Days 113-114 – Thunder and Pilates

24 04 2010

First, a report on Thursday’s 8-mile run in crazy spring weather… Heavy thunderstorms pounded us all morning, threatening to ruin my afternoon running plan…but the sun and clear skies showed up around noon. I headed west amazed at the beautiful Earth Day it turned out to be. Went on my long, straight route to Highway 2, and when I turned back to head east I had no idea how quickly the black clouds in the distance were blowing in behind me from the southwest. I was met at my neighborhood entrance by cracks of thunder and bolts of lightning that had me sprinting the last half-mile home. I made it home just in time…crazy rain, hail and a tornado warning came within the hour and the skies poured for the rest of the day and night.

Wow – what luck to find that window of spring when I had my best 8-mile so far! I averaged 10-minute miles in spite of the hill at the end. Friday morning in the still-pouring-rain I was happy to have Pilates class safe and dry inside.

I walk around telling anyone who might have any interest at all about how Pilates has changed me. According to this bio, it was created by German born Joseph Pilates who was “living in England, working as a circus performer and boxer…” He had a bit of a crazy life into the 1960s — smoking cigars and wearing exercise briefs around town. “Many dancers and well-known persons of New York depended on Pilates method training for the strength and grace it developed in the practitioner, as well as for its rehabilitative effects. Until exercise science caught up with the Pilates exercise principles in the 1980s, and the surge of interest in Pilates that we have today got underway, it was chiefly dancers and elite athletes who kept Joseph Pilates’ work alive.”

I am so upset that I didn’t try Pilates sooner that I want the whole world to know (and to be less stubborn than I am and just TRY it – whether you’re a runner or just looking for no-impact ways to strengthen, stretch and tone!). After 8 miles, I normally would be stiff the next day. Stretching my quads and hips really makes me feel like I didn’t even run. The core and muscle strengthening from Pilates workouts leaves my muscles quivering a bit for a while, but then totally relaxed. A good sign — along with a pain-free 8th mile — that it’s working.

This Wellsphere post on How to Be a Better Runner explains Pilates’ benefits:

* build up core strength
* improve your posture that increases your lung capacity,
* teach you to breathe more efficiently,
* provide rest for your joints (no high impact exercises) and improve joint mobility,
* improve your balance (this is true for standing Pilates exercises).

Did a recorded Classical Stretch today, which borrows a lot from Pilates, along with ballet and Tai Chi. Now, a hot bath to get ready for a l-o-n-g pain-free, and hopefully rain-free, run tomorrow.

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Day 109-110 – Stepping it up after 40

20 04 2010

Depressing news story from yesterday’s Denver Post “Fitness” section — typically full of more encouraging info.

“Women must step it up as they age: What keeps the weight off at 40 isn’t enough later” I’ll let you read it, but the gist is that Harvard research suggests “women with a body mass index less than 25 (which is the acceptable BMI) needed 60 minutes of daily moderate activity to ward off weight gain.”

Nice news for a Monday morning! This is 4.5 hours/week more than the current CDC recommendation (30 minutes, 5 days/week)…just to “ward off” pounds, not lose them.

Good news for runners, though: “The report concluded that 30 minutes of daily intense activity such as running would keep women from gaining weight as they age.” Still…daily?

So I was motivated to run yesterday — just shy of 30 minutes. Today, a late night Classical Stretch. Miranda said we were doing “fake Tai Chi” moves. And, apparently, not enough of them to keep me from gaining weight after my 40th birthday next month. Guess I’ll have to do 3 Classical Strech programs in a row.

A few women in the article did not take the findings well. One said:

“I think an hour a day is a lot to ask people to do. People are busy. It’s not realistic and it’s going to turn people off.”

She’s right…but no one is asking anyone for more of their time, just sharing the unpleasant news that exercise is hard work that can’t be picked up at a convenience store. We do manage to find hours for TV shows, phone calls, reading the Sunday paper — things we enjoy. Do we give up these daily mental breaks in the name of better longterm health? Oh – aging is full of harsh realities!





Days 103-105 – Time out

15 04 2010

Wow am I behind on my blog… Long enough that friends are checking on me to see if I’m okay (thanks Wendy!). The good news is I’m still exercising (late night Classical Stretch Tues., 5 mile run Wed. and Exhale Body Sculpt DVD today). Also good that my SmartCoach training plan scales back a bit this week with three 5-milers. The bad news is I am over-swamped with work.

