A Brick Before Work Keeps My Mood In Check

My foiled plan to grab a pre-work brick workout was foiled twice: once because I stayed up too late one night and subsequently overslept, and another by a sudden 9am office meeting. However, I tried to go to bed at a decent hour last night (decent, meaning midnight) and woke up relatively early enough to get to get a cold shower in and head to the gym by 7am or so.

That first cold shower was a good idea. I’m trying to get used to swimming in cold water since 1) I moved to the Pacific Northwest and 2) the pool at the gym is not heated. So, I hopped into another second cold shower before hitting the pool. It was an outstanding idea since by the time I jumped in, the pool felt decently warm to me.

I swam about 10 laps (500 yards is my goal for each day of swimming, currently at 3x week). I remember when training for my sprint triathlon, I’m swim up to 16 laps (32 lengths) and that was about a half mile or so. 10 laps still winds me, so I’m hoping to work up my endurance. I’m still noticing that my fear of the water is still lingering. Every once in awhile if my mind wanders to my open water swimming experiences or I imagine swimming in darkness, I immediately get freaked out and stand up. (Granted, the pool is 3.5-4.5 feet deep.) It’s still something to work on. I take 11 strokes to get from one end of the pool to the other. I get air every 3rd stroke. I notice that when I think about work and swim, I clench my teeth. If I also fixate on avoiding getting water in my mouth I clench as well. If someone is in the lane next to me and we begin pushing off the wall at the same time, I see if I can try to keep up. (That’s usually a no.) My swimming feels very distracted right now but maybe that means I’m not working hard enough. It’s only been two days of swimming this week, but it’s two more days than I’ve had in a long time.

After my swim I hopped on to the stationary bike. Not as good as the real thing, but I’m not about to find out if I can still keep my balance in Seattle traffic. Eventually I’ll build my confidence back up but thankfully my trainer arrived yesterday! I just need to get some tools to put everything together. I sped along at a nice pace (okay, it was kind of slow) and then suddenly I got a meeting request from my manager to come in at 10! I got it at 9, when I still had 5 miles or so left to go on the bike. I hustled and hustled, finished the ride, and headed to the bus stop and by then, she had decided to reschedule for the next half hour. My legs felt like jelly and I really wanted to head out for a run, but just didn’t have the time to spare…so I went to work.

My mood was remarkably high throughout the day. Could’ve been because I got the bulk of my stressful work done the night before or that the endorphins were just kicking in. Either way, I’m already feeling a bit sleepy so I hope to get a good night’s rest and perhaps head in for another swim/bike session tomorrow. And hopefully I can get a nice run in during the evening. I’m supposed to get 8 miles in but I don’t know how that’ll be possible. We’ll see I guess. It’s worth a try.

I’m really trying to work in this tri training into a hectic work schedule. It’s insane. I don’t know how anyone with families or *real* commitments train for events like these. I know you need to make the time, but even I struggle to do that — and I don’t have a family (I mean, like a hubby and rugrats) nor do I moonlight for extra cash. And I don’t have any health issues I’m trying to overcome. Honestly, I have it really easy when it comes to this. All I have to do is train…what more can I ask for? (Oh yeah, maybe some tools to set up my bike trainer.)

Last night as I was laying in bed, I was looking up Ironman races I wanted to target. My goal is to finish an Ironman by the time I’m 30. I haven’t decided if that also encompasses the year after I turn 30 (in between 30 and 31) but nonetheless I think I’ve found THE ONE: Ironman Coeur d’Alene. Their promo video is so awesome. Their marketing…it works!!!

It’s also a decent drive from Seattle so I won’t have to ship my bike, and that’s a definite plus. There’s also the Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens, which is next July…the unfortunate timing of IMCDA is that it’s in June, so I’d have to wait until June 2014 to race. I really wanted to complete a fall triathlon though, and I think the only ones I saw for the full distance are in AZ. I guess we shall wait and see!

Should I Consider A Super Sprint Triathlon?

I’m doing some research on upcoming triathlons in the Seattle area that I’ll be able to train for and race once I get settled in. I found one in nearby Kent and they have three distances: Olympic, Sprint, and Super Sprint.

