Showing posts with label strength training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strength training. Show all posts

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Crushing the Backup Plan

This year, I've become all about the backup plan. It's hard to let go of what you were, at least for me. I always pictured myself as a goal crusher. This year, I've become a backup plan crusher. I'm not saying this is a bad thing--it means I'm listening to my body and doing what feels good. Crushing the backup plan has become a lot of fun. I'm not training for anything, so along with running, now I'm getting to do all this cool stuff.

Maybe the backup plan is becoming the plan?



Sunday, September 8, 2019

That's More Like It...

With cooler temperatures come better runs. It's true that those tough hot summer miles do lead to better runs in the fall. I had a fast 5k this week and I'm going farther. That is more like it!

I was running so well this week that I reconsidered running the race I committed to DNSing--the Naperville Trails Half Marathon on Sunday. Reality kicked in when I woke up Friday morning in a world of hurt. Sore from my daily RA stiffness coupled with DOMS from CrossFit, it made me realize that I'm nowhere near half marathon ready. I was sad but not stupid. I could run a half, but at what price to my body? Committed to staying healthy, I listened to what my body was telling me and made good on my promise to DNS this one.



Saturday, August 24, 2019

You Are Stronger Than You Think

Last week I was at CrossFit, working on the weekly challenge. To improve grip strength, we had to hold all kinds of things for a total of 3 minutes. The weights of the items (plates, kettlebells, etc) were prescribed by the workout. But 53# kettlebells? I didn't think I could do it. I opted for 35# kettlebells and was standing with them when one of the other participants, a 60-something PT who has no filter, started ridiculing me for scaling the lift. I defended my choice. She kept at it and I started to get upset. She said to me; You are stronger than you think. Her son, who is one of the coaches, chimed in. He commented that I wasn't even struggling, that those 35# kettlebells were too light for me.

Fighting tears, my voice cracking, I told them to stop. Fine. I put down the 35# kettlebells and picked up the 53# pair. I held them one minute before I put them down to give my hands a rest. You held them for a minute? he said. See? You are stronger than you think. I finished the exercise, holding them for 2 consecutive minutes. When I was done, he and his mother congratulated me. I told them they were mean and the mood lightened.

Why did I get so upset? There's no crying at CrossFit, right? Why did I think I couldn't hold those kettlebells? Would I have pushed myself to lift heavier without that 'encouragement'? Am I holding back when I could be doing more?



Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Joy of Running

I received The Joy of Running from Penguin RandomHouse in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

Seriously, how do you find joy while running in this hot, sticky blast furnace of a summer?

You find a way to make it work. You talk yourself through the tough spots using positivity instead of complaining about how much it sucks. It does suck. We all know running in the heat and humidity sucks. Telling yourself it sucks isn't going to make it feel better. You're out there, you're moving, you're sweating, you're doing it.

Maybe you slow down so you can get there. Maybe you change your goals. Maybe, like me, you drop your distance. While I'd love nothing more than to get some long runs done to prepare for my fall half, my body doesn't want to do that in this heat. I'm making peace with the fact that I can't always get what I want out of this body. I do what I can with what the day gives me.

The win isn't in the finish time, the win is the finish. That is what brings me joy. Never give up.

Wednesday's hot 5

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Turning My Frown Upside Down

G*d d*mn Mother Nature! What is wrong with our weather? This week was so freaking hot and humid that I felt like I moved to Florida. We had absolutely no adjustment period, just zipped from the 60s to the 90s in one week. Last week I wrote about it, this week I'm whining about it.

Fortunately, we're going to get a break from the heat, at least for a few days. Summer in the Midwest is usually a really pleasant time of year when we can sit outside in the sunshine and not dehydrate from sweating so much. Running can be a challenge, but getting up and out the door to beat the heat is usually the best course of action.

There was no beating the heat this week. Except indoors with the AC turned up to 11. Funny how that works. I have to bring a sweater to work because it's so cold inside!



Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Heat is On!

