Tag Archives: improvement

Friends and Milestones (or Another Amazing Workout Week)

I feel like I’ve been killing it in my workouts week after week lately! I think that I really just want to do as much as I can in the next month (only 1 month to go until surgery!) and I know that the stronger I am the easier my recovery will be. I also want to see what limits I can push my body to now so I know what I will have to work toward when I’m recovering. I know that recovery will take time, but I think having strong goals to focus on will help me a lot.

Monday’s workout was a strength day and we switched between blocks. Knowing that it was a strength day and there would be inclines, I decided to walk all my inclines. Most of the time, I was walking at 8-10% incline instead of running at 5-7% incline. But I did run one of the 5% push pace to all out pace segments. And of course, I ran all of the flat road pushes and all outs. Inclines will probably be a struggle for me with running for a while, but I’m testing myself with it bit by bit.

On the floor, it was really an arm focused day. The first block was all tricep work and it was really tough. We did tricep chest presses, tricep push ups, and tricep kick backs with weights. My arms were so tired after that block. I wished they had mixed up the arm work and not had all the tricep stuff in one block, but I also know that it was that way to be tough and getting through it is an accomplishment. On the second block, we had strap work with low rows and pull ups. There were also hop overs on the benches which are always tough for me because of my hips. But I was able to almost do them as hops instead of steps which is a big deal for me. And the last block was a row focused one. I had a 200 meter row and really wanted to break the 40 second barrier, but it was done in 40.7 seconds which is so close but it feels like it’s taunting me.

Wednesday’s workout was a power day without switching between blocks. But it worked out pretty well for me even without getting to switch. On the treadmill, blocks 1 and 3 were the same and blocks 2 and 4 were the same. On blocks 1 and 3, I ran everything except for a 1 minute base pace that was in the middle. I probably could have run it, but I was scared of overdoing things and getting too tired. And on blocks 2 and 4 it was almost all 30 second intervals (with walking recoveries) so I was able to run everything. And I ended with a 30 second all out pace at 7.5 mph. That’s super fast and I don’t think I could do it longer than 30 seconds, but it was nice to know I could do a little sprint that quickly.

On the floor, we had a lot of ab focused work. My body wasn’t feeling 100% that day, but I was doing the best I could. Each block started with a sit up exercise, and sometimes I just had to modify it to just be a regular sit up instead of a fancy one. But I was still doing full sit ups and not crunches. Most of the other work on the floor was body weight stuff that was core focused (so more ab work), but we did have a quick rowing block at the very end. It was 30 second intervals like the treadmill was, so I wasn’t too focused on my distances.

Friday was a super awesome day! It was a special workout for St. Patrick’s Day and I had a friend taking her first class then! Grace works for the podcast that I work for and she wanted to test out Orangetheory to see if that could help her get back into a good workout routine. And the special workout that day was a partner workout, so I think it was pretty ideal for Grace to have as her first class. She and I were partnered up the entire time so I was able to help her out the few times that she wasn’t quite sure what we were doing next (but she got a hang of it super quickly and killed it in her workout!).

The partner workout had 3 blocks, but blocks 1 and 3 were the same. And since it was St. Patrick’s Day, a lot of things had 17 in them. For blocks 1 and 3, the treadmill controlled the switched between the partners. The treadmill ran .17 miles and the rower was rowing for distance. I was able to run every time I was on the treadmill and we did some pretty great distances on the rower. I forgot to take photos of our distance, but I do know that we did more in the last block than we did in the first.

And the 2nd block was the big one that lasted 30 minutes. This time, the floor/rower controlled the switching. You had to row for 170 meters and then do 17 reps of various floor exercises. And while the rower/floor person was going, the treadmill person was running until tagged out. I was running the entire time at the beginning because the switching was happening pretty quickly. I was on the treadmill for maybe 2 minutes. But as the block went on, the switching was taking longer and I had to switch things over to doing run/walk intervals. I felt most comfortable doing 1 minute intervals because that is something I’m so used to doing.

Like I said, Grace was so amazing in class especially since this was her first workout at Orangetheory! She was making me want to work harder to keep up with her and to try to be a good example. And I’ll be getting to do more workouts with Grace in the future because after she took that class she decided that Orangetheory is awesome and she got a membership! I’m excited to have another friend at my workouts with me. I love having people in class with me that are so encouraging and it helps me stay accountable since I don’t want to let my friends down.

