workouts

Being a Fit Mom

In May, a month after I stopped working, we joined a gym. Before my son was even an idea, I was a fitness junkie. You could search the archives of my blog for old posts about fitness, diet, exercise, and healthy living. It was kind of my thing.

Until it wasn't. For a while. Before I was a mom, running was one thing that kept me sane. When people ask if I worked out my entire pregnancy I feel sheepish answering "yes, except the first trimester."

Which is true. My first trimester knocked me on my ass and kept me there. Twelve solid weeks of exhaustion while my body took the energy I would otherwise apply toward walks, run, weights, and writing and used it to build an organ and the gummy bear baby I saw at our first ultrasound. Apparently organ construction is hard - who knew? 

I don't know why I feel so sheepish sharing my fitness journey before my son, even though I adored it. I ran a half marathon a year before I got married. A marathon relay (I was leg 3), three weeks before my wedding. I've run more 5k races than I remember, two 10k races, a 7k and a 15k. Running, writing, and photography were where I found joy. 

Finding time to run or go to the gym after Little Man was born was a challenge, especially once I was back at work. My gym in Kentucky didn't have childcare, and even if it had, the time I had to get there was limited. We were house-hunting and preparing to move cross-country. I was breastfeeding. Workouts of the nature of "before" just weren't happening. 

What was happening, though, was online workouts. Walking. Keeping active without having to leave the house or take a class. I ran with the stroller infrequently (and got really fast doing it). I knew that for me, keeping up with physical activity was crucial to my sense of self. So I did whatever I could to be active, including seven months of Kayla Itsines BBG Program, which I credit with helping me get my strength and pre-baby body back. Well, mostly. I will always have some squish round my middle, and I credit that squish with helping me to grow my adorable little boy.

Eventually, though, I wanted more. I wanted classes. My free weight collection wasn't quite large enough to reach my needs with BBG. 

So we joined the gym. A gym with childcare and classes and free weights and TRX and a pool. 

In short, we joined my dream gym.

And we started taking classes - spin classes - together. I took spin classes a touch in college, but hadn't been in a spin studio since a one-off visit right before Oscar and I moved to Texas from Kentucky (a class that renewed my love of group fitness). They were hard. Challenging. Wonderful. They still are. A few days a week we go to spin, or run, or just workout, and for that time I indulge my love of fitness and being a fit mom, or #fitmom. A hashtag I used to look at in awe, and now try to participate in occasionally. 

I found a community. My Wednesday night spin instructor has helped us build a tribe. A tribe where we get together more than once a week to ride our hearts out on bikes, to push to get 90rpm at a gear 9 for more than a minute and where 5 minute time trials are just another day's work. 

Since we joined the gym, I've gotten stronger and faster, and I've been able to jump back into running in a way I didn't think I would until Oscar was a little older. On a whim I signed up for a 5k Memorial Day weekend and smashed my previous PR by almost a minute - something I didn't think possible.

It did wonders for my confidence.

And that, my friends, is why I work so hard to be fit. Not fit by someone else's standards, but by my own. I workout to be strong for me, my son and husband. To be able to keep up with a toddler who rarely naps and never sits still. To be able to go as fast as I can, as long as I can, and come away from a workout feeling exhilarated, not exhausted. 

I may not be able to workout like I used to - I can't always just tie on my running shoes and step out the door. But I can check a class schedule, sign into a class and pedal my heart out while being encouraged to push just a little harder, and go just a little farther.

For me, that's what fitness is all about.

Working out: New Plans

I somewhat struggled to title this post because it's not so much new plans as it is going back to what works. Last year at this time, Allen and I were gearing up to start training for the Flying Pig Marathon Relay, which we were running with two of our friends. We used a Hal Higdon training plan that involved some form of activity six days a week. One of those days was active rest and was intended to be spent resting. In the ten weeks leading up to race day, we got in about fifty workouts, which was pretty good, considering we were also neck-deep in wedding planning and wedding-related events at that time.

After the relay, we got a little lax about working out for a little while, and then signed up for two almost back-to-back road races in the fall. We had time goals for both, and that meant a lot of hard work and training. The work paid off, and we set some great PRs in both of the races. It was definitely an accomplishment.

