Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Break Up

My physical therapist effectively broke up with me yesterday – saying that I am progressing incredibly well and that I can increase the repetitions of my exercises. He gave me a blue (extra heavy) exercise band, which is progressively more resistance than my red or green bands.

I know that I have to pay him per visit.

I know that it is quite a trip from my house – especially just to do some stretches and run.

I know most of my stretches and the doctors gave me instructions for the “add ons”.

But still, it doesn’t feel good for the PT to say he doesn’t want to see me anymore. I have been going for almost three months. I know all their names and hobbies.

Plus, now I have to be my own motivator again. I don’t have anyone but myself and my PRs to hold me accountable for continuing to get better. And, it is terrible timing – I am already in a “I don’t want to go to the gym” rut.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sometimes Life Interferes

It has been hard for me to stay on schedule this week. Life often gets in the way. Last weekend was filled, so I was a little tired. Still, I managed to run almost 5 miles. This week, I had a memorial service for my dear Uncle. Yet, I managed two swims and short run. It is a little easier to fit my training into my life when I workout in the morning; even when evening and friend commitments come into play, the workout is already done. Still, I have several commitments for this weekend, which is interfering with my running and biking. I haven’t quite figured out a way to get it all done.

It is weeks like these that discourage me. In years past, a day off would turn into 2, which would turn into a week. So, now I worry that I will not be able to complete my training. That a few days off will really throw me off my game. I am especially disheartened when I look at my current kilometer count – totaling about 366 kilometers.

Walking – 86 km
Running – 118 km
Biking – 130 km
Swimming – 32 km

Then, I think about the training I have been able to accomplish. I have already biked more, swam more and run more than last year. I am in much better shape this year, probably in some of the best shape of my life. I have a couple of major things going on this year that are slightly intimidating, terrifying and exciting. Missing a day or two, here or there can’t hurt me. My goal of 2011 km and this blog should help me get back on track. I know I can be ready!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Exercises YOU Should Be Doing!

Yesterday, I had a PT appointment. I have finished therapy for my foot. Now, I am working on this pain in my mid-back when I run. It used to be terrible after running just a few minutes. Now I can run closer to 3 miles without it bothering me too much.

The wonderful people at Harborview have given me a few shoulder and core strengthening exercises:

Pelvic Neutrals – it’s a lower abs exercise – lying flat on your back and using only you ab muscles (not your hips) try to get your back to be completely flat. Basically, you pull your abs up and in, with no other body movement. Once you get good at this, you will be able to do when you’re standing (or running) to alleviate any pressure on your back.

“Dead Bugs” – another abs exercise – Begin by lying on back, knees up and bent at 90 degrees. Tighten your abs in the position for pelvic neutrals, so your back is flat on the floor/mat through the entire exercise. Take the arms straight up overhead, without arching your back. Slowly lower the right arm and left leg towards the floor while keeping the lower back on the floor. Bring them back and then repeat with the left arm and right leg. THIS WILL BE HARD at first. Consider the same exercise with the feet on the floor. Begin with 1 set of 10reps and try to move to 3 sets of 10reps. It looks something like this – the key is to keep your back flat, NO ARCHING.

“BlackBurns” – lying on your stomach, with your hands by your sides, palm on the mat. Pinch your shoulders back, sort of pushing out your chest and raise your arms. Hold this pose for 6 seconds. Repeat this move for 1-3 sets of 10.

“No Monies” – you will need a resistance band for this one. Holding the resistance band taught in your hands, pinch your shoulders back – pushing out your chest. Then, keeping your elbows at your side, pull your hands apart stretching the resistance band. Hold this pose for about 5sec. Increase from 1 set of 10 reps to 3 sets as your strength improves. (This will make a whole lot more sense if you can imagine yourself responding to someone who has just asked you for money, when you don’t have any.)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but these exercises are making me a stronger runner and a stronger swimmer. They also help me keep a better position on the bike. I have a lot of tension in my shoulders and tend to keep them clenched and raised. If you’re anything like me, try to do these exercises every other day or so, and I think you will notice some improvement.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Swim Training – Does size matter?

Pools come in many sizes. My gym has several locations – most have a pool and they are all different lengths: 25 meter, 25 yards, and a very tiny 20 yard pool. The smallest pool is closest to my house; I started out going there most often. The 25m pool is outdoors in the summer. The first time I swam, a mile was almost undoable. After a few days, I became used to the length and it was the thought of swimming in the tiny pool that was undoable.

Yesterday, I went to a 50m pool. I was very nervous; I could barely swim a mile the last time I changed distances. Instead of being insecure about it I jumped in the water. I set off to swim at least 22 laps. It was actually easier that I thought (well, except for the woman who was doing water aerobics in the middle of the lane). I made it in about an hour.

