Sooo…”cross training”

This is one of those posts I mentioned on twitter that I had been mulling over. I needed to let it “percolate” if you will, lots of back and forth going on in this brain of mine.

The topic? “Cross training”

I put it in quotes because I think part of my problem with the concept of cross training is that I was trying to jam it into a more conventional context versus looking at my own approach to my workouts and realizing that I already *do*cross-train.
…just not in the way I was thinking I had to or needed to.

What am I talking about??

Well what else could be on my mind by the marathon that’s um ohhhh a YEAR away. Yes, I can’t freakin’ stop thinking about it. I hope you guys don’t get sick of me too quickly because I have a feeling 26.2 is going to be mentioned in far too many posts in the next few months or so.

But anyway, you all know by now that I’ve been thinking about how I want to approach the marathon and training for it. I’ve already mentioned that above all else, I want this to be a fun experience and not *just* a shitton LOT of work.

But other than that, I want to approach training my way. As per the usual, I’m not a huge fan of someone else creating a training plan or regime for me. What can I say? I guess I’m not into rules (even though I’m so Type A, odd…)? And part of training for a marathon (or any big endurance activity, really) is training smartly and making sure not to overdo too much of a good thing.

So I was sitting here thinking…

…Do I need to start adding another type of cardio into the mix? Spin? Elliptical? Something else?

…But where would I fit that in? I don’t want to be doing cardio five or six days a week…especially not on top of  the miles and miles of running, and the barre n9ne classes I take each week.

…Which reminds me…barre n9ne. Hm, wait a minute. That *is* a form of cross training (in my book), duh, why didn’t I think of that?

…Ok, so maybe I don’t need to add *another* type of workout in, I just need to continue to embrace focus. On running. On barre n9ne. On rest days.

…And if my knees or joints yell at me? That might mean an extra rest day. Or one less day of running each week.  And  just being flexible.

Ok, it’s settled. This is how I’m gonna approach this marathon. Just like any other race I’ve trained for and killed run.

Smartly.
Focused.
My way.

Enough overthinking. It’s time to trust my instinct. Stop falling into the comparison trap. Stop trying to force fit workouts into my schedule just because I feel like I *have* to incorporate spinning or the elliptical or something else low-impact. Why not just be content with the endurance, flexibility and strength I’m gaining from barre n9ne and let that do the trick? And instead of fixating on how “other people” do it…simply remember what my body is capable of. Letting my mind go, and trusting my body to do the work, all 26.2 miles of that work.

…is it time to start training yet?? ;-)

On workout “cycles…”

So last night I hit up Group Kick – a class I not only love, love, love, but am also certified to teach, as you know. My sis and I reacted the exact same way to the class last night. Which totally inspired this very blog post.

Our reaction? 

In a word: “Meh.”

It was just ok. And at first I wasn’t sure why.
I thought well – maybe I was tired (truth). Or, I don’t love the new release as much as previous releases (truth). Or, maybe it was simply just an “off” workout for me (maybe?). They aren’t all going to be rockstar, right?

As soon as I mentioned it to my sis, she agreed, 100%. <—shocking, right? 

SO, in talking about all the reasons why we felt so “meh” afterwards, we came to an interesting conclusion. My sis mentioned the whole concept of workout “cycles.”

YES! That’s it exactly: whether we know it or not, we all go through workout “cycles.” Cycles where we love a particular workout, cannot get enough of it. And months later – we’ve moved onto something else.

For me, this has happened much more often for me than I realized (until I started writing this post, even)

…it’s happened with weight training. (and came flooding back, as you’ve seen here)

…it’s happened a million times with core work. (thank you Core Fusion, and now, Barre N9NE!)

…it’s happened with cardio, even. (until a particularly killer Ride class lures me back in).

…it’s happened with running.(thank you running mojo for slowly coming back!)

But one workout that never seemed to be impacted was Kick.
Until now.

I mean, sure – after the high of getting certified kind of “wore off,” I was maybe slightly less kick-crazy, but I still loved it. I still love it even though I don’t teach anymore. And until last night, I still loved getting to class at least once per week for a nice ass-kicking workout.

