c25k

Raising The Bar

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I started week two of C25K this week. So far it’s noticeably easier this time around and I feel that’s a testament to how my level of fitness has increased over the years. It’s also a huge help that I’ve kept up with a daily yoga practice. My legs were sore last week but daily stretching with yoga, plus a longer class on Thursday night, has really helped make the soreness barely noticeable. This week I also upped my speed in half of the segments that I’m running. The program this week has me alternating running for 1.5 mins and walking for 2 mins for a total of about 29 minutes. I was excited to break the two mile mark yesterday and will try to up my speed when I run again tomorrow. I will say I’m missing my HiiT workouts. I had to shift things around to make room for running so I’m taking a break from HiiT and Kettlebell 2-3 days/wk to running 3 days/wk. While running is great to build my cardio, it’s also a bit boring (especially when compared to HiiT), and it’s not dynamic so it’s uber-focused on legs and core so the rest of my body is just happy I’m continuing to climb and do yoga to keep it active.

I reached a new height in climbing today by killing a 5.9+ route. Regular climbers may not find this impressive, but for me it was a big deal. I specifically chose the route because it had very few jugs and was mostly slopers, pinchers and globes. I hate all of those, though slopers and I have become friendly lately. I’ll also admit the two globes thrown into that route proved to be really nice resting points. But pinchers? We’re still not cool, pinchers. For the non-climbers that read my blog I will eventually explain more about those different holds so sorry if you feel left in the dark for now.

I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a new smoothie recipe, so here’s my current favorite:

Pineapple Mango Smoothie
Pineapple Mango Smoothie

Pineapple Mango Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp flax seed (if your blender won’t pulverize this buy it ground)
  • handful fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen mangos
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple

Blend it up in the mixer of your choice! I still love my Vitamix and make smoothies for myself and my partner every morning. If you’d like to indulge in the rest of the meal pictured above, make yourself some Scrambled Eggs with Spinach!

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach (yes, this may sound simple but I’m posting the recipe because I believe my scrambled eggs are recipe-worthy)

Ingredients:

  • two eggs (preferably free-range organic, even better if they’re local)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (recipe here, omit vanilla and sweetener)
  • handful baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or fat of your choosing)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in pan over medium-low
  2. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper until slightly frothy.
  3. Add eggs to pan and move continuously. This is the biggest trick to making light, fluffy eggs; keep them moving constantly. I like to use a heat-safe silicon spatula to keep folding them in on each other.
  4. When eggs are barely firm (maybe 20-30 seconds in the pan) add the spinach.
  5. Continue moving constantly until they reach desired firmness and spinach has wilted.

Now have your smoothie and scramble and go take over the world! 😉

C25K Redux & Climbing for the Top!

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In spite of it being 0ºF at my doorstep this morning, I’m thinking towards Spring! This year I signed up for my first official 5K. For anyone who’s been following my blog for a while, you know I began running back in April of 2010 using the Couch-to-5K program with the Get Running App. I also chose to run close to barefoot with Vibram Five Fingers (first KSOs, then the Treksports and now the Spyridon LS). I’ve continued running off and on since then but I generally don’t run much in the winter because I’m neither a fan of treadmills nor am I a fan of being cold. I also honestly don’t enjoy running as much as I enjoy climbing or yoga or HiiT workouts, so it tends to fall near the bottom of my list.

All that said, my school is involved in a 5K so I’ve decided to support them by participating. This is a big deal for me because I really don’t enjoy crowds so while I love obstacle courses and trail running, I haven’t been competitive about it. While I probably don’t technically need the C25K program this time around, since I’ve maintained good physical fitness, I want to take it slow so I can work on my form and rebuild any running-specific muscles that I may have been neglecting in the winter months. Unfortunately, this means using my treadmill right now (at least until all this %&*@# snow melts), but that does give me the ability to maintain consistent speeds and challenge myself to go faster in my runs. I specifically like to alternate running speeds, which is not part of the C25K regimen, because it both helps keep me engaged and builds better cardio by keeping my body guessing.