I’m considering the Super Sprint distance — it’s only 1/4 mile open water swim, 15.8 mile bike, and a 5k. For the same price, though, I can race the Sprint distance.

Is it even worth putting on a wetsuit for a quater mile swim?! It takes me a long time to even get into it. Hmm…

Some pros about the Super Sprint:

  • The swim is so short that I don’t have any excuses not to do it
  • It’ll be a fun race to just get back into the tri swing of things
  • I won’t feel as much pressure during the swim
  • My chances of panicking in the water are considerably less
  • I can work on speed and form, rather than worrying too much about beating an old PR or distance
  • It’s pretty cheap!

I feel like I should opt for the Sprint, or even ideally the Olympic. I won’t have enough time to train for the Olympic (or at least I don’t gather that I’ll have enough energy to put into the time to train for the distance given the move and a new work situation).

On my run this morning I did the math in my head. (Thankfully it was pretty simple.)  I have about 5 months left to train for the half-Ironman if I still want to do it. I looked it up and it’s exactly 5 months and 10 days. 23 weeks. Seems pretty plausible if I still want to get serious about it. I wonder how I will be able to justify the time off to fly into AZ after 4 months of working there? Can I travel and recover quickly enough? Maybe I should tell HR just in case?

Oh, these carrots I like to dangle…At the end of the day I really just like working towards a goal, no matter how out of reach or impossible it feels.

Temporary Lulls Are Just That…Temporary

This post sings a bit of a different tune. It’s more about the lulls in energy or drive that hit me in my daily life, be it work related, training related, or personally related.

It seems more so than ever I am aware that my life really is a series of unbalanced scales. I have a finite amount of hours and energy each day I bring to a project, to school, or to a training session. Sometimes when things in my life don’t seem to be in balance, it throws off the entire equation and I just shut down for awhile. Sometimes that while can last a few hours to a few weeks. And, every so often, I try to take a step back and really examine what I’m doing. Since I don’t work a 9-to-5 job, my projects last anywhere from a few hours to a few months. It’s nice and refreshing to be able to reframe my viewpoint so regularly. In fact, it is a luxury that I quite dearly missed in the spurts I committed to working full-time the few times in my adult life.

Lately I’ve been juggling more design work than school work. Just a few months ago, I was immersed full time in school work. What happened? Did I get bored or am I just coming up against a temporary lull? As you may already know, my interests oscillate between tech/design and health/fitness. One started off as a hobby and became a career, and sometimes it seems like I’m trying to redo that entire cycle over again in a completely different field.

I like to think of these temporary lulls as good practice for the Ironman. 17 hours is a long time to slug away at something. There will be some times when I don’t feel like swimming another yard, biking another mile, or running another step. It is in these temporary lulls that build character and grit. It is in trying times that you learn that the best things in life are the things you earn — education, leadership, strength. The things in life that are worth having are worth working for. Some have to work tirelessly before they see the fruits of their labor. Some people will never reach their end goals, but the journey is so consuming and well worth the investment that it is, in of itself, the reward.

It is in these quiet times I spend alone that I learn the most about myself and the people around me. A little bit of quiet observation unfolds a great deal of analysis of my past and present. I can’t predict the future but I can stack the odds. I can make plans for the future without sacrificing my appreciation of the present. I can honor the past by living fully in the present. I can (try to) learn to let go of the people and events in the past that burns inside of me.

I think the one thing I’ve learned the most in my adult life is how little I actually know. It’s kind of scary. I don’t have enough time on this earth for all of the books I want to read, the languages I want to learn, the places I want to visit, the startups I want to work with, the people I want to meet, the races I want to run. A lot of people at my age (and younger) feel invincible and on top of the world. I feel the exact opposite. I have so much to learn and so little time to execute it in. And, even though one of my goals is to complete an Ironman triathlon, I know that I have a lot of training ahead and a lot of life lessons to learn along the way.

I guess one place where I can start is…how the heck do I work all of the gears on my bike? That’s a pretty actionable first step, right?

Thoughts I Think While I Tackle The One-Mile Swim

On Friday I completed my very first long swim of one mile. (I think I completed something close to a mile before in an open water swim, but I don’t count that too much because we took a lot of breaks and it was with a class.) It was one of the few times where I had the lane all to myself and didn’t have any music or people distracting me from the task at hand. Not only that but it seems like they had cleaned the pool since I was last there a few days prior. Huzzah!

