15k and a Run Through the Rain

I had a very interesting week running-wise this past week. I swapped out one of my gym nights for a quick run after work and ended up running in the middle of the pouring rain and a thunderstorm! In December! I didn’t even know that was possible. Then on Saturday I set out for my usual morning run and half-jokingly set myself a turnaround point that was very far down the road, which I actually made it to, and surprised myself by finishing my first ever 15k!

It’s also beginning to feel a little more like Christmas. The temperature, though still a little warmer than I’d like, is gradually getting colder which means that it’s more likely any precipitation will be snow (hooray!) and people in the neighbourhood have started putting up their lights and it looks really pretty at night. I mailed out all my Christmas cards on Saturday and have one more present to buy before I can check that off my list. I have also begun to consume large amounts of egg nog, which may pose a problem for my goal of eating healthy haha.

The downside of the weather turning cold is that I’ve realized that I have very little winter running gear. I have a couple of pairs of thicker leggings, a nice jacket that has served me pretty well so far, and some thin gloves, but I don’t think they’ll be a match for the full force of the Canadian winter. I’m hoping to get a bunch of winter running gear for Christmas, but I need to figure out what to ask for first. I’m thinking I’d like to get a buff that I can wear as a scarf or ear warmer, and some warmer leggings, but beyond that I’m kind of stumped. I don’t like carrying around extra layers that I’ve pulled off when I’m running so I need to find things that are lightweight, and wicking so that I don’t have to carry my whole closet with me haha. Another thing I need to figure out soon is how I’m going to run outside when it’s icy out. Any suggestions?

Monday: Back, biceps, and shoulders

My assisted pull-up is getting stronger and stronger! I’m almost ready to take another 5 lbs off the counterbalance, which means I’ll be another 5 lbs closer to my goal of an unassisted pull-up (and to my goal of a muscle-up!). I’m still having some grip issues, especially on back days I’ve notice. I think it might be because the pull-ups take a lot of strength to hold myself up, but all I can do is keep working at it and hope it catches up in time for my deadlift goal.

Workout:
5 minute warm-up on the treadmill
Assisted pull-ups
One arm rows
Wide-grip lat pull downs
Seated cable rows
Upright rear delt row
Straight leg deadlift
Bent over reverse flies
Front raises

Wednesday: Thunder Run
3.94km – 20:24 (5:11/km)

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Me in my soaking wet gear. My hat was literally dripping water.

This run was slightly terrifying and the fastest I think I may have ever run, at least recently haha. I got home from work and immediately headed out for a run. It was already starting to rain by the time I started and as I headed out it started to get heavier and heavier. I tried my best to avoid the puddles wherever I could, but it’s really hard to see puddles in the dark.

 

As I was approaching the point where I had planned to turn around there was a big flash of light in the sky behind the houses I was running past. “That was weird,” I thought to myself “that almost looked like lightning.” I dismissed the thought though, because there’s no way there would be a thunderstorm at the beginning of December. Even though I didn’t think it could be lightning I still kind of kept an ear out for thunder, but I never heard anything. Nonetheless I turned around, just in case.

A couple minutes later, another flash lit up the sky. I knew without a doubt then that it was definitely lightning in December. Sure enough a few seconds later there was an ominous rumble of thunder. I picked up the pace, regretting that I had gotten so far from home and still had to make my way back.

img_3986I continued to run back to my house as a couple more lightning flashes lit up the sky and I started counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, really hoping I could make it home before the storm was right over me. At this point I was running as fast as I felt I could without sprinting down the sidewalk, not bothering at all to try and avoid puddles. I just wanted to get home without getting fried!

I made it home just fine, though I did run right up to the door when I usually stop running at the top of my block, to give myself a bit of a cool down. I was absolutely drenched, but not electrocuted, and I logged my fastest pace ever: 5:11/km (with a pace of 5:08/km for the last two kilometres on the way home).

Saturday: Surprise 15k Run
15.2km – 1h39 (6:31/km)

If this run taught me nothing else about myself, it is that I’m ridiculously stubborn sometimes (which, really, I should have already known haha). As I mentioned above, when I set out for this run I picked a point that was very far down the road I would be running on that would allow me to head north on a road and create a giant loop back to my house, without actually thinking that I would make it that far. I had run down this road two weeks ago and gotten only about halfway to this turning point so I figured that I would just gradually work my way towards this turn and eventually get to run the whole big loop.

