running makes me feel powerful, for example. I feel the way all the muscles in my legs work together to push me forward. When I pick up the pace, I feel the way the muscles in my core and shoulders respond — and it’s with strength.

Swimming makes me feel graceful and sleek, which is funny, because I feel so far from graceful or sleek or pretty when in my bathing suit before I get in the water. But, once I slip below the surface, I’m a different person. Everything from the sensation of the water gliding over my body to the way the bubbles and sunshine create patterns on the bottom of the pool is pretty much perfect — in the water, I feel exactly like the person I want to be, if that makes sense.

Dance workouts, like Zumba, make me feel kind of sexy. Something about dancing in a room full of women  (and maybe a few men), all of whom are shaking and shimmying with abandon, is really beautiful. In my head, I know my hips don’t move like Shakira’s, and I know my abs don’t look quite like the 20-year-old instructor’s, but my heart doesn’t give a damn. It’s just joyful — sweaty and out of breath, yes, but joyful, and I think that’s pretty sexy.

Biking, on the other hand, just makes me feel sorry for Jared because all I can think about is how cyclists must never — never — have sex. Good god I hate cycling. It’s just painful. Yeah, no redeeming qualities there.

Am I nuts? Or do other people get totally different feelings from different workouts? Come on, dish!

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Hey, remember when I told you about that swim test I was a little hand-wringy over? And then for the last month and a half you’ve been dying — DYING — to know how it went?

(Oh, what’s that you say? You neither remember it nor do you give two shits? Eh, to each his own, I suppose. I mean, if I can’t be bothered to post regularly, I probably can’t really expect you to wait with bated breath, can I?)

Anyway, it happened and … well, it was good. I kind of set two goals, as I usually do for a race, the first being what I’d be perfectly happy with, but not elated over, and the second being my true, shoot-for-the-stars goal. And I kind of blew them both out of the water (get it? swimming and water? har, har, har)

I’m still really, really enjoying my swim classes, and honestly miss hitting the pool when I’m unable to go. But the fact that my swim test went well got me thinking that, if I can improve rapidly and do that well in the pool, maybe I should look into getting some coaching in the other individual sport I spend a lot of time on — running. Since the guy teaching swim class had just won a triathlon (like, as in, won the whole damn thing. Yeah, I know.), I thought I’d ask him if he’d be interested in helping me out with some running. So, for the last three weeks, I’ve been getting lessons on how to run.

Oh, you guys. You think running is just something that, like, you go out and do, right? I assure you it is not. The first lesson, we completely changed my form. The way I land, the way I kick back, the way I hold my arms … all changed. I have to think about all this stuff, all the time. Since then, he’s been doing drills with me in an attempt to make running a little more interesting and — dare I say it? — fun.

(Except for last week, when we did hills, and the first thing he said was, “You know, it’s okay if you puke.” Umm, okay with him, maybe …)

((There was no puking, but I might’ve said a few words that probably would’ve made the fellas hanging around my dad’s bait shop blush.))

(((Sorry, Mom. And yes Dad, I’ll teach you those words next time I see you.)))

Here’s the thing with me and running. I’ve done a lot of it. I’ve run for basketball and I’ve run fairly long distances and I’ve run lots and lots of short distances. And, for the most part, you can just about set a watch by the time it takes me to run a mile. (You know, if you don’t mind your watch being off by 30 seconds or so.) I’m a 10-minute miler, and while I don’t think that’s anything to feel bad about, I definitely feel like, for the amount of time I’ve put into running, I should probably be able to pick up the pace, you know?

I don’t have any delusions of winning a half marathon or anything; I truly don’t. But, when I run 5ks, especially the little local ones, I want to be closer to the front than to the back. I don’t want to come in behind the middle of the pack. I want to finish with a time that I’m not only not embarrassed by, but a time that I want to shout from the rooftops. I want to go out to brunch afterward and have to hold myself back from telling the server how I did.