When the kids were tiny, I worked late, late nights. 2 a.m. was a common bedtime, with painful 6 a.m. wake-up calls from my toddlers. This worked okay for years, because I could spend most days with them and hope to catch a nap with them in the afternoon (ok, Anna might have been watching Dora the Explorer while I drifted, but we got through it). And then, they started spending more time at school, I started working daylight hours, and lost my night owl adrenaline.

On Tuesday, I worked late into the night sifting through my media database to i.d. contacts who might care about luggage with built-in solar panels to charge iPhones and laptops. A very cool announcement (check out CNET if you’re really curious) from my solar client, but one that I had to email to hundreds of reporters at 4 a.m. Mountain time. Yep – I was up with the coyotes.

Proposals, deadlines, meetings, articles, pitches, reports…the center of my last three days. Not to mention spring sports season is in high gear. Swear I try not to overbook my kids, but afterschool activities are just overlapping in April/early May: ballet, baseball, soccer (x 2 kids), art, karate, glee club — whew — it’s a workout just getting everyone to the right place at the right time.

On a time-keeping note, a highlight of my week was getting a new sports watch to replace mine that died mid-run last week. $9.99 no-name model from Target (think I mentioned I lose electronics regularly), but it’s pink and just might make me faster. If it only came with extra time to read the directions…

Other good news — more than 1,000 clicks on my blog. Thank you everyone for reading and inspiring me (yeah Christy on the D.C. Cherry Blossom 10 mile!).

And finally, I give you the song that makes my 6-year-old move it like a hula dancer, and is #34 on my half-marathon playlist: “Shake Your BonBon” by Countdown. If you’ve met my son, you have to play the preview on iTunes and picture him leading the family butt shaking competition in the living room. Enough to wake you up for a 5-mile run every time!





Day 102 – Circa 1980s

12 04 2010

Mondays are tough because I plan to stretch at some point in the day, but I get busy catching up on work, errands, etc., drive to ballet and find myself running out of Monday. Tonight, for example, I did Classical Stretch at 9 p.m. to get it in. A good way to go to bed though — muscles relaxed and ready for Tuesday.

Realized I spaced on my top 40 countdown song list, so here are my throwback additions to my half-marathon playlist:
#38 — Jane Says (Live) from Jane’s Addiction’s Kettle Whistle Album
#37 — Tide is High (as made famous by Blondie) from the “I love the ’80s workout mix’) — I know, chees-ey! But it’s faster than the original, and I DID love the ’80s…
#36 — Love Shack (workout remix)
#35 — I Melt with You (live/remastered)

These are all faster, remixes I found on iTunes that are more upbeat than the original ’80s versions. They all came up on my Shuffle during yesterday’s 10-mile run and made the list because they remind me of college days with my husband in 1990 — long before he had that title.

I must have been missing him yesterday, since he’d been skiing all weekend. Was thinking about how we loved the same ’80s music in those days and spent many nights dancing to these songs — me in my leggings, baggy sweaters and Keds. Each of these songs has a story…what better to think and smile about on long run?





Days 99-100 – 100 Day Party

10 04 2010

Ahhh – a 100 day party is in order! That feels so great. I celebrated by dragging my kids to Echter’s, my favorite garden center where they have varieties I can’t usually find in closer nurseries. In Denver, it is just now time to plant cold-hardy annuals. I went in search of rocket snap dragons that grow to three feet, and pansies to pop in among the tulips.

We got rid of some very troublesome willow shrubs along our alley, so I have all kinds of transplanting projects going on to replace them. I found two shrubs that have been on my wishlist: Daphne Carol Mackie that blooms in May and Japanese Pencil Holly — a cool evergreen that’s tall and skinny for small spaces.

My kids dread going to the garden center, but once there have a ball. Especially at the tree house at this one. They even had birthday cake, and came home with a Venus fly trap!

Gardening may cut into my exercise plans — I get carried away and can spend hours playing in my tiny beds of dirt. Especially on these first spring days. So if my blog turns into a gardening forum, I hope you will still read and chime in!

