For well over a year now, Wednesday nights have been my “me” nights. It started because I played beach volleyball with work friends on Wednesdays last summer and then over the winter it turned into my night to get drinks or dinner or work late, whatever I wanted to do. In January my best friend forwarded me an email of a new spin studio opening in Baltimore. So when we decided to check out the new Rev Cycle Studio, Wednesday was the natural night to go. Continue reading
This winter I have taken up the most balanced mix of running, cross-training, strength training and stretching as I ever have before. Probably because it’s just been too damn cold to run outside as often as I normally might. Nonetheless, I have found myself trying to nail some of the basics of building a strong core and pelvic floor.The root of this seems to be grounded in mastering the kegel, something I’ve tried before. After reading, and re-reading certain sections, of The Whole Body Fix in the current issue of RW I am feeling even more motivated to figure out this basic move and also kicking myself for not having been doing certain things all along (which will be the topic of a whole separate post). Continue reading
When I first started going to spin class I thought for sure I wouldn’t last. I thought I might get bored or never build up a tolerance for the intense work-out it provides at the crack of dawn. Now I’ve already lost track of how many classes I’ve gone to (though I could check it in my Runner’s World training log) and I have come to appreciate the intensity of spinning and I am certainly not bored. Just as no one run is the same, neither as any one spin class and it’s not just because of having different instructors. The class is entirely about what you put into it, how much extra gear you’re willing to add to your bike, and how hard you’ll try to sweat a little more each time.
The variety of spinning is what keeps me coming back and I recently got even more than I bargained for with a fantastic instructor. She called the course SSOB–Spinning Strength Off Bike. Normally the courses run for a full 60 minutes of spinning. According to the triathlon training schedule I’m using I technically only needed a 35-40 minute foundation ride, meaning a ride at a moderate pace. I figure it’s in my favor in the long run if I can already ride longer and at a higher intensity. This course gave me a good 40 minutes of spinning in addition to a strength work-out which I have been somewhat neglecting.
For 20 minutes we did sprints, out of the seat sprints, a seated climb, and a series of 20 second sprints at gear 6 with 20 seconds of rest. Then it was off the bikes and over to the wall. Continue reading
After taking off from exercise for one full week to let my body really rest, it felt like months since I’d done anything cardiovascular. I picked a Sunday to start back into an organized training and fitness plan and I don’t think I could have picked a better day. From my bed I could see that it was gorgeous out, a perfectly clear and sunny spring day. I knew it would be chilly though so I prepared with layers and was shocked once I got started to find out how windy it was. So why was it perfect? Because it was pretty enough to remind me why I love running outside but it was also chilly and windy enough to humble me and reassured me that I can’t just jump back into running where I left off.
I am starting fresh. I find this to be a huge opportunity to do it all “right” this time. I wore my Polar heart rate watch this morning which I haven’t touched in over a month. I’d like to get a better grip on heart rate work-outs and use them to really understand my performance. First though, I think I need to learn how to use my watch because for some reason it didn’t measure my HRs this morning.
My plan was to do around 3 miles in my neighborhood but because I didn’t map the route ahead of time I was bummed to find that it only ended up to be 2.54 miles at the end. Continue reading
Lately it feels like life has been moving full speed ahead; this is definitely true for me and many of my friends and people I come in contact with on a regular basis. We cram as much as possible into each day, we start early, end late, we say “yes” to everything, and end up rushing from one thing to the next.
I recently had an epiphany that this same fast pace has made it’s way into exercise as well. There are two pilates classes with different instructors that I take pretty regularly at my gym. The two instructors have very different styles: one is more traditional following the “basic 10” movements with steady transitions from one movement to the next and the other instructor combines traditional pilates movements with additional strength exercises using a bar, weight, and lightweight, small medicine ball. With both of these instructors I feel like I get in a great work-out and I’m always impressed with how much they fit into one hour.
At pilates this week, I set my mat down with the others in the class and stretched while waiting for the instructor. A couple minutes before start time, a woman walked in, put her mat at the front of the room, and I quickly realized we had a substitute. She was the woman who teaches the third pilates class at my gym which happens to be at times I can never attend. This instructor (and I don’t mean to stereotype here) had the personality of a step aerobics instructor; she was high energy, loud, and conversational. At first I missed the calm, quiet of the other instructors, but it didn’t take long for me to truly appreciate following someone new. Continue reading
The room was dark, a fan was blowing on me from the corner, I was slightly uncomfortable on my seat, I was focusing on the upbeat music the instructor had chosen, and in my mind I was pedaling along an uphill road that I had once biked along in Cape Town, South Africa. Except that I was on a stationary bike in Charleston, South Carolina. Soon I was sweating profusely and by the end of my first spinning class I was drenched, sore in places I didn’t think possible, and my legs were shaking from being pushed like they had never been pushed before.
That was seven years ago. I’m grateful to have taken spinning classes before because I know from personal experience what an incredible work-out a well taught spinning class is and that the harder you’re willing to try, the better the class can be. In college I might have taken a couple dozen spinning classes which was great for when I needed to get in a good sweat, but not enough to get me totally hooked. Though I enjoyed the spinning classes I took in Charleston, since graduating from college I have focused my energy mostly on running. Continue reading
The lower back is an integral muscle in the core and having a strong lower back and core contributes greatly to being able to maintain proper form over long running distances. Having a strong lower back also eases the shock the back muscles absorb with each step during a run and can help eliminate possible pain as a result of consistent running. I feel as though many of the core muscles I have always worked are the various abdomen and oblique muscles and I often neglect the lower back as part of the core unit. In my new strength training regimen, I have an entire set of exercises that work the lower back and surrounding muscles and though I feel sore from finally working that area, it’s a good pain and I imagine will pay off in the long run.
In addition to strengthening the lower back muscles and training them to be a support group for the rest of the core, doing regular back exercises and stretches will help improve posture. I sit in a chair in front of the computer most of the day and I love to slouch. I find it comfortable but I am very aware of how bad it is for me and I’m sure it’s not the most attractive look either. It also concerns me a little that it is a chore for me to sit up straight for extended periods of time. If I can’t simply sit straight in a chair, how am I supposed to run more marathons with any kind of good form? Continue reading
Sing it with me! I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more! And tonight I could have. A girlfriend invited me to join her for an after work power walk leaving from the greenest building in Annapolis (Chesapeake Bay Foundation) and doing a 3-mile loop along the waterfront flanked by gorgeous houses.
My friend has got some muscles on the mend from past triathlons and has mastered the art of power walking during her recovery. She set us out at a good clip and even the dog could barely keep up, but soon we all fell into stride and were cruising along the curving road. Given her experience with power walking I noticed her form was a bit more practiced than mine. I could feel my legs wanting to go into run mode so I concentrated on planting my feet and lengthening my stride. With a dog leash in one hand my arms weren’t pumping at the most efficient angles and I could tell that I wasn’t focusing much on my core either. Continue reading