A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Twenty Four Hours

Two workouts in 24 hours? What's come over me?

This week Jason and I are trying out city living by spending the week in my parents' downtown condo.

Since this place is a ten minute train ride from my office I am enjoying working out after work and still being home by 6:45 PM. Which means on Tuesday night I went to a cardio kickboxing class in the studio a block from my office before heading "home".

I was feeling strangely uncoordinated during some of the moves but I still worked up a great sweat and left with my arms and glutes feeling like they got a great workout.

Then, this morning, Jason convinced me to join him in the fitness room in the building we're staying in. Do you know how awesome it is to have a fitness center a few floors down from your apartment? It's not very big but it wasn't too busy and I was able to snag a treadmill for 45 minutes. I used this workout I just put on Pinterest:

Whew! I was dripping sweat and I could really feel my glutes working.

At this rate, I'm never going to want to give my parents' back their condo.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday Moves


It’s interesting.  Just like how the gym tends to be busier on Mondays, my coworkers are way more into doing our strength class on Mondays, too.  I had my usual three on Monday and we did the following workout:


1A "Bench" Press w/sit up (10)
1B Superman (10)
1C Willow (10)
2A Lateral Raise w/external rotation (10)
2B Squat w/tricep press (10)
3A Dumbbell Swing (10)
3B Clams w/resistance band (10 each side)
Push-Ups (Week 1, Day 2 of hundredpushups.com)

I’m still having issues with teaching them how to do push-ups.  I don’t want to have them do “girl” push-ups (aka on their knees) but they are really struggling with regular push-ups.  So on Monday I gave them an alternate of doing them on an incline (i.e. put their hands up on a table) and some of them were even still having problems with that! 

I know push-ups aren’t easy.  I just wish I could help them get better faster.  Or maybe I should just stick to something easier.  But, hey, you never get better if you only do easy! 

Anyway, leading strength class was my only workout for the day.  At least I used my 8 pound weights instead of my 5 pounders! 

Oh, I also told them about Tabata intervals.  They seemed intrigued.  I told them to start slow and be careful so hopefully none of them will kill themselves. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Workouts


Friday after work I went to a Zumba class at a fitness studio near my office.  I have to say, getting in a workout and still being home by 7:15 PM is amazing these days.

The Zumba class was okay.  I certainly broke a sweat but I didn’t feel too worn out.  I was getting a bit bored near the end and felt that 45 minutes would have been better than 60.  On the plus side, I think they are swapping out this class with the WERQ class I took a few weeks ago.  I liked that one better.

On Saturday I did my usual 50 minute bike ride with Tabata intervals at the end.  Nothing too spectacular there.

And then on Sunday I had my first experience solely being a race spectator!



That’s me on the left.  Thanks to Kim for the pic.

Kim was running the Frosty Footrace 5K.  I’ve run this race twice before and while I was sad I wasn’t running it this year it was great being there for Kim. 

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She even won first place in her age group!

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I had vague ideas about working out when I got home but ended up just spending time with my husband instead.  After the race Kim’s coach told her to take a week off and just enjoy life and not worry about fitting in a workout or figuring out when to shower post-sweat-session.  I have to say, one of the benefits to being injured and not training for anything is doing things because you want to not because you feel like you have to. 

Except for physical therapy.  I do that because I have to.  Blech.

Speaking of my injury, I have another MRI on Wednesday and then a doctor’s appointment on Thursday.  Fingers crossed for news that doesn’t require surgery! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Different Routine

When I got home from work on Wednesday my original plan was to hop on my bike for my usual 50 minute routine and then do some strength training. I wasn't really feeling it, though. I mean, part of me wanted to do some cardio but the other part of me didn't.

And then I remembered: Hey, wait! I have that yoga Groupon that I activated! I had just enough time to eat dinner, change, and drive to the yoga studio for the 7:30 PM class.

It was a different instructor than last time and this one was more "Western" and less new-age-y. Fine by me. The workout wasn't quite as intense as last time but I still learned a few things.

Specifically, the instructor told us that sometimes when we find it difficult to do balance poses that means we have too much on our minds. She was right; when I focused on clearing my mind the balance poses were easier to hold. Except for Warrior III. I still needed to use the yoga block for that one.

Guess my mind wasn't clear enough!

Sadly, although my left leg felt okay during many of the moves it hurt like the dickens later. So today I decided to get in some cardio to try and loosen it up.

