Weekend Plans and Summer Streak

I received an email last week with the subject “challenge” from a friend who knows me well enough to recognize that I would likely accept the challenge before reading the contents of the email.  The challenge that she was offering me was Runner’s World’s Summer Streak which runs from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July and the goal is to run at least one mile each day during that time.  Although this sounds easy, there are certainly days that running just doesn’t fit well into my schedule so I knew that it would be interesting to try.  Additionally, I decided to take this as an opportunity to improve my short-distance speed and so on Monday I timed myself running one mile at the track and am going to try to improve on that time throughout the 38 days of this challenge.

I was actually shocked at how difficult it felt to run a flat-out mile.  I was breathless by the time I finished the sprint and I can say that I certainly have my work cut out for me this summer.  I’m planning to time the mile every week or so when I get an opportunity to run somewhere like a track.  Time to beat: 7:22.  I would love to take close to a minute off of that time, although I’m not sure that I can improve quite that much by July.

To make things even more interesting, the friend who suggested this is getting married in June so I guess she and I will be running on her wedding day!

Although this is a short week due to the holiday, I am so excited for the upcoming weekend that it seems to be dragging on forever.  It is going to be a fun and fitness filled weekend, here is my plan:

Friday night, being the first Friday of the month, is Nite Sweats at Bikram LES!  This amazing night is full of music, lights and lots of sweaty yoga, and all proceeds benefit the Lower East Side Girl’s Club.  I look forward to this every month!

Saturday I am going to be taking part in the first annual Lu-Athalon hosted by the 66th Street Lululemon.  The event will include a flywheel ride with Danielle Devine, a 5k run and  a yoga class at House of Jai.  I love the idea of this event that combines three of my favorite activities and am really looking forward to trying a new spin class and a different type of yoga.

My new favorite double for Sunday is at Equinox in Soho.  I am loving the Purgatory Boot Camp immediately followed by Transcendcycle with Darryl Gaines.  I took this spin class for the first time last week and can totally see what the hype is about.  It was not only a great workout but was fun and uplifting.  I can’t wait to go back!

Now I just need to get through the rest of the week and find some good food to fuel up for my weekend!

Peanut Butter Protein No-Bake Cookes

This recipe was inspired by… well random things that I happened to have in my kitchen this weekend.  I wanted something sweet and chocolate but without much sugar.  I think this makes a great snack and is balanced enough to replace a meal or protein bar, plus it is super easy to make.

Peanut Butter Protein No-Bake Cookies

Serving Size: 5 cookies

Servings per Recipe: 2

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Trader Joe’s Partially Defatted Peanut Flour

1 Serving Chocolate Protein Powder  – I used Spirutien

1 T Dark Cocoa Powder

1/4 Cup raw oats

~1/3 Cup Non Dairy Milk – I used Almond Breeze Almond Coconut Unsweetened

Start with the peanut flour and add milk slowly until it becomes a thick paste.  Next add the protein powder, cocoa powder and more milk until well mixed, you may need more or less milk.  Once the batter is smooth, fold in oats until mixture becomes stiff.  Split into 10 equal pieces and roll in to balls.  I found that refrigerating them for a few minutes makes them nice and stiff and not quite as sticky and messy. 

The protein powder that I used is already slightly sweetened and I prefer my dark chocolate to be more on the bitter side so I did not add any sweetener but a small amount of Truvia or Agave Nectar would be good to make them a little sweeter.  Additionally, they could probably be made with some other nut butter instead of the peanut flour paste for a good source of some healthy fats, however you would be losing some of the protein.

Here are the Nutrition Facts for one serving:

Calories: 151.8

Total Fat: 3.5g

Saturated Fat: 0.5g

Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g

Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g

Cholesterol: 0.0mg

Sodium: 111.3mg

Potassium: 697.0mg

Total Carbohydrate: 17.4g

Dietary Fiber: 4.5g

Sugar: 4.8g

Protein: 16.9g

 

ahhh…

Last night:

made it to bikram… first class in 4 days.

got to run to the studio. in the rain…

and home from the studio. in the rain…

warm, refreshing, spring rain.

fresh green juice for dinner.

ahhh….

Today might be a different story, at least the markets are closing early and it is a long weekend.

Quick Wednesday Update

This morning’s workout:  Legs

    Exercise Reps Sets
1 1A Lunges 10 4
1B Lunge Jumps 6 4
1C Captain’s Chair 10 4
2 2A Squats 10 3
2B Squat Jumps 15 3
2C Plank Hold 55 sec 3
2D Reverse Crunch 15 3
3 3A Seated Leg Curl 10 4
3B Seated Calf Raise 15 4
3C Bench V-Ups 15 4
4 4A Hamstring Raise 10 3
4B Squat Jumps 15 3
4C Weighted Ball Crunch 10 3

I didn’t have time for cardio but I certainly didn’t need it.  I like incorporating some cardio movement into my supersets and I hadn’t done it for a while.  Purgatory Boot Camp on Sunday reminded me how much doing jumping body weight movements can raise my heart rate.