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In addition to the running, I’m working on leveling up in climbing! I’ve been climbing off and on for a couple years now but became a member at Central Rock Gym in January and have been hitting the walls 2-3 times per week since then. It’s amazing how addictive it is. I’ve found myself devouring climbing videos on YouTube and the more I watch others climb the more confident I’m getting in my own climbing. Above you’ll see my first bouldering route with a heel hook (which was super fun!) and since then I’ve been working more on my technique and was stoked to kill a couple V2’s at the gym yesterday!

My top roping has also improved. I went from climbing a 5.6-5.7 to now successfully completing 5.9’s. Once I get confident with the 5.9/5.10 range I can begin learning lead climbing, which means I’ll be responsible for hooking in my own rope on several preset lead carabiners along the route. This will help prepare me for outdoor climbing, which I’m hoping to try this summer.

For a girl who’s afraid of heights I’ve come a long way! The thing I really gain by climbing is when the confidence I have in myself is greater than my fear of heights. I’m not afraid of falling when I know I can hold myself up. Obviously, this can be applied to many facets of life, which I’m finding is the real thing I seek with physical fitness. Yoga teaches me to find moments of calm even in the most stressful situations. High intensity trainings and climbing both help me gain confidence in my body and mind and challenge me to push further.

They’re not kidding when they say “strong is the new beautiful”. 🙂

Monday brought an unusually long and grueling workday so I missed my lunchtime run.  By the time I got out I was really itching for some relief so I took Toby to The Stowe Quiet Path for an evening jaunt.  With sunny skies and mild temps I couldn’t be happier that I did!

I’ve been working on speed for the past several weeks and have stuck to a routine on the Mad River Path.  It had been months since I ran in Stowe and I decided to just run for fun and not focus on the Fartlek routine I’d been working on.  The path is beautiful this time of year with mature corn fields surrounded by views of the green mountains.  It made the run organic and gave me plenty of things to take my mind off the work.

I did notice that my stamina is not what it was when I finished Couch-2-5K.  By the end of those nine weeks I was running three miles at a time regularly.  Since then I’ve been doing a 1.6 mile routine that’s mixed between sprinting and walking so I haven’t done much continuous running.  I did notice that my speed work payed off, as my natural stride is wider, I stand taller and I definitely moved faster comfortably.  Unfortunately, I did get tired easier and in the last third of the run I really had to give myself a pep talk to keep going.

My reward was cooling off in the river, though honestly the river that runs through the Quiet Path has nothing on the Mad River.  Still, it was a refreshing end to the workout and by the time I left my head was definitely wiped clean of the long day at work.

My foot is still not 100% and I’ve cut my running down to 1-2 days per week.  To compensate, I’ve begun strength training again and am happy to report that the Vibram’s are great during a workout on my new (free!) Bowflex.  I was able to use my normal Joyce Vedral workout techniques adapted for the Bowflex and got a killer workout in.  I’m curious to see how the balance of strength training and running will create changes in my body and my mood.

How about you?  How do you balance your workouts during the week?

C25K W9D2+D3; aka I Have Made Couch-2-5K My Bitch!

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While the week got away from me blogging-wise, I stayed right on top of the running schedule and completed Couch-2-5K!!  Woo-hooo!!!  The last two runs were awesome and my last run took me farther than any previous run which means not only am doing well with the 30-minute duration, but I’m running faster and farther!

Wednesday’s run was not as phenomenal as Fridays due to extremely high humidity which slowed me down a bit, but I couldn’t have asked for better weather for the run yesterday.  I decided to go after work when the sun was a little lower in the sky and the humidity had settled a bit.  It was around 73º with 40% humidity and a nice breeze.  I was totally pumped to complete the last day and I added a new gadget into the mix; a Nike+ Sensor for my iPhone 3GS.  I snagged one for only $2 at Small Dog Electronics online Garage Sale (sorry to say it was the only one, but there’s other cool stuff on there).  The result of great weather plus a great attitude meant I ended up farther than I’d ever been before by an entire field!  I felt great after the run, despite some ongoing foot issues that I’ll discuss later.  Toby and I took the best refreshing celebratory swim before heading back to the office.

