February, the month of ❤️s. Give your body the ❤️ it deserves by making it stronger. Join me and fellow blogger Allison of inverted sneakers as we launch the ❤️StrongBody Streak Challenge. Starting on February 1, commit to 15 minutes of strength training, any workout of your choice, EVERYDAY until the end of the month.
As most of you know, I recently did a holiday Strength Streak Challenge and wrote a post on how to succeed at it. Allison commented on my post that she wanted to do something similar in February so after a brief suggestion, we decided to create this challenge and invite others to join in the fun. We are also starting a Facebook group for participants where you can post the workouts you did, provide or ask for ideas on types of workouts to do and give each other motivation.
At the end of February, you will receive the ultimate prize – a STRONGER YOU!
Plus many of the benefits strength training has to offer:
Slow the effects of aging. Research has shown a muscle loss avg of 5 lbs per decade starting in your 30’s for non-strength training adults.
Improve body composition – MORE Muscle, LESS Fat!
Increase your resting metabolic rate therefore burn more calories on a daily basis
Prevent the risk of overuse injuries associated with repetitive landing forces such as in running. Specific strength training improves muscle strength imbalances which protects your tendons and ligaments from injury.
Increased bone mineral density, important for older women who are more at risk to develop osteoporosis.
I am starting a new page on my blog, myRUNweek, which will show all the training weeks leading up to a race. I’ve been reading various weekly recaps and I thought it would be a great idea to track my weekly training as if I’m recording it in a journal. I can also look back on it to find ways for improvement. Plus it holds me accountable!
So I am starting with week 2 of 10. Week 1 was while we were still on vacation where I managed to incorporate a few runs and workouts. Currently, my A goal for the half marathon is a PR (1:44:30). I hate to admit but my fitness is not up to this level. I will re-adjust my goal after the 10K tune-up race scheduled the first week in February.
Monday: 4 mi Treadmill + Core/Hip Mobility (10:00/mi avg)
Tuesday: 8 x 400m (1:45 avg) repeats with calisthenics (SDTC Track workout) + warmup/cooldown (3mi total). Form drills (high knees, butt kicks, grapevines, hamstring kicks) and dynamic stretches prior to repeats. The recovery portion of the workout I alternated doing pushups, squats, side squats, and lunges. It felt great to be back at the track and be surrounded by a bunch of motivated runners.
Wednesday: 2K row + Strength Train – Personal best of 10:07 on the rowing machine! Truly becoming stronger and feeling good about it. The circuit below is from an article I read on Ace Fit, Weight Training for Weight Loss. I like the combination of exercises and being able to do it in a short period of time (took me 30min). It was a tough workout especially after the rigorous session on the rower.
Thursday: 7 easy miles around Coronado followed by form drills on the grass. It was a therapeutic run as I had a void in my heart only time can heal (Not quite ready to divulge the details yet). Also, I felt sluggish and tired the entire run due to lack of sleep caused by a 2 year old who’s been having sleep issues the past few days (hope it ends soon!) and the rough afternoon we had as a family on Wednesday. Plus the hard workout on Wednesday left me feeling sore. I need to re-schedule my strength workouts so they do not affect my running (or make it less stressful).
Friday: YES rest and recovery. A quick core/hip mobility workout at the gym. Both girls are in school so it was a day to run errands.
Saturday: 11 miles Long with San Diego Track Club (8:45/mi avg). I ran with my best friend and was involved in an engaging conversation the entire run. The pace was a little faster than planned but it felt comfortable.
Sunday: 40 min Power Yoga at home. The last time I used this DVD was probably before I had my first child which was 5 years ago! I felt tight and sore from Saturday run so I thought why not give this yoga workout a try. I loved that my 2 yr old tried to do it with me – her downward dog looked awesome 🙂
Weekly Total: 25miles/2hrs strength
Do you use a program/calculator to determine your training paces? Has a strength workout affected your run the day after?
Holiday break is over and back to our old routine. My 5 year old returned to school today and husband is back at work. Surely, my toddler is happy to have Mama all to herself for part of the day. And it feels good to sleep in our own beds after 9 days of being away from home.
A couple of months ago, we received an invitation from our friends to visit them in Colorado. It’s been 3 years since my husband and I went snowboarding and our toddler has never played in snow so the perfect opportunity was for us to take a road trip during the holiday break. Our girls, a 12 yr old dog, my husband and I in our SUV with approximately 16 hrs of travel time (plus a couple of hours more to include potty/fuel/lunch stops) – not exactly a pretty picture but with all the luggage we have, it was easier more practical to drive than fly.
