Tag Archives: yoga

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 Faves and Explaining my Hypocrisy

Happy Friday to you!

I’m definitely excited to reach the end of the week, however I’m also horrified that come tomorrow Christmas Eve is ONE WEEK away. I’ll be flying with BF to Colorado at 7 am on Christmas Eve morning, where we’ll spend the next 10 or so days hanging in our hometown. I’m really excited, it just seemed to creep up so quickly!

Alright, so obviously Friday Favorites will be presented shortly, however I need to take a brief minute to explain a bit about the conflicting posts that I had this week. On Tuesday I wrote all about being a morning runner; as you might remember I went on and on about the advantages of doing your workout in the morning, and from my high and mighty thrown I advocated how everyone should push their inclination to hit the snooze button aside and strap on some running shoes.

Something like that, right?

So then yesterday[during a particularly foul mood, could you tell?]I admitted that earlier that day I had neglected my plan for a usual Thursday morning run and went back to sleep instead. Directing contradicting my message about being all go-getter-ish.

Nice Robyn, negate your OWN advice on your own blog. Talk the talk and then immediately not walk[run] the walk?

However, that’s not exactly what happened, and let me explain—because I think explaining this conflict of principles will offer some insight into my own development as a runner.

I’ve advocated on this blog the importance of rest, both for runners and for regular exercisers in general. Rest offers muscle recovery, mental reprieve, and an overall rejuvenation of our motivation. However, I admittedly have a difficult time following this advice, and it finally caught up with me yesterday morning when I ignored my alarm.

Although I’ve become much better at making sure I don’t overdo it in terms of running, I still enjoy doing something active nearly every day. Because I include a lot of variety, I often don’t realize that I haven’t taken a day off in a while. What happens, then, is because I don’t really recognize the fact that I’m burning out, I start to get grumpy about my workouts and less inclined to enjoy them. Yesterday morning, it finally hit me that the easier choice (sleeping in) was actually the better choice for me. And in lots of ways, it actually wasn’t the easier choice. This might sound somewhat elitist or snarky, however it’s actually more difficult for me to choose to take a break than it is to get to the gym or get out for a run.

Frankly, I love the way I feel both physically and mentally when I exercise—and so I see nothing wrong with trying to feel that way all the time. I treat my workouts, both before, during, and after, as an athlete would, meaning I know my limits, I’m fueling and refueling properly, and I’m staying safe. However, part of being a smart athlete is knowing when your body is saying, “Time out here tiger.”

So, in a nutshell, that’s why I completely contradicted my morning running post yesterday. I know I have the capacity the get myself up and run, but reminding myself that I also have the smarts and the control to know when I need a break is equally as important to both this sport and my own mental health.

I was very grateful for the day off yesterday, and today I felt rested and ready to gear up once again.

Running in the morning is great, but so is knowing when rest is more important than a daily workout.

Enough heavy stuff…let’s get to Friday Faves!!

I want to give a quick shout out to my coworker Leanne, who has started doing Friday Favorites on her blog as well. It’s spreading!

Also, this week on Glee, they sang “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music, and yes my head was exploding from the overload of my own favorite things all coexisting in one united spectacle. It was awesome.

1) Foam Rollers

"I will hurt you so good."

If you are familiar with this innocent looking tube of foam, you know one thing: This shit HURTS. Seriously, I have to hide my face whenever I use these at my gym, or else people will be all, “Why does that girl look like she’s constipated and about to cry at the same time?”

Not a pretty visual, huh? Yea, it’s not.

So why, you may ask, is this little devil on my favorite list? Well, despite how excruciating it may be, foam rollers actually do wonders for runners. If you can endure it, rolling out your legs after a run does an incredible job of loosening the muscles that get super tight when you’re running. Namely, your IT bands, pirifomis muscles, hamstrings, and hips in general. I find that if I spend just 5 minutes rolling my legs on one of these after a long run, I recover much quicker and I can prevent injuries from developing.

If you’re a distance runner and don’t already use one of these, get on it. The prevention in and of itself will be worth it.