Speaking of Toby, not only have I been developing muscle (I’m up six pounds since I started the program and it’s all muscle, baby!), but Toby is a little beefcake now.  People in the office and friends of mine apparently find it very noticeable.  Even his collar is starting to get a little tight around his muscular neck.  Apparently, C25K is not just good for humans, it’s divine for dogs, too!  So, if you have trouble motivating yourself to get in shape, do it for your pooch! 😉

My new goal is to start working on speed.  I’m slow, and I’m ok with that, but I’d like to start slowly working towards averaging a faster mile.  That’s why I decided to check out the Nike+ sensor.  The good news is that I was able to securely slip it in the top of the Vibram FiveFinger KSOs.  I wore it on my right foot tucked on top of my ankle/top of my foot on the right side and I secured it with the velcro strap on top of the shoe; I’ll try to take a picture for a subsequent entry so you can see what I mean.  I didn’t feel the sensor, so it didn’t effect my stride, and it stayed perfectly in place the whole time.  Luckily, I remembered to remove it before running through the river.

I was pleased that the Nike+ program ran just fine along with the Get Running program that I’ve been using for the C25K program.  Though I’m a little sad that I’ve now “graduated” from the Get Running app; no more polite British woman coaxing me on!  The Nike+ program was fairly easy to use.  I chose a “Basic Workout”, which is completely open-ended, while I followed along with the C25K program.  What I neglected to do was calibrate the sensor.  Supposedly, before using it seriously one is supposed to calibrate it, which means either running or walking for over a mile and then confirming with the device how far you went so it can get your pace right.

I was pretty darn disappointed when I finished my 5K-ish run only to be told by the sensor that I had only travelled 1.74 miles.  This morning, I opened Google Earth and mapped the path that I ran and, sure enough, I had actually run well over 3 miles (close to 4, actually); the Nike+ tracked me at just about half the distance I actually ran.  My initial hope was to use the Nike+ in my last C25K run so I could figure out about how quickly I run each mile and then set some speed goals, but since the device was so inaccurate I’ll have to calibrate it and try again.  It also seems that for me to get an accurate reading, I have to wait until my five-minute walking warm-up is complete before I turn the Nike+ program on.

I’m excited about setting speed goals once I get an accurate read on my current pace.  Before I get there, though, I’m taking a proactive approach to figuring out what’s up with my left foot.  I’m still getting some dull pain around my adductor hallucus muscle, and adjoining muscles around the right side of the ball of my left foot.  It’s following the same pattern since it started last Friday; dull pain in the morning, dull pain when I start running but it feels good to run on it, pain goes away during running and post run, pain comes back a few hours after running and it’s worse late at night and in the morning.

From a Muscular Therapist’s point of view, it sounds like a fascial issue; since fascia warms up with movement and is closest to a solid state when cold.  Plantar Fasciitis is a major concern here, but it’s odd because that’s one of the ailments that barefoot running is supposed to help avoid.  Regardless, something’s up, it’s been a week now, and I’m heading to an acupuncturist today for the first time in years.

I personally tend to trust a well-trained acupuncturist or Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor over orthopedists for new muscular-skeletal issues because they are more inclined to look at the big picture and see the body as a whole, while any time I’ve been to an orthopedist in the past I’m always given pain killers and muscle relaxers as a “first step”.  Also, a good acupuncturist will always refer to an orthopedist if necessary.  I do need to mention my own internal conflict here as I’m a Muscular Therapist who was trained in a style of massage that was created by an orthopedist, so I obviously have quite a bit of respect for that field despite it not being my first choice for a new minor issue.

I’ll keep you all posted on the foot news.  As long as I get cleared to run I’ll be back out there on Monday getting the Nike+ calibrated!  I can’t believe I’ve made it this far and still want to do more.  It’s true what they say, running is addictive!!

C25K W8D2+D3, Vibram’s Day 20 +21

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It’s a twofer!  The VT Biz Expo ate the middle of my week so while the running was still right on target, I didn’t quite find time for the blogging.

