Sunday, January 27, 2013

#NoGymJanuary Update VI: Running Events

Well, it's Sunday again. After a long week and a busier weekend, this has not been my best week workout wise. I have been tired despite getting a fair amount of rest. I struggled with motivation on the days I wasn't running. I tried my best to get SOME sort of work out in, but in actuality I wanted to lay down! Here's how my workouts turned out this week:

Monday: Lots of errands in the city on my day off, so I opted to walk instead of take the train to various stops. I ended up walking over two miles, went to lunch with Brian, it was quite a lovely CHILLY Monday!

Tuesday: Runmute home from work with Kristin. (She is actually another teacher, we just happened to have the same name AND same spelling!) She pushed me through our CHILLY 4.25 mile run.

Wednesday: Kettlebell workout for 15 minutes, yoga for 15 minutes. Enough said.

Thursday: ANOTHER cold runmute! I had to go solo this time, but I ran 4.25 miles in 22 degrees feels like 4 degrees. The wind was CRAZY! I also forgot my hat, so I wrapped my scarf around my head, it did the trick!

I put a pair of shorts underneath and knee high socks over my tights; did the trick! Never got cold!

Friday: Plyometrics and yoga with my 3rd grade students. I was tired. SO tired. But we worked it out and did very well. I, again, was sore. (I blame the jumping squats!!!)

Teaching the kiddos warrior 2...we do our session in the hallway!

A true test of my No Gym January came Friday night! On my way home from work, it started snowing like crazy. It was so sudden, in fact, that my friend went into a store with no snow in sight, and came out to me waiting in a covered car, wipers in a frenzy! So, I knew Saturday's long run would be iffy. I had a busy day; work in Queens, baby shower in Brooklyn, then ladies night sangria style in Manhattan. Three boroughs in one day! When I woke up Saturday morning, the white stuff was still around, it was dark, and clearly ice everywhere. Pushed to Sunday it was! Even though the conditions were rough Saturday, I saw plenty of runners getting out there in group runs, albeit running safely, and pushing each other despite the elements!

Insert: Set up an event to be excited for! Mr. Miller is away for the weekend, so I decided to host a Bridge to Brunch run; run over the Queensboro Bridge to a FABULOUS brunch spot in Astoria. A group run followed by yummy food is a great fun run to mix things up and get out of the winter chilly blues!!!

Today's group run was fabulous! I ran 4 miles before this run to reach my long run total. I averaged 9:20, which was perfect for my 9:15-9:30 goal! When we all met up we were ready to go. The group included Ashley, Leticia, Theodora, Kim, Carla, Stephanie, Jenny, Nadia, Bernadette, Kristin (Speedy coworker) and Emily. My total pace ended up being 9:33/mile, pretty good since I slowed down for the second 4 miles to make sure the group was okay...always a teacher...

We ran over the Queensboro Bridge, which was mostly cleared of the white stuff...

Ate some yummy food...
Fried chicken and waffles! 

Posed for a tricky group photo with a semi-professional photographer/server...

And left full and happy.

Want to organize a running get together? Here are some tips to get you outside, motivated, and moving!

1. Send out an open invitation, encourage extra invites and forwarding it! I know a few NYC runners personally, but I communicate with a lot on Twitter, sans email address etc.(I didn't want to send public tweets of the to have SOME sort of privacy!!!) I sent the following invitation, made on PicMonkey, and told my friends to invite everyone and anyone they think would be interested!

2. Pick a unique place as your destination. A great frozen yogurt place, a bar specializing in craft brews, or a restaurant that serves a a variety of tasty options (Ding ding ding, that's what I chose!) I was so excited to hear a few of the runners had been to this restaurant already and were excited to return to it! Also, a reservation is a HUGE plus! (They had an hour wait when we arrived...then walked to our table!)

3. Send out an email two or three days before the event with tips and directions. Sending an email too far in advance makes people forget. In my email, I specified times, the route, addresses, and directions for those taking the train to brunch. Also, this gives a reminder to people who inevitably have to cancel. 

