Tag Archives: Strength Training

Revisiting 2012 Goals & Setting Goals for 2013

On January 1, 2012 I wrote this post recapping 2011 and setting goals for the new year. Then less than three weeks later I found out I was pregnant and everything changed. Needless to say, I didn’t achieve all of my goals this year, but that is completely fine. What I didn’t share in that post were a few other more personal goals of mine. Since last January I have had an electronic “sticky note” on my computer desktop that had some more goals for 2012.

Screen shot 2012-12-30 at 10.23.26 PM

I am happy to report that I accomplished some very BIG goals of mine for the year- getting pregnant and having a beautiful baby boy, buying our own house, and learning to swim. WIN, WIN, WIN! As for those other goals for the year, here’s how I did:

  • Complete my first ultra-marathon in March. I wasn’t able to do this because I got pregnant. I am actually putting this one on hold for another year or two. I want to focus on the regular marathon distance before jumping into another ultra!
  • Run a marathon in LESS THAN 4 hours. I had big plans to run 3 marathons in 2012 to go for a PR, but dropped to the half distances when I found out I was expecting. This is still a big goal of mine that I plan to accomplish in 2013!
  • Be active in other ways than just running. I tried a lot of new things that were out of my comfort zone in 2012 (yoga, Zumba, swimming, spinning) and continued with my beloved Body Pump. I also did a lot of walking while I was pregnant. However, running remained my #1 love!
  • Save money and stick to our new revised budget. We did really well with this until the summer when we bought our house and had to make a lot of baby purchases. Now that we have the house and our baby we’ve been dipping into savings more often lately, which I don’t like at all! This will be one of the goals I carry over to 2013.
  • Be on time! Umm yeah. Not so much. I’ve actually been great at getting to work on time though, which is a big improvement. But going anywhere with a new baby takes TIME. I have learned to start getting ready to go way before you think you need to. Leaving myself a big cushion of time helps me not be as stressed and allows me to take care of surprises like diaper accidents, spit ups, and meltdowns.
  • Sleep more. Haha! I am pretty sure I will never meet this goal for the next 18 (or more?) years.

Okay, now it’s time to focus on the FUTURE! Here are my new goals for 2013.

  • Run (at least) 1 race every month of the year. Two of my friends set a goal to run a race every month of 2012, and I loved that idea so much that I decided to borrow it for 2013. So far I have races in mind for every month except May, August, October, and December. Anyone in the Northern VA/DC area or the Philadelphia area (where my dad lives) know of any good ones in these months?
  • PR in both the marathon and the half marathon. Wow, this one is ambitious, I know! But I do believe I can do it. I am not planning to run another marathon until November, and I’m going to work my butt off to PR at that one (my current PR is 4:00:04). I’m running a bunch of half marathons this year and I really want to beat my PR of 1:48:55.
  • Re-commit to strength training. I was doing Body Pump 1-3x a week from July 2011 – September 2012… up until 3 days before baby Kevin was born. I learned that consistent strength training does amazing things for my running. I had never felt stronger or run faster than when I was going to Body Pump consistently. Since having the baby I haven’t been back to Body Pump or done any strength training. I’ve lost all my muscle definition (except in my legs) and I feel so much weaker. I NEED to start again to strengthen my muscles and create that good foundation that is needed for training. I hope to make it to Body Pump once a week and do some type of at-home strength training on another day.
  • Be smart with money. This is a continuation of my 2012 goal, although now since we are homeowners with a new baby, our budget looks different. We are paying for home expenses that come up, daycare, baby medical stuff, and now (unfortunately) some formula too. I also finished grad school which means I have to pay my student loans again. So basically we have to be very careful with our money this year!
  • Floss every day.  This is a random one but it’s one I really want to do! I’ve gotten MUCH better about it but need to make it a part of my daily routine.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Kevin tells me all the time that I need to let go of things that don’t matter and not stress about little things. I admit that I let things get the best of me a lot of the time. I worry way too much and let myself get frustrated and upset very easily, especially lately as I try to figure out how to balance being a new mother with a stressful job and other responsibilities. This causes me to miss out and not appreciate some of the things that happen around me. Then I feel guilty about that and beat myself up about it. It is a bad cycle. So one of my goals for the new year is not to sweat the small stuff and remember to tell myself at the end of each day, “Today I did the best I can and tomorrow is a brand new day.” (Thanks Jordan!)
  • Focus on family. This one kind of goes with the previous one. At the end of the day, nothing else matters besides my husband and my baby. Everything- running, work, money, stress, etc.- comes after that. I need to make sure I’m being the best mommy and wife I can be for my two favorite people in the entire world.