I had two very different runs for my last days of week 8.  Both were 28 minutes but they took place in very different weather conditions.  Day two was full of fail.  It was Wednesday and the temperatures were predicted to be in the 90’s; this is Vermont, right?!  I decided to be smart and run before work so I’d avoid the mid-day heat.  Well, it was already in the mid-80’s by the time I headed out on the Mad River Path a little before 8am.  The humidity was incredible.  I had issues breathing deeply just during my pre-wamup-stretching.  The sun on the East side of the path was also full and HOT.  I expected the trees to shade me more, but there was no getting away from the unrelenting sun.  I was hot, I was covered in beads of humidity, and I hadn’t even started running yet!

I tried.  I swear I tried my hardest.  I kept telling myself I could do it, but around 20 minutes I started getting terrible side-stitches on top of the not being able to breath and being beaten down by the sun.  I continued to run in-between trying to relieve the cramp and at 25 minutes I made a b-line for the river and collapsed.  I guess I’m glad I made it to 25 minutes, but it’s the first run that I didn’t complete and I felt a little defeated.  I know I was only three minutes away from the goal, and some reading this might wonder why I didn’t just push myself a little harder, but I seriously pushed myself hard the whole time and that last three minutes would have been an eternity.  Ok…maybe I’m being a little dramatic there, but let’s just say I was DONE.  The river felt swell though. 😉

Day three was much more successful.  While it was still warm, the temps were in the mid to high 70’s with much less humidity so it was totally do-able.  I did the entire run on the West side of the Mad River Path and ended up on a part of the path I had never been to before.  I find it’s much easier to run if I’m running somewhere new.  I get distracted by looking around and exploring new places.  Once I’m back to part of the path that I’m familiar with it’s easier for me to find landmarks of “time” so I think to myself, “Ok, don’t get excited yet, you’re only to that bench and that means you have a loooong way to go.” or “This is the last bend in the path, only about three more minutes!”  Finding ways to take the focus off of the clock makes the runs more interesting for me and it seems less like exercise and more like brisk exploration.  I need to work on this since it’s much easier to fall into the routine of taking the same route every time.

The session ended with another luxurious swim in the Mad River.  Toby is getting used to my swimming with him now, but he was still surprised (and so was I) when I ran through the river and caught up with him, as he was taunting me with a freshly-caught stick.  I can’t believe my thighs are strong enough to actually run through the river current now.  It continues to be very exciting to see how my body is changing thanks to running!

I do have one potential injury that I’m a little worried about.  Thursday, while I was at the Expo, I wore heels all day; this is something that I’m seriously not used to, especially since I’m about 6′ tall and really do not feel the need for heels often.  My feet were very smooshed all day and they (and my lower back) were bothering me that night.  When I ran on Friday, my gate was off.  I tried to correct it but I could tell I was landing differently on my left foot.  Sure enough, last night my left big toe was bothering me.  After some palpation, I found the source of the pain is coming from higher up, following the path of the adductor hallucis and bugging some nearby muscles and fascia.  I did some self-massage on the area (and whole foot) last night and iced it a bit.

Today, the area is still sore.  I’m not thrilled by this.  Foot pain can be serious if left alone and as a massage therapist, being off my feet means I can’t see clients.  Not to mention, as an active person being off my feet is just NOT OK.  My next run is planned for Monday, but I’m going to be RICEing my foot this weekend (so much for hiking today) and I’ll have to assess how it feels before the next run.  That said, next week is MY LAST WEEK!!!  I can’t believe it’s already been nine weeks.  I’m still looking for fun suggestions on how to continue with running without getting bored.  Please pass any ideas my way!

C25K W8D1, Vibram’s Day 19

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Yesterday wins as being my most awesome run ever!  It was a hot one, 86˚ and humid, and I wasn’t looking forward to running in the direct mid-day sun.  However, Owen, Toby and I braved it and I really took advantage of the Vibram Fivefingers flexibility!

This was a 28 minute run; just three minutes longer than the previous week.  We headed out on the West side of the Mad River Path and I was grateful for the shade that the trees and foliage provided.  I felt good and strong and once again left the knee braces behind.  We curled around the first field and as we headed towards the second field I could see that the farmer was out on his tractor again.  I immediately looked at Owen, who was already lagging behind, and I started thinking of a way for us to avoid the tractor without having to double-back.