4. HAVE FUN! I had a great time chatting with many runners today, learning what works for them, upcoming races, and Saturday night revelry. 

So, get out of a gym, be social, and run!

How about you? Have you ever organized a running event? Do you shy away from group activity? Want to join next time? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

#NoGymJanuary Update V: What to wear? Cold weather running clothes

We all see/feel the weather. Californians had it last week, now us on the Eastern seaboard are experiencing FREEZING cold temps! I've seen a few people regretfully going to their treadmill complaining that they can't stand the freezing climate. I GET IT! I thought I was that way too. When I wrote my coworker last night and said, "Run home from work tomorrow?" I expected a reply similar to "HECK NO!" Instead I got a "Sure. It will be cold but worth it." So, what does one wear to venture out in FREEZING cold temperatures??? Here are my top picks:

First rule of cold weather running: LAYERING IS KEY! Be prepared to put on a pound or two of clothes. Trust me, it will benefit you in the long run! Layer from top to bottom:

Hat: I wear two. I wear a cotton Eddie Bauer moisture wicking fleece hat with a wool hat over it so my ears are covered.
Neck/face: Bandeau to the rescue! I got the one pictured below from the 2011 NYC Marathon and I had NO clue what to do with it. I finally figured out that I could put it around my neck, and cover my mouth/nose if I got too cold.
Gloves: I wrote these Saucony touch phone gloves. They were a bit thin but it won't be this cold that often, and I survived.

Tops: I wear 2-3 layers. I wear a tight fitting tank, then a long sleeve, followed by a short sleeve. I (Somehow) zip that under a running jacket!

Pants: I usually wear running tights, but I realized tonight that I should wear shorts in addition to those. Or maybe leg warmers or compression socks. Either way, single layer running tights in "Feels like 1 degree" weather can leave you a bit chilled.

I survived very cold running conditions, and you can too! Experiment, try out, and remember: It's better to over layer rather than under layer! Plus my first Kinvaras made their first run! Yippee!

How about you? Do you hug the treadmill with love and affection in cold weather? Run for the snowy hills in chilly bliss? Tell me about it!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

#NoGymJanuary Update IV: Keeping it safe

Wait, there's only two weeks left in January?! Yes, that's right! It's been almost three weeks since we all made our goals, committed to resolutions, and got all "I'm going to the gym" or "Ugh, the gym." Time is flying, so let's see what's been happening this week!

Monday: Kettlebell workout on Daily Burn, plus sprints at a running store to test out new shoes. I opted for the 15 minute workout with kettlebells because I was short on time, and boy did it burn! I had to head into the city for running shoe shopping and a meet up with my church, and I was very satisfied with my workout. In addition I added 50 swings with my heavier kettlebell and some push ups. Needless to say, this strength training session was 20 minutes of nonstop strengthening! Then it was off to a GREAT running store with a VERY helpful staff where I FINALLY decided on these bad girls:

Saucony Kinvara 3's, you'll be mine TOMORROW!!!

Tuesday: Runmute with my coworker! Ms. Bailey has joined the run club and is also my coteacher at school. She is a very fast runner (First half marathon was 1:53!!!). She pushed to a great, yet unexpectedly CHILLY post work run home!

Wednesday: Stayed home and STRETCHED. I was suppposed to do a track workout, but my hamstring was TIGHT. I stayed home and did 20 minutes of yoga, plus my hamstring stretches/workouts (Will be listed below). 

Thursday: 5 mile tempo run. The goal was 1 mile warm up, 3 miles at 8:30, 1 mile cool down. I met up with Steph and Ms. Bailey with our run club to throw down an AUDACIOUS run. I ended up doing okay, averaging around 9:30, with my tempo miles averaging around 9 or just below. My stomach was a mess and my hamstrings were still sensitive; I call this run a win despite some tough (personal) elements!

Friday: Yoga club (at school) WORK OUT! The first week I got the kids doing workout moves (Mostly pylymetrics/using your own body weight moves) for one song. The second week was two songs. This week? THREE SONGS! We did mountain climbers, high knees, mummies, football sprints,  burpees, criss crosses with arms, whoa. It was an intense workout! THEN we did yoga. All around sore and satisfied.

