Perfect Day for an Outdoor Run!

A few weeks back, I wrote about my first outdoor run in a long time. I have to admit, I think it may have inspired me a bit. I spend so much of my time in the gym, that I often wonder if I forget about all the other exercise opportunities that are outside of those walls – including what I’ll admit was my exercise “gateway drug” (also know as outdoor running).

I got lucky tonight – it just happened to be my usual “long run” (or cardio-only) day of the week, and the weather was perfect to take it outside. There’s something about a slightly overcast, mid-60s day that just makes a run fantastic. You never really get too hot, the sun doesn’t keep you squinting, and it’s a little easier to get lost in your thoughts when you’re looking at the beauty around you (in my case, my route took me past a skyline including the Washington Monument and the Capital Building … twice … not to mention the really cool landing route of the planes into Reagan National). To be honest, I spend most of my work day looking forward to my workouts anyway. But knowing that I had a run outside instead of the treadmill tonight? It gave me even more to look forward tonight.

I think I’ve finally figured out a great route, too – from my apartment, down into Alexandria, out past the Pentagon, and back around to the other side of my neighborhood. Makes for a 7+ mile route, which is what I tend to do on the treadmill. It’s nice to focus more on how I feel than when the treadmill tells me I need to speed up or slow down. I’m pretty sure there were times I was running slower than I typically do, but I know there were a few times I was trucking, too. And we’re not even going to talk about some of those hills (yowza, that’s a change from the treadmill!!)

Here’s hoping we have a few more spring days in our future … though the way the weather here has been lately, it’s winter one day, summer the next … because these outdoor runs have been fantastic.

Friday Training … Had I Forgot How Tough It Should Be?

On Friday afternoon, I did something I haven’t done in quite a while … I let one of the trainers at my gym put me through the ringer. I have been feeling kind of stuck in my routine as of late – feeling like my workouts are the same thing, different day, or feeling like I’m a slave to my schedule (that said, I love my classes, but I strictly teach two days a week, and on the one day that I only teach one, it can be a challenge to head upstairs to lift once I’ve climbed off the bike). So when I got an offer for a beatdown from a pro? Naturally, I took it.

Having worked with a trainer consistently – and learned a lot of the lessons I pass along to my classes today from my trainers – it was really nice to get that tired-but-it-feels-good-even though-I-feel-like-crap feeling again (not sure a certain someone appreciated it too much when I showed up to his door looking spent later that evening, though…). As I was taking a few seconds to catch my breath, one of my regulars came up to me to ask why I was working so hard. I told her it was because “big man’s making me do it” … but the truth is, I’ve always had a thing for those breathing hard, dripping sweat kind of workouts. I don’t like to do things the easy way. That’s not how you get real results. And if I can’t get it right away? Well, I’m sure not going to tell you. But you’ll be able to tell in my eyes that I’m going to get it if it kills me.

I guess you could say that the monotony that has plagued my workouts as of late is just a byproduct of the rest of my life feeling like it’s almost stuck idling. You can’t really complain that there’s too much going wrong, yet at the same time, you feel as if you could do something great  if you just knew how. Perhaps a little change – albeit only this one day (please, my full-time job took away our fitness reimbursement last fall, I can’t afford training now) – can be the spark I need to get back to where I want to be. Have I gotten lazy? I don’t think that’s the right word. Content, perhaps? Maybe. But that’s not where I want to be. I am a believer that when you stop wanting more is when you stop making progress. So I guess this might be time to make a commitment to start picking things up a little bit again, because I miss that ache, that sweat, that exhaustion that follows a good, hard workout.

Spinning Playlist – May 9, 2013

Welcome back everyone … I feel like it’s been forever since we’ve had a chance to ride together. (Why did they have to go and plan a gym closure on the one day I teach my favorite class? At least I got a great run out of the deal last Thursday.)

After the week off, it was great to be back in the saddle, for sure! Here’s the playlist from tonight’s class:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Start Resistance 3-4 on a Scale of 10)
Mr. Brightside – The Killers

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9+)
Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton
Feel So Close – Calvin Harris
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Hard – Rihanna ft. Young Jeezy

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 9)
Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown
Tommie Sunshine’s Magamix Smashup – Katy Perry
Dirrty – Christina Aguilera ft. Redman

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8)
I Write Sins, Not Tragedies – Panic! at the Disco
Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
The Other Side – Jason DeRulo
Clarity – Zedd ft. Foxes
Misery – Maroon 5

Cooldown
Lego House – Ed Sheeran
Walking in Memphis – Pat Magee Band

One more day until the weekend … here’s hoping we can make it there. I don’t know about y’all, but I feel like we should be somewhere in the middle of next week, as slow as this one has been moving (but you know that always happens when you have something to look forward to at the end of it). Enjoy your weekend, and hopefully we’ll see you again next Thursday, if not sooner.

