Category Archives: new things!

{September} 30-Day Plank Challenge

We’re fans of monthly challenges, and it started with the “300 Burpees!” challenge in July, which I miserably failed. And I’m okay with that, because they’re BURPEES. And man, they are no fun. I may have made it to 150 or so before just being like, NO MORE. Nope.

August flew by and when September neared, he suggested we join his CrossFit gym’s 30-day plank challenge.

Planks! Yes! I love those. I’m in.

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The ‘rules’ are simple: 30 days – 100 minutes of plank holds

You could do side-planks, forearm and/or regular. Do it at home, the gym, the beach, or wherever suits you.

According to ACE  (not to be confused with the hardware store or education council), this is on the list of Top 10 Exercises for ab and back strength + endurance. It can also help build strength for push-ups, as it’s the same form and activates the same muscles. They’re easy to incorporate to any fitness routine because this exercise requires no equipment – just drop, get your form right, and HOLD.

    1. Lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor.
    2. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows.
    3. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels.
    4. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle.

Source: http://exercise.about.com/od/abs/ss/abexercises_10.htm

Start with 20-30 seconds and see how it feels. Make sure your lower back isn’t sinking; suck in your abs and extend your legs all the way through your heels. Work up to 60 seconds, and then see where that goes!

Kate, in her infinite competitive spirit, posted a plank picture to me and very nonchalantly commented that it was a 4-minute hold. In the spirit of the challenge, I obviously had to give that a try…and then some…

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This just about killed my arms, shoulders, abs, back, legs….but now I know I can hold it for more than 4 minutes!

She countered with 6:03 and a smile on her face. THAT GIRL.

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If you want in, just say so and hop to it! Use the #30daysofplank hash-tag, and tag me if you want to be held accountable ( @heatherdcRD – Instagram). Get up to 100 minutes however you choose to; start day 1 anytime; record your progress wherever you want. The point is just to challenge yourself, and see what you can do.

So far we have: Alex (@alexandramph), Kate, this guy and me.
You up to it, too?

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Filed under challenges, new things!, strength train too!

Convert Confessions: Why I Train+Coach by Heart Rate

If I could talk some sense into 24-year-old me, who gave the “heart-rate training” a try but promptly dropped it because ‘why the heck would I run SO SLOWLY?!’, I’d do it. In a heart beat.

I confess: I’ve been converted. I’ve become dependent on twice the gear and technology that you would have found me wearing as early as two years ago. I’m that runner who checks my watch, quite frequently. I’m the gal who you’re probably passing on the trails, but won’t let it bother me. I’ve become a slave to the training plan, the slow and easy runs, the long hours on the road and the philosophy that “less is more”.

Because it works.

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Dictionary:

HR: Heart rate.
HRM: Heart rate monitor.
MAF: Maximum Aerobic Function (Threshold).

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((My gear: Polar RC3GPS watch and HRM))

I started this year off on a totally different path, wanting a Coach to guide me and teach me something new about the sport of running. I reached out to a friend, curious about how this might work, and promptly answered “okay, I’m in!” when she said, “Work with me!”.

Trickster: she said it would just start out with some HR, a little bit of running by time vs. mileage, and we’ll just see how it goes.

What actually happened: I trained for the Charlottesville marathon solely by HR, MAF and a lot of TrainingPeaks logging. You’re smooth, Coach. Really smooth.

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Was it my fastest marathon? Holy geeze, not even close. Was it my best executed? No. Doubt. Whatsoever. Would I have done my training differently? Yep, and it would have done more harm than good.

I learned what it means to build your aerobic base, prioritize training needs, minimize stress, listen to the body, and train my legs to run no matter how ridiculously fatigued they felt. And that meant that in mile 24, as we climbed another ridiculous hill and, mentally, I wanted it to be over 10 miles ago, I was passing people.

While I wasn’t thrilled with my time, I had faith in what brought me there. Left to my own devices, that race would have destroyed me even more than it did.

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What’s all this HR, HRM, MAF stuff about, anyway?

