Winter? Guess it’s Time for Workout Videos

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a fitness buddy on r/xxfitness and had almost completely forgotten. I finally messaged my buddy yesterday and was complaining about my winter workout woes. At first, she didn’t know what to recommend – she apparently lives in one of those typically warm southern states or something. She then had a great idea – workout videos! I was also pushed towards this choice by Amazon Prime Instant video, which chose yesterday to remind me that I haven’t been using my instant video privileges and that there are a bunch of workout videos on there. It was like the stars had aligned!

I used to do workout videos all the time when I was first trying to lose weight. I still remember the first time I tried the 30 Day Shred. It was maybe 1-2 months after I started my weight loss journey and I had gotten up to running a whole 5 minutes in couch 2 5k. Surely if I could run for 5 minutes I could do 6 minute circuits…or so I thought. I think I texted Kris halfway through the first circuit to tell him I was afraid I was going to pass out and to come check on me if he didn’t hear from me in half an hour. I then laid on the bed, unable to move, for quite some time and did not reattempt it until the fall. I think it was in October/Novemberish of that year that I was finally able to get through all 3 levels in 30 Days, and I haven’t really used workout videos much since then due to running or having gym access instead.

This puppy is better at mountain climbers than I was.

I don’t have a lot of home equipment  – a yoga mat, steps, and some 5 lb weights – so videos that make use of very minimal equipment. The Jillian Michael’s videos are perfect for this. She does bother me a little bit with some of the comments she makes about how women’s bodies should be or assuming how we want them to be, but they are good workouts and I know she is pandering to an audience who predominantly wants her to say those things. Today I tried her “Banish Fat Boost Metabolism” video. The title alone annoys me – doesn’t all exercise help you to burn body mass but also build muscle (thereby boosting metabolism)? It had great reviews on Amazon, though, and requires no equipment at all, so I decided to go with it.

I would actually highly recommend this video. As with all of her videos, it is a very good mix of strength and cardio, which I enjoy doing to avoid boredom. It is REALLY long and I almost did get bored, but I felt worse giving up on the video than I would have after say 20-30 minutes of circuit training on my own. I had to make it to the cooldown, not fast forward! If a 45 minute workout isn’t your thing, though, you could probably easily shorten this by skipping 1 or 2 of the SEVEN circuits (some are easier, some are harder). I was really glad that I did it because it really kicked my ass, even though it should not have. I mean, I’ve run for far longer than 45 minutes…45 minutes of jump squats and crunches should be a cinch, right? Again, I underestimated the video. I am super sore was out of breath, sweaty, and half-assing some moves halfway through. Anyone seeing a pattern?

Even if I have workout videos to keep me in shape, I am hoping to get back outside soon. I feel like such a baby complaining about the snow, cold, and wind, but even Belle drug me home after about 2 blocks today when I tried to take her for a “real” walk. It was just too windy for her, apparently!


Traveling Light

Sorry to disappear for a few days. I had to head back out to Indiana in order to move some of my things back home. The trip was bittersweet – I was able to see a large number of my friends and have a nice time with them, but moving my things home was so final, even if I’ll have to go back out there a few more times. I know I was moving home in a couple of months anyway, so these mixed feelings would have occurred anyway, but that doesn’t make it any easier. This was my home away from home for 4 years and some of my best friends in the world are there.

Then, the day after I returned home, there was a shooting on campus (I was a student at Purdue). While it appears to be a murder that happened to take place on a college campus rather than a traditional “campus shooting” (side note: isn’t it messed up that school shootings are so normal that I need to point out this one is weird?) it was still terrifying to think that something like this could have happened to one of my friends, colleagues, or former students.

In order to move things home, I had to make sure that there was a lot of room in my car. Now, my car is surprisingly roomy due to the ability to lay the seats down completely flat and the wide hatch opening (I have a Chevy HHR), but I had Kris and Belle along for the ride, and they usually are not in the vehicle for these trips. Kris and I packed nothing but 1.5 backpacks (one had only a computer in it so I could stuff it with stuff from my office) and a tote bag for Belle for a 5 day trip. We were able to fit all of my remaining clothing (about 2 suitcases); a ton of my office supplies; all of my toiletries; all of my sewing equipment; several stuffed animals; a printer; and my Keurig into that car with us. I was quite impressed with my abilities, and the opportunity to bring Kris and Belle along to show off while simultaneously bringing all this stuff home was worth the hassle of traveling lightly.

