Friday, November 30, 2012

Fat Friday

For my 50th post I wanted to do something special. First, I started updating the page. Ideally, I want the logo to be without the white, but I can't seem to get it to work. I will also be adding content to various pages on the tabs at the top. Seems like every other blog has these, so I want to keep up with the Jones'.

Second, I want to talk a little bit about weight. I was reading a post by TorontoRunner, so I was inspired to talk about my own weight issues. This is definitely a sensitive subject for anyone, but I feel like this is something I have only recently begun to concern myself with. Let me just use a picture to demonstrate my first point:

The picture of me on the left is from 2009. I found this picture a few days ago, and I was shocked. I didn't even recognize myself. I was happy at that point, but I most certainly wasn't happy. I was eating way too much and getting no exercise. Quite frankly, I was lazy. Soon after this picture, I found myself n grad school; that was the end of laziness. Nothing like a few graduate level classes to make you productive. I also started to exercise a little, and I lost some weight.

The picture on the right was taken last week while on vacation. Clearly, there is a difference. I am 29, but I don't look or feel that old. Of course, this transformation didn't begin until last January. I fell off the wagon in 2011, and it took another large weight gain and confidence loss to realize things needed to change.

To be honest, a few things needed to happen in order to really get focused. I needed real motivation, and I found it in the mirror. I was finally able to see what I was becoming. No one ever said anything, but I wasn't getting around as well as I would like. Additionally, I wasn't make it through long days with the kind of energy I would like. I started to run and exercise as a way to lose weight. Then, when I realized I was actually pretty quick, and that I was becoming genuinely addicted to what I was doing, I became hooked. That is what I needed. I needed a reason to exercise beyond weight loss. I needed a way to really enjoy it.

It has been nearly a year since drastically changing my lifestyle, and I couldn't be happier. I will talk more about this when the new year comes around, but now fitness and looking good are synonymous with an enjoyment and happiness I haven't known before. I am far more confident than I ever have been. I even find that people treat me differently in a positive way. People are far more willing to do things for you when you don't look gross.

Looking good isn't everything, but it certainly helps. I like knowing that my lifestyle choices are positively impacting those around me. I like knowing that I will never stop now, and that I can really move forward towards my goals. I have new found faith in myself, and an outlet to vent frustration that otherwise would be kept inside. Everything about me is better now, and I am only going to improve.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Half A Week At 100%

It is Wednesday, and I have been making a conscious effort to be at 100% all week. I have to say, it hasn't always been easy. I have a few students that try my every nerve, and I haven't been able to get up the energy to get up at 4:30am to do a two-a-day. I would give myself an overall grade of about 90% so far. I am still recovering from vacation I think.

I feel pretty good about things so far though. I just need to keep in mind that I won't ever be perfect. I just need to always be doing my best. I would say this is the exact same philosophy of racing.

As for my training, I feel great. I was a little lagged on Monday from a week of eating garbage. I didn't know how fast I would get back to things, but I felt surprisingly fantastic yesterday and today. I stayed to the elliptical both days, as I am attempting to keep stress off the joints, but I was very happy with my performances. Yesterday I did 3.1mi at 19:45 and then finished at 8 total miles at about 52 min. Today I did the same 3.1 at 18:40, 6.2 at 37:55 and 8 at 48:30.

I have increased my cardio time, so my lifting time is diminished. This is why I really wanted to have the energy to get up in the morning too. I can do so much more when I have the time. Still, I have had time to work my major areas, and I've done some extra work on the core. I am loving how my body feels. I really think the vacation has entirely refreshed my system.

With that in mind, what refreshes your system most?

What does it take for you to really feel good about a workout (plenty of time, reaching mental goals, visibly working harder to everyone around you)?

What is inspiring you to be 100%?

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Monday, November 26, 2012

100% Philosophy

Last night as I drifted off to sleep I was thinking about two things; the first I won't talk about on here, but the other is about a philosophy. This philosophy is rooted a concept/theory for teaching. The idea, at the core, is to get 100% participation from your students. With that in mind, I want to get 100% from myself. I felt like, after vacation, I was ready to start putting more effort into everything I do. With that in mind, I taught hard today, brought a strong positive attitude, and finally hit the gym at 100%.

Now, I know this is a fairly unrealistic goal from day to day, but I think it is a goal we should all have. Essentially, we should all be living our lives at 100%. I at least want to feel like I tried my hardest to get to this point, and I think everyone around me will be better for it. I've always believed that doing good things and living a healthy lifestyle will rub off on others. I know several friends and family members that have started living better because I did. If people can see what hard work can do, they will be far more likely to work towards that same thing. Plus, this fact makes me want to work even harder so that I can continue to be an inspiration to anyone who wants one.

