Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holiday Sweat Challenge: Week 3 Update

Week 3 of the Holiday Sweat Challenge was about getting moving and having fun!

I'm all about making fitness fun. At the beginning of the week I celebrated reaching day 50 of my run streak. And, on Thanksgiving Day I joined the Runner's World Holiday Run Streak Challenge to add some extra motivation to streaking through New Year's Day and because it just sounds fun to streak with runners all over the world.

How about a little pineapple spin to make a plate full of freggies fun? mrC and I found a great little Thai restaurant at one of the malls near us and I couldn't resist the sweet and sour chicken with veggies and pineapple.

Getting moving means getting hydrated too. I use my Simple Hydration bottle to make running with water easier. Easier for me means I'm more likely to keep my body hydrated properly and that keep me moving!

I'm the type of person who likes to have fun and get moving with a group. I used to start Thanksgiving Day with a 10K race in Cincinnati, but this year I joined a group of SWIC ladies for an awesome 4 hour hike on Lamma Island in Hong Kong. I will also add that at two different times that day, several of us were running to catch a bus!

For most of my life I have been fortunate to have the day after Thanksgiving off from work so fitting in some post-turkey fitness has usually been easy. This year was no exception. After a Thanksgiving dinner buffet at the local Hilton, mrC and I got out to burn off some of those calories with a morning run.

I'm thankful that I am still able to get moving and have fun despite having moved to the other side of world away from family and friends. I'm thankful for the technology that lets me keep in touch with my loved ones and still enjoy the important moments. I'm thankful for mrC and this amazing adventure that we are able to experience together. I'm thankful for the three incredible step children I have in my life. I'm thankful for the new friends I have met, the old friends that remain in my life, and my best friend who is there no matter what miles separate us.

What are you thankful for this year?
How did you get moving and have fun last week?
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Sweat Challenge: Week 2 Update

Week 2 of the Holiday Sweat Challenge with Fit Approach was all about the core!

At the beginning of the week I set my core strength goals. My focus is to continue to increase my core strength, but I needed a way to test myself. At the beginning of the week I could hold a plank for about 1 minute and I could barely do 1 full range of motion push-up (not on my knees).

Every day I practiced my planks and push-ups and completed a core workout. I found some good ones on Pop Sugar Fitness, but the one I liked most was from RunToTheFinish's Amanda. She puts together good dynamic core workouts, ones that combine strength and stability.

The call for creative core workouts inspired me to think beyond my normal plank routine and challenge my body in different ways. I've always heard that it's good to mix things up and make the body work in ways it's not used to.

On Thursday I hit my plank goal! This was just what I needed to motivate me to keep working on my push-ups which continue to be a struggle for me.

On Friday, my core workout took place at Pilates. 60 minutes of strength, stretch, and sweat on a yoga mat. Sometimes during class, it feels like all I'm able to accomplish is slip and slide in my own sweat, but then later my muscles tell me that I actually did work my body.

At the end of the week, I could hold my standard and forearm plank for 90 seconds. Push-ups have always been harder for me. I was able to increase my full ROM to 4 (squeezing out that last one), but I still have a lot of work to do to get to 10...and then more.

Did you reach your fitness goals last week?

Friday, November 20, 2015

How to Watch TV without a TV: Perfect for TM Long Runs

Whenever I was forced to do a long run on the treadmill, I queued up something to watch on TV. I was usually limited to whatever I could find playing at the time and let's face it, sometimes there is nothing on TV!

Now watching TV without a TV is not a problem thanks to NBC TVEverywhere. And if you are a runner, this makes treadmill long runs just a little more bearable.

NBC TVEverywhere makes it easy to watch full episodes the day after they air, or as I like to do most often, binge watch full episodes of your favorite shows right from my laptop/desktop.  NBC TVEverywhere is better than a DVR because it works no matter where you are. Just log on to the website, find your show, and hit play. 

I've recently developed an interest in CIA/FBI/spy programs, so the NBC show The Blacklist quickly became one of my favorites. The 3rd season is about a manhunt for FBI agent Liz Keen who is on the run with a known criminal. Meanwhile a major manhunt is being led by her former colleagues and she is trying to stay one step ahead of them. It's intense. Maybe watching Agent Keen on the run helps me keep my legs moving?!

I've also been a big fan of The Voice ever since a local Manchester, NH man was invited to compete in the vocal competition. I didn't get to see every episode, but I remember he did win his first battle. The show has been on now for 9 seasons and the competition just keeps getting better and better. This show is like a live concert and music always makes my runs go by faster.

mrC has been a fan of Chicago Fire ever since his cousin was hired as an extra in an episode where there was a train wreck. I like the show because you get a day in the life view of what it's like to be a fire fighter. And my BFF's husband happens to be a fire fighter/EMT, so I feel like I'm rooting for him when I watch the show. 

Try it yourself. Click any image above to find out how easy it is to watch TV without the TV!

Which show would you choose to watch during your treadmill long run?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Catching Up: In Pictures

Friday morning I went on a 4 hour hike. The SWIC hiking group explored Phoenix Mountain in Shenzhen.