I had no idea that traveling lightly would hinder my health so much, though. I wasn’t expecting this to be the healthiest trip in the first place. I typically slack off when traveling as it is truly one of those rare things that don’t occur every day, and I have been doing somewhat poorly lately due to the stressful changes in my life and the discouragement I feel from being unable to run very often. I will say that not all of my food choices were terrible – I had a lovely lunch of stuffed grape leaves, grilled mushroom kebabs, rice, and hummus with pita bread one day. This trip was probably one of my least healthy, though, because I didn’t even try to work out! I didn’t pack any workout clothes because I would “have some there.” Technically, I did, and I could have ran on the treadmill, but “not packing anything” ranked high on my list of excuses for not working out. I guess in the end it was me, rather than my packing skills that led to me not working out – I really had the ability to work out, but I’d already told myself I didn’t really need to because I was “on a trip.”

The other problem was the snow. I had at least thought that even if I didn’t get real workouts in that I would be able to get some walking in. I had even promised Kris that we could go to the Tippecanoe Battlefield and walk on the Wabash Trail a little so that he could see where I fell down the cliff. It was snowing terribly, though, and we had not brought any snowboots with us, so it was difficult to even walk the dogs in the parking lot of my apartment. You see, we left on Thursday in order to avoid the snow that was predicted Friday, but the storm moved south and ended up hitting us around Columbus. It didn’t seem bad at first but then people started wrecking all around us (I mean this literally). I am a relatively talented snow driver, but this was one of my scariest moments on the road and I actually had to pull of and collect myself before starting up again, and I very seriously considered getting a hotel in Columbus instead of moving along. It was 2 pm. It took us nearly 13 hours to make the 9-10 hour trip because of the snow and several other wrecks along the highway, and when we got to Lafayette, the roads were not plowed at all and the town had received like 5 inches of snow, making our last few miles very frustrating. It then snowed like 5 more inches on Saturday, making it nearly impossible to walk around. I will blame the weather and my inability to pack snowboots for my lack of exercise rather than blaming myself here.

We sent this picture to my mom from I-70 in Ohio to assure here that the roads were “perfectly fine” after my freakout.

We also managed to bring one other thing home, though this doesn’t really count in my “light” traveling because it didn’t have to fit in my car – my bicycle! Now Kris and I can actually start working towards the huge rides we have planned this summer if the snow ever melts. While we had no real snow on the way home (we left 2 hours later and managed to arrive earlier than we had on the way out), bringing the bike home made the return trip stressful. I have a super cheap bike rack and I am always terrified the whole contraption is going to go crashing down while I am on the highway ruining my bike, or, worse, causing a wreck. I tend to become very distracted by watching it in the rearview mirror and sometimes just put the bike in the car even though it takes up a ton of room so that I don’t have to deal with the stress. Note: this is mostly my worrisome nature coming out. The bike rack works perfectly fine and I would even recommend it to others given that it has survived through multiple 600+ mile trips. It is available on Amazon, though I will say I paid $10 less for it. I even gave it a 5 star review on there because I was so impressed but I just cannot be calm when I am using it. I think on my next vehicle I will get a roof rack – I don’t care if they are safer or not, I think I would feel better if I couldn’t see the bike back there threatening to fall at any moment.

Not Dreading the Dreadmill & Christmas Gift Lists

No “Food Friday” post today. My most exciting food moments of the week were going out for sushi (I love sushi, but I swear it is the only thing Kris wants to eat lately) and making snickerdoodle blondies, and neither one of those is particularly new or exciting. Sorry that there have not been many of these lately – I guess my eating habits have been quite boring lately!

Instead, I have sort of a double post on two things that really have nothing to do with each other. Enjoy, because I probably won’t be able to post much while visiting my family Saturday-Wednesday.

Less than a year ago, I was absolutely terrified of treadmills. Even when it got cold last winter and I finally moved my running into the gym I stuck to the indoor track for a few weeks. Then I attempted walking on the treadmill. And finally, I sucked it up and did a nice slow 5K to ease myself into it. They still aren’t my favorite thing, but now that I do not have access to one, I realize that I miss them because they allow me to run in bad weather conditions.

