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Posted on Aug 29, 2012 in Working Out | 14 comments

CrossFit Part Deux

I’d say “Guess what I did last night?” but I’m thinking the title of this post kinda gives it away, huh?

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Please ignore my heinous bug bite.

Yep, a mere six days after my first CrossFit experience, I made my (not so) victorious return to the “box”! The amazing people at CrossFit Annandale are generously providing me with a scholarship (free attendance) in exchange for me sharing my workout experiences, so I figured it was time to get back in the figurative saddle.

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That picture just about sums it up. On the bright side, I felt roughly 83% less throwy-uppy after this time. That means I’m already improving, right? Hahahaha.

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I think I ended up picking a really good class to make my second one, because the types of moves we did and the muscle areas we targeted were completely different than last time. I can see why CrossFitters claim that they never get bored doing this kind of workout, for sure. Yesterday’s workout was much more focused on arms, shoulders, and back, whereas last week’s was all about the quads and glutes.

We started with a warm up outside in the parking lot where we did high knees and butt kicks, then some walking stretches, then a quick round of push ups (on knees, for me) and squats (I’m getting better at these already!). Then we headed inside for the regular workout part, where we alternated between bench pressing and “toes to bar” crunches. Sorry there aren’t any actual workout photos, but I felt a little sketchball asking for someone to take pics of me again, haha.

Since I have never bench-pressed anything in my life (and it was only my 2nd time and all), Coach Tony spent a lot of time taking me through the proper way to do it. I gotta say, I’m really impressed with the amount of personal attention you get at CrossFit. I know that it’s probably different for me because I’m still such a n00b and need help with, um, everything, but still. I think I would liken the experience to group personal training.

Anyway, for the bench press I started with just the 45-lb bar, then added 10 lbs of weight after my first set. I was VERY wobbly, since I’m not used to having to hold up something that can tilt above me, but I think I have the basic idea down for sure. I really need to work on my breathing rhythm most, I think, since exhaling at the wrong time had a definite effect on my ability to push the bar back up.

The toes to bar things were NOT something I could do, however. They involved dangling from a pull-up bar and lifting your feet straight up until they touch the bar where your hands are. Er, yeah. I couldn’t even do the whole dangling from the bar part. So Tony had me do leg lifts on the ground instead, which works the same lower abdominal muscles (of which I have roughly zero, haha). At least I’ve done those before!

After a few sets of those two moves, it was time to move onto the Workout of the Day (WOD). Yesterday’s WOD was an “AMRAP”, which stands for “As Many Reps As Possible.” In essence, we had 10 minutes to cycle through the 3 different sections of the WOD as many times as we could manage.

The first part was to do 5 ring dips. This involves hoisting yourself up on dangling rings, dipping your body weight, and pulling yourself back up. Because my upper arm strength is about the same as my core strength (I’m weeeeeak!), I did dips on a bench instead, and did twice as many (10).

The second part was to do 10 pull ups. Again, can’t do them (yet!) so I did seated pull-ups using the rings that I didn’t use for the actual ring dips (confused yet? Hahaha). I also only had to do 5, which was good, because they were still really hard.

Finally, the last part was to do kettlebell swings! I’ve been seeing/hearing about kettlebells for a long time, so I was actually excited to get to do this. Coach Tony helped me out with my form for a while, and I did a lighter weight than the other girls (16 pounds instead of 35), but I did the regular number of reps (20).

So, ring dips, pull ups, kettlebell swings, repeat! I got through my modified-for-a-weakling cycle 4 times, plus an additional 5 shoulder dips. Whoo! Unlike last time, however, where I was able to do the same exercises as everyone just with lower weight, I did feel kind of lame having to modify so many moves, and by so much. I mean, I know that I’ll get there eventually, and it’s not like anybody made me feel bad about it (other than myself), but still. I guess that’s just something I’ll have to get over, eh?

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After the WOD was over, another coach helped me with stretching and mobility exercises for a good 15 minutes, which was awesome. He showed me how to foam roll my lats, do shoulder mobility using a long skinny PVC pipe, and use a lacrosse ball for my back. I think that this was crucial in me being less sore today. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still sore (which means I’ll be even MORE sore tomorrow!), but it’s not as bad as last time AT ALL. And again, this workout didn’t really make me nauseous or anything either. Hopefully that doesn’t mean I didn’t put forth the same amount of effort though!

We’ll have to see how long it takes me to fully recover this time, haha. ‘Til then, CrossFit!