I love the 50 meter pool! I have more water to practice my swimming stroke and focus on becoming an efficient swimmer. With fewer turnarounds, it simulates open water swimming better than the shorter pools. Plus, I don’t have to do nearly as many flip turns. I am not very good at flip turns. I usually mess up and have to stop swimming. I can go twice as far and still practice the flip turns. My abs thank me, but my swimming technique does not. The swimming is a little bit more challenging – but I feel like I am going much faster, because I am counting 100s instead of 50s.

Now, if only I had a view like this.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Morning Workouts

I love swimming in the morning. The pool opens early and it is not crowded (who wants to share a lane?). I was heading to the gym at least 3 mornings a week. Then I read this Active Post listing 5 reasons to work out in the morning, which confirmed why I wake up at 5 in the morning and head to the gym. I read a few more posts about the benefit of working out in the mornings:

- You WILL actually DO IT and do it more often because it is easier to start a routine. Afternoon and evening workouts get bumped for happy hours and dinners with friends.

- The feeling of ACCOMPLISHMENT from completing a workout will be with you for the entire day. You’ll have the energy from the workout and the motivation because you can check one thing off your to do list.

- You will EAT BETTER; we make better choices throughout the entire day after we have burned several hundred calories.

Getting the energy to work out in the morning is not easy, and I generally like mornings. Here are a few tips for those who need motivation in the morning.

- Start on a Monday. For me, Monday breaks the normal weekend routine and is the start of my work week. Accomplishing the first workout gives me the inspiration to wake up on Tuesday (Plus, there is no "I'll do it tomorrow excuse").

- Wake up at the same time each morning. Setting the alarm for the same time is the perfect way to create a workout habit. It will become easier and easier, until you will begin to wake up before your alarm.

- Pack your bag the night before. Set out your work-out clothes including socks and your headband. Pack the bag with everything you need: water bottle, towel, shower stuff (& goggles and swim cap for me). Preparing makes the morning routine run a a little smoother and the time for the alarm be a little later.

- Do something you LOVE! Especially in the beginning, your morning workout should be one that you enjoy. That’s why I swim – It is my absolute favorite thing to do. It’s a whole body workout that relaxes me, yet I feel stronger when I am done. If you like running, wake up and run.

- Don’t give up. You aren’t going to get there every morning and that is ok. I miss a workouts, but I get up the next day and try again.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


The other day, I was talking to my sister about a new work out program at the gym. I was nervous – and still am about attending the first class. It is a “tri-club”; Thursdays workouts involve both a 45 min swim, with a coach and a 45 minute spin class. When thinking about starting something new, my mind starts spinning.

I want to be able to do these things. I inquire about the details. I sign up. I pay the money. But, when the time comes, I have this anxious – “I don’t think I can do it moment” and I want to quit. As evident in the title of this blog, I develop some insecurity. It is at those moments, I say to myself, “this seemed like such a good idea three months ago”.

I know am physically strong enough to complete them. Sometimes, I am just not mentally strong enough.

I have been told that much of running is a mental game. I find that same thing to be true in all my workouts. I have a training schedule that is completely achievable. Yet, the workouts intimidate me. I have reached the point where I am approaching new limits. When I head to the pool – my goal is 2.25 km. I have never swum that far at one time. The same is true for running; yesterday was my longest run ever – 4.5 miles. Even though, I have my longest bike ride was about 40 miles, I am intimidated by a few of my group rides because I don’t want to be last and I don’t want to hold anyone back.

I am prepared. My legs know they can run 4.5 miles. My hips and shoulders know I can swim 2 km. But, as I approach the pool, my mind tells a totally different story. While I am working out, I will think of a million reasons why I could quit.

My sister’s response was, “Stop being so insecure, it is boring”. This hurt my feelings at first. Then I read this blog about Strength and Confidence. Today, however, I have decided to make it my mantra.

I don’t want to be boring OR insecure. I am going to a tri club meeting. I am going to run 5 miles next Saturday. Instead of worrying that I can’t do it. I am going to focus on the sense of achievement which will herald a new level of confidence. This confidence shall overpower my insecurity.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Kilometer Update

In January, I walked, biked, ran or swam 76.75 km.

In February: 118.16 km.

In March, I did almost as much as January and February combined – 146.58km.

As of April 1, 2011, three months have elapsed and my total kilometer count is 341.48, leaving slightly under 1700 remaining.

I am25% of the way through the year, yet still have 83% of my kilometers to go.

At least I am moving in the right direction; each month, I check off more kilometers than the month before.