New Year, New Goals, New Lesson Learned

Happy New Years to everyone out there!

The new year is here! If you were looking to put a resolution in play, well now is the time! I know I have been preaching that for some time and I am hoping that many of you will take me up on a change to get up off the couch and to start running. If not running, then something better than sitting on the couch! I will get into the New Year’s resolution thing however another day!

For me the new year will not bring about too much change in terms of a workout routine. However, that doesn’t mean that the learning stops. On day one of the New Year I already learned a valuable lesson and I was kicking myself when I realized it. On New Year’s day the gym that I belong to, Lifetime Fitness, had a themed “Commitment Day” for its members. For me, that is another way to get people to make a New Year’s Resolution. To commemorate the commitment day, they encouraged their members to run in a 5k run. It wasn’t considered a race because they didn’t time it. Running geeks like myself of course, chose to time it.

The temperatures of course were very frigid as New York City may never see above freezing ever again. I am convinced that my Christmas decorations may stay on my lawn til March because they are frozen in the ground. The mercury was at 11 degrees this morning at race time with a windchill of 0, zero, zilch, nada. My gym, in an effort to promote all of their classes and programs, had a wacky idea to do a pre-race warm up in the gym that consisted of an obstacle course of sorts. There were close to 100 runners this morning and I think everyone of them in unison told the gym instructors that they did not want to do a pre-race obstacle course? in the gym. Who wants to work up a sweat and then step out in 0 degrees? Helloooo???

When we assembled in the gym and gave them our gracious response of “No thank you”, we were whisked outdoors to the starting line. By the time I put on my hat, gloves and fired up my music and GPS, they were starting the race. Off the racers went and I hit start on my Strava app. As I did that, I dropped one of my gloves. After picking it up, I put my phone away and set on my way to try to keep up with the lead pack. The cold didn’t bother me too much on this race. I wore three thin layers, the bottom one being an Under Armor cold weather shell, tights, hat and gloves. I was fine with just that.

After settling into a comfortable pace and listening for my first mile split, I realized that I forgot to start my Under Armor Map My Fitness App. That’t the app that tells me my splits in my headphones after each mile. That’s the one reason that even though I have discovered Strava, I still use the UA Map My Fitness app. To my knowledge I do not believe that Strava does that as well, but if they do, someone please tell me how to activate that! Pissed off now that I couldn’t find out my splits, I decided oh well, its not really a race, its just commitment day. That’s when I realized that there were only 6-7 people ahead of me in the race. Aaaannnddd just like that, this became a race!

In a 5k there really is no time to pace yourself. The more I run 5k’s the more I realize that you are pretty much running hard almost the entire time. In the process of making this a race, I ended up tweaking another calf in the last mile of the race and had to slow up a bit. I managed to finish 5th overall in the race. Mark those words because I will not finish better than 5th l year!

If my calf had not started to bother me, I might have finished third. First and second were well out of reach so my calf made no difference there. Crossing the finish line in 5th, I was eager to see my time, since I was not getting my splits from the Under Armor app. I took my phone out of my running arm band and Strava looked back at me with nothing, zilch, nada. Seems as if when I dropped my glove at the start of the race, I actually didn’t start my Strava app either. Pissed off is not even the word. I was pacing back and forth at the finish line like a mad man. 3.1 miles out the window and quite possibly a PR out the window. Although I don’t know if this time would have counted since it was not officially timed.

When it was all said and done, I looked on the bright side. I woke up on New Year’s without a hangover, I ran a 5k on new year’s day to start off the year on the right foot, and I got a medal for my troubles. Two valuable lessons however were learned. Never start a race without switching on my Map My Fitness app an never start a race without switching on and ASSURING that Strava is on. I don’t care how many seconds I lose at the start, not having your run tracked might be the most frustrating feeling in the world! Oh well at least the lesson was learned on the first of the year! Hopefully never to be repeated again!

As the weather continues to remain cold, I have to say I am getting used to this cold weather running. Anything north of 30 may be a heat wave for me! If you are from the east coast, how are you getting along with the cold weather? No matter where you are from, how was your New Year’s?

75 days til the United NYC Half for anyone running that!

Workouts For The Week – 12/11 thru 12/17

With the holidays here, I feel compelled to stay on top of my workouts a bit more! Sometimes you see things play out on paper (or on a blog!) and you can either look back on them with pride, or you get ticked off because you realize you slacked off! This week was in the middle for me. I have to admit that the weather has been getting in my way but since I made it a point to start doing some strength training, I feel like I am making out ok on bad weather days.