Saturday’s workout was an endurance day and it was a 3G class so we were only at each section of the room for about 15 minutes. I was able to start on the treadmill and it was a 14 minute run for distance challenge. The longest I’ve run has been 10.5 minutes, but when I did that the longest I had run before was maybe 4 minutes. So I figured I might as well try to run the entire time. Plus, I had a goal in mind that I wanted to be able to run for a mile without stopping before surgery. I haven’t done that since middle school (20 years ago) and it’s a milestone that I’ve wanted to try.

It wasn’t easy to run that long. I was actually pretty tired much faster than expected. But I think that was because I worked so hard earlier in the week. Maybe if this was the first workout of the week I wouldn’t have struggled, but this was at the end. I kept the speed at 4.5 mph almost the entire time and didn’t focus on anything except not stopping. I got my mile done in under 13 1/2 minutes (not a PR but I don’t care since it’s the first mile with no walking breaks) and after 14 minutes I was pretty darn happy with myself and what I was able to do!

Next I was on the floor but I was taking a lot of breaks because I was pretty tired from the run. There was a couple of little blocks on the floor with the first one being leg and shoulder work. Then we had a very short block (maybe 4 minutes) of different types of squats. And we ended with a short core blast with sit ups, back extensions, and planks. And finally I had the rower which was rowing followed by half squats (which were so tough because my legs were done by that point). It was a tough endurance day, but I was so proud of myself for what I did!

With 1 month left before surgery, I’m really working on maximizing all my workouts. I’ll be doing the Dri-Tri again soon and I’m really excited about that. I’m also going to try to do 4 workouts every week leading up to surgery with the exception of the week I have my 5K race. There is another challenge coming at Orangetheory that I’m debating about doing. It’s during April, so I won’t have the full month to accomplish it. But I’m going to try really hard to do what I can. I want to keep having epic workout weeks each week, and it seems like that will be the trend for the next month!

The Artist’s Way (or Working On My Creativity)

Even though I didn’t set a specific acting related goal for this year, that doesn’t mean that I’m not working on it for the year. It’s tough for me to plan acting related things for this year since there is a lot of uncertainty with how long I’ll need to recover from liver surgery (so I don’t want to plan for any classes until that’s done) and a lot of the things I want to accomplish in acting aren’t up to me (I can’t control when I book a job or not). So finding a good way to work on my acting and creativity is a bit challenging with those restrictions in mind.

So when in the member’s only forum for the podcast I work for someone suggested working through “The Artist’s Way” together as a group, I knew this would be the perfect way to work on acting for the beginning of this year.

“The Artist’s Way” is a 12 week guided program to help artists regain their creativity and to remove roadblocks that may be in the way. This book is something that so many people have done and it’s always highly recommended. I’ve actually tried to complete the 12 weeks a few times in the past, but I’ve never been able to get through the entire thing. This is a common issue with people trying to complete the 12 weeks, so they usually suggest having a way to stay accountable. And one of the suggested ways is to work through the weeks with a group.

The group through the podcast is currently online only, but it’s doing great for keeping me accountable and making sure I do the work. There isn’t a ton of work that you have to do to complete the 12 weeks, but there is stuff to do every day and that commitment isn’t always easy to do. But knowing that people are doing this with me and we are all counting on each other is helping me not want to slack on doing the work. I also think that since I’ve been working on building habits for the past year or so, I’m better now at following through with things than I was in the past. So now seemed like the perfect time to do this.

One of the main parts of the program is doing the morning pages. Morning pages are 3 pages of writing every single morning when you wake up. They are just basically a brain dump of anything that you want to write so they don’t have to make sense. You can write in full sentences or partial sentences, grammar and spelling doesn’t matter, and my penmanship isn’t important. It’s not always easy to remember first thing in the morning to write my 3 pages, but I’ve set a reminder alarm to do it so that is helping. There are a few mornings that I’ve forgotten for maybe 10-15 minutes, but I usually remember before I’m really starting my day.

I struggled with the morning pages before, but this time they have been really great for me. I’ve been using them to vent in the mornings. I’m so grateful that I’m safe and I have a new car, but the situation still makes me mad a bit. Getting those feelings out first thing in the morning helps me to not have to carry them with me all day. I can write in them things that are scaring me or things that I’m concerned about for that day. By putting those feelings out in writing, I don’t feel the need to keep them with me as much as I would before. The feeling I get is similar to what I feel like when I post on here, but I don’t have to worry about making sense or saying things that I might regret later.