Due to the snow and ice, I still haven’t run – since Sunday! This is one of the longest breaks I have taken from running in the last year and I am not really enjoying it. All it does is make me feel lazy and introduce weird anxieties into my life like “what if I can’t run three miles anymore” or “what if I’m really slow now.” These thoughts make absolutely no sense (after all, it’s only been 5 days), but this is exactly one of the reasons that I run. I *might* be a ridiculously high stress person normally, and running really helps me to not be like that (instead I’m just a high stress person). I think this is especially telling because I’ve still been working out about 20 minutes a day at home. There is no way that I am getting out of shape or being lazy, but my brain is acting like I haven’t run in 6 months or something! Ugh. It must be obvious that I am feeling this way, too, because yesterday Kris basically okay-ed me joining a gym or getting a treadmill for the house for next winter when I am home full-time! Hopefully I can find some time/place to run when I am visiting my family – their treadmill is broken, and I could use my mom’s stationary bike to get some good cardio in, but it’s not the same.

I *should* be able to go for a run today, though. I’ve been able to tell that even if the park isn’t clean, the sidewalks along the roads mostly are, so I could run there if I absolutely had to. I don’t really like running on sidewalks, though, because I am more likely to trip and I have to contend with traffic at major intersections. It was in the high 30s yesterday, though, and should be in the 40s today, so I am thinking that most of the snow will melt and I will be good to go on my normal route. Either way, I really need to get out there – I am going to Kris’s office Christmas party tonight and I need to preemptively burn off cookies and beer! After I write this post I’m going to finally get dressed and take Belle for a walk so I will see what the state of things are then.

Now on to the second part of the post, which is of course basically a rant. Due to the impending holiday, I have been seeing gift idea lists for people who are into fitness and I must say that in my opinion, some of these are just TERRIBLE ideas. Now, many of these gifts are not inherently bad ideas – they would be good ideas for specific people, but they are not really appropriate for a list of random gift suggestions for a friend/relative who is a bit into fitness. They are the type of thing you should ONLY buy people who have specifically asked for them, not the type of thing you should buy people after Googling “gift ideas for health nut friend.”

First, we have meal/weight loss plan subscriptions. Yes, I have actually seen this suggested. Now, if you know someone who is on a specific plan (i.e. Weight Watchers) and you know they are thinking of discontinuing it for monetary reasons, this might not be a bad idea. But to randomly get it for someone who seems like they like to watch what they eat? No. Just no. First of all, it presumptuous because it implies the person cannot accomplish their goals without supervision/guidance (this is being nice to the gift giver and assuming that the person even has a goal that such a plan would be appropriate for, otherwise such a gift is just plain rude). Second, even if the person had expressed vague interest in such a plan, I imagine that unless the gift giver knows EXACTLY what plan the person wants to follow, this could really backfire. Like, if the person on the receiving end of this gift was thinking of trying Nutrisystem and you paid for Weight Watchers instead, you’ve put them in an awkward position. It’s like if your eldery grandparents with only good intentions went out and bought you a Microsoft Surface when you wanted an Ipad. It seems rude to return it for something that to the gift-giver is functionally the same darn thing, but you would really hate the gift because it wasn’t quite what you wanted, and then you feel like an ass. I hope this makes sense.

Second, we have the 80,000 gadgets intended to keep track of your bodily data, such as Fitbits with bodyfat scales that sync up to MyFitnessPal (or whatever). These are bad gifts for the reasons I already mentioned – a bit presumptuous, and what if you wanted the Jawbone thingy instead of the Fitbit thingy? There are two additional problems with such gifts, though. First, they constantly keep track of numbers such as calories, weight, and body fat. It is difficult to know whether a person can handle being constantly updated with that information or not. I am very good at dealing with calories, for example, but try to force myself to weigh once a week or less because otherwise I get very caught up with my weight. If I had some sort of freaking scale that synced up with all of my other data and constantly reminded me to get on it and was aware of every 5 pound fluctuation up and down I’d probably drive myself nuts (and I  mean this literally, there is not a word of humor in this sentence). I just can’t handle that, which is why I don’t own a scale. I weigh myself at gyms and other people’s homes so that I can limit myself. The point is that for many people, one or more of these numbers might be problematic, so don’t buy them this stuff unless they have specifically asked for it. Second, I have a feeling that these are things that are going to get rarely used by even the biggest data and fitness geeks because they just look ugly. Like, who is going to wear a Fitbit to work all day everyday? Maybe this is one of most “just my personal opinion” points here but I think if a numbers-cruncher such as myself thinks that looking silly isn’t worth it for a few numbers, there are not many people who are going to be willing to make that sacrifice.