So, with my "new" philosophy in mind, I took to the gym with conviction. I needed some serious conviction too; my calves are super tight after my new form run yesterday. Plus, I had a week worth of crappy food in my system. I am increasing my daily cardio now, as I want to really get my body composition down. Additionally, I don't think I need as much weight training. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the gym in the morning, but like I said, my calves have been tight all day, and I didn't want to push it. I did get in some chest, back and core work though.

Tomorrow I have to get up in the morning because it is Tuesday, and I won't have the time in the afternoon. Tuesdays will be a tough day to stay at 100% simply because it is so long. Additionally, I hate not having those renewed endorphins in the afternoon; they come in handy after a long day of teaching.

I will continue to report on my philosophy, but I think it will be good.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'm Back - A Story Of Food

So, I am back home after a nice vacation. We loved the resort we stayed in, and we had a blast all week. I am pretty Disneyed out at this point though. Plus, the weather wasn't a warm as I would have liked. I suppose it made coming back to freezing temps a little easier.

I wasn't perfect in my training all week, but I think for being on vacation, I did get in a pretty solid amount of work. Fortunately, the resort had a nice fitness facility because the area wasn't designed for runners. Some of the resorts have trails, so I thought this one might as well; I was wrong. I went for one short run around the area, but I ended up having to do a few laps around a parking lot; I wasn't impressed. At least the cooler weather and sunshine was great for it.

I feel pretty good though. I think a little extra rest was good for me. I just wish I had toned down the eating a little bit. I am not real good at the whole portion control thing, and my choices were not exactly healthy. Whatever though; I was on vacation. Sometimes you just need to live a little. Now though, I am going to get back into things on an intense level.

Today I ran 5 miles with a little extra time before football. My knee was sore, but I feel good now. I think my body just needs to adjust. Plus, I am working n my form. Tomorrow is a two-a-day, cardio in the morning and lifting in the afternoon. I will also get back into my blog routine. I am looking forward to being back into things.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quick Update

I will be reporting much more on my vacation, and the subsequent training, but for now I just wanted to share some pictures. Additionally, I figure a short update on everything is possible.

This is the view from our first room. This is called a savannah view, and it is facing one of the Wildlife areas around the resort. These are some giraffes, obviously, but there were also a variety of African birds.

The resort also has a fancy fitness facility. It is very small, but it is also well stocked. The ellipticals, which I figured is best after a long day of walking, has a super fancy touch screen on it. I unfortunately could not use the television function, as they do not have them hooked up. I do like how you can see your progress, relatively, on a virtual track. I found myself doing some strong intervals at certain points on the track.

As for my training, I have done some cardio and lifting every day. It isn't as intense at home, but I am proud that I am still at it.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Sweet Vacation

I am currently blogging from the car (not driving). We are headed to Disney World where I will be spending the next week. I am looking forward to some sun, warmer weather, anti-diet food and some good runs. I probably won't be posting much, so I just thought I would leave some quick questions:

What are your favorite places to vacation and run?

What are your favorite pandora stations to run to?

Do you totally quit a diet over vacation?

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Think Positive

As my day nears it's early conclusion, I want to wrap things up with some positive thoughts. Today was one of those days where I really had to push through. I have always been a positive person, but sometimes I get down about myself. I guess we all do, but today was one of those days for me.

It is hard to explain why I was so down. I think partially it is the colder weather. Additionally, my body is adjusting to the shorter days. I also have some considerable life stresses that I won't get into right now. Finally, my body just isn't where I want it to be. I am fight an uphill battle against genetics, and sometimes I feel like I am losing. I exercise far more than a normal person, going at least an hour a day, 5-6 times a week. I don't est garbage all the time, but I could be better. Still, I feel like I should look better. So I second guess my training choices, life choices, and mental berate my genetic make-up.

At the end of the day, I look at all the blessings in my life and realize that everything will be okay. I will reach my goals eventually, and I just need to focus on working harder. If my genes don't want me to get there, then I just have to go around, under or over them. Besides, looks are secondary to speed, and I know I am only getting better every day.

Here are my positive thoughts from the day:

1. I helped improve the lives of 26 kids today.

2. I made excellent choices for my meals.

3. Despite a million things to do, I managed to get in 5 miles today.

4. I have the ability to do 5 miles like it is nothing.

5. I leave for vacation tomorrow.

6. I have a comfy bed to collapse in.

I figure I am probably just reflecting the thoughts of many people. I feel like through our endorphins, increased metabolisms, above average bodies, and positive life choices, we are just spoiled in a way. We have so many things going for us that anything negative can set us back. If we had a bunch of negatives, we would just get used to that.

What are you thankful for or blessed with today?