The first few laps were easy enough. I thought of them as more of a warmup than a workout. The first half mile was moderately difficult since I was mostly doing the backstroke. As I closed in on the second half of the swim I incorporated more and more freestyle. The thing with swimming is that I find that my lungs and heart fatigue much faster than my legs and arms. I need to work more with my breathing, technique, pacing, and speed, before finding out what the best swim routine is.

The pools I train in are generally 25 meters in length, so…
½ mile = about 800 yards = 32 lengths
1 mile = about 1700 yards = 68 lengths
1.2 miles = about 2000 yards = 80 lengths

The last half mile was much more difficult as the tiredness was setting in to my arms and legs. By the time I was in the home stretch, I wanted nothing more than to go home, munch on some almonds, and lounge around. I figured that I only had a few more laps to go before I could get there. Right when I was three or four laps away from finishing I ended up having to share the lane with her. It wasn’t too big of a deal since she knew what she was doing.

As I’m trying to get back into the habit of swimming, I’m still incredibly fixated on the idea that it’s my weakest sport. (I should really try to fix that with some visualization or meditation.) Thank goodness it’s first in the trio of triathlon. The 70.3 I’m racing in is in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I actually went there a few years ago while on a family vacation and thought that it was a nice spot…I never did realize that I’d be back so soon!

Every time I’m in the water I try to visualize what I remember of Lake Havasu. I can remember London Bridge, all of the little shops, the rocky sand. It was a really calm, placid lake, with a gorgeous view of the mountains. The air was crisp and calm. I know that the morning of the race, the lake will be anything but placid — the it’ll be rough whitewater with thousands of other people paddling and kicking their way to the finish line. What’s really neat about this swim course is that you swim in Lake Havasu, in the state of Arizona…but you can actually see California in the distance. It’ll be a nice mental game for me when I’m in the water — “Just swim towards home and you’ll be fine!”

As for the distance…I’ve had a few thoughts about downgrading to the Olympic distance (0.9 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike ride, 6.2 mile run), but I really think that seven months will be more than enough time to train for this event, if I make a schedule and stick to it. Each time I train I feel like I get one step closer to achieving that goal…and it feels empowering.

I’m not looking to give up on my goal or anything, and when I take the 1,000 foot view I think it’s completely achievable. However, when I’m in the thicket of training it’s really difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. No one is there alongside me when I’m short of breath, halfway down the pool lane. No one is there when I’m struggling with the mileage on my bike or when I get three flats in a row. No one is there with me when my legs are quitting on me during a run. It’s just me competing against myself, so instead of trying to psych myself out, I focus on something else. Call it distracted swimming…

Some things that I think about while swimming:

-I generally think back to all of the support I’ve had for the LA Marathon, my blog readers and the kind words they’ve left me. I think back to all of the literature I’ve read on triathlon. I think of my friends and family and somewhere from there I find the drive to continue.

-For a long time (while I was still in college), I was really driven by anger. I suppose that’s another blog entry altogether. I’ve had to deal with a few issues in my life that were very difficult. Every now and then I have flashbacks but I try to quell that anger. I like to think of how far along I’ve come in that regard.

-I think of my significant other a lot.

-I play music in my head. I have a tendency to overplay music while running so I’ve pretty much remembered the beat and track for every song I have loaded.

-I think back to my LA Triathlon experience. I can’t believe I swam off course so many times. I can’t believe how difficult it was to swim in the ocean. It was great to be able to take breaks by hanging off of buoys or flipping to a backstroke.

-I think of my swim coach last summer. She was really nice. She also had great form. I can’t believe she taught me how to dive…I was completely scared to do that prior to meeting her. I wish I can hire her again this summer to help me.

-I think of what it’ll feel like to cross a 140.6 finish line.

-I think of how tired I’ll feel after a 2.4 mile swim and that the distance I’m training at is nothing in comparison!

What do you guys think of when you’re training hard? What keeps you going?