Over lunch I went down to the little gym in the basement of one of our buildings and hopped on the treadmill. Not to run, but to powerwalk.

I walked for 30 minutes at 4.3 MPH and then worked on stretching out my hip flexor. It's still sore but I'm happy I was able to get some movement in today. I also did some bird dogs, push ups (50 total in 5 sets of 10), leg lifts and stability ball bridges. I'm going to try and do this more often, I think. It's nice to get my workout done in the middle of the day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Monday everyone seemed gung-ho to workout so off we went to do our lunch time strength workout. I changed up the workout to add in a few things. Not all were appreciated. Specifically the up-down planks.
1A Bridges w/leg lift (10)
1B Seated Twist w/Dumbbell (10)
1C Rope Climber Crunches (10)

2A Flys
Chest (10, on floor)
Shoulder (10, standing)
Reverse (10, bent over)
2B Single leg dumbbell deadlifts (10)

3A Up-Down Planks (8)
3B Leg Lifts (10 each side)

Push-Ups (Week 2, Day 1 - hundredpushups.com)
Except I skipped the push-ups and just watched everyone else. 100 the day before was plenty, thank you. Speaking of push-ups, I think I'm going to have to scale back the push-up progression. I've got several people in the class who can't do one push-up with good form and after a few they start to complain their lower back is hurting. Time to give them a break and focus more on their abs.

Do you have a favorite move that works your abs?

I wasn't able to get in a cardio workout in the evening which I was a bit bummed out about. However, I replaced it with at trip to the PT and then dinner with some of my running club buddies. It was nice to see people and feel like part of the group again.

Maggie posted a link on Facebook to this blog post about how running changes you. I read it last night and found so much of it to be true for me.

Five years ago I had to make a deal with myself to do 100 workouts of any kind. Five years ago I was excited if I managed to run for 20 minutes straight on the treadmill. Now, here I am, bummed that I CAN'T run. Bummed out that I wasn't able to squeeze in a sweaty cardio session.

Running also brought me a social life. I went out to dinner with friends on a Monday night. Never did that in the past.

Five years ago I wouldn't have thought this would be me. Leading other people in strength training workouts. Feeling sad that I missed a cardio session. Trying a new restaurant with friends. I guess running really does change you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekend Workouts

Well, here we are. Back at Monday. How was your weekend?

I had two decent workouts this weekend. I admit, as much as I miss running, I am really enjoying being able to sleep in!

Saturday morning I did have to rush a bit, though. I was meeting Kelly in the afternoon but I wanted to get my workout in beforehand.

I did 50 minutes on the bike, including Tabata intervals, and then did a strength training workout.
1A Bridges w/marching (10)
1B Seated Twist w/Dumbbell (10)
1C Rope Climber Crunches (10)

2A Flys
Chest (10, on floor)
Shoulder (10, standing)
Reverse (10, bent over)
2B Single leg dumbbell deadlifts (10)

3A Up-Down Planks (8)
3B Fire hydrants (10 each side)

Push-Ups (16)

Then Sunday I decided to mix it up a bit and try two new strength workouts I pinned on Pinterest.

I started with a 5 minute warm-up on the bike and then moved onto these:

I did two rounds of the "Booty Burner" and then two rounds of the push-ups routine. I didn't count up the number of push-ups that would be until after I did the first round and realized I'd already done 50. If I did another round that would be 100 push-ups! So, that's what I decided to do.

And, yes, I did them all. My arms felt like Jello afterward but I think it's pretty badass to say that I did a total of 100 push-ups on Sunday.

Strangely, I don't feel that sore today. Not sure what to think about that.

I do, however, know what to think about Mag Mile Runner's current raffle! Seriously, for a $5 donation to a great cause you could win some great prizes. Check it out!

Friday, February 17, 2012


Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term meaning to do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence – himsa).

Several months ago I purchased a Groupon for one month of unlimited yoga at a new yoga studio near my house. After perusing the website I wasn't entirely sure I was going to like the studio but, hey, for $29 why not?

Last night I activated my free month by going to my first class at the studio. As I suspected, it was a little more new age-y than I like. But, it was the first class I've ever taken where we actually attempted crow pose. I'm not a crow pose prodigy, by the way.

The instructor, Ty, was very nice. I talked to him about my hip issue and he asked me how I felt about him doing any adjustments to my form while in certain poses. The class was small, only four of us plus the instructor, and I feel like I left with a better understanding of poses I thought I was doing right. Specifically downward facing dog and triangle pose. Also, Ty pressed down on my hips during child's pose and it felt amazing.