2) Fro-Yo

Art.

Let it be known: I. Love. Fro-Yo.

Specifically, the newest fad of pay-by-weight fro-yo joints where there are several flavors available and endless amounts of toppings to choose from. The best part is that you get to make your OWN, therefore the opportunities for combinations (and quantity) are endless.

Last night, BF was in the mood for sweets(99% of the time it’s the other way around), and so when he mentioned fro-yo, I said, “I actually I love you a little more right now.”

No, I didn’t say that—but I might have thought it.

3) Nicki Minaj

I know she’s uber popular and overplayed right now, but I really cannot get enough of this chick.

I think she’s mega talented and unique, and her songs have me constantly dancing in my seat. In public. Just try her out if you haven’t yet, and not just Super Bass or Fly—but some of her lesser known stuff.

And yes, Mom, I know it’s explicit content.

4) Yoga

You know, just me on the beach, getting my "Tree" on. Damn paparazzi.

Yoga is a new found love of mine, and although it took me a while to actually learn to love it, I simply cannot get enough of it.

[When people say, “It took me a while to learn to love/like something,” it actually means, “I really effing hated/resented it for a long time.”]

There are so many reasons why I love yoga, both mentally and physcially, however I feel that the biggest reason is the sense of presence I get from it. Yoga forces us, whether consciously or not, to focus our attention on the present moment. I think it has a large part to do with the breathing, combined with the need to focus on each isolated movement.

No matter how stressed or distracted I may be, I never leaving a yoga class without feeling at least a little bit better and calmer. Yoga offers me an hour of stillness, which I think so many of us shy away from in our fast-pace world. We never long for the opportunity to be present because so few parts of our day allow us to really experience it. However, I truly believe that if we can connect with the present—independent of whatever else is going on in our busy lives—if even just once a day, we will can reacquaint ourselves with the beautiful things in life we so often take for granted.

Also…

yoga + running legs = ohhhh yaaaa

If you’re a runner, yoga feels fan-flipping-tastic, and it relieves our muscles of the impact they take on during running.

5) Peppermint Bark

For best results (and sustainability) store in freezer!

I always see peppermint bark around grocery stores during the holidays, and instead of shelling out to buy a small bag of it, I decided to make my own instead. I still shelled out a bit, but after making two batches of this seasonal treat—it was worth it.

This stuff has now become my drug of choice for December 2011. Not that I change metaphorical drugs every month, but you get the point.

It’s delicious, it’s pretty, and it makes a great present! I got the recipe from this post on the blog Peanut Butter Fingers, another recent addiction of mine.

There you have it, 5 more Friday Favorites! I hope everyone has a great weekend. BF and I will be racing on Sunday, so I’ll write a recap to post for Monday!

Now…tell me a few of your favorite things!

“Santa, can you hear me?” Running Wish List

First things first. Yes, my title is referencing the magical Britney Christmas song, “My Only Wish This Year.”

It will remain my favorite Christmas song of all time for the rest of my life.

Alright, now that we’re all caught up on my shamelessness, let’s talk about running.

First, THIS:

HA!

An old friend of mine from high school—who I ran with—sent me this the other day, and I got a big kick out of it. I think race photos are very humbling proof that if you think you look hot when you run, you’ll always be wrong.

Anyways.

Today, it happened again. I don’t know what’s going on with me—some sort of brain metamorphosis; I spent about 85% of my run in voluntary silence, and I loved it.

My brain juggled around numerous thoughts on running, writing, blogging, and other miscellaneous wonderful things. While I was playing this fun game of weaving through various thoughts and enjoying the crisp {frigid} morning air, I began thinking about my upcoming running goals. The list is somewhat substantial, both in length and content, and I can only attribute it to the fact that running is my most treasured hobby, therefore it comes with a lot of extraneous planning.

So, today—in honor of the holiday season—I thought I’d share with you my “Running Wish List.” My actual Christmas list is way too far-fetched and idealistic, and obviously I don’t want to be known as the materialistic running girl who wants anything and everything to do with Lululemon and workout gear. No, a “Running Wish List” is not only more plausible, but it offers a lot more potential for self fulfillment than a new pair of fabulously cut running tights.