Paleo Day 10…Workout Fueling and Late Night Eats

Had a pretty awesome day in terms of energy level. Again I was reluctant to head out for my back to back to back workout with GU so I tried a little experiment and took along three bananas. I downed the first one right before swimming, the second one after my swim, and my third one after my cycling and running. It kept me going as well as the GU, although the banana is admittedly more smelly and produces more trash than the GU. Go figure. I can discretely down some GU on the bike or treadmill but it’s kind of silly looking to be chomping away at a banana during a workout. Maybe I can shatter some sort of eating-in-the-gym stereotype or something.

Then came breakfast. I wasn’t too hungry. It happens a lot when I work out. I don’t get hungry for hours but I’m usually exhausted and too tired to cook anyways. I mustered up enough willpower to put together an egg white, broccoli, bell pepper, and baby bella mushroom scramble. (Not yet getting tired of eggs for breakfast. Who doesn’t like eggs?!)

Then, as I was settling down for a good work session, hunger struck again! Thankfully I was already thawing out some salmon. This time I pan-fried it with a little olive oil and tossed some broccoli in. So good!

I started getting the munchies for something sugary, most likely because of all the energy I expended during the swim/bike/run. Put together a dried berry and date melange…super sweet. It definitely gave me the picker-upper I needed.

I had an event at UCLA I needed to attend but I didn’t want to go hungry and end up snacking on something unhealthy, so I took a bag of raw nut mix with me to eat during the car ride there. It staved off my hunger until nearly midnight, when we were all starving for a nice meal…which lead us to drive all the way to Hollywood for some awesome Thai food!

Had my usual Tom Kha soup (coconut milk, chili paste, chili peppers, lime, lemongrass, with fish). It was hot and spicy and everything I love about Thai food. My mouth is still watering thinking about the hot pot.

I also forgot to take a photo of my other dish but I got a spicy squid entree with water chestnuts, bell peppers, cashews (which I avoided since they looked funny), peas, and carrots. Yum yum. (This photo was taken off another site and wasn’t exactly what I ate.)

It’s getting easier and easier to skip the jasmine rice and Pad Thai and Thai iced tea…but I won’t lie. I really really really wanted some!!

It seems like it’s much more feasible to eat out on paleo than previously imagined. You just have to get a little creative with the restaurant. It seems like the Asian restaurants have dishes that are more easily adaptable than other cuisines. Do you guys have any recommendations on restaurants and places to eat that are paleo friendly?

Getting Back Into The Swim/Bike/Run Routine

So on a whim I decided to try a swim/bike/run routine this morning. At first I thought that I’d only for a nice long swim, but figured that now was a good of time as any to take an assessment of where I’m at, physically, for the triathlon in November.

Let’s just say I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me!

I arrived at the pool at around 6:15am or so. It was so empty. The lanes were absolutely calm and there was no one in the water. I’ve historically had challenges with the pools at 24 Hour Fitness, especially in Hollywood. (I cancelled my all-club pass after I stopped working full-time, but I really enjoyed the pool in Northridge. So clean!!!) I rinsed off and hopped in. The water felt just right.

In my usual fashion I spent a good deal of my time just getting used to being in the water again. Swam mostly using the backstroke but after a short warmup I began transitioning halfway into the freestyle crawl. I really need to learn the breaststroke (who wants to teach me?!) so that I can use that stroke for resting during the triathlon. I came into a bit of trouble switching to the backstroke in open water during the LA Triathlon last September and was either kicked or swam in the wrong direction.

While swimming, I thought of the swim boot camp I had considered joining (http://www.bootcamph2o.com/) and even a masters swim program at Occidental College (http://www.catriathlon.com/swim.html). I am sure they are worth the price…and I’m sure with the right amount of scrimping and saving I can probably go for one or the other. The boot camp is much shorter commute but the cost of the masters swim program is just right. I wonder which will be a better investment based on my goals. (Hey, the program at Occidental is also through the CA Triathlon club…) On Sundays there’s an awesome meetup in the south bay for beginner ocean swimmers. I’ve attended a few of their meetups and it is really fun. Once I get some more work in maybe I can join them again!

After the short swim, I proceeded to the stationary bike. I totally felt cheated out of a cycling experience. There I was, riding a bike…going nowhere. Nothing like riding in the outdoors with the wind in your face and the sights and sounds of the city. Maybe next time I’ll just hit the road instead. It’s much, MUCH more gratifying. Anyways, it was a really boring hour unfortunately.

