Training Log – Week of February 22-28, 2016

The last full week of February was not as busy as the week before, so I got some solid workouts in! Even though I ended up working a little late Friday and bringing work home with me over the weekend, everything on my to-do list has been completed 🙂

Monday, February 22 – Rest Day

Tuesday, February 23 – Kettlebell Strength Workout and IronStrength Drills (40 minutes total)

Wednesday, February 24 – 5 mile treadmill run

Thursday, February 25 – Rest Day

Friday, February 26 – 3.2 mile run with a stair workout

Saturday, February 27- Core drills

Sunday, February 28 – 5 mile run with this little cutie below and Ironstrength 20-minute workout.

Nalarunning

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Standing Desks for Runners

These days, you don’t have to look too far for the latest studies (valid and reliable or not) on modern health risks – ten minutes after signing into Facebook, you’re likely to scroll through at least a dozen shared posts detailing the perils of…well, probably everything you currently do on a daily basis.

My husband, Brett, usually mocks these posts (and okay, I’ll admit…I join in on the fun…it’s how we bond sometimes…), but after reading about how a sedentary desk job can affect various facets of your life, and after feeling phantom, unpredictable foot pain on several runs last year, I found myself convinced that sitting all day is more problematic than I previously thought it was. After all, I would walk miles and miles in college and grad school across sprawling campuses, and transitioned into running pretty easily, so why would my body suddenly rebel against me like this? Methinks a big girl job or two that involves sitting all day at a desk might play a role in this.

The research on standing desks is mixed, but experts across various disciplines agree that staying in one position all day – in this case, sitting for 8 hours or more, every workday- increases your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and weakens key muscles. Welp, which muscles, might you ask? The muscles that you use for running. And unfortunately, running before or after work is not enough to counteract the damage being done.

So when my boss offered the chance to try standing desks at our workplace, I was definitely interested in participating! Not only does a standing desk feel like a mini-office space renovation (seriously, it really opens up a room), it’s a way to fit some movement into your day. Like I said, the research is inconclusive on standing desks, so I’m not convinced you have to stand the entire day to reap the benefits. I have a raised desk and tall chair, so I can sit or stand whenever I want without having to adjust the equipment, although I have tested the adjustable desk and I like that option as well.

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My current practice is to stretch and stand (again, the key is to get some movement in) for at least 45 minutes to an hour after an hour of sitting.  Standing at my desk is starting to feel more normal, and it’s becoming easier to send out a few emails and get some work done while standing for over an hour. Of course, meetings that run a bit long make this goal a little less attainable. I have noticed a little muscle soreness while transitioning, but nothing severe enough to make me discontinue this budding habit.

If you’re not convinced, or your workplace is slow to adopt this new office trend, here are some options for making sure sitting all day doesn’t affect your running:

  • Taking short walk breaks every couple of hours to fill up a water bottle or chat with a colleague about a project
  • Using your break or lunch time to go for a walk (great if you have a huge building or access to a tunnel or skywalk!)
  • Standing at your desk to stretch and do some quick drills, like high-knees or quad stretches)

Do you have a standing desk at work? Do you like it? Let me know in the comments.

 

Training Log, February 8-21

Welcome to my training log for the past two weeks! I like to read other bloggers’ training logs to get a sense of how they structure their workouts and posting my own keeps me accountable. I’ll also try to post at least one workout or run each week on Instagram as well.

That said, getting sick, working 10 hour-plus days, and traveling has led to a less-than-stellar workout schedule, but I managed to fit some activity in. I didn’t run or lift weights while I was sick because the last time I tried to bang out five miles while feeling sick, I ended up feeling worse, and I needed to get better as soon as possible to adequately manage a very busy and tense couple of weeks at work.

February 8-12: complete week off from running and weight-lifting

February 13 – yoga at home (Jillian Michaels – Cardio Yoga)

February 14- Valentine’s Day!

February 15 – 4 mile run

February 16 – Full Ironstrength workout

February 17 – Kettlebell strength workout

February 18 – 4.5 mile run with coworkers

February 19-21 – out of town for a bachelorette party! I didn’t get to fit my usual weekend run in but did lots of airport walking and an “exotic dance” class with the bride and fellow bridesmaids ….that has to count, right? 🙂

How did your training go last week?

Training for Your First Long-Distance Race

Now that I have three half-marathons under my belt (each with a distinctly different training cycle from the last, but I’ll discuss that later), I thought it might be helpful to other novice runners to share what I’ve learned about training thus far. This post is for my fellow beginner runners who once couldn’t run a mile without stopping, and are now finding that as their aerobic and muscular capacities increase, so does their love for the sport 🙂

As I mentioned before, I started running consistently with an immediate goal of getting into 5-K shape. I had no time goals – I just wanted to finish without feeling weak or winded! I had the exact same mindset when I trained for my first half-marathon, so I used Hal Higdon’s beginner plans for my first few races. Hal has plans for nearly every distance, from the intermediate distances to even racing back-to-back marathons, but these are the two I used and even refer back to from time to time. These plans are fairly flexible, and I think Hal does a great job of ramping up your mileage slowly, so as to avoid injury and unnecessary fatigue.

Hal Higdon’s 8-week  5k Training Plan

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Hal Higdon’s 12-week Half-Marathon Training Plan

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Of course, a solid plan is only a starting point. Here are some tips to keep in mind while training:

  1. Focus on actual time spent running instead of miles logged.
  2. Give your body time to adapt. This may mean starting off with two to three 30-minute runs a week for about 4 weeks, and then increasing the duration of your run or the frequency of your runs (not simultaneously!) over the next four weeks.
  3. Understand that sickness, injury, travel plans, and busy schedules will interrupt your training at some point. As soon as you’re able to fit in the next run, get it done! A delay does not mean your training cycle is ruined and you’ve completely fallen off of the wagon. Barring a doctor’s orders to discontinue activity, you can start again.
  4. Each training cycle will present its own unique challenges (ahem, opportunities for growth). I firmly believe that you’re a different runner every season, for better or worse. Consistency, structure, and a positive mental attitude will go a long way.
  5. Your diet and recovery practices will heavily influence how difficult training feels. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night,  drink lots of water, and focus on eating whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. Foods that are high-fiber and contain slow-digesting carbohydrates like oatmeal and apples, and healthy fats, such as almonds and avocados, are some of my favorites for long-lasting satiety and energy.