So, without further ado…

This year in my running career I hope to…

1) Do a 12k in under an hour

Ah I hate saying these things out loud, because somehow it makes me feel much more accountable than keeping them in the back of my mind. However, this wish is due to the upcoming race BF and I are doing called the 12ks of Christmas. However hard I try, I cannot go into a race without a specific number pulsing in my head, and in this case it’s under the 60 minute mark. I will have to run pretty dead even 8 minute miles to do the 7.45 in under an hour, and although I’m confident I have it in me—it’s still pretty fast, and there isn’t much wiggle room

2) Get faster

I have been very purposefully resisting the plunge into integrating speed work into my routine. The fact of the matter is I would so much rather go out for a nice long, leisurely run than spend an hour on the track doing intervals and sprints. Understandable, right?

Unfortunately, I do want to get faster and speed work is the obvious gateway to that wish. Fine, I give in. 2012—you’ll see me on the track. Plus, my local running store West Seattle Runner offers weekly custom speed workouts. I have no excuse. Maybe I can use my old track spikes?

3) Get a BQ

Again, I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud. Now it’s real. Affirmed by the officiality of cyber space documentation. (No, officiality is not a work—but it should be and you get it.)

For those of you who don’t know, a BQ stands for Boston Qualifier—meaning you ran a  qualifying time to get into the Boston Marathon.

Okay, I KNOW I have only run one marathon and the loftiness of this goal is completely irrational and far fetched. I know this, trust me. However, the sprinter inside of me cannot help but want to reach the next level. And when your first marathon time is only 7 minutes away from qualifying for Boston, you cannot help but wonder how possible it could be. Those 7 minutes stick in my head pretty consistently, and I know that with some good solid training I can shave off that time. Also, Boston continues to lower their qualifying times, so if I don’t go for it soon the time will only be do-able by the Olympic hopefuls.

BTW…thanks a lot for this, Boston.

4) Get a new half marathon PR

I am seriously convinced that the race I ran my half PR in was a fluke. I ran way faster than I ever do, and I still have a hard time understanding how I was able to pull it off completely unintentionally. Therefore, the thought of breaking this PR is really daunting to me. Just doing the math of how fast those 13.1 miles need to be gives me a nervous stomach.

I haven’t done a half since that PR (mostly due to my injury and marathon training),and since my endurance/weekly mileage is higher than it was before running that race—I’m on a mission to set an intentional PR, no matter how gut-wrenching it might be.

5) Do more yoga, stretch more often, and fuel more appropriately

Okay, so I thought I would put a wish out there that was a bit more easily accessible, and doable on a day-to-day basis. The fact of the matter is that when I take good “running care” of myself, I’m a much happier and better runner. It sounds simple, but I think that all the extras that are required in this sport can easily fall to the wayside. Which is ridiculous, because as I’ve written before—the simple things such as proper stretching, adequate fuel intake, and ample hydration make all the difference when it comes to running performance.

In the next year, I’d like to try and do yoga—here goes—3 times a week. I feel so much better when I keep up on a yoga routine, simple as that. So despite my reluctance and excuses (typically consisting of wanting to sit on the couch and watch Jeopardy instead), I am vowing to get on my mat more. Additionally, I could do a much better job of pre and post run fueling and hydrating. I cannot tell you how many times in the middle of a run I think, “Why the F did I not just drink more water yesterday?” And then after I’m done, once again I don’t drink enough water. This is not acceptable as a runner—and I plan on changing this bad habit. Also, I’ve decided to eat more bagels and pasta—because, you know, as a runner I should. I get too wrapped up in getting all my food groups in that sometimes I forget—oh yea, on the night before a long run I should probably up the carbs. Ridiculous, I know. And this is a “wish” that is really freaking easy/awesome to fix.

 

So there you have it. My “Running Wish List” is out there for the “world” to see. It makes me nervous to say some of those bigger goals out loud, as they’ve remained in the depths of my running psyche. However, putting them out into the universe—even just in the sense that I can go back and read that I’ve said them—actually helps motivate me. And ultimately, saying them out loud is the first step to making them a reality.