While I wasn't loving the cool summer we were having, it did make for some really nice runs. I'm glad I had those because now it is hot and whew, have my runs been suffering. So much for the return to the kind of running I'm used to. It's become all about putting miles in the bank, maintaining fitness until the return of cooler weather.

I'm not going to complain about the heat, though. Besides my runs, I'm loving that it is finally summer! I guess you can't have it all. Even though the running wasn't the best, there was a lot of good happening this week. Let's get to it.



Sunday, May 26, 2019

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program Already in Progress...

Oh.My.Gosh.

Can I just say how good it feels to feel good again? I knew I had been feeling bad, but looking back over the past month, that was probably the toughest I've had to endure since my initial diagnosis with RA 2 1/2 years ago. I did my best to stay positive, especially here on the blog. I just want to thank everyone for sticking by me while I worked through the flare. The pain is so much better and the fatigue is resolving.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Well, I brought some strength to my workouts this week! It's back to work.



Friday, March 9, 2018

5 Positive Ways that Rheumatoid Arthritis Turned My Life Upside Down

This post contains an affiliate link.

I know you're looking at the title to this post and thinking what could be good about having rheumatoid arthritis? Or maybe you're thinking: "she's done so much whining about having RA and now she's saying it's good?"

Well, after a year of living with this diagnosis, I've learned a lot about the disease. I've also adapted to the disease and for the most part, am living the life I lived before the diagnosis. Maybe even a better life, if that is possible.

I'm not sugarcoating life with RA. Yes, the diagnosis turned my life upside down. I take toxic medications to keep the disease activity low. I have daily symptoms of achy and swollen joints. I've had a few health scares, most recently liver toxicity from methotrexate, one of the medications I was taking to control my disease. If I had to choose, I'd rather not have RA.

But in spite of having a life-changing medical condition, so much good has happened over the past year. Sometimes it takes a slap in the face in the form of a devastating health problem to make you see all the good things in life. While the bad days are few, I've learned to appreciate all the good in my life more than ever.



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I Have Found the Fountain of Youth and It's In The Weight Room

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a runner friend of mine, another woman who happens to be in my age group. We were talking about how much we are struggling with running paces that just a few years ago were easy for us. Getting older sucks for runners, especially women runners. The number of finishers in the women's' 50+ age groups drops dramatically, especially after age 55.

It is a well-known fact that endurance begins to decline after age 40 for both men and women. Stride length and speed decrease as well (source). Flexibility also decreases. But most importantly, muscle mass and strength decline. Women lose up to 30% of overall strength between the ages of 50 and 70. For women, decreases in estrogen and testosterone after menopause affects the ability to maintain muscle mass.

What if I don't want to slow down? What's an aging woman runner to do? Besides giving up on running? Is rocking in the rocking chair an endurance activity?

I refuse to accept the common wisdom that equates growing older with frailty and weakness. I'm not ready to call it quits and if you're reading this, you probably aren't ready to call it quits either. The good news is you can keep running into old age and maybe postpone or at least minimize some of the inevitable effects of aging. But you do have to change the way you train. Put on your running shoes and head to the weight room. Yep, strength training is the key to staying youthful.



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Slowing Down is Hard to Do

"Don't take my speed away from me,
Don't you leave my legs in misery,
'Cause if you leave me, then I'll be blue
Slowing down is hard to do...." 
adapted from Neil Sedaka's Breaking Up is Hard to Do

"Come a come a down dooby do down down..." After last week's disastrous 10k where I had to take a DNF, I've done some sole searching. My mantra since being diagnosed with RA last year has been "finishing is winning". I've felt pretty good about my other races so far this year, but I'm not completely satisfied with how I've run them. Even using the run/walk intervals, I've struggled with pace towards the end of my races which tells me that either I'm running my intervals too fast and/or I need to work on conditioning.

I could just slow down, too. I could. One problem, though, is that I can't get my head around those slower finish times. I know I should just get over it. My head knows it. My heart feels it. But legs just want to go.