Happy Training!

 

Training Log, February 1 -7, 2016

I really enjoy reading other bloggers’ training logs, so I decided to add this segment to my site as well. I’m not currently training for a race, but this is what this past week looked like for me:

Monday, 2/1: 5-mile treadmill run + core work

Tuesday, 2/2: Rest day

Wednesday, 2/3: IronStrength (full workout)

Thursday, 2/4: 3.5 mile easy run with coworkers

Friday, 2/5: Rest day

Saturday, 2/6: 3.55 mile run +planks and 1-hour yoga class

Sunday, 2/7: IronStrength Glute and Core Blaster (combined workouts for a total of 40 minutes)

Pretty easy week, but it got the job done!

Building Lean Muscle While Running: A Holistic Approach to Fitness

From personal experience and the research I’ve read on running and weight loss, I can say that it doesn’t take long for the weight loss associated with running to begin to plateau. After you’ve been running for awhile, and logging lots of miles, the caloric burn per mile gradually decreases. For example, when I first started out as a new runner, I could burn 100 calories per mile, which meant that a 4 or 5 mile steady-state run would yield a 400-500 calorie burn. Now, according to my Garmin, I burn approximately 85-90 calories per mile. While fitness technology is not always accurate, high-quality trackers can provide a good baseline for you to monitor metrics such as calorie burn and average pace over time.

According to my research and in talking with my personal trainer, the decrease in my calorie burn per mile can be attributed to the body becoming more efficient at running. The body adapts very well, and can adjust to a particular exercise that is done repeatedly, without new challenges, rather quickly. This adaptation also translates to minimal changes in body composition. My body started to look very differently after consistently dedicating time to strength-based workouts.

In my last post, I highlighted the role of strength-training in an injury prevention routine, but I also want to take some time to discuss how incorporating strength-training and resistance-training into my fitness regimen has transformed my body:

I have actual, visible muscles now. Even when I was smaller in my early college years and in high school, I didn’t have visible back muscles or toned triceps. It’s so cool to see my efforts paying off. Also, aesthetic reasons aside, the strength I’ve been building in my glutes and core by strength-training is also an improvement in that it enables me to push through harder in the last miles of a long run or race.

To start weight-training, I would recommend Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer from BodyBuilding.com to learn a few basic lifts. This program limits cardio during a couple of phases, so it may be something to try if you are running very little or not preparing for any racing events.

If you do not have a gym membership, I LOVE FitnessBlender workouts for working out at home. FitnessBlender is a YouTube channel created by a husband and wife personal training team, and they are so good at what they do! Doing their workouts a couple of times a week consistently will yield great results.

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Shoulders are starting to come through!

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‘Mirin the #babygains

I’m not where I want to be in terms of fitness, but where I am now is a dramatic difference from where I was. I can’t wait to see how my more targeted regimen will improve my performance and add more lean muscle mass over the next few months.

Review: Dr. Jordan Metzl’s IronStrength for Runners

In 2015, Runner’s World released a new DVD that includes workouts developed by Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician, marathoner, triathlete, and fitness instructor based in New York City. I’ve long been a fan of Dr. Metzl’s “Inside the Doctor’s Office” series for Runner’s World magazine – these videos are short, informative segments focusing on the various parts of the body that are most affected by the repetitive stress of running long distances.

After purchasing and reading his book, Running Strong, I decided it would be a good idea to incorporate his recommendations into my weekly exercise routines, and the fact that he is a runner who works with runners everyday in his office made me trust his experience and perspective even more. Many of the exercises he outlines in his book are fairly straightforward and appear in many strength-training routines, such as squats, burpees, planks and mountain climbers. However, I felt I would benefit more from a full, start-to-finish workout DVD that I could follow along with instead of remembering to fit in all of the requisite functional exercises for injury prevention, plus weights, at my gym, so I purchased IronStrength. The product is actually a DVD set of the full IronStrength workout, plus three shorter, 20-minute workouts: The Core Blaster, Glute Blaster, and Abbreviated IronStrength routine.

My enthusiasm was quickly outpaced by the difficulty of the full IronStrength workout. It is hard! Dr. Metzl leads you through several rounds of plyometric squats and lunges (plyometric exercises are high-impact, jumping exercises that are designed to raise your heart rate and recruit your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are useful for improving your running speed and supporting muscle growth), plank rows with weights, one-legged bicep curls, core exercises, and burpees. It’s a 50-minute workout that feels like two hours, at least the first time around. It is recommended that you do the full Ironstrength workout and a shorter workout each week, for a total of two running-specific strength workouts a week. I modified this a bit a few months ago, during my first crack at IronStrength- I worked with a personal trainer once a week, and did IronStrength or a weights routine at my gym for my second strength-training workout of the week. This time, I want to see how my body responds to two IronStrength workouts for at least 8-10 weeks consistently. I don’t envision this workout becoming a cakewalk anytime soon, but I can confidently say running feels a lot easier after burning out your glutes, quads, and core! It’s also telling that this workout is difficult for me – it’s clearly targeting some weak areas that could benefit from the extra attention.

IronStrength

Have you tried IronStrength or any of the Runner’s World workout DVDs? Comment below.