Thursday, December 31, 2009

Addendum to last post

I failed to mention that after that intense plyo/weight workout a couple weeks ago I could barely walk the next day. Everything hurt - and I mean EVERYTHING!! It took 3-4 days for the soreness to completely go away. To top it all off, I started getting sick the next day. My little head cold quickly turned to a sinus infection that took away all my sense of smell and taste for 5 days. Not fun!! With some antibiotics, I'm much better now. I've even started braving the cold and running outside again. I ran a 5 miles this morning. It was quite chilly, but so much better than treadmill running. Hopefully, this is the start of a more healthy year of running.

See ya next year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Off-season training

It's been a while, yet again. With so much going on this month, I haven't had much down time, let alone time to train. I've just done the bare minimum running the past two weeks while celebrating Christmas with my family and fighting a nasty sinus infection.

My most significant workout this month was a couple weeks ago when I met my friend, Stephanie, at the gym. She agreed to show me some plyometric exercises she does in preparation for her fitness competitions. (Before going on, let me give you some give you some background info.)

I met Stephanie through Runner's Edge about 10 years ago. We ran our first marathon together and trained together for several others after that. A few years ago, she suffered a knee injury that kept her from running long distance. Eventually, she got better and was able to run a little. But, wanting to push her body more, she decided to enter her first fitness competition last year. Since then, she has become one hard little body and has started her own personal training. Check her out on her new website -

So, back to Thursday. We met at the gym early in the morning. When I first got there, I warmed up by jogging on the treadmill for 10 minutes. Then, we got down to business. She decided to mix up some weights with the plyo drills. She started me off with 10 lb. dumbells (20 lbs. total). Let me just say that I never do more than 5 lb. dumbells on my own at home, so this was a stretch for me. Not wanting to give up before I even started, I agreed to the 10 lb. weights. Now, bear with me, I don't know the name for all these exercises, so I'll do my best to explain. We started with raising the dumbells from a squat to the chest, then raising them overhead. I repeated this set 12 times. Next, we moved onto a plyo drill. This was the pattern for the rest of the workout - weights/plyo/weights/plyo.... Weights consisted of bicep curls, tricep body pushups, straight arm lifts (not sure if this is what you call them). Plyos consisted of various jumping exercises - jumping on the weight bench, jumping over the bench, hop skips, and squat jumps. They didn't take long. The goal was to do three sets of these eight exercises. I did 12 reps of the weights alternating with 10 reps of the plyo. Somewhere in the second set, I started feeling light headed. I tried pushing through, but I had to start taking longer breaks in between exercises. Even with the rest and drinking lots of water, the light headedness didn't go away. By the end of the third set, I couldn't finish the final plyo. My heart was racing, the gym was spinning, and I was feeling all out of sorts. I felt the blood rushing from my head and hands and was starting to see stars. Fearing I was going to faint and embarrass myself and my friend in front of all these huge muscle men around us, I sat down and tried to get myself together. We tried heading over to the mats and ab machines on the other side of the gym, but I could only make it halfway across before I felt dizzy again. I sat down a few more minutes and drank some more water. We eventually made it to the mats, but I still couldn't stand. Stephanie showed me how to use one ab machine, then I had to lie back down on the mat. We finally came to the conclusion that I probably needed to eat something since the water alone wasn't helping. Stephanie ran and got me a quick sugary snack. Soon after devouring it, I felt more like myself. My color came back and the world stopped spinning.

I learned a valuable lesson that day - I may be able to run decently, but my other muscles are still weak. I have a long way to go if I want to get in really great shape overall! Stephanie is amazingly strong and fit. I am impressed with her ability to do the workout she showed me with such ease. I should mention she was using heavier weights and continued her workout for another hour after I left. She is one dedicated woman!!

I was curious to learn about these plyo exercises as I've heard they are really good in helping you run faster and preventing injuries. I will definitely use what I learned, but will have to do better at hydrating and eating before I do these exercises AND listening to my body during the workout to adjust if needed. I won't push through like I did before!