We ran a bit farther down the path, as the trail heads uphill over the field for a bit before coming back down right beside it.  Instead of taking the right turn to follow the trail downhill, I veered left, cut down to the river and ran (well, really quickly waded) across the river.  Then I climbed up the rocks on the other side, meeting up with the East side of the trail.  The dogs happily followed me on this detour, as they generally head off to run beside me through the river anyway.

I have to admit, I felt like a warrior!  At this point my Vibram’s and my shorts were soaked and I couldn’t have been happier.  Just a few moments later the polite British woman on my iPhone told me I was halfway through the run and I realized I had inadvertently timed things perfectly for the run back.  By the way, running in wet shoes might often be uncomfortable, but running in wet Vibram’s didn’t bother me one bit!

The East side of the path definitely wins for gorgeous mountain views.  It tends to be the more traveled leg of the trail, though with the weather being so unseasonably hot we only passed one person.  Surprisingly, the soaking wet dogs let her by unscathed.  The downside to the East side is that it lacks the shade trees that the West side provides, so the entire second half of the run was done in full sun.  It was hot hot hot, but I did it!

The pups and I then stopped at the swimming hole at the end of the trail.  They swam and dug up rocks while I completed my walking cool-down in the water and then stretched.  The water felt amazing; definitely the perfect way to cool down.  I think I might make this my normal “trail” on hot days.  Adding running through the river and climbing up rocks is a great way to break up the routine.

This run reminded me that a co-worker of mine recently posted something about Mud Runs to her Facebook.  From Googling it, it appears that there are several of these 3-5k runs all over the country that include obstacles and a grand finale of running through mud.  While I’m not interested in running marathons, a Mud Run sounds totally up my alley.  Now, if I could only find one in Vermont!

Last, but not least, I wanted to pass along this link to a great article (and videos!) from NPR on barefoot running.  Fun stuff!  Next run is tomorrow and it’s supposed to be over 90˚!  Eek!!

C25K W7D3, Vibram’s Day 18

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Hooray to another week down!  I can’t believe that in two more weeks I’ll have completed C25K; where do I go from there?  No, that’s not rhetorical, I’m really looking for suggestions!

Yesterday’s run was a little more stressful than I would have liked.  I took Toby and Owen out with me on the Mad River Path and about a mile into the run I saw that one of the fields we run around was being tilled.  Large tractor pulling sharp blades + dogs off-leash does not equal good times.  I kept a close watch on Toby and Owen and they did a great job staying on the trail for the first half of the run.  However, when we turned around to head back, Owen, who was exhausted (he’s not in the best shape) got distracted and started heading for the field.  I yelled to him; Toby came but he didn’t want to listen.  Then I admittedly panicked and started yelling.  While it’s not my usual course of action, it got Owen back and it even got the farmer to stop tilling for a moment as he assessed the situation.  Owen was then sternly led by the collar past the field, so I don’t get credit for running non-stop in this workout.

Besides the stress of potentially having to tell my co-worker that his pup was chopped to bits in the cornfield, the run went pretty well.  At over 82º, this was the hottest day I had run so far and that definitely made some parts of the run laborious.  However, I also noticed that my pace was faster as we ended up getting much further down the path this time.  Due to the heavy heat and humidity, I opted not to use my knee braces.  So far I’m not feeling any repercussions, but I’m going to be paying close attention to my knees.

I couldn’t have been more grateful for my Vibram Fivefingers.  After the run, Toby, Owen and I ran right into the river and the three of us swam together.  Well, really, Toby and Owen dug up rocks and swam after sticks while I doused myself in the river and did some underwater stretches.  Regardless, it was heavenly.  I had so much fun playing with pebbles between my toes and seeing how stable I could get in yoga poses in the heavy current.

Next run is on Monday.  I really can’t believe I’ve made it this far.  I know it’s cliché, but, seriously, if I can do this you can too.  Try it, I bet you’ll surprise yourself!