Saturday: 5 miles at a 9:15-9:30 goal pace. This was a cutback week in half marathon training, and it went well. Kim wrote me wondering if I was working, and thankfully I was NOT! We did 5 miles together, averaging 9:20 pace. I was very happy with this run, since I was feeling extremely tired.

Now, onto the No Gym January topic: SAFETY.

There are many ways to keep it safe. Without the guidance of a trainer, it's easy to lose form, logic, and understanding during a workout. This week I learned many things about being safe while working out sans gym. Here are a few of those gems:

1. LISTEN. TO. YOUR. BODY. I pushed it Tuesday night on my runmute, and my hamstring/glutes let me know it. I started using dynamic stretches for runners, which has helped loosen me up before/after a run. However, I had to skip Wednesday's workout because of tightness, so I did a crazy "lower body release" workout on Daily Burn to get my act together. Note: If you had a tennis ball, use to it roll your feet and glutes. It's painful but definitely gets the job done. Livestrong has a great tennis ball therapy guide. I also found this site that listed similar release moves. Listening to your body today enables you to run your best tomorrow!

This week I will NEED to follow point number 2! It's going to get COLD up in hur!

2. Dress appropriately! Ah, as simple as this sounds, wear the right gear! I'm an obsessive weather checker, but I got caught off guard Tuesday night, as did my running partner. It was a fairly mild day, but somehow it was bone chilling by 5pm! My partner and I were so cold, I lent her my fleece head band because I had brought running tights, a tank and a long sleeve...she only had a long sleeve and capris! Remember to check the weather for when you will RUN, not the daily high!!! For more winter running tips, check out:

Cold Weather Running
How to Stay Motivated in the Winter
Winter Motivation: Logging Miles
Winter Running Style

3. Run SAFELY in the dark! Since my running club doesn't meet until after 7pm, I've been seeing a lot of gear that encourages a safe run! A running reflective vest or headlamp are obvious, but I also saw some great reflective arm bands as well. Although it is less prominent than a vest or headlamp, a reflective armband is a great choice for runners who run in well lit areas but may be wearing dark clothes, or simply want to be more visible.

4. PARTNER SAFETY! There's always safety in numbers. I tell my students this, and I tell me friends this! I never run beyond well trafficked streets in my neighborhood after dark alone. I'll venture to the park after dark if I am with friends. If you feel uncomfortable, follow that feeling. If you have to loop within the confines of a safe cul de sac over and over again, DO SO. Follow your gut, always trust your instincts. My friend started a SMALL Facebook group for local runners in our immediate neighborhood (We have six cool...), and we post last minute running partner requests, fitness classes, etc. This helps us find someone to run with so we won't be alone. 

So, safety first, No Gym January participants! 

How about you? Do you run in pairs? Ignore caution and run with the wind? Never stretch or always stretch!? Tell me about it!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

#NoGymJanuary Update III: Schedules

Hello, Sunday! I hope everyone has had a great weekend so far! Unfortunately, my weekend was marred by a Packers loss. Glad I got to spend it with some GREAT (Packers) friends, but sad to see the boys head into the off season!

This week, it's all been about consistency. After I found my training plan to go Sub-2, I realized that I needed to establish which days would be dedicated to each workout. Since the goal is quality over quantity, I had to schedule three weekday runs and a long run either Saturday or Sunday. Similar to a gym that has set schedules for classes, I decided I needed to add them to the calendar on my phone so I could look up at any time. This means I'll always have it with me to check, no looking up the training plan online, counting the days, etc. This has been really helpful, especially on my runmute and speed work days when I totally forgot what I was supposed to do, and everything was on my phone to check!

Here is what I've been up to outside of the gym this week:

Monday: Run club hill work! I was SO intimidated by this workout; it is 10 hill repeats (Equals just over a 5k) on a GIGANTOR hill in my local park. You run it for time. I said "Maybe I'll three or four." I ended up doing ALL 10! I also got to meet Kim, and was so excited for another Kim to join!