9 days without any type of exercise would probably drive me insane so I knew it had to be a part of my schedule during this trip. Fortunately, most of the hotels that were dog friendly also had a fitness center and reasonably priced. Our first overnight stay was at a Comfort Inn in Cedar City. We arrived late afternoon and after we were all settled in, I checked out the fitness center. To my dismay, the hotel was in the middle of an upgrade as they had boxes of new equipment unopened.
An elliptical and a 25 lb dumbbell was all I had to work with, but it was enough to complete a full-body workout – a HIIT on the elliptical followed by a few hybrid-type exercises with the dumbbell (squat to press, lunge and rotate, renegade rows) + bodyweight exercises (push-ups, burpees, mountain climbers).
The following day, the girls peeked out the window to be greeted by snowflakes. First sight of snowfall was their excitement for the day as we still had a long road ahead of us before our arrival in Colorado.
We spent 4.5 days in Colorado with a day of snowboarding at Winter Park Resort. Our friends had a condo in Fraser where we stayed for a few days. It had a spacious well-equipped fitness center. I braved the cold (30 deg at 5400ft altitude in Arvada) on New Year’s Day when I ran 5 miles. However, Fraser at 8500ft and much much colder with snow/ice on the ground, I settled for a treadmill run where it was warm and comfortable.
We all had a blast on the mountain. The girls spent an afternoon on the bunny slopes, skis on their feet for the first time. My 5 year old did a really good job, but we couldn’t convince her to take lessons the next day. Our toddler was a bit unsure but seemed to enjoy it nevertheless.
I was a little anxious to go snowboarding as it’s been a few years. I guess it’s like riding a bike – once you learn how to balance and pedal, it’s a skill that can be re-learned quickly with practice. The beauty of snowboarding is I can control the speed and I will admit I was slow and too careful. Guess I didn’t want to cause an injury that would prevent me from running. The only pain I experienced was soreness in my legs that felt better by the next day.
Our trip back, we decided to divide our trip into three days with a stop to Moab, UT to view the arches at Arches National Park. It was only a 5 hour drive from Fraser, a much more tolerant drive than the 8-10hrs we did. I loved the changes in landscape from the towering snow-covered mountains in Colorado to the magnificent red rock formations in Utah.
We stayed at a La Quinta in Moab. Out of all the hotels we stayed, this one had the best fitness center with plenty of equipment to choose from. 3 miles on the treadmill and a quick full-body workout before dinner. I’m certainly lucky to have a supportive husband and kids who gave me some free time to get it done.
After Moab was another 5 hour drive to St. George with a detour to Canyonlands National Park. Unfortunately the weather prevented us from continuing on with our drive as the visibility was only a few miles and we figured it wouldn’t be worthwhile.
Last night in a hotel room – the Days Inn. It had a very small fitness center with a treadmill, an elliptical and a recumbent bike, as well as a pulldown machine. It was late around 7:30pm before I had the chance to run. I expected to be alone but actually had to share the gym with two other people. I had to start on the elliptical first as the treadmill was occupied. The cool thing about the treadmill was it’s IFIT feature with workouts at specific places you can view on the screen. One was a 5 mile course along the Monterey Coastal trail. I lived in Monterey for a few years and ran the trail many times so it was awesome to see the familiar views.
On the 9th day, we were HOME SWEET HOME. The drive from St. George to San Diego was the longest but we treated ourselves by stopping at the Wicked Spoon brunch buffet in Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas. Definitely worth the stop! The girls liked all the glitz and glamour. This entire trip was definitely a feast for their eyes – many interesting sights.
7 of the 9 days, I successfully managed to include some type of workout by making it a priority. Without the support of my family, it would have been a more difficult task. And I made sure I did my workouts within a reasonable timeframe that didn’t interfere with our overall schedule.
What’s the longest drive have you done? Do you specifically pick a hotel with a fitness center when you travel?
I wanted the first page of my book to be Awesome! Therefore Day 1 of 2016, in Colorado at 5400ft elevation and nearly freezing temps, I donned warm layers of rarely used running gear and joined my friend for a run, following a trail around a frozen lake with views of distant snow-capped mountains.
I can’t remember the last time I ran with snow on the ground. Living in San Diego with its near perfect weather has me spoiled. However despite the frigid thin air, my breath was steady and my body warmed up as I appreciated the glistening snow under sunny blue skies and the company of a friend whom I haven’t seen in 2 years.