Here is how my week went work out wise!

Monday 12/11:

This day was a complete fail as it was my Christmas Party At work. I knew going into this day that I would not be able to get anything out of it workout wise. However I was proud of myself for one thing. I usually end up staying to the end of my Christmas parties and end up going to after parties, getting home really late and feeling like crap the next morning. Not this year! Left at 8:30pm after a few drinks and was in bed by 10pm. I will take that away as a plus!

Tuesday 12/12:

I had big plans to get a run in on this day, but my daughter had “Sports Night” at her school, where kids and a parent compete in races and challenges. There was some running involved but it wasn’t quite a workout. Got home close to 9pm and sadly called it a day. This was a day where being a parent just got in the way. We will have those days- but that is when you need to bounce back hard!

Wednesday 12/13:

I came home this day hell bent on running. The weather however was frigid. Wind chill factor on Wednesday night was in the single digits. I opted for the treadmill at the gym on this day. I don’t speak too often about the treadmill because I flat out hate it! Its more of a “dreadmill” for me. Something about this machine that just doesn’t allow me to get into my natural running groove. Also my breathing in the gym is not the same when running as it is outdoors. Never the less, got the running done

Distance – 5.0 miles / Time- 42:32 / 8:24 per mile

Thursday 12/14:

Here was a day to finally work on that strength training! I want to pay attention to my arms, triceps and biceps. Also, maybe because it is more of a vanity thing, I want to work on my chest as well lol.ย A small part of this is also because I keep flirting with the idea of doing a Spartanย race in the future and I know I will need to have strong upper body strength for this so Iย want to slowly start building that. ย I was able to hit all of the body parts that I wanted as well as get some stomach and core exercises done at the end! All of this after a 15 minute warmup session on the bike!

  • 15 minutes of warm up on the bike
  • 3 sets of bicep barbell curls, 12 reps each, 45 lbs, 55 lbs, 65 lbs
  • Alternated above three sets of barbell curls w/ 12 x 15lbs dumbell front raises
  • 3 sets of bench presses, 10 reps each, 115 lbs, 135 lbs, 145 lbs.
  • 3 sets triceps pulldowns, 12 reps each 40 lbs., 50 lbs., 60 lbs
  • 3 sets of butterfly machine, 12 reps each 125lbs., 145 lbs., 155 lbs.
  • 2 minutes of ab roller exercises alternated with 60 second planks (3x)

Friday 12/15:

When I tell you that the weather is just flat out messing with me I am not joking! Friday was pretty quiet at my job so I decided to leave a bit early and try to sneak in a run before I had to get my daughter from school. Almost as soon as I get off the train at my stop, it starts to snow at a rapid pace. By the time I got home and changed into my running gear, there was already a nice coating on the ground. I was determined to get a run in. My earlier run in the week was on a treadmill so that didn’t leave me with the best feeling in the world. My run wasn’t the longest but I had to cut it short because the snow was really coming down hard and I was not comfortable with the footing my sneakers were giving me. Still, a 5k run was completed!

Distance – 3.2 miles / Time- 27:59 / 8:33 per mile

Saturday 12/16:

I was able to get to the gym on this day as my wife had a day of Christmas shopping ahead of her. To help her out, I agreed to hang with my daughter the whole day. The only way for me to get any type of workout now was going to be at the gym as they have an awesome kids program there to keep them busy while parents work out. I followed up my strength training from Thursday with the same workout just lighter weights and more reps.

  • 20 minutes of warm up on the bike
  • 3 sets of bicep barbell curls, 15 reps each, 45 lbs, 55 lbs, 55 lbs
  • Alternated above three sets of barbell curls w/ 15 x 15lbs dumbell front raises
  • 3 sets of bench presses, 12 reps each, 95 lbs, 115 lbs, 135 lbs.
  • 3 sets triceps pulldowns, 15 reps each 30 lbs., 40 lbs., 50 lbs
  • 3 sets of butterfly machine, 15 reps each 105lbs., 115 lbs., 125 lbs.
  • Various ab and core exercises to close out the workout

Sunday 12/17:

Not only did I wake up excited because I was finally seeing Star Wats the Last Jedi, but there was no snow in the forecast and the mercury was going to go close to 40 degrees! I finally was going to try and get a long run in. To make a long story short. mission accomplished! I was able to get in just under 7 miles on Sunday. I felt really good thru out the entire run. I wanted to start slow and easy and I definitely did accomplish that. First three miles we 8:24, 8:33 and 8:24. Once I had three miles in the books, my strides started to open.ย  Each of the final 4 miles were progressively faster. Final mile was 7:19 pace. No calf pains after and no stiffness anywhere. Long run day was a success!

