A Bird Pooped On My Shoulder: Musings About Winter Workouts

Yesterday I was running hill repeats, and halfway through a bird pooped on my shoulder.

I like to tell myself that it’s good luck, but in reality, I just got shat on.

It’s like nature was saying “Go back inside, it’s cold, you nitwit!” But I beg to differ. Yes, it’s gotten quite cold lately, and although it’s still fall (and today is weirdly balmy), it’s almost winter in Boston for sure. I have a very strong love/hate relationship with winter.  I love the first snow, but hate when it starts to get dirty on the sides of the street (like 10 minutes after it snows). I love the cool, crisp air and being able to dress in cozy sweaters and boots, but I hate the chapped lips, runny noses, and frozen toes that happen so often. I love snowboarding, but hate shoveling almost more than anything, especially in the city.

But there is one thing that I didn’t realize I love about cold weather until last winter when I first started training with November Project: I love training outside in the cold. Yes, there’s a fair chance that you’ll end up with snot freezing on your face (attractive), or you’ll overcompensate with layers so much that you’ll actually overheat, but there’s something about it that just feels bad ass. Raw. Kind of against the rules.

No, I didn’t enjoy it when my toes were numb, red, swollen and eventually painful for half of the day after last week’s stadium session (25 degrees with a 6 mile bike ride there and back will do that to ya), but I did feel inexplicably excited about what I had done. Last year, we ran stadiums while it was actively snowing. We ran stadiums when there were only three sections of the stadium that weren’t covered in ice. We skipped the stadium and ran snow sprints when the steps were literally covered in so much snow and ice that you couldn’t see them. But we were still out there in the snow and the cold, and I loved it.

I may have said I hated it at the time, but I loved it.

I just want to remind people that working out outside in the winter is not against the rules. It may make you a little bit uncomfortable at first, but if you layer up properly and surround yourself with the right crowd, it can be downright exciting. Yesterday when I was running hills, I could have gone home because I was cold and a bird shit on my shoulder. But I looked down at that little pile of poo and kept running my sprints until the set was over. Why? Because for some weird reason, I like to workout when it’s cold, and aint no bird poop gonna stop me from finishing my repeats! 

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be training outside at least one day per week. My lungs will scream, my face will go numb, and the tips of my fingers will ache when I return home and the blood can again circulate to the very ends of my extremities. I’ll curse at the cold weather, I’ll gasp for air and pray for some warm air to soothe the knives in my throat, but when it’s all over, I’ll be proud of myself for sticking it out.

I challenge you to take your workouts outside as well! Go ahead, switch up your routine and go run some hills when it’s cold enough to see your breath. Layer up, bring out your inner badass, and just go. Head to the stadium when you have to layer up so much that you almost can’t move normally.  But whatever you do, don’t slip on any ice. A broken tail bone doesn’t look good on anyone. Although if you did injure yourself, at least you could say that you did it being awesome, instead of doing something lame like shoveling.

sweatersuitOr I guess you could skip the workouts and just do this. Whatever floats your boat. 

Readers: Do you workout outside when it’s cold out? Would you be willing to give it a try this winter? 

Pushing Beyond Your Comfort Zone

I want to first say that I apologize for being so absent on the blog lately. I also want to give a fair warning that my work schedule over the next month is enough to make me cry just thinking about it, so it’s just not realistic for me to expect to blog more than once or twice per week for the next few weeks.

I’m not trying to be whiney at all, I’m just trying to let y’all know that I’m not abandoning the blog or ignoring it on purpose, I just legitimately haven’t had time to write. I’m also gearing up to start four weeks of Carb Back Loading on Monday, which is either going to be totally awesome or totally awful. I can’t decide which yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Ok, time to stop being a whiney baby and actually talk about something relevant today.

I want to talk a little bit about pushing out of your comfort zone.

The other day I showed up for my normal Wednesday stadium run with the November Project, super pumped to run the stadium since the snow that was covering it last week had finally melted. I had done an easy stadium workout on Sunday afternoon, and was excited to get out there with the whole November Project tribe (about 200 people) and get my butt kicked by those giant concrete steps.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we ended up not being able to use the stadium and had to do a track workout instead. The first thought that went through my head was “Ummm I don’t think I’ve been on a track in years”, and the second was this:

Track Workout?

Ain-t-Nobody-Got-Time-Fo-Dat-sweet-brown-31241125-480-330

The leaders of NP had us do a workout that was alternating 400m sprints with 10 burpees. Now, to be honest, I love the stadium. I’m used to the stadium. Even though it kicks my ass every time, I know what to expect from those giant stairs. But the track? That’s a whole new beast. I have said before about how much I hate steady, flat running. Granted, this wasn’t a distance run, but it was running. On a track. At 6:30 am.

