Five Ingredients to a Successful (Strength) Streak

Recently I undertook a 37-day strength streak challenge during the busiest time of the year (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day).  As expected with challenges, I experienced a few hurdles but was able to overcome them.  I want to share with you the five elements significant to successfully completing this challenge and hopefully may help you to prevail over your challenges too.

MOTIVATION. What was the driving force?  For me, it was to develop the habit to include strength-training sessions into my fitness plan to build more muscle and lower my triglyceride levels.  The results from my blood test last year was a true awakening for me to overhaul my fitness and dietary habits.

PROPER PLANNING.  The week before or even the day before, write out a plan to answer the questions 1)What?  i.e. A TRX full body workout or Bodyweight workout targeting core and hips  2) When?  Morning for an hour or later in the afternoon for 15min during the kids’ screen hour.  3) Where?  At the YMCA gym or at home.  Having a plan ready ensures you get the job done especially when you’re short on time.

BALANCE.  To avoid the risk of injury or burn-out, maintaining a balance is important. I alternated easy and hard days, varied the type of exercises and used different types of equipment (Barbells, dumbbells, TRX, medicine balls, bodyweight, cable machines), and shifted focus on another area of my body (upper body) to allow for recovery when my legs felt fatigued and sore.

DEFINED SPACE.  For me, I needed a specific place to workout – either at the YMCA (where they provided childcare) or at home (fortunately I’ve collected enough fitness equipment to complete a workout).   However, on occasion I did part of my workout at a playground with the kids (monkey bars are no joke!…) and came up with a plan as to what type of exercises I can do in that type of environment.

SUPPORT.  My husband and my kids are my rock.  Without their support,  this entire challenge would not have even started.

Are you currently trying to overcome a challenge?  What helped you in becoming successful at it?

As in the previous week, I am happy to link up with the DC Trifecta ladies, Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar on the Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?! for Friday Five, choose your own topic.

Friday Five: Meb’s Words of Wisdom

Each week my girls and I visit the library conveniently located less than a few minutes drive from our house.  I always feel as if we were returning from a shopping spree, our huge bag heavy and filled with books.  Two weeks ago before the start of our road trip, I lucked out when Meb’s book, Meb for Mortals I requested was available for pick-up. It was the perfect book to read during a long drive as it delivered candid details of a champion’s training program.  I finished reading it, my mind brimmed with knowledge and ideas on how to apply Meb’s words of wisdom to my current training.

The best part of the book was at the end of every chapter featured a section of “Do’s and Dont’s” – concise and insightful advise to ponder.  While there are many to consider, I chose five of the best to help improve my running potential.

1.  DO regularly work to improve your running form.   One of my fitness goals I previously mentioned is to incorporate form drills at least 1-2x/week in my training.  Meb actually does them almost everyday as he stresses the significance of getting them done. He advises for those who are time-crunched to “Run 1 mile less and use the extra time to do drills.  One or two miles less per week for significant improvement in your running form and a lowered injury risk is a great trade-off.”  Runner’s World online featured an article in April 2015 regarding 5 Drills to Make You a Better Runner with video tutorials of Meb performing the drills adapted from this book.

2.  DON’T run your hard workouts so hard that you’re exhausted afterward.  Raise your hand if you’re guilty (Hand high up in the air!)  I’ve had days when I felt like I could fly during interval sessions, yet had to take a few days to recover.  Understand every workout requires a specific pace to meet its purpose.  Running faster will not further improve performance but only induce more stress which usually leads to injury.  “Save the racing for race day.  You should always feel you could have done another interval or a longer tempo run or another mile or two on your long run” is Meb’s advice.

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3.  DON’T think that running a lot means you can eat whatever you want.  This one hit a nail on my head.  It’s definitely an excuse I’ve used many times before. Knowing my lipid panel stats nudged me in the right direction towards better nutrition.  What surprised me however was that someone like Meb who runs more than 100 miles a week has to take measures to control his weight.  I guess we all experience struggle with our ideal weight.

4.  DO consider strength training to be that much more important as you age.  I am a year younger than Meb and can relate to his approach towards strength training.  Now that he’s older, he focuses more on functionality and deter the effects of aging.  I completed my strength streak challenge over the holidays which helped me get into the habit of including strength workouts a couple of times each week.  Physically, I feel stronger and more balanced.  It was definitely worthwhile to add a strength training regimen to my program.

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TRX, one of my favorite equipment

 

5.  DO take measures throughout the day to speed recovery.  Meb discussed several ways to help quicken recovery, from post-workout nutrition to ice baths, massages and sleep. After a long run, I usually wait until I get home before I eat/drink anything besides water missing the 30 – 90 minutes “recovery window” when glycogen synthesis is maximized where your muscles’s ability to store glycogen is at its peak.  A combination of carbohydrates and protein is ideal as protein is the key to repairing damaged muscle fibers during rigorous session.  After a hard workout, Meb has an electrolyte drink, a protein-enhanced Generation UCAN (one of his sponsors and a drink I would like to try in the future) before stretching then a banana or PowerBar afterwards.

If you haven’t read the book yet, see if you can borrow it from your local library or better even, get a copy for yourself – a great addition to your running library.

Friday Five is a link-up hosted by the DC Trifecta ladies, Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar on the Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!.  I’m thrilled to join their link-up today under the topic “Favorites”.