Upper Body Workouts: BAM

It’s a little chilly here today and when I got home from work I just didn’t feel like running so I did an upper body workout I found on PBFingers.com and OUCH my arms are feeling awesome right now! and when I say awesome, I mean I’m scared to move from the position I’m in because I have a feeling it’s going to hurt so bad.


I did 3 sets of 10 reps of each exercise with 5 pound dumbbells with 10 – 20 squats in between. (Have we had this conversation before? I’m convinced that the weight written on each dumbbell is a lie, I think it’s heavier than 5 pounds. My wimpy arms agree.) Managed to do both the 100 crunches and 115 squats that are due today in one workout. By the end my arms were going a little jello-y and I had trouble with the overhead tricep extensions and side shoulder raises. Also, I only did 30 second planks in the first superset. Now excuse me as I wobble to the shower, my arms flailing about uselessly.


Running in Memorial Day Heat

I went out for a mid-morning run yesterday because we had the day off for Memorial day. I slept in longer than normal because we got home late from a fun light-show at a mansion in New York: Lightscapes! (Pictures at the bottom).

As soon as I walked out the door, I felt a wave of heat… at 10:30 in the morning… and I suddenly dreaded the oncoming summer. I was not built for heat. I’m not sure how long I will last! I ran my tried and true speed intervals, 2 minutes walking or jogging, 30 seconds hard running. Towards the end of the workout, in the fifth and sixth interval, I really noticed my 30 seconds dragging down under race pace. I did a mile in 15:11 and had to head home because I was going to pass out. I got home and just laid down on the floor. My face was on fire! I really want to keep pushing myself but the heat isn’t making it very easy – it wasn’t this hot last summer, was it?

I would say I could save intervals for the treadmill, but there’s no air conditioning in the gym (genius!), so I think I’m going to have to plan my runs for either much earlier or much later in the day.

I’m hoping to get my speed interval miles down into the 14 min/mile range soon. I was hoping my regular miles would be down into the 15-16 min/mile range but they’re still up in the 17 min/mile range, and I flop back and forth between being ok with that and not being ok with that. Sometimes I feel so unhappy with my lack of progress that I wonder why I ever became a runner and maybe I should just quit, and then I go back and think, well, I like running, and at least I’m getting out there and doing something. Hmph. Of course, as soon as I post this, I’ll go out for a really great run and I’ll feel dumb for writing this sad trombone post. (Waaaah waaah…..)

I am going to run again tonight, maybe a slower run. I don’t typically go out for more than a half hour on a weekday because there’s so much going on, but maybe I should try to run for longer.

Hey, I finished my crunch challenge – they got a lot easier as the days went on, but I’m not sure how useful they are in the long run. I am about halfway through my squat challenge – today was 105 squats. I split them up into 3 sets of 40, 30, and 35 squats.

and now, Lightscapes:

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Wednesday Run – Do I Need a Foam Roller?

I’m a very bad patient. I was planning to hold off on running until my heels were all better but I’m so moody when I don’t run! I figured a quick run couldn’t hurt on Wednesday.

I ran about a mile, listening to music and sometimes trying to keep up with the music, sometimes not. It was sort of a free-flow run. My calves were really tight though, it was hard to keep running even at a slower than normal pace. It feels like a tight ball of muscles, almost like I’m about to get a charley horse or something. It might be from all the squats and other workouts I’ve been doing, or maybe I just need to stretch and drink more water. Also, I feel like maybe I should get a foam roller? I don’t have one now, and I’ve been ignoring everyone ever who talks about foam rolling – I don’t really know why, it has always kind of looked like a waste of time. But look who’s talking, I thought warming up and cooling down were also a waste of time. I’m slowly coming around.

Still going strong on my crunch challenge – I think I might just keep going once the two weeks are up. They’re quick and easy (I guess that’s debatable) and at least I feel like I’m doing something useful instead of just sitting around watching TV. I’ve been doing the squat challenge like every other day and the plank challenge more like every three – four days. I considered starting a lunge challenge as well, but I figured I’d hold off for a while because (I’m embarrassed to admit this) I’m sort of actually a really wobbly lunger. (<– Not a sentence I ever thought I’d construct.)