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Posted on Aug 23, 2012 in Working Out | 45 comments

Introduction to CrossFit

My body.

It hurts.

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Yes folks, last night I had my very first taste of CrossFit in all its glory. Admittedly, I’ve wanted to see what CrossFit is all about for a while. Goodness knows I read about it on enough blogs, and everyone I know who does do it seems to be OBSESSED with it. After I posted my first HLS Recap explaining how I didn’t get a chance to participate in the CrossFit workout because of the timing of my presentation, blog reader Kiera emailed me and invited me to come check out the box where she does CrossFit: CrossFit Annandale.

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I have to say, after just one session I can already kind of tell why people are seriously drinking the CrossFit kool-aid. My entire body is sore today, but it’s in an I-feel-like-a-badass kind of way (though going to the bathroom is not really fun after all those squats and lunges, I tell you what). Granted, I did feel just a tiny bit throwy-uppy near the end of the WOD (Workout of the Day), but I can definitely say that I survived, and I even — gasp! — kind of had fun! What?

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So, let’s talk specifics. I went to attend the 7:00 PM class last night (the first one is free!) and got there a little early to check things out and speak with the owner, Jeremy. I got to see the end of the previous class finishing up the WOD, and when they had all cleared out, we jumped right in! Each hour-long workout is structured into three parts: warm up, skill/strength training, and finally the WOD. CrossFit Annandale does have two nights a week where they offer a WOD-only workout, too, for those who may be more crunched for time but still want to be able to “get after it” (that’s a CF saying, right? Ahahahaha).

We started out with a warm-up that consisted of about 3 minutes of various plank exercises. So obviously, considering my core strength (read: none), this entailed me holding a plank for about 8 seconds at a time, crumpling to my knees, then trying again. But hey, it’s about the effort, right? And it certainly got me warmed up in a jiffy.

After that, we moved into the strength/skill part of the class. We partnered up (I immediately grabbed ahold of Kiera, haha) and we alternated between sets of 5 front squats with a weighted bar (I did a 35 lb bar with 10 extra pounds on it, so 45 total), and 10 dumbbell external rotations, which I did with a 5 lb weight. Since I was still getting used to the moves and am totally new at this, Coach Jeremy said it was fine for me to keep my weight light. I had absolutely no problem with this.

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I need to work on keeping my elbows up, I know, but hey, I’m a n00b! I’m learning. 😉

I have some occasional issues with my left wrist (my dainty blogger’s wrists, ahaha), and after three sets with the bar pulling my wrist back, I knew I needed to change it up. Jeremy showed me a way to complete the set by holding an upside-down kettlebell instead, which kept my wrists straight. I had go to down to a 35 lb weight though, since 45 pounds on a bar and 45 pounds crammed into a kettlebell definitely feel different!

After we completed our last set, it was time for the WOD. Yesterday’s WOD was as follows:

1. Row 1000 meters.
2. 20 overhead walking lunges with 25/45 lbs (women/men)
3. 30 burpees

Because at this point I was already pathetic-looking (not to mention mega-sweaty), the supernice coaches modified the WOD for me. I rowed 500 meters, did the 20 walking lunges with a 10 lb overhead weight, and did 15 burpees. And still, even in exerting half the effort as the other people who were there, I still teetered on the “Am I going to throw up?” line for a little bit, hahaha. Guess I haven’t been working out as hard as I thought lately, eh?

There are only three rowing machines and there were at least 10 of us in the class, so we went in heats. I watched the first two heats go before jumping in. Extremely unflattering photo barrage in 3… 2… 1…

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Newflash: I already hate burpees. I got through the rowing and the overhead lunges fairly quickly, but the thought of having to crouch, then flatten, then crouch, then jump (and clap!) afterward made me literally nauseous. I got through one burpee before I had to sit down and take a breather. After a little water (and a little whining), however, I finished the rest of them. My total time for my modified WOD was 9 minutes and 10 seconds.

So there you have it! The workout was definitely rough, even modified for a beginner like me, but it also was a lot of fun. I know, “rough but fun” sounds a little oxymoronic, but it’s true! The other attendees and the coaches were all crazy friendly, and spent a lot of time with each individual person: correcting our form, encouraging us, joking around, etc. I can understand why people enjoy CrossFit so much — it’s a very communal workout, and socialization automatically makes things more fun (and lessened the intimidation factor by about 1000 for me).

