Friday, July 16, 2010

Like Butter

Burn, Torch, Melt, Blast. Ever notice how magazines use these enticing verbs to get you to glance beyond their cover? Once inside you are awestruck as the hard bodied models demonstrate all the moves of a total body workout with ease and control, all while looking beautiful. I always see these workouts and think "wow, that looks so easy. I should try that."

But I don't. Because running is top banana in my life. Given the choice between an extra day of working out and having date night with Boyfriend or chilling with friends, I will undoubtedly choose the later.

And then things changed. I started doing this morning workout thing (which by the way has not been successful for an entire week!!! w00t!) and I had all my nights free to do whatever I wanted (within reason of course). I came up with this magical plan to fit in an extra workout day to focus on my total body, abs, arms, everything. I was so excited I wrote it on my training calendar right away. "30-45 minute non-running workout". Now I just had to pick a workout.

I get so many fitness mags that I am constantly reading "Four weeks to your best body", "Loose ten pounds this summer", "Bikini workout" etc. Of course I am making these titles up but you have to admit they don't change much month to month and magazine to magazine. Of course as usual I finish reading and add to the stack on my coffee table, or to the collection on my bookshelf. I rarely ever give them a shot. If anything I will pick a move that looks good and try it before one of my runs. And I wonder why I don't see any results? It's not that I am lazy, I just run so much I forget the rest of my body needs a workout.

After flipping through my recent issues I came across Jackie Warner's Power Circut in Shape. I remember watching her on Bravo's "Work Out" a few years ago and she was one tough chick. So it sounded like a good plan.

Yesterday I showed up at the gym all ready for my workout. I was psyched to not be climbing on the treadmill and to have something other than my legs do the work. I got myself all set up, IPod, weights, mat and started with the first exercise. Easy enough. second exercise was this "seated bicycle" deal. "I can handle this" I say to myself. Wrong. BURN. In a good way of course but wow. I made it through most of the other moves pretty well, and then it came time for the "wingman". This required the lighter weights and I was all kinds of excited. I thought I would nail this one. Wrong again. I got through 5 reps before I wanted to cry. On the second rotation I had to modify it and lower to my knees in order to do 15 reps and even then it was the hardest thing I have done for my upper body in a long time. Magazines are not kidding when they say you will "burn" calories or "torch" fat. That is exactly how I felt. Although I am not so sure about "melt". Melting sound like it would be pretty easy, and easy this workout was not.

Overall the total workout took me about 15 minutes. So I hopped onto the elliptical for 20 minutes, choosing the interval program at level eight. Overall it was a pretty good workout. I am defiantly feeling it's effects in my abs which I love. Something I would love to continue to incorporate into my training schedule.

If anyone wants to share and fantastic and fabulous total body workouts or lifting routines, I would love to hear about them!

xx Sara

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Feel it in my Bones

Actually, I'm feeling it in my hip. My left hip to be exact. Tight would be a good word to describe the way it feels. Tight like my budget which is why I haven't gotten new sneakers yet even though I should have gotten them two weeks ago. If you are freaking out right now, you can relax, because my weekly mileage has been topping out at about 8, and I am not too worried that I can stretch it another week. I know that what I am doing is not the smartest decision in the world. There is a slight off chance that what I am doing could cause me injury and set back and blah blah blah. And with my trip to China coming up next week, and zero chance of being able to run at all while there, I feel like the delay won't be so bad. But I can definitely feel my body telling me "hey if you're going to keep waking me up at 6am every day and throw me around in the gym can you at least get me some comfy new kicks?" touche body. You will have your wish in a few more days.

Despite last weeks morning running failure, I was so drawn to the idea of changing up my routine I have been giving it another go this week. Here are some things that rock about morning runs/workouts.
- I am so energized after my workout I don't need coffee
- I am awake early enough to run up to my desk and converse via email with vendors before they go to sleep
- I have evenings free
- 6am is such a peaceful time to start your day. Everything feels quiet calm
- I don't have to stop eating at 3pm in prep for a run which means treats at all the office parties!