If I want to regain some of my speed and finish my races with a time that I can be proud of, I need to train with focus and discipline. The "winging it" method of race preparation that I've done my whole life clearly is not effective for me anymore. While I don't mind using a formal training plan for a full marathon, I've never done anything like that for shorter distances.

How I long for the good old days when the miles came easy! I'll just keep singing corny lyrics in my head and give it my all. I don't know how to do it any other way.


I've had 2 major health events over the past year: my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and menopause. Double whammy! Coincidence? Not at all. As it turns out, that drop in estrogen was like flipping a switch, turning on the RA machine. This all makes sense to me since I really experienced a decline in endurance towards the end of last year. What does that mean for me, as far as running is concerned?

Menopause causes declines in estrogen and testosterone which make it tougher to build and maintain muscle. Fast-twitch fibers decrease too. The lower levels of estrogen make it tougher to process carbs leading to abdominal weight gain (the "menopot"). RA causes fatigue and achy, inflamed joints. While the benefits of exercise for post-menopausal women as well as people with RA are undisputed, modifications need to be made in training regimens. Strength training takes on even more importance. When it comes to endurance training, the rule is to train smarter, not harder.

I have a 15k and 2 half marathons planned for the remainder of the year. I don't plan on DNFing any of them. So what are my plans for fall race training? None of this will be a surprise to any of you since I've been doing most of it already. The big change for me will be discipline and attention to pace, similar to what I did to prepare for my 4 marathons. No more winging it.

How did I do this week?

1. Strength training twice weekly: I'm working out at CrossFit on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Steph. Coach Kate programs our plan and we see her on Tuesdays. Those days are more typical "CrossFit" with intervals. On Thursdays, we work with Coach Sammy Jo and it's all strength. It's actually really nice to have the two different coaches working with us!

Deadlift max 135# today
2. Speed work once weekly: This week on Thursday, I turned those run/walk intervals into speedwork. I pushed my paces to 8m/m for 4 minutes and walked for one minute x 4 intervals. I wanted to do 8 intervals total. I guess it was a little ambitious, but it's a goal. I could slow down my speedwork intervals but I think I'll try to stick to that pace and increase the number of intervals. I'm trying not to think about marathon training 2 years ago when I was running mile repeats at 7:30 m/m. Things have changed in a big way for me.


3. One long slow run per week: Because of my race last Sunday, I moved my long run to Monday and did 8 miles using run/walk intervals. I repeated that same run today. Last Monday's run felt great. Today was a little more challenging for me because I'm having a mini-RA flare with inflammation in my hands and feet. It took a good 3-4 miles before I actually felt ok. While I was upset about my increased effort during those initial miles, as things eased up a bit, I started to feel my mood shift in a more positive direction.

Last Monday
4. 2 shorter distance runs of 4-6 miles per week: Ideally, Tuesday would be a tempo run and Saturday would be a shake-out run. I had a great 4 miler on Tuesday but Saturday's 4.5 miler was really tough in spite of the perfect running conditions. My joints ached and my feet were flapping on the ground, again due to the mini-flare I'm having.

Saturday was cool but beautiful
5. Yoga 1-2 classes per week: I made it to the yoga studio on Wednesday and felt good.


6. Continue morning anti-inflammatory smoothies with added protein: I continue to "drink the rainbow". No red smoothies this week though. Time to bring back the beets!

My plan, while not earth-shattering, feels right. Fingers crossed that I see improved pacing and endurance. Any armchair quarterbacks out there? Feel free to make suggestions. I'm all ears. Even when the conditions are perfect, as they have been this week, running with RA and post-menopause is a challenge. Due to the unpredictable nature of this disease, I realize now that as much as I prepare, my run could be a crapshoot. All I can do is the best I can do that day.

Training for anything? What challenges have you encountered as you attempt to meet your goals? Any suggestions or things that I might have missed?

I'm linking up with Holly, Tricia, and guest host Sara for the Weekly Wrap. To everyone in the path of Irma, stay safe!



