Yoga

Monday Run-down: January 9

Well, we’ve made it through the first week of 2012. Time flies! And since it’s Monday, it’s time to recap last week and prepare for the one ahead.

I’m really happy with how my week turned out. If you’ll recall, my goal was to run a total of 15 miles and incorporate some non-running exercise into my routine.

My week in running, via DailyMile

I was right on track to get my 15 miles in, and felt good enough that I decided to run a bit longer on Saturday. That combined with the 2 miles I ran in bootcamp class on Sunday morning brings me to a total of 20 miles. Yay! It’s amazing how good it feels to get in a solid week of running–even though the weeks previous to this one were somewhat disappointing, having one good week under my belt is enough to make me feel great. That’s one of the joys of running, I guess.

Unfortunately, my week ended on a rather painful note as I managed to wrench my back about 40 minutes into my hour-long bootcamp class. I’m 99% sure that the pain has to do with how weak my muscles are, especially in my core (more on this later). One thing I will say now: this hurts, dudes! Don’t go and mess up your lower back if you can help it. I’m going to see how I feel while running, and take it easy if I need to.

And with that in mind, here’s what I hope to accomplish this week:

Monday: I might do a little bit of yoga tonight. My back feels best when I’m moving around, and stretching has really helped to loosen it up.

Tuesday: 3-4 miles (if I’m up to it)

Wednesday: 4 miles

Thursday: rest/yoga

Friday: 4 miles

Saturday: 7 miles

Sunday: bootcamp

My goal is to end up with a minimum of 15 miles; I’d like to hang out at around 15-20 miles a week for a while, until I feel like I’m ready to move on. After all, the whole point is to keep the perspective of a beginner. There’s no need to do too much, too fast.

Outside of running and exercise, my goal will be to focus on doing what’s right for my body: if I need to slow down, I’ll slow down. If that means I don’t make it to 15 miles, so be it. If I were coaching someone who’d hurt themselves, I’d tell them not to run if there was any pain. This week, I’m going to do my best to listen to my own advice!

How was your first week of 2012? Share your goals and accomplishments in the comments!

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This Picture Just Kills Me

Every morning I get an email from Groupon, announcing its latest deals. Inevitably, I find myself wondering how they select the images that will go along with the offer. Sometimes, it’s clearly an image of the restaurant or business being advertised. Often, though, it’s very obviously a stock photo. It’s those instances that really make me wonder–does Groupon have a photo editor (or several) who select these pictures? Or are companies asked to supply images when they liaise with Groupon? These questions keep me up at night, and one of the reasons they do is that sometimes the pictures are just whack-a-doo.

Like this one, for a $20-for-20-sessions-of-yoga at a place that sounds sort of…well…weird:

Image via Groupon

Seriously, this picture just kills me. And if it was chosen by the people at the yoga studio, then I’d consider this a warning sign: Don’t go! Why not? Well, first of all, no self-respecting yoga teacher is going to let students get away with form like that. Your shoulders should be back and down, away from your ears; your chest should be radiating forward; you don’t need to be looking up to the point where your neck is wrenched back, like that woman toward the back is doing. Second, since when do people wear socks and shoes in yoga? Since never, that’s when. Third, what’s going on with those mats? Not only are they thicker than any yoga mat (even the thick ones) I’ve ever seen, they’re also super short. Of course, that makes sense, because they’re not yoga mats. Finally, why are these people all made up like they’re going out to dinner after their yoga class? I know some people wear jewelry while they exercise, but wearing a watch and having my hair hanging all over my face while I’m trying to do down dog would drive me insane.

Is it silly of me to analyze a picture like this? Yes. But it’s weird. There must be literally hundreds of stock images of people doing yoga with proper form, with proper equipment; images that would make the service being offered look legitimate and maybe even enticing. Instead this just makes me want to laugh. And relax my shoulders, because wow, my neck and shoulders hurt just looking at those women.

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Sunday Run-down, Now With More Mondays

Except of course, ugh, who wants more Mondays! Am I right?