And here are some things that suck
- 3pm caffeine withdraw headaches.
- Going to sleep early

I can't say right now if this will work for me in the long term. I like changing things up a bit, even if it is hard to wake up in the morning. It's completely thrown me for a loop as far as what to do before my run, what to eat, drink etc. Where before I was used to eating all day and then stopping to digest everything before running, now I grab an English muffin and peanut butter and eat half on the drive to the gym (which is also at work). I am really enjoying the fact that once I am at work, there is no stress of rushing to get ready. The second I am done putting on my makeup I can run to the kitchen, grab breakfast and head to my desk. Magical.
My other concern is time when the runs get longer. Right now I wake up at 6am and have everything perfectly timed to fit in anywhere from a 3-5 mile run. Once my mileage gets higher than that, and I predict that will happen quite soon, I may have to revert back to night running so I will not feel such a time constraint in the morning. I can only imagine what time I would have to go to bed to wake up at 5am or 5:30.
There is also the factor of, my eating schedule and the amount I eat. While previously I was stopping eating at 3pm and then not having dinner until 8pm or 9pm, there was a huge chunk of time I was not eating. Now that time is open to graze as I please, so I have to take care not to eat too much or cave to the sweet call of junk food. And let me just say that yesterday I was H-U-N-G-R-Y! I ate almost everything in my lunch before 3pm!

After much contemplation during my morning workout today I have decided to take a trip to the Bryn Mawr Running Co. at lunch and see if I can get myself some new kicks. I am interested to see if I should be sticking with the same brand/model/size etc as I have been doing for the past few years, or if I would be better off with something different. Either way with new shoes on my feet my hips, and the rest of my body, is sure to thank me soon!

xx Sara

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

and going to... CHINA. Oh yea and I'm leaving on Saturday.

The trip is for work, and pretty common in the garment industry. I am excited to be able to experience yet another culture (as I was able to travel to Sri Lanka last November) and happy that we were able to schedule this trip at the VERY beginning of training and not smack in the middle or right at the end. You would think that a week away wouldn't cause too much of a ripple in my schedule, especially considering we stay at pretty modern hotels equipped with gyms and everything. In fact on most vacations my sneakers are the first thing to go into my suitcase, no matter what the weather or the destination I can always count on running.
But think about it this way. We will leave on a Saturday morning and after the long flight and time difference it will be Sunday afternoon. Goodbye weekend. Then once you get in all you want to do is shower and sleep. The next day, after a quick breakfast you are whisked away to work and to take advantage of the short time period the days are usually pretty long. Goodbye weekdays. And then When it's all over you do the whole long flight time difference thing. I expect to loose a good 10 days of running.

All that being said I am still excited to go, and happy it will probably be my only trip of the year. That leaves the rest of the summer and fall for international travel free training. Happy Days.

Originally this week was supposed to be a "no run" week for me. This was Coach Jack's suggestion that I take a week off from any running to get mentally ready for marathon training. Except with no running happening while I am overseas, no running for two weeks doesn't sound like a good idea in my book. So next week will be no running, this week looks a little something like this.

Monday 3.5 miles @ Valley Forge
Tuesday OFF
Wednesday 3.5 miles (800's on the treadmill b/c of the weather
Thursday 30-45 min Non-run workout
Friday 4 miles - destination weather dependent

Have any great workout moves that are great for traveling/hotel rooms? Pass them my way!

xx Sara

Friday, July 9, 2010

Early Bird Gets theTreadmill

Maybe it was spending too many days in the sun, or the overindulgence of food as typically happens during a holiday, or perhaps it was the heat and the many hours spend driving in the car, but on Monday evening I got a crazy idea. Boyfriend and I were just about in New Jersey, on our way home from an amazing vacation at my parents house, when I blurted out, "I think I want to get up early and go to the gym before work tomorrow".
Boyfriend of course responded with a cool, "Ok". This took me by surprise as working our so early is not something I can typically bring myself to do more than once a week.