And, to top that off, the run wasn’t much better. Again, I should’ve just left and ran around the neighborhood. I hate treadmills and gyms but I really wanted to get everything timed on location. The run was harder than the bike ride. I was starting to huff and puff on the bike and I wasn’t even going that fast. I’ve definitely lost some conditioning in the time I’ve been gone (not to mention the slight weight gain) but I’m sure with a bit of work I’ll be back to where I was…if not, better.

I also can’t tell if my performance was lacking based on my level of deconditioning or if it was diet related. When I came back home I wasn’t even hungry for a couple of hours, but I forced some food into me. Then the fatigue set in like a brick wall. After waking up from my mid-day nap I can say that I probably need another one and will sleep quite well tonight.

All in all, I enjoyed the swim portion the most…and that’s saying something. I should hit the pool a bit more regularly and then consider joining one of the programs to keep me going. I can never tell if I should focus on one sport at a time, two, or just go nutty and do all three. I need to do some legitimate research on some half Ironman training plans or just find a reasonable coach that I can afford.

Also came across this nugget of inspiration. What an awesome guy!

Spring Cleaning: Paleo Diet and My Brand New Training Schedule

My last race left me a bit frustrated with how I’ve been trying to shove everything into my schedule…balancing school, freelancing, internship, and personal relationships left very little time for training the last few months, and I’m fed up! I’ve gained a bit of weight (SUPER SADFACE) and frankly, that’s not okay. I’m feeling less energetic and pretty snappy at everyone. They were right…no running makes me cranky and moody.

Yesterday I vented my frustration to my boyfriend. He kindly listened (like he always does) and helped me balance my schedule for the upcoming month. I was able to squeeze in my new training schedule and balance my design work with school hours appropriately. Here’s hoping I don’t end up derailing myself in the first week! I have a tendency to create schedules and then immediately break them.

I’ve included about 15 hours of design work (enough for me to survive), 4 days of school, 2 days of internship, and four days of training. I haven’t actually drilled down as far as to plan out my workouts quite yet…first step is to slate the time for them. For running, I plan on running slow on one day, fast on another, and long on the third. For my swim/run workout, the run and the swim will be rather short (probably 5K run + 1mile swim). On my solo swimming day, I plan on swimming long (1 mile or more). On my bike/run day I will bike for 10 miles + run 5K. For my second bike/run day I will bike for 15 miles + run 10K. As I get stronger and work up my endurance I will incrementally increase all of my distances until I reach my race distance goals.

This morning as Shant and I were eating breakfast, I brought up the idea of trying the Paleo diet together. A few friends on Twitter and Facebook are currently paleo so I figured that it was worth a try. The Paleo diet is more of a lifestyle than it is a diet…the idea is to eat more like our ancestors then our modern-day diseased fellow man. Can it be that hard to eat like a caveman? It all seems pretty reasonable — eat nuts, fruits, vegetables, and meats (including eggs). I went pescatarian in 2005 — meaning that the only meat I eat is fish. From time to time I still crave chicken but none have passed my lips since then. This seems like a great next step since I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go completely vegan.

This method of eating will give me some boundaries and keep me away from things like packaged foods, fast foods, and candy…all things I have in my possession right now. So far from my research, it seems like everyone has their own perspective and take on it (selected fasting, reintroduction of foods, etc.) but I am tailoring my consumption patterns for my lifestyle and training. Since Shant had been wanting to get healthier (and so have I), I figured that it would be easier if we tag-teamed and tried it for 30 days together, as some sort of challenge. We agreed to try it together, did some research, and went shopping! I spent about $80 at Costco and got the following items:

$6 – Medjool dates (3 lbs)
$5 – Raisins (5 lbs)
$10 – Almonds (3 lbs)
$7 – Oranges
$3 – Bananas
$7 – Red Potatoes (okay for endurance athletes!) (10 lbs)
$20 – Salmon (8 ct)
$15 – Cod (8 ct)
$7 – Eggs (60 ct)
$2 – Salad mix (3 lbs)

I also find that if I don’t plan my meals (similar to my training schedule) I go completely off kilter, so here’s the plan:

Breakfast: Scrambled egg whites and red potatoes
Lunch: Salad mix + Albacore (optional, since it’s canned and I don’t know how much I actually have)
Snacks: Oranges, bananas, almonds, raisins, medjool dates
Dinner: Broiled fish and veggies. Add red potatoes if it’s a training day.
……..and repeat until I run out of food!