Then, it got cold. Things got busy. Working out? Well, it happened when it happened. Looking at the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would be lying if I said I made it to the gym or worked out more than twice per week at most. There was a lot going on, and well, I just didn't feel like going to the gym all that much. We also were dealing with lots of snow and generally icky weather, so my workouts were yoga-based.

Now, going into mid-January, Allen and I had a small conversation over the weekend, and well, we're going to get back into some sort of workout routine. It will not be nearly as involed as the one we had for our relay training, but it will be consistent, and that will be key. Last month I had a goal to work out three times a week, but only made it on average, two. Our current goal is pretty simple: a workout three times per week.

To be successful and to keep going to workout, even when we don't feel like it will involve pushing each other and pushing ourselves. Having a workout partner makes it a lot harder to skip a workout just because. Now, on our planned gym days, we tell each other "we're going to the gym tonight, be ready," rather than asking "gym tonight?" There is built-in flexibility in our routine, so we can miss a day without worry or frustration, but right now we're trying to make it as routine as brushing our teeth, so that it is part of the week-to-week schedule.

Once we've decided what our road race goals are for the year, I am sure we'll pick up with more workouts, or more variation on what we're already doing. For now, just getting out of the house, into the gym, and pushing ourselves to be our best while at the gym is enough.

Let's Workout: What to Wear

A few days ago, I admitted that my early running and work out years were dominated by mesh shorts and cotton tees. I knew there was a reason my sports bra was made of sweat-wicking material, but felt like going into an all-wicking workout wardrobe wasn't worth the expense.

I lived a little, I got into running as more than a hobby, and realized that I'd been wrong for years. Now, I have a drawer full of tech tees, workout capris, shorts, leggings, and yoga pants. I also have a small collection of running socks. What changed my mind? Running in Southwest Ohio in August. It's humid (typically), and coming home soaked to the skin in a flappy cotton tee just wasn't cutting it for me.

In the two years since I graduated into tech material, I've learned a lot about choosing workout gear, how to make it work for all of my choice workouts, and how to dress for varying types of weather. I will be the first to admit that I still rely on online tools for dressing in wintertime, as I like to toe the line between "warm" and "just right" in the winter.

That being said, I thought I'd offer a few tricks I've learned since I started shopping for my workout clothes a few years ago.

1. Shop on sale. This probably doesn't need to be said, but it's true. A good deal of my running clothes came from the sale racks at Dick's Sporting Goods and the local running shop. I've bought a few items full-price out of necessity, such as a pair of running capris when it was too cold for shorts, but too warm for pants, and a pull-over. I also like to scout the outlets for last season's styles.

2. Going along with the above: if you dont' like it, don't buy it, regardless of price. I didnt' live by these words a few years ago. It was one piece of clothes (a pair of capris that is just a bit too long), but I don't wear them - ever. If you don't like it, whether it's color, cut, or fit, don't buy it - you probably won't ever wear it, even if the price is right.

3. Make sure the clothes are comfortable. I like my running clothes to fit slim, but my husband prefers his clothes to be a bit baggier, unless it's a base-layer. If you prefer your clothes to fit slim or to skim your body, look for tops and pants cut to fit that way. I have a mix of slim-fitting and slightly looser tops, and the tops that are slim-fitting get worn most frequently, save for a ninety-degree day here and there.

4. Figure out what you like, and keep an eye out for it. I love long-sleeved running tops with thumbholes, so when I need a long-sleeved running top I look for one with thumb holes. Sometimes it takes some hunting. I also like tops with vents, and bottoms with fun details. I have a tendency to go for all-black, which doesn't work very well for dawn and dusk runs, so I try to have fun when shopping for my running clothes.

5. Have some fun! I don't normally wear hot pink, but it's one of my favorite colors in my collection of running clothes. Ditto neon. When I go shopping for my workout clothes, I try to pick colors I might not normally wear. It helps me keep everything separated in the wash, and increases my visibility when I'm out and about.

Workout clothes can seem daunting, especially with the many different cuts, styles, and brands out there. I try my best not to get discouraged by what is out there and have fun with it. Eventually, you'll have a wardrobe of workout clothes you love - and that's really what matters.

What do you look for in your workout gear?

A Crazy thing Happened Thursday

As The Boy and I reach the halfway point in our training for the relay, I’ve been working on pushing myself harder and harder. This has been challenging, especially since we’ve been doing a lot of runs on the treadmill over the past few weeks. The weather last year at this time enabled me to run outside most days, but the past couple weeks have been full of very unspringlike temperatures and weather, including more snow than we’ve had all season (or in the past two years).