Friday, July 7, 2017

Saying Goodbye to My Coach

You're probably reading the title of this post and saying WHAT? Actually, I'm saying that. I'm still in shock. But it's true. My training sessions with Becky are coming to an end.

About 6 weeks ago, Becky told Steph and me that she was moving to Las Vegas to join the circus. Seriously. She is taking a job with Cirque du Soleil as part of their medical team. It's an amazing opportunity for her. I'm so proud of her for going out of her comfort zone and trying something new! After all, isn't that what she's been pushing me to do for the last 3 years?

Becky asked us not to share this information until the CrossFit box had a chance to let everyone know. I put it in the vault and there it has remained until today. This was a post I did not want to write. I've been struggling to put my thoughts into words. It's so hard for me to say goodbye to someone who has completely transformed my life.



Sunday, March 5, 2017

I am....

This week in yoga class, the instructor started by talking about labels. She asked all of us to remove the labels that others have given us as well as the labels we give ourselves. She introduced a Sanskrit mantra: "so hum", which loosely translated into English means "I am". We did some pranayama (breathing), using the mantra "so hum".

You know I love a good mantra and "so hum", or I am, is as good a mantra as they come. Repetitive use of a mantra helps quiet the mind by giving the user a focus. The mantra "so hum" has a much deeper meaning, but for the purposes of this class and this post, I chose to focus on the "I am", letting go of negative labels and focusing on seeing myself in a positive light.

I am _________.

My mind wandered, as it often does during quiet meditation. While I breathed and so hummed to myself, I thought about how I see myself and how others see me. I could think of a few not so flattering ways people might see me as well as some not so positive ways I view myself. Taking a more positive viewpoint, I so hummed strength.

I would say that I see myself as strong. I bet most people would say that is how they see me too.

I am strong.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Power of Positive Thinking

I woke up pain-free this morning!

Now as you runners know, "pain-free" is a relative term. But considering that I spent this week recovering from my recent flare of rheumatoid arthritis, I'd say that today I am 99% pain-free. I took a couple days off work to rest, recover, and process the changes in my treatment plan. I saw my rheumatologist on Monday. While I am going to continue on the same regimen I've been on for a while, including the steroids and methotrexate injections, she also started me on Humira.

The time off work gave me a lot of time to recover, but also to think. Once again, I am feeling overwhelmed. One step forward and two steps back. I have a stack of bills and medical statements to go through. I am worried about the cost of this new medication. I have a house that needs attention and a husband working 6 days/week. I have a marathon to train for. Oh, and I have a job that requires me to be healthy. It's all a bit much.

As the week went on, I started to feel much better, both physically and mentally. I made my workouts my priority. Worked on some blogging stuff. I enjoyed the sunshine. Hung out with the dog. Made dinner for my family.

And I focused on the positive.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Practicing Kindness

On Wednesday at yoga class, the instructor came around as we prepared for savasana, which for you non-yogis, is that final resting pose at the end of class. She asked if anyone needed some extra grounding. She walked around the room, distributing sandbags to people who asked. Without me saying a word, she placed a sandbag across my thighs. That extra pressure on my thighs helped me relax. Her thoughtfulness made me feel so good.

The theme for the class was Ahimsa, which we take to mean practicing kindness. The Sanskrit definition, which is non-violence, is much deeper. The instructor's simple act of kindness inspired me to write today's post to reflect back on acts of kindness I observed and practiced this week.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Trusting the Process: On and Off the Road

I turned a corner this week. I ran well, I held my balance poses in yoga, and I lifted 89% of my max doing deadlifts with Becky.

I am feeling good. If I didn't know I had rheumatoid arthritis, I wouldn't know I had it. Does that even make sense? As I continue to wean off the steroids, my aches and pains are barely noticeable. I have more energy. My mood is good. Most importantly, my sense of humor is returning!