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This was the elevation for my run.

The reality of it was that the way out was very hilly. Not nicely rolling hills with a gradual incline, but unpleasant rolling hills that were steep, had a short downhill followed by another steep uphill. Every time I thought about turning around before my turn off, I thought about having to run all those hills again, said “no way” and kept going.

The giant, long, crazy steep hills I ended up having to climb when I got to my turn off was probably worse than having to repeat the other hills (apparently I have a very flawed memory for the steepness of hills and never remember how bad they are until I’m already climbing up them) but there was no way I was turning around. See? Stubborn as heck.

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My mid-run snack, which definitely helped me not die.

Once I got to the top of the hill(s) (which required a couple of stints of walking) I was able to run the whole rest of the way home. The top of the hill was fairly flat, with only a few gently rolling hills, and then I had a nice long downhill and some flat ground to finish off my run. It was a nice change from all the uphills I’d had to do, and a large relief for my body, which by this time was pretty sore, my ankles and hips in particular (my knees joined in later in the day).

 

 

I wasn’t sure how long the whole route was since I hadn’t measured it out beforehand so I was surprised and crazy happy to find out that I’d done a full 15km when I finally got home and measured it out! I have now conquered that milestone and it will be onto the next! The weird thing is that I felt like I could have kept running longer too, as long as there weren’t any more steep uphills! However, judging by the state of my body later in the day, I should probably be a little bit more careful about tackling long distance milestones out of the blue.

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I had this amazing view at 11k. It helped keep my spirits up.

I think this week I’ll probably go for a single, shorter run to try and give my lower body a bit of a break, as my joints are still feeling a little stiff. I really don’t want to injure myself and am going to play it safe so that I can keep running in the weeks to come!

Have you ever unexpectedly reached a milestone? 

What kind of winter running gear do you wear?

How do you stay safe while running outside in icy conditions?

Graduating to the Big Leagues

Last week I hit an exciting milestone: I graduated myself to bench pressing with an olympic bar and plates! Up until now I’d been using barbells because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to lift the full bar but this week I decided that it was time to try (especially if I want to hit my bench press goal) and I managed to not crush myself!! Self-high five!

This week was pretty good for healthy eating. I did cave a bit on Friday and bought myself a chocolate bar for the first time in a couple of weeks. I was surprised to find that I felt kinda ‘meh’ about it afterward because I usually just want more. I think this desire to eat healthy is finally starting to stick! I am fully conscious, however, that Christmas season is coming up and I’m trying really hard to think of a plan to not inhale all the cookies and other goodies that come along at this time of year. So far all I’ve got is “don’t eat them all” but I think I’m going to need a little bit more structure than that haha. I did make a really tasty and super easy dinner recipe last week that I’ll be making a post about later!

Monday: Chest, Triceps, and Shoulders

Starting my week off with my bench press milestone was awesome. My workouts are now something I look forward to every week, which I’m taking to mean that I’m doing something right. It definitely makes it a heck of a lot easier to get myself out the door to the gym or for a run now that I’m enjoying it. I also find that if I’m having a hard time with motivation, taking a look at other people’s fitness journeys on Instagram gets me excited about working out. img_3947

Workout:
5 minute warm-up on the treadmill
Bench press (the big league kind!!)
Dumbbell flyes
Skull crushers
Overhead triceps extensions
Cable rope triceps pulldown
Overhead military press
One arm rows + kickbacks
Hook grip kettle bell swings

Thursday: Leg Day

I was hoping to follow up on my first squat rack session from a week and a bit ago with a second one, but unfortunately they were all in use when I got to the gym. I did a couple of other exercises first hoping one would become free, but no luck, so I settled for the Smith machine instead and added more weight than I would have if I was squatting with a regular rack (approx. 65 lbs with the weight of the bar). Hopefully next time I’ll be able to muscle my way into a rack. img_3964

Workout:
5 minute warm-up on the treadmill
Deadlifts
Seated calf raises
Squats (Smith machine)
Leg extensions
Leg press
Hip thrusts
Front raises
5 minute cool-down on the treadmill (walking)

Saturday: Run run run

All week I had been planning to do a killer hill set on Saturday. I had picked out this giant hill close to my house and I was mentally preparing myself for a gritty, gruelling workout and pushing through no matter what. I got up, put my gear on and headed over, only to realize that I was missing a key piece to this plan: a sidewalk to run on. In certain situations this wouldn’t phase me, but this hill has some pretty heavy car traffic and I didn’t want to be worrying about cars whizzing past me while I tried to mentality push myself through this workout. Instead I headed over to a set of stairs nearby and did some suicides up and down a few times and then did a long loop back home.

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It was a good workout, but I was bummed out that I didn’t get to do my killer hill set. I’m definitely going to have to scope out a good (and safe) hill to do my run on next weekend. Look out hills, I’m coming for you.

What’s your favourite kind of run to do? Are you a glutton for self-improvement through punishing runs, or do you prefer nice, steady runs that push your endurance?

How do you make sure you don’t eat everything in sight over the holidays? Do you feed the Santa and his reindeer all your cookies so that you don’t end up eating them all by yourself? 

Weekly Update #7: Happy Progress

This week was just plain awesome. All of my workouts went so well and I felt so powerful and confident, like I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. Don’t you just love days/weeks/months like that? It’s made me super excited about making progress towards my goals. I felt like a total BAMF and I was/am loving it.

Monday: Killer Leg Workout (+ Shoulders)

I figured that I should probably start doing some squats if I wanted to squat 150 lbs in the next 6 months so I started out with some of those. They went pretty well but I had itty bitty baby plates on the end of the bar. I’m slightly worried that I might not make my goal, but I’m going to try my damnedest to get there. Side note, are you supposed to count the weight of the actual bar in the total weigh that you’re lifting, or just the plates?

Workout:
5 minute warm-up on the treadmill
Squats
Hip adductors
Hip abductors
Deadlifts
Leg extensions
Superset: Bent over reverse flyes & Side lateral raises
Lunges
5 minutes on the treadmill + a cool down

Friday: Back, Biceps, and Shoulders

After a few weeks of experimenting I’ve finally hit the right level of assistance on the assisted pull-up machine that I can’t get three sets of 12 reps out of: 55 lbs. It’s not too shabby. I was able to get one set each of 10 reps, 8 reps, and 7 reps out at that weight and I’m hoping that I can make some fairly steady progress and get it down to 0 lbs soon.

Workout:
5 minute warm-up + 10 minutes tempo on the treadmill
Pull-ups
Back hyperextensions
Wide grip lat pulldowns
One arm rows
Barbell biceps curls
Military overhead press
Shrugs

Saturday: Early Morning Run
5.89km – 33:38

This run felt amazing. I enjoyed myself the entire time, which hasn’t ever really happened before. I’m usually really focused on trying to run faster or farther than I ever have before that I don’t really enjoy it. I’ve really been trying to just enjoy the running, and this is the first week that I’ve managed it. I had a really strong headwind for the first half of it but it didn’t bother me at all. I’m super happy that I’ve been running longer distances without feeling too much strain. I used to struggle really really hard through 5ks, and I remember being so happy when I managed to run a 6k the first time (and feeling absolutely exhausted and sore all over). But now it almost seems easy, a large part of which I think has to do with me building muscle in the gym.

Question of the day:
What’s your favourite running gear? Do you have the most amazing shirt/jacket/toque/pair of leggings/shorts/handheld water bottle/hydration pack? I want to know! I desperately need ideas for what to ask for this Christmas.

Weekly Update #6: Goals

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about deciding to make some goals for weight-lifting so that I would have something to work towards and hopefully feel more motivated during my workouts. Well I’ve finally come up with some goals:

  1. Pull-ups: 1 unassisted
  2. Deadlift: 150 lbs
  3. Squat: 150 lbs
  4. Bench press: 100 lbs
  5. Muscle-up: 1

Continue reading “Weekly Update #6: Goals”

Weekly Update #5: Back to Running!

I was back on track this week with my target of 3 workouts, and even better: I got to go for my first run in months and months because I finally got new running shoes!! Look at them: so pretty, so clean, so new! Just waiting to be taken out for a spin.

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This week I also made a firm decision to cut back on my sugar intake. I have a huge sweet tooth, but it’s been undermining my efforts to eat healthy and I suspect my workout progress as well. So in a bold-ish move, I’ve decided to limit myself to a maximum of two sweet things per day. After I’ve done that for a while I plan to cut it back to one thing and then see where it goes from there. At the same time I’m hoping to find healthier sweet things so that when I do eat them, it’s not as bad for me. Continue reading “Weekly Update #5: Back to Running!”

Weekly Update #4: A ‘Lazy’ Week

This week was a bit of a wash fitness-wise, thanks to a mad dash to get my Halloween costume ready for Saturday night, so this is going to be a pretty short update. Because I didn’t go to the gym much this week (only one day out of my goal of three!) I wasn’t able to see if I’d shaken off my funk from last week. I did get to thinking, however, that my funk might be partially due to a lack of solid goals so I’m going to spend some time this upcoming week planning some goals that I can work towards and see if that helps.

Monday: Back, Biceps, and Shoulders

My head felt mostly in the game on Monday and I was able to have a pretty good focus on what I was doing. I had to wait for some of the machines that I wanted to use which left me having to think of another exercise to do on the spot while I waited. Overall a pretty good workout. I did manage to move up to 3×8 @ 40 lbs for my military press! Continue reading “Weekly Update #4: A ‘Lazy’ Week”

Weekly Update #3

I made my target of three workouts again this week, but I had a hard time motivating myself or getting really excited about being at the gym, which is abnormal for me. I know some people find it really hard to get themselves to the gym, but I’m not usually one of those people. Wednesday was a little closer to normal, I was really itching to get to the gym during the day, but when I got there all the wind kind of left my sails. Hopefully I can either shake this funk or figure out what’s causing it so I can get back to feeling excited about my workouts.

Monday: Chest & Shoulders

I had a really hard time getting my head in the game today. I knew I was going to the gym but couldn’t decide which muscle group I wanted to work on. I didn’t want to do a big leg workout because there were still some muscle groups that I wanted to hit before starting my cycle over (leg workouts always signal the start of a workout cycle for me because it’s such a tiring workout). Triceps were out because they were still really sore from last week (I really think I might have overdone it and given myself a bit of an injury so I’m giving them a thorough rest before targeting them again). Continue reading “Weekly Update #3”

Weekly Update #2

I’m pleased to say that I managed to hit my target of three workouts this week! I think it helped that I picked three days that I was going to go to the gym ahead of time, though I did have to shift my Saturday workout to today because I went on a hike yesterday that ended up taking way longer than I thought it would. Knowing that I would be writing about my workouts also really helped me get my butt out the door. Turns out this public accountability thing really does work!

Tuesday: Triceps and Shoulders

I’ve been doing a couple of shoulder exercises at the end of each of my workouts so far because they’re one of my bigger weak spots (well, my whole upper body in general is a weak spot aha). I also think women look super badass when they have good, strong-looking shoulders so there are definitely some aesthetic reasons for me working out my shoulders haha (who doesn’t want to look like a badass?). Continue reading “Weekly Update #2”

Weekly Update #1

Well, it’s been a long time since I last wrote anything here. Waaayyy too long. It’s been taking me a while to adjust to some life changes that have happened in the last few months (new job and a move to a different city) and I haven’t been running or going to the gym so I haven’t really felt that I had anything to write about! However, I have finally joined a gym again and in an effort to get back into writing and to hold myself accountable and make sure that I actually go to the gym on a regular basis I’m going to start doing Weekly Updates (I got the idea from the lovely jenna runs who is currently training for her first marathon and is massively inspirational).

There might not be much to report on for the first little while because I’m really trying to focus on building sustainable habits this time instead of making a crazy commitment that I give up on because it’s too overwhelming. But hopefully there will be more as I get comfortable with the new routine! Let’s get into it. Continue reading “Weekly Update #1”

Doubt, The Asshole

Running – like life – has both its ups and downs. The ironic thing is that in running it’s the downhills that you look forward to. Downhills are easy: you can catch your breath a little bit and savour the ease at which you cover ground while gravity does a fair share of the work. Running up a hill is a different story, however, as gravity tries to pull you back down and you struggle to keep your legs churning to reach the top.

Well I’ve been stuck on a bit of an uphill for the last little while with my running. Ever since I did that 10k (yes I know that was a month ago) I have been having the hardest time running even the shortest distances. I can’t even finish a 5k before my breath is coming out in tight wheezes, I’m mentally exhausted, and my legs feel like they’re made of iron (as in they are very, very heavy, not that they are super strong). Continue reading “Doubt, The Asshole”