Monday, August 23, 2010

Training Week in Review

Last week was my first week of training, and it was moderately successful. A completely successful week would be one where I actually complete all of my scheduled workouts, but I am notoriously terrible at actually completing a whole week of planned activity. I do what I can. I know, what a terrible role model.

I went to CoreFusion and CoreFusion Yoga back to back on Monday at Exhale Spa at the Gaansevoort. I regularly do CoreFusion (usually at least 3 times a week, if not 4 or 5 depending on what other activities I have lined up), but had never tried CoreFusion Yoga. As I have mentioned before, I have been doing yoga for the last couple of months at YogaWorks, so I have a little bit of an idea of some basic poses but I'm no pro.

CoreFusion kicked my ass (literally!) as usual. I was expecting CoreFusion Yoga to be a little more slow-paced, and focusing on the stretching, lengthening aspects of yoga. No sireee!! The hour was spent doing push-ups in plank position, holding chair position and pulsing up and down (my thighs!! the burn!!!), lunges and and generally sweating and burning a lot. If I had been prepared for this, I probably would have enjoyed it, and even relished the challenge of really pushing my body. As it happens, I was looking forward to some calming yoga, and this certainly wasn't that. I didn't have a great time, but did get a great workout, so I cannot complain. And even though I didn't have a great time, I will actually be back for the double whammy, so it cannot have been that bad!!

Tuesday ended up being a complete rest day due to a laser session which means no sweating. I felt really bored and guilty for doing nothing that day. I did use the time to go and see Eat, Pray, Love with a friend. I hope I'm not alienating potential readers by saying that that movie was not for me. I didn't love the book either so maybe it was a done deal on not loving the movie. Javier was very hot though. James Franco was very funny, but I'm not sure he was supposed to be...

Wednesday was therefore my first run of the week. I did a 4 miles in 39:11 mins, which works out at 10:03 min/mile pace. I was playing around with my pace that day, so I'm not concerned that the time isn't as good as I would like. I ran the first half very slow, and then tried to speed up the second half f the run to catch up to being under 10 min/mile pace. I didn't make it, unfortunately, but I was experimenting, so it's okay.

Thursday was a double whammy day: I did another 4 mile run (38:44, so very slightly faster) which was ridiculously hot. I ended up running at about 4.30 in the afternoon, and the whole run was really about surviving and not passing out with heat. I came back home, took a very quick cold shower, hopped on my bike and headed to CoreFusion. For the first time in my life, I had a pretty easy instructor, and the class was not as painful as I thought it might have been. I was really dreading it!

Friday was another rest day. I ended up accidentally having a lot of wine at dinner at Hundred Acres (I love that place!), which was not so clever, and had to drink about 5 glasses of water when I came home.

My Saturday Running Playlist (I just shuffle)

Saturday was the day I was dreading. I had to run 6 miles around the Central Park loop. This is the same course as the race, and I have biked it a couple of times, so I know that there are quite a lot of hills, and it's not a super easy run. It was warm, and I haven't run 6 miles in over a year. I was genuinely scared, and really thinking that I wouldn't be able to make it.

I started out at a fairly slow pace, sticking to about 10:07 min/miles. This is a bit slower than I normally run, and I was very self-conscious that everyone was overtaking me. However, I was still moving, and my heart rate was very controlled, and I had no pain anywhere. There was nothing to worry about. Then, the dreaded Harlem Hills appeared. I had a long downhill, following by a really long uphill, and then another downhill. Just as the long uphill appeared, Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart came on my iPod. (Yes, I really am that uncool). OMG!!! Who knew that 80s ballads are THE BEST THING EVER FOR POWERING UP HILLS. 7 minutes of going the distance and even almost enjoying it. WOAH. (Yes, I know that I overused the capslock key in the last 200 words, but that is how strongly I feel).

The last couple of miles were a struggle because I picked up the pace and it was getting much much warmer. If I had kept going at the slow trucker pace that I was going, I probably could have made it to 8 miles, but since I sped up, I was beat at the 6.2 mile mark. Total time: 1:02hrs. Pace: a respectable 9:57 min/mile.

I was pretty tired after the run, and headed straight to yoga, where I had one of my favorite classes ever. I had a new instructor a YogaWorks, and he had such infectious energy that it uplifted me and made my proud, energized, relaxed, tall, and stretched. Heaven. I then met one of my friends at the Highline and we proceeded to wander around for a couple of hours. My only folly? I didn't eat enough during the whole day, and by 8pm I was exhausted, so no crazy Saturday plans for me.

The Moose

The only thing I really had planned for Sunday was yoga. It was awesome again, especially going into some easy shoulder stands. It rained all day, so the rest of the day was spent snuggling in with the Moose. How could you not want to snuggle with the Moose?

So, how did I compare to my plan:

Monday: Core Fusion and Core Fusion Yoga

Tuesday: 4 mile run

Wednesday: 2 mile run 4 mile run and Core Fusion

Thursday: 4 mile run and yoga and Core Fusion

Friday: REST DAY!!!!

