Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Exercise Diary: Yoga and Life

Yoga Tuesday again.  This will be the last Tuesday of this term that I will be going to yoga classes.  Starting next week I will have lab sessions to TA every Tuesday night.  We've agreed to move our yoga day to Thursday, but we'll see how that goes.  I foresee a lot of missed classes ahead.

And for once in a long time I actually skipped running yesterday.  I even planned to go run.  The gym  is now in full spring term hours, which means that it opens until 10 pm.  And because of that I had planned to be in lab until after 7 so I would have time for everything.

Time I did have, energy I did not.  I was exhausted by the time I left lab, I just could muster the energy to run.  Plus my calves and ankles were sore ( much better now, it really was just muscle soreness), and my plantar fasciitis is getting quite bad ( my foot is hurting right now).  I considered it very wise to have skipped gym yesterday.  But it also means that my schedule is again completely screwed up and I will probably postpone the training plan by another week.

Not that it matters anymore.  Yesterday my friend had confirmed that she will not be running the half marathon we had planned to do.  Although she said she would be happy to go with me, I quickly called off the plan too.  It's a week before I had to leave for a conference, and right in the middle of the last third of my TA.  And I just don't think I could have the time and energy to worry about it.  I thought that the cancellation of my running goal would not affect my routine, but apparently it has.

I don't think it's the only reason though.  Although I had anticipated that I will all of a sudden become very busy because I'm TAing again this term, I had not factored in how mentally and physically exhausted I would be.  And this is ridiculous: it's only the second day of the term and I had not taught any students, graded any papers, or dealt with any problems.  So far all I did was attend a TA meeting, a lecture, and a lab prep training session, and I'm already constantly exhausted and overwhelmed.  I think part of it was that because time is all of a sudden a commodity I was also trying to squeeze more experiments into certain days as others are increasing becoming unavailable.  That combined with the fact that I just don't do well if I have to get up early in the morning, is making me a very unhappy person.

And because of it I fear that my workout routine also has to change to accommodate my new (but temporary) life.  I will have to come to terms with not running as much or work out as much.  I will also have to be more efficient.  If it takes me an hour to run a certain distance, I will just have to shave off time for before and after I go so working out doesn't take up 3 hours of my life that I don't have.  And I also need to be careful of my diet since I tend to over eat and eat unhealthily when I'm tired or stressed, and to moderate my fluid intake so I will still drink a lot of water every day but will not have to go pee every 5 minutes when I'm supposed to be doing TA stuff.  The peeing part worked pretty well today, but the fluid intake part did not.  I couldn't have drunk more than 1.5 liter today, and I already feel dry.

Before I started this week I was already overwhelmed with all the things I will have to do this term, and my response to myself was to just "suck it up."  There is just simply no other way.  And the motto remains, but I have to figure our how to suck it up smartly or I will completely fall apart in probably every way of my life.  I haven't worked out how to do it yet, but I will definitely keeping trying.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Exercise Diary: Sunday Restorative Yoga

It's not the first time I've gone to yoga classes on Sunday, but today is the first day I tried what they called the Flow and Restore yoga.  I went because my friend had a free birthday class she could either use herself or give it to a friend, and since she has the unlamented monthly pass, I got to be the lucky friend (and finally found out when her birthday was).

Since I always go to the same yoga classes on Tuesday afternoons, and rarely pick classes based on their names, I went in without really realizing how this class may be different than the other ones I always take.  But Flow and Restore was true to its name.  We went through a couple of rounds of downward dogs, did some warriors, and then spent much of the class in a bunch of restorative poses stretching or lying still.  We also got to use all the props they have in the studio, and this included the usual blocks, but also a big pillow called the bolster, and giant blankets (2 per person).  I did sweat, but in terms of a real workout I think I got none.

And I'm okay with that.  Originally I was supposed to run 5 miles today and I even had enough time before yoga to go to the gym if I wanted.  But Since Thursday's run my ankles and calves stayed sore even today.  Granted I tried to run barefoot on a treadmill when I stayed over at a friend's house, which didn't turn out too well since his treadmill was weird and kept stopping.  But however little I ran I did using just the front of my feet, and that combined with no support from shoes made my feet unhappy.  And I think that also contributed with the extra soreness of the calves.  I've only felt such pain once before, and that was after my first time ever of hiking, which took 6 hours and was way too hard for me.  That time I lost 5 pounds just from that one experience, and spend the next week having trouble going down stairs.  And now I feel the same way.  There is a step between the floor of my room and the bathroom, and I basically crash down that step every time I get out of the bathroom.  So I gladly decided to postpone the run (to next week) and decided I would do yoga, stretch, and relax.

Not sure if yoga helped with the soreness, but it certainly didn't hurt.  If I received no real injuries from I-don't-even-know-what-this-pain-means I should feel fine in a few days and will be fine.  Will still be running and whatnot, but don't want to  be too hard on my body.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Exercise Diary: what a day

Spring is finally here!  Need proof? Mud.  I actually stole the last bit off of a board somewhere on campus.  But it's true.  It's been raining all day today and we've moved on to snowy to muddy.  Not my favorite part of spring but I did go to the gym today with no heavy jacket or outer pants so...

So much happened today in terms of everything fitness.  So far today I've drunk about 3 liters of fluids (coffee and water) and still counting (I'll try to get down 3 14-oz mugs of tea before bedtime), which I've been doing all week but today I actually rigorously counted and timed my fluid intake.  My diet, however, fell short by about a mile since I ate nothing but spaghettios  all day (breakfast and lunch).  They are homemade and they were make this morning so at least there was no preservatives and they are fresh, but in terms of nutrition... well, telling yourself it's got protein from milk and cheese and veggie from the tomato sauce can only go so far.  Plus I way over ate and basically spent the whole working day today doing everything I could, short of self-induced vomiting, to get all this carb and fat out.  This included standing all day, walking around as much as possible, drinking a lot of water afterwards, and even doing squats while I was in the dark room developing some film for my experiments.

