Home is where the heavy bag is

Today is supposed to be leg day at the gym for me.  I had a beautiful day of cardio yesterday, and left the gym feeling fresh and rejuvenated, which is the perfect lead-up to my crazy intense leg day.  But…  and I know you could all sense the “but” coming…

I just can’t get myself out the door.

There are two reasons for this.  Reason #1 is that my gym closes at 6:30 on Sundays, and I really prefer to go at around 8:00.  Reason #2, which is the more substantial reason, is that I have a million things to do at home, and I will feel like a horrible, selfish person if I totally neglect everything else in my life so that I can spend 2 hours at the gym doing leg exercises.  Today is not the right day.

My week this week is going to be nuts.  I work every single day except for Wednesday, and I have a very good friend visiting from out of town.  Every minute of the week is spoken for.  Meaning that the huge mess of dishes and laundry that is currently piling up in my apartment is only going to get bigger as the week unfolds.  And that guy I call my husband who has been working his butt off all week doing a ridiculous mix of Emergency Department shifts and being the Resident on call for Toxicology, will barely see my face before next Sunday…  I really need a day at home today, or I may not survive this upcoming week.

So I made myself a new plan for the afternoon.  Once the laundry and dishes and grocery shopping has been dealt with, I’ve designed a lovely little workout for home that Joe and I can do together…  (Did you see what I did there?  Mixing couple time with workout time.  Yeah, that’s right…)  5 rounds of boxing, a painful mixture of burpees and burnouts on the heavy bag, and some pushups, pullups and ab work to finish.  This is how we used to get down, before the days of personal trainers and half marathon aspirations.  It’s the equivalent of a date-night in our house.  Two bottles of Gatorade, two sets of hand wraps, a good playlist of old-school rap music, and voila…  romance.

I’ll be back at the gym this week, in between the girls nights out and the crazy work schedule.  I’ll find a way to make it happen.  But tonight is protected couple time.  Just me, Joe and the heavy bag.  🙂

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Valentine`s Day and this week in exercise

Well, hello, friends.  Happy Valentine`s day to every one of you!  As cheesy as this holiday is, I actually really love having an excuse to shower love on my friends and family.  So I`ll start out by sending some out to all of you.

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(A little Harry Potter humor never hurt anybody…)

This week was the first week of my new workout program.  And it is tough.  I feel like I felt back in November when I first started meeting with my trainer…  totally awkward and intimidated by all of the new exercises I`m supposed to be able to do.  I will share my leg day and upper body day routines with you in my upcoming posts.  They`re hard.  I miss squats and lunges and bicep curls.  I do not like one armed pushups and sprints…  just when I was getting comfortable…  BOOM.  Welcome to hell, body.

So I`m sore every day and pooping the Advil again.  The fun part is that I know my body will adapt over the next couple of weeks, and I`m going to get great at this stuff.  Except maybe the one armed pushups, which I may never be great at.  We`ll see how that goes.

I`ve been at the gym every day this week except yesterday.  I`m on nights at work this week, so today is a recovery day for me.  I`m about to spend it on the elliptical doing 45-60min of cardio.  I may even throw in some deadlifts and squats, but that has yet to be decided.  It depends on how much exhaustion-nausea I still have once I`m at the gym.  It`s days like this that remind me why I love running/cardio so much.  I am already looking forward to that feeling that I’ll have after a good sweat.

I rang in my Valentine`s Day by admitting a little patient who was in a house fire.  He and his cousin came to our hospital with some bad smoke inhalation.  They were transferred from a smaller hospital, and arrived by plane just after midnight.  They are perfect little boys.  Chubby little toddlers who are just growing into boyhood.  They are very sick, but I have hope that we`ll help them get better and this will all just be a crazy nightmare far in their past one day.  It was a crazy shift last night.  But seriously, guys…  I don`t care if you`re in a relationship or not, I know there are people in your lives that you love.  Parents, sibling, nieces, nephews, best friends…  Do me a favor and ask them to be your Valentine today.  🙂  (Or at the very least, say something nice to them.)

So after I go to the gym and show myself some love, it`s all about quality time with the husband tonight and with the girlfriends tomorrow.  I wish all of you a fabulous weekend.  here’s to taking good care of yourself and of the people around you!

Not super anything

I have to admit, I`ve been more ICU then Runner lately.  My first week back at work is hitting me pretty hard, and the 12 hour shifts have me getting home at 8:30pm, making a quick dinner, and passing right out afterwards.  My running schedule has been a bit of a mess this week, and I think my mood has started to show it.

