Thursday, December 31, 2015

A 1000-meter time trial and an easy run to wrap up 2015

Sending off 2015
It wasn't a shabby day today, training-wise. I hit the pool for the last swim of 2015, working in a 1000-meter time trial. After a snack, I went for a quick run to see how my IT band was feeling and also to round out the year with an even-ish number.

The pool was pretty full (everyone wanted to get in one last swim for the year, I guess) but I managed. After some drills and easy 200s, I did my 1000 meters in 25:00 flat, as you can see in my Garmin Swim in the picture. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do that again if you paid me!

I didn't do a 1000-meter time trial last December, but I did do one in January in 25:32, a 2:33/100 meter pace. That puts me 3 seconds faster per 100 a month earlier than last season; I'm not at rock bottom, maybe just subsoil bottom. Either way, I'm in a better place to start and the only way to go is up, right?

I went out to run 1.69 miles to round up to an even-ish number for the year. 0.69 would have put me at 1140, but who wants to go out for less than a mile? I felt stiff, sore and slow, but my IT band felt fine. Maybe, just maybe, I can start to run a couple of miles once or twice a week. I'm going to get back into it VERY slowly because not running these past few months has been torture.

The year's not over yet, and right now I'm doing some pre-hab. Maybe I'll do yoga later. Depends on how crazy I want to get ringing in 2016.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Going for a swim and cutting it close

Seconds to spare!
I swam today, hooray! The facility I use has street parking, and ever since Detroit installed these awesome parking meters with a compatible app — meaning I don't have to carry change — I find it MUCH less of a hassle to get down there.

Doing the math in my head, I calculated that I would have JUUUUUST enough time to swim a full 3200 meters, shower, change, and get back to my car before my parking session ended. Moving quickly, I made it back to the car with 29 seconds to spare. Boom.

Hey, if I'm paying to park for two hours, I might as well get my money's worth, right?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Week in review Dec. 21-27: I definitely could have done worse

Not great but not bad considering the holiday.
Even though I had Christmas Craziness to contend with last week, I got a decent amount of training in.

My evenings were pretty booked: The company party followed by prepping for my department party took up all of Tuesday night, and I prepped my dishes for my in-laws' Christmas Eve brunch the night before, Wednesday. Literally less than a minute after I took the potatoes out of the oven, we got the call that a downed wire in the area would have to push brunch back a day. GRRRRR! However, it worked out for the best, as I spent all of Christmas Eve running last-minute errands and wrapping presents. My husband and I even went for our traditional Christmas Story Virtual 5K run on Christmas Eve.

I took Christmas Day completely off training (partly since we now had two family get-togethers to squeeze in) but was back at it on Saturday... until it was time to get ready to (finally) see The Force Awakens. Yesterday was the in-laws' extended family get-together, which was a ton of fun and baby snuggling. (I am a shameless baby hogger.) Plus, we still got home at a decent enough hour that I could wrap up leftover training from Saturday and even get some yoga in.

I feel like last week was a good mix of training and holiday/family time. I got enough activity to not feel like a blob, but still made time for celebrating. By the numbers:

Swim: Nothing this week. My evenings were pretty booked and the pool was closed for much of Christmas Eve and all of Christmas Day.

Bike: Twice on the trainer for 2:30 total.

Run: One very easy 5K in about 36 minutes.

Weights: One full run-through of my body/heavy routine split into two sessions, with my plyo moves following the second half, for about 1:15 total.

Pre-hab: One set of hip exercises and one set of glutes exercises for about 55 minutes total.

Yoga: Three sessions of my usual stretches for about 55 minutes total.

Total: 11 sessions for about 6 hours, 11 minutes.

Nothing spectacular but considering the holiday and related busy-ness, I'll take it!

This week will be more of the same. I have the week mostly off work (hooray!) so I'd like to do a lot of training during the day, but, um, I kind of slept in til 9 a.m. today, so the high-volume stuff might have to wait until tomorrow. Again this week the pool is closed for much of New Year's Eve and all of New Year's Day, so although I definitely want to go, it will take some schedule finagling.

