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Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Thanks for the kind words about my race report!  I’m so used to my husband’s eyes glazing over when I talk about races that it’s unusual to have people actually be interested.  🙂

Kendra over at Kendra Through The Looking Glass is running a Change It Up Challenge where each week in August she’ll present a challenge designed to get you out of your fitness ruts and shake up your routine.  I love this idea so I joined right in.  The challenge for the first week is to change your workout three times this week.

One of my biggest workout ruts that I fall into is only doing cardio.  I hop on the strength training wagon now and then, but I don’t stick with it long enough for all the sets, reps, weights, exercises, etc. to become as mentally easy and second nature as heading out for a run.  So strength training was the first thing I thought of for changing up a workout.

To get even further outside my comfort zone, I decided that for my first changed workout I would try out a piece of exercise equipment I’ve had sitting around for over a year but have NEVER used:

TheraBand Resistance Band

(not my picture)

I got a TheraBand resistance band last year through a wellness program at work.  But I had no idea what exercises to do with it, so between that and my general aversion to strength training it’s been sitting in my closet gathering dust.

But no more!  I found this routine on Livestrong targeted towards swimmers, and did 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise (except for the flutter kicks because my core strength sucks).

It’s always a little awkward doing new exercises for the first time, but I actually had fun with it and it was harder than I expected.  Like most things, the resistance band has both good and bad aspects.

Pros:

  • It’s super portable, perfect for tossing in a suitcase when traveling.
  • The resistance is very adjustable.
  • I definitely was able to get a good workout.
  • Grabbing the band is much more convenient than dragging out my dumbbells or going to the gym.
  • It allows you to do lat pulldown / rowing type exercises (which are great for swimming) without a cable machine.

Cons:

  • It’s a multiple sets, high reps kind of strength training, which I find kind of tedious.
  • Gripping the band made my hands a little sore and crampy after a while.
  • It gives your hands that latex-y, swim cap smell.  They do make latex-free bands, which might be better.
  • The routine I did required anchoring the band at waist height, and seeing as my husband hasn’t talked me into installing a pole in our house yet, it was difficult to find something vertical to loop the band around that was also strong enough to pull on.  I ended up using a fence post in the back yard (my neighbors already think I’m crazy).

The overall verdict?  I think if I had the right routine, I could get into doing a resistance band workout regularly since it would be really convenient to do at home.  I’ll continue my search for exercises, but at any rate I’m glad I finally tried it out.  Thanks for the inspiration Kendra!

Have you ever used a resistance band, and if so what kind of exercises do you do?  How do you feel about strength training?

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My New Mantra

Climbing this hill on my last bike ride was exciting

The sprint triathlon that I’m doing this Saturday is my first multisport race since my half-Ironman almost exactly a year ago.  So I definitely am a little out of racing practice, and even more so out of short distance racing practice.  I always say that Olympic tris or 10Ks and longer are a better value, because the cost is almost the same so you get much more distance for your dollar.  Really though, I know that short races are even harder in their own way for me.  In a sprint, you can push yourself closer to your true physical limit.  I have gotten back in shape enough that I’m no longer worried that I won’t be able to finish the distances.  But I still find the prospect of going hard for an hour and a half or more to be very daunting.

All of this has me thinking about one of the two important things I learned from one of my Mt. Adams hiking companions.  The first thing I learned is that if you are going hiking with a 2:50 marathoner, DO NOT let them set the pace.  Lesson number two came as we were sitting at Lunch Counter, looking up at the steepest part of the climb up the false summit which as you may recall looked like this:

View of false summit from Lunch Counter

All I could think of was locked-up quads, burning lungs and slipping and tumbling down the snow.   But as he faced the mountain,  he said, without a trace of sarcasm,

“I’m excited! This is going to be hard!”

