running

Knowing when to cry Uncle

If you asked my husband, he would tell you that I choose to learn everything the hard way. It’s a trait of mine that drives him crazy.

One of the reasons GPP appealed to me when I first discovered it via Janetha’s blog almost two years ago was I was tired of being injured. As a runner, cross training and strength training bored me to tears and I’d do anything I could think of to avoid it. Combine that with my overzealousness and I dealt with my fair share of injuries and often needed to take time off to heal. I think I was injured just as often as I was healthy.

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Since starting GPP in May 2012, I’ve not been injured once. Not once. I attribute this change to a lot off cross/strength training (I’m not sure I would call myself a runner anymore) and learning when my body’s telling me to back off.

Where am I going with this?

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I got a new pair of Reebok Your Flex cross training shoes for Christmas. They’re pink, lightweight, and have a smaller toe-to-heel drop than my previous Nike Free Runs. I love them. But, in typical Maria-fashion, I got a little too excited to start using them and went at Hellth Week full-force this week in my new shoes, giving my calves little time to adapt to the lower heel drop.

I knew better.

I might have gotten away with it if every workout this week hadn’t involved some type of explosive movement. But Monday’s high knees, Tuesday’s burpees, Wednesdays side-step kettlebell swings, and yesterday’s box jumps caught up to me. My calves were extremely sore Tuesday and Wednesday, but seemed to be close to normal yesterday, minus a little tightness during a tough leg workout. I woke up this morning expecting to be so sore from yesterday’s shenanigans. But, surprisingly, I wasn’t sore at all. I thought I had somehow outsmarted Hellth Week and was about to emerge a Champion.

I was wrong. So wrong.

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Today’s workout involved burpees and pushups. I hate burpees, but was psyched to see it was only a 25-minute workout. Most of the workouts this week have had me going for 45+ minutes, which is pretty rare for GPP. As I began the workout, I noticed a weird pull in my right calf. I shook it off and kept moving, though. After a few more rounds, the pull had become a throbbing sensation, so I decided to forego the hop at the top of the burpee, in an attempt to complete the workout. A few more rounds, minus the hop, went by but my right cal continued to throb. Which immediately told me it was time to say, “Uncle” and stop for the day.

I’ve extended the life of injuries so many times by letting my pride get in the way. It pains me to start something and not see it all the way through. It eats at my very core. But I’ve learned, the hard way of course, that it’s a lot more painful to take weeks and weeks off because my stubbornness and pride caused me to keep going when my body was giving me clear signs to stop.

Even though I’m pissed I didn’t finish that workout, I know at the end of the day GPP isn’t about RX-ing every (or any) workout. It’s about being fit and healthy enough to do all the other stuff in life outside  of the gym. And sometimes that requires knowing your own limits and crying, “Uncle.”

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I’m taking it easy for the rest of the day and RICE-ing (rest, ice, compression, elevation) in hopes of finishing out Hellth Week tomorrow with the rest of my GPPeeps.

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I’m sure these guys won’t mind the extra cuddles.

Life As of Late

Five months, the last time I really blogged, is a long time, all things considered. And yet, I feel like almost no time has passed and nothing of much importance has happened.

But I guess it isn’t completely true to say nothing has happened in those five months, so let’s catch up to where I am today.

 Work
Friday, I ended my employment as the Service Director of the gym I’ve been working at since last September. I’m extremely thankful to have had this year of learning and growth and insight in the fitness industry. I do plan to continue working in the industry, but not on the management side of things—my focus moving forward is to put my personal training, GPP training, and spinning certifications to good use and begin building my client base.

As of this moment, I am still working from home a bit and teaching my spinning class until mid-December.

Home
My husband, Jeremy, and I realized only a few months after moving to Michigan that this probably wouldn’t be where we’d settle long term. There’s lots of reasons for that, but I can’t deny a big one is the weather! The winter is just a bit too cold and too snowy for our Kentucky blood. 

