What I Read This Week

Running: I’m getting back into running season, so I’ve been focusing more on cardio and trying to find more interesting HIIT/running workouts.  I used to run A LOT, but have switched to morning lifts 6 days/week and evening cardio (1-2 days running, 1 day swimming, 1-2 days cycling) for most of the past year.  I’m naturally a much stronger runner than other disciplines, so I tend to push myself hardest on my cycling and swimming during the winter when I am not racing so that I can improve my form and technique.  Since spring is coming, though, I’m back to focusing on my first love: running. 🙂

(1) I tend to have trouble pacing at the beginning of the season (I always want to be faster than I am!), so these tips from Runner’s World were super helpful.  As soon as it finally stops snowing in NYC, I plan to do a few outdoor runs without tracking pace/distance to get back in the swing of things.

(2) Speaking of not playing into my ego — this article from Competitor Running gives several good reasons to train for minutes, rather than miles, on easy days.  It’s hard for many people–especially those who share my competitive streak–to actually take it easy on “easy” days, especially when there is a distance goal in mind.  For me, consciously deciding to run at a slow, set pace for a certain amount of time makes it easier to actually stay on track with your goal for the workout.

(3) I’m getting bored with my standard sprint intervals (40 sec on, 30 sec off for 10 rounds), so I have been on the lookout for new options.  This workout with focuses on VO2 max seems like a great option — running 30 sec repeats at your 6 min max speed (for me, about 9.5 mph), with a 30 sec recovery at 1/2 that speed — until you can’t maintain the pace anymore.  Another good option is this version of the fartlek, which involves running 1 min at your 5k pace (with 1 min recovery), 2 min at your 10k pace (with 2 min recovery), and a 3 min run at half-marathon pace (with 3 min recovery), before heading back down the ladder.  (This is the “moderate” version — there are longer distance runs for more advanced runners).

(4) While it makes intuitive sense, this article cites to a study showing that longer sprints increase endurance and GH response due to the higher load on your body, while shorter sprints improve speed and agility.  I tend to measure my sprints by time, rather than distance, so I like the idea of working in both short distance and long distance sprints as an alternative to using 30 sec or 1 min intervals.  Going forward, I plan to do 2 days of “longer sprints” (I am leaning toward 1 day of 2X200m, 2X400m, 2x200m and 1 day of 10 1 min intervals) and 1 day of “shorter sprints” (likely 12 X 100m).  The new treadmills at EQ let you program in 2 speeds for easy interval training, which makes this even easier to accomplish indoors while it’s still icy and below 30 degrees out.

Lifting: Here are some random links re: new workout moves I plan to incorporate in the upcoming weeks.

(1) I’m thinking of trying static quad stretching in between hamstring sets – my natural inclination is to stretch a bit between sets, so I might as well target my stretching for maximal load on my hamstrings!

(2) I hate crunches/sit-ups/etc. etc., but love the idea of ab training with these other “full body” moves.

(3) No chin-ups, pull-ups, or push-ups this past week with my sliced palm injury, but I’ve been prepping workouts with new variations for next week, including these push-up variations from FitnessRX.

(4) I love both yoga and Onnit, so I especially loved this post on the benefits of yoga from the Onnit blog.  I was very skeptical about yoga when I first started practicing 8 years ago – I am always restless and full of energy, so I preferred workouts that were super intense, get-your-heart-rate-up, hardcore style programs.  What I’ve learned from yoga is that (1) yoga can be super strenuous and requires full-body strength and stability; (2) learning to switch your brain off is AMAZING for recovery, sleep, and focus at work or in the gym; and (3) I am much less likely to injure myself and am much better at recovering from minor wear and tear on my body when I am practicing yoga consistently.

Recovery: Speaking of sleep and recovery, I loved this article on 10 things that will make you happier.  Topping the list are exercise and sleep, but relaxing, smiling, and meditation (and yoga!) make the list too.

Recipes: I can’t wait to try this shrimp “dumpling” recipe.

Random:

(1) Love this EQ blog post on training your mind.  I am not naturally athletic or great at sports, so it has taken a great deal of focus and mental strength to push myself physically to the place I am at now.  Re-focusing, establishing a routine, and managing my energy are all steps I rely on to get me through tough weeks (whether at work or in the gym), so I can’t wait to try out some of these other tips as well!

(2) CANNOT wait for the Jaybird Reign.  I am absolutely in love with my bluebuds (thanks Mom and Dad for an excellent Christmas gift), and am super excited to try their new tracker, which uses information about your workouts and activity levels to tell you which days you should push hard in the gym and which days you should back off.  Since my brain alwaysit’s a good day to push hard, a tracker like this could come in handy for me. 🙂

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