Things I didn't like? That we actually were supposed to say "Om" out loud, that the shavasana pose seemed to last forever (although, strangely, I liked the part where he used some bowls to play sounds while we were lying there), and that it didn't feel like a hard workout.

Of course, tell that to my shoulders this morning. And, after looking back on it, I think I can see how trying to get better and better at each pose would be a workout in and of itself.

Ty asked us at the beginning, during the breathing exercises, to focus on something we wanted to achieve during our "practice" (aside: I feel so pretentious calling taking a yoga class my "practice") and I decided my goal was to enjoy it and not roll my eyes at any of the woo-woo stuff. Since I left actually learning something I guess we could say I succeeded.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stretched Out

You may remember when we last spoke I was complaining of horrible hip/glute pain.  Well, I saw my PT last Thursday and she massaged the hell out of my sore area and I felt better almost immediately.  We’re not sure what happened but somehow those muscles got too tight. 

To be honest, I think my favorite part of PT is the massages they do.  I always feel better.

She also used the a strap to help “distract” my hip joint.


You can kind of see it being demonstrated in the above photo.  See how he has that black belt around her upper leg and then around his lower body?  Anyway, as he leans back it pulls the hip joint apart giving some relief.  Weird, but it works.

The other thing my PT did was give me a heel lift for my shoe.  Apparently my left leg is occasionally shorter than my right.

Adjustable heel lift

Which I then promptly wore home and went powerwalking on the treadmill for 20 minutes.  Then the bike for 10 minutes.

Stupid idea, by the way.  My left shin started aching again afterward.  My doctor chastised me on Monday.  Oh well, live and learn.  It went away as soon as I took it easier with the heel lift.

Speaking of Monday, other than 15 minutes of intervals on the stationary bike on Friday morning I didn’t work out again until Monday evening. 

What did I do on Monday evening?

I went to the gym!


I hadn’t been to the gym in ages.  I rode the stationary bike and did some planks and bird dogs before I went to the grocery store.  I wanted to do some push-ups, too, but eating a dinner comprised mostly of fiber and then trying to work my lower abs was not the best plan before a workout, FYI. 

On Monday I also led one of my coworkers in Workout 1 where I swapped out the one armed dumbbell row for upright rows. 

I was expecting to get a cortisone shot in my hip on Monday but it ended up not happening.  So the gym trip was a pleasant surprise since I originally thought I’d be laying on the couch instead. 

I think I’m doing a pretty good job of getting in workouts even thought I can’t run.  I realized yesterday that it’s been over a month since I went for a run.  And while I miss it, I’m still enjoying trying to figure out new and different ways to enjoy my workouts.  Speaking of which, I really need to cash in these yoga Groupons….

Thursday, February 9, 2012




My hip still hurts.  The first thing I did when I got home from work yesterday was get the tennis ball off my night stand and lay on it.  It’s the only thing I can use that will dig deep enough to create that orgasmically painful feeling you get when you press on somewhere that hurts.  Or is that just me?

My hip felt slightly better after that.  Better enough, anyway, for me to do 20 minutes of power walking on my treadmill per the doctor’s orders.

I think I was walking at between 4.0 and 4.5 MPH.  But since my treadmill is special I’m not entirely positive about that.  Regardless, I did 20 minutes.  My hip felt okay but I could feel my hip flexors stretching out.  Maybe that’s good?

Then it was time to do Thursday’s strength training workout.  I always like to do it at least once before I lead my coworkers because I don’t always get the hardcore lifting in the way I want when I’m teaching. 

1A "Bench" Press w/sit up (10)
1B Superman (10)
1C Willow (10)
2A Lateral Raise w/external rotation (10)
2B Squat w/tricep press (10)
3A Dumbbell Swing (10)
3B Clams w/resistance band (10 each side)

Then, because I didn’t feel like I’d actually done anything, I did Tabata intervals on the bike.  I upped the resistance a bit by changing the gears and my legs felt like Jello when I was done.  Now THAT’S what I call a workout.