The good news is, I did manage to get some of it out before going to the gym.  I wasn't worried about feeling bloated or full while I run, but I just don't want to carry any extra weight if I can.

I also found these fat burning pills I bought way back when, that if you take them about an hour before your workout, they help increasing the amount of fat you burn.  They got good reviews when I bought them who-knows-when, and I figured that since I had some left I might as well take them before I go running.

I think part of its mechanism is to induce water loss right before your workout, and somehow quench your thirst during the workout, and I still haven't figured out if it does anything to you afterwards.  I don't feel that my belly or thighs getting extra warm or anything so I don't know if there are more fat being burnt, but the whole water loss at the beginning was unsettling.  I had thought I just drank too much water during the day and therefore I had to go to the bathroom more but what happened before I had to leave for the gym was unsettling.  I was afraid that I wouldn't last even a mile on the treadmill before I had to go again but thankfully somehow by the time I got on the treadmill my body went into no-i-don't-need-anymore-water-but-i-also-don't-need-to-get-rid-of-any mode.

So that was all weird, but my run today was fantastic.  I still weighed more than I did yesterday when I got on the treadmill (still lots of people today and the cardio machines were dangerously full but there was one for me and that was all it mattered), but my 4-mile run felt great.  The speed I usually run at felt easy and effortless, and I could just go on and on.  The only thing that bothered me was my right foot as I sped up, but I managed to stay at 5 mph for about 10 minutes before I forced myself to slow down as my run was approaching an end.  I really think I am getting better.

Watched an entire episode of Makers series on PBS on the women's movement.  It was the first of a two-parter (I think, there may be more than 2 parts so who knows), and it ended gloomily as the Equal Rights Amendment failed to be passed in the 70s and abortion clinics suffered severe harassment till today, but the show was narrated by Meryl Streep and ended on a promising note.  The second part advertised things like gay women's rights (featuring Ellen Degeneres) and some other exciting but now-forgotten topic I can't recall, so I think I'll actually go search for it on the PBS website and finish watching the two-parter.  But it was a remarkable show and at various points I found myself to be very emotional and almost cried, all while running of course.  It was weird.  But I guess after all the LOLs while watching various cop shows and sit-coms it's time for some opposite emotions.

After I got home I buckled down and did the Day 10 beginners pop pilates workout from Blogilates.  It consisted of some ab workout, bubble butt workout (which I also did on my own on Tuesday and was still feeling it), and a stretching video.  I also added a new arm workout that was part of new video Monday.  That video only had five moves and 1 minute each for each move, so it seemed easy (and short), but by the time I finished doing the arm circles and arm spears (which were too bad) and triangle and cobra push-ups (really really bad) I had absolutely no strength for alternating plank push-ups, as my arms started to involuntarily crashing down onto the floor.  So it was only a 4-minute workout for me.  My arms still hurt a lot and I had trouble pointing and clicking the right window on my computer screen afterwards.

Now I'm done.  Yay and it felt really good too.  Plus I'm feeling hungry as much carb-heavy lunch has finally passed through my colon.  No carbs tonight.  Okay maybe a little but definitely no spaghettios and no heavy dairy stuff mixed in.  Maybe some soba noodles.  Mmm.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Exercise Diary: tight and tired

Day 2 of pre-8pm gym adventure.  The gym was again packed.  And I somehow ended up running next to the same old man as yesterday, although I wasn't on the same treadmill.  In fact, I was on the treadmill next to the one I was on yesterday, which incidentally was the treadmill the old man was using yesterday.  I realized today that even though he ran intervals, he ran way harder and longer than I could ever do since his intervals were for 1 mile and he did like a bizillian of them.

Sadly, the only reason why I was on the treadmill next to the one I used yesterday was because yesterday's treadmill was broken.  I don't think I'm the one who broke it, but it's still sad and weird to know that just a day ago I was using it and it was fine.  Incidentally the now-broken treadmill also used to be my favorite, until I kept not able to use it and subsequently realized that all the treadmills, except for the really bad ones, are pretty much the same.

One of the result of running next to a broken treadmill was that I got to watch countless number of people getting on it, trying to start it, failing, and moving on to another treadmill or another piece of machinery.  It's kind of funny that neither I nor the girl on the other side of the broken treadmill bothered to warn them, and as far as I know no one had reported it broken to the front desk.  I didn't bother since I couldn't really talk, and also since I had been one of those people who jabbed the touch pad without success, I thought it would be fun to watch other people doing it too.

Watched almost an entire episode of Rizzoli and Isles during my run today.  Too bad I didn't get to find out what happened in the end.  But since I don't even remember what the episode was about now I guess it wasn't a great big loss.

Oh, and I also somehow had the belief that I had to do 3 miles instead of the planned 2.5, that I struggled the last half-mile for no reason.

I don't know how it happened.  Somehow during mile 1.5 I told myself that I was half way done and never realized until after I was done how silly I had been.  My Nike+ was also being bitchy.  Somehow now it thinks I'm running slower than before, after countless times I had to re-calibrate it for over-calculating my speed.  I think it may have to do with the way I moved my legs.  I tried to slow and lengthen my stride as I got faster to control the number of time my feet had to hit the ground, and since my Nike+ iPod uses a sensor on my foot that measures the speed and length of one's stride, I guess I could appear to be going slower than usual.  Except I think the sensor should be smarter than that.  I don't know, I hope I don't have to get a new sensor before switching to an iPhone.  Not that an iPhone would be great to use on a treadmill, but evidently the Nike+running app on iPhone allows you to input your workouts manually, so you will still have a record of your runs on Nike without having the app doing any work.  I wonder if I could do that on the webpage when I move on to my GPS watch.  So far I haven't figured out how.

Anyhoo, today's run was... brutal.  I had a banana before going and I didn't feel hungry or anything during the run, and it was a short run, but I just felt so tired and it was such a struggle.  I should not run the day after a long run, even if the long run was only 5 miles.  My legs were tight from the very beginning.  In fact they were tight all day today, and I could feel the muscles as I walked up and down the stairs.  They weren't sore, they were just tight, and you are aware of them.  Now they are sore, even after stretching and all that.  And the thighs are particularly bad since I think I used my thighs a lot to pull my feet up since the run today really ruined my right foot.  The plantar fasciitis was really acting up, right after I slowed down after my speedier pulses.  It got even worse during my cool down walk, and I really hope I can still walk tomorrow.  I also wanted to use more of my upper body to take some of the pressure away from the legs, but I didn't know how.  I tried to breathe from the core, and all it did was made me spit a lot.  I tried to tighten the core and lift my torso a bit but all that did was giving me tight shoulders.  I know strong abs help with running, but since I still don't have strong abs what am I supposed to do?

But somehow I still manage to finish my run, half a mile more than planned no less.  I didn't stop to walk or anything, and I really hope I either burned more fat than usual or strengthen my thigh muscles some what.  I went home and did two blogilates videos, one on the glute and the other on the arms.  I also resumed my thigh and butt challenge moves, Day 13 of the 30-day workout, on the 25th of this month.  Oh well, better start again some time.  It's really starting to get warmer out (I went to the gym today in my capris, a fleece and a wind breaker, it was that warm), and before I know it I will be running outside with my t-shirt and capris, and I really need to get serious about this weight loss thing.  I realize that now I'm not really trying to use running as a way to lose weight, but rather I'm trying to lose weight so I can run better.  Not just to lose weight, but also to build my muscles.  I like running, and I like to run long and far.  It would be great if I can actually be good at it.  I have marathon goals, goddammit.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Exercise Diary: Think I'm actually getting better at this running thing...

This is the last week of March and I'm into Week 7 or 8 (it got fuzzy in the middle at one point) of my half marathon training.  Considering it was a 14 week plan I'm almost or more than half way through it.  I've been following the weekly milage dutifully and have even thrown in some pilate weight training in the middle, but I've never really felt like I'm making any progress with either distance or speed.  I've given up on trying to increase my speed before my body is ready, and I've not yet done any distance that I didn't do before (I think the longest I've done is 7 miles, outdoors of course).  So even though I've accomplished some of my longest runs on a treadmill, I'm not sure it translates well or accurately to the road.  I still tell people that I'm training for a half-marathon, which I am since I'm following a plan and everything, but I'm not sure if the half-marathon is actually going to happen.  My friend still has not gotten back to running after her dental surgery, and now she's also got high blood pressure problems and I think she's going to bail on me.  I don't have an alternative plan; I don't really want to do the Boston half-marathon in May (or whenever it is, it's probably sold out anyway).  But I think I'll still go through my half-marathon training and maybe do the CHaD half that I didn't end up doing last year (which is in Oct I think) and move on to a full marathon training plan in case I actually go through with the Honolulu Marathon in December.

People seem to be impressed that I'm running and even training for something.  I think my only merit is the fact that while running became a fad among my (real-life) friends for a short period of time last summer, as far as I know I'm the only one who's still doing it.  Still doesn't mean that I'm good at it or anything.  I'm the slowest person I know, which is one of the major reasons why I run alone, or more accurately, why I consciously avoid running with people.  As in, purposely avoiding group runs.

Today is my catch-up day, catching up on the 5-miler left over from last week.  I've already finished my run and it's only half past eight.  I had completely forgotten that the school athletics facility is on spring interim hours and the gym closes at 8pm.  So much for watching Castle on the TV tonight.

But I've managed to time my lunch well so I'm not full or famished by 6:30, but still had room for a banana and a light snack.  I got to the gym ~10 minutes ahead of schedule, which almost never happens.  And (probably) because of the short evening hours the gym was packed.  Full of grad students, post docs, and old people working out, mostly on various weight stations, thankfully.  The treadmills and ellipticals were mostly empty, but somehow I still managed to get stuck between a girl who runs fast but funny and an older dude who made a lot of noises when he ran (and he only did intervals, running really fast for a bit then stood around for a bit longer).  That and an old lady working on her upper body strength who pulled a lot of pained faces while doing so kept me fairly well entertained for a while.

I started slow and gradually sped up.  I find that I'm better at doing that now, but I'm having trouble slowing down.  I can speed up gradually and maintain at higher speed for as long as my lungs would allow, but as soon as I slow down my lungs suffer new challenges.  While I was able to breathe better I also felt like hauling ass because my body wanted to go faster still.  But after a while it gets used to it and I could go longer than 5 miles if I wanted to while my body settles happily at the slower speed again.

But the main reason why I feel like I'm actually getting better is that after I reached my goal of the day I realized that I had ran almost all the way through (I had to stop at ~1 hr since the treadmill was programmed to stop after 1 hour, to make room for the next user I guess) and although my thigh muscles were feeling tight by the end I felt that I could go on if I really wanted to.  My stomach wasn't giving me any problems, my foot felt fine, my lungs didn't feel like they wanted to collapse, and the NCIS episodes were keeping my mind very happy.  I was in a good place.  Even though as I stepped into the gym knowing that I was going to do 5 miles on the treadmill (another first) I was genuinely scared.  Scared of all my body parts giving out during the middle of the run.  I was also focusing on the time instead of distance and I think that helped too.  I knew it would take me a bit more than an hour to do 5 miles and I was timing and playing with my speed that way.  I think it would've been much more painful mentally if I had been focused on distance.  But for all of these reasons I finished my run happy and accomplished, and for the first time I felt really good about myself, and that I was actually improving.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Exercise Diary: Do no engage in other activities after running

For a variety of reasons I did not move much after Yoga Tuesday.  For one I wasn't feeling well, and the sudden temperature drop on the east coast didn't help either.  We even had snow on Friday, although judging by other people's feedback we had it easy.

I also partook in some St. Paddy's day spirits.  Our local supermarket is currently under renovation so everything in the store kept moving every time I go there and therefore could never find anything I need and constantly ran into stuff I never noticed before.  This week they for some reason had to stack their alcohol (beer mainly) in small batches all over the store, and the smartly did so by beer type.  So all my favorite types of beer, porters and stouts mostly, were stacked in the same location (as opposed to by brand which was what they did before).  I found three different porter and stouts that seemed interesting.  And since my shopping on Thursday I had already polished off two of the three bottles I bought, and naturally on those days I was unable to do anything active afterwards...

Today was my 3.5-miler.  I'll have to put off my 5-miler long run until Monday, which also means I'll have to go there extra early, before Castle starts, so I could finish before the gym closes, since i don't think I could finish 5 miles in an hour, as I've never kept a 5mi/hr pace for very long.

After my run today, and the run felt eerie, I had a performance rehearsal in the same gym so I thought I would shoot two birds with one stone.  Except I forgot how much I smell after I run, and we had to take our shoes off in the room we rehearsed in.  Nobody said anything during that time but I felt very self-conscious and it wasn't fun.  So that's the last time I'll be doing that.  It's straight to home and shower from now on.

But since the undergrads are still on spring break but the gym is still open for regular term hours, and since today is Saturday, there was almost no one in the gym after 8.  I was one of the 2 or three people in the gym (besides the front desk person), and it felt really weird.  I was constantly wondering if the gym was going to close and I was going to be kicked out.  Caught the end of an episode of "As time goes by", saw an old episode of "The Big Bang Theory", and caught the beginning of an "Are you being served" episode.  So it wasn't heart-pounding television (which some forms actually helps with my runs just like high-energy music does), but very sweet and enjoyable nonetheless.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Exercise Diary: You are much more flexible than you think you are...

... if you know how to relax.

We seriously had a yoga crisis today.  At around 2:30pm my lab mate and I were seriously considering skipping yoga today and perhaps moving it to Friday, because we were both sleepy and tired.  But luckily we both got out of this midday slump and managed to get ourselves to the 5:30 class.

I, fortunately, did not get appendicitis from yesterday's run.  And although I felt my legs today, I didn't feel them as much I felt my butt during yoga today.  All that 3-legged dogs and various lunges really made me aware of how effective that 5-minute butt workout was.

As much as I felt strong today I also felt more tired and sweaty.  I think the latter was due to the lack of ventilation during today's class, but the former, I don't know.  I'm not sure if it's because I didn't sleep as much as I probably should and therefore my muscles didn't really recover, or just because I ran and worked on my glutes yesterday and my muscles were still sore.  But I didn't feel like all my poses were effortlessly achieve like I felt last time.  I was still able to do they as strongly as I wanted, but they took more effort.  And I'm not sure why, since I didn't even do that much yesterday any way. Must be the lack of sleep.

So back to the more flexibility with the more relaxed state.  We were doing half pidgins today, and as flexible as I think I was I'm never able to fully rest my butt cheek onto my mat when I'm doing half pidgins, even though I'm able to rest my forehead on the mat and everything.  And I'm sure it also has to do with my increased flexibility with other stretches I did and stuff, but I found that if I just learn to breathe more and relax my shoulders and my entire torso, my thigh could almost completely touch the mat and so was the lower part of my butt.  And it wasn't painful or forced.  The same thing happened on the other leg as well, although the other leg is much less flexible to begin with, much to my pain (literal pain) and frustration.  But we are getting there, with the proper technique and a bit of time.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Exercise Diary: I hope I don't get appendicitis...

We are more than half way through March, and yet I'm still only on Day 9 of my 30-day beginner's workout out and Day 11 of the thigh and butt challenges.  Yet, since the one week when I intensely followed all the workout schedule despite my other activities with running and yoga-ing, I could no longer distinguish one type of pain from another.  Does my heel bone hurt or just my skin on my heel?  Is my plantar fasciitis acting up again or does my foot just feel real tight?  Did I pull something on my hip, or am I just getting sore muscles that happen to be near my hips?  Do my knees hurt from all the kneeling I did for my New Year performance practice or did I do something stupid during my running? Am I getting premature menstrual pain, or have I just over-worked my abs?

Did I just get appendicitis from running after eating too much too soon, or was the pain I felt during my run tonight a normal side-effect of running?

I certainly felt no more pain now, or I would definitely get myself to the emergency room.  But tonight's run didn't go the way I wanted.  With only 2.5 miles tonight I was going to do some mini tempo work, playing with the speed a bit to make the run more interesting and productive.  But after 1.3 miles my left side of my stomach area start to hurt in a way that had nothing to do with my muscles, or at least that's what it felt like.  I didn't know what it was, and as I made it to the 1.4 mark the pain persisted so I slowed to a walk, hoping that by not bouncing up and down as much I would alleviate the pain a bit.

And it did.  So I finished running the last mile.  And for the most part I felt fine, until I finished and slowed to a fast walk and the pain returned, until I got home and stopped moving.  I stretched and sat down to write the post and now I don't feel any more pain anymore, so I hope it's nothing serious.  I probably just ate too much tonight and the food hadn't completely digested.  It's still a problem I have.  i get hungry in the afternoon and instead of eating a quick snack to curb my hunger I start fantasizing about what I want for dinner and like today, I actually went to fulfill my fantasy.

Before I went running I did this butt workout, in addition to the butt and thigh challenge.  I did this because they were short moves (the video was only 8 minutes long, and the actual workout was only 5 minutes), and I thought it would be good to warm me up and wake me up before my run.  My legs ended up hurting so much during that 5 minutes and my butt hurt more after I was done (it as a glute workout video after all).  I think I will feel my butt more tomorrow, and it was a hard core workout, very effective too.  Still I think I liked the other 6-minute workout better, only because I didn't feel as much like dying while doing that video.  And now I'm way too tired to do the Day 9 workout (most because it has a 28-minute total body workout that I'm just scared to do, even though i've already done it twice already and it's really not as bad.  I think I will do it Wednesday.  I probably shouldn't try too hard to add the workout to days I'm already exercising, but rather to use it to fill in the days I'm inactive to created a more regular routine.  Maybe this way I won't feel so guilty during all the days I'm just to tired to do the videos.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Exercise Diary: No skiing, but yes running

I've decided that Fridays, more precisely, Friday nights, are my favorite time.  Despite the fact that grad students have no lives and are expected to work all the time, other factors dictate that when Friday comes, we all know it.  And for the past two Fridays I've really been enjoying them as Friday nights should be enjoyed.  I went out to dinner (burgers and fries), and caught a movie (in real theaters and everything, Marigold Hotel last week, and Cinderella this week.) Afterwards I decided that I needed a rest day, a real rest with junk food, happy evening, and no exercise whatsoever.

Not that it was a conscious decision from the very beginning.  I just felt exhausted.  After the 4.5-miler the day before, I could really feel my legs the next day, something I haven't really felt in a while.  My legs were really tight and my muscles were really sore, and I wasn't even running that fast.  Could I have over-exercised?  I definitely felt the benefits of all the pilates and anaerobic workouts, but I feel that I had pushed my body into something it's unfamiliar with and now it's protesting.  Or maybe I was just being lazy.

Well I have to say yesterday I was being lazy.  And short on time.  I had to catch a 7am bus to Boston, and although I went to bed earlier than I've ever done I still only got about 6 hours of sleep.  And between traveling and doing stuff in Boston I spent exactly 12 hours outside of my apartment and about 1 hour in the rain.  As much as I'm happy that the worst of winter is finally over and we are finally anticipating something resembling spring, I had forgotten how much I hated rain and really would rather prefer snow instead.  Anyway, I got home, ate dinner, watched some TV, and basically just fainted in my bed for about 4 hours.  I woke up at 1 in the morning, did things I was supposed to do on Saturday night (some translation work and stuff, all sedentary), and then I just couldn't fall asleep again, knowing that I had to meet my friend at 8 the next morning for skiing.

Like my title said, the skiing never happened.  I simply overslept.  I didn't mean to, although my poor decisions made it a reality.  When I woke up at 8:36 I was greeted with 5 unanswered calls and one text message telling me that my friend was going to wait 5 more minutes before leaving me (that was sent at ~8:20).  I got the feeling that I wasn't the only one invited to skiing (in fact, I really hope I wasn't, or I would just be the rotten person who made her friend get up at 8 for nothing), since she had done it before, picking up other people for outdoor activities I thought I was the only guest of honor.  But after the panic that I overslept, and the immense guilt that I was a bad friend (in fact I was just internally upset at another friend the day before for not showing to to go to Boston with us and canceling last minute.  I think what I did was way worse), my third emotion was, perhaps unsurprisingly, relief.  And that feeling was further cemented by the pouring rain outside.  I know we would go up in some mountain where the rain was probably snow up there, but still.  As much as I want to squeeze a ski trip in before the winter is out I don't want to do it in weathers like this.

After all these emotions, and somehow managing to send a text back, I fainted for another 4 hours until I couldn't fall back to sleep right again after waking up and finally declared that I was awake.  The rest of the day wasn't any more productive.  I answered a work-related email that didn't take up much time but made me feel that I had done some real work today, ate so I didn't starve myself, watched more TV while I drank a lot of tea (hydration is good for you, etc etc), and went for my 3.5 mile run.  Cuz what else would you do.  In fact, one of the reasons I was happy not to have gone skiing is that I could ensure that I do my run without the fear of feeling to tired.  I got to the gym right before 8, caught the end of the third batman movie, and spent the rest of my run watching a PBS special on the manners of Downton Abbey.  I was hooked to the program, but at the same time annoyed that it was part of a pledge drive so they cut the show every once in a while to these really long pleas for the viewers to donate money.  So I didn't actually get to finish the program before I left.

The gym on Sunday night was, again, deserted.  I don't know if it's because it's finals week and that people are either really busy or have already gone home, but the treadmills were again all vacant when I got there.  In fact, only very few cubby holes were fill by the lobby and the gym in general was very empty.  Which was kind of nice.  The run wasn't that bad but was kind of hard, and that was when I sort of regretted not exercise in the past few days.  Tomorrow I will go back to my full workout schedule and catch up on all the missed workouts.  But at least I completed all the runs for this week and that's something isn't it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Exercise Diary: Delayed Feedback

I've recently taken up recording my workouts as soon as I finish them so I develop the habit of writing about them/ recording them promptly.  But now I think maybe waiting for a bit before writing about them may give me more time to feel about the aftereffects of these workout.

For example, I did my Day 8 Beginner's pilates workout yesterday, and right afterwards I felt good that I managed to squeeze some exercises into my long Wednesday.  But before I went to bed and was brushing my teeth, I could distinctly feel my glutes hurting.  I knew why it was hurting, but I was surprised that it hurt that much.  It was the result of the bridge exercises I did as part of the total body workout video.  The move starts out like a regular bridge you would do in yoga classes, but instead of staying in bridge form you move your hips and back up and down and touch the mat with your tailbone.  I have tried this before and never felt the true effect.  The trick is to squeeze your butt cheeks real tight when you lift back up into the bridge form.  According to the video you pretend there's a penny you are clenching between your butt cheeks.  I don't think I was squeezing that hard, since as big as my butt is I couldn't quite manage to pull my cheeks in that closely.  But the effect was real and my butt was hurting all day today too.

So that was a pleasant surprise and I hope one day I will have cute bubble butt too.

I chose to do my long run (4.5 miles) today since I'm not sure if I will even have time to run this weekend.  Going to Boston on Saturday, which I already knew, and apparently now I'm going cross country skiing with my friend on Sunday, which I just found out today.  On Tuesday on our way to yoga class, as I watched two guys jogging past our car in shorts,  I absent-mindedly said that it's a shame that I never went cross country skiing this year and it's already getting warm.  So my friend came by today and basically forced me to clear my Sunday so she could drive us up to Bretton Woods, which is like more than an hour away from where we are, so we could go cross country skiing.  I was pleasantly surprised, and somewhat overwhelmed, but also worried that I won't get to do my weekend run.  I fear that I will be way too tired to do a long run afterwards, but I thought if I still have the energy to get my butt to the gym after skiing I should at least treat myself with a shorter run.  So long run today, which also meant no pilates.  It's late and I'm tired, and I still have other stuff to do before going to bed.

Don't know how I will feel tomorrow but the run didn't really tire me out in terms of the cardio.  I was doing pretty slowly so I could keep running the whole time, which I did.  My foot was hurting for like the second half of the run.  My Nike+ failed at one point so now it's congratulating me on running twice in one day.  My breathing got hard during the last half-mile so that wasn't too bad.  I watched an episode of the Middle and two episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel-air which was pleasantly nostalgic.  And the gym was empty (every treadmill was vacant when I got there) during finals week and it's kind of sweet.  But I do have to remember to pay attend to interim hours and the new schedule come next term.

So all in all a pretty good workout day.

Exercise Diary: Got tired/ lazy yesterday, will not let that be a slippery slope

First of all, whoever binge-read my blog yesterday, thanks very much!  I don't advertise my blog much since I don't really put all my heart in it, but rather just use it as a place to record all my workouts and other random thoughts.  But to the few who do visit, thank you~

I got lazy yesterday (Tuesday) in that I skipped my thigh and butt challenges as well as my Day 8 beginner's workout.  I woke up Tuesday morning absolutely exhausted and sore, and just the though of doing lunges and kicks make my body ache.

I did end up going to yoga though, so it wasn't a completely waste of a day.  I have to say, last week's workout already has such a pronounced effect.  My crescent lunges were much stronger and stable, my standing splits and worrier IIIs were effortless.  I just felt that I could do the whole class with less effort, but because I was stronger I could push myself more so I got a better workout at the same time.

But because of that I was so exhausted when I got home.  And hungry.  I had a banana before going to class and that totally got burned away during the first 20 minutes because I was famished when I got home that I didn't feel like doing anymore exercises.  And after looking at the calendar, which said that Day 8 consists of a total body workout video, a cardio video, and a lower back stretch video, I died of exhaustion just by looking at the list.  So I made instant noodles, showered, and called it a day.  Totally unproductive for the rest of the night and even though I went to yoga class I felt like a failure.

Couldn't fall asleep last night despite going to bed early.  Woke up early today to make lunch and go to my friend's PhD thesis defense so I scratched the morning challenge routine.  Was tired the whole day since I opted to not take any coffee this morning, which was a big mistake.

But after getting home at 11pm I still managed to make up the challenges and rolled out my yoga mat.  It turned out that the workouts weren't so bad.  I cheated a little bit on my cardio workout since I couldn't jump around too much without shaking the while building, but other than that I did most other moves faithfully.  I felt that I had done the total body workout video before but parts of it felt foreign.  It was total body too, I got to work my abs, my butt, my back and my arms.  Not sure if I will feel all of them tomorrow but I was hurting while doing it.

So all my pilates workouts have been pushed back a day.  Which I guess is fine as long as I keep going more regularly afterwards.  And I have to remind myself that just because I skipped out on the pilates calendar doesn't mean that I didn't exercise hard.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Exercise Diary: Total Body Workout

Other than the fact that Nike+ needs to seriously get its shit together, today has been a great day workout-wise.  Granted Nike+ is currently undergoing a scheduled site maintenance (and hopefully it will sync my runs properly after it's done), at least last time (that I know of) they did it discreetly  in the middle of the night instead of in the evening when plenty of people are still getting their runs in.  Seriously, yeesh.

I read some post somewhere that in order to burn more fat (which I really need to do), it is better if you do you weights and other general anaerobic exercises first, to burn off all the sugars you ingested before your workout, and then move on to your cardio so you are tapping into your fat supply more.  It sounds like a pretty reasonable strategy so that's what I tried today.  I did my Day 6 of beginner's pilate workout, which consists of 7 minutes of the most tiring warm-up I've ever done, 6 minutes of some intense arm workout (felt great though, and no push-ups involved!), and a killing 5-minute ab workout which is bonus for today since the video was emailed to me as part of the Blogilates newsletter.  None of the moves (there were 5) were particularly hard or foreign, and you would think that doing each for a minute, and doing abs for 5 minutes total wasn't going to be that big of deal.  But I absolutely died after 2.5 minutes and totally cheated after that.  Still tried to do the best I could but it wasn't much.  That's what I like about Cassey and her workout though.  I felt stronger every day, and I could clearly feel the benefit during my runs, and she is very good at encouraging and motivating you to push through, but just as you are beginning to feel good about yourself she makes you humble again by challenging you with something that just absolutely crushes your body, so you don't get too cocky.  I like that.  I need that.

Today's run.  Well.  I'm definitely happier that the weather is finally getting warmer.  I saw at least 5 people running outside today in the 10 minutes I stood there waiting for the bus.  This is the second night in a row that I walked to the gym with only my capris and no outer leg cover.  I didn't even bother with a scarf or a hat tonight.  I think as soon as the ground becomes dry I will venture an outdoor run.  But in the mean time I will stick to the gym.

Today I tried a different running strategy that would keep me more entertained.  I did 10 minutes on a low speed, 8 minutes one button faster, 6 minute at the next speed, etc.  I managed my 2 miles (I know, it's so not a big deal) quite easily, and Everybody Loves Raymond and Julie and Julia (does anyone else still remember that it's actually two stories in one movie?  I totally forgot that Amy Adams was playing Julie and got quite disappointed that they had to cut away from Meryl) kept me very entertained.  I found Everybody Loves Raymond, which I watched only ~10 minutes of, especially funny tonight, probably because I was already releasing endorphins before starting my run.

But I really need to burn for fat to make myself weigh less.  As I got to 5 mi/hr, which really is not a lot, my plantar fasciitis really acted up, quite suddenly too.  My foot is still hurting and I think it will persist for some time.  My foot does that every time I start to run fast(er).  Whenever I persist at the higher speed it would eventually go away until I slowed down or slowed to a walk.  But as my weekly milage goes up this will really be a problem in the future.  More stretching I guess.

Overall all a great day.  Now if only I could just buck up and do my laundry my day would be truly complete.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Exercise Diary: Sunday Evening run

My Nike+ is fucked up.  I can't wait to run outside (so I can use my GPS watch for tracking) or until I get and iPhone (come to think of it, I would have to hold the phone during my treadmill run if I want to use the Nike+running app on the phone so maybe that's not a good solution either).  Or if I win the lottery so I can get a new iPod or something.  But at least it tracked my run today accurately.  I had to calibrate it again to adjust for the right distance, but somehow my iPod uploaded today's run twice so I got a trophy for running twice in a day and my mileage shot up by a third.  But nowhere else can I find the record that I ran twice today, and I have no idea how to delete the run.  I'll just have to re-sync my iPod tomorrow when I go for my 2-miler.

And I'm skipping my Day 6 beginner's workout.  Not skipping, really, but switching.  Day 7 is a rest day and I thought I would do that for my long run days so I can still walk the nest day.

Today I did my long run (4.5 miles), and because of my experiments in the morning and daylight saving, there was no way I could get up early to do it.  But this didn't stop me from running into the same problem.  I again didn't eat well.  As soon as mile 0.5 I could feel my flabby but empty stomach jiggling and I felt sick.  Then my stomach hurt, I don't know if it was the cold water or hunger, or maybe both.  I ate a good breakfast (courtesy of Dunkin' Donuts), but after I came home I ate half a bag of chips, felt disgusted, took a nap, woke up and watched the most sickening episode of "Fortitude" yet, and the whole time I just feel like throwing up.  I ate a banana and orange, and had two bites of my freshly made mashed potato before I left.

Apparently it wasn't enough.  And I had been worried about the 4.5-miler.  I ended up, after the first mile and half, doing a 5-minute run/2-minute walk routine to sooth my stomach, and after 58 minutes I finally managed my 4.5 miles.  I didn't feel physically tired, not really.  My shoulders were tight and that didn't feel good, and my breath got short at points, but my legs were fine and I didn't have the exhausted feeling.  Still feeling a bit queazy and I'm not sure if I even want dinner anymore.  A nice curry would be good though.

Doing a 2-miler tomorrow to start the week off.  Should be a piece of cheesecake after today's fiasco.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Exercise Diary: No excuses

I had planned to do my 2-miler today since I had nothing else on after work.  After I finished dinner, which I ate too much, I just sat there feeling and seeing the little mountain in front of me that we call a stomach and felt extremely sleepy.  And I just wanted to go to bed early and convert my dinner into fat.  I was telling a friend that I didn't want to go to the gym tonight because it's too cold out and I was too tired.

She didn't really comment, but paraphrased some of my outlooks back to me.  One of which was, do what you have set out to do and don't make any excuses.  And that hit me.  I do have that expectation for others, in that I get annoyed when people become lazy and make excuses for themselves.  And I realized that I was doing the same thing to myself.  I didn't really have an excuse to not go to the gym.  I had enough time to wait for my dinner to digest a bit, and I have a jacket and scarf and hat to ward off the cold.  The only thing I did not have was an excuse.

So I stood around for half an hour, put my gym clothes on, and went to the gym.  And I'm glad that I got my run out of the way, even though it felt long again.  What else is new.

The run felt long but not painful.  I think I had a hard time because I felt heavy, and therefore it felt like more work.  But all the pain I had before were gone.  I attribute this solely to all the Blogilates exercises I did for the past few days.  I did the day 3 beginner's total body workout after I got home from my run, and I swear I'm going to finish the 30 day calendar and then some.  I could already feel my muscles strengthening, heck I have been feeling them for days now.  My knees did not hurt probably because of all the leg muscles I worked.  My belly felt flabby because I could at the same time feel all the ab muscles I had worked on, which made all the fat felt even more prominent and unnecessary.  I breathed better and more controlled.  I wasn't as tired (even though it was only two miles).  And I didn't feel as terrible as I sped up during mile 2.  I have finally understood the benefit of cross training, and I now believe that cross training and muscle building are not only good for breaking the monotonous running routine but absolutely necessary for becoming a better runner.

So thank you Cassey, and please keep pushing me.  I'm only on Day 3 and it's already done me a world of wonders.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Exercise Diary: Blogilates beginners Day 2

No running today since I usually get home late on Wednesday nights.  But after I got home tonight I did manage to put on my gym shorts and roll out my yoga mat for my Day 2 ab workout.

I followed the two videos on Cassey's Day 2 page, and I think this is the first time i really sweated on my mat at home.  If we keep up like this i will need to buy some disinfecting yoga mat wipes for home.

The two videos brought about 30 minutes of workout, and I have to say, I really feel the time flew by even as I was crushed by the workout.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm used to 75-minute yoga classes now, or if Cassey is just a really great trainer (probably both), but I was glad and almost sad at the end of the videos.  Also the fact that Cassey likes to talk about random things during the harder reps made it a lot more interesting and tolerable.  It kind of reminded me of running with my friend; I could never talk during the runs and she would entertain me by telling me random stories.

I have to say that I definitely cheated during the workout because I simply could not continue during parts of the video.  I'm sorry but I just couldn't control muscle fatigue.  Also my abs got weaker and weaker and I couldn't help but used more of my neck to barely keep my shoulders off the ground during some of these crunches.  I think it is one of the reasons why people still get neck pains despite the trainer repeatedly telling them to pull their shoulders up with their stomach.  Sometimes we just can't do it.  I guess it just happens less often with the more experienced and stronger people because they could afford to lift up without using their necks.  The others will just have to be careful to not hurt ourselves.

But one thing for sure, my abs will definitely be hurting tomorrow.  Heck, they are hurting already.  Fun workout though.  Can't wait for tomorrow's bubble butt exercises.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Exercise Diary: Yoga Tuesday, and maybe even pilate with Blogilate?

So my coworkers and I managed to push though our afternoon drowsiness and hunger and got our butts and yoga mats to the 5pm class for the second Tuesday in a row.  I know going to yoga once a week is so not a big deal but it's still a tradition we do not alway keep.

Class today was exhilarating and very sweaty.  The room was stuffy and very warm and I got extra sweaty today, and wasn't smelling too good.  I did switch to a new deodorant that does not use aluminum ions to plug your sweat pores to block perspiration, but since i was sweating all over I don't think it's the deodorant's fault.  My thighs got a thorough workout since we did extra chair poses today, and my athletic capris definitely need washing afterwards.

And recently I noticed that Cassey from Blogilate is doing a 30-day thigh slimming challenge for this month.  I got curious and clicked in and the moves looked fun and the reps didn't sound too bad so I saved the calendar and am now on Day 2 of the challenge.  And of course then I saw the entire workout calendar for March and realized that it's only and addition to an already very full daily exercising plan. I ended up subscribing to the blog so I could get the password to view the workout plan in detail and realize that I can never do all these in addition to my weekly running schedule and you know, life.  So I ditched the March plan and downloaded the beginner's workout instead.

It looks like a very reasonable beginner's pilate workout plan and for each day there is an accompanying video with Cassey beautifully demonstrating exactly what you need to do.  Other than having to move my laptop around to get a clear view of what I'm supposed to be doing while lying down, the videos (at least the Day 1 and Day 2 ones) are very clear and helpful.  This morning I woke up deciding that I would do the day 1 whole body workout, but I was unsure after I came back from yoga.  I ready had a good workout, I thought.  But not doing it bothered me, and merely sitting around and watching the video (to see what I would have to do) didn't really satisfy me.  So finally I cleared enough floor space in my apartment and rolled out my yoga mat.

Well the one thing I can say right now, about 20 minutes after finishing the video, is that the 28-minute workout flew by and wasn't painful to go through at all.  My thighs and knees, on the other hand, are telling a different story.  The thigh workout was great but brutal, to the point that I wasn't just having muscle fatigue, I think I also got cramps and had to stop a few time.  I think I will feel the effect tomorrow but now I felt I had accomplished something quite wonderful.  The last part of the video called for some arm work out.  I have no upper body strength so it was hard, but it was harder since we are doing all the moves on our knees and since I had no arm strength all of my weight was on my knees and they weren't happy.  I don't think there is a way to work on your knees other than strengthening the muscles around it so they will take away most of the pressure.  And maybe losing a few more pounds would also alleviate the pressure.  But for now I think I either need to put towels underneath or invest in some kneepads so I don't seriously screwing them up.  And also to be a real woman and do some real push-ups to build my arm strength instead of killing my knees doing modified poses.

But all in all it was a great first day of a cool pilate workout.  I really think it's the complementary exercise I need for my running.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Exercise Diary: Week 5 of HM training 3/2/4.5

Happy March!  Can you believe we are already in Month 3 of 2015?  Seems yesterday that I just came back from my fabulous trip from Japan and China.  Since I did relive my journey as I was telling a friend about it yesterday, it seems that I did.

Went to Boston yesterday to see a show that was postponed from snowy February, although it snowed again last night and Craig Ferguson had a big riff on that.  Met my friend that I haven't seen in a few months, had way too much food (Dim sum, cupcakes, vegan thai food, and bubble tea) that I almost got motion sickness on the bus back, and laughed so hard during the show that I was exhausted afterwards.  All in all a great day.

And now we are in week 5 of training~  I did my 3-miler today even though my Nike+ only registered 2 of those miles, which pissed me off since it was a hard run.  I didn't eat a real dinner when I got home tonight and could feel the tiredness it brings, and the fan on my good-TV treadmill was way too weak so that I was sweating through everywhere and felt very stuffy and hot.  When I sped up for my last mile my right foot protested with persisting dull pain near the arch, and I'm not sure if I will still be paying tomorrow.  I did find out that the pain I was feeling on the heel of my left foot was not from the bone (well, not totally at least), but also from the peeled dry skin I always have during winter.  That made me feel a bit better.

I'm not sure what to do about it other than to take it easy.  I think my body just can't take the extra few pound of weight I put on from the last two weeks and is telling me about it as I put more pressure on it.  So I guess I will just have to be patient until the weight get back down again.  I'm almost getting there.