Saturday, October 29, 2011

How to Find Time for Training

I've just been going and going lately.  A quick catch-up of my exercise this past week:

Tue 10/25 - Upright bike, Level 6, 25 minutes on random; back and biceps, core work, stair climber
Wed 10/26 - Day off
Thur 10/27 - c25k W9/D1 (30 min run) outdoors (4.8 pace), chest and triceps, core work, stairs *tired
Fri 10/28 - Upright bike, Level 6, 25 minutes on random; legs and shoulders, core work, stairs

A word about my run on Thursday.  It was a calamity.  Well, that's probably an overstatement but it was still weird.  The first problem I had was that my pants were falling down.  I know, this is a nice thing, but not when you're on a run.  I had to keep yanking them up and they'd keep creeping down.  Guess it's time to retire those gym pants!  Second problem was, I had intermittent cramping - and not the menstrual kind, the I-might-need-a-bathroom-quick kind.  At one point I even thought I might vomit.  Fortunately I got through the run without having to knock on a door and beg to use the bathroom, without throwing up in the hedges, and with my pants on.  Boy, that was a weird one.  I don't know what's going on with my GI system but it's still not back to normal.

So today, Saturday, is a day off from the gym but I'd signed up for an open-water swim clinic through TriMore Fitness.  Here's the description:
"Join TRIMORE Fitness for an open water swim clinic. Whether you are new to open water swimming or just getting your feet wet, this clinic is just what you need. Coach Neil will take you through the basics of open water swimming and give you valuable tips and tricks to get you through your first swim or more comfortable in open water swimming."
I was very excited to have an opportunity to get in the water one more time before my tri next week!   And again, I'm so glad I signed up for it.  There were only three of us (plus a 10 year old that swam better than all of us I think) so we really got a lot of personal attention.  I now know I have a few bad habits that are holding me back.  I cross my arms (esp my left arm) way in front of my body as my hand is entering the water, my legs were too far apart, sometimes I pull too hard, the list goes on and on.  And sighting.  Ha!  Sighting is a real challenge.  But the best part was just another chance to be in open water.  I'm feeling good about the whole thing.

Coach Neil gave us a lot of feedback, tips, encouragement, etc.  And he was in the water with us swimming, which was cool.  He did say we need to be swimming 3-4 days a week if we really want to make major improvements.  I'm not yet ready to get up to swim at 4am, which is what it would take to swim that often, so I won't be making any big improvements this year.

That reminds me, posted a video, "Finding Time to Train for an Ironman."  The guy they interviewed works full time, trains a soccer team and has four kids.  So I thought he must have some good tips.  (by the way - I am NOT training nor considering an Ironman, just looking for tips on finding time to train in general).  Here goes..."The only way to really, uh, I think, to, to, uh, fit the training in is to, to, cut down on sleep."  Ha!  I laughed inside.  Ok, well, at least it's honest.  He goes on to say, "And so, uh, I don't sleep as much as I should."  He does talk about not wasting a moment of his day, and to arrange his schedule so he can fit the longer workouts in, but basically he comes back to not sleeping, "but for the most part it's just cutting the sleep out and being incredibly efficient with your time."  There you have it.  Cut the sleep. 

But really, I'm not training for an Ironman.  I'm just training for a Sprint triathlon, and that's manageable for my life right now.  An hour at the gym, 5 days a week.  A training clinic here and there.  A long ride, run and/or swim here or there - that, I can do.  And maybe one day I will have time to do more.  But for now, I'm good.

So, what's on tap for next week? 

Sun - run, back/biceps
Mon - bike, chest/triceps *if Halloween doesn't get in the way
Tue - run, legs/shoulders
Wed - day off (unless Halloween got in the way)
Thur - bike, back/biceps
Fri - off
Saturday - Marin Triathlon!!

We'll see.  I kind of think it might be nice to have two days in a row off before the tri but we'll see.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why the Scale Lies

Here are five reasons you can't trust the scale even as far as you can throw it.
1. The Scale does not have all the answers. If I were to tell you, "I'm going to make a recipe and the ingredients are beef, brown gravy mix, dried Italian salad dressing mix, ranch dressing mix, and water and then asked, "What am I making?," would you know? Highly unlikely, right? Why? Because you don't know the amounts of ingredients, you don't know the preparation, the cooking instructions, etc. Would you be upset with yourself for not knowing? Would you be baffled as to why you don't know? Of course not. You'd say, "How could I know? I don't have enough information!" Well, to me, that's what we expect of ourselves when we hop on that scale, see a number we didn't expect and then get upset. So many things go into our weight - calories in, temperature, sodium in, waste out, time of day...the list goes on and on. The Scale does not have The really doesn't.