Funny how this is supposed to be my "off-season," yet I keep finding ways to push my body to it's limits. I think it must be a way for me to keep preparing myself mentally for the hard marathon training I'll be facing in 2010. I think in a previous post I mentioned that my winter training offically began. Maybe I was a little too intense about that and I should stay focused on just staying healthy and watching my limits. Soon enough, I'll be setting my New Year's resolutions and will be getting serious about my marathon training. Until then, I'll enjoy these final days with family and friends and eating a few more yummy treats as I'm winding down 2009.

Friday, December 18, 2009

'Tis the season...

Welcome back! I haven't posted for a while. I simply haven't had time or energy. Plus, not much new to report on the running front. But, lots to share elsewhere. December has been one crazy, busy month already, and Christmas is still a week away! Most of my time and focus early this month was on preparations for leading the children in our church's Christmas musical. We did "The Christmas County Spelling Bee." I had been rehearsing with the choir since September, but we still had a lot to put together during the last couple of weeks. At times, I wasn't sure we'd be able to pull it all off, but with lots of prayer, it was a success. The kids did amazingly well!

This experience reminded me of why I love running so much. While music has been a big part of my life ever since I was a little girl and it was my first passion, there are reasons why I don't enjoy being a musician. I am a born and raised perfectionist and it's very difficult for me to ever feel like anything is really ready. In my mind, I can always do more. I've always been my worst critic before all my musical performances, and working with the choir was no different. I knew I couldn't (and shouldn't) expect it to go perfectly and the kids were adequately prepared, but I still had trouble feeling okay about it all. Since I knew I couldn't control every aspect of the musical, I was going to have to trust and just do the best on my part.

Running is different. It's a solo act. While my husband/coach does all he can to help prepare me for the big day, I take on the responsibility of getting myself ready. If something goes wrong and I mess up in training or on race day, I feel I only have myself to blame. The great thing about running is that I can use the adrenaline from my nerves to get me going. I can prepare myself physically and mentally by getting pumped up with all my favorite music. I can stand on the starting line with my heart pounding and palms sweating and know that somewhere in that first mile, my legs, breathing, and my heart will eventually find a good rhythm. It's physical!!

Yes, you can argue that making music is a physical act too, but all those nervous qualities I so often exhibit (fast breathing, fast heartrate, overactive mind) don't benefit me while I'm performing. They often times get in the way. When I'm singing or playing, I don't want my heart racing. I need to feel the music and get into the rhythm of the piece, not my body and mind. Performing music a mental game for me, not so much physical like running is. I don't know if all this makes sense or if you even care to read about all this, but it was just an observation I had as I was preparing for this musical. I think what really brought it to my attention was Eladio playing "It's a Fight" from Rocky Balboa right before I left the house. He thought it would pump me up in a good way like right before my races. But, I warned him that it was counterproductive and I needed something more calm and soothing. I don't think he got it, but I appreciate his efforts to try to help me. Thankfully, through God's amazing grace, I found the peace and trust I needed right before we stepped out on the stage and everything turned out just fine. Yet, another test of my faith and ability to let go and trust God to do His work. I was reminded that it's not about me, it's not about the kids and a perfect performance, it's about glorifying God and spreading the His Good News to all the people. I pray we were able to accomplish that.

That was last Sunday. This week has been filled with making delicious, decadent, calorie-laden Christmas treats to give away. Sadly, not all of them have made it out of my kitchen, but have been filling my tummy instead. We've had some very cold days here the past couple of weeks and with being so busy and tired, I've not done much running. The little I have done has been trudging along on the the treadmill at the gym. Not my favorite thing to do, but about all I can handle when it's single digits and below zero windchills outside. I'm giving myself a break and not feeling guilty for the lack of running lately. I know there will be time for heavy training and pushing through my tiredness and busy life, but not now. It's still my off-season. Marathon training will be here soon enough (mid-January!). It's time to enjoy this Christmas season and finish up my shopping.

I do have an interesting story to share about my workout yesterday, but I'll save that for my next posting. I'm still recovering and need some time to process my thoughts. Stay warm and stay well! God bless.