Tag Archives: training

Fitness First

So even though I haven’t been writing about it much, my fitness experiments have continued undocumented. I more or less stopped going to the trainer – really, my 6 month contract ended and although I was getting a lot of benefits and seeing (at least core strengthening) results, I didn’t want to pay the money to be stuck inside a gym during the most beautiful summer months. I’d rather save it up for when it’s gray and miserable out and I need the sauna to feel human.

So my poison of choice? Running and Biking. Two things I am already very familiar with. The added benefit? A likes to do them too! He’s back on the running bandwagon and motivated to push himself hard, which of course pushes me even harder. While I normally give in to “feeling tired” or “I’m not in the mood” knowing that he’s been out pounding the pavement – or that when I go back home we have a run scheduled for the evening – always motivates me to push a little bit further.

I’ve always believed I wouldn’t do well with an exercise partner, or that I hated going to the gym with a friend – mostly because I didn’t like to be tied to someone else’s time constraints, or didn’t want to feel pressured to do more or less than I was comfortable with. While these things are still somewhat true, (I run out of breath because I work myself up to keep up the pace,) it’s been totally motivating to have someone by my side to push me a little bit further and to hold me accountable for what I say I’ll do.

Another bit of motivation? We signed up for a 10k in Berlin in October. Nothing like the thought of panting and crawling along a race path gets me motivated to get my butt moving and start training hard. I don’t need to be a winner at the end, but making it through without losing composure is definitely high on the 10k priority list!

So the fitness conundrum continues and new experiments are undertaken. Does anyone else have as many start and stop bursts of motivation as I do?


When Cardio Fails

Sometimes you think you are in good shape. And you think you exercise enough. And you think that all the running, biking, walking, hiking, jogging you do should be enough. And then you go to your trainer and realize nothing you’ve done so far has adequately prepared you for what they have in store.

Enter: 60 minute sessions with my trainer. As you may remember, some months back I bit the bullet and signed up for a personal trainer. I decided it was time to take my fitness seriously and get a clue about what my body needed. So after the last 6 months of more, or less, attending sessions (there’s never the time, I’m traveling a lot, my trainer doesn’t have appointments available when I want them, [insert other excuses here]) I am in a unique position of having paid for way more time than I’ve actually used, (prepaid, now I know.) So now, over the course of the next few weeks, I have to use up about 600 unused minutes, which means my sessions will jump from 30 minutes to 60.

Regardless of the 23 mile bike ride on Sunday, and irrespective of the 30 minute run sessions I’ve had over the last week, 1 hour with Anja on Monday has me hurting in my sleep. My legs ache, my back aches, my abs hurt, my arms are sore, and it’s painful to sit on the toilet.  What in god’s name has this woman done to me?! (Amiright, gentleman? 😉 )



So now, after limping to the office this morning, I sit anxiously awaiting my next 60 minute lunchtime session to see what’s in store for me. And hopefully I won’t feel quite so badly about my apparently completely inadequate fitness level – despite my current level of activity!

Pushing Barriers to Reach Mile 26

So in light of all that’s happening back home with the latest tragedy at the Boston Marathon, maybe a post about running isn’t timely. Or maybe it is. I’m really not sure, but either way, marathons have been on my mind a lot. As has Boston.

My marathon frame of mind is usually just, “I could never do that” or “I don’t think I’d ever want to do that,” but I do have to wonder how many other marathoners once thought that in their lives? It would seem more than a few came out of that conversation on the other end, given that the world’s biggest races around the world have turn outs of 10-15-20,000 people. And those aren’t all the same people at every race, which means there are quite a hell of a lot of marathoners in the world these days.

Twenty six miles. That is just about insane as far as my usual 3-mile body can process. And 3-miles is after I’ve built up for a week or two. Then it becomes my norm and I slowly push my body forward to reach 4 and then maybe 5 miles, never quite reaching a full 6.

Finally reached 4 miles (and a little extra)!

Finally reached 4 miles (and a little extra)!

What is it that stands between me finally reaching 4 miles again (after probably a good 6 months of 2-3 milers) and a marathoner reaching their 26th mile? Is it the pure adrenaline of the moment? Is it discipline? Is it complete control over your mind and body?

I have to wonder if at this stage I am a “I could never do that” kind of person, but perhaps in a few years time I might be a “What a great run, on to the next!” kind of person.

What helps you push through your barriers to get to the next level? Have you ever run a marathon? Or even a half?

Train me, personally

So, as I’ve told you, I bit the bullet and signed up for a personal trainer. While I’ve been pretty active in improving my fitness the last year or so (well really, it’s been the last 2.5 years since I first realized I could run,) but since I joined my gym in December 2011 I’ve really begun to learn and see the impact regular exercise has on my body, my mood, and my life in general.