I love setting goals and having things to work towards. While I don’t believe you need to wait for the beginning of a new year to make changes, it is nice to think of the new year as the chance to start fresh. I am looking forward to the new challenges this year will bring!

I hope everyone has a great year! What goals have you set for yourself?

Finding Time For Strength Training

Well, I guess it’s obvious that I’ve been busy lately. I know I sound like a broken record, but school and grad school have consumed my life lately, along with friends, family, and other projects I have been working on. I’m still running all the time and loving it, but when I’m pressed for time other things get pushed to the side. Swimming, yoga, and strength training are the three big ones I’ve been slacking on lately. I have been able to squeeze in Body Pump classes once or twice a week and even though I love it, it’s been tough to find time and energy to go to a class for an hour when I’m tired and have other things to get done. Because of this I have been looking for ways to do strength training at home more quickly and efficiently. At the same time, Kevin has become more and more interested in CrossFit from one of his coworkers that is really into it. He suggested that we try an at-home WOD (Workout of the Day), and since I slept through Body Pump this morning I decided to go for it.

The WOD he wanted to do was called a 21-15-9. It’s basically a circuit workout that had us doing three exercises in a row: push ups, tricep dips, and kettlebell swings. The goal was to first do 21 reps of all three exercises- 21 push ups, 21 tricep dips, 21 kettlebell swings – followed by 15 reps of each exercise, and then 9 reps of each to finish off the workout. We were supposed to try to do this as fast as we could with minimal rest.

I knew this was going to be tough, but I didn’t realize HOW tough until I was actually doing it. Actually, I realized about 10 seconds in during the first 21 push ups. I’ve been working on my push up form and it was SO hard for to do 21 in a row. I dropped to my knees after the first 12 or so to keep good form.

After the push ups my arms felt like absolute JELLO starting the tricep dips. I felt like they were going to collapse under me. I had to stop and rest for a few seconds during this part.

Then onto the kettlebell swings. Even though the kettlebell is only 8 pounds, it felt like 50 in my weak arms. To do a kettlebell swing you start in a squatting position with the kettlebell between your legs, then snap your hips to push up into standing, bracing your core, and using your arm and back muscles to swing the kettlebell over your head.

Set 2: 15 reps of each exercise. This time I dropped to my knees much more quickly during the push ups and I could feel my form deteriorating (and you can see that in the picture too).

Tricep dips – oh the pain!

Kettlebell swings once again… (nice angle Kevin)

When I finished the second set I was exhausted and sweaty. I told myself I had only 9 more of each exercise and that I could do it. It was so hard! The push ups made me want to die and it’s a miracle I didn’t collapse on the tricep dips. This is the look of determination:

I finished in 7 minutes and 50 seconds and immediately laid on the floor. My heart was beating fast and I was sweating like I had just run a few miles. All of that in less than 8 minutes. That’s crazy!

Then it was Kevin’s turn. I wanted to go first so that he didn’t make me feel bad about myself, haha!

He rocked it out in 5 minutes and 30 seconds. He’s a machine! But it left him lying on the floor too 🙂

After we finished we starting talking about how it’s seriously amazing that such a short workout can leave you weak, shaky, and sweaty. I can really see how CrossFit can build your strength and endurance quickly. CrossFit was also featured in a recent issue of Runners World. The article was all about how beneficial CrossFit style workouts can be to your running and overall strength. I love the idea of CrossFit, but right now we definitely could not afford to pay the steep membership fees. At our town’s CrossFit location, they have packages that range from $10 – $20 per class and that’s just too much to pay along with our regular gym membership. Although I love the idea of CrossFit, I’m not willing to make the switch right now because I love our gym, the pool, and the classes it offers. However, I have found a few links that have a lot of at-home/travel WODs that you can do with little or no equipment. Kevin and I are looking forward to trying more of these in the future!