So, what do I suggest instead? Stick with known quantities or things that aren’t offensive and presumptuous. If you know they are a runner, for example, you could buy them things like clothing/accessories, energy gels, or small things they could use at home like handweights or foam rollers. These types of things are easy to return exchange for inoffensive reasons (i.e. it didn’t fit, that flavor upsets my stomach) or are things that most people use (i.e. handweights don’t really imply that the giver thinks you need to lose weight/get fit to the point of a meal plan!). If you want to go for a more DIY route, make them some healthy holiday treats for a nice break in the sugar-cookie flood that Christmas is or do something like make them a display case for medals/bib numbers. If all else fails, just get them a gift card to a store that you know sells things for their hobby. It is less thoughtful than the other gifts, but it at least shows that you pay attention to their hobby, and is not necessarily NOT thoughtful. For example, my husband loves Warhammer, but everyone just gets him Games Workshop gift cards because we know we’d mess up trying to get him actual miniatures, so it is probably more thoughtful than a) getting him the wrong miniatures or b) just giving him like a Visa gift card and socks (except for runners – runners actually want and love all the running socks).

Have a happy holiday everyone, and hopefully I have a Christmas of running shorts and Clif bars rather than scales that follow me around!

Winter Running

Winter showed up a couple weeks “early” (who am I kidding, this is the midwest, I’m surprised it didn’t show up in September) – it snowed for the first time yesterday. I have a bit of a personal “code” when it comes to running outside. Basically, I feel guilty for running inside unless it is:

  • Raining (because glasses)
  • Under 20 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Blizzarding

Yesterday, it was a whole 26 degrees and snowing only lightly, so I opted for running outside. This is not that abnormal for me – I just bundled up and went. It went well for about the first 2 miles, but then I got a lot of phlegm in my throat and it was harder to breathe so I had to slow down. As I get used to the cold, though, I am sure it will improve.

Anyway, I then went home and posted a Facebook status about how hardcore I am for running in the snow (because I’m modest like that). My two most amusing responses:

  • Disbelief/amazement (from someone who biked to school, which I refrained from due to the ice)
  • The opinion that this does NOT make me hardcore but silly (why run outside when I could chose to be WARM??)

In addition to the fact that I will feel guilty for being too “lazy” to run outside in the cold, I really just prefer running outside, which is a major reason that I do it. I really hate treadmills – in fact, my first time on a treadmill was less than a year ago because I used to find them terrifying.

EXACTLY what I imagined would happen the moment I stepped on a treadmill:

Additionally, I don’t think it is that difficult to stay warm outside when running. In fact, I got somewhat sweaty out there running yesterday. I’ve had years of practice at staying warm in the winter, though – not only am I the COLDEST person alive (I might currently be wrapped in two blankets while wearing a sweater under a hoodie), but I was also in marching band for years. Note: marching band involves wearing “nothing” but a polyester uniform during football season. At the beginning of the season, this is way too warm; by the end of the season, you have discovered how to hide hundreds of layers under it. Since I find it so easy to bundle up for outdoor winter activities, I thought I’d discuss what exactly I wear to stay warm. I will probably link to a few specific products/discuss some specific brands, but these are mostly for illustrative purposes; most of my stuff was purchased because it was super cheap, not because I thought it was the best brand ever, and it works fine.

