Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sick, ickity ick.

Well, I'm sick. I haven't been sick in almost a year. I guess I should be happy with the fact that getting sick isn't as bad as it used to be for me. It's hard to believe a few years ago being sick meant months of misery, and now I can overcome a cold within a week.
Part of my recovery is just keeping a positive attitude. I tell myself that I can beat this, and that it doesn't have to last for weeks or months. The other difficult part is taking it easy and not working out. I want to run, I want to move, but I know I can't breathe well enough to do so. That and I feel ridiculously weak.
Finally took a day off work today. Sleeping in felt so amazing. They say getting sick is just your body's way of telling you to take it easy. Perhaps this is true. So no crazy gym nights until I get better. I did manage a 40 length swim Monday night, and yoga tonight. I think I'm already getting over this cold, so hopefully I can be back at it next week.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Swim Analysis

Last Sunday at my swim class they did video analysis of our technique. They only taped me swimming one length, which was kind of disappointing. I feel like several laps would give a better idea of how I swim. I did however receive some helpful hints, and it was nice that they emailed me stills and a video, as well as a recap of their suggestions. Unfortunately the video seems to have a weird codec, and I can only view it on a particular program. Final Cut Pro doesn't even recognize the file, which is totally lame. This is what Coach Bill Steele from Breakwater Sports had to say:

"Your balance at the surface is pretty good, but I am going to comment about a couple of technique points. In the first shot below your legs are very deep in the water:

You are bending your knees too much and kicking from your quads - this gets your legs so deep in the water that they probably are creating as much drag as propulsion. I would suggest doing a lot of vertical kicking and trying to emphasize keeping the kick compact, with very little knee bend, and initiating it from the hips. Then when returning to freestyle, try to focus on kicking from your hips and keeping your legs in the same column occupied by your body (instead of beneath it).
In the second shot your arm is very deep in the water:

On all of your strokes your arms remain very straight, and go very deep, moving in a windmill fashion. Look at the first video on the following webpage: Drill Video

Notice how the swimmers extend their arm forward, pause very briefly, pop their elbow towards the surface and get their hand under it, and finally press back towards their feet using their hand and forearm like the blade of a paddle.

Your balance and comfort in the water look very good, so if you can change how you use your arms I think you could be very fast."

I am pretty psyched to hear him say I could be very fast, especially since I'm still very new to this whole proper swimming thing. After class that day a woman in the class told me I was really getting fast. Again, great to hear, and I was pretty proud of myself. I've been focusing a lot lately on swimming and strength training. I try to make it to the pool at the very least one other day a week besides the swim class.

Last week a fellow swimmer at my gym, who I had talked to before, remarked that I had really improved. The last time he saw me swim was before my class, when I was doing my special forwards drowning technique. He said I looked a lot better in the water, not only keeping my head down but faster as well. I felt like I had redeemed myself. Before my class, I knew my technique was all wrong, and I was intimidated by the swimmers at the gym who have obviously been a part of school swim teams and compete. Now I don't feel so self conscious and I can focus more on my technique without worrying how hopeless I must look to anyone who happens to be watching.

I recently found this article, 'Introduction to Triathlon Swim Training'. It's probably the easiest swim article to read I have found so far. Many articles use a lot of jargon and obviously swim technique is a hard subject to write about. Proper swim form is pretty complicated, and to break it down in text without boring or confusing people is a challenge. The authors tips seem pretty easy to follow, and I've definitely taken this article as well as Coach Bill's advice into account.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Determination, Perspiration, Preparation

"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."
- Thomas Alva Edison

As I was eating my dinner tonight, and thinking of what I needed to do before bed, I thought of this quote. When it comes to training though, I think it involves 60% Determination, 25% Perspiration and 15% Preparation. Fitting workouts into an already busy schedule is hard, let alone finding the time to eat right and sleep enough hours. I prepare A LOT. Part of it is in my neurotic nature, but it helps me save time and avoid being late for work or missing an hour or so of precious sleep.
My nightly ritual has been to prepare my lunch for the next day. My tiny Hello Kitty cups were an amazing find in Japan. They fit about two tablespoons of whatever condiment I need to bring with me. They are perfect for transporting nut butters, salad dressing, margarine or as I have been lately, spices to mix into my veggies. I also fill a small container with a handful of almonds, a great snack that helps control my hunger. Other snacks include a packet of instant oatmeal, an apple, dried fruit and Chobani yogurt with a small container of blueberries.
Getting my snacks and meal together for the next day lets me sleep in a little in the morning. I also set out my workout clothes and "work" clothes for the following day. I basically aim for thinking as little as possible in the morning. Being prepared however means I can usually be found carrying 2 to 3 bags at a time, which kind of makes me feel like a bit of a hobo. I always have my purse, my workout bag, and my lunch bag. I don't really mind though, because being prepared makes me stress out less, and ensures I can always fit in a workout.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blah Week

