Monday, January 16, 2017

Training - back at it!

Hey guys! Happy New Year! It has been a busy and exciting start to 2017, with lots going on with training and also with my first trip of the year under my belt. I started the year training with a new coach, someone who is local and who I have been building a rapport with the past few months. I’ve been excited about the change and ready to push myself hard this year. Through my experience last year working with a coach who I had found online, I learned that I really liked the process of having a coach but wanted someone who I felt could push me a bit harder. And who would be a bit more personal with me. I believe I have found that with the group I’m working with and more to come on that as training continues, I’m sure!

I kicked off the year feeling extremely motivated, as many often due as the calendars flip forward another year. I had a solid week of training in Atlanta, and then an international trip, that I managed to get some sort of physical activity on for 6 out of the 6 days I was away. One of the things I know about this year is that I need to make every day count. I can’t take a week off every time something comes up in my schedule. And not that I did that when I traveled last year – I actually did a really incredible job of training while traveling in 2016 and its one of the things I’m most proud of. But I still need to give it “oomph” while I’m away and so far so good in this year.

Let me try and get into a schedule of sharing some of my workouts. Not sure if this is boring for you guys or not but, nobody is forcing you to read, now are they?

Saturday 12/31 – 5 mile run

Technically, last year, but wanted to include it because it was the day I arrived back in Atlanta after being home for the holidays. I'd had a 6:00 a.m. flight out of New Hampshire, which meant an early morning, but I managed to have a really productive last day of the year and a 5 mile run exploring my neighborhood.

Sunday 1/1 – 2 hour spin (Longest trainer ride to date!) 

Back home, meant back on my trainer! Last year the trainer was brand new after the holidays and honestly, I didn't get a ton of use out of it. I knew this year I was going to have to become much more familiar with my trainer than last season and decided to challenge myself to my longest trainer ride to date, of 2 hours spinning. I watched a movie and was proud of myself for the mental push.

Monday 1/2 – 60 minute run with strides on the Silver Comet Trail

My first run of the new year and I decided to go back to my old stomping ground and run on the Silver Comet. I am not sure why this appealed to me on this day, but I just wanted to be able to completely zone out and run. I did completely, even forgetting that I was supposed to finish the run with strides at the end. Which, I didn't want to skip out on something my coach had told me to do in just his 2nd prescribed workout, so I went back and did some strides and ended up running about 6.5 miles.

Tuesday 1/3 – ITL Track Tuesday (4x400 Hard/Easy; 4x400 Strides on Straight, 4x400 Hard/Easy)

This was sort of my first "official" Track Tuesday with ITL Coaching. They hold workouts on a local track every Tuesday (pretty self explanatory...) and I attended my first one at the end of last year, but it was sort of a holiday fun edition, so this was my first taste of the real thing. It was good to push myself and be surrounded by others all doing the same workout but their own paces, yet staying close. I am looking forward to more of these workouts in the future!

Wednesday 1/4 – AM swim (3200) and PM spin 

It had been too long since I had been in the water!! I hadn't swam since early December since the week before I went home, the pool was shut down at the club where I swim. I felt a bit like lead but good to be back in the water.  In the evening, I went back to the gym and took a spin class. Spin class isn't as good as being on the trainer I don't think, but it is a good mental break and way to get some cycling in. Especially when you are meeting and spinning with a friend!

Thursday 1/5 – 4 mile run with Janet around the new stadium

This run was really memorable for me. Janet and I ran in a new spot and did an "adventure run" as I called it. Not knowing a route or the area of where to go.  We just sort of explored a bit, stopping at red lights, seeing where the roads were well lit and where they weren't, tackling some hills, and chatting. Running and talking seems to allow you to let your guard down and open up and we had some really meaningful and emotional conversation on this day. I'm really thankful for Janet's friendship and the bonds that running has helped us form. This run will always be very memorable for me.

Friday 1/6 – AM swim (2900 meters)

My coach had suggested a day off but I said no - I wanted to spend more time in the pool since I knew I was going to have yet another break from the water. So morning swim practice it was :)

Saturday 1/7 – 2:00 hour spin 

Back on my trainer at home, I watched some movies and TV and powered through some intervals given to me by my coach. It really went by rather quickly, if I am being honest. And I was proud of myself for getting it done. We were also sort of snowed in without any snow, so I had nothing better to do and no excuses to get out of this workout!

Sunday 1/8 – 10 mile run

This was the coldest run yet in Atlanta! Temperatures were in the teens and I ran from my apartment down the beltine to Tenth Street to Peachtree Street and back. It was a route suggested by a friend who lives in my same location and I figured why not? Coming back felt much warmer than going out since I was facing the sun, but it was a struggle with the slight incline on the Beltline coming back up. I was very happy for this run to be over with!

Monday 1/9 – Travel Day

Last Monday I had the day off from training as it was most entirely a travel day for me. I left at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night and flew from Atlanta to Zurich, Switzerland with a connection in Paris. I didn't get to my hotel until about 6:00 p.m. Monday (local time) so I just freshened up and went to dinner with a friend. I wish that my "rest day" felt more like a rest day, but sleeping sitting up on a plane isn't super restful unfortunately.

Tuesday 1/10 – 1 hour interval run and 15 minute chords 

My first day of work travel started in the hotel gym on the treadmill. I had a one hour run scheduled, but my coach included all interval work for the 1 hour at specific paces and elevations on the treadmill. I had told him that I wanted to commit to working out 1 hour each day while I was gone and let him know the equipment I would have to work with (treadmill and stationary bike, basically.) The first workout he gave me was a challenge and I finished it thoroughly exhausted, but feeling energized like only a good workout can. It’s weird how a hard workout can do both of those things simultaneously, isn’t it?