Step On – Live in Barcelona

Image via Wikipedia

Seriously, though, I fully intended to post this yesterday but obviously I didn’t. And so here I am, a day late and a buck short. I also feel a little guilty because I try to reserve Mondays for Embrace:Me, and I’m obviously not doing that tonight. What can I say? I haven’t been blogging as much as I’ve wanted to lately (the ideas are there! the time is a different story!), and things are a little bit out of order as a result.

All that said, last week was a good week when it comes to running. I’m still on the wake-up-early-and-go-running wagon, thanks in no small part to Tracy, whose company and conversation make getting up at 5:30 am about as painless as it could possibly be. In addition to that, I’ve been working hard on my 30 days yogathon challenge, and doing pretty well if I do say so.

Let’s take a look…

Monday: 4 morning miles

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: 5 miles; yogathon meditation

Friday: 4 morning miles; yogathon journaling

Saturday: rest; meditation

Sunday: 4 miles; meditation

I’m not sure if the meditation has anything to do with it, but yesterday when I was thinking about the mileage I’d done for the week I was able to feel pretty relaxed about it and see it as an accomplishment (hey, I ran 17 miles and I enjoyed every one of them!) rather than a failure (I ran 17 miles but I wish I’d run 20). That’s a big deal for me. It’s nice to be able to run according to how much I feel like running on any given day without having to worry about how it’s going to end up affecting a training schedule or performance in a race.

For this upcoming week, I am hoping to throw a bit more yoga into the yogathon mix, and do another 17-20 miles. I may also do a bootcamp class, but my jury is still out on that one–instead of a cold, I now have a sinus infection. I’m trying to take it relatively easy, so I figure I’ll see how I’m feeling.

Your turn! How was your week of workouts? What do you have in store for this week? Are you yogathoning? If so, how’s it going?

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For the Next 30 Days: December

This morning, I rather serendipitously came across a Facebook post from Thais about a 25-day “yogathon” she’s doing. In spite of its name, it’s not all about yoga. The main goal is to cleanse the mind, body, and soul. That was part of my focus with the 30-day project I had in mind for November, which was basically to do as much Bikram yoga as possible. Well, that fell through (you may have noticed. And by the way, thanks to Bikram Yoga Grand Central, for having non-existent customer service). So I thought this month might be a good time to try again (or at least try a variation).

A yoga class.

Image via Wikipedia

Everyone has their own concept when it comes to cleansing the mind, body, and soul, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time today thinking about what this sort of challenge would consist of. As I thought about it, I began to realize how much my anxiety has flared up over the past few weeks. The holidays are a stressful time, and rather than find effective ways to deal with difficult situations, I’ve been trying to ignore them. Guess what? It’s not a very good coping strategy! In fact, it just makes you more anxious. Deep down, I know that the best way to deal with anxiety is to face up to it, and have a toolbox of coping strategies that you can turn to in order to keep it from getting really bad. So my December yogathon is going to be working to put some things in that toolbox, and hopefully managing my anxiety a bit more effectively as a result.

The tools:

  • Yoga, obvs. Along with running, it’s one of the best defenses I have against everyday anxiety
  • Meditation. A new thing for me, but something that other people have used (for hundreds of years!) with great success. Why not give it a try?
  • Journaling. Also a new thing, but an effective way to deal with difficult situations. I find that when I am able to articulate what it is I’m anxious about, it really helps defuse everything that’s building up. Not only that, but often when I actually express it, it becomes a lot less scary than it was.

What I’m aiming to do is use one of these tools every day, and get into the practice of doing something about the things that are getting to me instead of just letting them sit there and build up until they become too big for me to keep ignoring. Nothing good ever comes from that. 

What would you do to cleanse your mind, body, and soul?

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Boot(y-kicking) Camp

Last Tuesday I did something a little bit different from my usual routine, and took advantage of a Groupon offer I’d bought over the summer for 10 sessions of a boot camp class. My attempts to get in touch with the Bikram yoga studio I wanted to attend for my 30-day yoga challenge failed, and as a result my yoga practice kind of fell by the wayside. I thought boot camp would be a good way to shake things up and try something new.

A drill instructor addressing United States Ma...