I am not a morning person. I do not like the treadmill. So why, you may ask yourself, did I decide to drag myself out of my comfortably amazing bed at 6am Tuesday morning to head to the gym? Well I strategically left all my clothes and make up in my car so that I would have to get out of bed and get it, figuring once I got that far it would be so much easier to just go to the gym. A little extreme? Yes. But it worked.

Here's what it was like working out in the morning. The first day was amazing. Getting up that early was not that bad, my workout was great, I was ready for work extra early and I felt great for the rest of the day. Day two was a little more difficult, but I still felt great most of the day (although a little bit tired). I was really enjoying having my nights free to do things like getting together with girlfriends and having date night with Boyfriend. But by Thursday I needed a break from it all. I slept in until 7:15 and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Friday I had big plans to get up extra early and run in Valley Forge before work. Until I remembered my running sneakers were in my gym locker at work. And then my asthma started acting up, be it because of stress, or lack of sleep, or the heat, or maybe all three. So I scrapped my morning run plans. Oh what a shocker, something else I tried and didn't have the energy to stick to.

For everyone that can find the energy and motivation to wake up in the early hours of the morning and get your exercise in, I congratulate you. To me, you are awesome. Some people are morning runners, some are night runners, and maybe we aren't really meant to switch. I'm pretty sure I function really well as a night runner. When I work out in the morning it feels like I cheated. I don't feel sore when I wake up, even though I gave the same amount of effort. I don't feel like I have to give up my evenings, which is just weird.

I think in the end I have discovered more of who I am instead of something I can achieve. I am just a night runner. I enjoy racking up the miles as I watch the sun set over the river. I enjoy the calm of summer nights and street lights. Does this often take up some of my evenings and make my schedule a little more difficult? Yes. Do I need my sleep? MOST definitely. But maybe my whole routine doesn't need a makeover. Maybe the way I was doing things works just fine for me.

So I have to ask, have you ever though of changing up your workout routine? What made you do it, and did you end up making it work for good?

xx Sara

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Some Like It Hot

... and some sweat when the heat is on.

To say it's been hot lately would be a little bit of an understatement. It's pretty much just miserable. I have to say that I wouldn't mind the heat so much (that's not to say I actually like it, it just wouldn't be as bad) if I didn't sweat to much and so easily. Sweating is ok when your working out, in fact I love it. I don't feel like I have gotten a good workout unless I am dripping by the end. On all other occasions sweating is not ok!

This situation is made even worse by the fact that I do not have a/c in my car, or apartment. You are probably thinking, what kind of crazy person am I? Well first of all I spent the first 12 years of my life with out a/c, an in a weird way I almost kind of liked falling asleep with the breeze of a giant fan blowing in my face. I even remember summers at cheerleading camp packing into UMass dorm rooms sleeping with box fan parked at the head of my bed. It was amazing. I am not a crazy person. I just keep forgetting to get an a/c unit for my apartment. I have lived there for three years. Ok maybe that does make me a crazy person. And my car? well that's the same story. The a/c hasn't worked in my trusty '97 Volvo for at least two years, but I always seem to make it at least halfway through the summer with out much suffering and once August hits I feel like it would just be better to wait until next year.

At any rate I am staying cool by mooching of of other people's a/c such as Boyfriend and work. This is not to say that I am visiting Boyfriend or going into the office purely because of the amazingly refreshing arctic air, but it is a nice perk. Any tips on how to beat the heat during/after workouts or just how to stay cool in general? I would love, love, love to hear them.

xx Sara

Friday, July 2, 2010


"Can we sleep in tomorrow?", Boyfriend asks me. We are driving up the New Jersey Turnpike on our way to New England to spend the holiday weekend with my family.
"Of course," I answer, a confused look across my face. "Why on earth would we be getting up early?" By now it is after 8pm and we still have about four hours of driving before we can sleep.
"I didn't know if you wanted to run."
"Ha ha ha" I laugh. I can't help it. It's Wednesday, only three days have passed since Boston and my half marathon.
"Honey," I say, turning to him for a brief second and then my eyes go back to the road. "The next few weeks may be my last chance to sleep in for the rest of year! I am NOT waking up early tomorrow."