This weekend kicks off a crazy busy time in our house: Memorial day weekend coming up. Sunday: Picnic at my mom’s, during which we’ll celebrate my mom and dad’s birthdays this week. Sunday night: Something awesome called Lightscapes. Monday: Day off. Thursday: the husband and I drive down to Snow Hill, MD for a few days stay at a B&B before he starts his new job. Saturday: my cousin’s graduation party in MD.  I am super grateful right now for the calendar app on my phone. I’ve always tried to use paper calendars or reminder books or something to keep track of the crazy things I’m planning, but this is the first thing that’s actually worked for me. Now if there was only a way for the husband to be connected to my calendar so he can see all the things I’m planning for us. =)

Does anyone use a foam roller? Does it help with tight muscles?

Heels not Healing (and a Very Embarrassing Story)

Even though Mudderella was over a week ago, it has been the gift that keeps on giving as my ankles, all torn up and raw from rubbing against wet muddy sneakers, still haven’t healed. It’s been painful to wear any shoes that cover my heel for a long period of time- even with socks on, they rub against my heel and it starts to hurt after a while. I’ve been wearing Birkenstock sandals to work, and thank God, no one has given me any crap about it. They are slightly dressy so I think I can sort of get away with it for awhile…. well, dressy for Birkenstocks.

I ran a pseudo-tempo run on the treadmill yesterday (or at least we worked on maintaining pace yesterday) but I’ve been hesitant to run any more than that. I’ve turned to Youtube and workout videos for short strength training sessions or cardio workouts I can do in my living room without shoes. I did the Biggest Loser Calorie Knockout DVD, and my two favorite Youtube channels so far have been Blogilates and XHIT Daily.  LOTS of short videos (5 – 15 minutes) on tons of different topics. I like to string a bunch of videos together that focus on the same area. I do kind of roll my eyes at some of the frou-frou video names, like “Muffin-top Melter”, but they keep you engaged in the video and focused even though it’s so quick. Yesterday we did abs and I’m sure I hit my 100 crunches!

Having these “side” quests or extra challenges has been helpful during this time when I’m not running as much – I can still be focused on doing SOMETHING and feeling like I’m not losing too much fitness.

Treadmill “tempo” run – I ran for four minutes and walked one, alternating between 3.5 and 4 mph. Normally I run faster than that outside but it’s tough to keep it up on the treadmill. I was sweating by the end – can’t tell if it was from effort or heat. They really need a fan in there! Only 1.1 miles, 20 minutes. It’s getting easier mentally to get to the 1 mile mark during a run, but now I need to work on pushing past that to 2 miles. Once I get to the mile and it’s already been like 15-17 minutes, I know it will take so much longer to do another mile and I think it just gets me down. Just gotta keep at it, I guess.

And now for the most embarrassing story of the week: There was someone else in the gym doing a circuit workout, hopping back and forth between different weight-lifting machines while I ran on the treadmill. He walks to the machine right behind me… and I suddenly realize I am going to fart, and I start thinking, “Oh God, Sarah, please don’t fart on the Chief of Police, please don’t fart on the Chief of Police.” That was my running mantra for the few most awful and hilarious seconds of my life where I thought I might actually fall down from the effort of holding in a fart. Finally he walks away. and I learn another of the downsides of running on a treadmill: I can’t run away from the fart.

Hope you all are having a good week – here in our house, we are celebrating because the husband got a new job! He works in shipping right now, and will be moving to a new company as the receiving coordinator. Same world, different hat. I’m so happy he gets to learn something new and meet new people!

Why is it so hard to run?!