Not quite sure how long the food will last me. Also not sure what to do about all the food I bought last week (25 ct. of croissants, Ezeikiel bread, 18 ct yogurt, frosted mini wheats, 12-pack of ramen) but I am sure they will manage in my fridge/pantry. So far I’ve tried to stick to this for lunch (no picture, but all I had was a chicken cesar salad without the chicken, without the cesar, without the croutons, and without the parmesan…so essentially all I had was tomatoes and lettuce!) and dinner — sauteed red bell pepper and onion with basil and oregano crusted salmon. So far so good!

Let’s see how long I can keep this up for. To keep ourselves accountable to each other, Shant and I have agreed to food-blog everything that passes our lips for the next 30 days! You can check it out at http://paleocouple.tumblr.com. So far I’m the only one that’s posted my meal, since he’s preparing all of this food for the week right now.

For this new meal plan, my goal is to make this a permanent habit. I started off my now-running habit as a 21-day challenge one year ago, and it stuck pretty well. Will this finally be the year where I stop battling the same 10 pounds over and over again? Will I finally get my eating habits on track? I finally feel like this is a challenge I can survive and that I’m in control again. Hooray!

Staying Busy During The First Week of 2012

This first week of the new year is surely a sign of things to come.

I started my first week of massage therapy school and it was pretty intense. The day after Christmas, I drove over to Redondo Beach and enrolled at Alta Massage College. This week I clocked 21.5 hours of classroom instruction and that includes a day off. Next week I’ll probably be closer to around 30 hours, and the week or two after that I look forward to starting my internship! So far the program is better than expected. On the first day I spoke to Dr. Davis, the anatomy, physiology, and pathology teacher there, and told her about my plans to eventually segue into personal training and oriental medicine. Since that initial introduction I’ve felt that she’s pushed me a lot harder than the other students to answer questions during class and she seems to expect me to ask a lot too. Most of the time her lectures jog my memories of anatomy class (I’ve taken two in ten years) and my short stint in nursing school. In the first week I studied more reiki (I started my reiki studies right before the end of the year) and pregnancy massage. So far the instruction I’ve received has been well worth the money…I am happy I followed my doctor’s guidance and am now on this track.

Tomorrow morning I have an interview to become a personal trainer apprentice of sorts…I’ll still have to study towards certification, but I’ll actually get a chance to work directly with a gym for this. I’m super excited and hope things go well tomorrow, but it’s really more of an initial meet-and-greet to see if we’re a good fit. Fingers crossed! The company is based out of San Diego/OC but is opening up a studio here in west LA. I think it’d be a great thing to do in addition to massage therapy, but if it doesn’t work out I’ll still get to concentrate solely on massage therapy. Either way I think it’s a win-win situation.

Also hosted the first charity group run of the year! I had a 13.1 miler scheduled but I ended up running around 9.3 miles. Still not bad. I spent the afternoon getting my apartment tidy and my fridge stocked for the upcoming week. I did so much traveling at the end of last year — San Francisco, Europe, San Diego, my parents’ house, my boyfriend’s house — that I rarely got to pack and unpack. My stuff was piling up and it was pretty out of control! I’ve tamed it down a bit but still need to get rid of some books so I’ll figure something out. I also stock piled the fridge so that I’d be able to cook at home and pack all of my food for school so that I could save on costs. Finances are a bit slim right now since I’m really dead-set on not taking on any work unrelated to health and wellness, so I have to make the little bit that I do have go a long way.

I spent the month of December pretty lost and depressed, but January feels different. I feel like I’m taking steps in the right direction. I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants instead of just coasting on cruise-control. I jotted down a ton of to-do lists at the beginning of December and without actively realizing it, I’ve pretty much put them all into motion or completed them. It feels good to feel like you’re on track, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. For now my training has taken a bit of a backseat, but with my schedule now almost set for the next few months I’ll be able to pencil in my swimming, biking, and running. Looking forward to getting back into a routine, even if it is short-lived!