There are also weekly questions that I answer each week of the book and they do allow me to reflect quite a bit on what I’ve done so far, what I am planning on doing, and what I should be doing. I’ve been learning a lot about myself in the 2 weeks I’ve been doing this and I’ve never had that experience before in my previous attempts. Maybe I’m in a better mindset to work on this in my life. Maybe my work on my eating disorder recovery is allowing me to work on other aspects of my life in ways I haven’t been able to do before. No matter what the reason is, I’m just happy that I haven’t felt like giving up on this process yet.

Since it feels so different compared to all the other times I tried to do the 12 weeks, I have high hopes that I will be able to get through all the weeks this time. Even if I don’t get anything out of doing this other than saying that I’ve completed it, that will be a victory. I don’t want to bail on things in my life, and being able to complete this will help to prove to myself that if I stick with something that I can make it through.

Upping My Game (or Getting Serious About Running)

I think you can all tell from my past few workout posts that I’m getting more serious about running. This is the first time that I’ve really had a workout challenge like this that I’m working on and I think I’m surprising myself that I’m liking it! But I’ve felt lately that I’ve gotten a bit stuck where my running is now and I need to work on things differently.

I love my Orangetheory workouts (I can’t imagine my life without them now), but they aren’t the best workouts for me to work on my running skills on. I’ve been lucky that several workouts lately have been ideal for me to work on getting faster and running longer, but those workouts aren’t every workout and I can’t rely on them alone. So I’ve decided that I need to try to do some running workouts on my own.

My big fear is that I’m going to overdo things. I know that I did that at Orangetheory recently when I ran for .25 miles. Yes, I did it, but I probably shouldn’t have. My body didn’t hurt right away with that challenge, but I know that it wasn’t the best thing I could have done. If I start running training on my own, I’m afraid that I will push myself more than I should and that it will cause issues for me. I know I can run longer than I do now, but I also know that I probably shouldn’t do it.

So I’ve been asking for a lot of running advice from a bunch of different people. Some are bloggers I met at BlogFest and I’ve also been asking my friend Kate (who is always willing to help me). My biggest questions have been how to build up endurance without getting burned out and how I can make sure that I continue to progress at a good pace (and not get stuck like I’m feeling now). And fortunately everyone has been very helpful and willing to give me any advice that they can!

A lot of the advice I got was different run/walk training plans. I had a bunch of those already, but when you aren’t on a treadmill they aren’t too easy to use. I’m not going to join another gym just to use a treadmill every so often and I’ve got a running path a few blocks from my house that opened recently, so I asked everyone again for advice on how to time intervals for run/walk work.

Again, I got a lot of advice with different ideas. Some people suggested various apps to time myself, but I’m not sure I’ll always be out with my headphones in my ears (not too safe to do that outside). I got some recommendations for interval devices, but I wasn’t sure I wanted something that just did 1 thing. And then I got the advice to look at running watches, and that’s exactly what I did.

There are dozens of different running watches out there and many of them are very expensive. I’m sure they are worth it and some runners need all the bells and whistles, but I’m not one of those runners. A running watch that could time intervals and had a GPS on it (so I knew my distance and pace) is all I wanted. And I finally found what I believe will be the perfect one for me.

Running Watch

I found the Garmin Forerunner 220 watch. This is one of the few running watches I found that has the features I want but doesn’t have a heart rate monitor (I don’t need that since I can use my Orangetheory one if I want to track heart rate). This one is not the most recent model (I believe it’s a year or two old), but it was recommended to me by so many people. And one of the features is setting your own intervals so I can set it to be 1 minute running/1 minute walking and then adjust it as I’m ready to do more. I think this will be perfect.

And since my birthday is a week away, I asked my parents if this would be something they would get me for my birthday. It was on sale for about 40% off on Amazon and my dad checked it out and said it seemed like the perfect gift for me! It was ordered earlier this week and because I didn’t want to pay for shipping (it’s not Prime eligible) I won’t have it for another week or two.

But I’m fine with waiting for the watch because this was the cheapest place I could find it! My parents didn’t have to get me a birthday present since they paid for me to go to the family reunion, so I’m just grateful for any gift. And this is a generous one and I’m excited to test it out soon!

I’m not sure how I’m going to work in extra running training outside of Orangetheory workouts. Maybe I’ll do them on the weeks I don’t have a 4th workout. Or maybe I will do them on my off days but keep the workout pretty short. I’m still working things out and I’ve got time to figure it out. All I know is that my next race is in a few months and while I’ve done a mile with a run/walk pattern, I want to be able to do that for a 5K and get a new PR!

