Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I be working on my fitness....

Now that my race is over, I have been thinking about what this blog is going to be. I don't know if I want to just blog about anything I like or if I want to focus it on one thing. I could have a couple of blogs, maybe one could be sports related, one could be fitness/nutrition, etc. Who knows... for now, I'm going to talk about working out.... again

Working out has never been a part of my life. When I was growing up, I took dance. I was in the studio 4-5 days a week because I took ballet/pointe, jazz, tap, modern and I was a part of the Dance Company. I also went to the Fine Arts Center all 4 years of high school, so I didn't have to worry about being fit. I was always active. I went to college for dance, but it didn't work out. Many of you know that I quit drinking in 2000, where I began my sedentary life style. In addition to replacing drinking with food, I also got a desk job and began my downward spiral to a life of eating poorly, weight gain and guilt.

 I worked out some in college, but it wasn't until the end of 2007 that I started to turn everything around. Since then, I feel like I have experimented with a lot of different styles of working out. I think all of us decide at some point in our life that we want to work out. We join a gym, thinking that's our only option and then we walk in this huge facility not knowing what to do. Here are a couple of styles that you can try.


It's all the rage. I'm sure that you know someone in your life that is a member of a "garage" gym. This is how I started out. It's a combination of Olympic Lifting, gymnastics, high intensity, aerobic/anaerobic activity... and probably something else I'm forgetting. What I like about crossfit is that if you just want to work out, you don't have anything that you want to train for, and you are willing to spend $100+ per month on a gym membership, this is going to be your best choice. Group classes are fun, you're all suffering together! You can find someone to compete with and it will make you push yourself. Workouts can range from 3 minutes, yes that's what I said, to an hour long. Each day is different and while it seems like there is no rhyme or reason as to what each day will be, the people who do programming for Crossfit are very well educated in fitness and have a specific plan. The Go To workout for xfit is the Cindy... this is 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 squats, as many rounds as possible (called an AMRAP) in 20 minutes. When I first started, I think I could do... 7, when I stopped, I could do 17. I learned how to do pull up, dead hang and kipping, and I could deadlift 265 lbs!! My warning about this is that any shmoo can start up a "box" so PLEASE make sure that you are learning proper form in class. You may want to talk to your teacher (make sure he/she is qualified) and arrange for some private classes to learn proper form... there are MANY different things that can be detrimental if you don't know what you're doing. My other issue is that you are usually at the mercy of the gym schedule and it can be expensive.

Endurance Training
Endurance sports can include a lot of things, running, cycling, swimming, and there are even some adventure races that include kayaking, who knows what else. I switched from crossfit to running in 2008 for a variety of reasons, but I've really enjoyed the running/cycling community since I've switched. In every city, there are running groups, cycling groups, places you can join and meet people. We're lucky here in Greenville to have Stoix, a free running group for beginner runners. I started running with my friend Jeanne (I met her husband at xfit) and we developed a friendship. I remember the first time they asked me to run 5 miles with them. I definitely was able to do it, thank you xfit training, but it was a struggle. As we finished 5 miles, in my head I was thinking, this is the hardest thing I've ever done, but I like it. Within 4 months, I had run my first half marathon, a trail run through the mountains of GA. I like running because it gives me a goal to achieve. I pick a race, I have something to train for, it keeps me motivated. I'm not just working out to work out, I am running because I want to run my next half marathon in 2:15. And believe me, you don' twant to run 13 miles without training for it!! As I've found my spot in the running community, I can't help but overlap into cycling. I bought my first road bike and I LOVE IT!! It's challenging in a different way and I can see way more countryside on a bike than on my feet. I am no Lance Armstrong, I just do it for fun, but who knows where it will take me. This is probably the cheapest thing you can do (well, after the initial cost), but once you get your gear, it's free or if you find a group, there may be a small fee. If you are interested in running, my first recommendation is to go to a running store (not Dick's or Sports Authority - a store that is for running) and get a pair of shoes. They are going to run you about $80-100 but if you're going to be jamming your body up, you need to make sure you have the right shoes. Look online or on facebook and try to find a local running group. Some have a small fee, but they have training tools and races you do together. If you live in greenville, please check out Stoix because it's a great group that's free. Greenville is lucky because we have a big cycling community as well (hello George Hincapie!!). There are cycling groups that meet at the Donaldson center and you HAVE to do the bakery ride. You ride 18 miles into NC, eat at a bakery and ride back. The one thing I have not done yet is swim. I know many triathletes, so I'm sure I could pick it up at any time, but I am scared!! It seems intimidating. You will probably have to join a gym for this because it gets cold in the winter and most lakes are freezing. The Life Center and The Y have nice inside pools AND great adult swimming classes. The great thing is, all of these sports help you improve in your other sport. Spin class will help your running, swimming will help your cycling. etc. Throw in some body weight workouts and you're good to go.