To top it off, I finished my 37 day holiday strength streak (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day) doing 2.5 pull-ups on this bar conveniently located on the trail in addition to the push-ups and squats I did to warm up prior to the run. A woman walking by said “Way to go” and I considered it as a congratulatory note for my effort in completing the challenge.
Since it’s the beginning of a new year, I want to introduce my fitness and health goals for 2016. Some of these goals are already work in progress. One of the books I started reading during our road trip to Colorado is “Meb for Mortals” by one of my favorite elite runners Meb Keflezighi. The first chapter addresses “Goals”. He believes it to be one of the most significant aspects in being a successful runner which is why it’s the first subject in his book. “With the right goals and the commitment to keep pursuing them, you can achieve more in running than you ever thought possible”.
1. Half marathon PR by training consistently and following a plan that includes lactate threshold workouts.
2. Improve my running form by incorporating form drills 1 to 2x/week. Chapter 2 of Meb for Mortals is all about running form. Mine needs plenty of work as I’ve noticed poor form on many of my race pics especially those taken when I’m really tired.
3. Continue to strength train at least once a week. My strength streak has taught me that even on very busy days I can still take 10-15mins to focus on a few multi-jointed strength movements. The big 4-0 is also on the horizon this year and the older we get, the rate of muscle loss (sarcopenia) increases. Conserving muscle and bone strength is a definite must for me.
4. Eat more whole foods and be aware of the glycemic load of what I eat to reduce my Hemoglobin A1C % and triglyceride levels (see related post). My plan is to have my blood tested in late spring.
5. Reduce stress through mindful breathing. This is a practice I would like to master as I need to teach my body to relax more and let go of useless tension.
I plan to review these goals every month to assess my progress in achieving all of them by the end of the year. Happy 2016!
What did you write on page 1 of your 365 page book?
This past Saturday, Movin Shoes – one of San Diego’s local running stores hosted “The Soledad Challenge 10K Run to the Top”. Mt Soledad is located in La Jolla at 822ft above sea level with panoramic views of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. On top of this hill sits a redwood cross that has been a source of controversy for decades (which might have been resolved recently due to the land being sold to a private organization). Surrounding the cross are black granite blocks commemorating veterans who proudly served our country. One interesting trivia I discovered is Dr. Seuss’s last home sits on top of Mt Soledad – will have to look for it the next time I go!
Several paths lead to the top of the mountain, one path from La Jolla has a steeper climb, a run I did almost a year ago. However, the Soledad Challenge started from Movin Shoes in Pacific Beach with more of a gradual ascent. Still, it’s a continuous uphill route for 3 miles to reach the summit. Approximately 40+ runners showed up for the challenge that started at 7:15am. Our usual Saturday group all decided to run it. The more people I know, the merrier! It wasn’t officially a race – no bibs, no official time, but Movin Shoes did provide a water stop at the halfway point. Much appreciated.
Here’s the elevation profile:
I planned to take it easy, but running uphill is NOT EASY. I found it most comfortable to take short, quick strides. When my body started to fatigue as my heart rate shot up to 180+rpms, I started repeating in my head “Strong legs, Strong glutes, Strong core” to propel to me to the top. Having my BRF running next to me helped as well. She caught up with me visualizing a string attached on my back pulling her towards me. A trick we learned from a running seminar we attended years ago. She is an amazing and strong runner who is coming off from a break after giving birth 6 months ago.
Me and my BRF, Miche
Water stop!!! Yes, Please.
With some of the guys from our group
As we started our downhill run, we saw one of the gals in our group on her way up. We decided to turn back to accompany her to the top.
Downhill is the easy part, as many would say. To me, it’s actually more difficult. I have to run more conservative downhill or risk painful strains due to eccentric loading. Fortunately, the three of us took it easy and enjoyed the rest of the run.
The Soledad Challenge was definitely a challenging workout. Due to a great turnout, Movin Shoes has suggested to add this 10K challenge to their schedule once a month. Incorporating hills into my training program has many advantages, strengthening the cardiovascular system as well as increasing muscle strength and power, so I will consider running this event again.
Are hills a part of your workout? Anyone else racing during the holiday season?
Hip hip hooray! Three cheers for running three days this week (11/30-12/7). After a month off, I appreciate the delight running brings to my life even more:) A couple of weeks ago, I decided to join the twitter world under my blog’s name, ‘myRUNexperiment’ and discovered a wealth of information shared through this form of social media. Sometimes my head hurts trying to sort out who I want to follow, what posts to read now and which ones to save for later. I did find some fun run challenges to do with the opportunity to win prizes such as The December Run Challenge hosted by RunSteffRun and RunChatHunt (a Scavenger Hunt while out on your run) by TheRunChat.