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Tale Of Two Workouts

Have you ever had déjà vu? I get this feeling every time I do a two-a-day. Don't get me wrong, I love the gym. I love how age diverse my place is, how nice the staff is, and I even don't mind the rubbery-sweat smell. Still, three hours is a long time to spend in such a small area.

Fortunately the gym does offer some fun perks that road running does not:

1. I can go guns out without freezing my arms off.
2. The cardio-theatre features a new movie everyday (today was 'How Harry Met Sally, and being the Billy Crystal fan I am, I stuck around).
3. Yoga Pants (sorry, but it's true, and any guy who says differently is lying).
4. Weights
5. Easily accessible restrooms
6. Televisions
7. Treadmills, cross trainers, stair climbers and ellipticals; I use them all during the week to access as many muscles as possible.
8. Lights (it is very dark at 5am, and even 6pm now)
9. People to watch for good exercise ideas.
10. People to mentally challenge and size up.

Obviously I still prefer a great run, but I always try to put a positive spin on things.

Since I was at the gym so long, you are probably wondering what I did. In the morning I did 4 miles on the Elliptical. I left out my crossfit as I don't want my body to become accustomed to it. I will get back to it after vacation, and I will do it hard to shock my system. Next, I worked my biceps, triceps and shoulders for about 45 minutes. I wanted to give my core a break, but I always struggle to lay off. I think my core is strong, and I just need to drop a bit more of BMI in order to show it off. Purely aesthetic, I know, but I like the bonuses that training brings.

In the afternoon I got on the cross trainer for 4 miles, switching directions every 5 minutes. I did not do any intervals today, also because I don't want my body to get used to anything. I finished visit #2 with some leg lifting. I hit my gluts a little more than anything else. I feel like these are one of my weakest areas right now, and they will come in handy when worrying about form at mile 22. I need ALL my muscles strong at that point.

Now that you are bored, I leave you with one thought: how can anyone ever exercise in jeans? I witnessed this painful travesty, and I couldn't believe that lady would subject herself to so much future pain. Go to Target and invest in some dri-fit clothes. That is all.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Who Doesn't Love A Half Day?

So, I followed up yesterday's day off with a half day today. Yeah, my job sounds easy, but I assure you that I earn every penny and every off day... yikes. So, how did I spend the second half of my day? At the gym of course! I am glad I didn't get up in the morning for a workout because I don't thinking I would have been recovered enough for the second. Additionally, when I did wake up, my calf was really tight, so I wouldn't have wanted to push it.

The gym went great though. My calf was back to 100% by that point, and I was in a great mood the whole time. I hit some cardio and crossfit first. I focused on my chest and back every 10 minutes, with speed intervals every 4. I was really sweating, and I could feel my heart rate staying nice and high. I tell you what, mixing burpees in with cardio is intense. I have been raising the quantity of them every week, so I am constantly get wrecked; I love it.

I did about 40 minutes of cardio/crossfit, then I moved on to some outer core/obliques exercises, then chest and back. I really wish I was seeing as much improvement in my chest as I was in just about every other part of my body. I need to figures out something that really works. I mean, I am improving, but the rest of my body is changing so much more rapidly. On the off chance that someone actually reads this, does anyone have any advice? Thanks!

I feel like I am going to be in a great place for Florida next week. I just wish I could have found a race to do. Oh well!

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Who Doesn't Love A Day Off?

So, I had the day off today for work, and what do I do? That's right, I spent two hours at the gym! I loved having the time to do whatever I want, so I did a full hour of cardio/crossfit. Then I hit the weights and retired on my own terms.

Yesterday I went for a short run because I wanted to test my knee after having done 6 miles the day before. I can't say it felt perfect, but I don't feel any major pain today. Even after the hour on the machine, I feel good. It just seems like something that will slowly get better with time. If I had the patience and metabolism to take a few weeks off, I would. I don't though, so it is just something I will have to be mindful of. Additionally, it gives me the excuse and motivation to work on my form. By the time the Flying Pig comes around, I will hopefully be in great form, with great form. This will be aided by my transfer to near barefoot running in March. The stronger my feet and legs, the longer I will be able to hold my form on long runs. I am excited about the possibilities of this move, as I am reading all about it in Born to Run. It makes so much sense that running without cushioning will help. We ran for thousands of years without fancy Nikes, so why do we need them? Time will tell, but I look forward to reporting on it.

As for my workout today, I feel like it hit it hard. I was covered in sweat by the end. Pretty sure the people at the gym think I am crazy because most of them are housewives basically walking on the treadmill, simply looking (and usually failing) to lose a few pounds. I'm not at the gym to look good; I am at the gym to get faster, stronger and more confident in my physical abilities (the looking good part is simply a bonus). Exercising to me has become something I love, not a chore. I think that is the key; the more you love it, the less likely you will be to give up or get injured. I need to run and work out like I need to eat. That is enough preaching for now, but if you are simply exercising to look good for someone else, you won't make it.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Get Excited!