Tuesday: Runmute home from work. I ran a tempo run with two miles to warm up, one mile at 8:15, and one mile cool down. My 8:15 mile ended up being 8:25, which I was COMPLETELY excited about! My route home consists of a lot of stop lights, so I have to be very careful while running. I also don't run with music; despite it being a safe area, it's not "my neighborhood", and not being able to hear a car coming could be very dangerous.

I saw a mounted horseman on my runmute! This is SO rare in Queens! 

Wednesday: Run club speed work! AH! I was VERY intimidated by this. My plan called for one mile warm up, 3x 800's, one mile cool down. The run club was doing 8x 800's...uhhhh, not for me! Thankfully they don't look down on those of us with a training plan ;-) Steph was fabulous and did all 8, along with my coworker who has also hopped on the run club bandwagon! I was in group 3 out of 3, so there's that. Something to work towards! However, if STEPH is telling me group 2 is too fast for her, well, I'll chill in group 3!!!

See Steph Run. She's fast. Go wish her a happy birthday TODAY!

Thursday: REST. I NEEDED to rest. Because of run club, I had combined a lot of my runs on back to back days; the training plan I'm following encourages every other day runs. I loved this day. I made a delicious truffle oil mushroom risotto. It was scrumptious. (Only difference in the recipe is I sauteed the mushrooms in truffle oil.)

Friday: Workout at yoga club! I taught the kids mountain climbers, high knees, crisscrosses, burpees...oh my gosh, they were exhausted and READY for yoga! I also did yoga with them. Felt really good.

Saturday: Another AMAZING long run. What the heck!? Apparently when I decide to run fast and allow myself to be short of breath, I run fast! Who would've thought? I beat me 10k PR by 5:06 (See edit below, I got the distance wrong!)...!?!?!?! Granted, that 10k was in hilly Central Park, in June, high humidity, AND this was Garmin time. I ended up running 7 miles at an 8:53 pace. Mile 3 was my fastest mile at 8:38. Yes, I chose a flat-ish course, so next long run I plan to test out my endurance on a more challenging route.

Well hello there 10k Garmin PR! Edited to add: THIS IS NOT A 10k...I blame runner's brain...but then again I wrote this post well after the run...oh well, it was a PR but maybe by 4 minutes ;-D WHOOPS!

Sunday: REST. I needed to relax today. I ran 15 more miles than the week before, and it was DEFINITELY not a safe 10-20% increase! I have to take it easy and build up the right way to avoid injury.

How about you? Do you schedule your workouts in advance? Do you do what you feel like doing? Are you a slave to consistency? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

#NoGymJanuary Update II: Finding the Group Mentality

There is nothing better than getting your sweat on with other people. Well, I'm sure there are a LOT of better things, but fitness wise, being with others sweating it out can benefit you in many ways. I find when I'm meeting someone, or start to (let's admit it) compare myself with or compete with someone in the class, I push harder. I found a great article from the LA Times detailing the benefits of workout out with others; if you don't have time to check it out, here is a great quote from it: 

"Individuals are more inclined to come to the session because of social interaction, but also to put forth better effort because of the group dynamic that occurs with others -- a positive competition, in a sense," Bryant says.

We're friends, I promise!

See all those numbers? This was from a UXF class at NYSC...I was VERY competitive here!

How do you do that without a gym?! Instead of attending new classes this month (My usual M.O.) , I've been working out at home. Many people can't make it to the gym for various reasons; they could be like myself, who gets more frustrated and ends workouts early because of a crappy gym, it could be too far away to be worth it, or too expensive. Regardless of the reason, if you're not at the gym, you can lose the benefits of a community. So, how can you get your fitness on without swiping your pass?

Here are some suggestions for social sweating:

800's at my running club made me leave my house and get to the track, true story!