Saturday: 6 mile run (eeek!!) and yoga

Sunday: Core Fusion and yoga

That's a lot of scoring out! But I only lost out on a 2 mile run, a yoga session, and a Core Fusion session. That's not hideous, is it? This week is MUST TRY HARDER.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

YogaWorks For Me

I am such a late starter when it comes to yoga. In all my 28yrs, and worldly travels, I really only started it a couple of months ago, when I randomly decided to try it out after reading an article in the NY Times called the Yoga Manifesto. It was one of the comments in the sections that really spoke to me. It basically was that you are the most important person in the yoga studio, and the most important thing to do in the yoga studio is simply be. It doesn’t matter if you can’t touch your hands the floor, or if your downward dog is more like an arthritic pug than a graceful whippet, but simply turning up, and focusing, is enough. If you think about it, that is incredibly powerful, and yet, takes away all the fear and trepidation a yoga newbie might feel. Simply be.

It is with this mantra that I approach each class with. There are some things I am good at (my upward dog is pretty damn good), and some I am not (anything requiring flexibility, standing on one leg, balance etc), but every single time I go to class, I can feel myself slow down, focus on the moment, focus on my body, my breathing, and simply try. In each class, I can feel myself growing taller, stronger, longer, leaner. I can feel my back strengthen, and the tension in my shoulders release. I can feel my legs literally become straighter, and my balance improve. Some days are good, and some not. Some classes are harder (my Thursday night sessions is a beginner intermediate rather than standard beginner, and it is haaard, but I keep going to push myself), and some easier. Some days will be more rewarding than others. But everytime I go, my body and my mind thank myself for taking me to class and focus my mind on doing something good for my body, even just for an hour.

I go to yogaworks, who have studios in California and New York. They have a range of classes and levels, depending on your ability. I am a solid beginner, and the beginner classes are focused on getting the form and structure of each pose right, now just in the pose, but getting in and out of the pose. YogaWorks focuses working through a number of related poses to build up your capabilities and YogaBlend has more emphasis on moving between poses at a greater speed. YogaBlend definitely gets your heart racing as you move between downward dogs planks, upward dogs, and the like. The instructors are clear in their instructions and offer many modifications for both easier and harder versions of the pose, and although the classes are graded by ability, there is usually a couple of people on each end of the scale. By the end of the class, I’m always feeling challenged and like I’ve worked my body in a very good, beneficial way.

If you had asked me 6mths ago about what I thought of yoga, I would have written it off as a thing that women with too much time on their hands and an excess of flexibility do. Now, it’s become a part of my regular routine and I literally count the hours until I get a chance to stretch back out on my mat and challenge my body and my mind again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Week of Training

Today I completed my first official training run. It was also my first run for a couple of weeks and I have had niggling knee pain for the last couple of days so I wasn't expecting much. I ended up having a pretty nice run, and a much faster pace than normal - yay!!! I ended up running 4.38 miles in 37 mins, or a 9:34 min/mile pace.

I always take my iPhone when I run and it tracks my time and pace against a GPS map using iMapMyRun. I have to admit it's not 100% accurate, and sometimes I look down and apparently I've run right through buildings, but for the most part it is good enough to give me an estimate of how far, and how fast I am running. I'll provide more of an review of it, and any other apps I use later. I used to have a Nike Plus device which I loved because it provided a great visualization of your pace across the whole run. I forgot about it, until I discovered that the iPhone 4 has the app built in, and all you need is a sensor. I rummaged under the bed and found my old running shoes which had my old sensor in there. I could not find any pouch to attach it to my shoe, so I just kind of tucked it into my shoe laces. BAD IDEA!!! It lasted a whole 1 minute and 7 seconds. Oh well.

This week commences my first week of proper training. I am following the Hal Higdon Novice Training Plan, as recommended by Dory. I only have 6 weeks, so I'm having to dive right in. Here's how my plan looks this week:

Monday: Core Fusion and Core Fusion Yoga
Tuesday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: 2 mile run and Core Fusion
Thursday: 4 mile run and yoga
Friday: REST DAY!!!!
Saturday: 6 mile run (eeek!!) and yoga
Sunday: Core Fusion and yoga

I really, really hope I can stick to this. I'm planning on doing my runs first thing in the morning before I go to work, as I find it hard to run after work - I just get so tired then. My other big concern is that I absolutely love, love, going to Core and yoga, and I need to be careful I don't over do it, or I'll just end up fatigued. I spend every Saturday morning in Central Park walking my dog Moose, so I'm planning on doing my long run on the actual race course to get me used to it. I'm dreading those hills!!!

More to come through the week as I attempt to stick to my training plan.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A New Blog, A New Challenge

I find it most ironic that as I sit in on a Saturday night, munching on some candy from Dylan's Candy Bar, resting a sore knee, that I find myself first signing up for a half marathon, and then signing up for a blog to chronicle my journey towards it. I am no stranger to blogging, and have a thriving little beauty blog over at Jolie Laide Girl, but I would definitely say I'm a relative newbie to the whole world of running, fitness, and generally healthy. Okay, scratch the last part. I'm definitely not healthy. I have a mouthful of red licorice as I type.

So here the deal: I am running my first ever half marathon on Oct 2nd, or in 49 days time. That means I have 6 weeks to train for something that takes most people twelve. At the moment, I am running approximately 4 miles a week, as well as working out regularly at Core Fusion and yoga. I have been doing both on a regular basis since May 2010. A fitness newbie, I tell ya.

So, between now and then I have to get my ass literally in shape enough to haul me around Central Park twice. And, as well as that, I also have to go on my honeymoon. This little project of mine might just be bona fide crazy. But, stranger things have happened, and I'm damn well going to give it a good try, and I'll be sure to share every step and mis-step along the way.