But apparently, it’s time for me to push Kick aside for a bit. A little time away may do me some good – and let’s be honest, timing couldn’t be more perfect. With the Barre N9NE challenge starting next week, I surely will not have time for a workout I’m not even digging all that much lately. So, I’m ready to say “goodbye” (for now) to Kick, in favor of new challenges. I’m pretty sure Kick will be back in my life in some shape or form soon, but for now, I’m at peace with it.

Does this whole concept of workout “cycles” make sense and/or resonate with you? Or am I one of few that tends to cycle through workout loves now and then? I sure hope I’m not in the minority on this one – especially since I firmly believe that switching it up is the best way to continually see results, and to stick to workouts consistently. But I’m anxious to hear what you think? Discuss, please. :)

On Barre (n9ne)-raising expectations

Now that the initial fitgeek freak-out is mostly behind me, I’ve had time to think about what this Barre N9NE 60 day challenge means to me, what my expectations are, and other rambling thoughts in between. <thanks sis, for the blog topic idea!>

In no particular order…

I’m excited. For change – in body, but even more so in mind. I want this to reset my thinking on what I believe my body is capable of.  Far too often I think I sell myself short in this area. I have doubts. I don’t always trust my body to carry me through whatever challenge it faces. I want to see that end.

I’m ridiculously ready for something new. Even if that means rethinking my current workout regime…something that I know is bound to happen with the amount of barre-work I’ll be doing in the next 60 days. I am willing to give up my “usual” weight training routine, for sure. I’m not so ready to give up running…spinning, maybe, running, notsomuch. So that will be a challenge for me – fitting in my love of running – without overtraining.

I expect…

…this to be hard.

…Challenging.

…Sometimes even a little bit intimidating.

…but so much fun. 

The ladies over at Barre N9NE have years and years of dancing, ballet, and fitness experience between them – and they are stunningly strong, long, and lean. <they are also the cutest, nicest and most-welcoming women I’ve ever met, I swear>  I love that – but it also kind of intimidates me somehow. It’s kind of a control thing – I’m used to controlling my own “destiny” if you will, when it comes to my workouts, so letting someone else take control seems crazy to me.

But I’m ready.
To embrace. 
To let go. 
To learn. 
To transform.  

I’m SURE I’ll have an entirely different set of feelings/expectations after we meet with Barre N9NE on Saturday to walk through the 60 day plan…so maybe I’ll update this post then. For now – I’m super-duper excited and STILL fit-geeking it out, big time. Don’t mind me. ;-)

And, thank you all for being so excited right back for me and my sis, I love that. So much. You guys are the best!

What I worked Wednesday (and Mon, and Tues, and…)

What a week it’s been so far! I had the best of intentions to write a post today about my favorite workout of the week but guess what? It was too hard to pick just one so I figured I’d dedicate today’s post toWhat I worked Wednesday (and then some).”  I hope you don’t mind. ;-)

Sunday – leg day! Had to make up for last week’s skipped leg workout so I made sure it was a doozy.  Four sets of supersets done 3×20 style. Included lunges, squats (with and without weight), deadlifts, plie squats (still feeling those!), calf raises and side-slide and slide-back lunges. Finished off with a bit of Core Fusion abs (from my growing collection of Core Fusion DVDs of course). Love!

Mondaypuke-worthy run with Scott.

TuesdayBarre N9NE class which I LOVED so much. It was a fusion style class and kicked my behind, like whoa! I just LOVE how I feel both during a barre-style class and right afterwards. The only way to describe it is body-shaking and totally detoxifying.

Today – sweatfest of a Ride class. It was a new release today that was killer…plus the room was super warm for some reason today which left me dripping (good day to forget my towel, oy). I swear, I’m still sweating now!

Whew! Great workout week so far! Sometimes that’s all it takes to make my week that much better (in between that thing called work, right??). And there’s more to come, woohoo! So – my question to you: can you pick out your favorite workout(s) of the week? How did it make you feel? What made it your favorite?

In all honesty, I love every single workout I fit in for one main reason: I’m able and I totally appreciate that. Whoa-ly. 