  • On my head: I typically wear one of those headbands that goes around your ears. I think the one linked is the one I have, and I got it for like $5 last year. It works fine, but I would note that even Target has much nicer ones (meaning that this is basically the crappiest one in the world and it still works fine). I might be switching to a hat – my hair keeps me less warm now that I cut it short and it flies out of my headband. Additionally, the headband doesn’t fit under my bike helmet very well. I bought a beanie at Dollar Tree for these purposes; I will have to provide an update on how that works out.
  • On my torso: This depends a little on temperature/conditions. If it is sunny and in the upper 30s/low 40s, I just wear an insulated long-sleeved shirt. I linked an Under Armour one, which I actually have. It is quite pricey, but I would note that I have owned this shirt for 12 years and it still works fine (I wore it all throughout high school, it is quite stretchy so it only stopped fitting senior year or so and has fit since I lost weight, so maybe 5-6 years of actual use?). I would note, however, that I also have an off-brand one from TJ Maxx that I love because it rides up less and has thumbholes and was like $20. So you don’t necessarily need the $50 shirt. If it is windy/cloudy/below 35ish, I add a fleece jacket. I have this one, which I purchased only because I worked at Target and it came in red and I needed a cheap jacket to wear at work. I have no loyalty to this jacket. In fact, I bought this one yesterday to wear for non-running purposes because I think the red one is ugly (don’t tell the red one!).
  • On my legs: I usually wear insulated running tights. The ones I have are some brand I have never heard of, but you could reference Under Armour cold gear again. The insulated ones will have a fuzzy inside, if you are uncertain of what to get. My legs don’t usually get as cold, so I also find that sometimes just plain compression tights without any insulation (like the ones I am wearing in my trail race photo) work fine. If they are see through or very tight, I wear regular running shorts over them. I saw yesterday that Old Navy is now carrying tights like this with a built in skirt over them, which is nice, but I haven’t tried those yet.
  • On my hands: I have two pairs of gloves. One pair is a cheap pair from Target, which I like because they tend to get dirty and I don’t mind ruining them, but this pair (unlike the one I linked to) is not touchscreen compatible. I do have a pair of Isotoner Smart Touch gloves that are much warmer (and are touchscreen compatible) and sometimes I sacrifice them (I do have 2 pairs, after all) to stay a little warmer.
  • On my feet. I just wear normal running socks and shoes most of the time (I buy my running socks cheaply at TJ Maxx). If you have very thin shoes or get cold feet easily you might want to wear wool running socks or add wool socks over your regular running socks. I’ve heard Smart Wool’s PhD socks (note: random link, not sure if good price) are good for that purpose. I also have spikes I can put over my shoes in the case that it is very icy. Note: these do not work well unless there is ice everywhere, because otherwise they just cause you pain from hitting against the pavement. The ones I linked are random ones I got as a present. I’m sure any brand is equally lovely.

Oh, and by the way – this is a great tool for figuring out roughly what you should wear given your weather conditions, in case you didn’t know about it yet!

Foods on Fridays and General Update on Life

Apologies for my lack of posts – the beginning of the semester has been a nightmare! I’ve been reteaching myself microeconomics and linear algebra (I haven’t had either since about the 2005-2008 time period) and dropping nightmarish classes (there was a girl with a master’s in math who said the math involved was too difficult). What a start to the week! At least my misspelled purse came and is at least realistic enough for my purposes and the price I paid for it and I had a nice relaxing evening with friends, pizza (from my favorite pizza place which has returned!), and creamy cinnamon rum!

Anyway, I thought before discussing food, I’d give a couple of short updates on my “workouts” this week. I call them “workouts” because technically bike commuting’s purpose is transport, not exercise, but it doubles as both.

First of all, I have started running with my roommate’s dog, River, again. I find this highly amusing because I run with her on a path along the river so if I say I am “river running” it has a double meaning. Yay puns! I tried running with her in the past and it went ok but then she got into this weird phase where she was running away a lot and I had some huge training changes and I didn’t/couldn’t run with her much and stopped. I’ve been taking her at least once a week since coming back to school now (she is much much much more well-behaved on a leash) and I must say I am enjoying it more as time passes. At first, I was annoyed because she is sort of slow (she stops to pee and sniff and just  randomly slows down sometimes). The next time I took her out, though, we had a much faster pace and I realized that even if this pace was slower than what I would normally run, I am taking her on what is supposed to be an “easy” run so what she is actually doing is forcing me to slow down and enjoy my run and just get the miles in rather than try to race myself everyday. I am guessing this will be beneficial to my training.