The good news is the present wrapping, cookie baking and food prepping is all behind me. I'd like to get in some deep housecleaning, sleeping and dog cuddling, but hitting training hard is definitely a priority this week. I have to burn off all those Christmas cookies somehow!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Activity every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas

Something every day!
Well, some days barely made it on the board, but I fulfilled my goal of doing some kind of activity every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I didn't do anything yesterday on Christmas, since I was running around between families. But from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve I did SOMETHING, whether it was 15 minutes of yoga or a full day of riding on the trainer and lifting weights. I even got a couple of runs in there as my IT band gets its act back together.

I feel like this is the bare bones of what is necessary to stay in decent shape in the off-season. Of course I would have loved to do more of this, that and the other thing, with Christmas Craziness and a few evening work obligations, this was a decent showing. I'm getting back in the pool now and again and spending decent time on the bike. And getting some stretching in, too — usually when I don't have time to do anything else, but hey.

I feel like I'm off to a good start this season. Now, to do something every day between Christmas and Thanksgiving: That will be the real challenge.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A "pink nightmare" easy 5K

You'll shoot your eye out.
Every year for the last three years, my husband and I have done the virtual A Christmas Story 10K or 5K. You get a t-shirt, medal and other swag, and the money goes to support maintenance of Ralphie's house in A Christmas Story, my favorite Christmas movie.

You're supposed to run it on the day of the real race in Cleveland, but I figure as long as we do it before the end of the year we're OK. It was a nice, sunny day today, although a bit brisk and windy, and we headed out not long after a lazy brunch. I was worried about my knee and IT band, but we headed out at a nice slow pace.

I got to almost 2 miles before I got any twinges, and was careful to keep it nice and slow, so I never did get any actual pain. Yay! We finished our 5K and now we have the right to wear our t-shirts and medals.

I need to keep on with the glute and hip strengthening, but 3.1 miles was about 2.1 miles longer than I could run a couple of months ago without pain, so I'm calling it a success.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers and don't shoot your eyes out!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week in review Dec. 14-20: A workout buffet with the main helping on Saturday

A decent week.
I got off to a slow start training-wise last week, since I had a bunch of personal stuff happening in the evenings. Things calmed down by Friday and I went for a decent swim that night. I got the bulk of the week’s training done on Saturday, with riding my bike on the trainer, a weights video, plyo moves, the rest of my hips moves I didn’t finish the day before, and even some yoga. Whew!

I’m in the thick of getting ready for Christmas so I don’t know how much training I’ll get in this week. If I stick with my “at least a few minutes of something every day” vow, I think I’ll be OK.

Side note: I’ve successfully avoided most Christmas treats so far this year, save a sample of dark chocolate toffee (OMG) being passed out at Trader Joe’s yesterday and my true weakness, cinnamon and sugar roasted almonds, which someone left in our office today. I’m sure I’ll get PLENTY of junk food in the coming week, don’t you worry.
Lots of biking.
Here’s last week by the numbers:

Swim: One trip to the pool for 2800 meters in, and although this is embarrassing I’m posting it anyway for accountability, 1:16. I’m rationalizing this by adding that my “fast” sets are slightly faster than last time, and I’m taking a few seconds less rest on the intervals. I’ll get there.

Bike: Three times on the trainer, once for an hour each and one “long” ride of an hour and a half, for 3:30 total. These are mostly build for a while, do a couple of big-ring intervals, and cool down.

Weights: One video (Bob Harper’s Pure Burn Super Strength – holy cow was this hard) and one set of plyo moves for the first time in a LONG time, for about 1:25 total. I’ve been holding off on the plyo moves to not irritate my IT bands further, but they felt fine Saturday. Yay!

Pre-hab: Two full rounds of my hip moves and one full round of my glutes moves for 1:15. Ideally I’d like to get through each three times per week, but this is a lot more than the nothing I was doing.

Yoga: Two self-guided sessions of mostly bends, twists, pigeons, etc. for 40 minutes total.

Total: 12 sessions in just longer than 8 hours. Not too shabby, considering.

As I mentioned, I had “stuff” almost every night (haircut, meeting, etc.) during the week, but put in a full training day Saturday. By day, it broke down to:

Monday: 15 minutes of pre-hab.

Tuesday: 60 minutes on the trainer.