My hip felt okay right afterward but later it was sore again.  And it’s still sore today.  Strangely, it felt okay as I led my coworkers through the weight routine (which I did sans weights) but hurt afterward.  Exercise-induced adrenaline is a wonderful thing. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Monday Strength Mania



After tweaking the original workout, here’s what I had my coworkers do on Monday: 

1A Bridges (10)

1B Prone Cobra (20 sec)

1C Rope Climber Crunches (10)


2A Flys

Chest (10, on floor)

Shoulder (10, standing)

Reverse (10, bent over)

2B Single leg dumbbell deadlifts (10)


3A Inchworms (8)

3B Leg Lifts (10 each side)


Push – Ups (Day 1, week 2, hundredpushups.com)

Note: See original post for links to exercises not linked here


No one stopped by my office on Tuesday to complain about being sore so either they’re getting stronger or I didn’t work them hard enough.  I hope it’s the former. 

I hadn’t decided if I was going to try for a cardio workout in the evening or not.   First, I had a doctor’s appointment with the doctor who told me to take three weeks off from running.

The verdict?  He’s still not sure what’s wrong with me.  So, we’re going to try a cortisone shot.  That will be more diagnostic than anything.  If that helps take my pain away it will give him a better idea about what’s going on.  But, just like after all my doctor’s appointments where they poke at my hip, I left feeling sore.

Forty-five minutes of physical therapy didn’t really help, either.

So even though I turned off the tv after dinner with all intentions of doing some doctor-recommended power-walking on the treadmill my hip ached like the dickens when I stood up.  Back to the couch I went with an ice pack. 

It still aches right now but there was never a question of squeezing in a workout today.  Meetings during the day and a birthday dinner for the hubby after work. 

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Congratulations on surviving 33 years!


I’ll be back at it tomorrow with some strength training and power walking. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend Workouts

Since I wasn't able to get in a good sweat-fest on Thursday, I decided I'd get on the bike trainer on Friday evening.

I did my usual 40-some minutes while watching Bones and then headed into Tabata intervals. I was whirring along keeping my speed above 20 MPH and my cadence above 100 when I decided, "Hey, let's see what happens if I make the gears one harder."

Well, uh, this is what happens:

Yeah. I hit almost 35 MPH as my top speed. Granted, that was only for a few seconds, but still. I really should learn how to use the gears on my bike to my advantage.

Saturday I didn't get in a workout but that's because I was out celebrating my running club's achievements from 2011. We participate in the Chicago Area Runners Association Circuit Competition and Saturday was the awards banquet. We had lots of award winners.

I didn't get a fancy plaque, but I did get my participation award. A really nice stainless steel Nathan water bottle that says CARA 2011 Participation Award on it. The best part? It has a clip on it so that I can attach it to my purse. I lost my previous water bottle with a clip on it at Christmas and had been jonesing for a new one! This one is perfect!

I also won a raffle prize. A one-year all-access pass to the Chicago Athletic Clubs. This thing is worth some serious dough I've been told. The downside? None of the clubs are convenient for me!

So, if it's convenient for one of you and you think you'd use it, let me know. Seriously. I hate for this thing to go to waste. Even though Jason and I have talked about moving to the city, there's still no guarantee that I'd be able to use it.

After indulging myself for most of the day on Saturday I was not really in the mood to push myself on Sunday. Still I went to the basement to do Monday's strength class workout and try out a few tweaks. That took me 30 minutes or so. Then I decided to knock out another round of Tabata intervals on the bike. Then, per the usual, once I was on the bike I didn't want to get off after only a few minutes. So I did 30 minutes total.

And then I made myself a peanut butter chocolate smoothie with the PB2 that Kim bought me. Soooo good.

All in all, a pretty good weekend.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Not According to Plan



Ever have one of those days when your best intentions just go out the window? 

That was yesterday.

Actually, my day wasn’t THAT bad.  It just didn’t go according to plan.

Spent most of my morning dealing with work drama.  Thankfully my boss is awesome and will totally go to bat for my employee and I but the situation still became way more of a mess than it should have.  Ask me about it some time.  Anyway, it ended up with me not getting nearly as much stuff done as I wanted.

I WAS able to lead my strength class, thankfully.  We went back to what I’m calling Workout 1:

1A Bird Dog (10 reps, alternate sides)
1B Roll Up (10 reps)

2A Walking Lunge w/twist 
2B One arm dumbbell row (10 each side)

Side steps with resistance band 

Front Plank (20 sec)
Left side plank (20 sec)
Right side plank (20 sec)

Push Ups – Day 2 of hundredpushups.com

Then I had to run several errands and didn’t really get a chance to eat lunch.  And while the trail mix, Gnu bar, carrots & mustard and grapes I ate technically added up to a sufficient amount of calories, I still didn’t feel sated.