Additionally, on our run this week, I went to check out a path that I had been curious about. I had tried to check it out during the spring but due to the nature of the river (hah!), it was flooded. I had forgotten about it, but someone mentioned it on Facebook and then I saw some joggers going down it and so I had to see if it was passable now – and it was! It was a nice route along the river through the woods (the route we were running was actually mostly in a golf course). It also allows me to circumvent the industrial road that I typically have to ride down on my  bike commute to school…if I add a mile to my commute. It’s nice because it’s more relaxing and allows me to go a little faster (you think I’d be faster on the road, but I have to stop, and pay attention to things, and such, which takes up speed).

There is one problem with my new route, however: the extra two miles of biking per day took up WAY more energy than I anticipated. After riding to the school that way on Wednesday, I was STARVING by the time I got there and quickly ate a Clif bar. I’ve been making efforts to pack better lunches (I realized I was still packing lunches the size I took when I was on a 1200 calorie diet!), so I had a decent lunch that day, but by the time I went to work out around 4:30 I was starving. I had a 35 minute tempo run scheduled and I don’t know how I survived it. I got up to my 10K speed as the program recommends and then had to drop down to like 6mph for my cool down because I was soooo worn out. Then, when I finally got off the treadmill, I felt all faint and woozy…and I still had a 4 mile bike commute ahead of me!!! I wolfed down another energy bar (a Larabar ALT this time, which I will discuss in a moment), but it didn’t help much. I had to walk my bike part of the way and then felt sick the rest of the evening. It was very unpleasant. “Luckily” it has been a little rainy yesterday and today so I am taking the bus and my poor legs are getting a rest. They still hurt from Wednesday!!

Now, on to the food. I have several things to talk about this week.

I will give you the unhealthy reviews first so that you can forget I mentioned them and still think this is a blog about health and fitness by the end of the post. I tried two new alcoholic beverages this week: Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple and RumChata. Both are cinnamon-y drinks, and both are amazing. The first is a hard cider with cinnamon in it, which makes me wonder why hard cider doesn’t have it in the first place. The second is a cream liquor (think like Bailey’s, only it tastes way different) which is basically like putting coconut cinnamon milk into drinks. I have been making dessert type drinks (think floats with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream and a creamy soda like root beer or vanilla Coke) with it, and it is pretty awesome!

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, healthy things!

I mentioned last week that I purchased a new bar with a high protein content: Larabar ALT. I bought three flavors, but somehow lost one, so I’ve only tried pumpkin pie and peanut butter cookie. Both are amazing. GO BUY THEM ALL. They have a great consistency and around 200 calories and 10g of protein each, so they are a great snack that tastes just like a dessert. I’ve also purchased a couple new flavors of Clif bars to try this week (Sierra trail mix and chocolate almond) so we will see how that goes.

Another new thing I’ve been eating lately is some new (to me) flavors of Kashi cereals. I had a coupon, so I thought I’d try some of them out. I love the one that is supposed to be like honey nut cheerios (mostly because some of the little o’s are shaped like hearts). The granola type cereal I bought, however, does not really suit my taste. It is a good quality cereal and I would not recommend against it, but it’s not my favorite flavor 😦 I still like it enough that I will use up the box, though.

Another thing I tried that I was underwhelmed by was Kroger brand Greek yogurt. After having good luck with Giant brand back in PA, I thought I’d give this store brand a shot. Again, it’s a taste issue, not a quality issue. Unlike some other cheap Greek yogurts, this one is actually made with nothing but strained milk and active cultures (a lot of cheapies use fillers) and it has plenty of protein (some cheapies have very little). It wasn’t quite as creamy as Chobani or Fage, though, so I wish I’d bought Fage for only 3 cents more per ounce. Still, I would actually HIGHLY recommend this yogurt if you want the benefits of Greek yogurt (i.e. more protein) but don’t like the texture. Because it isn’t as creamy, the texture is more comparable to regular yogurt. I might actually try to find something similar my mom can buy where she is, because this is her problem with Greek yogurt (she has tried several different flavors to no avail, but all expensive brands…maybe the cheapies’ secret is their lack of creaminess…).

Foods on Fridays

Fridays are now my rest days, which is sort of weird to me. When I trained for my previous half marathon, I switched Thursday’s workout to Friday because Thursday was my busiest day of the week. This year, I don’t want to do that, though, because I have two hard days in a row on the weekend and want my rest before and after. I guess I’ll just have to get used to not eating a ton on Friday 😦 Speaking of workouts, though, yesterday’s attempt at strength training without a gym went ok. In the park where I run, they have these little stations intended for strength and stretching exercises. Example:

This thing is for stretching your hamstring and achilles.