First Outdoor Run in a While (a.k.a. The Reminder I Needed of Why I Fell in Love Fitness)

Every once in a while, something outside of my control forces me to shake up my weekly routine a little bit. Late last week, my gym was closed for building power upgrades on Thursday night … meaning no Spinning class for me to teach that evening. Luckily, the weather outside was nice, so I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while, and run outside.

The area in which I live is very pedestrian-friendly (being on the more urban side), and designed in such a way that it’s pretty easy to just take a big loop and end up back where you started. So I suited up, put on the one pair of pants that could hold both my apartment key and my mp3 player (I know, city running with music in my ears is probably not the best decision … but I kept it low enough to be aware of my surroundings), and set out on my way.

It actually ended up being a great run. I wore my heart rate monitor to make sure I was pushing myself as hard as I should be, but other than that, it was really nice to be able to just run, rather than being so focused on how much time was left on the treadmill, or how fast I was going, or what I needed to do to get to X number of miles by X time. It was just me, the road, and my body telling me when I needed to speed up or slow down, or when I’d done enough (okay, that’s not totally true … once I was about an hour in, I started playing that mental “once I get to …” game that always ends up turning into something more once I get to the initial “once I get to”). I ran for 75 minutes, and predicted I’d probably run somewhere close to 8 miles – which, yes, being me, I plugged into MapMyRun.com this morning, and found that the route I run was, in fact, just over 8 miles.

While I likely ran a slightly slower pace than I typically do, I’m also taking into account the fact that I had to tackle a few hills, and at times I allowed myself to just get lost in my breathing or take in my surroundings (fun fact: there is a bridge/park in my neighborhood a little farther north than I have ventured before. I did not know it existed. But once I was both a little freaked out and enthralled at the same when I realized exactly how close to the ground the planes landing at Reagan get? I realized that clearly I need to make a point to actually explore my own neighborhood. Because it was pretty cool).

I guess the biggest discovery I made that day was more of a reminder than anything else. You could almost say it brought me back to what made me love to run in the beginning … and how it became my “gateway drug” to the world of fitness.  It’s hard to admit, but I’ve been a little burnt out lately. I have been feeling like I’m going through the motions, and those motions weren’t quite giving me the same joy that they had for so long. The fact is, it wasn’t always about how fast I was running, or how many miles I was covering, or how heavy I was lifting, or how many heavy hills I could cram into a Spinning class. In the beginning, it was about feeling good. Being one with nature – and my own thoughts. Feeling the breeze on my skin, and the fresh air in my lungs. What could you say I learned (again) that day? That the rush doesn’t have to always come from, well … the rush. There’s a lot to say for just letting your body tell you how it feels, and letting that drive you, rather than the external forces. We spend so much of our days in the go-go-go of today’s society … every once in a while, we have to let our workouts slow down a little, turn off our thoughts, and just be.

Spinning Was Cancelled Tonight … So You Get a Quick Playlist Update Instead!

Tonight’s Spinning class was cancelled as a result of some power upgrades in the building (BOO … thanks, city of Alexandria … it couldn’t be any other day??), so no playlist tonight. However, with that in mind, it did occur to me that it’s been a while since I’ve done a playlist update, and there are some GREAT new songs out now, so I figured today would be a good day to share what’s been keeping me going lately.

Without further delay, here are the new tunes rocking my workouts these days:
The Other Side – Jason DeRulo
Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton
Closer – Tegan and Sara
Forever Now – Ne-Yo
Clarity – Zedd ft. Foxes
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) – Fall Out Boy
I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift

As for cooldown and Pilates, I’m loving:
Mirrors – Justin Timberlake
Lego House – Ed Sheeran
Bittersweet Symphony – Smash Cast ft. Megan Hilty
Stay – Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko

Barring anything unforeseen (although until two days ago, this was unforeseen … and on the worst possible week for the gym to be closed), we will be back in the saddle next Thursday. Enjoy your weekend … I’ll be joining some of my co-workers (from my full-time job) going “southern classy” at Virginia Gold Cup on Saturday. Here’s hoping for a beautiful day!