Tag Archives: swimming

Class People

I am going to be completely honest here and tell you that I really never thought much about exercise classes.

I always considered myself self-sufficient enough to take care of my own fitness, and in a completely judgmental and unfair way, I thought the reverse about people who went to classes. I’m a jerk, I know, and all I can plead is ignorance. I preferred keeping myself disciplined and designing my own workouts as opposed to someone telling me what to do. I figured classes were there for people who didn’t know how to exercise and needed encouragement and motivation from an instructor. Asshole, I know.

Fast forward to March 2011 (Or I guess rewind? Go with it):

Injured Robyn: Completely incapable of running, or even walking for that matter. Also, really effing grumpy.

Universe: “HA! Want to rethink judging those exercise classes, or drown in an out-of-shape pile of couch-sitting and Phish Food pints?”

Now, the Phish Food definitely happened, however at this point I realized that despite my aforementioned preference toward solo-cizing, in order to maintain a level of fitness—I would need to surrender at least some of my gym time to a professional instructor.

(Robyn, stop trying to make “solo-cizing” happen, it’s not going to happen. Thanks, Regina George.)

And you know what? I converted (ish). Spinning is a really darn good workout, and it necessitates a killer instructor who is kind of scary. Yoga is one of my most favorite things now, and not only does it make me stretchy and flexible (good for running), but it calms me down.

fyi: I NEED CALMING A LOT OF THE TIME.

Anyway, I am fairly certain that had I not been literally forced off the running-only wagon, I would never have found these other forms of sweating. Even when I was able to run again, I kept rolling on the cross-training bus, much of which included group-exercise classes.

Where am I going with all this? Well, if you haven’t been listening to my incessant blog rants, tweets, and merciful pleas to the universe(joke-ish), I am currently not able to run. I was robbed of a happy IT band in the Tacoma City Marathon, and since then I have had to be creative.

Luckily, thanks to last year’s injury, I was better prepared for how to keep myself in shape. (Dear world, if I must get hurt, let’s go for the winter months next time, cool?) In essence, I’ve been spinning and swimming like a madwoman. You would think I was preparing for a tri. Wait, am I? But, this time I wanted to actually try and take advantage of this temporary loss of my run love.

I committed to focusing the energy that is normally occupied with race registrations, long runs, and PRs on other aspects of my health—like  getting stronger and more bendy. I knew this would entail doing some of the things I normally avoid—such as venturing outside of the familiar spin room to—gasp!—another class. I have the yoga and spinning thing down…I’m a regular, the instructors know me, I’m comfortable with both. However these are the extent of my class experience.

My lack of attendance in other classes was due primarily to two things: 1) No time with marathon training and (honestly, more so) 2) apprehension. When I work out, I like knowing what I’m getting myself into. I like knowing beforehand that it will be worth my time, as in difficult and a good sweat, and I like knowing that I can get through it no problem. I didn’t really think that other group exercise classes would be beyond my physical condition, however as someone who is used to getting along no problem in a group exercise setting, I don’t like thinking of being the newbie who knows nothing.

Yes, I am psychotically competitive.

HOWEVER, I did vow to try. And try I have!

More specifically, I’ve been going to a “Maximum Sculpt” class at my gym, which was the least frightening choice when reading the online description. I knew the instructor, and the paragraph detailing what it included had enough familiar terms that I was comfortable testing it out.

It seems that I was not alone in preferencing this class—because when I arrived at 5:55 for a 6:00 am class, the entire room was full of everyone with their little stations of a step and weights and omg how much crap do we need??. So, obviously I pretended like I had been before, didn’t ask for help, and found the very last spot in the back of the room—which honestly I was grateful for.

And just like that, I was sweaty, tired, and humbled. Despite having a fairly strict routine myself, switching to something new proved that I have things I can definitely work on. My hammies were screaming after that first class, and lifting my arms to shampoo my hair was equivalent to bench-pressing BF.

Yes, you read that right—I do shower.

In essence, I was out of my comfort zone. And you know what? I’m totally digging it. As a creature of habit in all aspects of my life, I rarely stray from my normal routines—and exercise is perhaps the most perfect example. Because I can(could, sad face) run really long distances and lift weights on a semi-regular basis, I gave myself an out on not really pushing my body otherwise. I was so focused on running, and not having too sore of legs, that I was wary of ever doing anything else. And I didn’t care. I gave myself a get-out-of-jail free card and simply refused to try anything else.

Now, PLEASE remind me that I said this when I can run again, but I am realizing that we aren’t actually reaching our full potential by doing the same things over and over again. I know every exercise know-it-all preaches this, but I never really internalized it until I realized all the things my body couldn’t do. Naively, I figured that because my endurance was tip-top and I could run 26.2 miles, I had everything else in the bag.

Wrong.