Today was a rough day.  I spent 12 hours being abused by an ungrateful and manipulative patient, and by the time I got home, I`d really had enough.  Enough of ducking flying fists and medical equipment. Enough of trying to be kind to a very angry and very sick teenager who really needed my patience and kindness.  I think I did a good job, but I was burnt out afterwards.  It was just really tough.

It was cold comfort coming home to an empty apartment, knowing that Joe was himself knee deep in an evening shift as a doctor at the emergency department.  He won`t be home until I`m already asleep, because I have to go back for more tomorrow morning.

Good lord, how will I face tomorrow without losing my mind??

I think this is a brilliant example of why I run, and why I fell in love with running in the first place.  For the first time in a long time, I went for a run because I needed to.  It had nothing to do with my pace or my distance or my training schedule.  The second I walked in the door, I was changing out of my scrubs and into my running gear and heading right back out.  There are days when I come home feeling like super nurse, or super wife, or even sometimes super athlete.  Tonight I didn’t feel like super anything.  I needed that run, just to get my mind clear, to get my sanity back.  To burn off the frustration of the day and prepare for tomorrow.  This is why I run.

Today’s workout log: 6.1 blissful miles in 1:01.

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Uh-Oh (it always helps to think about Beyonce)

Well tonight was my long run, and it felt amazing.  I know that 5 miles isn’t actually a “long” run in marathon terms, but it’s the longest I’ve run since last fall, so I insist on being proud of it.  And the best part is, I ran the whole thing and I’m not tired. 

Not only was this my longest run in months, but I skipped one of my workouts this week, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel today.  Joe and I took a couple days off and skipped town, and I was wayyyyy too disorganized to fit in all my workouts while we were traveling.  I really thought I could do it, and then I threw all of my plans out the window in favor of long walks on the beach and football games on the beach, and other awesome beach-related activities.  So while I wasn’t sitting on my butt all week, I still skipped a 3.5 mile run on Thursday night, and have been wondering if I’d be up for my 5 miler today. 

But in the end, I felt more then ready.  Today’s strategy was not to worry at all about speed, and just settle into a nice easy 10 minute mile pace.  In fact, I made it my goal to run steadily for 50 minutes, regardless of distance.  (See this really helpful post on minutes vs miles and training for marathons.  I definitely took this advice tonight.)  I really want my body to get used to maintaining aerobic activity for long periods of time.  So rather than focus on the mileage, I just relaxed and let myself jog at a comfortable pace.  And seriously, I felt like I could run forever.

Until my old friend, knee injury from last fall, decided to show up again. 

Seriously?

At about mile 4, my left knee suddenly felt like it was full of cement.  It just completely froze up and every step after that felt like there was a bunch of gravel filling up the entire joint.  This is the same feeling I had when I tore my meniscus last fall, and had to be sidelined from running for weeks…  this is a big deal, in the worst possible way.  This is a freak-out moment. 

Now that I’ve decided to run a half marathon in the fall and I’m really putting my mind to it, I am totally unwilling to stop running for even a few weeks, and I’m completely not ok with this happening right now.  So as soon as my knee started to hurt, I got this crazy sinking feeling in my stomach…  of course, I’m having an amazing run, I feel like a champ, so of course my knee has to get all messed up again. 

What’s a girl to do?

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1.  Yes, that’s right.  Think about Beyonce in the elevator and keep your sh*t together.  This may feel like the end of the world (yes it does, it really feels like that) but it’s NOT.  So calm down.

2.  Since I decided, for better or worse, to finish that last mile of my run, I put all of my energy and focus into maintaining perfect form.  As a nurse, I would probably advocate for stopping once the acute pain started, but I was not in nurse mode at this point, I was in stubborn me mode.  So instead of stopping, I thought about my core staying strong and keeping my hips aligned and not tightening up through my hip flexors, and I kept going with my focus on maintaining good form.  This actually helped a lot.  Whether it was a placebo effect or not, my knee hurt a lot less with each step, and my whole body felt more efficient.  I should think about my form every time I run, injured or not.

3.  Take a step back, and come up with a long term plan.  Now that my run is over, I’ve hobbled back home from the gym, (it hurts more to walk than it does to run) and I’m sitting with a huge bag of ice on my knee, it’s time to really face the situation.  My hubby and I are moving back to Canada at the end of the week, so logistically, the timing here is tricky.  But I think my next step once we’re home will be to see a Sports Medicine specialist or a Physio Therapist and really get to the bottom of what’s going on inside my knee.  And then…

4.  Tackle it.  Fix the problem.  Do whatever it takes to stay in shape and rehab my knee safely so that I’m back running as soon as I possibly can be.  Whether it’s doing a bunch of weird exercises every day to strengthen my knee, or getting my knee scoped, or doing all my training by running on my hands instead of my feet in order to stay in shape…  whatever it needs to be.  I’m determined not to slow down.  I will channel all of my current frustration into finding a solution.