But My good friend Mandy and I did as we were told, and got to doing the sprints and burpees until we both thought we were going to die. Over all, we ended up doing 7 rounds (7 x 400m and 70 burpees total).

And you know what? I actually loved it. I loved the feeling of the ground moving beneath my feet, I loved feeling the speed at which I was moving, I just really loved the whole thing.

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Wait, no. That was a total lie. I didn’t love it at all. I actually hated every second of it. Yes, I still hate running.  What, you really thought one track workout was going to bring me over to the dark side?

But while I obviously didn’t love the running, what I actually did love (besides the comraderie that came from completing such a heinous workout with such an amazing group of people) was the feeling I got when Mandy and I finished the workout. We pushed our limits, and we put everything we had into that damn track.  When we finished, my legs were crushed, and my lungs were on fire. I hadn’t run a sprint longer than 100 yds in years, and I just did 7  x 400s?  The best thing about it though, was knowing that I pushed way beyond my comfort zone. Yes, I was moving about as fast as a sloth compared to some of those other more seasoned runners, but I pushed my hardest on every 400. I ignored the fact that my brain was screaming “THIS EFFING SUCKS” during every lap around the track, and instead focused on the person in front of me. If they could do it, I could do it. If they could push their limits and finish this workout, why shouldn’t I do the same thing?

I’ll say it again, I still hate running. Like, really hate it. And if you asked me to go to the track and run 7 x 400s right now, I’d probably laugh in your face (well let’s face it, my hamstrings are still recovering anyway). But I’m sure as hell glad I did it, and glad that I didn’t just say “Oh, no stadiums today? I hate the track, I’m going home”. Nope, I stayed, I conquered… and then I foam rolled like a boss.

Today’s a lift day. Considering that last week I maxed out my squat, I’m probably not going to be pushing any limits today, but I am going to push outside of my comfort zone. Because if your workouts or training sessions are comfortable? I’m sorry, you’re just not doing it right.

Are you able to push yourself outside of your comfort zone or do you need someone else to do that for you? Have you ever dreaded a workout and then ended up loving it? 

Pyramids and Planks

I don’t have a ton of time this week so you’re probably going to get a couple of quick posts.

It’s ok, nobody likes words, anyway. You’re all just here for the pictures.

And I don’t even have very many pictures for you today! What a jerk.

Anyway, today I want to give you a couple of fitness ideas that I’ve been using in my routine lately. The first is a method of hill sprints, which I Know you all love, and the second is a new way to spice up your old planks.

I actually did the following at the stadium last week, and it thoroughly kicked my ass. But since I know not everyone has access to a stadium, this would be just as effective as hill sprints. I would just recommend finding a good sized hill — one that is about 50 yards long and steep enough so that you can still run up it, but that it’s a challenge to do so.

Just remember to push yourself through the entire workout! If you’re working hard enough, the smaller sets of 2 and 1 shouldn’t actually feel easy despite what you may think. If you push hard enough through the longer sets, the last 2 and 1 should be all you’ve got left in the tank.

Moving on to everyone’s favorite exercise: The Plank! (and even better, combining it with the side-plank).

I’m going to be totally honest with you here. Planks bore me to death. I hate them. So I’ve figured out a way lately to incorporate them into my routine, reaping the benefits but without the mind-numbing static-ness of it all. (Static-ness? I don’t know. I couldn’t think of a real word that would work there).

Here’s the deal on why you might like this: You are not required to hold one plank for more than 20 seconds. Here’s the deal on why you might hate it: It’s much harder than you would think.

No rest in between positions! 

Trust me, the final 20 seconds is no piece of cake, and you might be cursing me at that point. But hey, you’re planking for 3:00 straight, with the added degree of difficulty from the position shifts. Win!

Just make sure that on your planks you’re staying straight like a board. No saggy mid-sections or tent-butts please!

And with that, I’m out. Well, not before I show you this:

IT’S A PUG IN PUG SLIPPERS! Can you get any cuter?!?

Do you ever use a pyramid scheme in your workouts? What’s the longest you’ve ever held a plank? Do you do planks or do they bore you too much? What’s in your fitness plan today?

Fitness Challenge Week 6: Sprint!

Since I gave you an easy week last week with the lunges, this week I’m cranking it up a notch and giving  you a sprint workout that will probably make you want to slap me.

Source

Why sprinting?