Guess what? Running might be fantastic for many things, however just because you can run for three hours does not mean you have the fitness thing completely figured out. In that same breath, I am hoping to use this whole humbling I-actually-have-room-to-improve experience to teach me that while running might be my numero uno, I still need to focus on strengthening myself in other vacinities.

Running actually leaves a lot of our body parts quite weak, as I’m finding, and it’s due to these imbalances that a lot of injuries occur. Pounding out miles doesn’t always mean we’re getting better, and I’m recognizing the fact that the only way for us to get better is to do things that are uncomfortable. 

In this respect, I’ve sort of admitted to myself one of the biggest reasons I haven’t tried on any other exercise caps. It’s because I was/am afraid of it being hard. I know that sounds funny coming from someone who will willingly run 12 miles before the sun is up, however running is something that I know I can do. When I don’t know that I have the ability to excel at something, I get scared that it will be beyond my physical condition. Hence, the underlying reason why I never wanted to try out anything else.

Sure, it’s really easy for me to say these things when I don’t have the availability to run whenever I want, but it’s something I hope that injured and non-injured runners alike can recognize in their own habits. In running, in all physical conditioning, and in life, it’s the hard things, the things that are outside of our comfort zone, that actually make us better. It’s great to get comfortable…to know that we can knock out effortless miles day after day. But, that’s exactly the time that we should be looking at our weaknesses, and figuring how to improve upon those things. Plateauing is really easy when we stick to one repetitive routine, and it can be one of the fastest ways to injury, boredom, and actually losing our strength. I’m realizing now that I was absolutely plateauing when I was running a lot, and had I been a little less obsessive perhaps I would be in a different spot today.

So, I suppose for now—I am a “class person.” I am really, really enjoying getting my butt kicked by workouts, specifically when it’s facilitated by someone else. It’s good to see that despite having a lot of endurance strength, I have a lot of room to improve. Because despite how humbling it might be, it’s really exciting to see that I have a lot more potential—which gives me a lot of hope for my racing future, whensoever that may be.

I know I will always prefer to workout alone, but a little socialization never hurt anyone—and for someone desperate for another best friend while running takes a time out, a group setting could be just the ticket.

Now, talk to me: Are you a class person? Do you try to shake up your routine? Have you ever hit a running plateau?

Tri-Curious

If you couldn’t tell from my oh-so-clever play on words post title, I’d like to talk about a whole new type of endurance animal, in the form of swim, bike, run.

Triathlons

Now, running has and will always be my first love—I bestowed it with soul mate status in my Valentine’s Day post, in fact.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I do have some devotion to other sweat-enducing activities, namely—spinning and swimming. I like these two things because they are great supplements to running, as in great cross training, but I also like them because on their own—they’re a whole new physical challenge.

I feel like running gets all the credit sometimes as the most effective way to test and improve your fitness. I admit, I am totally guilty of doing this, because there’s no workout I prefer more than a long run. However, I really don’t think that biking and swimming should be given the shaft so quickly—because these can both be just as, if not more, effective in terms of boosting endurance strength.

Yes I just said that.

But, as someone who is currently out of the running game and needing to push herself otherwise, I’m finding a greater respect for these alternatives. Seriously though. If you haven’t swam laps since you first learned to swim back when you were a kid, I challenge you to get in the pool and knock out some freestyle. I think you will be amazed just how tired you get, even if your running strength is superb.

The other reason I’m a big proponent of these cross training activities is because they help our muscles recuperate from the wear and tear of running. Fact: running is not very good for your joints. Dean Karnazes and all you other freaks who never get injured and have perfect, unbreakable running genes—screw you. These specimens are rare. For the rest of us, running is a constant game of working hard, training hard, and all the while avoiding injury. If there were some magic pill that made running impact-less and perfectly healthy, I’d be first in line at the doctor begging for my prescription. But, that’s not the case—which is one the reasons I’ve steered my marathon brain slightly in the direction of multi-sport events.

As of right now, I am still planning on at least two half marathons and one full this year. One of the halfs is in question with my current asshole of a leg, but otherwise I’m all set for this running schedule. I’m probably definitely going to add more, let’s be honest, I just need to pull some triggers. And by “pull some triggers” I mean “get more paychecks.”

But anyways.

While I love running training, I am also getting more and more interested in adding some additional challenge into the mix, in the form of triathlons.

Fun fact: I actually did three sprint triathlons long before even considering a running race. They were back in high school, when I somehow magically just whipped out these events despite never doing any of the activities, and they were definitely fun. So, I’m thinking for a starting point—I’m going to register for a sprint tri near the end of the summer (cough Nicole Danskin cough). I should probably put a bit more thought into this, but the fact is that I swim, “bike,” and run enough to where a sprint tri should really be no problem. However, like I said—it’s a starting point.

Now, this is still under some consideration, but as of right now—I am planning on signing up for a half Ironman next summer.