I put on my sneakers last night for a run after a few days of taking it easy after Mudderella. My ankles are still totally raw so I’ve either been wearing shoes with no heels or just burying the pain under bandaids. It hurt more to walk in the sneakers than to run, which was good incentive to keep at it. It rained a little the first few minutes of my run and then kind of tapered off, and it made me feel a little like a bad ass, although having my shirt stick to my stomach was kind of awkward. Bonus: the shirt didn’t seem as tight as it used to.

The training plan I’m using told me to run for 1 minute, walk 1 minute, run 2 minutes, and walk 1 minute for 25 minutes total. It recommends running slow enough so that you run “without panting” and I’m wondering exactly how they define “panting”, because I have a hard time forcing myself to go slower than my normal pace, and running without any kind of panting for me is… well, basically speed-walking. The husband mentioned a while ago that I take very small steps when I run so I’ve been trying to push my strides a little longer. The intervals were kind of tough today. Where does my endurance go?

Side quests: I’m still doing the 100 crunches a day, squat challenge, and plank challenge. ALL AT ONCE! Wow, I am kind of a badass. The crunches do seem to be getting easier so I keep kicking up the intensity a little bit. The squats, it’s really just a matter of setting aside enough time to do the reps. The planking SUCKS because they’re supposed to be bent arm planks, which I am finding much harder than extended arm planks. I found some kind of weird peace doing my plank last night, like some “this is the worst pain in the world but it’s actually not getting any worse  and I think I can hold this a little longer” zen. 

My diet is sort of back and forth – I cheat really badly on days I haven’t eaten a lot of calories, so I’m sort of lying to myself that it’s all balancing out. For instance: Today I planned to eat breakfast at work, but I’ve been working all day and haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch, so I consider it OK to have one of those sugary lattes from Dunkin Donuts and a cheddar cheese bagel twist. Just can’t tell myself no. I run because I really, really, really, really like food.


Still Recovering from Mudderella

Here are some fun tidbits, little things I learned about how to prepare for Mudderella and maybe mud runs in general.

WEAR LONG PANTS. You think you’re just crawling through soft, slippery mud? NOPE. I have scratches all up and down my legs from random sticks and rocks. 

WEAR GOOD SOCKS. My socks started slowly creeping down under my feet, back into my shoes as I walked around the Mudderella tents before the run even started, and I was kicking myself for not wearing the knee socks. I knew it was going to be a problem – yep, after like five minutes of tromping through the mud, my socks were completely gone and my ankles were rubbing against the back of my ratty, old sneakers. It was actually impossible to get my shoes off to fix the socks- mud had created like a suction vacuum around my feet, trapping them inside my shoes for the next three hours. Oh, I was bleeding by the end, and it’s going to take some time to heal. In the meantime, I can’t really run (or climb stairs) without ripping up my ankles so I’m taking some time off. 

MAYBE WEAR GLOVES. Like those fingerless weight lifter gloves or something. My hands were pretty sore on Saturday, and many of the obstacles started to get kind of slippery, especially the ropes. 

If you’re going to clean up and change at the event location, BRING A PLASTIC BAG for your dirty disgusting clothes. I forgot to do this, but found an extra one inside the changing tent (yay!) Also, I don’t know what the cleaning/ changing situation is for other mud runs, but there was just one big empty tent for the women to change in, and it was disgustingly hot inside. Seriously, no privacy, so BRING A TOWEL so you can try to cover up while you peel off your muddy clothes, but most likely, you’re so anxious to get cleaned up and you really aren’t looking at anyone so you don’t so much care about propriety.

TRAIN. Seriously, even though they say they design it for women of all athletic types, it’s not easy, and if you want to do a majority of the obstacles, you need upper body strength. There was one obstacle with a large pipe leading down into a watery pit and then a large pipe leading up out of it, so you slide down one pipe and then you have to crawl up the other. The water tried to suck me backwards and my feet just slid all over so I had to lay on my side and basically do crunches to wiggle my way up and out. It was a five mile course overall, with crazy hills all over the place. My arms and abs were in SO MUCH PAIN on Sunday, like, “I can’t lift myself up from laying down” and “it hurts to sneeze” kind of pain. My legs don’t hurt at all – I was even running most of the time between obstacles (especially up the hills… can’t miss an opportunity to do hill work!) so that’s awesome. 