Let’s end this post on a happy note.  Here is a picture of the beach from our little getaway this week.  🙂

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8 ways to overcome workout inertia

Alright, so if anyone understands what it’s like to absolutely NOT WANT TO GO to the gym every once in a while, it’s me.  I’m one of these people who is amazing at staying disciplined, as long as I’m on a roll.  As soon as I take a day off, it’s all over…  So what happens after my rest day?  I sit around on the couch procrastinating and avoiding my next workout.  Often, it takes me a full 2 rest days to actually want to get back to the gym.  After one single day off, I always get a super terrible case of workout inertia…  so I’ve developed a few strategies to help myself overcome it and get back on that roll.

1.  Bargain with yourself.  Promise yourself to get out the door and run at least one mile, or head to the gym and put in at least 20 minutes.  Whatever your bare minimum is – something that doesn`t seem too intimidating so that you`ll be more likely get up and do it.  For me, it`s either 20 minutes of cross training or my favorite 3 mile jogging loop.  Walk or run, as long as I get out and do something, that`s better than nothing, isn`t it?  And guess what?  Once I’m at the gym, I almost always feel like doing a full workout after all. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting up and putting my running shoes on, but once I’m out the door, I’m back in the zone.

And that leads me to my next tip…

2.  Put your workout gear on.  After putting in upwards of 12 hours on my feet at work, once my shift is over, trust me, the last thing I want to do is get back on my feet and exercise.  It helps a lot if I come home and change directly from my scrubs into my running shorts…  otherwise, I end up in my pjs eating cereal for dinner and watching Harry Potter on my laptop.  If I already have my workout outfit on, I’m one step closer to getting out the door.  And there’s something psychological about it.  Like, hey, guys, look how serious I am about running today.  I have shorts on!  There’s no turning back!

3.  Develop a pre-workout routine.  For some people it’s a pre-running snack, a stretching routine, or a pre-running playlist.  Something that you do before every run, long or short, that gets you in the mood to exercise.  It helps a lot when you’re really not feeling super energetic, because you can just turn off your brain, stop overthinking it, and commence the pre-run routine.  One thing will lead to another, and you’ll be auto-piloting your body into running mode.  One of my classic faves:  Two eggs, one piece of toast, and a glass of milk.  (Yes, I drink TONS of milk, especially when I’m super thirsty…  I know it’s a little weird, people make fun of me all the time, but it works!)

4.  Watch YouTube!  Yes!  YouTube workout videos are the best!  There is just something about watching Floyd Mayweather training videos before heading to the gym and sweating it out in the ring.  (Joe and I have seen pretty much every episode of HBO 24/7 about a million times.)  Seeing someone else push themselves to the max while screaming “Hard work, dedication!” is extremely motivational.  I also recommend watching strength training demos on YouTube before heading out for a strength day.  I absolutely love learning new exercises, and watching other people do them makes me want to try them all immediately and start feeling that burn!  All work is easy work!

5.  Get a buddy!  Even if this person doesn’t physically run every mile with you, get someone to help keep you accountable to your training goals.  My husband knows what my goals are, and he works his training schedule around mine.  It’s great, because we can cross train together on cross training days, and lift weights together on strength training days.  (He hates running, but I am slowly converting him…  more on that later.)  It’s just extremely helpful to have someone else who believes in you when you feel like giving up.

5.  Reward yourself!  Joe and I love to cook huge, delicious meals after an intense boxing day.  I love to come home after a long run, take a nice warm shower, and then curl up with a big comfy blanket and some good ol’ Netflix.  I save my favorite songs for later in my running playlist as a little reward to myself as I get farther into my run.  Little things like this make a big difference to me…  Rewards are good.  And sometimes knowing you’ve got a steak waiting for you after your workout is enough to get you off that couch!

7.  Just do it.  Guess what?  Sometimes, running is tough.  If it was easy, everyone in the world would be running marathons and it wouldn’t mean anything anymore.  But let’s face it:  Hard things make us better.  Period.  So when you really just don’t feel like it, do it anyway!  You will discover that you can do it after all.  Even if it sucks.  Showing up is better than giving up.  20 minutes is better than 0 minutes.  And at the end of the day, the workouts you will be most proud of will be the ones you didn’t feel like doing.  Because you got off your butt, and did it anyway.