For endurance athletes in any sport, training your aerobic system is more important than anything (aside from managing and minimizing stress). Monitoring your heart rate allows you to objectively measure individual runs and your progress throughout training. Shutting pace out of your head for 90% of your training runs, and basing everything on effort, allows your body to do what it’s capable of on that day and in that moment.

Running at or below your Max Aerobic Function/Threshold allows you to develop your aerobic muscles and systems. The more time you spend doing this, the better. (Don’t worry, there’s some speed, hill and interval work thrown in there when you’re ready!) Your aerobic system functions primarily off of fat for fuel, meaning it’s got juice for days! Your anaerobic system relies on sugar, meaning you tap out quickly. When you give your aerobic system just enough stress, through training, you build its efficiency, therefore, your speed.

There ya go!

Uh, why would I run slow to go fast?

I had a come-to-your-freaking-senses moment in March, about one month out from my Spring marathon and far from any shred of sanity related to this HR crap. Coach gave me a 3-hour long run on Saturday with some GMP-work mixed in and it was one of my favorite runs. I felt exhausted at the end and thought, “OMG FINALLY.”

Then, the next day, I had an 8K race (which Coach knew about, of course). My instructions were simply, “warm-up for 20 minutes, STORM THE CASTLE, then cool-down and do a shake-out jog for 10 minutes”. And my brain was all like, “This chick is crazy.”

I ran 30 seconds off my 8K PR, which was set while chasing Kate two years ago and seemed almost untouchable to me on that day. Until it wasn’t.

I had been running so So SO slowly, and yet I could still run fast.
OH, GOT IT.

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Fast-forward to June: I had thoroughly recovered from Charlottesville, raced a trail 5K, a road 10K and started packing up for a cross-country move. I also found out I got into the Marine Corps Marathon Lottery. Time for another rodeo!

This time around? I honor it. I trust it. I know how my body will respond, when to listen to it, when to shut the tantrum up and when to just give a little and leave the watch at home. I know how to be truly disciplined, discovering more and more things about a sport that I love unconditionally.

I put in the work, walk when I have to and mentally talk myself out of the days when it just doesn’t click. Something, some system, is trying to say I’M TIRED or THAT ROAD TRIP WAS TOO LONG or I DIDN’T ASK FOR THAT FROYO and because these are all my actions and it’s okay, I will listen.

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To solidify my convert status, I’ve taken my RRCA Running Coach certification and added in MAF/HR-based training. I’m coaching my first few athletes this way and having a small internal party every time I see progress for them. Go, go, go! It just makes sense. So far I have my favorite dude training for a Boston Qualification, and winning local trail races in the meantime.

This type of training requires a lot of you, the athlete: patience, discipline, and perhaps most importantly, faith. It means you have to bury your ego, until it’s ready to toe the starting line (and then let it get all of that pent up energy out!). It means you have to be ready to see what else your sport has to teach you. And then let that work some sciencey-magic!

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It’s not easy, but why should it be?
What will challenge you, will change you.

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Filed under learning, marathon, new things!, running, training

Blazing New Trails: Running the Bay Trails with Mizuno

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Mizuno & Fitfluential. #blazenewtrails

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There’s a pedestrian trail down by the water; it takes you right along the Bay in either direction, providing blissfully flat terrain, no stop lights and a lot of people who nod, wave and say hello. It requires no thinking, no planning, and no fear that a hill may pop up outta nowhere!

Then, in our ‘backyard’, there is this:

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Trails, galore!

Trails that will take you up hills and around parks and to the a crest that spoils you with a view. I mean, checks it…

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The way my HR currently responds to said hills and trails makes them an enemy to most training runs, but that’s just fine. They give me an excuse to take an afternoon break, lace up my new Mizuno Hayates, and go explore – blaze new trails around our new digs.

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I’ve hesitated to invest in ‘real’ trail-running shoes, despite my recent forays into this aspect of the sport (exhibits A, B & C). They’re usually chunky, stiff, heavy, and not appropriate for the everyday-walk. I prefer versatile footwear. And now I know, I prefer Mizuno’s approach.