Yikes, just said it. Scary.

I know that the training is hard, but I know it’s exactly the kind of new challenge I’m looking for. I love the idea of block workouts (consisting of two endurance-related activities) and learning how to balance my energy over a long period of time. Additionally, I feel like this will keep my love for running alive and well by mixing up back-to-back marathon training cycles with something different.

Ultimately, I want to reach for something higher. Crazy, indeed, after my brush with casualty in the marathon two weeks ago, but this is honestly the way I operate. Yes, I got knocked down, but I know when I get up again (meaning, fully functioning IT band and absolved fear of running on hills) I am going to be stronger, smarter, and more anxious to challenge myself.

The thing I’ve taken away more than anything from that ill-fated race is that the brain and the body must always work in harmony; even when they’re fighting with one another, battling over pain versus persistence, we must know each of them well enough to know which to listen to. This is something I had lost touch with—and for the first time in my life, my mental game outweighed my physical capabilities. It’s one of the hardest parts of being an athlete, and it’s something I’m looking forward to exercising (pun intended) in my future endurance endeavors.

Oh, and I also took away the fact that I was a cocky little shit and the marathon is really, really, hard…no matter how well your first (or many) may have gone.

So there you have it Internet. This birdie is slotting July 2013 as the month of her first half Ironman, with some warm-up tris beforehand. I’ll write more on my approach to this endeavor when it’s not over a year away, but for now I’m excited to have something different on the horizon. And in the meantime, I’m looking forward to running soon.

Rest, rolling, ice, and froyo people—and your IT band will slowly but surely start to like you again.

Fingers crossed 🙂

Have you ever done a tri? Do you think there’s a difference between tri-people and marathon-people? Do you think I should probably go and buy that road bike already? Yea, me too.

“Tri” Weekend and Celebrating the Earth

Hello!

I hope you had a great weekend and I hope your week has started off swimmingly. I could be mistaken, but it seems as if everyone is a little bit high on a “it’s getting warmer and sunnier and therefore life is good” kind of mood, meaning there is general cheer in the air. The onset of summer is always an enjoyable time of year, and when you’ve been down-trodden with rain and gloom for several months as we have in the PNW, a little dose of sunshine can go a longgg way.

Case in point: This past weekend.

I normally have a generally good time on the weekend, based on the increase in food consumption, the decrease in computer time, and the amount of running I get to do. However, I can boldly say that I don’t know if I’ve had a better time overall on the weekend as I did this last Saturday and Sunday. Everything was generally perfect, therefore I am going to tell you about it.

Exercise-wise, I was able to do a “tri-series” of sorts over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Essentially, this means lots of swimming on Friday, lots of spinning of Saturday, and lots of running on Sunday. It was highly enjoyable to mix up my workouts, and I love being able to focus a lot of energy on one solo activity at a time.

I find that when I front load a heavy-exercise weekend with some swimming, everything feels better. As you know, I believe swimming is magic, and my body always seems to enjoy the time spent in the pool.

Although, I will admit, I have a difficult time not getting a tad paranoid when I’m doing laps and the “family area” is filled with 50 toddlers learning to dog paddle. I’m not an uber germ-a-phode or a clean freak, but the thought of swimming in tons of urine is really dampering to the whole experience. I think I’m going to tell my children that if you pee in the pool it comes out bright orange and everyone can see it. This should scare them out of it, right?

Anyways, I don’t normally do a heavy spin day before a long run, but since this week’s LR was only 16 miles, I decided to go for it. And despite my quads feeling a bit tired yesterday at the end of those 16 miles, overall I felt great, and I loved spreading my sweat through tons of different activities.

Also, who am I? I just said “only 16 miles.” Okay, 16 miles is still a long run. Fact. BUT, after 22 last weekend, 16 feels a lot more accessible…particularly when it’s done in 60 degree sunny weather on an all-flat course.

Which brings me to the vitamin-D filled glory that was this weekend.

People, I know we’re not supposed to talk about weather in blogging. But when you have not one, but TWO 70 degree days in Seattle, WA it is a BIG DEAL.

I took full advantage of the splendor, and it was nothing short of fantastic.

Aside from the aforementioned endorphin filled activities, allow me to show you some more highlights.

my backyard

While BF did man things on Saturday, I decided to take full advantage of this beautiful land I live in and took myself to the beach. I spent a solid 2 hours with an ice coffee, an Anne Lamott book, and the sun basking in water-front glory. I actually fell asleep laying against some driftwood, and it was heaven. There are few things more calming to me than being by the water, and given the fact that I was already in a post-spinning/caffeinated state of elation, this whole set up was my essence of perfection.

This also happened on Saturday, which is always a party.