When I tell my mom this the next morning she says "But you're still going to run right?" Well of course. I can't go more than three days with out working out. Of course I will run. I just won't be getting up early, I won't be running for time, with my watch, or any of the other things required when training for a race. I will run on my terms and on my time.

It was nearly 3:30 in the afternoon before we headed out for a run. There were four of us, Mom, Boyfriend, Littlest sister, and me. We are all in a line, like a family of ducks, I am at the front and Mom at the back. It was almost like we made our own little running club. It must have been quite the sight to see if you were driving by.

I coulnd't help but be amazed at the fact that I felt great. Didn't I just run a half marathon on Sunday? I did. It was amazing. And I am not even skipping a beat getting back into it. The hills I used to look at with fear, not laid out in from of me as gental rolling terrain. The more days that pass since the race, the better I feel about it. The better I feel about the shape I am in. For the next few weeks I plan on enjoying not being tied to a schedual. When I want to run I will run, if I don't want to run I won't.

The best part? It's summer. And what I realy want to do is go to the beach. So I think today, I'll do that instead.

xx Sara

Thursday, July 1, 2010


If not burning out is my goal, I am definitely suceeding

Somewhere past Rhode Island but a long way from Philadelphia, my thoughts drift from my book and to the scenery passing by my window outside the train. "Once A Runner" falls open in my lap, and as I skim over the words I can't help but think back to the half marathon I had run days earlier. It was a smart race, a challenging course, my asthma acted up on that last hill. Are those excuses? Facts? What am I trying to convince myself of? Who am I trying to prove myself to?

I think back to the race. In the end it all comes down to numbers. Time. Non-runners have no concept of what it takes to maintin a pace for any number of miles. But time, to them, is something they can comprehend although they don't understand.

"How did you do?" They will ask me at work tomorrow.
"I had fun, the course was challenging but I enjoyed it, it was great"
"But what was your time?" They will want to know
"2:10:39" I will say even though I know it means nothing to them, I know they don't get it. All they hear is "not as fast as last time"

They don't know all the factors that go into your final time. Training, weather, elevation, preperation, and even if you do everything perfectly you never know what curve balls could be thrown to you during the race. Anyone could have a bad race. And I wouldn't even classify this race as bad. I thought it was great! Despite all that I still feel as though I let people down. I can't help that think because I have such a passion for running, that people expect a lot of me. They don't understand how some beginer can be faster than someone who's been at it for years. Fast and Slow are useless terms. I know this. But race results are not given in "smart" or "reckless". They are not sorted by "time taken to recover" and they don't list out "ran even splits every mile" or "went out of the gate too fast and paid for it in the second half"

I am aware, at this point, that I am simply starting off into space with an open book on my lap. I get lost in the words, "the trial of miles", the motions of running. My thoughts drift back to hot summer nights running intercals on the river. I will never stop loving running. And I have to remind myself that running, like life, is a journey not a destination. It's about every hour, week and month you get to run. Sometimes we get so caught up in the end goal we forget about everything else. I forget that I have managed to run for eight striaght months now with out an injury *knock on wood*. I forget that I have run myself into the best shape I have been in in almost two years. I forget that I have run some kick butt hills, and those hills in turn have kicked my butt into shape. I forget that this is just a stepping stone on the path to the main event. The Philadelphia Marathon.

So I will take this 2:10:39. I will take the fast recovery. I will be back at the gym by Tuesday, and back to running by Thursday. And when it comes time to start marathon training I will be ready, just as full of passion and energy for running as always.

xx Sara