Today is day 5 of my holiday fitness streak. Motivation is still high and if it ever does reach a low point, I will think of my disappointing lipid profile results (discussed in this post, Am I Skinny Fat) to bring me back to the major reason why I wanted to establish the habit of maintaining a strength workout. Fortunately, it’s been easy to keep a consistent schedule because 1) I have the support of my family and 2) our neighborhood YMCA has an excellent childwatch program that my kids enjoy. They play while I workout, a WIN-WIN situation. Continue reading “Strength Streak Challenge Update”→
Thanksgiving is around the corner and talks of the Runners World Run Streak is in the airwaves.
I did it in 2013, two months after I gave birth to my second child. It was a motivation for me to return to running so I can develop the habit and build a base to run a half marathon the following year.
As tempted as I am to do another running streak, it would be an unwise decision. Although my right ankle feels okay (I haven’t ran since MCM marathon in late October), I’m afraid the discomfort would creep back if I were to run everyday even if the minimum is only a mile a day. Still, I want to participate. Fortunately, in the latest issue of Runner’s World, it provided alternative ways such as the “Strength-Move” streak where every day you perform a movement that strengthens your body i.e. pushups, squats, planks. I like this idea because of my recent ‘high triglyceride’ discovery (read about it in my previous post), I wanted to spend more time strength-training to build more muscle and lose fat.
Here’s my STRENGTH STREAK plan. Every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, I will spend the minimum of 15 minutes strength-training. I can already foresee tough days ahead with regards to schedule (especially when we travel), but I will figure it out along the way. I will post daily updates on my twitter page – Follow @myRUNexperiment
Anyone else participating in the RWRunStreak or their own version of a fitness streak over the holidays?
What makes a group indoor cycling class so ideal? This past Saturday, because I sorely miss my Saturday morning long runs and wanted to fill the void, I decided to go to my neighborhood YMCA cycling class. Before I had kids, besides work and hanging out with my husband, I had plenty of time to explore other modes of exercise besides running – Swimming, Cycling, Yoga, Pilates, and different classes offered at the gym that I found interesting. I love to run but my body currently requires a low-impact form of exercise yet still challenging, so I returned to one of my favorite ways to cross-train – Indoor Cycling.
Forecast of rain threatened today’s big event for my kindergartener. Yet the sun peeked through the stormy clouds and delayed the downpour indicating a go for this morning’s Ultra Fun Run – a jog-a-thon fundraiser program held annually at the school. The kindergarten class started practicing for this day back in September where they all lined up at 8am and run/walk as many laps they could for 5 to 10 minutes. I loved watching their tiny feet scurry, right-left right-left, breathing in the morning air and awakening their minds before the start of a busy school day. The run was originally scheduled in mid-October but was postponed due to rain. Some of the kids, including my daughter were so disappointed when they discovered it had to be rescheduled. Much anticipation has built up to this day and I was relieved to see the sun shining!
Part of the “Fun” incorporated into this run is being doused by different colors. However, my daughter did not perceive the color as fun and wanted nothing to do with it. I reminded her to speak out regarding her aversion to the colors but all it did was build up her anxiety – she was “worried she is going to forget to say NO to the colors”. As it turned out, all she needed to do was cross her arms and I reminded her every lap to do it.
Standing in the grassy field, the kids waited patiently for the indication to start. They had 30 minutes to run as many laps (the most time Eyva has ever ran!) The emcee directed them to start walking first, then gradually speed up to a jog/run. I was standing by Eyva’s class when they started but as they moved further away to run the lap, it became more difficult for me to spot her as there were at least 100 participants from kindergarten to 2nd grade . This time my anxiety grew since Eyva is the smallest girl in class and I was afraid she will get trampled by the bigger kids. However, each lap she ran past me unscathed and focused to do more. Her motivation dwindled a little after several laps but I provided an incentive by giving her an M&M (halloween candy stash). Sugar = energy right!?…
As I watched these young children run, I noticed their playfulness and carefree attitude. Many enjoyed being covered in color and ran as quickly as they could to be doused with more. Some held hands with their friends, walked, and cherished a fun moment together. And a few were completely focused to run as many laps as time allowed.
Being a mother runner, I was delighted to see the kids have the opportunity to experience a Fun Run. We all know the importance of exposing children to physical activity especially as they age and most of their day is spent inside a classroom. Through this experience, hopefully they as well as their parents will be inspired and motivated to incorporate a bit of active play in their everyday lives.