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Jeremy will graduate next month from the University of Michigan with his masters and we’re jetting out of town and back home to live with his parents for a bit while we both work on figuring out our next step and finding long-term employment. It will definitely be weird to not be “on our own” after so many years of living away from home, but I think it’s the right thing to do for now.

Fitness
I haven’t done much running since the 5K I PRed at in July. I went out to Utah later that month and attended a weekend-long certification for GPP that really sparked a fire within me to continue pushing myself hard with their programming. I have seen such great results and feel so good following their workouts, which makes it really easy to be passionate about GPP. I’ve also gained a lot of muscle and strength in the last few months thanks to learning a lot about how to fuel my body better.

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I’m currently wrapping up a Skin In the Game Optimal Health Challenge with GPP that ends next Wednesday. I’ll be sure to recap after it ends and tell you more about my experience.

Dogs
Link and Magus are doing great! 

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They really have become quite the two-some. Most days they play and play together until one, or both, pass out or a nap.

Magus joined our family in June of this year and he’s really settled in well and holds his own. I think he’s pretty content and living the good life (if I may say so myself).

Blogging
I’ve been a stay-at-home dog mom (hah!) for less than a week and I’m already going nuts inside. I hate boredom and not feeling productive more than almost anything. So, it seems it’s time to start writing a little bit more and get the crazy outside of my head.

Firecracker 5K PR

If you’re keeping track, it’s been 3 weeks since my last post. I know consistency isn’t my strongest asset, however, this gap was mostly due to an internet outage at our apartment. Thankfully, after many long, internet-less days, we are back to being connected to the rest of the world.

So, now it’s time to catch up.

I’m a few weeks into half-marathon training now and still going strong. I’ve been very relaxed about this training cycle and just enjoying the ability to run, along with my GPP training. I’m also still teaching spinning once a week, which makes every week a pretty active week.

The second big thing I’ve not blogged about yet is a race. On July 4, I ran my first race in 1.5 years. It was a completely spur of the moment decision and just sounded fun.

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It was Ann Arbor’s annual Firecracker 5K race and my first 5K in three years.

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My goal was to run a sub-26:00, which would knock my previous PR way out off the water by over 3 minutes. Race day made me very nervous (I am not much of a racer), despite knowing that I was almost guaranteed a PR unless something went really wrong. My previous 5K PR was 29:04 and I knew that it wouldn’t take much to beat that since I have been running 8:30 miles easily for many months now.

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The race course was extremely boring—two loops passing through the starting line and then a loop back to finish. Unfortunately both of the loops around the starting line came with a hill, which I wasn’t well prepared for. I gave everything I had, though, and did my best to not let the people around me get in my head and cause me to panic.

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I ended up pulling off a 25:24 (official) PR and feeling damn proud.

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3 things I learned from this experience:

1. I am stronger than I think. I was doubtful I would be able to beat my previous (non-official) PR of 26:27. But I did. By over a minute.

2. I still hate racing. I love having something to train for—a specific date I need to be prepared for—but the actual event… hate it. Stressful. Lots of (self-induced) pressure. Too many people!

3. I can’t wait to see what I can do on a flat course. Can’t wait. Bet I could hit 24:XX.

Half-Marathon Training: Week 1

What a weekend!

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Spent Saturday running in the morning, cleaning our apartment in the afternoon, and hanging out with a friend in the evening. Today was all about relaxing—church this morning, laying by the pool in the afternoon, and catching up on TV with my husband this evening.

Detroit Free Press Half Training Week 1

This was my first week of training in nearly eight months. That means re-figuring out what successful training looks like.

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I did 5 GPP workouts, 2 spin classes (teaching), and ran 3 times this week. I’d call this a successful week in terms of workouts!

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Runs this week totaled 9 miles, including a 2 mile temp run and a 4 mile long run.

I learned I still have a lot to learn when it comes to training well. My fueling and hydrating this week were pitiful—definitely have to improve that if I want to reach my race goals. I’m also in need of more practice with keeping pace—my goal for Saturday’s long run was 9:20 miles… I ended up with a 9:23, 9:19, 9:14, and 9:12 mile. Not crazy far off, but not on target, either.