Later, I dodged some down pours to get in my run. The weather was cool, which was nice, but I was so tired from the hike. I'm happy to see my pace is back to my "normal."

This morning I went to a Health & Wellness Fair. It was in an area of Shenzhen that I had never been to before, but I found my way there. It was small, but nice because it was an English speaking event. I attended an interesting talk on positive energy, browsed the displays, and tried Body Flex fitness (which focused on breathing during exercise). I also came home with a nice gift bag and some goodies that I couldn't resist purchasing.

When my heart is heavy, I run.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Three Reasons to Love Planking

Each week I leave my apartment with the hopes that someone will be waiting to join me for a run, but lately it has been just me. I used to walk to the meeting place for the running group, but today it dawned on me that I really should be running. I hate to admit it, but I figured no one would be there, and it seemed silly to waste my time walking.

After waiting about 10 minutes, I continued to do one of my regular routes to the Peninsula light house and then down to the mermaid statue and back. Even though the sky looks kind of ominous in the picture, it was nearly a perfect day for running. If the temps are going to stay in the 70s, then thank you very much for cloudy skies.

Today's prompt for the Holiday Sweat Challenge asked, what's your favorite strengthening move? For me, without hesitation, it's the plank. When I got to the lighthouse, I thought it would be a perfect backdrop for a plank photo and that got me thinking about why I love planking so much...besides the obvious strength benefits.

1. I can stop and plank anywhere (as demonstrated above). This makes it convenient to do even a little strength training at home, in the gym, when traveling...ANYWHERE!

2. There are so many ways to plank that it's very easy to keep it fresh and new. In the photo I'm doing a standard plank, but I also like to challenge myself with some dynamic planks like spiderman or up-downs.

3. No equipment needed. This makes it easy to do planks anywhere because all you need is you! No need to worry about buying weights or finding a gym, just stop, drop, and plank! *On a side note, adding props can increase the difficulty of a plank. For example, balance hands or feet on a bosu, medicine, or stability ball.

PopSugar has a great 1-minute video that shows how to do 12 plank variations:

I mentioned the other day that my right calf was feeling tight and a knot had formed on the inside. Add a lot of jumping at Zumba last night and it was feeling tighter. Before my run this morning, I foam rolled my whole body, but spent extra time on my calves, then I stretched. I recently read that it's just as important to stretch after foam rolling as it is after your workout.

My calf felt much better during today's run than the last couple of days. After completing my daily F2F Challenge workout, I brought out the stick and spent just a couple more minutes rolling it out.

One part of the Holiday Sweat Challenge is to track your freggie (fruit & vegi) eating habits. I don't eat nearly as much as most people. Today I tossed some spinach into my scrambled eggs and felt pretty proud of myself.

What's your favorite strengthening move?
What do you love about planking?
Favorite way to sneak in more freggies?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

5 Reasons to do Outdoor Workouts

 If you read this blog or follow me on social media at all, then you know that I like to get outdoors to workout.

I can do a workout anywhere:

At the beach.

On the deck.

 On the driveway.

In the snow.

And if you're around, I'll get you to join me.

I like outdoor workouts because:
  1. they're fun and easy
  2. you can do them anywhere
  3. the exercises are spontaneous
  4. they keep your body guessing
  5. you are OUTSIDE!
Today I ran to the fitness center because I wanted to do some weight training. I'm trying to build my upper body strength by doing some boot camp style workouts. Since I don't own any weights (anymore), I have to go to the fitness center.

On my run there, I decided to stop and do some body weight exercises outside. I saw a perfectly good set of stairs that I could put to use. Nothing complicated. I usually choose exercises that I can't do indoors (like step ups/jumps) or that I don't want to do indoors when I can do them outdoors (squats/pushups).

I spent about 30 minutes at the gym using the free weights and medicine balls before running back home.

Do you workout outdoors?
What exercises would you do on stairs?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sweaty Style

It was noticeably cooler on my run this morning and it was nice. Instead of doing my usual lap around the waterfront near my apartment, I ran to another section of town. The waterfront is just as beautiful, but fewer people use the area.

My sweaty style has returned to the standard racerback and shorts. Any lightweight racerback that feels barely there will work for now, but I do prefer longer tops because I have a long torso. I switched to Oiselle shorts a couple of years ago and they are the only shorts I wear on outdoor runs here because the front pocket can hold my keys. Gone are the days of one simple valet key!

I recently started wearing more BAMR bands. They fit my head better and Katie makes it so easy to shop on Instagram! I've also started wearing my FlipBelt because my new iPhone6s doesn't fit in my wrist banjees, but I have my eye on this banjees armband. I just have to wait until I get home again to order it.

In addition to my run today, I did the Tuesday #F2F workout and this Standard Core Routine. It's got six familiar exercises, but Jason put in a couple of interesting modifications.

I busted out my Gymboss and did one set for 45 seconds each. Instead of splitting the side plank, I held each side for 45 seconds. That's why it looks like I have an extra exercise.

My right calf has a little tender spot, so I spent a little extra time with my foam roller. Tight calves have always been the main source of most of my running injuries. Thank goodness I packed the compression socks!