Image via Wikipedia

Even though I’d bought the Groupon, I’ve always been a little bit scared of the boot camp idea. I mean, what comes to mind when you think of boot camp? If you’re anything like me (and I think most people probably are in this case), you think of a drill sergeant yelling at you while you do push-up after push-up and ultimately collapse face-down in a puddle of mud. Was this really something I wanted to do voluntarily? Combine that with the fact that my running has been lackluster lately, and the fact that I hardly ever do any sort of training aside from running, and…well, you might understand why I was a little hesitant to take advantage of this particular offer.

In spite of my hesitation, though, I made plans to meet my friend Caitlin in Central Park last week, and subject myself to an hour of what I feared would be complete torture. And guess what: it was! But only for the first five or ten minutes.

We started right in on the workout with squats, and then push-ups, and then more squats, followed by more push-ups, and then running! As we took off running to our next location (the class alternates between short bouts of running, and stops in specific locations for exercises like walking lunges, step-ups, etc.) I felt like crying. People were merrily running ahead of me, and I started worrying that I was the weakest person in the group. I wondered if I’d be left behind, unable to keep up with everyone else. As we went through a series of lunges, step-ups, and toe taps at our second stop, I started to wonder if maybe I should find a way to bow out. Could I just run away without the instructor noticing? Could I come up with some great excuse for why I just had to leave?

As we left our second location to move on to our third, though, something changed. I didn’t feel weak and pathetic. In fact, I felt really good. Sure, I wasn’t going to be able to do every single push-up or tricep dip, but why should I have been? I hadn’t been training for ages in order to do those things. I was still toward the back of the pack when we would run from one spot to the next, but who cares? I made it through every exercise, and I didn’t walk when we were supposed to be running. For someone who hadn’t been doing much of anything over the past few weeks, I was doing really well. Hell, I’d go so far as to say that I was doing really well for someone who had been exercising consistently for the past few weeks.

By the end of the hour-long session I a) couldn’t believe it had only been an hour; b) couldn’t believe I had made it through the entire hour; c) felt amazing and energized; and d) knew I was addicted. I’d been hoping to go back tonight, but I’m sick with yet another cold and thought that I probably wouldn’t enjoy the class nearly as much if I was hacking up a lung the entire time. I can’t wait to go back, though, and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep taking the classes once my Groupon deal has run out.

I was sore for a full two days after the class, but going to the boot camp class kicked my butt physically and emotionally, forcing me to get out of the rut I’d established with running, and definitely spicing things up. It was a small thing, but it’s had big results: I feel like my interest in and passion for running has been reignited, and along with it, I’ve found a fun new activity to add in to my weekly training. I’m excited to see where this new path will lead me, in running and beyond.

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For the Next 30 Days: November

Logo for the program 30 Days Category:Televisi...

Image via Wikipedia

I am many things. Unfortunately, quick to post updates and create new pages for things when I say I’m going to is not always one of them. The worst part is that it’s not that I forget, it’s just that sometimes I don’t do what I say I’m going to do, in spite of my best intentions. A recent example of this: creating a page for my 30 Days project, and then updating it with information about my 30-day sleep hygiene experiment, and my most recent 30-day attempt at self-improvement, which I managed to avoid posting about for all of October.

So! It’s entirely possible you’re wondering what exactly I was doing for my October 30 days (or you may have thought I’d completely forgotten. Or, you may have completely forgotten)! I was trying to eat a total of five fruits and vegetables every day. I did a pretty good job. I started out thinking it would be easy, but as it turns out I was wrong. It can be much harder than you’d think to fit five fruits and vegetables into your day, especially at times when you’re traveling or you don’t have immediate access to a very wide food selection. In learning that it could be more difficult than I’d originally anticipated, I developed a greater appreciation for fruit- and vegetable-rich meal opportunities, and also started paying a lot more attention to the composition of my meals and snacks (generally something I try to avoid, given my history with food). Overall: a good challenge, and one I’d recommend. If you don’t feel like going all out and investing a full 30 days, at least try to think more about your fruit and vegetable intake for a week.