Things I want to work on this week:

1. Smarter fueling—I get busy at work and forget to eat. At the end of the day I’ll notice a protein shake I meant to make and drink and think “crap!” I’m making it a point to pack my lunches/meals the night before and stop what I’m doing to eat them this week.

2. In bed earlier—Last week was a giant FAIL at getting enough sleep. Most weeknights I was running on only 6.5 hours of sleep. Our bodies rebuild while we sleep. I’m pushing my body very hard by adding half-marathon training onto an already very full schedule. I need the rebuilding. I need the sleep.

3. Returning to “real” food—Jeremy and I have been going out to eat A LOT in the past month. Way more than necessary and mostly out of laziness. I’m dialing myself back in and re-focusing on the basics—lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. No dining out unless we are out of town.

4. Tracking my calories—I don’t believe it is 100% necessary to count calories all the time. But when you are burning a lot of calories, you do need to make sure you are re-fueling well. I’m not sure how well I am doing with this. Time to track for a while.

Until next week, friends!

GPP looks good on runners

Today I had planned to share with you my eats for the day, but I got busy and forgot to take pictures. I’ll try again next week.

Instead, let’s talk about running. Or maybe I should say let’s talk about how little I’ve been running.

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As you can see from my Daily Mile account, I abandoned running during the fall and winter and started picking it back up in March. My left foot started bothering me in early April, so I stopped running entirely again, to be careful. I’ve since started running again, however I rarely just run. Most of the running I’ve been doing is incorporated into my GPP workouts.

Last Saturday I decided to go for a run. My legs were feeling really good, and I thought, “Why not see where my mile time currently stands?” So I gave it my all to see how fast I could run a mile.

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7 minutes. 43 seconds. My fastest timed mile ever. A new PR. With minimal focus on running. How is that possible?

Clearly, GPP is doing amazing things for my body—far greater than looking better, light years beyond being at my goal weight, and even more important than building bigger muscles. I’m stronger (mentally and physically) than ever before and getting speedier just happens to correspond with that.

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My mile times have dramatically decreased over the last 10 months—some of that has come from becoming a better runner in general. But most of it has come from sticking with a FANTASTIC strength training program and being consistent. I’ve been doing GPP consistently (at least 4 times a week, usually 5-6 days a week) since the beginning of March.

I’m so proud of how far I’ve come as a runner. And now that I’m feeling stronger, I’m ready to turn myself loose even more as a runner and see what I am capable of.

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That’s why I’ve started training for a half marathon. I’m not registering yet (I tend to register and then get injured during training…so I’m going to hold out and see how it goes first), but the plan is to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon international half. I’d like to break 2 hours, so I’m going to put my heart and sole into this training. I’ll be hitting GPP 5 days a week and running 3 days a week—taking Sunday entirely off for rest and family.

I’m excited to share my half marathon training adventures with you.

Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.

Forgive me for the Kanye West lyrics (and the month break from blogging), but they really do describe this exact moment in my life. I’m training harder than I ever have, feeling better than I ever have, running faster than I ever have (even with less effort!), and my body is stronger than it has ever been in my whole life.

GPP training, running, and eating well 80% of the time has become a natural extension of me and it’s not something I put much active thought into anymore. I just get up each day having already made the decision that I will workout before I start work and I will eat clean, with 2-3 treats each week. It is working for me. I have never been happier with my fitness or running program.

I’m currently doing 5 GPP workouts a week, scaled by 1/3, and running 3X a week. My goal is to run a sub-2:00 half marathon this fall. I’m not currently registered for anything, but I am starting to train. I’ll find a race when I get further into my training. I tend to register for races and then something comes up and I can’t run them, wasting my registration money… not doing that this time.