I just signed up for a four-mile race on October 1. It’s an evening race (I’m far better in the evenings than in the early mornings) with a beer festival afterward, which seems like a nice thing to run toward. My coach will be running, and since he’ll probably finish in about half the time it’ll take me (seriously, I’m probably only exaggerating the tiniest amount) as well as another pal who runs at a good clip (hi, Kevin), I’ll have at least a couple of people cheering for me at the finish line, hopefully with a nice Belgian wheat beer ready for me.

So, the goal — I feel very … naked putting this out in public, but I think I need the accountability — the first goal is to keep a 9:30 pace, which would bring me in at 38 minutes. The shoot-for-the-stars goal is to keep it at 9 minutes, meaning a finish at 36 minutes. It’s absolutely NUTS to me that it’s going to mean pushing myself so much harder just to win those two or four minutes, but those of you who’ve shot for a time in a race will understand. And those of you who haven’t, well, I hope you’ll at least have a beer with me that night, in spirit!

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I know that a lot of people have test anxiety. I, however, do not. I’ve always been pretty good at tests, which is a good thing, because tomorrow, I have a swimming test.

Da da DAAAAAAH.

Now, the last time I took a swimming test, I was nine and at camp and I kicked that swimming test’s ass. I mean, swim the length of the dock and then tread water? Piece of cake. I can do that in my sleep, easy. (I’m not saying this to brag — I just learned to swim when I was a baby, grew up with a pool in my back yard and a lake across the street, and I’ve just always been a strong swimmer. I’m bad at plenty of other things, trust me.)

I’ve been taking swimming classes over the last couple of months, which has been a huge eye opener. As it turns out, I can swim fairly well, but I’m a TERRIBLE breather. Who knew? For the past 30 years, I thought I’d been breathing pretty well, the occasional asthma attack aside, but no! It’s been totally fascinating to learn the proper technique and learn drills and find myself getting better. When do the qualifiers for London 2012 take place? I could be a 30-year-old prodigy, y’all.

Ok, no, I couldn’t. Still, it’s exciting to learn how to actually swim well. But I am totally nervous for this test tomorrow. It’s 20 minutes, and I just swim as far as I can. I mean, I’m not nervous about, like, not being able to do it. Oh, I will do it, don’t you worry. And it’s not like there are prizes for doing it well. But I really, really want to do it really, really well. Even though it doesn’t count for anything.

Go ahead. Call me a tool. I can take it.

In other workout-y news, Jared and I have been doing the Insanity workouts. This is kind of huge, because, well, we’ve never worked out together. We’ve gone to the gym together (at which point he does his thing and I do mine), we’ve gone running together (for about five minutes, before he gets sick of going at my pace and takes off), and we’ve played basketball and volleyball together. But when it comes to, like, working out for working out’s sake, this is a total first. A total first that’s kicking our asses, but it’s been really fun to actually do this together. Fun, and hard, especially since today was both a Fit Test (test! again) which tracks our progress, and a new, longer, harder workout we’d never done. It’s nice to be able to swear at the TV and have somebody else appreciate the fact that I can be witty while gasping for air, is all I’m saying. (Plus he looks pretty cute all sweaty. What can I say?)

Yep, I’m still a tool. Whatever.

Final testing news — I’ve had some projects come up lately that have been testing my patience, which is a large part of why I haven’t update poor ol’ Jeez-o-petes lately. I’ll do better about this in the coming weeks, I promise.

So, fill me in — have you been doing any cool workouts lately? Keep me inspired and share!

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Watch out, y’all — I’m on a diet. Again.

I’m realizing something — it’s not so much the eating less on a diet that gets me (although, I went to bed last night at 10:30 because I was starting to feel munchy and I knew if I stayed up I’d want to snack). It’s the fact that, in order to stay low in calories and still feel full, I need to plan ahead a bit more. Not that raw fruits and veggies aren’t great, but when that’s most of what I’m eating, I don’t feel like I’m getting meals, you know?