I had written a very long paragraph on all the things I didn’t like about Mudderella here, and then read it over and remembered what my sister said when I told her I was nervous it wouldn’t be fun if I went by myself. She said, “It is what you make it.” Keeping that in mind, I’ll say it was an intense challenge and a great workout and I’m so proud of myself for doing something scary on my own and facing a few fears.

Yes, A Mud Run IS Just as Fun, Only Harder.

Mudderella was incredible. I’m going to skip past the play-by-play of the day to the best parts: the last three obstacles. There were two climb-over the wall type obstacles earlier in the race, one which had a rope to help you climb, and one that didn’t. It is nearly impossible to get over them without help, but I attempted both of them on my own. Very nice people came up to try to help me but I couldn’t get over- I could reach the top but I couldn’t pull myself over. Not enough upper body strength and a lot of fear that I would fall. Maybe I could have done the wall with the rope if I’d been able to take my time, but the nice people who were helping me also had to try to get over the wall with their own teams, and it was just really overwhelming, and that’s how I felt as I walked past both obstacles nearing tears: really overwhelmed, mad at my team for ditching me and blaming them for making this whole thing harder for me and mad at myself because I really wanted to do these obstacles. (Actually, this was probably the worst part of the day besides the injuries, but knowing this makes the next part so much better) and then I got to the cargo net.

The cargo net. Suspended between two trees, hanging over a cable. You had to climb up one side and then down the other. Basically, just like the wall, only if the wall had more footholds and moved as you tried to climb it. I got nearly to the top and got scared – what if I fell over? I just couldn’t pull myself up any farther. If I put my foot in the next loop so I could climb over, most of my weight would start to lean dangerously over the other side. I climbed back down and stepped away.

I was SO UPSET. I had already skipped two obstacles (well, two and a half sort of) and I was so anxious to prove to myself that I was stronger than I thought I was.

I got back in line and watched other people climb up and over and worked on my strategy. I got to the top and somehow got my foot in the right loop so I could swing my leg over. Someone on the ground started coaching me, saying, “Take your time.” She steadied the net so I could keep my balance and talked me through the process of getting over the top. I swung my leg over and found a foothold, and then almost started crying when my feet hit the ground on the other side. I steadied the rope on the other side as she climbed up and over. 

The next challenge was like a thin ditch of muddy water, and to get from one side to the other you had to like, plank and shimmy across on your hands and feet. I sort of felt like I was on top of the world when I got to it. There were several ditches without anybody crossing, and a bunch of girls sort of just standing there saying, “It looks too wide, I don’t think I can reach it.” and I just walked right past them and got into a downward facing dog and walked my way across it. Obviously, not too wide, because I’m on the short side and I could do it.

The last obstacle before the end was called the hat trick: You had to run and jump off a springboard onto a cargo net, which you had to climb maybe 15 -20 feet up to a platform, and then slide into muddy water at the bottom. The slid was freaking vertical and flattened out a little at the bottom. I saw a girl ahead of me in line not quite land on the cargo net right, and both her feet went straight through and she sort of fell backwards, hanging from the net by her legs. She was very close to the ground and she was ok, she got back up and climbed her way to the top, and I thought, “Well, I guess it’s less likely to happen to me know.” You know, probability and stuff like that. I ran, I sprung, I climbed and then I got to the top with a bunch of girls who were just standing there either too scared to go (I MEAN IT WAS A VERTICAL DROP) or were waiting for their friends so they could go together and the edge was empty, so I went and sat. and then lifted myself off and just dropped. I held my nose and held onto my glasses for dear life, bumped my butt on the bottom of the slide and splashed into the water. It was totally fun! I have never been so happy to cross a finish line.