Well, I didn't meet a few of my workout goals. Kind of to be expected, but disappointing nonetheless. This week so far:

Monday: Muay Thai Fighting Concepts

Tuesday: AM Bootcamp Style Workout
3 min jumprope
15 min KB (kettlebells)
10+2 treadmill 1.25mi
Mod Pushups, Reverse Crunches, Russian Curls, Bridge, Butt Blast
15lb Dumbbell: Sumo Squats + Bicep curl, side bends, triceps
Swiss Ball: squats, bridge, pelvic tilt, chest press

PM: 30+2 treadmill w/ intervals 3.41mi, spin class
intervals: built speed up to 7 down to 6/6.5, minute intervals

Wednesday: Rest Day. Tuesday was TOO MUCH! The half an hour on the treadmill doing intervals followed by an hour-long grueling spin class was way too much. I should have had at least a clif gel with me after the run, but I went straight to the spin class. Bad move.

Thursday: Bootcamp Style Workout
6min rowing machine (my jumprope broke) 1152m
15min KB
10+1 elliptical 1.06mi (cramped on the treadmill this morning)
mod push ups, rev crunch, bicycle crunch, crunches
2 min jumping jacks, kicks, bob+weave to raise heart rate
Swiss Ball: squats, bridge, chest press, forward leg rolls
15lb dumbbell: side bends, triceps

Friday: 30+2 treadmill intervals 3.53mi
intervals: speed- 7 up to 8, down to 6.5/7 minute intervals, incline- 5 every 3min
stretch + ab work, 30min swim

Saturday: A LAZY Valentine's Day. At least I got an hour walk in!

Sunday: Today since it's supposed to be 40 degrees I'm waiting for noon to go on a long run. Looking forward to it, especially after a lazy Saturday. Have swimming class tonight.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Pudding for Dinner

First goal of the week, attending the Muay Thai Concepts class, complete. The class involves a lot more partner work than Aiki's other "Muay Thai" classes. There is some light sparring, which was refreshing. It left me wanting more, even though it was an hour long I hardly worked up a sweat.
I got home around 8:15pm and planned on maybe having a smoothie for dinner. I looked around the kitchen, I had an avocado and a pear that needed to be used ASAP, bananas that are browning and I just bought some brown rice protein. I decided on making pudding, and if I had to give it a name, I'd call it "Power Pudding". Blend 1 avocado, 1 banana, a cup or so of soy milk (I use Silk No Sugar Added) and a 50cc scoop of chocolate brown rice protein (I use NutriBiotic). I chopped up some strawberries and a pear to mix in, and sweeten the flavor.
I've used a similar recipe for a raw pudding pie, but I usually add baking chocolate. This pudding is inspired by raw recipes I've seen before, and conceptually it follows Brenden Brazier's 'Thrive Diet'. The proper title of the book is 'Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life'. I read it last year upon reading vegan UFC fighter Mac Danzig's recommendation. Brazier, a vegan triathlete, has some very interesting views on nutrition, and his book is well-researched and really interesting. I don't follow the diet strictly (Brazier does not push his "diet" as a strict regimen) but I do try to incorporate as much of it as I can into my diet.
Most of the book focuses on eating power foods, foods which are highly nutritional. Brazier breaks down many power foods and lists their benefits as well as their disadvantages. I highly recommend reading Brazier's book. Even if you're not interested in following his diet plan, it gives the reader an introduction to new foods which are high in nutrition, and how to cook/prepare them.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Workout Goals for Week of Feb 09

The main problem with my training is that it lacks structure. This week I hope to have a week similar to last. Hopefully by stating my mission for the week it will give me more incentive to follow through.

Monday: PM Muay Thai Fighting Concepts
This will be my first time going to this class. I was promised sparring. I'm interested to see how it will be.

Tuesday: AM Bootcamp Workout, PM Run, Spin & Swim

Wednesday: AM Kettlebells

Thursday: AM Run, PM Spin & Swim

Friday: AM Bootcamp Workout, PM Body Works + Abs

Saturday: Kettlebells, Kickboxing, hopefully an outdoor run

Sunday: PM Swim Class


Saturday, February 7, 2009

First Run of 2009

First, before I write about the run today, I should say that I finally registered for a triathlon! I'm pretty excited! It's later than I had wanted it to be, but it looks like a really good first race. Basically, the course is FLAT. I figure, a flat course is key for a beginner. I've only raced 5Ks, and even then only two. My experience racing is very, very limited. So, July 19th it is. Seems sooo far away, and I think closer to spring I may sign up for one sooner if I'm feeling really confident. Maybe I'll just sign up for a 10K or a biathlon. We'll see.