Now You! What are some of your wishes, running or otherwise?

 

Training for 26.2

Hi!

Today, I thought I would talk a bit about the marathon training schedule that I followed, as I’m about to start it up again in the new year. As you may know, I was injured for 3 months before I started my marathon endeavor, so as I was deciding on a training routine—I was pretty careful to make sure that running wouldn’t take over all my time.

After recovering from being hurt (bad hip flexor strain) I knew that my body needed lots of different forms of exercise to keep it healthy. Running is a beneficial, fulfilling, and all around glorious sport, however it comes with a hefty “handle with care” caution tag. In order to stay a sane and injury-free runner, there are—in my opinion—three essential things to incorporate into your running routine: Yoga, Cross Training, and Rest.

Yoga

Sure, you can consider this cross training, however I believe that practicing basic yoga at least once a week is essential for distance runners. Yoga offers your muscles a lot of relief from all the heavy impact of running, it helps prevent excessively tight leg/back/core muscles, and it centers your mind in the most deliciously peaceful way. It took me a long time to start liking yoga, but once I finally figured it out I can’t imagine my running routine without it. Plus, if you’re a runner, I can guarantee yoga will feel really damn good.

Cross Training

When I was injured, I learned to love cross training, and I found that once I was out on the roads again, the muscles that I had strengthened from participating in other activities actually helped my running. Developing the smaller muscles around your big running muscles helps prevent injury and it can improve your flexibility and speed. I can honestly say that doing sprints in spin class helped with my marathon finish time more so than my long runs.

Rest

Again, this realization took a while for me to come by, however resting from exercise is not only essential to preventing injury and burnout, but it makes you a smarter athlete. Even the most elite athletes and runners in the world still take a rest day to allow their muscles and minds to relax.

The fact of the matter is simple: if you never rest, you will burn out—and you don’t want burn out to come in the form of a sidelining injury.

 

Anyways, integrating these three essentials were very important in my marathon training. I got my 12 week training schedule off the internet, and tweaked it a bit to match my own timeline and mileage. With that said, a typical week in my schedule looked like this:

m: rest

t: 8-9 miles, lifting/core work

w: cross train and yoga

t: 10-12 miles, lifting/core work

f: cross train and yoga

s: 6 mile “shake out” run

s: long run (ranged 14-22 miles)

 

Now, keep in mind that when I designed my training program, I was already running a decently high weekly mileage (appx. 35-40 miles/week). Therefore, I was able to use a shorter training time frame (12 weeks as opposed to the standard 16-20), and I trained up to 22 miles instead of the more common 20 miles.

This schedule worked really well for me. I felt like I had a great balance of running and cross training, and because I wasn’t running 5-6 days a week (like some programs) I mostly enjoyed all my running days. I was fearful of starting to loathe my long runs, however by sandwiching them between a shake out run day and a rest day, I found that they were a fantastic challenge to look forward to each week. Sure, I had very little social life and they took a good 2-3 hours out of my Sunday, but in the end it was totally worth it.

So worth it, in fact, that I am currently in the stages of planning my next few marathons for 2012!

As of right now, I am planning on doing the Vernonia Marathon in April (a small race along a gorgeous course), potentially the Seattle Rock’ N’ Roll in late June, and the Bellingham Bay Marathon in September.

Wow, writing that down seems daunting.

However, I am really committed to establishing a competitive running routine. I’ve been an athlete and competitor my whole life, and running offers a great way for adults to still compete with others but mainly with themselves. I never plan on winning a race, however continuing to push myself, lower my times, and continue improving is incredibly rewarding and gratifying. Does it come without hardship, bad runs, self critique, or all around shitty experiences? Absolutely not. But the bad only makes the good that much better, and I’m a big believer that any experience is good experience.

Yes, even if it’s being forced to not run for 3 months after overdoing it.

We learn this way, and ultimately we become better runners.

Anyways, enough psychological jargon.

