Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hot Weather Hydration

Okay, so it's not exactly hot yet. More like warm. And, let me just say, I would never complain about beautiful sunny spring weather... but I'm experiencing a definite "transition" to running in warmth instead of sub-zero temps.

A couple of weeks ago when it first started to get warm, I went for an after work run in temps in the high 60s. I found that I was immediately thirsty. I had been drinking water all day and had downed about 16 ounces of water before I took off. Still, less than a mile in, I was unbearably thirsty. I think this might also have something to do with the decongestant allergy pills I have to take before running outside; they seem to give me dry mouth. However, I don't remember needing water during a short run (3 to 5 miles) last summer.

So, yesterday, I was planning a 6 mile run after work and it was about 72 degrees. I decided to use my water belt to avoid the misery of dusty throat. I drank a full 32 ounces of water before I left. And, finished my water bottles in belt in less than 3 miles... even though they got lukewarm very quickly. And, there was no good place on this particular route to refill.

If this super thirsty thing is how it's gonna be this summer (let's face it, it's only gonna get hotter and more humid), I need more water to carry with me. So, last night I did a little Amazon searching for hydration packs. I'm not a huge fan of my water belt, so I don't think the one with 4 small bottles would work for me. B. suggested a camel pack, but I feel like the straps would chafe. I've considered hand-held bottles, but at the risk of sounding like an idiot, I have trouble with keeping my arms moving with good form, and I think holding a bottle would exacerbate that issue. I found a waist pack with two 22-ounce bottles. That could be good, especially for long training runs this summer, but might be heavy.

But, for this one, I'm turning to the running community...
Is it normal to be thirstier when the weather changes?
Will I get back to normal once I'm used to warmer temps?
Anyone have a favorite hydration pack or ones you tried and didn't like?
Feedback would be much appreciated.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

One Year

Yesterday was one year since I first started recording my weight weekly in an attempt to lose 50 pounds. I'll be honest, when I realized that 12 months ago I started on what I thought was a 6 month plan and I still haven't completely achieved my goal, I was a little disappointed in myself. Lots of other health and fitness bloggers I've read have done so much more in a year: 60, 80, 100 even. Why haven't I?

I could list a hundred excuses, but really it comes down to focus. When I'm super strict with my diet and exercise 6 days a week, the pounds come off. But, I have a full-time job, and a relationship, and friends, and hobbies...So, some weeks, I just couldn't give 100% to this goal while giving my best in those other very important areas. I also couldn't deprive myself all the time. I heart ice cream. I eat far less of it than I did a year ago, but I still don't want to live life without any ever. The same could be said of a burger or a glass or two of wine. I could complain about not having reached my goal yet, but it was the product of my choice to lose weight "my way." The weight loss has been slow, but I've found a healthy life that I can live with long term and doesn't make me miserable.

But, that's not to say the numbers aren't going in a positive direction. Number on the scale yesterday? 159! Super excited about that. A mere 9 pounds to goal and then maintenance phase begins. And, I'm good at maintenance...There were lots of weeks when workouts or food were so-so, but my weight stayed about the same, give or take a couple of ounces. It's good to know that when I get to my goal, simply being mindful of what I put in my mouth, how much and how often will be enough to make sure I never ever have to do this again!

**PS: I've been working on a post about the fabulousness of the foam roller, but I haven't gotten around to taking any demonstration pictures. In the meantime, just let me say, my legs feel like new!**

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Week in Review

So week 1 of living re-committed is in the books, and let me tell you, it went well! How'd I do on my food goals? Well...
  • There were actually zero caramel machiattos this week! I had regular coffee twice. Couldn't believe it.
  • I stayed within my calorie limits 5 out of 7 days. One day it was just under 100 over, and last night was a bit more. It was B's brother's engagement celebration, so I allowed myself a couple glasses of white wine and a ice cream cupcake from Maggie Moo's (super yum!).
  • I did great on dinner out on Thursday. We went to Houlihan's, and I got a side salad and one of their small plates, so I got a taste of the good stuff with better portion size.
  • Until last night when I had ice cream, I had none of the "bad" stuff on my list that I was planning to cut out. In this week's weigh in, I was at 160.2, which was okay...I'd gained a couple of pounds in the week or so leading up to my decision to get it together.