After work I had an hour of PT that was basically 10 minutes of massage, 40 minutes of strength training, and 10 minutes of icing.  So, I guess I got in two strength workouts in one day?

Next was running more errands before I finally made it home around 7:15 PM.

By this time I was HUNGRY!

So, I made myself dinner.

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Yes, sometimes I even cook with the wine

I finished making and eating dinner around 8:00 PM. I suppose I still could have gotten on the bike trainer for a bit after dinner but I have this strange mental block about working out after dinner.  It’s as if dinner equals the end of my day and nothing can happen after that.  Maybe that’s something I need to work on?

I admit, I occasionally still fall into the trap of feeling guilty if I don’t get in what I consider to be a “hard” workout 5 days a week.  Yesterday was one of those “guilt” days.  But, really, it’s okay if you don’t drip sweat every day.  Right? 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What I Did on My Rest Day


No Wednesday workout?  Why’s that?

Well, because I was busy after work.  Doing what?


Going from this:

python_dress 010_crop


To this:

polka_dot_shirt 016_crop


I hadn’t gotten my hair cut since (I think) April 2011.  That’s almost 10 months. 

Crazy!  My hairdresser commented on how long my hair was and asked if I’d had it blown out or straightened to see just HOW long it was.  I mentioned that I straightened it on New Year’s Eve and that it was a lot of work.

“A lot of work?!” he exclaimed. “You ran two marathons last year and you think straightening your hair was a lot of work?!” 

Hey, there’s a reason I run instead of doing hair. 

Anyway, I love my hairdresser and he’s probably the best and cheapest in the city of Chicago (let me know if you want his info).  Of course, he’s actually IN the city whereas I technically live in the ‘burbs.  So it’s kind of a production to get there.  Which means Wednesday night I didn’t get home until after 8:00 PM.

Thankfully, I’d purchased some pre-breaded eggplant slices so I made myself quick and easy eggplant parmesan for dinner.  I highly recommend this brand if you can find it.

So, there you go.  How I spent my Wednesday evening.  Let’s just not talk about the part where I got all turned around when I got off the train to go to my hair appointment and walked at least half a mile (in heels) out of my way.  Okay? 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Still Kicking

For the first time in weeks I was able to make it to the Tuesday night cardio kickboxing class with Kim!

That class is such an awesome workout that will leave you sweaty and sore. But not sore in a bad way. Oh no. I took it easy on anything having to do with my left side and, as such, I'm not in pain today. Except for my glutes and my shoulders. Those are muscles that definitely weren't getting that good of a workout from running.

At the end of the kicking section the instructor leads the group in a series of ab exercises. My abs are usually pretty torched already (yes, cardio kickboxing will work your abs) so I'm sure I look like a floundering fish. Especially when she asked us to some weird crunch that involved getting into bent knee boat pose and then pulling our knees to our chests. That currently aggravates my hip so I sat in bent knee boat pose for the first two rounds and then switched to open leg rocker for the last set.

The instructor looked over at me and said, "Oooh, I like that! I might have to steal that one!"

I know. I'm badass.

After kickboxing I had to rush off to get to my running club board meeting. It was nice to see my friends who I haven't seen since I'm been on my running hiatus. One of them commented that she's been following my blog so she can keep up with what I'm doing while I'm not running.

"You must be in really good overall shape right now!" she said.

Part of me thinks yes and part of me thinks no. And while I do miss being able to go for a run as part of my workout repertoire I'm also enjoying the ability to do a variety of things.

Doesn't mean that there hasn't been a little bit of sadness, especially today. Why today? Well, today registration for the Chicago Marathon opened. It's the talk of the town among many Chicago runners and news outlets.

I have no desire to run the Chicago marathon again. But that doesn't mean I'm not feeling a little bit left out when I realize I probably won't be signing up for a marathon at all in 2012.

Funny how things change. In 2008 I was taking kickboxing class twice a week and slowly upping my running from the 5K distance to the 10K distance by running two to three days a week. Running a marathon was a distant goal that I didn't know if I would ever tackle.

Now I'm back to kickboxing and will probably be rebuilding my mileage hopefully in the near future. But this time I'll have three marathons under my belt and signing up for another one won't be the same distant dream.