Once my muscles stop screaming every time I sit or stand or turn or walk or reach for something or, you know, do anything at all, I will definitely be going back. I know I don’t have the best track record with sticking with one particular kind of exercise, but who knows? People must be fanatical about CrossFit for a reason, right? It’ll be interesting to see how my own relationship with exercise, as well as with my body in general, changes as I continue. I’m really not used to such epic strength training, even when I was doing weight training at the gym, so I feel like this will either do wonders for my weight loss, or throw my body into a state of total and utter chaos. Either way, I’m excited to see how it goes!

Do you do CrossFit? Have you thought about it, if you don’t?

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Posted on Jun 4, 2012 in Working Out | 21 comments

What I’m Doing at the Gym

A week or so ago I received the following tweet:

While I assured her it was absolutely not a dumb question, and gave her the 140-character-limit version of my gym routine, but it occurred to me that some of you might also be interested in hearing about what I’ve been doing during my sweat sessions lately. I knew ahead of time that after the relay, I would be putting running by the wayside (for now) and concentrating on other, more currently interesting means of fitness. In addition to videos and workouts at home, right now that means a big emphasis on strength training!

So when I joined my gym as part of my Lenten resolution to bring an end to my lackadaisical and sporadic attempts at exercising regularly, I also signed up for three personal training sessions to help me get an idea of what moves to do, and how to maintain good form with them. I really wish I had the budget right now to continue with personal training, because it was so immensely helpful! Fortunately, my trainer, Jordan, and I established a great rapport from the get-go, so he still stops by occasionally to see how I’m doing and give me pointers. I pretty much follow variations of all the moves that he had me do during those initial sessions.

I’m at the gym at least twice a week, either attending a cardio class (there’s this Dance Cardio-X class that is SO ridiculous and SO much fun) or doing strength training. I’m lucky enough to have found an awesome workout buddy, Kate. The stars aligned when I met her at a party (through Sean, actually) and she told me she was a fellow Falls Churcher and was thinking about signing up at the same gym as me. Having someone that I’m accountable to meet with, whether it’s a friend or a personal trainer, has been integral in helping me establish a regular routine.

Generally, my weight lifting routines consist of a combination made from some of the following free-weight moves: bicep curls, tricep curls, walking lunges, squats, crunches, leg lifts, shoulder lifts (I’m not sure of the official name, but it’s where you have a weight in each hand, fully extend your arms, and pull them up the side, in to the front, back out to the side, then down), barbell curls, the move where you put one leg up on a bench and use that side’s same arm to pull up a weight (targeting your back muscles), etc. I generally do 3 sets of 10 reps each, though I’m very bad at not losing count, haha. It’s nothing groundbreaking, for sure, and as of yet I don’t have specific workouts that I follow each time (though perhaps that will develop as I put more planning into my strength training, haha).

I usually start out with a couple of minutes on the elliptical or treadmill just to loosen up, and I also will generally throw just a couple of weight machines into the mix as well. My favorite is the leg press, but I also will do a couple of the arm and shoulder machines as well. The free weights I use are generally 10 or 15 lbs if they’re dumbbells, or 20 or 30 pounds if it’s a barbell. On the machines, for arms/shoulders/back the weight is usually somewhere within the 40 – 50 lb. range, and for legs it’s usually within the 75 – 115 lb. range.

Anyway, that’s about all there is to it! There’s still a lot I have yet to try out (I’d like to learn how to use kettlebells and resistance bands better) but for now I’m enjoying feeling like I’m getting just the slightest bit of definition in my still rather floppy appendages, hahaha. If any of you have questions about my gym routine, or if you have any tips to offer, I welcome both! I’m definitely still new to strength training in general, but I love how it makes me feel like I’ve worked hard without feeling like I want to die, the way straight-up cardio does. And for those of you who were utterly bored with this post, I have a delicious recipe coming your way tomorrow!

What’s your favorite strength training move?

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Posted on May 8, 2012 in Pup Posts, Working Out | 12 comments

Proof of Run

Oh hey!

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I actually followed through with (the first day of) a workout plan for once, whaddya know? Yesterday evening, I met up with my lovely friend Joy for a nice 3-mile jaunt on the bike trail. My ankle was giving me some grief after a while, so it ended up being more like 2.5 miles ran, .5 mile walked or so, but still! We maintained a really good pace (er, for me) while running too, which was quite novel. The weather conditions were pretty perfect, too — breezy with the sun still peeking out as it set.

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FEED ME.