What I decided to do was run like the first two miles of my three mile run and then workout at each of these stations while jogging between them. My “pace” for my last mile was terrible because of all the starting up and stopping (it takes time to get going and to slow down), but I felt like it was a half-decent workout. My abs hurt, at least. Some of the stations, like bench dips and this thing where you have to vault yourself over a fence-like thing with your upper body were actually quite difficult. I wish they would do something to make the benches more comfortable, though (they are made of metal) – I have a giant bruise on my lower back from doing crunches! This was a fun new thing to try, but I will be glad to return to weights!

I also signed up for a race yesterday! I’ve been looking for some short-ish races to do throughout the fall as the training program I am using calls for me to do a few. As luck would have it, a friend emailed me yesterday about running a race together on one my needed race days! I had overlooked it because it is a “trail marathon,” and I have never run a marathon let alone one on a trail, but she told me that you can actually sign up to do a race as short as a quarter marathon (I think this is about a 10K) so we will be running that together. I think it will be fun to have someone else there, even though we may not run together, and it will be fun to try something new. The whole thing isn’t on trails, anyway (I have actually run on part of this trail before).

I still need to find a few more races, though. For example, I am supposed to do a 5K in like 2 weeks but everything available near where I will be is a triathlon or a special theme race like the Warrior dash, which is too expensive and won’t let me really practice running at race pace. I also can’t really adjust the date because next week I am visiting relatives and the week after I am supposed to do the race I have a student government thing. I might just have to resign myself to setting up a treadmill at race pace and seeing if I can do it.

Now, on to the food! This week had numerous adventures.

It started out kind of poorly. On Sunday, I made these TERRIBLE chocolate pancakes. I am not linking the recipe because I don’t want to accidentally imply it was the recipe, because it was not the recipe, it was me. I just didn’t mix them well enough or something. They were totally gross. The rest of Sunday was a little better – we had Thai food! Yum!

Then, on Monday, I made a homemade pizza:

pepperoni, mushroom, and spinach on a whole wheat crust

It turned out quite well except that the crust really should have been used on a larger pan (I think this is 12″) and I bought button mushrooms instead of mushroom stems and pieces. I was REALLY in control and ate only 1/4 of a pizza, so this was not where the problem came in. You see, I had to eat only this much pizza because I knew we were going to the bar for trivia night and I would want 1-2 beers and a snack. I was also in control at the bar, having 1 beer, 1 cider, and splitting some chili fries. I “ended” the day at approximately 25 calories over – not too bad, considering what I’d eaten! Then, I remembered that I had been craving a one of those peanut buster parfaits from Dairy Queen, and that the sundae I’d already had that weekend had not quit the spot. We ended up going to DQ so I could get one, and it weighed in at 700 calories (which I knew ahead of time). This was a really terrible decision that I really regret, as it made me feel too full, anyway.

I also had a day where I tried to make one of those cake mug things, but again, I messed it up. The last time I tried making one (using a different recipe) it was too eggy, so this time I substituted greek yogurt for egg. This part went ok, but I didn’t put enough sweetener in, so it was too bitter with all of the unsweetened cocoa powder. I think if you used enough sweetener this would be really good, though!

Things got somewhat better after that. I made some much much better peanut butter banana pancakes for breakfast one day (normal blueberry ones all the other days). These were AMAZING and I cannot recommend them highly enough. They tasted great, had a great texture, and were easy. They aren’t low in calories, but they aren’t necessarily bad for you either. This breakfast, using sugar free syrup, was around 500 calories, so if you typically eat a bigger breakfast than I do (like 200-400) calories this would be a very good option.


The rest of my food this week was not that adventurous – again, I was just using up leftover steak from the bogo steak sale at my grocery store, and the most exciting thing I did was marinate it in BBQ sauce one day. Oh! I also made some cinnamon sugar baked sweet potato “fries.” I picked up this trick from a restaurant that serves them this way – basically, instead of putting salt on the fries, shake them in cinnamon sugar (I used Splenda) and bake them like that. They are still fry-like but sweet! It’s super delicious!