1. Join a run club! I've attended 3 sessions now, and they didn't bite! Plus, it's helping push me to be faster. I've brought along four friends, and each one of them was so glad that we did it...and are pushing each other to attend. The atmosphere is crazy positive, everyone is so encouraging!!!

My school's summer walk/run club! I miss summer...

2. Start a walk/run club yourself! I know, crazy! I did that this summer with my coworkers and it was so much fun. As teachers, we get the summers off and yet find it hard to meet up, let alone work out! We resolved to walk/run once a week, and had a fabulous time.

4. Start a workout group with your coworkers! As the previous information detailed, I've done it in the summer, but not during the school year. Ashley has told me great things about her post-work runs with coworkers, of which I was a part of once. Hey, if everyone brought their gear, there's less of a chance of backing out!!!

Two sisters. Two different run paces. One is comfy with 8:xx and one with 10:xx....hmm....

3. Join a social media fitness group. This could be one you create virtually on Facebook with friends from far or near, join MyFitnessPal, or any of the other options readily available sites devoted to promoting fitness and accountability. I personally text with my sister Mrs. Clark about our workouts. We push each other with a press of a button! 

How about you!? Do you have an accountability partner? Are you a group fitness junkie? Any suggestions that help you get out there to sweat? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

#NoGymJanuary Update I: Online resources for working out

Even though it hasn't been a full week since New Years, it has been a productive #NoGymJanary. Despite a never ending cold front hitting NYC, I have successfully avoided the gym since January 1, 2013. With darkness still coming early, wind chill factors etc, this No Gym January has been no easy task...and it's only been 5 days! However, I am glad to say, I have been successful in avoiding the gym so far! Want to know what I've been up to? Well, here you go...

Tuesday: I ran 3.75 miles with Kim on New Years Day. It was SO cold and windy, but we got our miles in and rehashed our New Years revelry. Kim also got to meet Lambeau Puppy, although he wasn't on his best walking behavior due to the said windy weather...pansy.

Wednesday: 15 minutes of Yoga on Daily Burn! I know it was only 15 minutes, but I was not feeling well, exhausted from the first day after holiday break, and didn't feel like doing ANYTHING. Daily Burn SAVED. THE. DAY. This Yoga session was PERFECT, literally worked all parts of my body, plus it really focused on hips/hamstrings, exactly what I needed. I just started using this website, and I *HIGHLY* recommend it for anyone joining me in No Gym January, who doesn't have a gym with great classes, or thinks they would be more motivated by working out at home. They have a vast number of classes, a variety of levels, tracking, and a selection of times such as 0-20 minutes, 20-40 minutes, or 40-60 minutes.  The cost is $10 a month, less than ONE class at a gym/studio!

Thursday: I ran with my local run club! This was my first time actually joining them. I was very intimidated by this, and rightfully so. First of all, it was FREEZING:
 Feels like 22 degrees...running along the East River...even colder!

I went with Stephanie and her half marathon protege Emily, who just signed up for her first 26.2! Let's just say, we survived the 10k run. These runners were FAST. Something to chase? I wasn't even close. Thankfully a member stuck with us and showed us the route, a 3.1 mile out and back around our neighborhood.
 Vampires? No, we're frozen runners.

Friday: I taught Yoga club to third graders which included dance aerobics, yoga, push-ups, and planks. It was a good cross training day, since I still wasn't feeling 100%. I also foam rolled using this AWESOME site that is FREE: Fitsugar. I did a great foam rolling session, which was really informative since I just roll what I think needs to be rolled! There's a wide variety of videos on Fitsugar that target different body parts. Although these videos are relatively short, they can be done repeatedly or in a series to get a full body workout (Example: do arms, legs, and abs videos for a 20-30 minute workout! Click on each body part to check out a new workout!)

Saturday: Back to the Daily Burn! I did Power Pilates, tough stuff! My abs are sore, even when I'm not moving. I loved doing this in the comfort of my own home. Some Daily Burn workouts require equipment, such as weights, medicine balls, resistance bands, steps or kettlebells. I have everything except the medicine balls or steps; however, the instructor always includes alternate ways to do the exercise, which is helpful...especially when your abs are crying, your eyes are crying, and there's no end in sight during Russian Twists!