As I take on my next marathon, I am planning on actually increasing the distance of my long runs, and will perhaps train (gulp) past 26 miles. This is a training method used by some, and as long as I go slow and build even slower, I am thinking that this technique could work for me. I want to do the Seattle Rock’n’Roll just over 2 months after Vernonia, and I’m thinking the only way to do this successfully is to up my overall mileage.

We will see though, nothing is set in stone—and with the other distance races I have planned, who knows what will happen.

What marathon or half marathon training plans have you used? What were some successful side activities you did to help your training?

 

Some Thoughts on Cross Training

Hi! How’re you? If the answer isn’t,”Hey! I’m awesome!” just remember…it’s Friday, there will soon be pie and green bean casserole in your belly, and Christmas music is socially acceptable in less than a week.

Don't even mess. This is Christmas music GOLD.

Can you tell where my brain is right now?

This morning was one of my favorite weekly workouts, Spin ‘n’ Swim. Really creative name I gave it there, huh? The combination is pretty self explanatory: It starts with a spin class with my favorite instructor Jeoff and then finishes with a steady pool workout. I like this combo for a few reasons, but mainly because it combines two different types of cardio and it offers some active relief from the pounding my muscles endure during running. Also, swimming is magical. In all aspects of the word. I didn’t always feel this way though…

I’m currently in my third running life. Running has lives similar to the way cats have lives, by the way. No, not really, but I do believe that our perspective, habits, and overall mentality about running can really change depending on where we are in our lives. With this said, I’ve currently be re-born into running three times, and I have to say I’m loving this third time around. I enjoy my runs more, I became a MARATHONER, and I feel like my relationship with running is at its best. Honeymoon style, nothing but love.

"Never mind the fact that I can no longer walk, I'm a marathoner!" Sorry PDX Marathon, obviously this is not my photo.

Part of the reason I feel so centered as a runner at this point in time is due, in large part, to cross training. I have been very conscious about keeping other activities interspersed in my running routine, and as a result, I don’t get burned out, I haven’t gotten injured(knock on your table please for me), and I’m much more balanced in terms of my physical fitness mentality. I used to be the kind of runner who stuck her nose up to any other kind of “exercise.” Seriously, I was a running brat who thought that the elliptical was for rehab patients and any workout less than a hard 9 miler wasn’t even worth it. Who was I?! A crazed running addict is what, and although I would still say I have the same affinity for a hard running workout, I drove myself into the ground with that mentality. Literally… I got hurt and was excommunicated from the running world for three months.

Lesson learned, something had to change.

I realize I’m rambling a bit, but I do have a point.

Cross training is not only beneficial, fun, and different, but it is necessary for maintaining a healthy and enjoyable running career. I credit the cross training I did alongside my marathon training for my finish time almost more so than my weekly long runs. Yes, I said it. Spinning helps develop speed, and it strengthens the muscles around your running muscles which ultimately improves runs. Spinning is also a great way to strengthen your cardio and get really sweaty (especially if you work with Jeoff) without the heavy impact of running. I could go on and on about spin—for anyone who loves to challenge themselves, listen to loud pump up tunes, and work out with a group, spin is awesome. I’m a lone wolf when it comes to exercise, and even I get a jolt of enthusiasm when I’m on a stationary bike with a bunch of other people. Jeoff also sings along to Lady Gaga and changes lyrics to encourage us even more: “YOU’RE on the edge of GLORY” C’mon, who doesn’t love that??

I’ll save some commentary on swimming for another time, however I want to highly encourage all runners to treat running like any other relationship. Without some TLC (cross training, yoga, and off-time) running can turn on you and your relationship becomes mundane, draining, and ultimately abusive. It sounds cheeky, however I speak from very personal experience when I say that running should not be taken for granted, and one of the keys to a lifelong relationship with this sport is to treat it and your body with respect.

That got serious there, isn’t it supposed to be Friday?

Clearly, this is a topic I care a lot about.

Another long post…what am I a new blogger or something? More pictures to come soon, I promise!

Now I’d love to know…what’s your favorite way to cross train??