Wednesday: 25 minutes of yoga.

Thursday: 60 minutes on the trainer.

Friday: 5 minutes of pre-hab (I started and got busy with something else) and 76 minutes in the pool for 81 minutes total.

Saturday: 90 minutes on the trainer, 65 of a weights video, 20 of plyo moves, 10 of pre-hab, and 15 of yoga for 200 minutes total.

Sunday: 45 minutes of pre-hab.
Training day by day.
That breaks down to a full 41% of my training happening on Saturday. Whew!
A long Saturday.
I’ve posted about being a “weekend warrior” before, and honestly, as long as I work a day job that will be how I get the long hours in. Plus, I always feel good after a nice long day of working my muscles – and it’s nice to have a guilt-free, lazy Sunday, too.

Swim, bike, lift, yoga, pre-hab, repeat: Not a bad way to counteract the Christmas cookies and toffee.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Mid/end-of-week check-in: Not a whole lot going on

Not a lot, but at least it's something every day.
This week was one of those weeks where I had something going on every evening after work. I haven’t done a whole lot in the way of training, but I am still going strong on my “something every day” vow. Yay!

Monday was a haircut (so I can dye it to cover all my grays before family pictures, haha) and a casual date night, but I still did my hip-strengthening exercises. Tuesday was a neighborhood meetup, but I still did my trainer ride afterward. Wednesday I had a personal committee meeting, and although I felt lousy I still did some stretching before bed. Thursday I got on the trainer again and promptly erased all my hard work by going out for a glass of wine and some ice cream. =)

The weekend has gone pretty well so far. Friday I kept with my tradition of hitting the pool in the evening, because I lead a party lifestyle like that. Today was a fully day of a long trainer ride, a weights video, and my plyo moves. I haven't done any plyo in a while because I was afraid it would irritate my IT bands, but it felt OK today. The weights video was ridiculous; I have really let a lot of strength get away from me.

I haven't tried to run since last weekend and I probably will take some more time off as I try to strengthen my hips and glutes back up. But I can sure get on the trainer and into the pool a few times a week.

I'm not putting in incredible hours, but it's something. I'm hoping to build that base back up and maybe preemptively burn off some Christmas cookies, too.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week in review Dec. 7-13: ’Tis the season (for getting back into a training routine)

Boom goes the dynamite.
Even “losing” Saturday to Christmas shopping with my mom (I am pretty much done, so it was well worth it) I had a decent training week last week. Bonus: It got up into the 60s on Sunday, so I went for an unheard-of-in-December outdoor bike ride. Yay!

Even with shopping and events taking up two evenings, I managed to continue with my streak of doing something, even 10 minutes of stretching, every single day. I’m currently on day 18 – wow! I didn’t realize I was doing so well until I counted it up. Go me!

By the numbers:

Swim: Twice, both in the pool, for 4600 meters in a little longer than 2 hours.

Funny story: Because I am super lame, I’ve gone to the pool these past two Friday nights and thoroughly enjoyed it. I got through my main set Friday and started my cooldown. Suddenly – foot cramp! I tried to flex my foot and swim with my arms, but then I got a calf cramp! Of course by then I was in deeper water. The lifeguard hustled over to ask if I was ok (good for him for noticing, I guess!) and I waved him off, told him it was a cramp, and laugh-choked on water because it was so ridiculous. I decided to pull the plug while I was ahead and got out without doing my cooldown. I took an extra few minutes to stretch out my cramps before I left the pool to make it clear to everyone “IT WAS JUST A CRAMP, I DIDN’T FORGET HOW TO SWIM.” Ha!

Bike: Twice on the trainer for an hour each, and once on the road for 22 slow miles in about an hour and a half.

Funny story: I was going back and forth whether I wanted to do a hassle-free indoor ride or head outside for what would probably be my last outdoor ride in months, even though I knew I would be cutting it short on daylight. I decided to do laps at the big city park, but then discovered my front tire’s valve was broken and letting air out. Did I want to use my last tube to go for one outdoor ride? In the end I decided yes, and I was glad I did. (Tubes are cheap, and I can always use the flat-changing practice.)