2. The Scale reveals minute changes in our weight.
We say things like, "I don't understand, I ate healthy, exercised...why am I up .4 pounds?" Point 4 pounds? Seriously? My scale gives my weight down to 1/10th. Most of the time I think that's a good thing. But sometimes it's not. We lose perspective. We seem to forget that at 164 pounds .4 is a .2% change in our body weight. Not even 1%, not even a 1/2 of a percent...but .2% people! Why are we reacting to this?

3. The Scale is not a progress report on our goal of improved health.
As if they are one in the same. If I gain one pound this week you might hear me say something like, "I had a bad week." But whoa...what if I'd gone to the gym 5 days that week and reached a personal best on the treadmill? What if I resisted giving into a Taco Bell urge on my way home from work after a stressful day? What if I learned a new healthy recipe version of my favorite comfort food (that I actually like)? Those are all fabulous accomplishments that will serve me in my long term goal of weight loss and health. They are also signs that I am indeed living this new healthy lifestyle. They contradict my earlier conclusion that I had a bad week. Don't they?

4. The Scale tells us how to feel. Why do we let the scale affect our mood? Why is The Scale the one that tells us how to feel? What to think? What to do next? Well, partially, I think, because it gives us (in seconds) something concrete to focus on. Measuring ourselves takes time, and it might take weeks before we see a change. Weeks? Are you kidding me? Why wait weeks to get feedback on how I'm doing when I can hop on the scale in the morning, mid-morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening, late evening...etc, etc. I've read more than one post in which the writer weighed herself and was up a tiny bit more than she wanted to be. She did some shenanigans (losing the clothes, using the restroom, etc) and hopped back on. Lo and behold that extra weight is gone and happiness ensues. Something is just not right with that picture. And yet I've been that person so many, many times.

5. Despite all of the above, The Scale does not go away. I've met those women who never weigh themselves. They say honorable things like, "I let the fit of my clothes tell me if I need to start eating less." These people have somehow broken free from the cruelty of that little measuring device. I think it's great. I wish I could do it. Well, obviously I don't because I haven't. I'm as addicted to that instant feedback as the next girl. Even though it doesn't always make sense, it can put me in a bad mood, it lies (oh and don't think it doesn't, it will lie straight to your face without a second thought), it's unreliable and inconsistent...even though I swear it hates me, I won't get rid of it. And neither will you. And that's the worst of all.
 *A re-post from when I originally wrote it in Sept 2008 because I felt it was due.

As Fast as a 70 Year Old (or how I came to strive for a 12 minute mile)

I want to start off by saying a huge THANK YOU to everyone that congratulated me on reaching 15+ pounds lost.  It's nice to be reminded that there are people out there cheering me on.  I appreciate the thoughts on how often we step on the scale.  We are all motivated in different ways (and what motivates us can even change over time), which I appreciate.  Thank you.  We'll see if I do a mid-week weight check again this week.

So this weekend has been really fun!  I went to the gym on Friday for my 5th visit of last week and Week 8/Day 5 was due up on the training plan (a 28 minute run).  It was gorgeous outside and the treadmill didn't sound fun so I hit the road.  I am absolutely convinced that the treadmill intervals I've been doing have made me speedier.  I calculated my pace on Friday's run and it was...*exactly* 12.00 minutes per mile.  That makes me so happy.  12 minutes per mile is my current goal and I'm so happy to be there. 

I don't think I mentioned it here but I watched a documentary recently, The Spirit of Marathon.  The film follows 6 people (from  70 year old Jerry Meyers) to some professional marathoners) training for the Chicago Marathon.  It's super inspiring and motivating and I highly recommend it.  The senior citizen guy was talking about his running and mentioned that he runs a 12 minute mile.  Right then and there I decided I had to be at least as fast as him.  That's where my current 12 minute mile goal came from.  Seriously, I need to run as fast as the 70 year old guy.  And now I am!!  I don't know when, or if, I'll make a new pace goal, for now I want to work on more distance.  In the meantime, thank you Jerry for inspiring me!