I also did a good job on the exercise front. I kept the workout schedule I posted last week. The only slight changes was on Wednesday. I did a different strength circuit dvd and focused on just upper body and core. Why? Tuesday on my 5 mile run, I felt a twinge in my left calf again. After I got home and stretched out, it felt even tighter. So, I laid off the leg Wednesday. Thursday, I went out on a slow 5 mile run. I went out with the understanding that I would go for only as long as my leg felt okay. It got tight a couple of times, and when it did, I walked for a minute or two until it felt loose again.

That brings us to this morning. My left felt pretty good when I woke up, so I decided to go ahead and try a long run. Again, if things got bad, I was supposed to walk home. I started out slow, and when I'd have to stop at a traffic light, I'd stretch the calf while I waited. Everything felt pretty good. I did the same route as my 11-mile run. Luckily, one high-traffic water fountain had been turned on, so on my way home, I was able to fill my water bottles again. Hills were the hardest. I did a little googling about calf strain (and obsessed about whether it was actually an Achilles strain), and apparently hills aggravated the problem. So, I took it verrrrry slow up hills. It was amazing how much better the run was with ample water. To get the last mile in, I added a loop around our neighborhood and finished with 12 miles in 2 hours and 12 minutes!

I stretched out very well, but my calf is screaming still, and I'm sore in knees and hips. I tested out my new foam roller, and it did provide a very intense massage. I'm still not certain I was doing it right, but the instructions that came with it didn't really say how to do a calf stretch. Any tips or tricks?

That wasn't the worst part though...I'd been home for about 20 minutes when my stomach turned on me (if you know what I mean). B. kindly brought home a Quiznos veggie sub for lunch since I was curled in the fetal position moaning and wailing about my stomach cramps but desperately needed to eat. I finished off the afternoon with a nap, but my stomach is still not right. Has anyone else experienced this after a long run when a bug didn't seem to be the culprit? Any fixes?

Next week's workout schedule will look similar to this week's except that I'm switching out one or more short run with some other cardio (probably kickboxing or cycling) to give my leg a rest. It's going to be hard to resist going out if it's beautiful day, but I don't want to injure myself and end up jeopardizing my ability to participate in the half-marathon. And, hopefully, another week of commitment will put me in the 150s!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Confession: In the constant battle between healthy, active living and lethargy, lethargy has been kicking my ass lately.

I've been eating what I want to eat (i.e., fatty bad things) instead of what I need to eat (i.e., low calorie good things). I skipped my workouts on Thursday and Saturday because of the poor excuse "well, I have an appointment and neither before or after that 'works' for me." I could have made one of these up on Friday, my usual rest day, but I didn't. The workouts I did have this past week were mediocre at best.

So, it's time re-commit to the process. Again. As many times as it takes until I get where I need to be. For the rest of my life. Here are my vows in this re-commitment ceremony to my body:

I promise to help you get rid of those last, stubborn but unneeded 10 lbs so you can be a healthy weight to drag me through all the activities I try to put you through. To make this happen, I will stop with the junk and give you the fuel you need. Specifically,

  1. I'm cutting back to no more than 1 caramel machiatto a week. If I drink that machiatto on Monday, that's it. Regular coffee the rest of the week.
  2. Back to measuring, counting, and recording the food I eat more carefully. Just because I ate that handful of cereal so quickly you couldn't see it doesn't mean it didn't have calories.
  3. I'm going to stay within my calorie limits needed to lose a pound a week. If I'm going to dinner out, I'm going to adjust the day's calories accordingly. Splurging isn't splurging if you do it all the time; it's a way of life--the one that got you where you were before.
  4. More veggies and fruit. Less (preferably no) chips, ice cream, candy bars, diet soda.

I'm also going to recommit to burning calories through meaningful workouts and the following:

  1. I'm going to do 5 to 6 workouts a week, 3 cardio, 2-3 strength.
  2. If I have an appointment in the afternoon, I will get my lazy self out of bed before work and do it in the morning.
  3. I'm going to resist the urge to take a nap after work and then go work out. It messes up my sleep and starts a terrible cycle of staying up too late and waking up crabby and tired.
  4. I'm going to recommit to strength training. It makes running so much easier when your legs and core and even upper body are strong.
  5. I'm going to go to a minimum of 1 yoga class per week to help my body deal with the stress of running. I may also count this as a strength session.
  6. Finally, to keep myself accountable this week, and possible going forward, I'm going to post my workout schedule on this blog and update as I complete each one.