As it turned out, everyone had the same idea I did: It was probably going to be the last nice weekend day for months, so let’s go to the park. But for most people at the park, that meant racing and spinning out their muscle cars and crotch rockets. I was legitimately worried on my first lap around that I’d get run over by someone’s hot rod, but by the second lap the cops were out pulling people over and things had calmed down. Luckily I finished without incident.

I joked to my husband that I had to get my ride in around the Fast and the Furious 12 street auditions. He paused and asked, “Were they really holding auditions?” I laughed. No, but it sure felt like it.

Run: One run of 1.75 miles, on the road, in 18:10.

NOT a funny story: Well, I did get a test run in this weekend, my first run in over a month. I made it about a mile before my left IT band started bothering me; it was in actual pain by another quarter mile. It wasn’t so bad I had to stop, but it’s definitely not rested and rehabbed enough. I just have to be patient and be diligent about strengthening my glutes.

My husband and I have made a tradition of doing the virtual Christmas Story 5K these last few years; our medals, t-shirts and Ovaltine have already arrived for this season’s run. I plan on doing it for accountability’s sake, but will likely walk/jog it as easily as possible so I don’t have a setback.

Pre-hab: Three times this week for about 1:15 total, doing my hips moves twice and a full glute rotation once.

Yoga: Two self-guided sessions this week for a total of 30 minutes. I have been doing some bends, twists, pigeons, etc. before bed when I can.

Total: 11 sessions in about 7 hours, 40 minutes.

I didn’t do any weight training and could have done more yoga, but overall, I’m pleased with the week. It included a little of everything, and I got some fresh air, too. Not too shabby and not a bad baseline.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Going outside to ride and RUN!

It got up to the mid-60s today. I've lived in Michigan almost all of my life and I don't ever remember it being this warm this late in the year.

I've been wanting to go for a quick test run to see how my left IT band is feeling. I promised myself a SHORT run around the neighborhood and set out right when the temperatures were climbing to the day's highs.

I got almost a mile in before I started feeling twinges in my knee. It wasn't so painful that I had to walk, but I slowed down a bit and tried to land as softly as possible. I feel like I'm on the right track, but I need to keep taking it easy and keep doing my pre-hab exercises.
Let's go for a run, Mommeh!
When I got home, the dogs wanted to go out for another mile or six, but alas, the side-to-side motion that comes with reeling in mutts wouldn't have been good for my knee. They'll just have to wait.

After a snack I decided to go out for a ride instead of suffering on the trainer even though I would be close it with shorter daylight hours. I almost pulled the plug after I was getting everything ready and discovered the tip of the front tube valve was missing, meaning there was nothing keeping air in. I debated using a fresh tube on what would probably be my only outdoor ride for months, but decided eh, f it. Tubes are cheap.
Riding outside! In December!
I did a few laps of a nearby island park until it started getting dark -- in all it was about 22 miles. Not too shabby! Nothing fast, but it was nice to get out in the fresh air. Hopefully I won't have forgotten everything by the time spring comes around.

It seemed like everyone else had the idea of getting out to the park, so I had to dodge quite a few motorcycles and muscle cars. But things quieted down after the state police started pulling people over, and I didn't get run over. So, a win!

Sadly, temperatures are looking more winter-like as the week goes on. But I should be taking more time off running anyway, so no great loss. Plus, if the weather holds I can take the mutts on nice long walks outside, guilt-free.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Evening swims: So far, so good

Just keep swimming.
Last season, I woke up (well, tried to) four days a week at 4:30 a.m. to swim or ride my bike on the trainer on alternating days. This season, I decided that waking up at 4:30 a.m. sucks and I don’t want to wake up that early ever again unless the bed is on fire or I have to catch an early flight to my tropical vacation.

So, I took a hard look at the schedules for all the pools I have access to, and decided to try to make a couple of hours in the evening work a few days a week. I’m still on a hiatus from running, my preferred evening activity, so the time is now.

Verdict: So far, so good. The pool closest to my house is one of the few 25-meter pools in the area, and since that facility has a separate family pool, it’s not grossly warm like the one near my office. I tried to time my swims so I’d have a bit more than an hour before it closed for the evening, and that was just about perfect for avoiding a million kids and crazy parking situations.