The good news is that after the DQ incident I have done amazingly with calories this week. My only setback seems to have been that I am apparently not eating enough during the day because I am RAVENOUS at night. My dinners of steak, potatoes, vegetables and beer have left me feeling so hungry I am like shaky afterwards. WTF. It’s not like I’m not snacking – I’ve been through a bag of peaches and cheesesticks this week. It’s probably just a combo of PMS and starting new training, so I’m sure I’ll get over it. At least I hope so – it makes sticking to my calorie goals SUPER difficult. Here is to hoping I can keep the calories in check over the weekend, especially with a Friday rest day!

Filling up your calories with beer is ok if there are multiple puns on the bottle, right?

Have a good weekend – I have relatives coming in so I probably won’t be on much. Here is a cute picture of my dog to help get you through.

My First Experience with Speedwork

According to my half marathon training program, today’s workout was 5x400m at a 5K race pace. I was a little nervous, because I have never really done speedwork before. Well, I did in like, high school track, but I didn’t consciously know what I was doing/why. I was just being told to by the coach!

I was mostly nervous because I didn’t know how well it would work without a treadmill or track. At school, I will be able to go get on a treadmill in the gym and set the paces that I want. Here, I had to not only pace myself, but I also had to get on the internet and try to measure out a 400m length on my running route.

Overall, I think it went…okay. I started out jogging 1 mile for a warm up, then began the 400 m repeats. I wasn’t sure how long to “rest” in between them, so I just jogged the 400m back to the starting point each time. Hopefully that wasn’t a terrible method, as I am guessing that one should not rest as long as one runs quickly (like I may have been allowing myself to recover too much) but if I wanted to make sure I was running 400m I had to keep running the same segment over and over.

One thing I was pleased with after looking at my pace data was that I was able to actually run a large portion of the intervals at my 5K race pace (8:00 per mile). I was a little slow towards the end of a couple of them, and ran a little slower (about 8:30, it looks like) on the last one, but even without a treadmill I did pretty well at guesstimating my pace. I was especially glad to see this because when I would glance down at my GPS watch it would say something like “current speed 6.5 mph” so I was afraid I was going a wee bit slow. It is probably just that instantaneous current speed on a GPS is somewhat inaccurate compared to average speed (which makes no sense when you are doing intervals like this) and I think I slow down just a tad when looking at my watch because I’m not very coordinated (so I avoided doing it as much as possible).

What I was NOT pleased with, however, was my pace on my warm up and my recovery intervals. I feel silly being displeased with them because they are actually not that unreasonable (I usually run a 3-5 minute warmup at a 10:00 pace if I’m doing non-running workouts at the gym, for example). In fact, my plan for these workouts when I finally get around to a treadmill is to warm up at a 10:00 pace and then try to do recovery intervals at that pace as well but go down to a 12:00 pace if needed, so I should be thrilled that I accidentally did it on feel alone. I think it frustrated me, though, because I didn’t feel like they were “easy.” Also, I think it is my frustration from general summer running spilling over – I HATE running in the summer because it makes me feel like a depressing failure until I start running again in the fall/winter and suddenly I’m super fast! I’m also WAY faster than I was last summer so I shouldn’t be complaining (last summer I was excited about getting under 11:00 per mile and thrilled to be hitting my current speeds in the winter). I’ve just been feeling really down about my fitness progress lately and it’s annoying me.

I must comment on one thing I LOVE about the GPS watch, though: look at how clearly you can see my turn-around points. You can see that I did half a mile out and back when I warmed up and then that I turned around between every change in speed. The fact that I can see that is SUPER cool to me (I MIGHT be a bit of a data geek)! It is also reason to do this on a treadmill – I won’t get slowed by having to turn around! I also just found out how to look at my heart rate over time on there and I must also say that is super cool. It actually helped me to feel slightly better about my pace that I was just complaining about because you can see that my warm-up and recovery intervals are all at an equal heart rate and my pace interval are all at an equal (much higher) heart rate. Actually, I just put it up on here so you can see what I mean. Ignore the part where my heart rate is like whoa high because I still don’t know what on earth that is all about.

Look at all this beautiful data!!

Tomorrow I will have to get creative with my workout yet again – I have a 3 mile run and strength training on the schedule. The 3 mile run is easy, but remember that I do not have a gym or weights here! I have an idea, but I’ll save talking about it for tomorrow, because I’m not sure how well it is going to go, yet.