And, while I'm doing all this for you, you use what I'm giving you to lose those 10 pounds already and keep getting toned and fit. Deal? Deal.

Workout Schedule 03/14 - 3/20

Sunday - Vinyasa Yoga (90 minutes): Check!

Monday - Strength circuits (50 minutes): Check!

Tuesday - Run (4-5 miles)

Wednesday - Strength circuits (50 minutes)

Thursday - Run (5-6 miles)

Friday - Rest

Saturday - Long Run (8-12 miles)

Back to business! Hopefully this keeps me accountable...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yoga Meltdown with Jillian Michaels

I've been meaning to post this for about a week, but work has been insane. I was playing around on Amazon about a month ago when I saw a new Jillian Michaels workout dvd for pre-release order: Yoga Meltdown. I love yoga and figured Jillian would provide a kick ass Ashtanga style workout, so I immediately placed my order.

Let me preface my review by saying I've practiced yoga for about 10 years now. I've done lots of different styles, but Ashtanga/Vinyasa style is my favorite. I'm kind of a "purist"...I hate those yoga/pilates (piloga? yogalates?) classes. I believe a class can be tough and still keep the meditative spirit of yoga.

Anyway...I finally got a chance to try out the dvd this week. It was a strength training day, but I was very sore and thought yoga would be just the thing.

The dvd is divided into two 30-minute practices. One is considered "beginner" and the other "advanced." Jillian is joined by two helpers, one who does the most advanced version of poses and the other who does the beginner/intermediate versions. I was a little put off by a yoga workout that's only 30 minutes doesn't burn that many calories; my 90-minute Sunday class only burns about 450 calories. So, 30 minutes just didn't seem like enough going in.

I started with the first workout on the dvd as recommended. The workout started with some warm up movement, slow modified sun salutation variations. I didn't feel like my legs got warm enough from it. When it was time to do a complete vinyasa, I didn't like that she skipped the spinal extension at the beginning of the forward bend. Then the workout started...

The practice did follow a sort of "flow." In each circuit (she just can't get away from those circuits...if there was ever a time to do it, it was for a yoga dvd), we moved into a pose (for example, a lunge) and then "repped it out," meaning we moved deep into the pose, out of it and then back in. After a few reps, we held the pose for 15 seconds. I have to say I didn't think the reps did much good. I didn't feel as much burn as I do when holding a pose for a longer time or the heart rate increase from moving quickly through a variety of poses.

Some of the sequences seemed a little difficult or even dangerous for a beginner. Specifically, there's a sequence where we move in and out of half-camel and then hold full camel for 15 seconds. Camel is notoriously hard on the lower back for the inexperienced, and pulling in and out of the pose seems like a good way to get hurt if you don't know what you're doing. There were also some chaturanga push ups, which I enjoyed, but I'm not sure a beginner would be able to pull those off.

What made the dvd even harder to follow was the fact that camera tended to follow Jillian, who spent most of the session walking around, demonstrating form with the models. It made it difficult to see which version of a pose the other model was doing sometimes.

When the 30 minutes was up, I wasn't the least bit tired. I don't think I even broke a sweat. So, I took a look at the advanced practice. It followed a similar set up but included more core and balance work. I was hoping that I could string both workouts together for a decent workout, but enough of the moves are similar that it doesn't seem worthwhile. Plus, by the time you cut out the cool down in the first session and the warm up of the second session, you still aren't getting a very long workout.