Workout-wise, I actually did my Friday Pilates class AND a 2-mile recovery run yesterday. Mary was kind enough to show me a tennis ball trick to relieve my aching calves — which we think were set-off by skiing last week. Basically, rolling your calf on the tennis ball (or a foam roller) on the floor for 5-10 minutes loosens the muscle. Fantastic! Enough for me to get out for the recovery run later in the afternoon.

Today — post gardening center splurge — and after throwing that same tennis ball for Lottie, I did Classical Stretch. Instructor Miranda said today’s exercises would have me ready to run a marathon! I’ll still settle for my half…





Day 97 – Moved by chefs

7 04 2010


I love the Food section in the Denver Post on Wednesdays almost as much as I love food itself. It’s filled with new restaurant reviews and inspirational recipes I clip and save with best intentions to cook.

Today, I read this Associated Press story: Celeb chefs launch healthy food drive about the momentum Jamie Oliver (see my Day 88 – Revolutionary food post), Rachel Ray and others are creating to get people to eat better for a healthier lifestyle.

Another article: “Quiet chef’s book a commanding work,” ironically, opens with: “Before chefs were entertainers and celebrities, they were craftsmen…” got me thinking about how these new, celebrity chefs-on-a-mission are so brilliant for coming out of the kitchen and onto the screens to influence people.

To change the habits of an overly obese nation, you go to where the people are — to West Virginia if you’re Jamie Oliver. Then you go straight to their living rooms where they’re watching the tube: the mother of the TV dinner, fast food commercials and sedentary evenings often blamed as a root cause for our unhealthy nation.

So if they can’t pull the plug on the flat screens, at least they are creating reality shows about overweight people competing to shred the most pounds and entertaining chefs are cooking real, healthy food. Michael Pollen wrote a book about it (see Day 27 – Rules to eat by post), but I’m guessing a lot more people who needed the information saw it on Oprah versus reading the book.

It’s all fine — use the best means, including the first lady and television, to move a nation to move more and eat less junk! Ironically, I turned on the TV tonight to do Classical Stretch for arms, legs and abs. (I admit I really couldn’t live — or exercise as readily — without the idiot box!)

In other electronic-dependence news (a.k.a. my iPod)…and in honor of “40 days to go ’til my 40th,” I’m compiling a list of 40 favorite songs for race day entertainment to get me through approx. 130 minutes (that’s 10-minute miles for the half marathon if all goes well). If you have a suggestion, please send it my way…

My top 40 song of the day is “Prayin’ for Rain” by Soulhat (a favorite band from Austin that I listened — and ran — to in my Atlanta days). I’m dedicating this song to trading the inches of snow we woke up to in Colorado for spring rain showers! And you can run to this song in rain, snow or shine…





Day 95 – Happy runner’s feet

5 04 2010

I just registered for the Colfax Half Marathon. After 11 weeks of training that seems like a good commitment to finally make, and the price goes up April 30.

$59.30 to be at City Park for a 6:45 a.m. 13.1-mile run — on my birthday. That feels a bit insane right now! Let’s hope for a killer t-shirt. I’m going to wear it all day even if it’s hideous. The good news is I should be finished by 9 a.m. when I hope to be heading to Snooze for pancakes. And then napping by noon — proudly in my ugly t-shirt.

I think I’ve been afraid that once I paid for the race, I’d injure myself. Haven’t wanted to jinx it…Today’s “rest” exercise was Classical Stretch, and I wanted to share a link to an article in Canadian Running by Classical Stretch’s Miranda on preventing running injuries by strengthening your feet:

“All movement begins and ends with our feet, the foundation of our body. A runner’s feet need to be strong and flexible enough to supply a powerful takeoff and withstand the impact of each landing. As a repetitive-motion sport, running often results in aches, pains and chronic injuries, many of which could be diminished or better controlled simply by increasing the strength and flexibility of the feet.”

The article has instructions and photos on a few exercises you can do to strengthen your feet, shins, ankles and calves — whether you’re a runner or not. I swear by these — in week 11 anyway when my calves are feeling tight but — thankfully — not injured.

I mention Classical Stretch all the time, and I get the 23-minute workouts for free on PBS. You can check out http://www.essentrics.com for more demonstrations, DVDs and info. on this ballet/tai chi/pilates-style stretching and toning. http://www.classicalstretch.com has more, but the Essentrics site is a bit hipper with Miranda’s daughter taking the spotlight. Find her blog at http://www.essentrics.com/news.html.