But now it’s time to put October (and those 30 days) aside and move on to November, the next phase. This month, I’ve got yoga on the brain. Specifically Bikram yoga. And in addition to having yoga on the brain, I’ve got a Groupon in my pocket, conveniently for a month of unlimited yoga at a Bikram yoga studio near my office. It’s set to expire on the 11th, which is part of the motivation for this month’s challenge: 30 days of yoga, 20 of which will be of the Bikram variety.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bikram, it’s a variety of yoga that consists of a set number of postures (the same set for every practice) that are done in a room heated to over 100 degrees. I’ve dabbled with it in the past, but I have never been the greatest fan; however, people who do like it really like it. Most Bikram practitioners say that the more you do it, the more you like it, and that it’s especially important to do it at least two days in a row when you first start. Why? I don’t know. Is it true? Again, I don’t know. But I intend to find out.

My non-Bikram days will be pretty loosely structured, and I’m setting a minimum of twenty minutes for those practices. It’s pretty likely that I’ll stick to practices from YogaVibes, and I’ll try to post reviews of them. To be honest, I’m kind of scared of this challenge. It’s a tall order, but I think it’s got potential to be a lot of fun. And sweaty.

Anyone with me? If not for 30 days, then maybe at least for a few?

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Birthday Run-Down!

I know today is Sunday, and normally that would mean a Sunday Run-Down.  But sometimes you just don’t feel like writing one, especially when you feel like your training is going all that well.  So instead of a Sunday Run-Down, today I’m bringing you a Birthday Run-Down.  It’s like a training round-up, except that it’s about all the goodies I would buy myself for my birthday if I had the money.  Why the birthday theme?  Well, because tomorrow is my 30th!  So please join me while I indulge myself.

I think I could probably break things down into three main categories: Running, Yoga, and Miscellaneous (which is kind of cheating, I know).

Running

Does it come as any surprise?  The first thing I’d get myself is a pair of Vibram FiveFingersthe Bikila LS, to be specific.  I think

Image via Running Warehouse

we all know I’ve been lusting after these things for a while now.

I’d also try out some Honey Stinger Energy Gels.  I know it seems silly to put something that mundane on a birthday wishlist, but the tricky thing about gels is that you don’t want to buy a whole case without knowing whether or not you like them.  I don’t want to end up with an entire box of something that I’ll never eat.  Much safer to put them on an imaginary shopping list than a real one!

My digital watch recently broke, so I’d get myself a new one, like this Timex Ironman TAP.  For a straightforward watch, it’s got some pretty cool features, and even though I am still not really keeping track of my times, I do like having a watch on while I run just so that I know what time of day it is.

Obviously, I’d also buy myself some new gear– definitely a few pairs of capris, and maybe a pair or two of tights to replace the ones I have that are coming dangerously close to falling apart.

To top it off, I’d hire a coach with the hope that she or he could help me figure out why it always seems like I’m doing something wrong.

Yoga

Image via Manduka

One of the first things I’d get myself for yoga is one of these Manduka Lyrics Practice Totes.  In it, I would keep a brand new Manduka mat, probably the eKO Natural Rubber Mat, which is biodegradable and supposedly very grippy.  I love my current mat, but it’s sufficient grody looking at this point that I get a little bit embarrassed when I unroll it in a class.  I guess when you’ve been using the same mat for several years, it will get a bit gross.  And  I’m sure no one’s judging me…but still.  I’d feel better knowing that the people around me aren’t disgusted!

Next, although it’s not really yoga-specific, I would get a Vila mat.  These acupressure mats are supposed to help with relaxation and keep even promote sleep (it could come in handy during my 30 day challenge this month).  I’ve never had a chance to try one, but Jill really seems to like hers.  And I certainly wouldn’t say no to a bit of a back massage whenever I wanted it!

Finally, I would gift myself some sessions at some of New York’s most famous studios, like Om Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga School, and Yoga Sutra.  If I were feeling extra generous, I’d sign myself up for yoga teacher training somewhere, too.

Miscellaneous

Of course, there’s more to life than yoga and running.  That’s why I’d also get myself a set of interchangeable knitting needles.  It can really be a hassle trying to figure out if you have the right needles every time you start a new project.  With this set, I wouldn’t need to!

I’d also buy myself some luxury yarns and make myself something great, like a sweater or a cozy wrap.  And of course I’d also buy myself this book so I could always knit something cute to cheer myself up on the days when I need it.

There’d be the requisite manicure/pedicure, and maybe even a massage for good measure.  Throw in some clothes shopping, and it would be a birthday for the ages.

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