My legs do admittedly feel a little heavy today though (so pathetic, haha), so I’m actually kind of glad that I have Zumba tonight to work ’em out a little bit. All the jumping and bouncing we do in those classes really works my hamstrings… which is a very good thing as it turns out. Due to a little last-minute race leg change-up, I’m now the first runner in the relay. While I’m totally STOKED to kick-off the relay and absorb all that awesome starting-line energy (one of the things I love most about racing), it also means that my first leg is going to be straight uphill for an entire mile. I know. I KNOW. Just thinking about it makes me want to do this:

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Just bury me under these pillows and go on without me, team.

But alas! I’m going to rock it out, and the (literal) mountain shall indeed be conquered! I intend on switching up the 3.5-mile treadmill run I had originally planned for tomorrow and replacing it with a 1- or 1.5-mile incline run instead, along with some weight-work perhaps. I’m just going to crank the tready’s incline up to 5 and see how long I can last, hahaha…ha…ha.

In other news, look at Daxter’s hilarious face!

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And that, as they say, is that. Random? Maybe. But I really couldn’t think of a smoother transition, and I felt the need to share his adorable mug with you all today. Don’t even try to say you don’t love it just a little bit. 🙂

Have a great tolerable Tuesday! (Since Tuesday is by far the absolute worst day of the week, I feel it would be wildly presumptuous to think that anyone could have a “great” day today, hahaha.)

PS: I’ve got a Daily Eats post coming your way in a few, too! SHOCK! Who am I?!

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Posted on May 7, 2012 in Dear Diary, Working Out | 13 comments

11 Days

That’s right, friends. 11 days until 12 bloggers will be piling into 2 vans for a 200-mile, 24-hour relay race in Massachusetts. Whew, that’s a lot of numbers. Reach the Beach, the countdown has (more than) begun!

I’m so, so excited for this experience… and so, so scared. I’ve been reading recaps on blogs of similar relay-style races (Ragnar, Hood to Coast) and am getting simultaneously pumped up and petrified. It’s an odd feeling, haha. On the one hand, I feel honored just to get to be a part of this whole experience. I mean, it’s going to be awesome, New Balance is generously sponsoring our team, some of my favorite people in the world will be running with me, and I’m going to get to meet a whole slew of new friends, too!

And yet, at the same time, I’m still feeling pretty self-conscious going in because I’m the least runner-y runner in the entire group. It’s hard not to get down on myself for being slower or heavier or less in love with the sport of running than the rest of my super-accomplished teammates, y’know? I’ve definitely had my fair share of moments where I’ve second-guessed the fact that I agreed to be part of the relay team in the first place. I’ll admit, the most powerful driving force behind keeping my doubts at bay has been wrapped up in the fact that I hate being left out of awesome stuff. This relay definitely qualifies as awesome stuff. And I know that if I had said no to this, I would have REALLY regretted it once I started reading the other ladies’ recaps, haha.


Team Off Balance

I mean, let’s be honest: My legs for the race are totally fair (2.8, 4.78, and 3.37 miles), so I really can’t be that worried about running the actual distances. And we’re not running to win (obviously), so I should be able to focus the having fun part, right? Well, that said, I’ve also never had to run more than once a day before, let alone on little to no sleep. Heh.

Despite my best intentions to at least practice a two-a-day run before now, I haven’t done so yet. So this weekend I will DEFINITELY be testing one out — once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening — just to get an idea of how my body will react. Cognitively, I know that the excitement, adrenaline, and general kick-assery of the relay is going to go a long way in terms of helping me get through the physical part of the race. Still though, you know me. I’m a worrier. So regardless of how prepared I am, I’m sure I’ll be in freak-out mode pretty much from now until my plane lands back in DC nonetheless. (Aren’t my teammates so lucky? Hahaha.)

I don’t usually post a lot of specific information about my workout/training schedules here (since I find it boring to read on other blogs, hahaha), but I figure that it’ll be good for me to line everything up officially (you know, so I actually DO it). So here’s the plan for the next 11 days to get me fully prepared for my cumulative 11.51 miles!

Monday (5/7): 3 mile outdoor run
Tuesday (5/8): Crosstrain – Zumba
Wednesday (5/9): 3.5 mile treadmill run
Thursday (5/10): Crosstrain – Cardio Dance Class
Friday (5/11): Rest
Saturday (5/12: 3 mile AM run, 2 mile PM run
Sunday (5/13): Rest
Monday (5/14): 4 mile outdoor run
Tuesday (5/15): Crosstrain – Zumba
Wednesday (5/16): 2.5 mile outdoor run
Thursday (5/17): Rest/Fly to Boston!

And then Friday (5/18), Reach the Beach begins!

11 days. Here we go!

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