I also did 15 minutes of exercising using a set of “chords” that my coach let me borrow for the trip. Since we knew that swimming wouldn’t be possible while I was away, using the chords allowed me to do some upper body work that simulated swimming. My form wasn’t awesome with these, but I did the workout as prescribed.

Wednesday 1/11 – 1 hour stationary bike ride 

I returned to the hotel gym to hop on one of the stationary bikes that they had. None of the bikes were ideal to simulate my bike or even a spin bike, but my coach told me that something would be better than nothing. For one hour I did a set of intervals that had my heart rate up and another sweaty and accomplished morning in the gym. I was even able to make a 7:30 a.m. train for work!

Thursday 1/12 – Gym was closed – 3 mile run outside 

This morning threw me off quite a bit, but I ended up not making a complete waste of the day.

First off, let me explain that I had planned meticulously to be sure that I would have a gym with cardio equipment available to me while on my trip to Switzerland. Unlike the U.S. and other parts of the world, European hotels do not usually have fitness centers. I always prefer to workout outside, but with snow forecast and few daylight hours to work with, I didn’t want to plan to run outdoors alone in the dark in a new-to-me city, especially when I knew it was likely covered in snow and ice. Plus, my suitcase wouldn't be big enough to fit in a week's worth of cold weather running gear.

I researched multiple hotel options to see what fitness equipment they had as well as private local gyms, I made phone calls to inquire about hours and cost before I traveled. Many fitness centers didn’t open until 6:30 a.m., which is too late to start working out with my work schedule when on the road. I even looked into the local triathlon clubs in that region but all of their workouts were in the evening hours, which also isn’t really manageable when I travel for work – I need to get it done in the morning or not at all. After all this research, I found and chose a hotel based solely on their 24 hour fitness center. I asked about it when I checked in, was assured it was 24 hours, texted my coach the equipment they had, used it for two days, and then arrived at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday and saw this.

Not wanting to be stopped by a sign, I checked my hotel key and it still opened, but the gym was totally unusable... all the equipment was gone! There were some new treadmills there, but they were not installed yet.

It totally caught me off guard and I felt really frustrated and went back to my room and started crying. I complained to the people at the front desk but knew there was nothing they could do. I went back to my room, changed my clothes quickly, and as a minimum of getting something in... I went outside and ran back and forth on a small stretch of sidewalk outside of my hotel that had decent lighting and was clear of snow and slush. I did a 5K run before heading back inside to shower and get ready for the day. It wasn't the workout from my coach, that I had honestly been really looking forward to, but at least it was something.

Friday 1/13 – Running interval and body weight workout

One of the reasons that I was so bummed the day before was because I had honestly been really looking forward to the workout my coach had put together for me. On Thursday, I ended up talking with the manager of the hotel and even though the gym wouldn't be fully finished at the hotel, they promised to have a single treadmill set up for me in the morning that I could go in and use. They were super accommodating and apologetic about what happened and I liked that they were willing to help me find a solution.

I had the fitness center to myself and despite not being able to turn the lights on, it worked out ideal for my workout as I was able to set my music up out loud. It was great because the workout entailed me hopping on and off the treadmill 4 times and doing burpees, pushups, wall sits, sit ups, etc. in between. I ended up running 5.2 miles and got a bunch of other stuff in too and was really happy with my coach for coming up with such a creative and fun workout for me. The time flew by.

Saturday 1/14 – 1 mile run to gym, 45 minute spin, 1.5 mile run back.

Another item that I negotiated with the hotel was the ability to use the gym on Saturday. I checked out on Friday, and moved from my hotel to my friend's apartment who lives in Zurich, who I was staying with through the weekend. Since I had switched around workouts during the week due to the fitness center not being open on Thursday, I was missing a bike workout, so this compromise turned out really well to be able to get into the hotel on Saturday. It was originally supposed to be a rest day but we swapped it out.

I ran a 1 mile warmup from my friend's to the hotel, did some intervals on the spin bike for 45 minutes, then hopped off for a little brick and ran back to my friend's, plus a little detour to stop by Lake Zurich. The lake hosts an Ironman race every year and even in the cold I can see that this would be a beautiful place to do a triathlon!

Sunday 1/15 – Skiing in the Swiss Alps!

So I did end up missing out on one of the scheduled workouts I had planned for the week, but it wasn't replaced with a lazy day by any means. Instead of my Sunday long run of 10 miles, I went skiing in the Swiss Alps! It was a truly incredible experience and worked some muscle groups I don't usually touch that much so a nice day of cross training.

Some of the runs had my legs aching, my heart beating, and I could tell I was sweating even though it was snowing out. It was worth missing a 10 mile run for and I am still proud of myself for being active every single day of my trip to Europe!

Monday 1/16 – Travel Day

Another "rest day" spent not very restfully as I was crammed into a small space with sore legs from the skiing the day before. It was a long day as well, since I got some hours back and that's part of the reason why you're even getting a blog today! I had to keep myself awake for a bit before heading to sleep :)


So there you have it. My first few weeks of workouts for the new year. My takeaway is that I'm really proud of myself for starting the year off strong. That I still have a lot of work to do though and that I just need to stay focused. I also learned that apparently I like making that one particular face a lot in my pictures, so that's interesting. I'll try and be more interesting in my post workout pics for the next two weeks and see what better we can do. Happy MLK Jr. Day everyone!

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