Post-Bairn Half Training – Week 1

Hi! I’d like to introduce you to someone who’s very excited to be here: a version of me who actually completed a full week of a training plan! Was that your jaw I just heard hitting the floor? It’s okay, mine’s down there too.

I mentioned several posts ago that I had signed up for a spring half marathon so that I could have a goal to work toward. I knew I’d need to finagle some kind of legitimate training in beforehand, otherwise I knew I’d be a hot mess. Plus, the training – and thus getting back into some kind of shape – was really the motivation behind signing up.

…well, that and the chance to check another town off my Massachusetts running map… and the to have an excuse to travel somewhere new with the Bairn.

Anyway, I’m starting to ramble. All that to say – I dug out the ol’ Hal Higdon Novice half marathon training plan (which I attempted for my first half… you can read how swell that experiment went in this post), counted the weeks backward from race day, and set my jaw in a determined manner.

Last week was Week 1 of 12. And, reader, I nailed it. More or less. Here’s how the week looked:

Sunday (last day of Week 0)

1 mile run | 1 mile run

The first run in the plan was 3 miles. I hadn’t run much more than 1 mile post-Bairn, and that was in early December. I figured hoped a nice gentle mile would be a good way to ease me in to the plan.

When Sunday turned out to be in the upper 40s, I giddily set out for that gentle mile despite head congestion and a plugged duct (that made squeezing into my sports bra fun…). It wasn’t my best run by a long shot, and I didn’t feel great during or after, but I did feel accomplished at getting it done.


Rest | Rest

I’m very good at rest days ๐Ÿ™‚ If Mondays hadn’t been rest days in the plan, I would have tweaked it a bit to make it so. Mondays are my late days at work, and are usually a bit hellish as it’s the Bairn’s first day back at daycare and his bedtime gets pushed late because I get home late and… just ugh. A good day for a rest day indeed.


3 mile run | 2 mile run

This is why I wrote “more or less” up there in the intro. While I completed the week of training, I did make a few small tweaks to take into account my general lack of fitness (see this post). Even after my gentle mile on Sunday, I mentally didn’t feel ready for 3, so I hit the gym for 2 miles of walk/running on the treadmill.


2 mile run or cross train | resistance band work

I figured I could use either some yoga/stretching or strength training during this half training, since my body is destroyed from hefting my growing bairn around all the time. Drew set me up with some resistance bands in our living room and showed me a few routines that would work my arms, chest, and back, and I went to it… in my most stylish cross training outfit ever:


If you look closely, you’ll see some glow-in-the-dark space otter socks and slippers, plus the sweet goggles that came with the resistance bands.

Anyway, it was a gentle intro workout, as my body was already feeling it after minimal reps and I didn’t want to wreck myself. I’ll work at building it up as the weeks go on.


30 mins cross training | Expresso Bike

Remember my good friend the Expresso Bike? I was so excited to hop back in the saddle. I brought the Bairn to the gym, got him registered for on-site childcare, and grabbed a bike. I probably should have started off with an easy lap around the virtual track, but I picked a 1-mile slightly hilly course to make it more interesting.

Yeah… after a half-mile my legs were dead. I hadn’t been on a bike since March 2016, before I got pregnant. And my mostly sedentary lifestyle post-Bairn meant my body was already reeling from 2 runs in a week and some cross training. Plus I was worried about how the Bairn, who is in the throes of some nice separation anxiety, was faring having been deposited in a strange new place. So I finished the course, hopped off the bike, and went down to childcare to pick up the Bairn (who was cheerfully bouncing away in an exersaucer). So it was only 5 mins of CT instead of 30, but it was something, right?


Rest | Rest

Neither the Bairn nor I felt 100% on Friday, so it was another well-timed rest day.


3 mile run | 3 mile run

When Drew and the Bairn settled in to watch the Spurs match, I set off on a 3-miler around the neighborhood, route courtesy of MapMyRun’s Route Genius. It took me down some streets I’d never been down, which is always fun. My first mile was strong, and is now my current post-Bairn best mile time, but the next 2 got slower and slower. Still a decent run, but I need to work on not going out so fast. I think I’m just so pumped to be running again, it’s hard to hold back!


4 mile run | 4 mile run

I was curious to see how I’d do with 2 runs in 2 days, and surprised myself by feeling pretty strong. I set off down to the pond, which was iced over and a bit grim-looking despite temps in the upper 40s:

Once again, I set out too fast for my first mile and then got slower as the run went on, but each mile managed to come in under 13:00 per mile, even with multiple walk breaks. I’ll take that!


So, Week 1 is complete! Huzzah! Here are some reflections from my first week of training:

Favorite sight while running: a preschool-aged kid dressed as Batman running around his driveway, [I imagine] fighting invisible baddies

Milestone of note: I already have a bruised toenail ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I suppose that’s what happens when I dive headlong into a training plan without even a small base settled. Ah well.

Lesson learned: Always have electronics charged and ready to go! Both my Garmin and my iPod were dead when I went to use them this week. The Garmin, meh… at least I have MapMyRun to play GPS for me, but man, treadmill miles are looooong without music.

How was your week?

Any awesome sightings, milestones, or lessons to share?



GetFit Week 3

Well… after the glory that was last week for me, we all knew the chances were slim to none that I’d have a repeat week of awesomeness, right? Week 3 wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t start out too great. I did manage to rally and rescue it by the end, but it certainly wasn’t where I was hoping last week’s momentum would take me.

GetFit goal: 180 minutes
Minutes exercised: 235


stepsweek3Monday was a day off, hence my pathetic showing (I really get around when I’m at work… it helps that I have a walk to and from the subway, and that my office is on a mezzanine only accessible by stairs!) The work week looks solid, but my weekend, again, not great. Well, Sunday looks decent, despite my not having met the steps goal Simon gave me. And I didn’t wear the thing on Saturday; I wasn’t *completely* sedentary!

Training Plan:

Monday (scheduled): cross-train
Monday (actual): cross-train

I had the day off from work, which has the tendency to mean that I don’t do a lot of physical activity. However, still riding the momentum from the previous week, I made my lazy butt do somethingstrengthening exercises for my knees, some planks, and a very sad attempt at push-ups. But hey, it was something!

Also, unrelated to my training plan or GetFit, I went to a CPR/AED class that was offered through the Shammies. The last time I took a CPR class (about 15(!) years ago, when I was a day camp counselor), mouth-to-mouth was still a thing, and it was awful because I could never get the dummy’s chest to rise sufficiently. Thank you, AHA, for making CPR hands-only! This class was much less awkward, and it feels good to have finally refreshed what I learned all those years ago.

Tuesday (scheduled): cross-train/speedwork
Tuesday (actual): rest

You know, I don’t really know why I opted for a random rest day on Tuesday. I know I had to work late, and I remember craving crab rangoon like nobody’s business on the ride home from work… apparently those two things together meant no cross-training for me? (There was no speed workout because the indoor track was closed for school vacation.) Looking back, I’m disappointed in myself.

However, I did manage to accomplish something on Tuesday… potentially injuring myself! Yay!

Not really sure what I did… I know I was intending to pick something up off the floor, and I took a step toward it and my left knee (my good leg!! the traitor!!) suddenly went all Snap-Crackle-Pop on me. It was a sound I’d never heard coming from either knee before, and then – whether it was my paranoid runner’s brain or real life, I’m not sure – it started to hurt a little, just under the kneecap. I iced it and went to bed with my fingers crossed.

Wednesday (scheduled): run 30-35 minutes
Wednesday (actual): rest

I brought an ice pack to work with me just in case, but my knee didn’t bother me much at all. To be safe, I opted for another rest day.

Thursday (scheduled): cross-train
Thursday (actual): cross-train

Another day of minimal-if-anything pain in my knee, and I felt ready to test it out gently. Drew and I hit the gym after work and I rode 6.5 flat(ish) miles on the Expresso Bike. I even managed to not get all competitive and go fast… just fast enough to make it feel like I was accomplishing some light cardio. The knee felt fine afterward. Maybe it was nothing after all?

Friday(scheduled): run 30-35 minutes (originally); run 25-30 minutes
Friday (actual): run 30 minutes

In an attempt to play it safe knee-wise, I reverted the rest of my training plan week back to Week 2 – basically shorter runs for Friday and Sunday. I have some wiggle room in the plan in terms of time – I’ll likely finish the plan way before my half marathon, so I’m improvising in places – so I figured repeating Week 2 wouldn’t hurt… especially since my 3-mile run in Real Week 2 was split by an emergency loo break at the gym, and I wanted to attempt running 3 miles without a break.

I intended to run my 25-30 minutes outside on Friday, thinking maybe a break from the treadmill would be good for my knee, but I got home later than planned and didn’t want to risk running in the dark when I still haven’t invested in an easy-to-carry-flashlight or headlamp. The last thing I needed was to step in a pothole and destroy another part of my body! So back to the gym treadmill it was. I felt good at 25 so carried on for 30, and felt fantastic afterward.

Saturday (scheduled): rest
Saturday (actual): rest

Ahh, legit rest day. How lovely. I visited my BFF and had a fab day full of laughter and tasty treats and her adorable wee one.

Upon returning home, however, Left Knee was not happy. Maybe it was the fact that I had it bent for the majority of the 2.5 hours I was in the car, and that my body was coiled tight because the drive was a little stressful? Who knows. I plopped an ice pack on that puppy and once again crossed my fingers.

My Saturday night. You know you're jealous.

My Saturday night. You know you’re jealous.

Sunday (scheduled): run 4 miles (originally); run 3 miles
Sunday (actual): run 3 miles

The SMSs were planning 8-10 miles, to which I said: “Oh helllll no.” I decided I’d still meet them at Shammies HQ, since that would be motivation to get me out of bed and actually out there to run, but then I’d go off on my own for 3 gentle miles. Luckily N was there, and she also wanted to do 3, so I had a buddy.

This was my first outdoor run in almost 3 weeks. While I tend to grumble about how hard the treadmill feels because of speed issues, I failed to factor in that I’ve been running at 0 incline each time. And real life has hills. When you’re used to 0 incline, even tiny hills feel hard. So that was a bit of a rude awakening.

The run ended up being a little slower than I wanted; N was recovering from sinus issues as well as an injury, so she wanted to take it slow, and I didn’t want to be a jerk and run off without her. However, once I got over myself and thought about it, I realized it was just what I needed. Knowing me, I would have set off at an unsustainable pace in order to keep up with the speedy Shammies before veering off on my own, and very likely may have tweaked one or both of my knees. Slow and steady today meant that I ran the full 3 miles without stopping, and I still felt strong at the end, and like I could keep going for at least another mile.

Plus, taking it easy meant I could snap some mid-run pictures of the lovely near-spring day we were having – 46* (felt like upper 30s with the wind) and sunny:

Look how little snow is left!!

Look how little snow is left!!

IMG_6095IMG_6096FullSizeRenderMy knees both gave me grief at various points on the run… mostly righty, the one I went to PT for last year. I’ve misplaced one of my patella straps, and had put the one I could find on lefty after she was throwing a temper tantrum yesterday, but righty seemed to want one too. My damn knees are so needy and uncooperative. Boo.

IMG_6103Cups of tea and cozy blankets make the double ice packs slightly less terrible.


So then. If all my wonky body parts behave this week, here’s what Week 4 will look like (hint: it’s what Week 3 was supposed to look like):

GetFit goal: 195 minutes

Mon: cross-train
run 30-35 minutes
run 30-35 minutes
run 4 miles

Have you ever taken a CPR class?

How’s the weather where you are? Were you able to get outside for a run this week?

On Actually Completing a Challenge

Readers, I did it! I actually finished a challenge! Please excuse me while I do a brief victory dance:

Where was I? Ah yes. This accomplishment feels particularly sweet because I generally have such a hard time following through with goals and challenges and such (see my last post… as well as many of my others), and this time I actually did it! I saw it out to completion and achieved official MiniYeti status!!

I first mentioned my MiniYeti challenge back at the start of December. My gym has these fantastic pieces of equipment called Expresso Bikes, which feature tv screens and allow you to basically play video games while you ride. It’s awesome.

I had noticed a few challenges pop up in my email after I signed up for an Expresso account, but never paid them much attention… partly because I didn’t feel like I was going to the gym enough to complete one, and partly because, well, I know myself and know I don’t do well with these challenge things.

This time was different. I was recovering from a dodgy metatarsal, had the OK from my ortho to ride bikes, and was actually going to the gym regularly enough where I felt like I could do it. Plus, there were different levels of the Yeti challenge, and the MiniYeti (completing 6 hilly courses) seemed doable.

MiniYeti courses complete!

MiniYeti courses complete!

I cruised through the first 4 courses relatively well, and was all cocky and “Oh, I only have 2 more to do before the end of December. This was easy peasy!” And then Drew and I went to California for over a week, and then suddenly it was December 30 and those two courses were still sitting there, minus check marks. Well, crap.

I had New Year’s Eve off from work, and decided I’d get to the gym no matter what to finish my challenge. I was like a woman possessed… I did not want to fail at yet another fitness challenge! Drew and I had to do some fancy juggling of our car, but he dropped me off and I made a bee-line to the bikes, which were thankfully unoccupied.

At this point, as I did a warm-up lap of the virtual track, I started to get a bit intimidated. The two courses left were both over 5 miles, and I hadn’t ridden much more than 5 miles at a time on the bike, like, ever. I had my trusty bottle of Nuun and a packet of Honey Stinger chews in case I started to feel fainty, and dove in to Billy Goat Falls. Holy hills, Batman! At one point I was going up a 47% grade… even having recently conquered real-live hills didn’t prepare me for this particular ride on the struggle bus.

Simon Pegg = me, basically (source)

Simon Pegg = me, basically (source)

When I finally crossed the finish line after having slowly climbed up a snowy, virtual mountain, I was questioning my sanity a bit. Was my excessively elevated heart rate and sweaty, huge, red face (that was attracting double-takes from almost everyone who walked by my bike) worth completing a silly little challenge?

Yes. Yes, it was.

After a few swigs from my Nuun bottle, I selected the next course and jumped right in. And you know what? I kicked arse. Maybe it was because Broken Spoke was a more gradual incline and so felt easier after Billy Goat Falls, maybe I was just warmed up, or maybe I just hit The Zone, but I totally cruised that level. It was like my final mile of that half marathon I did last year, when I felt like a machine and couldn’t have stopped if I tried… I was a total bike machine!

And what made the whole machine-like feeling even better? The giddiness that came from knowing I was finally finishing a challenge, and not giving up after a few half-hearted tries like I’ve been know to do in the past. I was totally getting the runner’s high feeling, but while riding a stationary bike and knowing I still had a few miles left to go. I felt great! I felt proud. I felt strong. It was awesome.

I finished that level and half expected some kind of fanfare… maybe just an email from Expresso like “Hey! You did it! You’re a MiniYeti!” Instead, I drank some more Nuun, cooled down a bit, stretched, and walked home like a boss. I completed the challenge, I surpassed 10 miles on the bike, and I now know that the walk home from the gym isn’t too bad. Plus now I have a cool little yeti dude under my avatar on my Expresso profile. So that’s neat.

My virtual challenge trophy case is empty no more!

My virtual challenge trophy case is empty no more!

It’s pretty cool knowing I’m starting 2016 having owned a fitness challenge at last! Now that I know I can actually do it, I may even be looking for more…

Have you ever completed a challenge and felt totally badass about it?
Or are you like me and generally quit and/or avoid them?

Are you doing any fitness challenges at the moment, or have any coming up?

Scaling Mountains, Both Real and Virtual

Happy Monday, and holy quads, Batman!

Why holy quads, you ask? Because apparently my MiniYeti challenge at the gym is turning me into a real-life yeti… or at least a mini one… and at least for last weekend, anyway.

Virtual Mountains

On Saturday Drew and I hit the gym at apparently the perfect time – there was hardly anyone there! All the Expresso bikes were open, so I hopped on, did a warm-up lap of the virtual track, and then dove into Yeti Day 4: Dragon Fire:

Blurry action shot of Dragon Fire

Blurry action shot of Dragon Fire

Dragon Fire was my fastest mountainy course yet, which I was proud of because it was also the first “medium” level course I’d tried. Granted, it was relatively flat, or at least a very gradual mountain until the big elevation spike toward the end, but it still felt like an accomplishment! Now I only have 2 courses left before the end of December, and then I will have achieved official Mini Yeti status.

My challenge so far

My challenge so far

Real Mountains(ish)

After letting my quads feel the burn on Saturday, I dragged myself out of bed the next day to join the Sunday Morning Shamrocks (SMSs) at Shammies HQ. It had been quite a while since I ran with the Sunday morning group (Easter was my last good Sunday morning run, and then my knee troubles started), and I was itching to get back out there.

Let me say first that, much like at the Shamrock Turkey Trot, I went with expectations of walking. At said Turkey Trot, E said she was going to start walking up and down the “mountain” in town during Sunday morning runs, in an effort to keep her fitness up despite her injury. I miss my Shammies like whoa, so I told her I’d join her for the foreseeable future.

That brings us to yesterday. I got word from E that she was going to “waddle to the base of the mountain, then power up that bad boy,” and I decided to tag along. I met up with the rest of the SMSs at HQ, and when the bulk of the group ran off for their usual 5-6 miles, E and I, joined by N who is also injured, got ready to waddle off to the mountain.

And then, much like at the Turkey Trot, we just started running.

It wasn’t an all-out sprint or anything, just nice and easy, and man… it felt good. Well, if I’m honest, it was pretty terrible, actually. Despite all my virtual mountain climbing on the Expresso bike, my fitness has dropped way down, so I was sucking wind very quickly. But, so were E and N, so I was in good company! And, despite it not feeling great, it still felt good to be out there again.

We were all testing out our respective injuries to see how they felt, and ran without stopping just over a mile to the base of the mountain, keeping roughly an 11:40 pace. I was so jazzed to be running around the pond – my usual running haunt – again – and jazzed that it was 50*+ in December!! – so I broke out the phone to snap a blurry photo of the path:

IMG_5341N thought I was trying to take a selfie, so she photobombed me… and then was disappointed that I hadn’t actually been taking a selfie. So I took one, so she could photobomb me for real:

IMG_5342Now, before I continue, I need to make a disclaimer – this mountain that we hiked up wouldn’t be considered a mountain anywhere else in the country (except the midwest, I suppose), but it sure felt like one as we were speed-walking up it! I kept MapMyRun going from our starting point at HQ to when we got back, even though I wasn’t running the whole time, and it reports an elevation gain of 301 feet… pretty much all at once!

IMG_5345Where was I? Right. We ran to the base of the “mountain,” then proceeded to charge up a paved (though not in very good condition) path. If I thought I was winded from running, yikes! That walk up the path was no joke. But we were rewarded with a pretty fantastic view from the top:

Boston skyline

Boston skyline

View of the pond - my favorite running spot

View of the pond – my favorite running spot

The walk back down was more challenging than expected; N told us there was an easier trail to go down than the one we walked up, so we followed her… only to end up walking down a steep, muddy, grass-and-rocks path that definitely wasn’t easier. But it made the hike feel legit!

Once back at the base, we tried running for a few short bursts, but E’s knee was starting to hurt, N was struggling, and my inner quad was feeling weak again so we all opted to walk back to HQ. Round trip our little jaunt was 3.89 miles, and while we were all a bit disappointed that our aches and pains came back at the end, it was still a fun morning!

And, happily, I feel pretty decent the next day! Despite the angry quads whenever I go up stairs, anyway. My foot feels fine, and the fact that I tackled my wee mountain makes me slightly more confident that my December goal race could still happen, even if I don’t run it.

Do you have a hill/legit mountain that you like to hike?

What’s your go-to way to keep your fitness up when you’re injured?
Or, if you don’t get injured much, what’s your favorite way to cross-train?

Yetis, a Crap Run, and App Failure

Hello and happy December! (How the heck is it December already?!)

When I last left you, I had thrown caution and doctor’s orders to the wind in order to run the Shamrock Turkey Trot. Happily my dodgy metatarsal didn’t hurt during or after that run, and hadn’t really bothered me too much in the week since. I also listened to my ortho – once the Thanksgiving run was done – and laid off impact exercise for a week to give my foot a break.

In the interim, I went to the gym a few times to get my cycle on. I’ve written about my love for my gym’s Expresso Bikes before – they’re like stationary bike video games! – so imagine my glee when I received an email about some Expresso challenges during December. Woo hoo for fun motivation! (Seriously, I can use all the motivation I can get right now.)

snowmanI joined the Mini Yeti challenge, which involves completing 6 hilly courses (remembering my ortho’s earlier advice about taking it easy on the bike, I didn’t want to sign up for one of the more difficult challenges that would have required scaling some ridiculous virtual elevation!).

My first Yeti Day went great. I warmed up with an easy, flat course, then tackled the “Alpine Splash.” It was hard but not incredibly taxing, and it felt awesome to work up a sweat after a long period of relative inactivity.

Yeti Day Two? Not quite as great. Two of the Expresso bikes were taken, and the third wasn’t working. Boo. I hopped on the elliptical and completed a mile before either of the bikes were vacated. Figuring I’d already warmed up pretty well, I launched right into “Lost Trail,” which ended up being a mistake. It wasn’t a particularly hard level, but I failed to adjust the seat properly (which I would have done had I completed a warm-up course) and felt that achieving a faster time on the course was more important than my comfort or form. So I cycled 2.9 miles on a very uncomfortable bike seat, putting more pressure on the pedal with my toes than usual. The thought crossed my mind several times to just get off the bike and fix the seat, but my dang competitive side won out.

There was no immediate effect, other than post-cycling stretching being a bit tougher than usual.

Calf stretch: hurts so good

Calf stretch: hurts so good

Fast-forward two days to yesterday. Drew and I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably nice weather (50* and sunny), as well as the fact that my one week of no impact exercise was up, and hit the track for a quick run. I fired up my C25K app to re-do Week 1 Day 2 (having re-done Day 1 during my Treadmill Run of Glee), strapped on my patella strap in an effort to ward off the ghost pains that had been haunting my right knee since Yeti Day Two, and got to it.

The first two or three one-minute bouts of running felt fine. I was trying to keep my form proper, based on both my gait retraining classes of yore and advice from Steve the Shammies coach, and felt like I was going at a pretty good clip. Nothing hurt, and other than being a bit out of breath I felt great.

Then everything started going wrong. My right knee began hurting a little, so I tightened the patella strap. Then my form started breaking down big-time because of a sudden weakness in my inner thigh, just above my right knee. It was a bizarre feeling… I’ve never experienced such outright weakness in a muscle while running before. Pain, sure, but a feeling that a muscle just couldn’t handle it? Not that I could remember, anyway.

I tried to power through a few more runs, but my leg wasn’t improving and my form was getting worse, so I just gave up. It was during my discouraged cool-down walk that I found out the C25K app I use doesn’t save partial workouts. What?? I had completed between 2/3 and 3/4 of my workout, but there was no way to save the data if the workout wasn’t complete. That just ticked me off even more! I wanted to know how far I had run – I wasn’t counting laps of the track – and how fast I had gone, but nope. Serves me right for not also wearing Simon, I suppose, but still.

And then, later that afternoon, my left knee started hurting. And then, this morning, my dodgy metatarsal started acting up again. Boo, I say. Boo!

Was my crap run a direct result of my crap form during Yeti Day Two? Perhaps. I feel like a messy Etch-a-Sketch, and want to shake it and start over… start running again from the beginning with no injuries to speak of. Wouldn’t that be nice?

But, alas. There is no do-over button (at least I haven’t found one yet!). I think this calls for a serious knuckling down on my part. How many times have I written here that I’m going to get serious about doing my PT exercises and yadda yadda? I’m learning the hard – but not surprising – way that I *actually* need to do that stuff. Merely writing it here isn’t going to solve my injury woes. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to get myself to do it… dangling carrots of motivation haven’t helped, or any of my other schemes. One thing’s for sure… I need to figure out something!

In the meantime, my injury woes made me unable to participate in this year’s Mill Cities Relay, which I ran last year for the first time and absolutely loved. I’m also not sure if I’ll be able to run my goal 5K later this month. Hmph. All this disappointment may end up being the motivation I need to knuckle down! As I’ve said too many times on here – wish me luck!

How’s your running going? Did you race this weekend?

Have you ever used a Couch to 5K app? Which one(s) did you use, and did you have any frustrating experiences like I had?