It does take a bit of schedule finagling to make it work. I prefer a late dinner, but have been eating an early mini-dinner an hour before I leave and then another mini-dinner or big snack when I get back. And by the time I get home, refuel, log my swim, finish getting ready for bed (ain’t no shame in putting my pajamas on at the gym), etc., it’s past my bedtime. So I’ll need to rein in the dawdling a bit.

It’s early yet, but I’m hopeful the shakeup will get the season off to a good start. Maybe I can shave a bit of time off my swim while I’m at it.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week in review Nov. 30-Dec. 6: It was almost like a real training week!

Getting some training in -- finally!
I made a commitment to do something, anything, every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it is starting to show in my training numbers. I actually had a decent week, for the first time in a while.

I’m nowhere near race ready, and I think I’m going to give my IT bands one more week of rest before I try to run again, but I feel like I’m getting there. Finally!

By the numbers:

SWIM: Yes, I got in the pool! I did a laughably slow 2000 meters in just under an hour (to be fair, this includes about 400 meters of slower drills), but for my first swim since August, it felt pretty darn good.

Bike: Three times, all on the trainer, for 3 hours and 15 minutes total. This was two 1-hour rides and a “long” ride of 1:15; I’ll keep adding 15 minutes or so to one ride every other week or so until I’m at an actual long ride length.

Weights: I did some of this, too! One run-through of my heavy weights/body weight routine (pullups, pushups, squats, deadlifts, abs, etc.) in about an hour. I am long overdue for this, too; I could barely move my arms or sit down the next day.

Pre-hab: I got through my whole cycle (hips, glutes, ankles, arches/feet) in two parts through the week, which took me about 1 hour, 45 minutes total. Since I did the exercises in fits and starts this is my best guess.

Yoga: Two sessions of my usual bends, pigeons, twists, etc. for 45 minutes total.

Total: 9 sessions in just less than 7 hours, 45 minutes.

I am happy to be moving again, and I’m happy that I’m feeling more like myself again. I want to keep building on this momentum to make this “off-season” a “pre-season.”

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Finally, a pre-hab circuit

Wobble Board-ing my ankles.
This week was the first time in a LONG time, probably months, that I got through a full circuit of my pre-hab exercises: hips, glutes, ankles, arches, etc.

(Hips and glutes to try to get my IT bands back in shape, ankles and arches because I have flat duck feet, etc.)

I am already sore from my first heavy (well, "heavy") weights lifting in a long time yesterday; now all the small muscles in my lower legs are protesting, too.

But I love it. A few sore muscles now means a strong race season down the road, hopefully.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I swam!

I'm back in the water, again....
You guys! I swam!

It's been months, literally months, since I went for a swim. I'm not really a swimmer and look forward to a post-season pool break, but for the last few days I have been looking forward to getting back in the water. I did 2000 meters very slowly, but it felt good.

Yes, my wild and crazy Friday night was going for a swim and being excited about it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

November was definitely an "off" month

Muttley helping me go over my training logs.
November was a disaster when it came to training and eating, so instead of doing a regular month in review, I’ll just do a few quick hits to compare it to October:

Bike: I got on the trainer one fewer time (from three to four), but was on there for a half hour longer overall. My behind is once again getting used to being in a bike seat for an hour at a time.

Run: Only ran one time this month, compared to three in October, for 29.2 fewer miles. My IT band managed to make it through two shakeout runs and a marathon last month, but my luck didn’t hold this month, sadly. I did 1 painful mile and cut my losses. Rest, rest, rest.

Yoga: Only one fewer time this month, although I did a lot less time overall. I definitely was more dedicated in October, in a desperate attempt to get my glutes and hips able to last for a marathon.

Pre-hab: Five times this month, down from seven last month, but a lot less time overall. Again, like yoga, more dedicated last month for the marathon.

Weights: Hey, I lifted weights this month! Even if it is one session, last month was zero sessions, so I’ll take the improvement.

Overall, the jump down in time from October to November was about half, mostly due to the fact that I only ran a mile. Considering how crazy the month was with Thanksgiving, vacation and everything else, I’m OK with that. 

With an "off" month, there's nowhere to go but up -- and December is already looking good.