Backing up — I’m on Day 4 of the Keep it Around 1000 Calories Kristen, You Fat Ass diet. It’s not because I think I’m fat, so I don’t want anyone to leave any of those, “Oooh, you’re fine! Why are you doing that?” comments. But, New York and the photoshoot are in, like, two weeks (ohmygodohmygodohmygod), and I’d like to be a fit version of me. And since a lot of my workouts are off limits due to the shoulder, I really need to cut back on my eating for the moment.

So, at the grocery store, I made major efforts to buy fruits and veggies that I would DO something with. I got lots of peppers and mixed them in with some tempeh and left the rest to mix in with the giant bag of fresh green beans I bought. I never make fresh green beans, and I don’t know why — I love them. So, that’s dinner tonight, and I’m super excited. Excited because I planned it. Gah. Not excited like I would be if we’d ordered a pizza that would be delivered in 30 minutes or less — that excitement would be a little different, I assure you.

Anyway, if you have a fabulous low-cal meal you love, I would love to hear about it. So I can go to the grocery store and plan to make it. And because I will look fabulous — don’t you worry, Internet. I will.

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Last week, I went for a long run. Well, long for me — 5 and a quarter miles. A 3 mile run is normal for me, but anything above that I start qualifying as BIG. But you know what? It felt GREAT.

That was a week ago, and I haven’t gone for a long run since.

Why is this? I did something that made me feel fabulous, both physically and mentally, and now I can’t get my lazy fat ass out to do it again for absolutely no reason.

Well, maybe a little reason. I’m fucking sore. Seriously, y’all, I can hardly move. We moved a truckload of heavy things on Sunday, and on Monday I taught a volleyball lesson (during which I slid on the slippery grass and I can’t believe I didn’t pull a hammy) and did push-ups, and on Tuesday I worked out with Fitz. By the end of that workout, for the first time, I physically couldn’t do what she was asking me to do. And yeah, they were hard things, but things I could normally push through, and this time I couldn’t. Which is now, of course, all in my head — maybe I’m not going for a long run because I won’t be able to do it! Maybe my body finally decided enough was enough and it’s just going to start saying, “Ummm, no thanks. I don’t feel like doing that today.”

Today I’m planning to go for a run, at least three miles. But maybe I won’t. Oh, jeez, I don’t know …

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I have had a fantastic workout week, and I just had to brag. It started on Sunday (as weeks are wont to do), when I hit the gym and did the Power Line, which is a bunch of machines that the gym folks set up for you so you can breeze through, but with other tough exercises in between. And then I did a little cardio (but I don’t remember exactly what, so don’t ask). Anyway, I worked my arms really, really hard.

And then, that night, I got a call from my trainer, Fitz, to see if I could work out Monday at 8:30 a.m. Of course, I said yes, so I ran and kickboxed and did ridiculous ab work. And then she asked if I could come back the next day.

So, the next day, I went back for more torture, and this time she added more running and pull ups. I did five consecutively! Seriously! When’s the last time you tried a pull up? They’re haaard, man!

Wednesday I was on my own, so I went to the gym and did two classes — Abs & Glutes and Step Interval, both of which are wicked challenging on their own, so doing both … let’s just say I was very happy when the clock hit 6:15 and class was over.

Thursday I took off because we were doing all kinds of errands and housey things, but today I was back and ready to rock. I did two fast-for-me miles on the treadmill and 15 minutes on the crazy-scary step mill, and push-ups (some with Rudi on my back), and sit-ups (until Rudi decided I was done and sat on my chest and licked me to death). Rudi is not the best trainer in the world, I have decided.

Anyway, as you can see, I’m pretty proud of myself, and I’ve tried to motivate a couple of my friends because I’m feeling so great. Here’s my open invitation — anytime you do a great workout, feel free to leave a comment telling me all about it. That’s right — I’m giving you the right to brag. Your work will motivate me, and I hope I can return the favor. Now go! Kick your own ass!

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