If I knew even a few months ago that I would be running and looking for ways to run more and improve my skills, I would have said you were crazy and I’d never do that. Then again, if you told me 3 years ago that I’d be working out 3-4 times a week and lifting weight I wouldn’t have believed it either. I love that I’m transforming into an athlete and I can’t wait to see what will be next for me!

Pushing Myself (or So Many Hills!)

This past week of workouts seemed to all be strength days (or at least partially strength days). I know that Orangetheory mixes things up, but I really did hit the strength days only! Strength days are days where you are supposed to be heavier on the weights on the floor and during cardio you do inclines. Since power walkers always do inclines for push paces and all-outs, strength days are days I try to push my inclines higher (like you are supposed to) and I always seem to struggle with that. So I’m guessing somehow I needed this week of strength workouts to test myself to my limits!

Monday was not just a strength day, but we didn’t switch between blocks so I was on the treadmill for 30 minutes straight. I managed to do my hills at between 6-10% even though I know I was supposed to do some at 12 and 15%. I used to be able to do those inclines without any issues, and it does make me sad that I’m still not back to where I used to be (and there’s a chance I might never be able to do those higher inclines again). When we don’t switch between blocks, my body is pretty exhausted by the end of the cardio. So by the end of things, I was doing my base, push, and all-out paces at the same incline and just bumping up the speed .1 mph for each of them. I was supposed to up my inclines, but I just wasn’t able to do it.

On the floor, it was very legs focused. We had lots of lunges and squats which are getting better for me. My lunges are still difficult with balance issues, but my form is significantly better. And my squats are much easier and I’m getting closer and closer to being able to use heavier weights while doing them. The only problem I’m having is that my arms aren’t strong enough to hold those weights. I’m struggling a bit with my grasp with the 25 pound weights and that’s with using workout gloves. I’m not sure how to strengthen my arms, wrists, and hands to be ready to hold heavier weights so I’m open to any suggestions.

On Wednesday, it was an endurance, strength, and power day that also happened to be a run/row day. But it still felt like strength only because during the run/row we were doing all inclines. All the rows were 250 meters and I managed to get faster each time I did the row (which is not normal for me). My best row was 250 meters in 57.4 seconds, which isn’t that bad at all! I’m pretty happy I got that row done in under a minute at the end of the cardio block! For the treadmill, we had progressively increasing inclines but decreasing distances. I did .4 miles at 6% incline and 3.5 mph, .2 miles at 8% incline and 3.6 mph, and .1 miles at 10% incline and 3.7 mph. The fact that I’m doing 10% inclines is good because for a long time the highest I could go was 8%. I’m really trying to focus on that improvement versus the improvement I would still need to make to be back to where I was almost a year ago.

On the floor on Wednesday, it was a lot of arm work. I was doing my chest flys at 20 pounds (chest flys are harder than chest presses which I can do at 25 pounds). For my squats I was holding a 25 pound weight and was able to use that same weight for my triceps work too. We also had some planks and pop jacks, and both of those I was able to do on my toes (versus my knees).

Friday was another all strength day. There were 6 blocks total (3 on cardio and 3 on floor) but we did do a switch in the middle. We did 2 short cardio blocks first, then switched to do 2 short floor blocks. Then we went back to do the long cardio block (11 minutes long) and the finished with the long floor block. I was so happy for the switch because it did give my hips and legs some time to rest before the long block. For one of the short cardio blocks, we worked our way down the hill. I started at 10% incline and every 30 seconds we went down 1%. I did that entire thing at 3.5 mph and it didn’t feel too fast for me at any of the inclines. On the long 11 minute block, we worked our way up the hill and my inclines ranged from 6-10% incline. For the last all-out I really wanted to see if I could go higher than 10%, but I was too tired to try it in the end and I’m sure it’s for the best since I don’t want to try a high incline when I’m tired (and my walking form is sloppy).

For the floor on Friday we did all abs for one of the short blocks and while I could do most of the ab work, there was one thing that was about moving our legs that my hips just weren’t going to do. So I did some basic crunches during that time. For the other blocks, they seemed to focus on arms again. We did a couple of rows on the straps and then did chest presses and bicep curls (I did both at 20 pounds instead of 25 because I was dealing with some weird pain on my chest from sleeping weirdly).