They took the road-runner into account with their new line of trail-running shoes. Specifically, these shoes boast a light weight (7.2 oz), a “low, light and highly adaptable” design that can take you right from trail, to road, and back.  I need just that! A shoe that goes from your front door to the summit is a friend of mine.

This shoe stays true to the Mizuno Wave, providing a stable shoe and smooth transitions. Check out the grip, the look and the eagerness to GO:

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On the bottom you see the “X-lug” grip, which any who have slipped and slid all around dirt (or concrete, we’re not judging here) know to be crucial. Keep me on my feet! Last but not least, these are designed to make the trail-seeking-runner happy – the lightweight approach means you “feel the trail, not you feet!”. No stomp-stomping here; just speedy, soft-landing bliss.

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Their true test is coming up, with our first {10K} adventure in
California off-road racing!

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Filed under new things!, running, running gear, trail running

Running & Reporting from the Bay in CA

It’s been quiet in this little corner, while life was being all kinds of loud! In the past few weeks, we’ve gone from this…

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….to this:

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Along the way we crossed 15 states (including the District, of course), stopped to see friends and family in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Chicago, Quad Cities, Colorado Springs and Albuquerque. We visited the Corn Palace* (oh, yes we did), the Presidents at Mt Rushmore, a lovely bed & breakfast in Rapid City, SD and Los Pollos Hermanos (aka Twisters). We were graced with everything from sun to rain to golf-ball-sized hail (what kind of guest treatment is that, Wyoming?!).

*Nobody takes corn lightly in South Dakota.

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Moving on…

We covered 3500+ miles throughout 8 days, with a nice long break in New Mexico to celebrate my little sis gettin’ hitched!

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And in the 2 days that followed, our powerful little car trekked the remaining 1,030 miles. And the day after that, all of our furniture met us in California and – voila! – we are officially temporary residents.

Monterey, CA

For the next 18 months you’ll find us running and riding along the bay, in the peaks and valleys of the Sierras and up and down many San Francisco-esque hills. I’m still on the Wellness Corporate Solutions team (whoop!) and joining the world of remote-working.

Currently, I’m reporting from the Adirondack chair in our back yard as I soak in the afternoon sunshine hours and admire the lemon tree that requires little care but provides ample fruit.

And that’s that.

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Filed under about me, distractions, new things!, pictures, things that make me Happy

The Best Things in Life

After a lengthy hiatus from posting the normal “life” things, here’s a little update that changes a Lot, in the best kind of way.

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The best things in life…

They teach you the truth that nothing changes unless, or until, you do.

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They give you everything you were looking for, when you weren’t
even looking.

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They come when you least expect them.

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They show you the best version of yourself.

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They provide you with a new gauge for how “good” it can really be….

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Great, in fact.
Perfect.

The best things in life define your instincts, so the phrase “when you know, you know” suddenly makes all the sense in the world.

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We had already seen the Cherry Blossoms (Friday morning), but he insisted we go back (on Monday). “Because now they’ve fully bloomed”, and there wouldn’t be as many tourists and “Meg will probably want to see them again”, too.  So, alright fine, I’ll go to the November Project-DC next week and FINE, twist-my-arm, we can go back for another sunrise on the Tidal Basin to marvel at this city we call home.

FINE, fine, fine. That does sound like my kind of start to the week…

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We got there right in time to park the bikes and check out the sun rising by Jefferson’s memorial. Well done, sir!

What I did know: it was the perfect spring day and this place is much more enjoyable when the sidewalks are calm and the views are all yours.

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What I did not know: Meg was along to play photographer, and he had something burning a hole in his pocket!

(I also did not know how appropriate my outfit choice of the morning was! Spread LOVE, a la LGF.) 

We casually walked along the water, snapping a few photos, before he stopped me in just the right spot, to ask a little question…

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4.14.14 engaged

YES, of course I will! I can’t imagine a life with anyone but you.

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And that’s all for now.  :)

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Filed under DC, new things!, pictures, random