What I worked Wednesday

Well.

That was quite the workout this morning. Now that I’m fully refueled (thanks to the hubs who has perfected the scrambled egg, I swear…and this from the guy who doesn’t even like eggs to begin with!), I thought I’d check in before my day goes into overdrive at the office (though I’m working from home today so I guess I should say “at my dining room table.”)

This morning started with a 6am Ride class – as usual, with my favorite instructor. She killed us – love it. But I noticed something. I seriously was sweating WAY more than I normally do in that class. Legit sweat pouring into my eyes. Reminded me of those longer half marathon training runs this past summer when it was 80 degrees at 7am. Oh how I miss those days…and cannot wait to get back to fierce running form again. I’m getting there. And I’ll take it (this is a reminder for you too, sis. We got this). 

When I got back, I decided to get my back/chest workout done.
Here’s how it looked:

Superset #1:

Pull-ups
push-ups (wide)
3×15

Superset #2:
one-arm rows
bench press
3×15

Superset #3:
Y’s with the resistance band
Flat-bench flyes
3×15 (or 20 depending on how I felt)

Quick and dirty - love those supersets!

This was the very workout I told ya’ll on twitter last night that I was foregoing in favor of being present. Was just what we needed – we watched (ok, sorta watched if you’re me) the Bruins playoff game while playing rummy on the couch together. Yep, we’re dorky that way. We actually have a bet going – which makes this much more fun, I’m so competitive!

Here are the details:  First one who wins 25 hands of rummy gets to pick the other person’s “losing prize.” If I win, Scott has to come with me to get a mani/pedi (seriously, that boy’s cuticles are in dire need…and c’mon, it would just be funny to see him in a pedi chair). If I lose? Scott takes me to Foxwoods or Mohegan where I have to actually play a table game (if we ever go to a place like that, I usually just watch, it makes me nervous, the whole betting thing). So yeah…I digress. But this is how we Sutera’s roll. A little dorkiness never hurt anyone, right?  ;-)

So yeah, long story short – I’m in a rambly, kinda goofy mood today. I blame it on the endorphin rush from today’s workout. Left me feeling super-duper alive. I dig it. Feeling good.  How ya’ll doing with your good/great week??

A flashback, Ride-style

So, I kept good on my word and hit up the 6am Group Ride class this morning at my gym.

Finally!

I struggle to get there as often with my commute being what it is, but I made it happen today. It’s important enough to me that I’d rather battle traffic and/or scramble to get out the door at my usual time if it means an awesome sweaty workout was had in advance. And to be honest, I need Ride in my life as cross-training. And, not gonna lie – I love it. Especially when it’s taught by my favorite instructor. ;-) Annnd I’m joined by my sis and Scott. All the better.

What struck me this morning was that the release that we rode today was from Group Ride Fall ’08 which, as I sat there riding the first track, I realized was the first release I ever rode, Group Ride-style. Talk about flashback city!

Back in 2008, my sis and I had just joined our gym together and were excited to finally share the same gym again and to be able to workout side-by-side again. We were both SUPER intrigued by spinning, but also slightly intimidated by it. So we pinky-swore that the first time we took the class, we’d do it together. Coincidentally, this was also our first experience with any BTS classes – and man, it left a lasting impression. To this day, I contend that no other group fitness class compares to the style of BTS classes, they are intense, they keep you motivated, and they have incredible music and technique. (and no, BTS did not pay me to say this, I just firmly believe in their program!).

But back to our first Group Ride class. It went something like this:

…Oy. This is a dark room. I’m kind of intimidated. I don’t even know how to work these bikes…<enter spin instructor who promptly showed us both how to get our bikes calibrated>

…This is just the warm-up?? I’m dying. How am I gonna make it through the whole hour?

…My legs are on fire right now, she wants me to turn up the resistance again? Whoa, everyone around me is doing it like it’s no big deal, why am I dying right now?

…Whew. Are we done? Finally, my legs are so wobbly. <—this was during the track right before the climb…I stupidly thought the class was wrapping up, boy was I mistaken, we had the climb track left, the steepest one!

…What is this?? There’s more? I don’t think I can push any harder, holy sh*t.