When I don’t get in a few runs a week, or a bike ride – even if just to and from the office – I feel stagnant and energy-less. My mood darkens, my patience thins, and I start to feel a little down on myself. When I take the “me” time to get myself to the gym and kick ass, even if only a 30 minute run, I am awakened and feel good that I did it. It’s amazing what a short 30 minute exercise can do for your mood, and pride. And as famously quoted by Elle, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands…they just don’t!” (Looks like you have a long happy life ahead of you, A 😉 )


So I realized that my idea of working out lately has been running. Gym = run. And sometimes I don’t feel like running. I’ve talked to friends who are trainers that gave me good alternatives to a straight 10 km/h run in 30, 40, 50 minutes that I’m used to – mixing in some sprints and rest periods. But the truth is that I would also like a strong alternative to running, where I still feel like I’m getting a full body workout, and maybe even mix in some toning while I’m at it.

I realized how much I benefitted when living in Paraguay and watching Jillian Michael’s Burn Fat Boost Metabolism or 30 Day Shred videos in my bedroom. What I gained from all the exercise, which was not due to cardio machines, was flexibility, strength, and agility. While running may help burn fat, and even tone your legs or butt, it does not provide the flexibility you get from lunges, squats, and even jumping jacks.


Cue, Personal Trainer. I want someone to help me realize what my strengths and weaknesses are and to help me play to them. I want someone to understand inherently what my body needs more of, and to show me how to do it. I basically want someone to tell me how to sculp and shape my body in all the ways I’ve always wanted, but never knew how.

So after a trial session at lunch last Tuesday, where I thought I might actually cry from the strain, I figured – what the hell? Admittedly, I was a little gun shy after last week’s trial, so it took me a week to actually put my sessions on the calendar. But now I’ve got scheduled sessions for the next 6 weeks. At least. Friday is the big first day, where I hopefully get to talk about my hopes and dreams for my personal fitness, which means the next few days are dedicated to building flexibility and squatting as much as possible in preparation!

The More You Do It, The Easier It Becomes

I’ve noticed with a lot of things in my life lately, the more I do something difficult, the easier it becomes. The clearest examples of this would be a) German class and b) running. While I put on a show about not wanting to go, (okay, it’s not a show, I really don’t want to go!) I get into class every Monday and Wednesday evening and actually feel better about my abilities. The more consistently I show up to class and pay attention and practice speaking, the better I actually feel about speaking when I need to, and formulating sentences, albeit basic ones.

It was nice to sit in class last night and feel like I could follow what the class was doing, and participate actively. In fact, I was participating more than most. I think when I first joined the class in early December, I felt overwhelmed by how much time I had taken off from my studies, (about 4 months,) and felt like I couldn’t possibly catch up. So I sat in class feeling flustered and frustrated with the language, wondering why I was even putting myself through it all. But the last week or two I have felt less overwhelmed in class and am even starting to see the benefit of consistent learning…being that I am, actually, learning!

Running is the same. It’s always difficult to get started…and admittedly even difficult after a couple of months…but it is definitely easier today than it was 2 months ago! And that’s even with a 3 week break in the middle for Christmas, etc. I can relatively easily, and very bored-ly, run 30 minutes on the treadmill. If I keep my pace down I could probably run more in each stint, but I like to up my miles for a lesser amount of time. Plus I don’t think I could stand being on that machine for longer periods of time; I might start to pull my hair out from the boredom!

I guess it’s a testament to the fact that things do get easier with time, as long as you have enough patience and endurance to keep at it.

Don't know why it should feel like this, but it does!

My Running Process

  1. Alarm rings…I should go for a run today! Maybe I’ll go in the evening, when it’s not so hot.
  2. 5 hours later…I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go.
  3. I should go right now before I never leave the house.
  4. Spandex. Sneakers. Hi-Tech Adidas Running shirt with space for my headphones.
  5. It’s Go Time.
  6. You are doing it. Woohoo you are doing it!
  7. 10 minutes in…I’m going to die. I’ll never make it. There’s no way I can keep going.
  8. Just go for 20 minutes. Then you can call it quits. 20 minutes is acceptable.
  9. 20 minutes in…break time, need a breather.
  10. 25 minutes in…This isn’t so bad. I don’t know why I didn’t leave the house sooner
  11. 30 minutes in…how much longer til I’ve hit 40 minutes?
  12. What street is this? Where’s the road sign? Why does the road end unexpectedly?
  13. Ah, here’s the unevenly cobbled stone street with patches of sand I remember running on before.
  14. Run past the creepy park guard and family drinking terere on the street corner.
  15. Hello, kitty!
  16. Look out crazy driver, I’m not stopping so you’d better be!
  17. Oh wow, has it been 40 minutes already? I’m in the home stretch!!
  18. Just a few more dodgy sidewalks, unpaved cross streets, insane drivers, and motorcycles to dodge and I’m home free.
  19. Made it at last!! Well that was a good run!!
  20. Maybe I’ll go for a run again tomorrow!

And that’s how it’s done, folks!