Friday, November 1, 2013

Exercise Recap, Insights, & Goals

This post is a month overdue. In Sept I wrote this post here, which contained my year exercise stats from the year prior since I had been tracking. I also discussed that I was nervous about the busyness of the fall schedule with all the upcoming changes and being able to maintain my physical activity levels. In order to try to counteract the potential upcoming scheduling issues, to make up for all the "off" days I'd had the year prior AND to set a new challenge, I had decided to spend September working out every single day, even if that meant just stretching for 20 minutes and rolling out on the foam roller. 

So the Sept Totals came to: 82.4 miles ran/hiked, 4 Insanity DVDs, 6 you-tube yoga sessions & 17 miles by bike and a weekend learning to paddleboard. (Also some of the mileage was from the hellish backpack trip.)

But more importantly I learned a few things from that month. I read several bloggers who cover some pretty impressive mileage and cross train a LOT. When I look at what they accomplish, I'm always in awe. If I'm 100% honest, I don't know that my body is made that same way...and that's part of what September reaffirmed for me. Yes, I can up my mileage and I can make myself work out every day. Yes, I'm proud of what my body accomplished and how fast I recovered from that initial backpacking trip, but I'm not going to the end of that month my body was physically just plain tired. I could still push it (and I did) but I should have listened to my body and taken an easier month for October.

Instead I pushed it because I got caught up in another friend based challenge of trying to push through to make another 80 miles this last month (while also adjusting to less sleep and a lot more stress), and I have no doubt that this was a major reason that I ended up sick this last month. Not taking a break led to my body mandating rest and recovery via illness, and I spent almost half the month too sick and wiped out to do anything physically active.

As much as I love being physically active and it was fun to see my body push continually and efficiently in September, I also know that actual recovery days and breaks are SO important for me. And in fact, I think I actually do better with distance running when I'm LESS active continuously. For example, this last month I was able to run a 13 miler for the first time since last winter, felt fine the next day, and then ran a 8 miler two days later. Back to back "longer" runs aren't the norm for me....but I honestly think part of that ability came from doing nothing many of the other days along the way. In fact I'm honestly contemplating running my first official half race (the Holiday Half) because I know if I can run a half when I'm sick and haven't run for five days, then I should be able to get up off the couch without training and run a half on my old undergrad roads. But we'll see....especially now that I've signed up for a new challenge...but more on that in a second.

Ironically my other thoughts on this are that the 13 miler was....amazing, I felt great, and I could have pushed on. I know that I could run a marathon (and reading everyone's Chicago recaps I actually started daydreaming about it....) but the truth of the matter is that I don't feel like putting the strain on my body or breaking it down. Running that 13 miler, my IT band was tight by mile 8, my feet were sore from the Vibrams (which is another consideration as I'd have to figure out and adjust to a different footwear option) and all the stairs at school have made my knees start to feel creaky and old....I just don't (currently) see the point in breaking myself in order to make distance. I'm not saying it won't happen. I DO have a 20 miler distance on my life goals list...but at this point a full marathon, I'm not so sure. Maybe with regular massage and acupuncture I could make it happen, but I just don't know that it's worth it....

Now...all that being said. It's now November and I've had a month to adjust to this crazy schedule. I'm still hacking (in fact they gave me an inhaler to try to stop the cough from continuing), but I'm tired of feeling too crappy to work out and I only have a month to go til there's a real break with time to sleep, heal, and I'm trying to figure out how to get back into some routine exercise. Insert: My gal D's friend Emily (we all went to high school together) has become a huge fitness motivator and just created a FB "group" where we can all motivate/encourage each other along toward our fitness goals. (Awesome idea, no?!....I'm trying to convince her to make this into a job....)

So for this month (and after watching last month), I'm setting realistic, obtainable physical activity goals but ones that will still challenge me due to time constraints etc.

November's challenge is to work out 4-5x weekly (although I can do a double if I need to...and this means 3+ miles of running/hiking, Insanity, 30-60 minutes of a youtube yoga video, or 6+ miles biked) with two long runs (10 or more miles) this month. I also intend to drink 80 oz of water a day (I've been noticing I'm dehydrated)...and not eat any ice cream or candy this month (I almost never do but totally succumbed last month!! although I get a pass on Thanksgiving). On a side note: I'm also hoping to do at least two things for my spiritual health this month--either submerse in the Bible, go to church, volunteer...something.

So there ya have it. I learned some things (I need and do better with major rest days, stretching really helps me, having GOOD vibrams is important) and I'm headed into another month looking forward to getting myself toned up again. (On a side note: I might be trying to end 2013 with 800 miles in the bag. That means that I'd have two months of about 70 miles ahead...but definitely think it's doable!)

And what do you think, can I run a half without training in December mind you? I'm a little nervous about maybe pushing this month and then undermining myself because of it next month. We'll see. But it'd give me something to check off my goal list, as would the sprint tri that I'm contemplating for next summer.....

What are your fitness or health goals lately?!


  1. I most definitely am not a work out every day kind of person. Even when I was training for a marathon, I still took 2 full rest days off as my body seemed to do better when I gave it a break like that. I still ran great times (for me) so it worked for me. Now i am not training for anything but my goal is to workout 4-5 times a week. This week I will do 3 spin classes and 2 elliptical sessions so I feel good about that! I hope November is a great month for you!

    1. Awesome, lady! I was SO glad to read that you're able to do some exercise again and that you're loving the spin classes. They're definitely a great work-out!! Sounds like some great goals for the month :)

  2. I think it is so important that you are recognizing what is best for your body- and I'm very impressed that you are taking a step back. It CAN be dangerous to overwork and overstress your body- there is being physically active and then there is too much. I'm always trying to find the balance of being healthy and having a routine that is sustainable over the long term.

    That and sleep is SO important- so my thoughts are exactly yours in a previous paragraph- sure I think you could do a marathon- but is it worth it?

    1. So glad to hear from you. Still stoked to see where this newest venture takes you two :) But yes, definitely agree that there's a happy medium somewhere. As much as I'm excited about this new fb group, I also know that several of us are competitive by nature and I hope that it remains healthy and not too much....