Boxing and Martial Arts...
I don't know what pic to put here because there are so many things you can do. There is Jiu Jitsu, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Boxing, and about a bazillion others. I have taken boxing classes, and I've seen Brasilian Jiu Jitsu, I haven't done any of the others. I like boxing and it gets my heart rate up. My arms always get really tired and if you don't care about looking like a dork (which I do not), you can put everything you have in it and get a good workout in 30 minutes. I have some friends that went to 9 Rounds and love it. One of my friends even lost a lot of weight and continues to go. The benefits of this is that it's fun, again, it gives you a community to be a part of, but I wonder if it would get kind of repetitive after a while.

The Gym...
This can be overwhelming. Really, even in the gym, you can do cardio, take classes, do weight machines, free weights, etc etc etc. If you have never been in a gym, have never lifted a weight, know nothing about working out, I would spend the extra money and meet with a personal trainer there. They can help you learn what each machine does, different exercises, maybe even give you an outline for what to do. As you learn more about what you're doing, you can drop the trainer (although you probably wont' push yourself as hard!!). I recommend classes as well. Do some research online on different programs you can follow, or look at some different apps on your phone. One app I have is Nike Training Club. The style of workout is circuit training, doing different stations for a set amount of time, and it is usually a full body workout. I know that some people believe in muscle isolation, I do not. So I don't use the machines.... ever... ever... Functional full body movements are best and that means doing squats, push ups, walking lunges, etc. There is a strength program called 3, 2, 1  and it's a good guide (especially for men) for lifting. If you don't have an iPhone, you can go to nike.com and sign up for training club there. There are workouts that you can do with the stability ball,
and the bosu ball,
Both are great for stability and core.

Yoga and Pilates

Let me just say that if you can't do anything else, you should do yoga. It's not only good for strengthening and flexibility, it also helps with stress, indigestion, sinus issues, anxiety, etc etc etc etc etc. I actually will probably do an entire blog on Yoga, so look for that later. I think it had been a life saver for me. I make sure that I take 2-3 yoga classes a week, and am thinking about becoming a yoga teacher. Pilates is focused more on strengthening and lengthening. You can take pilates classes at a gym, or there are pilates studios around greenville. As a dancer, we always had pilates day and I HATED it because it was hard!! and I was lazy...

There more things that one can do, and while people that are devoted to one thing (usually crossfitters!!) say that there's is the best, I think you'd be ok doing any of them. I probably do a combination of all when I'm not training for a half. If you want to get healthy, try anything. Go outside and walk. When I first started thinking about getting active, I had a friend say, just walk away from your house for 10 minutes and then walk back. The WRONG thing that we focus on as a country is getting thin... what we should be thinking about is getting healthy and being active is one aspect of that. So, get up and go do something RIGHT NOW!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's over :(

So I did it!!! I finished the race... everything I have been training for is done and I'm back to my normal, non fundraising, non-training life.

First of all, the race was amazing. The group I went with was SO FUN. My mom came with me to be my support, my co-worker Meredith, who always seems to go with me on these trips and her friend, Justina. We had a blast, starting from the early morning car ride to the atlanta airport. When we arrived, we checked into our hotel and ventured out to explore the city. We visited the Casino where I lost $2 playing the slots and then the expo where I lost $80 buying stuff. The Expo is like, my favorite part of any race because you get to see a bunch of cool running stuff that you rarely find in your local running store.

I bought a couple of headbands that I really like and a Brooks running jacket. It was kind of expensive, but 1) it was Brooks so you know it's nice and 2) it has Rock 'n' Roll Mardi Gras 2011 so I thought, it's a souvenir, I'll get it. It looks like this:
but it has the rocknroll logo on it. We also got our stuff from the American Cancer Society and Team DetermiNation. Fundraisers could write names of cancer survivors or cancer patients that we wanted to remember. I wrote one for my grandmother, Jane and my friend Karen Gandley.

More about the ACS later, but that was our first little taste of what was to come.

We spent most of saturday sight seeing, and while weren't supposed to walk around a lot, we did anyway. It's hard to not want to see everything. Saturday morning, we got up and jogged to the Louisiana state museum and took a yoga class int he museum. That was pretty cool, but since my butt was sore on sunday, I was thinking that might not have been a good idea. It was also kind of hard to stay hydrated because I didn't want to buy bottled water because it was expensive and the plastic is bad for the environment, but the tap water also wasn't super delicious. I did the best I could.

Race day... we woke up around 4 am. We had to meet at the Astor Crowne Plaza at 5:15 and I wanted time to use the restroom if needed. (I think most runners know what I'm talking about). Our race day breakfast was a piece of whole wheat bread, peanut butter and a banana. We rolled out our legs, drank some water, ate our breakfast and headed to the hotel. I don't know how many people actually raised money for the event, but it seemed like there were about 100? I put a question mark because I am bad at guessing quantity. I forgot to mention that we had a Team DetermiNation dinner which was neat because we got to see how much money everyone raised (one lady raised 11k on her own and a team raised like, 40k). Anyway, the day with the ACS started off great. They had all kinds of breakfast food for us, fruit, milk, etc. I didn't eat anything because I was too nervous, but was impressed with the spread. The best part was the Jazz band. These guys led us down the streets of New Orleans playing jazz music as we walked to the start line. It's like, 6 am, and the music is loud. People are hanging out of the windows waving and cheering us on. Some of them looked like they had just woken up and some looked like they had never gone to bed. I looked at Meredith and said, "I love New Orleans". We had private porta poddies at the Team DetermiNation tent which was nice because the lines were outrageous in the race area. We waited around for what seemed like forever since it was cold, walked over the our corral number and waited again for the gun to go off. I was standing next to Abby Rike from the biggest loser,
so that was a fun celebrity moment. The race started and I felt good. We did the run 4 minute, walk 1 minute thing and right away, I felt like I was behind. That was when I said, ok, i'm just not going to focus on time, I'm going to focus on running through this beautiful city, listen to the bands and enjoy myself for the next 2 and a half hours. I did not use an iPod since I wanted to hear the bands. I felt good the whole time. I noticed that my butt was sore from yoga, but for the most part, they didn't feel too heavy. I think around mile 6, they started hurting and were tired, but it was never anything that bothered me too much. Around mile 9, I noticed that my achilles tendon was hurting very badly and at one point, I had some sharp pains so I stopped and stretched my lower calves on the curb. I ate my GU every 45 minutes and I drank water at every water stop. As we approached mile 10, I thought, OK this is where I always hit my wall. I thought about Jeanne saying, we're so proud of you Wendi, You're doing great, and I prepared myself for the mental torture that was about to happen.... it never showed up. I just continued my walk/run, tried to apprecate my surroundings. When we hit mile 13, a member of Team DetermiNation ran with us and pumped us up for the finish. She told us we were doing great, they were proud of us and we were almost done. Meredith and I crossed the finish line together and walked to the Team DetermiNation tent where we met my mom. I was happy to finish close to my goal, I was happy that I could walk and I was happy to be a part of a team.

 All in all, it was an awesome experience and reminds me why I love running. I definitely want to do this again and next year and I definitely want to raise money again. Being a part of Team DetermiNation was awesome and made the experience so much better.