Today was amazing; I am still buzzing! The weather here was unseasonably warm, so I had to go out for a run. I headed out the door in the afternoon after a morning of errands, and I was fairly nervous. I could feel hints of my knee, but I was determined to focus on good form during my run.

I resolved to only go as far as my knee would let me go, at a reasonably slow/comfortable pace. I didn't feel fast, but at the first mile I was pacing at 8:30; I could believe it! Plus, I couldn't feel any sense of pain in my knee. I kept going, speeding up, focusing on landing soft, working with my hips, using my muscles instead of my joints, staying loose and loving the act.

As I continued, I could tell my knee wasn't 100%, but it also wasn't nagging me. I also wasn't in pain, so I knew I could keep going. The only time it was a little annoying was coming down a hill, where I had to dial back and land different. I shifted my style a bit, shifting my weight forward and extending my stride, allowing my knees to bend my more and stretch out. This act helps, and I also stretch my knees in this way on flatter surfaces where I had the extra energy to do so.

By my sixth mile, I was thrilled. I had been enjoying myself, and I was closing in on a solid practice 10k time. I finish under 50 minutes at a 7:55/mi clip. I made sure to stay loose during my cool down, and stretched my knees a bit.

It is now over and hour since the run, and my knee feels fine. I took some fish oil and a protein shake, so my recovery and joints should heal quick. I will report more tomorrow, as I would love to go out again, but I am just happy with my progress. I am thinking this might not linger after all! That would make me so incredibly happy, you have no idea; or maybe you do... Not being able to run... I don't want to think about it.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Busy, busy

So, in life beyond training, I have parent/teacher conferences this week. I am quite busy this week. Additionally, last night I worked my second job, and I do the same on Friday. Fortunately, I have been waking up at 4:30am to go to the gym. So far, so good, but I can't help but wish I was able to do two-a-days. Again, I don't feel like I am doing enough. Plus, this schedule isn't good for my diet or my stress levels, all of which contribute to my body fat levels. I just don't think I will be where I want to be before vacation.

Regardless, I feel as though my overall training is not being harmed too much. A hour and a half each day is still getting it done for most people. After vacation, I will hit the ground running.

For the last two days I have done about 6 miles, which isn't a lot, but I am really making a conscious effort to let my knee heal. I am doing it low-impact, so I am hoping by vacation I can run around and walk around disney no problem.

Then I did chest, back and core one day, and arms/shoulders today. All of that lifting was started during cardio, in between intervals. I gotta say, I love how much energy I have after a morning workout. This endorphin kick is a real motivator.

On a political note, as a teacher, I am glad Obama got 4 more years; I just wish he had a better education policy. Maybe be will change with time. I hope so at least.

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cold in Cleveland

The thought of running outside in the cold never appealed to me. I made attempts to get into running in the past, but the winter always ended it. This year is going to be different. I think I turned the corner during tough mudder; I was so cold at that point, all I have to do on a cold run is think about that, and how it could always be worse.

Today I went for a pretty cold run (about 40 degrees). I wasn't terribly cold, aside from my hands (I now plan on getting some running gloves from Target). I had on compression shorts under my running tights. My legs stayed quite warm. Then I had on a long sleeve wicking shirt, with another short sleeve on top. Finally, I chose a North Face vest for a final layer. This was perfect for the weather, just wish there was some sun.

The run itself was an easy 6.35 miles. I didn't want to push myself too much. My knee bothered me the whole time, but it may just be something that needs to be worked through, and it did feel better as time went on. I am still nervous about it though. May need to eliminate road running until March, which makes me sad. Running has become such a part of my life. Maybe I can just tone it down to one road run a week. Just don't want this to turn into a major injury that could hurt my chances of doing the marathon in May.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012


This morning I had my alarm set for 5am in order to get up. For the first time in a long time I was very sore. I decided to take a morning off. I thought I might have to anyways, as it is something that should be eased into. Regardless, it was good to be sore again; it let me know that I was really working hard.

I got to the gym in the afternoon for my usual workout, and I was fine by that point, which is another good sign. My body is recovering quick from some intense work, so it shouldn't be long before I can do two-a-days on a more consistent basis.

Unfortunately, that will not be tomorrow. I am going to go to the gym in the morning, but I have to leave town in the afternoon. I will hopefully get some running in over the weekend, but I am going to Cleveland. My running depends on the weather, but I mostly just need it dry. I may finally get some mudless use of my running tights.

As for today, I got in cardio/crossfit and some intense core and arms. I may even be sore tomorrow. I just tried to make the most of the small amount of time I had. An hour and a half is not as long as you think, especially when you need cardio and a need to work the entire body over the course of a week.

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