Well, for starters, because I like it. Second of all, for all of you steady-state-cardioers out there, adding in 1-2 sprint and/or HIIT workouts each week will really help you to kick your fat-loss into gear. *Note: I am not suggesting that interval/sprint training is the end-all, be-all of cardio. I really believe, based on research that I have read, that both types of cardio have a place in a training program. But if all you do is steady state, adding in some sprints or intervals could really help increase your results, when paired with a balanced training program and nutritional plan.

And although it’s not the only thing you should be doing, sprinting is a valuable tool in a training program, be it for fat loss, strength, or energy-use efficiency. If you lift weights (which most of you do), adding sprints to your program can help with your body’s ability to power through the end of those tough sessions in the weight room. Sprints will also help your body to burn more calories post-exercise, and who doesn’t want that?

So without further ado, here is your workout:

As it says above, you’ll need to set up cones, or some sort of markers, at 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 yards. Or better yet, you could use an already lined football field!

This picture is actually perfect, because you won’t need a full 100 yard space, only 50 yards. This is because each sprint (besides the 10 yard ones) will be done with a cut and turn at the mid-point. Why? Adding in the cuts gives this workout a little more difficulty… and for any current athletes that are reading, makes this a more functional workout.

This workout wont take you very long, but it’s tough! I would not perform this on a day of, before, or directly following a heavy leg day in the weight room.  And if you are very new to working out, or have never ran/done sprints before, I would do a very modified version of this. Try starting out with half the reps of each distance and see how you do. I would even omit the full 100 yd sprints if this is your first time doing a workout like this.  And if you are advanced, I would add 1-2 reps of each distance after the 20s. As always, safety needs to come first! If you have a pre-existing injury or feel pain/shortness of breath/dizziness, please discontinue the workout and consult with a medical professional.

Now get out there, get motivated, and get going!!

yes yes yes.

Do you do sprint workouts usually? How often do you incorporate sprints or HIIT into your training?

Workout Special: The 550

I just want to start by saying a big Thank You to those who have commented (both on my blog and in person) on my last post. It is great to feel support from such a great network of people, and I’m definitely lucky to be part of a network of bloggers who are so caring, supportive, and just all around awesome!

Seriously, Thank you! I also just want to say that I have felt for a while like I needed to get my story out there, and even though it made me a little nervous to do so I’m definitely glad that I did — it was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders being so honest with all of you.

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Sometimes we could all use a little boost from our friends

And now on to today’s post! Which, because I am lazy and don’t feel like writing a whole lot, is a workout for you. Don’t get me wrong though, this is a workout that will kick you right in the ass, and won’t take up your whole afternoon! If you need a break from the gym, or want to take advantage of a nice day outside, then this is for you.

All you need is your pretty little self and a football field (or a field big enough to be a football field). It will help to have the lines painted, but if not, you can just pace out the yard lines yourself (one full step is about a yard) and place markers where the lines would be.

Make sure before you do this that you get a good dynamic warm up in, at least 10-15 minutes of multiple joint movements so that you can properly warm up the tissue in all major muscle groups. This workout involves sprints and full-body work, so a good DWU is absolutely necessary for safety and performance!

The 550 

Sprint 10 Yds. – 10 Burpees 

Rest 20 Sec

Sprint 20 Yds – 20 Lunge Jumps (alternating legs)

Rest 20 sec

Sprint 30 Yds – 10 Squat Jumps

Rest 20 Sec

Sprint 40 Yds – 10 Pushups

Rest 20 Sec 

Sprint 50 Yds – 20 Bridges (Pelvic thrusts)

Rest 30 Sec

Sprint 60 Yds – 10 Burpees 

Rest 30 Sec

Sprint 70 Yds – 10 Squat Shuffles (5 each direction)

Rest 30 Sec 

Sprint 80 Yds – 20 Lateral line hops (double leg, back and forth over line)

Rest 30 Sec

Sprint 90 Yds – 10 Pushups

Rest 45 Sec

Sprint 100 Yds  – 60 Sec Plank

You’re Done!

Here’s the breakdown. You end up sprinting a grand total of 550 Yds (ahem, Title), with all of those other goodies thrown in as well. These are meant to be done with the exercise at each level performed directly following the sprint, a jog back to the start, and then the rest period.  This will not take you very long, so put your all into it!

If you get to the end and you feel like you still have some in the tank (some of you will), then take 60 seconds rest and do 1-2 more 100 yd sprints to finish off.

If you’re sprints aren’t lightning speed (mine certainly aren’t), that’s ok! Just do the best for you.

If you can’t do 10 solid pushups, do as many as you can and finish the rest from your knees. If you can’t hold a 60 second plank at the end, just do as long as you can with proper form.

Truth

 If you have any questions about what any of these exercises are, just ask in the comments section or shoot me an email! Do you do sprints regularly? Do you like to take your workouts outside when the weather gets nice?