So, as you can see I was disappointed. I was disappointed b/c I have yet to find a yoga dvd that comes anywhere near replicating a class. The closest I've found are the David Farmar podcasts, but those are also difficult b/c you don't get any visual help. I was also disappointed in Jillian...I love my other dvds from her so much. The Shred was what started me out on my weight loss journey, and the Blast Fat Boost Metabolism and No More Trouble Zones have made some great changes in the last few months I've been using them. But, Yoga Meltdown was just lackluster. I appreciate that she was trying to break out of her comfort zone, but Jillian should really stick with what she does best circuit training/cardio and leave yoga to the trained practitioners.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

11 Down 2.1 to Go!

This Saturday I was planning to push for 11 miles. A new farthest ever. One step closer to making sure I'll have a good first half-marathon experience (in just 35 days!!!) I had it all planned out...I'm not one of those people who can turn on the Garmin and just run aimlessly until the miles elapse. I did something similar when I ended up running 10 miles instead of 6, and it sucked. So, I got on good ole to figure out a good route. I decided on running from my apartment down Wydown, as I've done before, but when I get to Forest Park, I'd do the 5.66 mile loop and then head back home. It came out to just over 11 miles.

I also knew I'd be trying out some new gear for the first time. I'd been eyeing some capri-length running tights. The Fila yoga style capris I ran in last summer were fine for short distances, but the seams aren't anti-chafe enough for longer runs. I'd love to be able to rock a pair of spandex shorts, but embarrassing confession: even though, my thighs are significantly smaller, shorts of all kinds still ride up when I run. Anyone else have that problem?? I knew tights were likely to set me back about $50 a pair or more, so I was looking for a deal...then early last week, I saw a tweet from Deals Plus saying the Nike store was offering an extra 20% off their already 50% discounted clearance items. I scored 3 pairs of Dryfit capri tights for the price of 2 at a sporting goods store. And, even though I chose regular shipping, they arrived by Friday morning! It was supposed to be a high of 60 degrees yesterday, so I decided to give them a go.

I also know from past thirsty experiences that the water fountains in the parks around here and in Forest Park aren't turned on yet, so I decided to try out the water belt B. got me for Hanukkah. I filled the 2 bottles with a Gatorade/H2O mixture and stuffed some Sport Beans in the pocket.

I wanted to get on the road early, but due to a sinus headache (the only downside of spring) it was about 9:30 before I got out the door. I wasn't sure what to eat before I went. Eating too much results in a major stomach cramps, so I opted for my usual Greek yogurt w/ honey and cinnamon Puffins even though it's only about 170 calories. I was optimistic. My headache was subsiding, I'd had an extra rest day Thursday, I could definitely do this!

The first 3 miles to the park were good. I felt strong, and about half way there I mastered the water belt. Putting it around my natural waist didn't work; it kept moving higher and higher as I ran. Finally, I stopped and put it around my hips and pulled my shirt out from under it. That worked much better, and eventually I could hardly feel it.

Forest Park was hopping. Everyone and their dog was out enjoying the sunshine. A lot has changed since last year at this time. I felt like one of the "real" runners, not the miserable, chubby girl trying to keep her feet moving. I'm not saying a dad with a jogging stroller didn't still leave me in the dust...nothing like someone pushing an extra 50 lbs speeding by to make you realize you need to pick up the pace a little!

When I finished the park loop and stopped for the walk light to cross back to Wydown, I was TIRED. I tried to eat some Sport Beans, but they were sticking to my teeth and roof of my mouth and I was trying to conserve my water (those bottles are pretty small...maybe I should have opted for the 4 bottle belt). I'd gone 8.5 miles approximately, and the way home was on an incline until the last mile. I waited for my 9 mile second wind like my last long run. It arrived...and then disappeared at mile 10. The last mile was sheer will. My breakfast was a distant memory, my water was gone. I was never so happy to hear the Garmin beep for the last mile.

I finished 11.05 miles in 1:57. Considering I finished my first 10K in 1:02, I'm okay with that time. If race day goes well, I could finish the other 2.1 miles in about 20-22 minutes putting me at 2:20-ish, which I'd be completely okay with. At the end of every run, I always ask myself, could you have gone farther if you had to? In this case, could I have powered out another 2.1? If it were race day, and there was an aid station with orange slices and water, yes. As it was, no, I was just out of gas.

Some things to figure out before my next long run: getting up early enough to eat, let my food digest and still get running before it gets too hot. Also, plans for filling up my water bottles mid it a faux pas to stop into a Starbucks or somewhere and use their water fountain if you aren't buying anything?

But, when it was all said and done, I had finished what I set out to do. Here I am exhausted but very (red faced and ) pleased with myself: