Not a running break!

Etsy’s poster is good for my wall and Exercise is good for me! win-win 😃

Ever had to make a decision that made you want to run just to let off some steam only you couldn’t run because that was the decision? Yes, gosh dang it, me! Last week, I decided to take a six to eight week hiatus from running to see if a break from the constant pounding of my legs and knees will help alliviate the stress on my sciatic nerve. While I’ve been doing PT for this issue for a couple of months (1x p/week) it doesn’t seem to be getting any better and well I really need to go all in to figure this out. This lingering discomfort that’s restricting my movement is not my idea of a good time nor anything I want to be dealing with in Spring as the weather warms up, so I figure I need to do the unthinkable and not run. How has that been working out? Hmm, sorta.

On the heels of moving and getting myself situated, I’ve been figuring out what will work best for this current season, which I hope to be a short one, and looking at gyms/ boxes/ studios in the area while trying out different things. Amidst all that I’m committed to my PT routine and getting my full range of motion back and have been spending a lot of time stretching and working on core strength. To this end, I started doing Pilates, which took on a whole different meaning when I was introduced to the reformer machine. I ended up doing a little too much on there in the excitement and exacerbated by lower back, which had me take a step back to acknowledge my limitations and consider my options. It really is prudent to listen to your body and tame your/my competitive spirit. I’m sure you’re nothing like me though and know better than to try challenging things that could compromise the very progress you’ve been working on. No excuses. I’m a hard nut sometimes, but I’m getting better I promise!

After going around in circles for a bit, and talking with my PT guy and doing a little research, I’ve decided that the gym – crossfit-type – without the olympic-style lifting, is the safest place to be. Apparently, I store too much energy away from the gym and the safest outlet for me is to get in there and take it in smaller doses. Lol. I’m an exercise nut y’all! So I came up with a guide to help myself stay safely exercised: some minor running to/from workout (one and a half miles away) for the next six weeks and modified workouts of any type of pushing, pulling, pressing, squatting, or any type of exercise that involves my lower back. My goal in this season is to stay in the gym and not get sidelined by injury so I’m working on staying fit and not looking for any 1RPM (one rep max) neither any new lifts nor any type of challenge. Yes, I’m preaching to the choir. I’m also aware I’ll have to remind myself of this each day for the next six weeks. Dang it, I can do this!

See guys, I’m really thankful that I have options. Some people, who are stubborn like me, have not been so blessed and don’t get to work out with an injury. I want to remain mindful of that and be a good steward and I believe this mindset will keep it all in perspective. I didn’t have to be able to move around and be free to exercise but I am. I am grateful. Next post I’ll dwelve a little into the common areas of injury prone to runners and how we can guard against them. Till then, stay thankful. Perspective is everything!

An April for the Books and the Gym – not Overrated

Spring blooms on Park Ave

Yet another month has zipped by in what many are thinking of as the new normal. Legitimate as those thoughts might be, I’ve been spending a lot of time staying physically active in lieu of polarizing thoughts of when will things get back to “normal.” Maybe normal is overrated for what does it mean anyway. Perspective really is everything and I’ve been informing and forming my perspective so that I’ll remain healthy and in a sound mind. A sound mind is not overrated.

Arm curls in action

True to form, April has been everywhere on the weather map and that has led to some chaos in my running and gym workouts. I’ve been all over the place – from running in the mornings, sometimes just to gym and back at a tempo pace to more medium mid afternoons and early evening runs. Wherever, whenever, however it works out I’m in the game and staying active. So with running ( shorter runs) and being in the gym at least five days a week – my new “normal,” you’d be right to think there isn’t a lot of time left. Between work, working out, running, and these endless on-line events, I’m about ready to have a fit, and the first casualty will be my computer I’m almost sure of it. Because the truth is I’m exhausted with all this online activity. I’m over-ready to get into a real room, not a zoom room, with real people, and have real conversations, that effects tangible change and have tangible, spur-of-the- moment results. Face-to-face conversation/ communication is so not overrated.

Solo Deadlifts

The best part about 2021 so far has been getting back in the gym! That, my friends, is not overrated either. The classes, comradery, competition, stories, even the sweating and complaining, it’s all good, healthy, and fun stuff. I’m having the time of my life after a year hiatus brought on by Covid. I kid you not that working out and exercise have literally saved lives this past year – obviously that’s true for always – but particularly in the past year because it provided a mental release/ outlet from all the stress and general fallout from the pandemic that has been associated with health, economic, social, and physical changes to our cities, country, and world. Effects that we’re still dealing with both individually and collectively. The gym is my safe haven. So what if it’s a bit different with less people and with having to make sure to reserve a spot and wear a mask and sanitize hands as well as wipe down all the material used. These are mere extras, not inconveniences – aside from the mask-wearing, as they’re actual healthy practices that should remain permanently in my opinion. Sorry, not sorry, that this virus has brought out the germophobe in me. I’m sure you understand though, this is all of us to some degree now – and well cleanliness cannot be overrated either. I cannot, in good conscience, say that I’m not looking forward to a world with no virus but with all the health and safety measures hammered in place. Don’t worry, it’s for our good.

Chest flys on the bosu ball

With everything this past year, and like a lot of people, I’ve had to switch gyms and landed at a location that’s not-quite-the-box but so good nonetheless. And while this means I haven’t been lifting as much as I did when I was at the other place, I have the opportunity to dabble in other things that crossfit has set the premise for while still getting to practice my lifts, which I do twice a week now. All other times it’s a mix of EMOMs and AMRAPs (crossfit terminology and styled workouts involving consecutive one minutes of work). The focus of these workouts is conditioning for either upper or lower body depending on the day. If I’m being honest, it’s been a nice change and a lot of focus on core and balance..core work was a daily practice of mine last year for around 20 minutes, six days per week so I’m happy to be continuing in that vien. Some other interesting things going on at this new facility are battle ropes, trx suspension training, sled push/pull, sand bags and a lot of Tabatha incorporated into the workouts. Oh and we still use the rowers! Rowers overrated? Never.

Meet me @ the barbells

April and gym takeaways? Stay thankful. Stay running. And stay strong. At the new gym, there’s a little something for everyone (as in every part of me) LoL: some home (crossfit) comforts and a fresh influx of challenges to overcome, and, I still get to practice my lifts – only now I go solo. Can’t honestly say that I don’t miss the good ole days of full classes, heavy lifting, in-house competitions, and lots of targeted training. It’ll be a while before that dust settles but I’m here for it. If nothing else, 2020-21 has taught me to appreciate the here and now. So I’ll just go right on appreciating my way into getting stronger everyday. Here’s to May flowers and many hours – of running and gym power.

On the run

Celebrating One Year of CrossFit and 10+ Years of Running 🎊🎊🎊

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be an avid Cross fitter and runner, approaching my sixteenth marathon in a week’s time, and living in New York City for seven out of those 10 years, I’d probably have believed you on everything but surviving seven winters here in the Big Apple state. It’s a testament to my spirit of adventure, and, I might add, survival skills, that I have lived here this long despite vowing to the contrary when I was younger. It is that spirit of adventure, with which I credit my athletic proclivities and the propensity to push and redefine so-called limits.

One year ago, after much ado, and yeah I had a few misgivings with my running in full swing, I started CrossFit. I didn’t know then if I would be able to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to, what seemed back then, such an aggressive form of fitness training. I mean by all accounts it was tough and demanding. Did I have the time and ability to commit to that type of thing? I didn’t know. But dammit I hoped so, since the buzz was it could help my running. So yeah, I was a bit trepidatious, actually a helluva lot. After all, those guys lifting looked mad strong in all the pics I’d seen, and I’d seen a lot combing the internet and other media images. A year later, I can safely say that you should never let apprehension get the better of you.

These days, I like to say, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to go back to a regular gym. I now know all gyms are definitely not created equal. But while CrossFit boxes might hold the edge in the exercise arena, which is possibly because of their badass reputation and commitment to High Intensity Training and Olympic Style Lifting/ Weight Training, I’m also aware that there are many competing fitness ideas popping up all over the place. CrossFit’s ability to maintain their edge will depend on their ability to diversify, develop, and reinvent their core concepts in the coming years. In the meantime, it’s been pretty interesting, challenging, and invigorating.

Those who know me know that I have never been one to back down at anything , even less so when it came to exercise. So that CrossFit was or rather is a challenge means only that you can be sure I’ll give it my best. Thus far I’ve enjoyed the competitive but encouraging spirit among gym members and the variety in the programs offered at my gym. The comraderie among athletes when we do class WODs (work-out of the day) and at in-house competitions have been truly inspiring as have been the coaches’ knowledge, experience, and willingness and ability to impart said knowledge. The CrossFit environment is one where one can thrive with the right attitude no matter their level. We can all agree that you don’t pay a lot of money for someone to kick your ass and have nothing to show for it. The gains are where it’s at people.

So yes, I’m feeling the gains some: I’m already so much stronger than I’ve ever been, my lifts are getting better all the time, though I do struggle in a couple of areas..my damn humanity..and I’m developing a host of existing skills while learning new ones and new ways to do old ones. Next Monday I’m running the Boston Marathon, yet again, and I’m hoping that, weather aside this time, I can possibly see some of those gains extend itself to stronger running, better endurance, a lot more confidence, and the absence of injuries. Yay! Go me!

Summer’s Running, So Should You!

Wow..Summer huh! Who can explain this crazy weather! There have been few really hot days so far but a lot of others; everything from a drizzle and overcast skies to torrential downpours and thunderstorms, all under a thin veil of humidity. Overall though, it’s been a runner’s paradise so yours truly is not complaining. Wait a minute! I’m actually raving about the weather! Now that hasn’t happened in recent times, so it must be making me crazy as well! Whatever though, if I get to run to the tune of its randomness and have fun while doing it then that’s quite a feat these days.

For instance, last Saturday amidst the annual summer streets event held here in the Big A, we had the fortune, or misfortune, depends on which side you’re on, of running some 15 miles in an epic thunderstorm. I was so hopping glad it wasn’t in 90° sunshine that even with the prevailing humidity, when the rains eventually let up some, I couldn’t complain. Additionally, the Saturday prior we also got caught in a torrential downpour out in Brooklyn. Before and since then, I’ve had many rain-run encounters leaving me sodden (as the Brits would say) but quite the happy runner. In case you haven’t already guessed, I love running in the rain – thunderstorms are a favorite of mine.

So whilst there has been that enjoyable element added to the summer of 2018, the standard marathon training is in full swing. For many of us racing in the Fall or those with early September runs, now is the time to hop back on the training wagon. And if ever there was a time for an impromptu run, now is the time. Quick, before summer, and free time, and nice weather, and get-out-of-your-box adventure runs are gone. Living in New York is pretty amazing on its own but it’s doubly so because of the amazing opportunities for getting out of one’s comfort zone. A gazillion chances exists to push oneself to try new things. I’d wager that wherever you are there are similar opportunities for those with the urge to make something meaningful of what’s left of these summer days.

Here are some slightly off-beat suggestions to help you to that point:

  • Tag a friend for an extreme racing event – for example; a mud run, an obstacle race, or a slightly tougher warrior race and get your fun-o-meter up there.
  • Run a 5K – it requires minimal training.
  • Do a charity run or walk and make an impact – there are various good cause events hosted throughout the summer, like the Susan Komen Walk to Fight Breast Cancer.
  • Sign up for a sporting or exercise event that incorporates a form of exercise and something fun or relaxing, like a yoga retreat or a surfing workshop. Make sure running is part of the deal..kidding. Or not.
  • Run a half-marathon, a marathon, or an ultra. You knew it was coming! Just be sure training is part of the plan. The goal is to have fun while pushing those perceived limits, not getting injured.
  • Make any of the above a destination race/ experience by traveling somewhere new to add a slightly different -maybe cultural- twist.

I’m just saying. Why should summer just roll on out of here without you putting your stamp on it. All to often, we are so caught up in the day-to-day drudge, barely getting by, and not fully living and engaging with life and those around us. Wouldn’t it be something if this summer was the summer we decided to live out loud.

CrossFit and Running Update

“So how’s that going?…” is the question on many a mind I’m guessing since I’ve been asked it over a dozen times since I started CrossFit back in March. What if I told you, “It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!” That to this day, since March, I’ve adopted the lifestyle of the over-zealous gym chick who covets her workouts and cannot conceive of the idea of a regular gym. In fact, regular anything no longer exists – is it even a thing – and if so the idea is simply unthinkable.

Right away let me point out that this method of exercise is not just something I do. It is, for all intents and purposes, a way of life I’ve adopted into and I couldn’t be more pleased. As with everything I do, I dove in fully prepared to give 100%. After all, anything less would have been unacceptable and surely wouldn’t have worked in an environment where giving 110% is routine. The term “bring it” well describes my daily workouts as each one seems designed to have you leave it all out there on the floor dripping, exhausted, and hurting, but oh so good. As it is I’ve become rather good at complaining aloud at the demons that drive our coaches when in reality I’m really struck with their ingenuity and creativity in coming up with varied WODs (workout of the day) that keep us interested, excited, and eager to return.

My only complaint is that of there not being enough hours in the day. I find the days slipping away so quickly and I have yet to figure out a sustainable workout schedule that will merge CrossFit workouts, running, and my relatively infrequent but necessary yoga and soul cycle sessions. The truth is now that marathon training has begun and it’s smack in the middle of Summer, I have to schedule my workouts around my job, which has intensified things somewhat and leaves me with but one option of training runs in the morning before work, CrossFit workouts in the evening, and long runs on the weekend. This of course is based on the premise of being well rested ie. getting to bed by 10pm so I can be up and ready to go at 4:30-ish and getting my mid-day nap. At this point, I’m still struggling with making this my reality and know that I will eventually figure it out.

Meanwhile, the jury’s still out on the physical impact CrossFit is having on my running. This is of course largely due to my inability to find a fixed schedule to maximize both workouts. On the other hand, my physicality has improved tremendously: I’m stronger, more flexible, certainly more skilled and adept in the gym, and I’m told I look fit and strong. To that point, I feel great and look forward to the time when I’m able to combine the best of both worlds. For now, I remain chasing dreams and perfection.

February Is Heart Health Month

img1519497740564_1.jpgFebruary brings to mind: hearts and flowers, and hugs and kisses, and endless mushiness. Cute and necessary I think, but ideally it’s how we should live everyday, receiving and sharing love with those in our lives and those we have the opportunity to meet. Before and beyond that though is the notion of loving ourselves. Just what does that mean anyway. Aside from pampering oneself and giving others the permission to treat us with dignity and respect, how can we engender love for ourselves that has a multiplying effect that extends beyond us to make a lasting impact on our world? I posit that how we treat and care for our bodies, minds, and spirits speaks a helluva lot more to how we care about ourselves and in turn determines whether we can truly care for others.

Every February we celebrate Heart Health Month. During this time we talk about physical matters of the heart (monitoring our cholesterol & sugar levels, diet, exercise, and other risks factors) all super important..but what if we paid equal attention to the emotional and spiritual aspect of our hearts as well. What if we approached the heart as more than just an organ that beats and transfers blood throughout the body, but one that is intrinsically linked to the very nature of our existence. After all, there is no life without it.

So with just a week left, it’s not too late to encourage you to consider:

(1) A healthier lifestyle this year. Give some thought to embracing a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lots of greens and color, whole grains; reduce your intake of unhealthy fats and oils, processed foods, refined sugar, and sugar additives.

(2) Visiting a doctor. Get all your vitals checked including your cholesterol and sugar levels and for heart and breathing irregularities, and blood pressure levels. Use the opportunity to take all the necessary annual blood and other tests that are recommended to make sure you’re healthy and whole physically.

(3) Exercise. Not over rated, exercise has been proven to have positive effects on your heart and reduce your chances of heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or to have a stroke if you are physically active. Some experts recommend at least 30 minutes per day of some time of exercise that accelerates your heart rate, while some cardiologists even suggests running ( particularly interval training) as a means of achieving cardiovascular fitness. Most often getting involved in group exercise to motivate and support you can work to get you started and keep you going.

(4) Volunteering, giving back, and embracing our spiritual selves. Engaging in individual or community efforts that relates to reaching out and cultivating and building relationships with the aim of encouraging and uplifting others works to create feel-good endorphins and empathy in us and toward those we engage with. It also opens us up the reality of our place and purpose in life to being a blessing to others. We begin to recognize that there exist a common thread that links all that we do. Our desire to be healthy and whole individuals is tied to our need to live with meaning and purpose, which helps us in our pursuit of happiness. Ultimately, and altogether, it all has an over reaching positive impact on our mental, emotional, and thus, physical health.

It’s July… birthday, running, racing. Where have I Been?

Me @ Central Park

Wow! Hot days and Summer are moving full steam ahead while I have been preoccupied with various non-running essentials. Sometimes life can get in the way of your plans and you literally have to fight your way out and double down on your efforts to stay on course. That has been my struggle this last month or so, but no more. I’m welcoming July with the full intent of racking up those miles and getting totally physical with my workouts. Plus, it also happens to be my birthday month, which adds a bit of extra motivation to my grand scheme of becoming the fittest version of myself.

Me and the pro’s @ nyrr mini 10K

A brief look back saw us celebrating international running day in June, people all over the world joined in and got their run on and shared about it on social media. For my part, that was one of the days I made sure to get out there and celebrate our sport with other like-minded people. It was awesome to see and be a part of a world community committed to running for every reason you could think of. Then there was the mini 10K, the only women’s race in the city, certainly the first of its kind in the world, where we show a lot of woman power and even international presence. About 8,500 of us ran this year and though that was a slightly lower number than last year, it was a totally well-executed run by NYRR. Surprisingly, I had my best 10K time in a few years. I never run particularly well in the heat so it did kick my butt in the latter miles, but somehow I was able to do it in a time in which I was satisfied, 46:31, and made me 198th overall, which  means there are some really fast runners in this city.

Yep, I soul cycle.

Not much happened after that as I got bogged down with work and had to slow down, not stop, my plans. I’ve been spending most of my running time in the gym, splitting between runs on the treadmill, body pump classes, spin classes, strength training and doing core work. Therefore, it hasn’t been all bad just less running. Like I said, I plan on upping my mileage this month and hope to do a bit more running outside, either early in the mornings or late in the evenings on account of the heat. This is also the month I plan on starting cross fit training. Happy Birthday to me!

A Case for Cross Fit

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Source: gethellthy: “Neyxi Barraza by Pedro Matute ”

I should be enjoying some downtime. Ideally, freeing myself up from training for any long-distance event should see me enjoying some kickback time, a snooze fest or two and some down right lazy days, no doubt designed to get me just that- lazy. Only, I haven’t really gotten round to breathing much since getting back from that Ragnar event two weekends ago far less to get lazy. Sure I haven’t been running as much, but that only means I’m doing a hundred other things. In fact, I’ve been so elbow-deep in a project, I haven’t even had time to write on here; it didn’t help that the project was sort of writing-related. Thankfully it’s over and I can get down to some fun, i.e., exercise fun. I mean, my body really knows no other way and I don’t do lazy; what I do is get antsy, anxious and a tad crazy.

So I’m changing things up a bit and because I can, I’ve decided to explore my limits and push my boundaries, well kind of, with CrossFit training. If you’re wondering, why CrossFit?  Well, aside from the fact that I love a challenge, I’ve been slowly building a curiosity about it for some time and it’s not so far out of the left field given my passion for exercise and fitness. In addition, it is on my new year resolution list this year inspired by the stories I’ve been reading and hearing from others who have dived into this sport/lifestyle.

CrossFit, according to Stacie Tovar, CrossFit athlete and co-owner of CrossFit Omaha, is varied, functional high intensity movements meant to help people become more physically prepared for anything. Many people hear CrossFit and think weightlifting and more weight training but according to Stacie and others like her, who enjoy the sport, CrossFit is so much more and its participants exist along a wide spectrum from the curious, young, adventurous and self-motivated to the student, business owner, competitive athlete and everywhere in-between. Many, while touting its biggest challenge, that it’s hard, have talked about the benefits of getting you to a fitter and stronger level, if not your fittest and strongest. It goes without saying that this does not happen overnight, as with any sport it requires commitment, motivation, a desire to succeed and the ability to stick with it.  Beyond that, it encourages a healthy lifestyle as exercise is wont to do and, if anything, even more so than other forms as persons become aware real quick of the time, effort and sacrifice that is being applied to achieve the success they desire. Then it becomes a matter of course to pursue a lifestyle in keeping with that goal.

I am beyond inspired by the determination, commitment and pure mettle of those who pursue this course to achieve their desired results. While I can promise I won’t ever be a pro, let’s just say faint-hearted I’m not.

Downtime Running in my Shoes

It’s not very often that I get to run just because – with no marathon on the horizon. You heard right! No deadlines, no training, no Saturday long runs, or crunch-time cross training, or speed and tempo runs. Things are just happening on a slightly ad-hoc basis, though runs and workouts are pretty consistent across the average week.

Gotta say, it feels different, and strange, and good, and uncertain, all at the same time. Earlier in the year, I had plans for a repeat summer marathon in San Francisco, but things have changed and I’m planning a few fun/adventure runs with the possibility of a longer run at the end of summer now. One of the things I prize about myself is my ability to be flexible as circumstances change and/or different opportunities present themselves; so while I’m holding fast to my larger goals, I’m open to changing things up a bit in favor of unavoidable circumstances, adventure, opportunity variety and so on. The situation, as is life, remains fluid and since I’m a keep-your-overnight-bag-packed kinda girl, I’m pretty much stuck in a rut proof. But for now, I’m cool with chilling and not having to sweat the details and complexities that come with the long run.

Meanwhile, there are lots of running and running-related things keeping me busy and I’m reveling in it. I have a few running events lined up, cross-fit training on the horizon, swimming in the summer and then there’s my regular workouts and fit classes at the gym. Next stop – Ragnar, Cape Cod. It’s happening this weekend. Stay tuned to hear all about how it went down next week!

Love Beautiful, Love Healthy, Love Happy, Love Running

 

Source:Core Body Fitness

Source: Core Body Fitness

My body and I have been through it all. But recently I have been liberated. I am healthy, I treat myself well, and for that I’m happy. I’ve looked in the mirror and been able to LOVE the things about my body that beauty norms deem ‘undesirable’. I now have grown to know that my body is worthy of so many great things. I don’t need to be a size 0 to believe in myself. My body carries me each and every day, it loves the people i love, it holds what makes me healthy and strong, it bends it shakes it runs and it CHANGES. That is okay and that is beautiful.                ~Sailor Brinkley Cook

Last week there was a CNN opinion piece by Peggy Decker about Christie Brinkley,  a 63 years old former Sports Illustrated (SI) model, who appeared on the cover of SI once again, after many years, alongside her two daughters, Sailor Brinkley Cook and  Alexa Ray Joel. While the article has many merits, I take issue with its attempt to delegitimize Christie Brinkley’s love, validation and pride in her body.
Decker argues that Brinkley’s “sexagenarianism” or youthful beauty and implied good health is an impossible ideal for women to strive for and is therefore unrealistic and unattainable. I hardly agree. Those of us who embrace a healthy lifestyle expect to see the results of our dedication and commitment to same. We are under no illusion that we hold the key to eternal youth or any such fallacy, as that is well within God’s design,  but we do believe that such a path allows us, as far as it is within our power to do so, to minimize the risks of sickness, aging badly and other negative conditions associated with getting older. The idea is that if we love our bodies, regardless of color, size, age and or type, and take care to treat it well, we will be rewarded with a healthy and beautiful life within the limits of this realm of course. It’s a fact, we live in an imperfect world and so we’re privy to all the imperfections that come with that, however we have a responsibility to value greatly this gift we have been blessed with and while it may not always be the case, at least 75% of the time we are guaranteed success.
Our part is clear and easier now than ever before: eat healthy meals, snack healthy, drink lots of water, exercise daily to include running of course (wink), moisturize and use sunscreen, visit your doctor regularly to ensure your necessary checkups and be happy. Those are the things within our purview, things we have every right and responsibility to attain. It will go a long way in refuting the supposition that a long, beautiful, healthy and youthful life is unrealizable.

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