Becky always says it and my rheumatologist said it too: Trust the Process.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Group Run: It Was Time

Instead of life turning me upside down as it has been threatening to do for the last couple of months, I've taken charge. I'm making some pretty major changes in my diet, eating beets and kale and all kinds of foods I wouldn't have allowed past my lips just 2 months ago. I'm listening to more positive, upbeat music instead of the angry rock that has fueled my runs all these years.

This week I really pushed out of my running comfort zone and met up with a running friend and her tribe for a Saturday long run, which I hope was the first of many more to come. It was time.

When Steph asked me to join her and her friends for their Saturday long run, I didn't hesitate. Me, the runner who craves the solace of the long run? Who am I? I blame my boldness on the steroids I'm currently taking. Actually, I'm blaming everything on the steroids, but that's a topic for another blog post.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Cruise Control

After completing the lululemon/strava run challenge on Sunday, I dialed back my miles. It's nice to be "just" running again. Between some personal stress and our new president, I need my runs to help me sort things out. There is some prep work to do as I gear up for marathon training in March, but for now, I just get to run. I've got some mental fitness to work on and it's nice to have the freedom to do that.

No gears, no heart rate training, no goal paces. I've got it on cruise control.  



Sunday, January 8, 2017

Frost on My Running Shoes

 It's been a cold one here at the old TTLWH headquarters. Every morning, I vowed to run on my old ancient treadmill, but once I saw the sun starting to rise, I bundled up and headed outside into the polar vortex for my runs. 

Every damn time this week. Because the sun makes me feel warm, even on the coldest mornings.

It's been a good week of running!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Trials and Errors

This was a week of trials and errors, both on and off the road. Some weeks are like that. I've been struggling with some career decisions and a couple of days off early this week gave me time to clear my head. Wouldn't it be great to have someone to tell us what to do? Fortunately, there's running and cycling to give me time alone with my thoughts.

It was also an interesting week on the blog. My post about taking photos for Instagram was really popular and that made me happy! But I think my Runfessions post may have offended some people when I talked about race bumper stickers. By no means do I judge any of you who put running bumper stickers--no matter what distance--on your car. You know I am supportive of anyone who runs, no matter what the distance. I know how hard it is to up your distance and to line up to run a race. But I've shared in the past about how I didn't feel like a real runner until I ran 26.2, which is why that will be the only distance I put on my car. Even my first marathon didn't meet my standards. This is my issue, my problem and I'm sorry if anything I said was misinterpreted. We are all on our own journey. This blog chronicles mine.

Along with that, my workouts were a test of patience. The high humidity was back again. I had some time constraints and weather related issues, and this week flexibility was the key to getting it all done.

Trials and Errors

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 4

We were on a weather roller coaster this week with warm temps bookending a windy snowstorm midweek. Actually, the one thing that was consistent this week was the wind. In spite of the crazy weather, I was able to do all my runs outside. Welcome to spring in Chicago!


Monday: I started work later this day, so I was able to go to a yoga class at the studio. Megan had us do lots of shoulder openers--who doesn't need some of that? On the way home, I stopped to grab some sunshine and a humble warrior.

humble warrior
Humble warrior with hands in reverse namaste
Tuesday: I had an 8 mile run on the plan. It's always tough to get these longer distances done during the week, but the speed I found last week stayed with me. I ran on the bike path and caught some sunshine again! 8.09m/8:33m/m
Sunrise run
I am the fire
Wednesday: Since the winds were whipping, I was going to do my hill repeats on the treadmill. But I just couldn't. I dropped my son off at school and headed over to the hill where Walter Payton did his training. As it turns out, the wind was at my back for the uphills! I did 10 repeats on the hill path, and for the last repeat, I did a "plus" set--I ran to the top of the hill. Becky has me do plus sets with weight training, and I channelled my inner Becky to push myself on that last rep like I do at CrossFit with her.

hill repeats at Payton's Hill
Channeling my inner #34
After that, I went to yoga. We had a sub, but it was a lovely class and hit all the high points. But how sad is it that I don't remember much specific about the class? Note to self: remember to be more mindful. Or take notes.