What is your favorite thing to wear lately?
Any sore spots you want to share?
What color are your compression socks?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Holiday Sweat Challenge: 500 Minutes

500 minutes. That is my goal for Week 1 of the Holiday Sweat Challenge. Just like last year, I'm participating in the Holiday Sweat Challenge to help me stay focused during the days and weeks of holiday distractions. It doesn't hurt that there are random prizes involved!

So how will I reach my goal of 500 minutes?

1. Running: I've got my own #runstreak plus a GMMRTT Halloween to Thanksgiving streak to keep my running shoes busy.
2. Hiking: climbing Nanshan's 850 steps usually takes about 90 minutes
3. Pilates: one hour yoga sweatfest on Fridays
4. Fit 2 Feast GMMRTT challenge: a daily workout challenge meant to compliment cardio
5. Strength training: 30 minutes of bootcamp style weight training twice a week

I kicked off week 1 with my long run yesterday. That was 61 minutes.

Today I started with a 1.08 mile run at sunrise. 10 minutes of beautiful sky to get the day started.

As much as I wanted to do a little outdoor workout, it was too warm. Back inside I did #F2F Monday workout: planks, lunges, and burpees. 7 minutes

After a quick breakfast I joined my SWIC friends for the weekly climb up the mountain. 90 minutes

The hard part of the Holiday Sweat Challenge for me last year was reaching the freggies goal of 7-9 servings daily. I have stocked up on fruits and veggies for my smoothies, but other than that I don't really have a plan.

How do you stay motivated during the holidays?
Do you eat 7-9 servings of freggies each day?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Long Run Fun

The plan for today was to go out and try to run 5+ miles, without a group of MRTT running friends. Yikes! Haven't been able to do that for awhile, let alone in China. Fortunately mrC decided to get up early and ride along on his bike. My very own escort, chaperone, and mobile cheering section.

Once I got all my devices organized, we set out toward Shenzhen Bay Park. I figured it would take me about 1.5 miles to get there and then I could decide to turn around at 2.5, or 3 if I was feeling good. The temperature was already feels like 82 degrees at sunrise (6:30), but luckily it was cloudy. There was also a nice breeze coming off the bay which always helps.

The point of running to the park was to avoid sidewalk traffic, but it's a popular place on weekends. One nice feature of the park is the extra wide walkway...plenty of room for walkers, runners, and bikers. We saw what looked like a large local running group warming up and eventually running a 5K together. It felt like a race, but no one was wearing a bib and all the signs were in Chinese.

At the halfway mark of my run, my shirt was already soaked and my face felt like it was on fire. People keep telling us that the weather is going to cool off. After enjoying the cold weather back home, I'm even more impatient for the change to happen here.

Overall, today's long run was a success. Having mrC riding along side made it easier and my feet are happier in my new running shoes. My heel pain is not 100% gone, but significantly better. I'm glad that I made buying a new pair of shoes a priority when we were home.

I was ravenous after running 6.3 miles, so mrC's breakfast hit the spot. I also had a cup of yogurt and some coffee before sliding into my compression socks and setting up the iPad to watch a little Buckeye football.

Since I'm sharing food, we went to Sam's Club yesterday and I found Italian meatballs. Throw them in the crockpot with some bbq sauce and a secret ingredient...yum! Not exactly a warm weather meal, but seriously good.

Even though winter temperatures are delayed here in China (and in a lot of places back home too), there is less and less daylight happening. I jumped on the Oiselle #chasethebird bandwagon to make sure I don't fall into any bad habits and because I'm super motivated by challenges.

What do you do to get through a long run?
Are you doing any challenges right now?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Streaking Continues & A Boot Camp Run

Well. We made it back to China after an amazing two weeks in the US. 16 hours in an airplane and a ton of time zones later = a whole lot of jet lag for me. My body clock has been upside down. That hasn't stopped me from running though.

In fact, my #runstreak is alive and well! For 34 days now, I have been running at least one mile a day, and I'm still feeling good. Three days a week I run longer. Typically Tuesday and Thursday are 5Ks and on the weekend I try to run a little more. While in the US, I did a couple of weekend long runs. I ran 5.5 with my MRTT group in Manchester and then 6.5 with the MRTT in NJ. These were my longest non-treadmill runs since March!

Fast forward to today. mrC joined me for my #runstreak morning mile.

Instead of just running my #runstreak mile and calling it a day, I decided to add some boot camp exercises at the end. I've been missing my #SurfnTurf classes at TI Fitness, especially after my visit while in NH, so I've been trying to do my own strength training. The other day I ran to the fitness center, did some strength exercises, then ran home. I was sore. I loved it.

Here's what it looked like today:

triceps dips

step ups

push ups

split squats

squats with side crunch

On a side note, you can probably tell from the pictures that I'm back to warm weather running. Although I am missing the cold weather I enjoyed while in New England, I do like that I can still wear my favorite shorts. The Oiselle distance shorts became my go-to when I was looking for shorts with less bulk, but good coverage. The bonus on these is the three separate pockets, including two with zippers. I never have to worry about my keys!

What body weight exercises do you do on your own?
Do you have a favorite pair of running shorts?