Fast-forward to today’s class. The very same release that I rode back in 2008.
…I rode with passion.
…I rode like my life depended on it.
…I was sweating buckets.
…I embraced the interval track and pushed it, knowing it was a short-term pain/long-term gain kind of track.
…I looked forward to that climb track at the end and climbed as hard as I could.
…I was not afraid.
…I did not doubt that I could do it.
…I loved it.

 

 

It’s amazing what a flashback will do for you, mentally. I feel grateful for what the past few years of spinning has done for me and really dig how far I’ve come with spinning. It’s major cardio killer, which has totally improved my endurance and ability (mentally) to push myself beyond my limits. It’s been awesome to share it with my sis, and now with Scott and my “Kick friends” (those friends I met while training to be a Group Kick instructor) who regularly join this class on Wednesdays. There’s something to be said about workout friends, wouldn’t you agree?

So now I challenge you – flashback to the first time you tried a particular workout. Think about how you felt then. How different/out of your element it made you feel. And then flash forward to the most recent time you took that class, or did that workout, or whatever. How does it compare? Kind of a cool feeling, right?

 

Guest Post: Diary of a Spin Class

God I’ve missed cardio. That intense high after a particularly good, sweaty cardio workout. Gimme runner’s high. Spinner’s high. Kickers (?) high. Gimme any of it.

I’ve missed it so much since being sidelined not once, but twice due to illness. But, I’ve learned to embrace the “stillness” (borrowing the perfect word from Lindsay!) along the way. A lot more than I thought I’d be able to. And I’ve let it go.

But let’s be honest, I’m still me. ;-) Which means I am seriously craving cardio, and really wishing I could take these patience pants off. I had hoped to get to Ride this morning but my lungs just aren’t there yet. Plus, I find that the later in the day is better for me, less coughing and wheezing. So hopefully I can get some form of cardio in tonight. Fingers crossed on that one. I’m having major cardio withdrawal!!

But that’s not really the point of my post, sort of a segue into an awesome post from my sis, who many of you follow already (which I love!). <Note, not linking to her blog for privacy reasons, if you’re wondering why no link love>

However, her post was inspired by a total sweatfest she had last night while in Cali for work. It’s nothing short of inspiring (and I’m totally jealous, btw). If you’ve never tried a spin class, you must. I equate it to the high you get from running, but on a bike instead. :) It’s also incredibly detoxifying, as my sis describes below.

Diary of a Spin Class…

I rush into class. Late. Grab my spin shoes (as my bra – yes my bra – comes flying out attached to the velcro – hellllo mortifying! Quick save, throw it back in my bag).

Hoping class is much better than the last non-Group Ride class I took while out here in Cali at 24 Hour Fitness.

Damn, was I in for a surprise. A complete and utter drenchfest.

Enter intervals. The entire hour-long workout.

Mindset during warm-up: excited. adrenalin pumping. this is what I have been waiting for. ramp up my warm up, first song ends, enter second song. Bruno Mars (love his stuff, as teeny boppper as it is). Wail on the second song…only to realize, it’s *still* the warm-up.

Eek, Guess I should have toned back that second song, wailing on the bike like there’s no tomorrow. Noted.

On to intervals. Starts with a 1:1 (one minute speedy but heavy-ish, 75-85 RPMs). Ramps up to 2:2 (a little faster, close to 90-100 RPMs)

Sweating. Breathing heavy, almost breathless.

The instructor is amazing. I tried to sear into memory her words:

“Go one step before breathless….”
“You have iron legs right now. Look down at those legs and just go!”
Visualize the reward. It’s at your doorstep, what is it? You’re almost there, one minute and you can have that reward.”
“Push. Are you at a 1 or 2? can you talk? Go faster. Be at a 3 or a 4, where you can’t speak.”
“Close your mouth. Can you still breathe? If so, add more intensity, because that shouldn’t have felt good at all [trying to breathe with your mouth shut]“

Next interval is a 3:3 but this time we can choose to ramp it up seated, and then standing, and then seated. I like this. The variation reminds me more of Group Ride.