Tonight I am going to Psyco Therapy at Cherry Lane Theatre in the west village.

Lean – Part #2 – Diet

The last few days have been rainy and dreary in the city so it felt good to start my day with a good workout.  I probably didn’t get quite the ideal amount of sleep last night, but the last week of cleaning up my diet has already started to improve my quality of sleep and energize me.  This morning was shoulders + triceps:

    Exercise Reps Sets
1 1A Dumbell Shoulder Press 10 4
1B Dumbell Tricep Extension 10 4
2 2A Tricep Pushdowns 10 4
2B Side Raises 10 4
3 3A Weighted Bar Clean & Press 10 4
3B Weighted Bar Standing Row 10 4
3C Bench Dips 10 4
4 4A Front Raises 10 3
4B Back Flys 10 3
Stairclimber 40 minutes

I think that my chest and shoulders were still a little bit sore from Purgatory on Sunday so I didn’t feel like I was able to lift quite as heavy as usual, but I am loving the fourth set of everything, it really give me the opportunity to make sure I am getting a good burn.

As mentioned above, I have been seriously cleaning up my diet.  I have a lot to say on this topic so I am going to break it up into sections, starting with liquids.  Often when people plan/analyze their diets, they forget to include the things that they should and shouldn’t be drinking.  Here are some important beverages to consider in a clean diet:

1. Coffee.  Recently, multiple studies have shown that coffee, in a moderate amount, promotes health by increasing brain function and helping to fight off various forms of cancer, diabetes, and  other diseases such as Parkinson’s.  Additionally, caffiene can be a great boost to help energize you for a long day or to kick start your morning workout.   However, coffee drinks can also be extremely detrimental to your diet.  All of the things that people add to their coffee add calories, and of the worst variety, mostly sugar and fat.  A latte from Starbucks can add hundreds of calories and to your day, not to mention up to 40 grams of sugar which will lead your energy levels to eventually crash.  So when choosing a way to caffinate, if black coffee isn’t an option, choose carefully.

2. Green Juice.  I have recently come to love green juice.  I try to have one every day and often find myself craving it.  While there are many varieties available, I am partial to juice pressed using the Norwalk press, and I specifically love the bottled juices at Liquiteria.  Juice is a great way to get a shot of nutrients that may be difficult to get from raw vegetables during a busy day or that you don’t particularly enjoy eating on a regular basis.  My go to juice is the All Greens with Apple which includes Kale, Spinach, Romaine, Celerey, Parsely and Apple.  Not only are green juices nutrient dense, they also provide a lot of electrolytes and help to balance your body’s hydration.

3. Protein Shakes.  Similar to coffee, protein shakes can be great for your health and diet but are often full of things that are not so great.  Bottled protein shakes are often made with long lists of chemicals and preservatives and full of sugar.  Even a fresh shake from a smoothie bar can contain unknown ingredients.  The best bet is to make your own at home using a brand of protein that meets your needs and adding in the things that you want such as fruit, non-dairy milk and nuts.  But this is not always a conveneint option so when ordering or buying a shake, make sure to read the ingredients or check for what is being added.

4. Water Drinking enough water is one of the most important ways to improve health.  Proper hydration aids in digestion and allows the body to sweat enough to rid it of toxins.  The general recommendation is to drink 8 glasses of water per day, I think that this should be in addition to what you drink while working out and when you are more active or the weather is warmer, more water is always better.

5. Alcohol My favorite thing to drink but not great for your diet.  Not only is alcohol simply empty calories but it often leads to lowered inhibitions, which leads to eating things that you didn’t plan to eat.  The calories in alcohol are the most easily used by your body so when you drink, regarless of how many other nutrient rich foods you might have eaten, the alcohol is the first thing that your body will process, leaving excess calories to turn into fat.  I also struggle to feel fully energized the day after having too many cocktails and my workouts tend to suffer from that.  So all around, alcohol should be avoided in any fitness program.  But when you do chose to drink, make sure that you minimize the damage by ordering carefully.  Some good choices would be a clear liquor with soda water and organic red wine.  Avoid drinks that are extra high in calories and/or sugar such as sweet mixed drinks, margaritas, sangria, and beer.