Even though this was a 3 workout week, I think I pushed myself pretty hard during all 3 workouts. I pushed myself for some heavier weights when possible, pushed myself for faster rows, and pushed myself for higher inclines. I know that soon I’ll be at whatever the next level is for me in my workouts, but with all the hard work I’ve been putting in it’s tough not to be a little impatient and want to see that improvement now.

Baby Steps Of Improvements (or Getting Ready For The Dri-Tri)

First, I will share that I did do the dri-tri at Orangetheory this past weekend. That is going to be tomorrow’s post (I think that event deserves its own post), but my workout week this past week was all about getting ready to do it. I decided on Monday morning that I was going to go for it, so I focused my workouts on how each thing was going to get me ready for it.

Monday’s workout was a switch day that had endurance, strength, and power. I signed up for the dri-tri just before taking Monday’s class, so I went into class feeling a bit nervous about if I did the right thing signing up for it. So I was not only grateful that we had a switch day, all of the blocks were on the shorter side. The treadmill portion of class went ok for me. The improvements in my speed that I had made recently were short lasting so I was back to my usual speeds on the treadmill. It’s frustrating when I was doing really well for a while to be back at my old speeds, but I just have to focus on what improvements I can make. On Monday we also had 600 meter rows, which aren’t sprints but I was grateful for them because I knew I’d have a long row during the dri-tri. The floor work was a lot of arms, shoulders, squats, and abs.

But at the very end of class, we had a little bit of time left so we all partnered up for a quick challenge. One person was holding a squat with their hands out while the other partner did high knees to hit their hands. I was able to keep a pretty low squat so my partner didn’t have to do too high of knees, but when it was my turn I knew I couldn’t do the running style of high knees. So I just pretty much marched in place and tried to get my knees up as much as possible.

Wednesday was a strength day, so that means hills on the treadmill. Hills are not my favorite thing to do, but I’m really trying to be better at them. This time, I’m pretty happy with how I did. My incline was between 4-10% for the entire time (10% isn’t that easy for me), and even though I was supposed to be at a higher incline at times I think I did a pretty good job. I was also able to do some speed increases on the hills which made me happy. After the treadmill work was done, we had a lot of heavy weight stuff to do on the floor. For my arm work and my lunges, I was holding 20 pound weights. For some arm things, I’m getting close to being able to use 25 pound weights, but I’m not quite there yet. But to do lunges with heavy weights makes me happy because for a long time I wasn’t able to use the weights while doing lunges. It’s still tough for me because of balance issues, but I’m starting to build my core up enough so that it is helping me build better balance. We also had a 500 meter row that day. 500 meters isn’t a long distance, but I was still feeling a bit tired at the end of it. And in my head, I just kept thinking that 500 meters is only 1/4 of what I have to do during the dri-tri, so that got to me a bit. But I just tried to focus on getting the row done and figured that since the row is at the beginning of the dri-tri I would feel different then.

Friday was another switch day with endurance, strength, and power. Again, the blocks were relatively short (I think the longest one was 8 minutes) so things were a bit easier for me. I actually ended up doing really great on the hills (still not going higher than 10% incline but the speeds were better). Since it was a switch day, I never spent that long on the treadmill and I started to worry about the dri-tri again (where I would need to do a half 5K on the treadmill), but I just looked at how far I got each block and tried to think about how that is a chunk of what I would do the next day. After the treadmill blocks were all done, I realized that maybe I should have done the bike instead since I was going to do treadmill the next day, but by then it was too late.

On the floor we had sprint rows (250 meters and under) that went pretty well for me. My biggest problem on rowing is that when I’m doing them my legs don’t always bend straight (they kind of butterfly out sometimes). And since I’m not bending straight, I’m not able to get as much power in my rows and I know I can. But for these sprint rows, I was bending much better than I think I ever have and the sprints went by really quickly. For the chest presses I was using 20 pounds weights and for my front raises (shoulder work) I was doing 15 pounds instead of 12 pounds. And we had a new move on the floor as well. It was a 4 point plank. Pretty much it was a plank with shoulder touches and then toe touches. I usually don’t do plank work on my toes because of my calf, but this time it ended up being easier to do the work on my toes than on my knees. They are pretty hard to do, but I managed my best and I don’t think I looked too awkward.

After my Friday workout, my nerves for the dri-tri were pretty high. I was thinking back what I had done this past week and tried to relate it to what I knew I would have to do on Saturday. But of course thinking like that stressed me out even more, so I tried to forget it all and just get a decent night sleep since I had to work in the morning before the dri-tri.

And that recap will be coming tomorrow!