…but wow, standing up makes trying to breathe even harder. Starting to struggle. Sweat pouring off me. Towel drenched.

….next and final interval is a 4:4 and at this point, I am pretty close to a 4, nearly breathless. I start to panic a little. My chest feels tight. The feeling i’ve been getting during my runs (which makes me wonder if I have exercise induced asthma).

I tone it back a notch. And then she says it again…”one step before breathless.”

And I just go. I don’t think. I let my legs work as she says “your body knows what to do, it’s always your mind that will stop you. Trust your body.”

We’re almost there and then it’s the last few minutes and she has girls vs. boys for the last 30 second intervals. Girls first. As fast and hard as you can go. Not about speed as much as it is about being heavy in the legs and speed.

30 seconds…men on deck at 5 second mark…we rest for 30, slowing down, I can’t believe how much sweat is pouring off me..

‘women on deck!”

we’re up….and I fly, I know I only have one more interval after this.

*breathe*

“final interval, I add more intensity and go…one notch shy of breathless.

And I’m done.

What did I picture for my ‘rewards’ at minute 2 and 3 of 4?

Confidence.
And the ability to run another half marathon.

I pictured them both. I felt it.

And I can’t wait to go back to class and do it all over again.

That was an experience.

Something new

As I alluded to in my post on letting it go, I’ve been thinking long and hard about my workouts lately. About what they mean for me. About my motivation. About my new focus and mindset that is far less about the numbers and structure, and far more about getting back to basics.

As part of all this thinking and mulling, I’ve decided it’s time for something new.
Call it another case of antsy pants.
Call it an insatiable desire to challenge and shock the system with new approaches to working out.
Call it me being me. ;-)

This “something new” entails a new approach to weight training. You see – for nearly as long as I’ve been seriously lifting weights, I”ve either always taken a group fitness class, worked with my husband on a weight workout at the gym (rarely), or followed a structured weight lifting program like STS, done at home with the always awesome Cathe Friedrich by my side.  But I’ve never created my own lifting program.

And I have no idea why.

I have all the tools at my fingertips in my home gym. And, I know plenty about weight lifting after all these years to create a program of my own. So why haven’t I ever gone this route before?

I talked it over with Scott on a long walk today – and mentioned this concept to him.  And,  by the end of our walk (and talk), a new 4-week workout was born. I may not be a personal trainer by any stretch, but dammit – I know enough to be dangerous and I might as well start appreciating that fact, right??

So here goes.  The next four weeks will look something like this – with running, spinning or kickboxing for cardio and Core Fusion for core/flexibility training for a good, well-rounded cross-training routine.

Monday - Back/Chest: four exercises per body part, with 30 second rests between each set of 15-20 reps (I’ll go into the types of exercises I’ll do throughout the week in future blog posts, don’t worry); and Core Fusion Yoga or Pilates Abs
Tuesday - Biceps/Triceps (same format as above)
Wednesday - Ride
Thursday - Core Fusion Yoga or Pilates Abs; Kick
Friday -  Legs/shoulders (same format as above) and just the abs section from Core Fusion Body Sculpt (10 mins)
Saturday - Run

So you’ll see – I’m trying to balance the weight work without forgetting to work abs (something I ALWAYS did pre-Core Fusion) and including some sort of flexibility work in the mix, another area I’ve always pushed aside in the past. I’m thinking of doing this for the next four weeks, upping the weights each week, letting my body tell me when to go heavier.

I’m not sure how I”ll approach each week, yet. I figure I’ll go with the flow a little bit in terms of the format – it could involve trisets (my fave), or supersets. But, it’ll mainly be endurance based, to build up my endurance (duh) but also build lean and toned muscles, something I’ve been favoring more and more lately. I credit Core Fusion with that in large part, because it has lengthened and toned my muscles, leaning them out a little bit which I’m digging, interestingly enough.

Surprisingly, I’m really excited about this – it might seem simple to some of you fitness friends to build your own workout program vs. relying on a workout class or DVD to get you through, but this is kind of new for me. To train myself, trusting myself to lead the way. And I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes. See? I am a personal trainer afterall – a personal trainer of ME! ;-)

Intervals, love to hate ‘em

Yes, I just admitted that I’m a new-found Interval lovin’ fool. (yes, Heather – you get some credit for this!)