My initial mental response to this was “friend, you and I are very different people.”  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he had the right attitude.  Doing hard things is exciting!  It may not always be comfortable or even especially pleasant, but it’s thrilling to push yourself beyond what you are sure you can do, and emerge with an expanded knowledge of what you are capable of.  Devoting mental energy to dreading the intense effort it would take to reach the top wasn’t making things any easier.  It was just channeling that nervous excitement into negative channels.

So I’m trying to take that attitude more and relish the challenges ahead of me, rather than worrying about just how much I’m going to suffer when faced with a hill to climb or a tough workout or my first triathlon in a year when I haven’t been super consistent with my training.  Instead I just smile, and think to myself, “this is going to be hard!”

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The view from my ride

Scene from my bike ride yesterday. I don't know why I have a hard time getting out there, it's so nice when I do.

It’s halfway through July, and one week after I outlined my goals for the month, so I wanted to update my progress on each of them.

  • Get prepared for a sprint triathlon on July 31st. I’m at 4 bike rides and 4 runs in the past week including last Thursday.  Still working on dragging my butt to the pool.  I also registered for the race, so there’s no backing out now!  You can see all my training at The Daily Mile.
  • Re-build the habit of morning workouts. I’m 4/7 in the past week, but 3/3 in the past 3 days.  I feel like I’m getting back into the a.m. rhythm, now I just need to stick with it.
  • Bike commute at least four times. Still 1/4 since I haven’t done this since last Thursday, but I’m planning to tomorrow.
  • Keep a food journal. Only 3 for 7 on this one.  Due to my Saturday activities it wasn’t really feasible to track everything I was eating (more on that in a post to come), but I can definitely do better on this!

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I was intending to scale back this summer.  Just not quite so much.  My wedding was just about a month ago, and I didn’t want the stress of wedding planning on top of maintaining a demanding schedule like I had last year while training for my half-ironman triathlon.  And post-wedding, I convinced myself that I deserved a break from being consistent with training and healthy eating, and I’d be able to ramp back up quickly.  I also convinced myself that it was perfectly fine to develop a daily (occasionally multiple times daily) leftover wedding cake habit.

Wedding cake

In my defense, it was really spectacular cake.

But the wedding and honeymoon break got extended into a recovering from a cold break, and after three weeks of minimal exercise I was faced with the registration deadline for a local sprint triathlon that I had planned on doing.  I told myself I still had the fitness to muscle through it and do fine, I just didn’t want to spend the money to go through all that hassle and not get a PR.  But after huffing and puffing my way through a slow 3-mile run yesterday and then struggling to squeeze into a pair of formerly loose dress pants, the conclusion is unavoidable:  I’m kinda out of shape.  Like, may-not-have-been-able-to-finish-that-sprint-tri out of shape.  And I don’t like it.

So I decided to make July all about getting back on track.  I still want to have plenty of summer fun and keep a more low-key approach to training and eating, but I miss that fit, in-shape feeling of knowing that I could bang out a 10K or a sprint triathlon or a long demanding hike without thinking twice about it.

July Goals

  • Get prepared for a sprint triathlon on July 31st. This will involve things like “biking” and “swimming” and “not blowing off training to go to the brewpub instead”.
  • Re-build the habit of morning workouts. I have gotten out of the mode where working out in the morning is just what I do every day.  Instead it’s a choice and a debate, and for me if I’m asking myself the question “should I sleep in?” then the battle has already been lost.
  • Bike commute at least four times. Bike commuting is great for squeezing more cycling time into the day, since you’re trading useless car time for extra training time.  I have a good start on this one since I biked to work this morning.
  • Keep a food journal. I really tried to come up with a less-tedious goal for improving my eating, like treats only on weekends, or eating more fruits and vegetables.  But even though tracking calories is a pain I think it’s the best option for me right now.  I’m not sticking to a calorie limit, just trying to honestly record everything for a bit of a reality check.  And looking at my Plate at Livestrong is definitely a reality check (eating out for four meals in the past three days – not the healthiest).

I figure if I can stick with these it will ease me back into athlete mode, and put me on a good path to achieving some of the loftier fitness-related goals I have for the rest of the year.

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