See that “Now Open” sign? Yes, TJ’s has come to West Seattle, a mere 7 or so minute drive from my house. Do I talk too much about grocery stores? Yes. Positively. I will own every ounce of that statement. BUT any TJ’s fan out there will agree with me on the general happiness increase that goes hand-in-hand with your proximity to a store.

I think I could get an award for my excitement for the little things in life. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, or it means that I shoot too low in terms of my expectations, but no matter. I love you Trader Joe’s and your cheap almonds and whole wheat pizza dough.

Sunday had the promise of all-day sun, and BF and I were ready to take full advantage. Oh, and take it we did. Not only did we take it, but we took every single hour of the day and squeezed as much sunshine-filled activity out of them as we possibly could.

As I stated earlier, the day started with a 16 miler, completed averaging 8:20 miles (very happy about that) and the biggest blister I’ve ever gotten in my life. With two toenails on their death bed and now this beauty covering my entire pinky toe, I think it’s safe to say I’m ready to be done with training and get this marathon show on the road. I’m in a bit of a pickle because I think my old shoes are the reason for all my foot ailments, however my new shoes make my knee hurt, so it’s really just a debacle between which pain I’d prefer.

Post runs (BF did 10 miles), we walked to our typical bagel spot. Walking in shorts and flip-flops mind you. THIS IS A BIG DEAL.

Blueberry w/cream cheese and strawberry jam. Perfection.

Bagels should be an essential food group.

Afterwards, we decided to take on an endeavor we’ve only talked about hypothetically in the past: Planting a vegetable garden.

You see, we live in a big house that was turned into 5 separate units, and with the whole “living in a real neighborhood in a real house” scenario comes a 24 sq. ft patch of garden with which we can “do whatever we want,” according to our landlord. We both liked the idea of a vegetable garden, however it required not only the soil and the plants, but we needed to remove all the weeds and various shrubbery that had taken over our plot of garden.

As you can imagine, it was easy to procrastinate taking on this activity.

But not yesterday, when being outside was required, and we had a day to do whatever we chose.

So off to the hardware store it was, and we loaded up on all the things you need to be a green-thumb person. Okay, it was actually more like this:

Me: “Oh! Spinach!”

Me: “Ohhh!! Strawberries! Kale!”

BF: “How about….”

Me: “OHH!! PRETTY FLOWERS!”

Bf: “Check this out..”

Me: “Can we get a big chocolate cookie after this?”

Eventually, we made it out with a large variety of vegetables and a few flowers to plant.

Hooray gardening!! Also, those are my running clothes I'm still wearing. It's fine.

I got my cookie too, don’t worry. So did BF.

Also, in a very “we are a semi-adult couple who lives in a semi-adult home” move, we bought PATIO FURNITURE which was on sale. Again with the little things people. Until yesterday, when BF got all handy-man and set up our new table and chairs, the sole piece of furniture on our porch was a little, lone rocking chair. Now, we can do all kinds of fun things out there, including eat dinner, play cards, and make fun of all the people of segway tours that “drive” by our house.

Seriously. WALK.

Anyways, once arriving home and setting up our new sitting area, we got to work on the garden.

You pour the soil BF, I'll document.

After some pulling, clipping, digging, and planting, we had a final product!

Gardening!! Earth Day!! Not going to Safeway for vegetables every day!!

Into the newly poured soil went: spinach, snow peas, kale, strawberries, beets, chard, mint, basil, rosemary, radishes, and flowers. I’m PSYCHED. Now, let’s just see if this actually produces anything…

To celebrate our “manual labor” we headed to the park down the street to play some catch/whiffle ball. Note: It is not easy to play whiffle ball with two people, though it is highly entertaining, and perhaps more entertaining to the people watching.

It was actually after all these activities that I realized it was Earth Day, which made everything so highly appropriate.

I love the sun. I love running. I productive days. I love convincing BF to buy cookies with me.

Did you know these things?

I’m sorry if you’re tired of reading about me getting excited over and over about the exact same things all the time, but what can I say? I’m easy to please and I know what I like.

 

So, that’s all for now. If you made it all this way through my weekend recap, both thank you and I hope you had a great weekend as well. Today begins the less than two week countdown to marathon day, which will be on May 6. I’ve technically begun tapering, but as you can tell by my recap of exercise this past weekend, the real tapering is yet to come. I’m probably going to turn into a crazy, “I HAVE EVERY FEELING IN THE WORLD” person, and so I can almost guarantee some frightening/entertaining posts in these next couple of weeks.

NOW YOU! Tell me about your Earth Day, your weekend, your long run, your favorite grocery store, your simple pleasures, or ALL OF THESE THINGS! I enjoy comments.

Green Positivity

{No, this is not a post about eco-friendly things or sustainability}

Greetings friends. How were your weekends? How was Monday?

