Thursday, March 31, 2011

Getting Strong: Dial It In Phase - FAIL

Well, things couldn't keep up at such a great clip =)

While I was wonderfully consistent for the first two months of my getting strong challenge, following Rachel Cosgrove's training plan, this month was a big fat fail.

I exaggerate a bit. The first two weeks were moderately successful with two weight training workouts a week. My transition back to work full time took its toll, though. I was exhausted (falling asleep at 7:30 pm is not normal for an adult) and stressed with the schedule changes (not to mention being away from baby girl - who won't take bottles - for the first time). Then, hubby had a 10 day work trip - making the gym and, for the most part running, a no-go during that time. Ah well.

At least I didn't gain any weight this month! I'm sure I lost some strength, but that's okay. The question now is how to proceed. I'm ramping up my running - it's finally time for marathon training! - and don't want to overdo it in the strength training department.

So, while I hate to leave this challenge unfinished, I think I'm going to bypass Congrove's last stage (and the half-completed third stage). Instead, I'm going to bounce back and fourth between the stage 1 and stage 2 workouts, hopefully twice a week, to maintain strength while I run.

This first week has already had its challenges (fell asleep at 7:30 pm on Monday - again!) but I'm starting to find a rhythm. I still haven't quite figured out how to get to the gym (hubby has been working late) but that should take care of itself in the next week or so. In any case, I'm looking forward to my next fitness phase - training for the SFM!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gearing Up

Here I go... next week is the beginning of my 18 week training plan for the 2011 San Francisco Marathon!!!

I have been anticipating my next marathon training cycle for some time and for many reasons:
  • Fitness: I consider this the last step of getting back into shape post baby
  • Redemption: I have made a lot of training mistakes in the past (low mileage, too much taper, poor nutrition (try running a marathon while anemic!)). This time, I hope to get all these key components right.
  • Strength: Thanks to my focus on strength training the last few months, I feel like I have a solid fitness base to begin marathon training on.
  • Transition: We're moving to San Francisco in a few months. What better way to get excited about my new home?!
  • Gratitude: As always, I consider myself fortunate to be able to devote the extensive time, energy and money (all those extra calories aren't free!) required to marathon training. I love running and the stress release it gives me. Without my husband's support and patience (especially now, with baby girl) I would never be able to fit it in!
I have a rough (okay, very detailed) training plan laid out. However, I don't want to focus too much on the numbers. First, I don't have a good idea of what my target pace should be right now... so, I'll wait until a tune-up race (to be determined) in a few months to narrow that down. Second, I think, with baby girl and working full time again, I'll have to be a little more flexible then normal. Instead, here are the guidelines I'd like to follow:
  • Run at least five days a week - frequency, more then anything else, seems to affect my running the most.
  • At least one hard 'speed' session a week - either an interval workout or good tempo run
  • One medium 'pace' run a week - pace is still to be determined, but I'll start targeting around 8:30s
  • Long Runs - never miss them (one per week)
  • Two strength training sessions a week - these will be maintenance workouts
  • At least one BOB run a week - can't have too much time away from baby girl!
The details of my schedule, now that I'm back to work, are still being ironed out. It looks like I'll be doing most of my running after the baby goes to sleep at night, since I already get up around 5:30am, not including running time. It will be a busy training cycle, juggling work, baby and the move (oh, and squeezing in some time for the husband!). I'm looking forward to the challenge!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's a good running weekend when...

... you get a blister on your pinky from the way you're pushing the BOB stroller. Seriously, if you're going to get a blister from running, that's the one to get!

DH is out of town for 10 days. So, baby girl and I are getting in some quality BOB time again. It's been hit and miss since I started working, but the weekends are still good for a BOB run or two.

I've learned that, when running with the baby, it's best to be flexible with my daily running goals. Success is measured by making it out the door, period. Since her stamina for sitting in the stroller is a little unpredictable, I have started doing 2 mile loops around my neighborhood. That way, whenever she starts to get fussy, I'm usually never more then 5 minutes away from home. So, she doesn't have to stay in the stroller when she's unhappy and keeps a positive association with it. As long as she's happy, I keep running and get in however many miles I can!