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This afternoon I ran 4 easy miles at Gallup Park—2 were on a running path and 2 were on the trails. Everything about this run reminded me of why I first fell in love with running: the weather was awesome, I felt like I was flying, the environment around me was breathtaking, and my body felt strong.

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I finished the run in just under 37 minutes.

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Truly, the trails were a stunning sight this afternoon and a welcome break from the daily grind.

A few hours went by between breakfast and my run, so I decided to try out some Pro Bar Bolt energy chews before taking off. These were a (free) sample I received while at Blend last weekend.

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My opinion on the energy chews? I would (and will) buy them with my own dough. They taste great—like candy—but even better, they have fantastic ingredients that I can read and pronounce. They were easy on my tummy and gave me just enough *oomph* to knock out my run. All around winner!

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Back home, I demolished some Annie’s mac ‘n cheese leftovers along with half a package of Alexia red potatoes, carrots, and green beans. The Alexia frozen veggie mix has become a fast favorite in my house.

It was such a nice, spring day. A few hours later we hopped back in the car for another trip to the trails.

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This time with Link by our side.

Where I am now

… Like I said, blogging continues to appeal to me as long as I don’t set a specific schedule in my mind of what it should look like—as evidenced by the fact that I disappeared for a week! (Work was crazy.)

Recently, I shared my New Year Challenge progress, which I was really satisfied with. Now I want to show you where I stand today and what my current program looks like.2013 fitness progress

Left: February 2013  Middle: March 2013   Right: April 2013

Three months of progress and feeling like I’m in the best shape of my life, hands down!

Exercise

When the challenge first ended, my main focus was getting back into running shape. I haven’t done much running at all this winter, but, with warm weather ever-so-slowly teasing its way back around, I was eager to start logging miles again.

It felt great to run my little heart out for the first time in months—maybe too great! My body wasn’t happy with the number of miles I was logging and I started feeling a nagging, stress reaction pain in my left foot about a week ago. Trying to heal a full-blown stress fracture is a pain in the ass. I opted to stop all high-impact activity for a few weeks to see if I can ease back into running (building mileage gradually) without angering my body.

But, unlike usual, I haven’t let this “injury” stop me. I stormed GPP workouts four times this week and taught spinning one day. Sometimes I had to modify workouts (rowing instead of running), but I still got my business done. The best thing about GPP is the fact that I don’t have to do the same thing every day or every week. That is what had always turned me off from sticking with strength training in the past. Doing the same thing over and over… boring! GPP is never boring and even though I do the workouts on my own and off-site, I feel connected and challenged by the GPP Community.

I did GPP workouts throughout the New Year Challenge 2-3x/week. When I am able to return to running I will drop back down to 3 GPP a week. Until that time I plan to storm GPP workouts 5 days a week and practice yoga once a week.

I love GPP and running. Finding the right balance of the two is not easy for me because, if I could, I would do both everyday. GPP makes me feel strong, capable, and badass. Running keeps me sane and adds life to my life. So yes, I will return to running. But I will continue to GPP as well.

Eating

I began tracking my food/calories for the first time in a while during the challenge. Since the challenge ended three weeks ago I have continued to track my food. I use the My Fitness Pal app (add me: Mariatrains) to track. It is easy for me because I eat a lot of the same foods each day/week, making tracking a breeze.

I believe I will continue to track to keep myself on plan. It doesn’t really add more work to my day or hinder me in any way, so I don’t see the need to stop when I am doing so well because of it. I haven’t found myself slipping into any restrictive eating habits and typically consume anywhere from 1700-2200 calories (depending on the day’s activity).

I’ve been experimenting with having a weekly “cheat” meal each week, which I like. I typically eat 85% clean during the week just because the foods I enjoy most are already “clean.” However, for my cheat meal I allow myself to have whatever I want, track it, and move on. This week I had a big burger, fries, and milkshake from Steak ‘N’ Shake. It was delicious.

Basically, I just want to continue to see more progress—safely return to running, storm GPP workouts and build muscle, and lower my body fat percent… all while enjoying life.