Sunday: do you believe in Miracles?! Yes! I ran my long run, 6 miles, with a 9:30 pace in mind. I'm following a bold training plan toward a sub 2 hour half marathon that has me running my long runs at a specific pace during my long runs. Well, today was 6 miles at 9:30, and after the running club sluggishness I decided to see what I had in me. Apparently it was this: 

6.01 with an 8:49/mile average. Whaaaaat? 

I blame it on the Packers winning their playoff game last night. Of COURSE my outfit made me speedier!

So, there you have it. I've had a fit week, filled with great classes and runs, with zero hours logged at the gym. I am so pumped for this next week!

What about you? Are you avoiding the gym this January? Are you a gym lover and enjoying the fresh  new enthusiasm? Are you frozen inside your home?! TELL ME ABOUT IT!

*Side note: Mr. Miller has joined a new gym and is SO happy. He has been going consistently, trying new classes, and thoroughly enjoying himself. I am so happy for him! The key to the best you is figuring out what circumstances will push you to work out and be the healthiest you can be. I applaud everyone trying anything!!! Keep up the great work!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Goals #lucky13 #makeitcount

2012 was great. I completed my second marathon, my fifth half marathon, and many little races in between! There were struggles, and there were triumphs. This year, I'm looking to getting back to my first love: the half marathon. This will be my 2013 mantra, thanks to a fabulous friend of mine:

2011 Mileage: 755 miles
2012 mileage: 806.5 miles
I plan to give my all in my 2013 half marathon training and execution. My goal race is going to be the 13.1 NYC on March 23, 2013. It will be my fourth year in a row running this race, in my school's community! This race means so much to me; all proceeds go to World Vision, and I often see students from my school along the course. So, what's the goal? 

I haven't PR'd in the half marathon in a couple of years. My current PR is 2:06, this needs to change. A 6 minute PR is a big jump, especially in a distance race. I am confident that it can be done. So, anyone wanting to pace me, by ALL means, sign up now! (Still trying to convince Mr. Miller to pace me!!!...are reading this honey? There is still time to sign up...)

Other goals for 2013:

- Cross Train 2-3 times a week. Whether on a cross training day, or after a run, I have too many tools to ignore all around fitness. From Insanity to kettlebells, there is plenty of material for me to change up my workout routines. 
- Stick to speed work...and figure out how to set my Garmin for it! I know that this will play a CRUCIAL role in my goal of a sub 2 half marathon. 

- Get new dressers and organize our clothes. This has been a HUGE issue. We had to create our own closet system because our apartment had three closets...outside our bedroom. Now it's exploding on itself, and the dressers aren't matching sets (pre-marriage buys). It's time to vamp up the apartment
- Love my husband more than ever. I believe love is a choice. I'm making the choice to love him beyond annoyances, petty issues, or bad days.

- Read three helpful books this year. This was last year's goal and I read a whopping two. SO bad. I'm a teacher. It's harder during the school year to do ANY sort of reading, I mainly stick to magazines and blogs. I'm thinking of getting some Amazon hunting done and finding some good books that will help me personally and spiritually. 

- Be the teacher they remember. I will count to 10 before getting frustrated. I will be patient and caring. I will give my best every day. 
- Complain less. Stay glass half full. Misery loves company, and miserable company is the worst. I will choose to not let the pettiness of issues, opinions, or more work (eek, scary) cause me to lose my joy. As Joyce Meyer says, "It's impossible to be negative and happy."

For fun: 
-Run a race in CT! I really want to get a seeded position for the Manchester Road Race so I can PR the heck out of it. The qualifying time for an under 40:00 card is 25:26 for a 5k...8:11 pace. Not sure that's possible, but hey, here's another goal!
- Travel somewhere foreign in April! We have a few ideas, hopefully it will happen.

How about you? Link in your New Years Goals/Resolutions/Commitments...can we all establish that those are synonyms?! ;-) TELL ME ABOUT IT!