But here’s why I’ve grown to love interval-style workouts.

  • They go by fastduh.
  • They leave me huffing and puffing and damn proud of myself when I’m done.
  • They make other interval-ish workouts *slightly* less challenging (though after today’s SUPER intense Ride class, I’m not sure this is true all the time, haha)
  • They force me to get out of my comfort zone. No more plodding along at 6.5 mph on the treadmill. Funny enough, since starting these speed workouts on the treadmill, that “normal” 6.5 mph is starting to feel a little slow! How funny, right??
  • They are fun. Yep, fun. The dreadmill is fun?! Huh?? (forget about steady state on the dreadmill, those are still ridic, firmly landing in the “not fun” category).

So – I dare you this week to give an interval workout (running on the treadmill, running outside, or doing a spinning workout which I’d qualify as interval style given the variations in intensity, especially if it’s a Ride class…).

If you’re looking for ideas…borrow some from me (that I borrowed – with credit – from these fab ladies, Becky and Melissa!). Check ‘em out here and here. Oh – and also check out one I tried yesterday, courtesy of Naomi, with a few modifications here:

0-3 min: Warm-up (I walk at 3.5)
3-10 min: Jog at 5.5 <—I made this 6.0 mph
10-11 min: Sprint at 7.0-8.0
11-13 min: Recover at 3.5-4.0 <—-these recovery rounds I upped to 6.0, I was feeling speedy on Saturday, oddly enough!
13-14 min: Sprint at 7.0-8.0
14-16 min: Recover at 3.5-4.0
16-17 min: Sprint at 7.0-8.0
17-19 min: Recover at 3.5-4.0
19-20 min: Sprint at 7.0-8.0
20-22 min: Recover at 3.0-4.0 (so basically its 5 sprints and 5 recovers)
22-30 min: The workout says to jog at 5.5, but during this time, I’ll run at 7.0 for 1 min, then slow down by .5 each minute until I’m back at 5.0.
5 min cool down: Walk at 3.5
I added a couple of extra intervals/recovery rounds at the end to make this a 45 minute workout. This is an awesome workout to be able to modify how you see fit…yet another reason to love intervals! Make ‘em yours!

 

So what makes a workout “puke-worthy” you ask?

Well – none of you really *asked* this question, but I’m gonna answer it anyway!

(and part of me is surprised nobody asked what I meant by that in my random post the other day, but then again – you’re all just as crazy as me so it kinda makes sense, scarily so!)

A workout just *may* be puke-worthy if it involves…

  • …your crazy – but favorite – spin instructor urging you to turn that resistance up higher than you thought you were capable of climbing at. And then pushed you to turn it up even more.
  • …double-wave loads (hello STS!). As in six, yes six, sets of one exercise done with 5% increased weights after each set. So for example: one set of chest presses at 20 lbs for 12 reps; set two at 22.5 lbs for 10 reps; set three at 25 lbs at 8 reps. Repeat series once from the beginning.
  • multiple rounds of double-wave loads. As in three in one workout. One for chest press. One for shoulder presses. One for tricep extensions. Oof. Oof. Oof.
  • …the coldest run you’ve done in awhile, complete with husband yelling at you to run as hard as you can, and that yes, your chest should be aching or you’re not running hard enough. <ahem>
  • …HiiT work (as in high intensity interval series). But not just any HiiT work. A round of true HiiT work (as in high intensity the entire time) followed by a round of low-impact HiiT work (much of the same intensity, just done with less wear on those joints).

And yes, these are all workouts I’ve done as recently as today, if not this past week.

And it’s been awesome.

JUST what this self professed workout-a-holic has been craving since the cold weather has hit. Lots of variety, lots of fun, lots of, um…near-puke moments? And I mean that in the best possible way, of course. ;-)

But now I gotta know – what was your last workout that left you gasping for air and praying for a reprieve??

And while I eagerly await your responses (hehe), I’ll go back to searching for my inner Type A-…I’m sure it’s around here somewhere….