My weekend was filled to the brim with fun activities, and while I was jealous of all the people who were racing—I have to say that this was a weekend for the books. St. Patrick’s Day, particularly, was highly enjoyable—mostly due to the effort put forth by my boyfriend who, while not Irish, is a big fan of any day devoted to beer and shenanigans.

We were traditional, we were green, we were festive. Allow me to share with you our dedication to this holiday…

Green pancakes!

In keeping with his new found affection for making pancakes, BF made the decision that Saturday’s batch would celebrate St. Patty’s as well. Unfortunately, the idea only came to him with two pancakes left to make. Thought that counts though!

Green smoothie!

I had to sneak some form of health into at least one part of the day 😉

Green people!

No pinching for us! This was also taken in a bar at 4 pm. We take these holidays seriously…also, BF’s shirt is highly entertaining, if you can read it.

Another St. Patty’s treat for the day…

Spring breakers break-ing for beer.

My sister and her boyfriend Grayson stopped by on their way to California for Spring Break to celebrate some green-filled festivities. It was wonderful to see them both, and I’m excited to see them AGAIN this Thursday for more adventures. More on that later. Thanks for coming, guys!

Green eats! Well, not really...but traditional!

So I’ve never done the whole “corned beef and cabbage” thing for St. Patty’s Day (in fact I never even had heard of it), but BF has and decided to introduce me to the tradition. It was also the first time we got to use our new crock pot, which obviously was an exciting endeavor. And, you can’t eat a traditional Irish meal without…

Guinness!

Survey says? Good choice Irish peeps! I’m not a huge red meat person, but this stuff was definitely good, and even the cabbage was to my liking. BF was quite proud of his work with this meal, and rightfully so!

Needless to say, St. Patty’s Day was a win in this household. Any holiday revolving around beer I can really get behind.

Also, because this post is already super picture-happy, this is how I spent my Friday night:

Hotel room? Robes? Wine? Check, check, and quadruple check!

When it comes to celebrating a birthday, no one does lavish quite like my lovely friend Kawika. Which is why he hosted a wine tasting in a super swanky hotel room in an even swankier downtown Seattle hotel. There were reds, there were whites, there was prosecco, and there was cake. A High School Musical 3 cake. Good times were had by all, although I think it would be hard to find someone who wouldn’t enjoy themselves in such a situation.

So, as you can see, a fun weekend indeed. However, there was one glaring absence from Saturday and Sunday: running.

If you’ve read this blog for more than just this post, you know that my weekend reports are normally overwhelmed with long-run talk. Many of you are probably happy for this new change of pace, and I don’t blame you. The fact is: bad knee=no long run. In fact, no running in general—because this bursitis took over my abilities to train, and condemned my activities to spinning and swimming. Both of which felt fantastic on my inflamed knee, and they are very bonafied cross-training activities.

However, when you are supposed to be peaking in training mileage and can’t run more than a few paces without knee pain, this set-back becomes more than discouraging. Which is why, yesterday, I went to see an orthopedic doc for some answers and solutions.

Truly, I was terrified for this appointment. I was going to post yesterday, but I was too afraid that talking about the upcoming doc visit would only heighten my nerves—so I held off until I had some answers. X-rays, lots of talking(by me), and a cortisone injection later—I am feeling an enormous amount of relief.

This appointment went just about as good as I could have hoped for. X-rays showed that nothing is wrong with my knee besides this bursitis/tendonitis—which was my biggest fear. A lot of the time, bursitis is caused by another injury such as a tendon or ligament tear—which would have sidelined me much longer. Luckily, this was not the case—and the doctor only had to yell at me about stretching more. Noted doc, no problem-o. And when he said, “I see no reason why I shouldn’t give you a cortisone injection to speed up the healing process,” I had to hide my excitement—because this is what I was secretly hoping for.

So, with this fancy medicine deflating the crap out of my knee and a little more rest time—I should be good to run (hopefully!) on Friday. So very relieved, and while I’m still wary, I’m feeling positive that I’ll be able to keep training aggressively until taper time.

Also, when I rolled up my pants to show Doc my knee, he took one look at my calves and said, “Wow, you are a runner, huh?”

I blushed.

So, generally, I’m feeling positive. I know I wasn’t totally expressive about my anxiety about this minor injury, but I was feeling very apprehensive for the fate of my Eugene Marathon dreams (ask BF, he will always vouch for my freak-out modes).  The meds and the clear x-rays definitely lifted a weight off my shoulders, and I’m feeling ready to take on the rest of training. The time off also really made me anxious and excited to run, which is always refreshing.

Happy first day of spring! Race season has definitely started, and I’d like to offer a big congrats to everyone who’s either preparing, tapering, or recovering—you are a rock star!

And now…because who isn’t tired of hearing(reading) me talk…how was your St. Patrick’s Day? Weekend? Are you currently training for a spring race?