Ok, back to Friday.  My run behind me I headed into the gym for strength training.  Back and biceps, core work, and 5 minutes on the stair climber.  I have come to believe that the stairs were meant to be climbed at 43 steps per minute.  Why push myself when I started doing this as an "extra"?  I was starting to dread it and that wasn't the point *at all*.  So I do 43spm and if I'm feeling spiffy I do the last 30 seconds at 60spm just for fun (and to crank up my heart rate before I stop).  I burned 617 calories that day (more than usual - which I attribute to my speedier run) and felt great!

I had the day off from the gym on Saturday and spent the first half of the day running around with my kids at my mother's club Halloween Party.  I was so happy to just keep up with them!  And happy that I avoided the snack table (mostly because I was going out for dinner).  I was really looking forward to a girl's night out with some of my favorite ladies that night.  I call them my "jail" girls since we all met working in the SF jail psych services.  Our evening started with some excellent champagne at the house and then we headed out to dinner.  It was an "all bets are off" dinner for me.  I paid absolutely no attention to "good" choices, or even "better" choices for that matter.  I had onion rings, caesar salad, multiple cocktails, ate my whole "personal" pizza and more than my fair share of our shared deserts.  It was SO FUN!  Of course it was the company that made it good, but the food and drinks didn't hurt :)  I came home and ended up joining in Miguel's poker night and even won a little cash!  Good thing because while I was playing poker I drank a ton of water, which probably saved me from a hangover.

I woke up today (Sunday) feeling a little parched but otherwise not bad.  I made a mental note to eat healthy for the rest of the week to balance out last night's loveliness.  I also got some water and started re-hydrating.  Miguel had soccer this morning so I took the kids to the park and had a fun time pushing swings and watching Marek expand his jungle gym skills.  The kids are so much fun.  And I was so grateful to be feeling good considering all the drinks. 

The weather was pristine so I planned on riding my bike to the gym when the kids went down for their naps.  I rode to the gym and noticed that it's getting easier each time I do it.  I did chest and triceps for strength training and the big news is I lowered the bar on the smith machine for my modified pushups.  I'm getting closer to regular push-ups.  Before I lowered it I was doing three sets of 10 but these lowered ones were noticeably harder so I did three sets of 5.  After doing the rest of my routine I went back and did three sets of 3 just to bring the total to 8 for each set.  Next time I'll try to do three sets of 6 to start.  I wrapped up with 5 minutes on the stair climber before heading out to my bike.

I quickly decided I wanted to go over the big hill again.  I basically told myself that "if you did it before you can do it again."  Once on the other side I felt like I wanted more time on the bike so I took a curvy route home that took me over several more hills.  I was having fun and had plenty of gas in the tank (maybe from the 12 inch (no mayo, no cheese) grilled chicken sub I'd eaten for lunch).  As I neared my house I decided to go for it and do a loop that would add about 10 miles to my ride.  I was about 1/4 of the way through this loop when I started getting a cramp near my ribs.  It felt like a gassy cramp, shooting and painful.  I eventually had to stop and stretch.  It eased up and I got back on the bike.  I had to stop again about 1/2 way when it got to be too much.  I called Miguel, unsure if I'd make it home and he suggested I stop at a coffee shop and take a real break.  I rode on to Starbucks and hung up my helmet for about 40 minutes while I drank a bit of coffee and had a nice phone call with a friend.  By this time I had only about 2-3 miles to get home.  I made it with no problem but I was super disappointed about the cramp raining on my parade.  I was having so much fun!  I still had fun, just not as much.  I guess that was payback for the night before.

And I realized something.  I am not starting from scratch.  I have been so surprised when I can do things (like ride 16 miles without much effort or go over a big hill) as if I haven't yet "earned" the ability to do those things yet.  I can do them because I was in pretty good shape when I got pregnant with Marek.  And while I didn't maintain my fitness level, I also didn't spend long days on the couch eating candied yams.  I did eat and gain weight, I didn't exercise with any regularity, but I moved my body just keeping up my life and I didn't go back to my previous free-for-all diet.  I think starting back weighing 41 pounds more than was when I got pregnant made me believe I was starting from all over.  But I wasn't.  Some sort of foundation still existed and I am feeling VERY happy about that right now. 

Well, that's it for me.  I hope to get out on my bike soon.