Having said that, I leave you with one very important reminder…

8.  Do NOT feel guilty about taking a day off!  Whatever you do, please, pu-LEASE do NOT ruin running by feeling bad about missing one workout here or there.  Guys, this is supposed to be fun!!  Sometimes, you actually need to rest more than you need to run.  Maybe you promised yourself you’d do 20 minutes at the gym, and you could only squeak out 15…  there’s probably a reason for that.  It could be that a good night’s sleep, some quality time with friends or family, or even a night out on the town, is actually what you need.  Life is about balance, and that probably means that you won’t work out 6 days per week every week until you die.  So if you take a night off, enjoy it!!!  Make the most of it so that the next day, you can pick up right where you left off, and not miss a beat.  Your running fitness can survive one missed workout, and maybe you need to put that time into life/love/work/whatever else for a day.

And those are my pointers!  Do you have any pearls of running wisdom that help you overcome your workout inertia?

 

Hangover Tuesday

I`ve mentioned in earlier posts that I`m an ICU nurse, but I haven`t explained that I`m currently taking a bit of time away from that and doing research.  I`ve been working 8 hour days, 4 days a week, sitting at a desk for the first time in my life.  This phase of my life is about to come to an end, when Joe and I move back to our lives and jobs in Canada at the end of the month, and we`re both back to our crazy healthcare clinician lifestyle. 

For now, I am a 9-5er, a lifestyle that doesn`t suit me nor has it ever appealed to me.  I`m actually looking forward to 12 hour night shifts right now, something that I never thought I`d say, just so I can be back inside an ICU again.  And with only 2 weeks left at my current job, I`m pretty much just DYING.  DYING to get back home!!

I woke up a little bit hungover this morning and I don`t think I fully shook it off.  I worked my usual day today but have to go back in tonight to facilitate a research project at 9pm.  So I had a whole 3.5 hours to make dinner, eat, run my 3 miles, and then shower and get ready to head back to work.  I decided just to run on the treadmill in our building`s gym so it would be a bit faster… 3 miles of hungover running and that`s another workout logged.  I have to say, it was just about survival today, but at least I did it.  I hated every second of that run, but I already feel so much better for it.

My time was actually kind of not bad, at least for me.  I think it`s because the guy on the treadmill next to me (who looked like a slightly younger version of the coach from Freaks and Geeks) kept nodding at me and trying to get my attention in the mirror. 

Not cool. 

Dude, I HAVE to look in that mirror, the whole wall is a mirror and I`m running on a treadmill that faces it.

So needless to say, I couldn`t get out of there fast enough.  I almost forgot to check my time at the end of my run, but I think it was 28:18. 

And now, after my hellish run with my aching legs silently cursing me for all those beers I had last night (legs, stop your complaining, it`s the playoffs!), I truly feel…  fantastic.  I will be about a million times nicer to my husband when get home from my evening of work tonight than I would have been if I`d just holed up in bed all evening, watching trashy TV and drinking Gatorade. 

And that is why I run.  🙂

Today’s workout log

First of all, I need to start by saying happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there.  🙂  I called my mom today, make sure you call yours!!

Today was the first day of the year where it was warm enough for me to sit outside in shorts and enjoy the sunshine.  Seriously, I think I probably have Seasonal Affective Disorder (you know, where you get a bit depressed during the winter months from lack of sunshine and Vitamin D), so as soon as the sun starts shining, I feel like a new person!!  Bring on summer!

I ran 4 miles today.  It felt pretty smooth overall.  I ran it in 37:47, so an average pace that was just a little faster than 9:30.  I felt super good until I was just past the 3 mile mark, when I started to feel a bit tired and my legs were starting to fatigue.  When this starts to happen, I always get super discouraged.  “How the hell do I think I can run 13.1 miles if I get tired running 4??!  It’s only been 30 minutes, and my legs are already tired?  How am I ever going to be able to run for 2 hours??!”  I was running at about a 9:15 pace at that point, so I eased up just a little bit and finished my last mile comfortably.  I just slowed down ever so slightly, and I felt like I could have run all day…  Then for the last couple of minutes, I brought the pace back up to under 9:00/mile.  I always try to push it for the last half to quarter mile or so.  When I finished, I felt completely silly for ever feeling discouraged or doubting myself, but I know I’ve got to work on strategies for dealing with those discouraging thoughts as I start to run longer distances.  

What do you do to keep going when you feel like you can’t run any farther?  

What are your favorite running mantras?