Swimming is Magic

I need to come out and say up front that I know I overreact, and I know my momentary hysterics of thinking I had a stress fracture was probably more exaggerated phantom pain than anything else.

BUT, there was pain there…and that’s part of why I need to offer up credit to the cross training gods and say…

Swimming is magic.

Before I was even hindered with the really bad shin splint on Sunday, I had planned on a long, leisurely swim for Monday. You see, swimming is an old favorite of mine—and the two of us have always gotten along well. Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting the pool recently in favor of running and spinning, and my only excuse I can claim is laziness. It’s so lame really…but my only hesitation toward a pool workout stems from my aversion to getting in a suit and getting wet. It seems like so much more work than putting on regular workout clothes, and thus my poor goggles, cap, and swimsuit have been left alone in my pool bag from nearly a month.

I was very intentional about swimming on Monday for a few reasons, but mainly because I know how beneficial swimming is to my running, and subsequently my training. I think it was Lance Armstrong who said, “If you want to get stronger cardio-wise, go swim a mile in a pool.”

And you know, Lance is a little more credible than me.

A LITTLE.

It’s very true though. Swimming is positively incredible in terms of what it can do for your fitness. The practice of rhythmic breathing can make a substantial impact on your cardio shape in all other activities, and although swimming laps might seem easier than running—I would beg to differ. If you haven’t swam in a while, I challenge you to go and try swimming a mile; I think you’ll realize it’s a lot better of a workout than it’s given credit for. This is in large part due to the fact that swimming works every muscle in your body. No other activity can accomplish the all-around muscle activity that swimming does, and not only that—it’s all non impact. There’s a reason why people who have been injured in just about every sport are instructed to swim; it’s very easy on your body while still being a very quality workout.

Now, as I’ve said before—there was a time in my life when I had a big huge “running is the only decent workout” stick up my rear. And I admit, today I definitely would prefer running to anything else, however I will also vouch very favorably for cross training, particularly swimming.

Let’s back up to my former running life, when I was reckless and obsessive and demolished my hip.

(I know we’ve talked about this a lot recently, sorry about that.)

Because I decided to quite literally run myself into the ground, I had to accept a fate of cross training or no activity at all. Initially, right after I got hurt, even spinning and the elliptical were a bit too much for my bad hip. Enter, swimming.

I was never “a swimmer,” but I was a lifeguard for many years which means you need to at least be able to bust out a few laps. That said, as soon as I tried swimming with my bum hip, I realized something very quickly; not only could I do it, but it actually made my hip feelbetter.You see, I was so gimpy that I could barely walk—and I began to realize that the days I would swim were much easier to get through (in terms of walking around) than those when I didn’t. Also, when I was swimming it was the only time during the day where I couldn’t feel my injury.

Verdict from this experience?

Swimming=magic

Swimming helped me maintain my cardio shape well enough to jump back into running fairly seamlessly once I was recovered, and I credit swimming for mentally keeping me stable throughout my gimp-hood. There’s a very therapeutic element to swimming laps, and while the monotony can get a bit boring…I’ve found that I can do some of my best thinking while swimming: it’s forced silence that we rarely get to experience.

Oh I frankly can’t say enough, obviously.

I never can though, right?

Anyways, I just want to say that after my lovely 2 mile swim yesterday, I have reconfirmed my belief that swimming has real magical powers.

Remember the post where I decided that in my exercise love life, spinning was my mistress, yoga was the best friend, and running was my one true love? Right, well…if I could fit swimming into the mix, swimming would be the Gandalf. Or the Fairy Godmother, if you will. Yes, Fairy Godmother…I like that. While the other three all argue with each other, my Swimming Fairy Godmother is there to offer relief from the storm and quiet recovery.

And relief she offered.

I definitely was still feeling the shin splint all day yesterday, and even getting into the pool I was a little wary of any aggravation. While breast stroke proved to be a little tricky what with all the foot flexing, I found free style (my go-to stoke) to feel quite good and actually helpful. I ended the swim feeling great, and around 8 pm last night I realized…wait a minute, I can’t even feel the shin splint. Literally the entire day flexing my foot was painful, and just like that, all remnants of pain were zapped out of my leg.

Swimming! Magical Powers! I love my Fairy Godmother!

God I’m such a Disney kid. Sorry.

But for real…the proof gets better. This morning, still pain free, I decided to go along with my Tuesday morning run plan. I figured I would start, and if I felt any aggravations I would turn around and quit. And then all of a sudden…it was the end of my run, and I felt nothing. Nothing! And while it may have just been a seized shin splint that relaxed all at once, I’m giving the credit medal to my beautiful swimming friend.

Oh, and some credit should probably also be given to the fact that yesterday I worked FROM MY BED all day. I was horizontal for the vast majority of my work day (don’t judge…I was freezing and needed to be under my covers), and although I sort of felt like a slug when BF came home and I was literally in the same place he left me…it was worth it.