Thursday: In spite of the post-run yoga I did the day before, I woke up sore from those hill repeats. I felt fine when I was doing them, so this was a bit of a surprise to me. Because I was so sore and knowing that today was my max lifting day, for my ride I chose to take it easy. I picked a cycling video from YouTube that was basically an endurance ride through Mallorca, Spain. There were no intervals, and most of the ride seemed to be downhill. Odd, I know, but for today, it worked. My guide was a little crazy--the roads were narrow and he rode into oncoming traffic just blowing past all the cars and a bus! This video had rock music, and I liked that so much better than the EDM that most of them use. But there were 2 ads in the video--one at 20 minutes and one at 40 minutes. Seriously. What is up with that? 1:02:02/13.24mi

Riding the bike trainer
Riding through Mallorca in my family room

After I rode, I went to meet with Becky. I was a little nervous about my max lifting day. I was thrilled to PR both my cleans to front squats and my deadlifts (177#)! Becky was thrilled too. She told me that I surpassed her goals for me this cycle.



After weight lifting, I asked Becky if she'd be up for a partner yoga picture. Sweatpink was hosting another Instagram challenge--this one was a partner workout. While they didn't specify yoga, and since Becky can get up in a handstand, I thought we could have some fun with it. And we did. Becky recruited the owner of the CrossFit box to take these pictures.

Partner Yoga handstand and side plank
She assures me she'll never be a yogi. I say never say never.
handstand and tree pose
My strong coach holding up my tree
Friday was a rest day. I woke up even more sore than the previous day. My wrists hurt from those cleans and front squats. My butt hurt from those deadlifts. As I headed into work, I remembered I had CPR renewal in the afternoon. That meant doing chest compressions on a mannequin to exhaustion. And also on those creepy plastic babies. Thankfully this class was a breeze. Although I did break a sweat pounding on the mannequin's chest, at least it wasn't prolonged.


Saturday: 5 miles, no goal pace. Still a little sore, I headed out into the sunshine and wind with no expectations. I actually felt pretty good and buzzed around the neighborhood at a brisk pace. 5.25m/8:34 m/m
Windy but sunny. #nofilter
Sunday morning I set out to run the 12 miles on the plan. My tummy was acting up and after multiple bathroom visits, I finally headed out. Sorry about the TMI. But this was a huge issue for me this morning. The wind was whipping, and I decided to head out into it, so that the wind would blow me home. I started out on the bike path, but took a detour to a different park after I passed a super creepy guy riding very slowly on a bike. My tummy was still unsettled. About mile 4, I knew that disaster was imminent. Then I saw this sign:


Do you believe in signs? You know I do, and I decided not to ignore this one. The church was locked but there was an elderly gentleman and his wife at the door. I knocked and they let me in. His wife gestured towards the sanctuary. "Come in!" she smiled at me. I asked to use the restroom, apologizing profusely. She looked confused, but her husband pointed me in the right direction. When I came out, I thanked them and again apologized. He asked me how far I was running, and when I told them 12 miles, they looked shocked. I explained why, and they nodded, still looking at me like I was crazy. Hopefully, they prayed for me. I continued on my way towards the park, and began to make my way around the lake. I stopped to take a gel at mile 7, and struggled to catch my breath after that point. It was getting fairly warm (60F). At mile 10, yep, another side stitch, just like my last 12 miler. I slowed down and breathed it off. By mile 11 it was gone, but I was toast. I finished up just before my driveway. When I saw my time, I knew why it was so hard. I need to do a better job pacing myself on these long runs. I've got to slow down. 12.02m/8:55m/m

Crow pose
Crow on the run
So I've got 2 weeks to go until my Sarasota half marathon. Today's run showed me that I'll probably run into problems with the warm temps if I don't slow down. Note to self: that race is a training run.

Right.

How was your week? Any crazy weather conditions to contend with? We're supposed to get snow tomorrow. Any signs on the run?

I'm linking this post up with Holly and Tricia, who are most likely basking in the glow of their RnR NOLA race this morning! Be sure to check out their posts and congratulate them!