Compared to last week, this week was great. I went to the gym every day except Sunday (which is my rest day) and I enjoyed each workout. I’m really beginning to love running. Let me say that again:
I’m really beginning to love running.
My running adventure began one year ago this month, but I wasn’t consistent enough to maintain my running fitness so every time I got back into running I was essentially starting from scratch. Not running for two or three weeks is enough to put me back to the beginning. This meant that each new start was painful and not enjoyable at all. By the time I found my groove I would inevitably get caught up with “real life” (a term I’m beginning to despise in this context) and stop running again. Not anymore.
Consistency is key.
That’s the inspiration for my running these days. I keep it balanced by alternating running with cycling and strength training, but I make sure to get in at least three run workouts a week. Here’s how it all stacked up this week:
On Monday I started out the morning with a new abdominal workout – the same one Adam does every morning, but with 1/4 as many repetitions. To be honest, when I first heard the workout I laughed a little. Ten reps at a time? Surely I could handle more than that…. Wrong. I’ll stick with ten for now and work my way up. Like running, consistency is key here.
After embarrassing myself with the ab workout, I spent the rest of my time in the gym with strength training. On and off for the last couple years I’ve been following this “HIML” four week workout which was recommended to me by a friend. I liked the variety of exercises, but I didn’t like the long wait times between sets (which invariably happens when you’re using the same muscle over and over again). I prefer now to keep my heart rate up and spend less time overall in the weight room. This time around I’m opting for more variety each day. I do one exercise for each of the following muscle groups: chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps. Each of the 3-4 sets has 10-20 reps depending on how I feel, and I move directly from one set to the next (switching muscle groups each time – so I do one set for each muscle group before moving on to the second set). I also make sure to keep the weight light enough to maintain proper form. It can be easy to be intimidated in the weight room and feel like I’m not trying hard enough. Each day I choose a different exercise for each muscle group. For example, this week (MWF) I did the following for chest: dumbbell bench press, dumbbell flye, and inclined dumbbell press. Also, any time a muscle group is really sore, I skip it (e.g. my shoulders on Friday – they were killing me).
This week was Adam’s rest week so he was out on the bike while I was at the gym Tuesday morning. I like to do intervals with him, so I decided to stick with 5k‘s for this week and pick up the intervals again next week. Here’s how it went:
- 0.75 miles @ 5.5 mph (10:55 min/mile) for a warm up
- 3.1 miles @ 6.2 mph (9:40 min/mile)
- 0.15 miles cool down walk
Overall, the run felt solid. Afterwards I made another attempt at my new ab workout. I did much better the second time, perhaps because I warmed my abdominal muscles up during my run. I’ve said this before, but I’m still surprised how a proper warm up can actually help muscles perform better.
Wednesday was another strength training day (following what I described for Monday), but I started out the morning with a 10 min bike to warm up. I took some time after the bike to lightly stretch out my tight calves. I’ve recently transitioned to new shoes without a cushioned heel and am focusing on landing midfoot, so my calves are doing more work than they used to do. I’ve also read that failure to properly stretch your calves can lead to soreness and pain in other parts of the body, too, since they play a large part in determining your stride.
After the warm up bike and light stretching, I spent about forty-five minutes in the weight room for my strength training and ab workouts.
It was back to the gym for another 5k on Thursday. I like to treat workouts over the week the same way I tread interval sets – I like to get progressively faster each time. Since I ran the 5k at 6.2 mph on Tuesday, I bumped it up to 6.3 mph on Thursday. Here’s what I did:
- 0.75 mile @ 5.5 mph (10:55 min/mile) for warm up – 8:10 minutes
- 3.1 miles @ 6.3 mph (9:30 min/mile) – 29:30 minutes
- 0.35 mile walk for cool down – 7 minutes
I have a GPS + heart rate monitor watch I use to keep track of my workouts. I do my best to only glance at the watch once or twice during the workout (I prefer to base the intensity on how I feel) but it’s nice to look back at the data after a workout. Here’s what my heart rate looked like during this workout: (time in minutes vs beats per minute)
Back to the weight room for more strength training, but this time the bike warm up was 15 minutes. Not much else to say. It felt good.
Saturday was incredible. The plan was to do another brick workout (bike + run) in the gym. I started out on the recumbent bike with its “hill program”. Unfortunately what this meant was one minute “on” followed by one minute “off” (which was not what I was looking for). I couldn’t seem to get the hard parts to be hard enough while still feeling good. At the end of thirty minutes I had failed to get a good bike workout in, but I did have a good warm up. I hopped on the treadmill with the intention of running two miles at a pace faster than my 5k pace – I decided on 6.5 mph (9:15 min/mile).
Nearing the two mile mark I was feeling really good – just getting the hang of things – so I decided to go for a full 5k. That 3.1 mile goal soon turned into four miles, then five. That’s right – five miles! And those five miles only took me 46:10 minutes. Part of me wanted to keep going for more, but I didn’t want to endanger my long-term goals by pushing too hard too soon. For the first time in a long time I felt comfortable running. I found my stride, kept my breathing steady, and let my mind wander. At one point I remember thinking that I almost felt like I was walking – my body knew what to do and just did it. It was certainly more taxing than resting, but it felt manageable. It felt great. Here’s the data:
So how was I able to run five miles faster than I ran 3.1 earlier in the week? I’m sure it was a combination of factors:
- My nice long warm up (aka my 30 minute failed attempt at a bike workout)
- It was later in the day – closer to 9am than 7am
- I had eaten earlier in the day – usually I workout before breakfast
- I found music to distract me – in this case it was Weezer’s Raditude album
This week I’ve experimented with music while running on the treadmill. I refuse to listen to music when I’m running outside since I rely on my hearing to keep track of cars, bikes, etc, but it definitely helped take my mind off the running for a bit. It’s something I’ll play around with more in the future.
So that was my week – overall a success. And I’m loving it – see you next week!