No more pain! And while I really super hope that this post hasn’t horribly jinxed me and my healthy body, I think it’s safe to end this with a resounding praise for swimming and its magical powers. And lying in bed all day.

Question: What activity do you think has magical powers? Anything goes! Frankly, I think that making chocolate cookies has a fairy-like effect as well.

 

My Yoga Secret and Friday Favorites

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Yes, a bit excessive, but isn’t that what the season’s about? Excessive spending, excessive cookies, excessive light displays? Whatever, I love it all. Well, not so much the spending, but giving gifts is wonderful and if that means a measly bank account then so be it.

If you haven’t gathered yet, I’m a nut about Christmas—and although I get sad when the actual day comes (indicating that the season is, sigh, over)—THIS year my Christmas celebrations are spread out all the way to December 30. So as far as I’m concerned, we’re just getting started!

This morning I paid some much needed attention to my arms in my leisurely, long workout. I feel like I pay so much exercise-related attention to my legs most of the time—because, you know, I’m a runner—therefore my arms get sad that they are merely used as banisters for my watch and iPod. Poor arms—fear not, I will give you some love!

Okay, done with the personification. But seriously, I did some serious arm work today—and I know I’ll be feeling it on my morning airport excursion tomorrow when I get to haul two heavy bags around with me because I refuse to pay to check a bag.

After a nice sweaty spin class, I did a weight circuit for my major arm muscles, including biceps, triceps, pectorals, and shoulders. I also threw in some ab work, because obviously:

1 sit-up=1 cookie.

Did you know that? It’s science.

Afterward, I made my way into the crowded pool for some quality lap swimming. I haven’t swam in a while, and a Spin’n’Swim day was necessary. Again, the arms were given proper attention, and I doubt that they will feel unacknowledged come tomorrow.

I’ve also managed to get my butt to yoga for the past THREE days in a row, which has been fantastic. I’ll let you in on a little secret about yoga and me—I really only go to the Level 1/Beginner classes. I’m decent at yoga thanks to some natural flexibility, however whenever I go to a more advanced class I find myself way too focused on being competitive and getting down on myself for not being able to do certain poses well.

I realize this negates the entire intention of yoga, but I know my crazy competitive self well  enough to know that an hour of yoga, at least for me, is better spent when I can focus on staying present, breathing deeply, and getting the most out of the poses/stretches.

I love the peace and calm yoga gives me, which is my primary intention in going, however my secondary intention is to relieve my running muscles as much as possible with simpler poses that require less frustration and more “Ahhh.” Therefore, I stick to the more beginner classes, and luckily I have two instructors at my gym who I LOVE and they both teach classes that are technically beginner but still result in a meditative yet strengthening session.

Okay, enough about chaturangas and weight lifting. Let’s get to Friday Favorites!

1) Pintrest

I love pretty things.

If you have a Pintrest account, I really don’t need to say anything more—because I know you understand.

If you don’t have an account, I don’t know if I should encourage you to join or vehemently warn you against it.

This site is SO ADDICTING.

In a nutshell, it’s a collection of nicely categorized pictures from all around the internet— all of which are totally gorgeous. You can easily spend an hour gawking at all the lovely images of nature, home decor, craft ideas, food, and literally everything in life you can think of that’s wonderful. It’s almost a better time waster than TV, and seriously you can get hooked easily. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

2) Love Actually

I can watch this movie year round, but I make it a point to watch it as close to Christmas as possible. No matter the circumstances going on in my life, no matter my mood, this movie will always brighten me up.

Also, Colin Firth.

3) Soy Mistos

Runner's World + misto= good day

{Disclaimer: a misto is the Starbucks way of saying “cafe au lait”}

Thanks to my coworker Leanne, this has been my Starbucks drink of choice for nearly a year now, and I am still never sick of them.

I needed to pay some tribute to this lovely combination of brewed coffee, steamed milk, and cheaper-than-other-specialty-drinks cup of love that gets me through my days.

4) A Very Special Christmas

This classic Christmas CD is the holiday tune-age that I’ve been listening to before I even knew what Christmas was.

Wait, that never existed!

You get the point—this special CD has been heard in my home during the holidays for as long as I can remember. It has currently been saturating my need for Christmas music this past week, and whenever I hear that first familiar sound of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” I get all warm and tingly as I’m transported back to my eight-year-old self, hoping only for a pair of sparkly shoes and a Jasmine Barbie doll under the tree.

Actually, I really don’t feel like I’ve grown up much since then—sparkly shoes would still be awesome.

5) MY BUMPER STICKERS!

photo repeat...shameless

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, BF won the super duper boyfriend award by getting me these custom blog bumper stickers.

Kidding, he always gets that award! But does he…? 😉

Seriously though, I’m giddy about these.

Will they make my blog the most popular site since Lolcats? No, but it doesn’t matter.