Yesterday I almost didn't make it out the door. I even got the stroller out and then put it away - twice - because I wasn't quite feeling a run. At 5pm, however, she was fussy and I was tired of carrying/bouncing her. So, we finally headed out for a run.

Then, completely unexpectedly, I felt awesome! The miles clicked by super (by comparison) fast. Normally, my BOB miles hover near 10 minutes. Yesterday, Garmin happily reported 8:30 - 8:45 pace! I was cruising - pleased as punch. I even passed another runner; first time that's every happened with the BOB. Of course, one mile later, someone else passed me and the baby started to squirm. Oh well, two strides forward, one stride back =)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Adjusting and Training Plan

Last week I returned to work (sigh) and I'm still attempting to settle into some sort of a schedule that allows me to get my workouts in.

I had a nice routine with baby girl; I did most of my walks (can't forget the doggies) and runs (hurray for the BOB) during the day with her and then my weight workouts at night, when DH was home. Now, I'm out the door by 6am (after feeding baby girl) to get to work by 7am, out the door at work by 4pm to pick up baby girl by 5:15pm, feed/play/bath/feed baby and then she (and I) are out by 7pm.

If I'm able to stay motivated, I run and/or lift weights after she's asleep. Nights like tonight, though, I fell asleep while doing her last nursing and woke up next to her at 7:45pm. Super cute... but not conducive to getting my workouts in! I still did the run, but skipped the weights I had planned. Ah well, I'm sure I'll settle into a routine eventually. Unfortunately, it will almost definitely include fewer workouts.

On a related topic, I really need to decide on a training plan for the San Francisco Marathon (July 31st, yay!). I'd like to use an 18 week plan, so training starts in two weeks! I'm having a hard time deciding on how much track/tempo/pace runs to include. On one hand, I'd love to go after a PR. On the other, that's a little crazy ambitious since I still consider myself on baby comeback. Any suggestions are welcome!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Getting Strong: Define Yourself Phase

A month ago I posted about my experience with the first weight lifting cycle in Rachel Cosgrove's Female Body Breakthrough.* I mostly continued the program for the second month. Here's how it went:

What I did:
 - Followed Cosgrove's weight lifting routines as closely as possible (exceptions noted below).
 - Did not miss a weight lifting workout (3 times a week).

What I did not do:
 - Follow all other Cosgrove advice. This includes:
  • Eat 5/6 small meals a day: this drove me nuts the first month. Eating 5-6 times wasn't the problem. The problem was making sure each 'meal' had the correct protein/vegetable balance. I let this go and was much less stressed about my eating.
  • No running. Yeah, there was no chance this would happen. Though, I did keep my running to 20 miles or so per week and my longest run was only 7.5 miles.
  • Metabolic circuits: I did the running I wanted, instead of these.
  • Exercise modifications:
    • Assisted Chin-Up: my gym doesn't have elastic bands for assisted chin-up, so, I just used the assisted chin-up machine.
    • Inverted Row: there aren't many squat racks at my gym... and lots of people who want to use them... so, rather then hold up a rack for this, I just used a row machine.
- I continued to lose weight the first two weeks and then stabilized at a pound or so under my pre-pregnancy weight. This is good and expected, since I'm clearly adding some lean mass to my frame in the process of these workouts.

 - My strength improved greatly; especially on the two exercises I found to be the most difficult: chin-up and single leg squat. The last set of assisted chin-ups I did had 18 fewer pounds of assistance then the first. I couldn't even do a set of single-leg squats at first (with a bench behind me, not full range of motion). The last workout, I cranked out three good sets with the bench.

 - I now fit into all of my pre-pregnancy 'skinny' clothes! This is, of course, my favorite result. I can even wear my favorite skin-tight, not-at-all-stretchy-fabric dress. Two months ago, I couldn't even pull that dress up over my bum, let alone zip it and have it look good!

So, I'm still enjoying the routines and will continue with the next set: Dial It In Phase. Again, I'm only going to follow the weight routines and not the rest of the program. We'll see how it goes =)

* I have no affiliation with Cosgrove and have not received anything for this review.