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Fitness Friday: RunKeeper + GainFitness 1-2 Punch!

I’ve decided in the short amount of time that I’ve been working out that there are two iPhone apps that I could not live without.

One I’ve been using for almost a year now…the other, I’ve been using for just a few days. What’s great is that I think they really complement each other.

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I use RunKeeper to track all of my activities — swimming, biking, running, walking, hiking, etc. Its GPS tracker helps give me accurate measurements of distance and pace and gives me a really nice interface to view it all in. I’ve been an Elite member since February, which means I get detailed statistics and reports on my workouts. I’ve also enrolled in a few of their running classes, which are really helpful to get you across the finish line for your first 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon.

But, as you probably already know, cardio is just one fraction of the entire picture.

I’ve recently started using GAIN Fitness to help me with resistance training. All you do is put in your height, weight, where you’re working out, what equipment you have, and they’ll come up with a workout for you! They take the guesswork out of everything by illustrating proper form via video or photo.

What’s also neat is that you don’t need to have an iPhone to use their services — the basics of what both services offer are also available as a web-only component to your health and wellness regimen.

What other apps do you find motivating and inspiring?

A Good Day of Training Deserves A Blog Post

After feeling like things were on the rocks for awhile with my training (and life, in general), I decided to make the most of my Saturday and celebrate the Ironman Championships the only way I knew how — by swimming, biking, and running.

The day started off with a Team Dress for Success run through Griffith Park. We had set the course for 9 miles and I think some of us achieved it…other people — like me — didn’t quite wrap the 9 miles but still put forth our best effort. It was really nice seeing my teammates again after being away for so long. I always wish I had pictures of us but alas I never quite remember to snap some while we’re together. Maybe next week! Anyways, one of the women has been training hard since day one on running. She had previously completed the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk, and was looking for another challenge. I can’t tell what’s more challenging — walking 20 miles a day for three days, or running 26.2 in one go. I was so happy to see her climbing the hills of Griffith Park with no issues. She had recently gone through quite a bit of family issues — a lot of deaths in her family these last few months, but after finishing the 9 miles her smile could light a room!

What I love most about the running trail at Griffith Park are the little signs along the way. They are remnants of other training groups and motivational coaches. There’s a sign that tells you when you’re one mile away from the finish, and then a very silly smiley face reserved for the finish.

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After the run, I headed home to pick up my iPod and settle in for a quick protein shake. I then headed to the gym near my boyfriend’s house and go to work. This was my first time biking at this 24 Hour Fitness but they had these really neat spinning machines that actually would set intervals and guide resistance and CPM for you while calculating mileage. It was really neat — different from the other stationary bikes I’ve used in the past — and was really fun. I’m hoping to be able to get a lot more miles in with this bike in the near future. I spent about an hour on it and the meter read 21 miles, so all in all it wasn’t bad. Unfortunately that’ll never be a distance I’ll be able to achieve on a road bike while training since I’ll have to deal with things like flat tires, traffic, and potholes. Eventually I’ll have to get back on my bike soon.

Then came the swim. Yes I took things in reverse — like the reverse triathlon I completed a few months ago — but I really wanted to relax into my swim. I have a tendency to tense up and get nervous in the water, even at 4 or 5 feet, but today I took it stroke by stroke. I swam for distance and not for time. Since it had been a very long while since I was in the water I wanted to take an easy day, so most of it was backstroke. About 2/3 of the way for each lane I’d switch over and practice getting my head in the water and alternating my stroke. I have to work on my breathing before I can work on technique. Most importantly I need to spend more time in the water.

I was famished by the time I had finished my workout. It was nearing 3pm by the time I stepped into the sauna to relax. I grabbed a lentil wrap and some sushi at the local Trader Joe’s and have been relaxing ever since! I’m glad to be back in the swing of things with my triathlon training. For awhile there I hadn’t done any biking or swimming, but I’m glad that my abilities are still there. (I guess they never quite go away, do they?) However, I think I feel more confident about the training season ahead now that I know I will have the time to devote to training.

How did you spend the weekend? Did you get any good training in?