Because although these will more than likely only adorn my own possessions and the cars of family members who I will beg and plead to promote me will lovingly slap them on their bumpers, they symbolize a great deal of support and encouragement from BF.

And I love that. In all honesty, this blog offers me an opportunity the write about the things that I love. If tons of people read it, awesome! But if no one does, it doesn’t really matter because I have this space for some solitary reflection and me-time. Sure, I’d love to have a lot of readers—but for now, I’m loving the daily chances to develop myself as a writer.

These bumper stickers can be daily reminders to me of the importance of support and encouragement, from the people I love and for myself—because truly, you are your most influential and important cheerleader.

I hope everyone has had a great end of their week, and you’re getting nestled into a sweets-and-liquor-filled holiday celebration! Have any favorites you’d like to share? Let’s hear ’em!

 

Friday Favorites II

Wow, time sure flies…Friday Favorites round 2 is already here!

You might remember that last Friday I made a very official proclamation that Friday would be the day where I detail some of my current favorite things.

Because you know, it’s fun.

Since I started off last Friday’s post with an adorable picture of a smiling puppy, I thought I’d share this piece of PERFECTION.

SLEEPING SANTA PUPPIES. I'm dying.

You’re welcome.

Now, to the second weekly round-up of favorites!

1) Disney Races

Mark my words, this WILL be me. Lumiere and Cogsworth included. I'll also be more sweaty, less tan, and have a bigger smile on my face.

If you are not yet aware of my everlasting love of Disney, well…then you probably have never met me.

Just know, it’s unconditional. Specifically, visiting Disneyland and spending the entire day with a stupid 7-year-old-girl grin on my face. It’s obnoxious, I’m sure, but I just can’t help it.

This being said, I am vowing to do one of the Disney races this year. If you have not heard about this magical phenomenon, let me explain. Both Disneyland and Disneyworld hold marathons and half marathons throughout the year—INSIDE the parks—, and I’m pretty sure that doing one would be the climactic high point of my life. Let me show you the mathematics behind my logic.

Running= love

Disneyland=heaven

Running + Disneyland= omfg I am going to die from giddy hysteria

I actually wanted to add this goal of running a Disney race to my list of Running Wishes from yesterday, but…well, honestly I forgot, but THEN I realized it was more fitting as a Friday Favorites shout out.

Okay, shut me up now. I need to move on. Just know, I will be racing under Sleeping Beauty’s castle sometime in 2012.

BF, you in???

2) Oatmeal

mmmmm!

This favorite is definitely not new…I’ve loved oatmeal for years. However, I’ve recently begun to really appreciate just how good of a post-run meal it is. The above photo shows my ideal oatmeal concoction:

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, cranberries, agave, and a glob of peanut butter on the side (obviously the best part)

This breakfast is a fantastic combination of carbs and protein, and I always feel refueled and ready to go after gobbling this down. Even with no run, this is a great breakfast and one I could eat every single day.

3) Swimming

Again, this is nothing new, but I truly believe that swimming has magical powers that defy logic. Not only does it work all your muscles, but it really strengthens your cardio and gives your metabolism a good’ ole kick in the butt for the whole day. It does all this with NO impact.

I am continually amazed how such a solid, all-body workout can also be therapeutic and promote muscle recovery. This morning, I wasn’t feeling super up to my Friday Spin’n’Swim routine, and so I decided to give my running/cycling muscles a break and went for a long swim instead. Afterwards, I felt rejuvenated and I could hear my running muscles singing a hallelujah  for their break.

Swimming is magical. Everyone should swim.

4) Hilarious satire that combines well-known, classic literature and new-age technology

For example…

my children will be reading the real version

I find this kind of humor very tasteful, smart, and all-around appropriate for demonstrating the horrific truths about the digitization of both our youth and society. I’m really not trying to get all political here, but I think satirical momentos such as “Goodnight iPad” shine an important light on the costs of our constant need for new upgrades, new gadgets, and generally new information.

Another great example of this is the book The History of the World According to Facebook. Highly recommended, and it includes exactly what you think it would.

i.e. FDR liking Winston Churchill’s status.

Good stuff.

5) Pie Samples

how could this not make your day instantaneously better?

So for some reason, all the grocery stores got together and decided, “Hey, for the holiday season…let’s increase dessert sales/perpetuate the obesity epidemic by giving out samples of every type of pie imaginable.”

I’m not kidding…every grocery store around where we live has done this at least once, and you better believe that if there are multiple grocery stores around me—I WILL go to them all.

Anyways, this trend is freaking awesome and it makes my tummy happy and my mood even happier.

A pie pick-me-up.

DUH.

Tell me your favorites! What are you doing this weekend? I need some fun new ideas besides spending hours in Trader Joe’s and Target…both fabulous time fillers {money wasters} btw.