Have you tried CrossFit? Did you find it was worth the price? What’s your favorite WOD?

P.S. My goal for March is post more than I did in February. I only posted ONCE in February (I can’t even believe that!) so this shouldn’t be that hard 🙂

Quick Arms & Core Workout

Happy Friday friends! I’m in the Philadelphia area for the weekend to visit my family and friends. Fridays are rest/cross-training days for me, and usually I go to Body Pump class. Even though I’m away I still wanted to do some strength training today, but I wanted something quick because I was not feeling super motivated and I had errands to run. So I jotted down a quick list of exercises that targeted arms and core, set up my stopwatch on my phone and got to work!

I planned to do each exercise for one minute, rest for one minute, then do the next exercise for one minute, rest for one minute, and so on. Based on these intervals, one cycle through the entire workout should take 17 minutes.

Now, I am no strength training expert. I am only recently getting into doing more arm and core work after neglecting it for a long time, always choosing to run instead. I just wrote whatever exercises came to mind from what I’ve seen at the gym, in classes, in magazines, and exercise DVDs (the 30 Day Shred, Insanity, etc.) I decided to take some pictures to show what these exercises look like.

FYI- I’m also not an expert at taking self-timed photos. I tried my best to capture each exercise though!

Self Timer FAIL!

Push Ups. Okay, I’m the first to admit that my push up form isn’t perfect but I’m working on it and it IS getting better as I get stronger. I did as many as I could on my toes and then dropped to my knees until the minute was up.

On the way down...

And back up again!

Tricep Dips. My triceps must be my weakest muscle in my arms because tricep work is always the hardest for me. The first time we did these in Body Pump I thought I was going to die! The farther out you put your legs, the more difficult this exercise is. My arms were shaking by the time my timer went off!

Starting position

And DIP! Then go back up.

Bicycle Crunches. I think most people are familiar with this core exercise. The legs alternate going in and out while you crunch up and try to touch the opposite elbow to the knee. Abs were burning by the end!

Planks. Elbows on the ground right underneath the shoulders and up on the toes. Body should be in a straight line (butt shouldn’t sag or be up in the air). This doesn’t look hard, but it is for me! It was difficult to hold it for a minute. My whole body was shaking by the time one minute was up.

Plank Push Ups. I think this is from a Jillian Michaels DVD, and it’s really challenging! You start in the plank position (above), then lift yourself up onto your hands one arm at a time (shown in the picture below). Once you do that you should be in a regular push up position. Next, do one push up, then lower yourself back down to the elbows one arm at a time until you’re back in plank position. Repeat as many times as you can for one minute!

Diamond Push Ups. This one is a Shaun T. classic from Insanity! It’s like a regular push up, except your hands are close together with your thumbs and pointer fingers touching to form a diamond shape. Your legs are also spread very wide. Once in that position, lower yourself to the ground like a regular push up. It feels so much harder! I believe Shaun T. said this is a great variation of the push up that targets the triceps. Also, please ignore my bad form- my head and neck and dropped too low, especially in picture #2. I need to remember to keep my neck in alignment with my spine!

Starting position

On the way down...

Side Planks. A plank on your side (duh…). Prop yourself up on one elbow and stack the feet on top of one another. Again, the elbow should be right under the shoulder. Hold for one minute! Then repeat on the other side. Whew!

Sit Ups. Regular old fashioned sit ups. I put my feet under the couch to help stabilize myself. I always forget how hard these can be, especially after doing them for a minute straight! Either that or I have a really weak core (haha).

I got through one cycle and I was surprised and how sweaty and out of breath I was! I was going to do another cycle but by that point my stomach was grumbling and needed some lunch. Plus I have a long run tomorrow and I didn’t want to overdo it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of my long run and my weekly run down. Hopefully my run goes better than last week! Fingers crossed.