I am very pleased with my first run of the new year! I haven't gone for a run outside since Christmas Day. I only ran about 3 miles that day, and I wasn't very happy with my performance. Today felt great! I went after my kettlebell class, starting around 11:30 am. There was still some really icy sections, but I slowed down or jumped onto the road instead of the sidewalk. I knew I was making great time because of the mix I was listening to on my iPod. It was nice to find that running mix fun again, last fall it became so familiar and boring!
I've really been focusing on strength training in my workouts, and I think it really came through on this run. I felt STRONG, like my body was well supported and could take on hills no problem. There's one section heading up into East Rock that's a 4% grade. I focused on my hamstrings while running up it trying to put forth the power I knew I had. At the end of my run I definitely felt like I could have kept running, but I had a hair appointment to go to. (Yeah, I cut off my remaining hair. With swimming, running and being generally out of my mind I decided, no more hair and NO MORE PONYTAILS!!)


Hard Week

Really stepped it up this week! I started February at a steady pace, I hope I can keep it up!

Monday: 30 + 2 treadmill 3.4 mi
kickboxing + kettlebell work with Kelly

Tuesday: Bootcamp Style Workout
3 min jumprope
15 min kettlebell exercises
10 + 1 treadmill 1.14 mi
Ab work, butt blast
Swiss Ball: bridge, chest press, pelvic tilt
lunges, mod push ups, side bends, triceps

Wednesday: AM Kettlebell/Kickboxing

Thursday: AM: 30 + 2 3.51 mi treadmill, side bends, triceps, ab work
PM: 30 + 5 3.07 mi elliptical, 30 min stairmaster, ab work

Friday: AM: Bootcamp Style Workout
3 min jumprope
15 min kettlebell exercises
10 + 1 treadmill 1.13 mi
Swiss Ball: Squats, Bridge, Pelvic Tilt, Chest Press
Kettlebell: Russian Twist, Chest Press, Bridge
Mod Push Ups, roll back, butt blast
PM: Body Works + Abs Class
Weight Machines: Calves, Ab Twist, Squat

Saturday: Kettlebells
First outdoor run of the new year!! 5.91 mi 9:07 paceView Interactive Map on

Regarding the "Butt Blast" Workout:
It sounds gross, maybe like the after effects of eating at a New Haven burrito cart, but I assure you, the "butt blast" is not as gross as it sounds. I joined "Spark People", a fitness social networking site like a year ago. I'm never on it anymore, but when I first started using the site I really took advantage of their workout logs, nutrition logs and articles. One of the best finds on there is this butt blasting workout video. Looking through my workout log, the first occurrence of the "butt blast" workout is March 4, 2008. It still burns to this day, and I swear by it.

Edited to add: Adding my treadmill and outdoor run together I ran 15 miles this week! Yay!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Slow Build

Ever so slowly building up my runs. It's too bad I have a fear of slipping and falling to my doom on the ice, otherwise I would be running outside. Half an hour on the treadmill is about all I can stand before I'm bored to tears. I was pretty disappointed at first how "out of shape" I felt, but slowly I'm gaining speed and endurance.

Looking back into my workout log, I realized I've already made progress in the past week:

1/27: 20min + 2min cooldown ? miles
1/28: 30 + 2 cooldown 3.1 miles
1/30: 30 + 2 cooldown 3.23 miles
2/1: 30 + 2 cooldown 3.4 miles

I have also been pretty lazy with my workout log, just seeing the improvement over the past week has reignited my drive to write everything down.

Gave Kelly some kettlebell lessons. I wish kettlebells weren't so expensive! I want to buy a few pairs of 6 and 8kg bells so that I can practice with her. Not to mention doing kettlebell DVDs would probably be fun. I taught her how to do the "Russian Twist", after a few twists she exclaimed, "Can't we do Russian Roulette instead?" I was in hysterics, "Oh I'm totally blogging that!"

Also, my focus mitts came in! It was a lot better doing drills with those rather than the heavy bags at L.A. Fitness. Finally she could get real power behind her punches without hurting her wrists. We pretty much took over the usually empty fitness classroom. I want to buy a "fitness wagon" so I can haul all my kickboxing and kettlebell gear into the room. I feel like I'm doomed to forever carry multiple bags and items with me wherever I go.