On Thursday, however, we had the opportunity to run outside for the first time since the weekend and our step-back run. So we took it, both running in shorts(!!) and long-sleeved tops. We started at a conversational pace, but before we reached the halfway point of our three-miler The Boy was starting to pace ahead of me – something that most days I don’t mind. Thursday, however, it bothered me. So I decided to do something about it.

As soon as I decided to do something about it I realized that he was about 50 yards ahead of me and gaining distance, quickly. When he gets into the zone he goes fast. When I get into the zone, I have a tendency to slow down. Getting faster means staying out of the zone and actively pushing myself. I started to work on speeding up, slowly, and as we reached our turn-around point, The Boy paused to get a drink of water, allowing me to catch up with him: a blessing.

For the rest of the run I made an effort to match his pace, which was challenging, and I could tell by my hard breathing. It wasn’t challenging to the point of discomfort, but I could definitely tell that I was pushing myself to my limits. Neither one of us wore the Garmin (the battery was mysteriously dead when I went to fire it up), but based on the distance we planned to cover and when we left the house, we were averaging at best a 9:50-10:00 mile. A pace I almost never maintain.

As we neared the end of our run (or so I thought), The Boy asked if I wanted to tack on another half-mile to the end. I shook my head but said I would try, and off we went. Five minutes later we were done. I was breathing hard, but I wasn’t out of breath. I felt great, though my legs were starting to feel a bit like overcooked pasta. We checked the time and mapped our route when we got home, to find that we had covered nearly 3.6 miles in 35 minutes.

It was my fastest run to date. I am proud that I pushed myself to succeed. Our next run is a long one, and I’m hoping to get it done at a 10:20 pace at most. We’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to be proud at pushing myself and not giving up, and hope I can keep improving.

 

Work it out–Week of March 9

This past week was week two of training for the Relay,and in it were three runs, two cross-training workouts, and two strength-training or stretching workouts.

All in all it was a good week for workouts. We got in all of our planned workouts, save for one cross-training one. I worked on doing yoga in the evenings between work and dinner, and it has definitely been helping, even though I’ve only done it a few times. I’m noticing quicker recovery from my runs and more flexibility – which all translates into less stiffness.

For cross-training, our plan recommends doing something light and easy, such as cycling, walking, swimming, or lifting weights. We’re sort of alternating between doing stationary cycles at the gym and yoga, with plans to expand that a bit once the weather in a bit more constant in temperature.

This week, there’s more of the same – more runs, with our first run above 3 miles on the agenda. More yoga (hopefully I can do that in the morning), and I hope to be able to try out my new and very fun shoes very soon. I’m aiming for two yoga workouts, three runs, and two cross-training workouts this week. My bridal shower is this weekend and I have a lot to do to get ready, so I’m looking forward to my workouts as a way to relax before things get busy, crazy, and super fun.

What’s on your workout plan this week?

Work It Out

I am jumping on a bandwagon of sorts to share what my workouts were last week, and a loose idea of what is happening this week in terms of working out. We are just over eleven weeks out from our wedding, and about ten weeks out from the relay. Not only are things getting a bit hectic up in here with plans, but we're also budgeting a lot of time for working out, running, and generally staying in shape in the coming weeks. 

Last week I was sick with a cold that kicked. My. Butt. I was tired and couldn't blow my nose enough. My early week was shot in terms of workouts becaue I couldn't muster up enough energy to get off the sofa and go do anything, so on my butt I sat, for a good three days. It being the first week of relay training was a kick in the pants, and by Thursday I was back out running. 

I am honestly thrilled to say that I was able to get in two runs and one trip to the gym for some cross-training last week, and this week I hope to get into the swing of our training plan. Our plan includes strength-training, cross-training, and stretching in addition to the running, and I'm excited to see how my fitness levels change in the coming weeks leading up to the race.

Yesterday, in anticipation of all of the stretching exercises we'll be doing, I bought a yoga mat. My first mat in ten years. I also downloaded a few podcasts from YogaDownload.com and checked out a few books from the library. I've been doing yoga off and on for a few years now, but have decided to commit to it as a form of stretching to keep limber through all of the other training I do. I'm looking forward to my first yoga session this evening.

What workouts are you getting into this week?