Distance – 6.7 miles / Time- 55:10 / 8:14 per mile

 

The temperatures are supposed to be back in the normal range this week. Well its about time! The only good thing about this cold snowy weather is that if I get in the day in the high 30s or low 40s, it actually feels like a heat wave to me. I’m debating if I should follow a half marathon training plan or if I should just go at it alone. I keep saying I want to focus on strength training and while I have started, I don’t think most half marathon training plans touch upon strength training. This will be on my mind heavily as I enter this week!

How did your workouts go last week?

Monday Motivation – Starting A Run Plan!

Good Morning blog world! It’s a Monday and the sun is out! Sure there is snow on the ground but let’s not allow that to foil our plans. If you have been thinking about getting a running workout started, let’s not let the weather steer you wrong. If you are ever going to take one word from me take this. The hardest part of the whole process is taking that first step out of the door. Once you are out there your body will adjust and that cold weather that you were concerned with won’t be much of a concern.

Now that you have taken my word on that, here are some simple steps that I recommend new runners keep in mind as they get acclimated to the whole process. These are steps that I myself followed a few years back when I startedย  running again. Like many of you, my schedule is busy. Once you have a job, a family, children, friends and whatever else, it gets hard to get into a routine. I totally get it. But that doesn’t mean all hope has to be lost. If I can get it done, I know you all can get it done!

  • Before you take a step running wise, commit to yourself that this is YOUR journey. You don’t have to run at anyone’s pace or beat any certain times. This journey is yours and you are the master of your goals!
  • Once you have committed to my first point above, do set a goal for yourself. It can be as simple as running a mile without stopping or it could be running a 5k. It’s not easy to recommend a standard goal because everyone has different capabilities and fitness levels. Therefor I will say this, in general, your goal should challenge you but should also be something attainable. Set a reasonable time frame for your goal of somewhere between 1-2 months. Need a race to run?ย ย Check my race calendar on my blog here! (sorry NYC area only!)
  • Here is the most important part in my opinion, particularly for busy folks. Schedule your workouts! People starting to run say “I think I willย try and run 3-4 times a week”. Three to four times a week is great butย saying just that, leavesย things too open ended. Instead of saying 3-4 times per week, schedule those 3-4 times per week and tell your family and/or friends about your scheduling so that you don’t run into scheduling conflicts with your workouts. This may sound funny, but when I schedule my workouts, I set aside time slots and send calendar invites to my wife so that the time is blocked out on her calendar so that she doesn’t try and have me run errands or handle the kids during those times. Too often we “say” we will run but then “something” comes up!ย I found scheduling workouts to be very effective to meeting your goals!
  • If you have a mobile device download one of the well known running apps that exists. Two of my favorites are Map My Fitness by Under Armour and Strava. These apps run with the use of the GPS on your mobile device and can track your runs as well as the times and splits. I knowย I previously said not to worry about running a certain time, but tracking your own workouts will help you monitor your progress. These apps are free to use and both have premium options to add on. Basic tracking of your workouts is free. Don’t have a mobile device? Pick up an inexpensive stop watch on Amazon and log your runs in a small running diary of sorts.
  • Another very important tip that many people over look is stretching. I know we are pressed for time, but please please please do not by pass your stretching. If you are short on time, shorten your run but get your stretching in. Five minutes of stretching will go a long way especially if you are new to running. Remember, your muscles are new to this do. The last thing you want to do it build up the motivation to start a running plan and then get injured. Here are some key stretches that I do myself before I start a run.

Running Stretches

  • When running, run at a pace where you can hold a conversation. If you are running and you are out of breath and cannot hold a conversation, then you are starting out too fast. I have mentioned to many beginners that the number one thing to focus onย at the beginning isย your breathing. Never mind your legs or pace or anything else. If you lose your breathing tempo, everything else will follow suit.
  • As hard as it may be, don’t think of running as a bad thing. So many people never see it thru but the feeling at the end of meeting your goals when running is euphoric. For many it is a feeling that not many other daily things can bring.

I will leave the ‘starting out” tips at that for now as I don’t want to bombard beginners too much. As always if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me!

Experienced runners, have any tips for new runners starting out? Share them in the comments section!

Have a great week everyone!!