Next topic will be more solid 🙂

 

Tips for First Time Racers

The most exciting part of my weekend was that my dad participated in his first ever race!  He ran in the 10k at the Cleveland Marathon.  My dad has always been pretty fit and healthy but has never tried anything like this so I was super excited that he was getting involved in one of my favorite hobbies. 

My dad was pretty nervous leading up to the race and called me for some tips.  There are a ton of books and websites out there about training and race prep but I think that in general,  most people running in their first race are doing it for fun and not to win, and of course any time is a PR so the first race experience can really make or break a person’s view of running.

So here are some basic fundamentals that I think are helpful to the first time racer:

1. Chose a distance that you are comfortable with.  This should be based on your level of fitness and health and how much you have run in training.  I think that the 10k is one of the most difficult race distances because it is not really a long-distance pace but 6.2 miles is not a sprint distance for most people. 

2. Train the way you will run, run the way you have trained.  This means that you should be doing some outdoor training and not just logging all of your miles on the treadmill.  Also, as  you approach the race date, start running at the time of day that the race will start so that you know how your body feels at that time.  On the day of the race, wear the same shoes that you are used to running in and eat the way you are used to eating.  The day of the race is not the right time to try anything new.  Also, the anticipation and build up of the race can create a lot of adrenaline which may make you want to start off faster than you had planned.  Don’t.  Stay at the pace you know you can keep and if you still feel that way after the first few miles, then slowly let yourself increase. 

3. Have fun!  Take in the crowds, let the energy of the other racers motivate you and don’t be too hard on yourself.  Try to enjoy the experience for what it is and learn from it so that you can be faster next time.

4. Recover and Improve. After the race, take note of how you felt during and after and what you think you need to do to make the next race even better.  If you are overly sore or tired, plan to train more for the next race and make sure that you are eating enough to fuel your body for racing.

Racing is a great way to push yourself and add a new element of competition to your running program.  I’m really proud of my dad’s finish yesterday and can’t wait to race with him soon!

 

Purgatory

Sunday was my day to try something new and fun for my workout.  I planned to try the Purgatory Boot Camp at SoHo Equinox in the morning and go to the last Bikram Yoga class at Bikram LES at night.  I have always enjoyed spinning classes at the gym, but outside of those, I rarely attend any group fitness classes.  I have had an idea that the group fitness classes at most gyms are the lesser version of these boutique workouts and thus not really great.  However a few weeks ago I was on the stairclimber and witnessed a class in session.  It was extremely distracting as there was a lot of jumping and throughout the class I was shocked to see so many people sitting on the ground, unable to keep up (the sign of a challenging class).  I was intruiged enough to show  up to Purgatory Boot Camp yesteray and it did not dissappoint.

Equinox has the following description of the class on their website:  ‘Designed by Angel Alicea, this high intensity, no-nonsense, non-stop conditioning/cardio class will push you mentally as well as physically. Using your body weight as the source of resistance, you will perform variations of push-ups, squats & lunges. “You gotta go through Hell to get to Heaven.”‘

The instructor, Angel, opened the class by asking everyone to leave their water by the door.  He specified that you could walk over to get a drink but that you could not have it near your mat as a distraction.  He also explained that the room was controlled to be 75 degrees and emphasized that this class was not for everyone.  I immediately appreciated the temperate/water policy as it was similar to Bikram and I believe that a certain amount of stress for extended periods of time is important to making progress. 

The class started with some jumping jacks for warm up and quickly escalated.  I was shocked by how quickly I was sweating as much as I do in an average Bikram class in this room that was only 75 degress.  It was fast paced and difficult including many standing exercies such as squats, lunges, and various jumps and many floor exercises which were variations of planks and pushups.  While I found the standing series more manageable, I struggled a lot with the pushups and planks.  I was certainly in the back of the pack compared to the rest of the class and had to stop to catch my breath quite often.  The 45 minutes flew by and by the end I was drenched in sweat and tired.  I was also a bit frustrated with myself for my lack of coordination in some of the movements at the end and recongnized my need to work on those as my strength increases.

It was refreshing to push myself in these bodyweight exercies and showed me how much room for improvement I have.  I have always wanted to be able to do more bodyweight exercies, especially pushups and I think that a class like this where you are really forced to push yourself beyond your limit is a good way to improve rapidly.

While there were certain aspects of the class that were more discouraging than fun, I think I’ll be going back to try to master these moves.  There is a lot of room for work and I am already looking forward to the challenge next week.  Additionally, I think I’ll be open to trying some other classes at Equinox, if this is any indication of the quality.

Also, I didn’t make it to Bikram at night.  Instead I spent my afternoon/evening drinking wine and reading on a patio in the East Village.  It was just too nice a day to not relax a little bit 🙂  And I’m glad that I did because today is cold and rainy in New York.