Cardio Or Weights?

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My alarm went off with that startling, glaring reality that it was time to leave my comfy bed. I cast a beady eye toward the offending thing and whacked it into silence.

It was momentary silence as I heard the sound of rain and mentally felt my athletic plans washing away  like the rain that  was running off my roof.

Ugh. No fun outdoor activities for me.

Let me say, I have no issues running in it. I have done it multiple times training for a race and I’m stubbornly ridge on my training so other than if it’s lightening with the rain, I take myself out in it. There’s something incredibly awesome, wonderful, crazy, and intense about running in the rain.

But I don’t have a race I’m currently training for…soooo…..

Plan B.

I came up with Plan B years ago when I realized how much I hated a treadmill and how I hated looking outside and not being in it. I hadn’t really started running at that point but I’d knock off miles walking on it.

It bored me. I watched the time and mileage slip by wondering why it didn’t feel so god forsaken long when I was out on the road…

That’s when I decided to do something else on days I was trapped inside.  I started boxing which was a seriously good cardio workout, but then I also began to mix strength training up with it too.  That allowed me to get creative with what I wanted to do thus, keeping me from boredom.

I found I could start off boxing ( at that point it didn’t take long to have me begging for mercy… a song or two…) then I’d move into lifting some weight and then just doing some body work.

I found I liked that and it gave me an alternate for when I couldn’t escape outside. ( now days it honestly takes a whole lot to hold me inside)

but back then, a few years ago, I didn’t really understand or realize the importance of shaking up the type of workouts I did.

It wasn’t till I was really running a lot that I began to get how important strength training was to making me a  stronger athlete for the things I loved doing.

Lifting some weight not only helped build a bit of muscle but it strengthened and protected ligaments and tendons in my body. Core and upper body work that made me stronger began to be invaluable on long runs when my legs would start to tire. Having upper body  and good core strength helped carry me.

Now putting miles in on the bike it goes without saying having a strong body overall is a huge benefit to some fast moving speed and being able to support myself being in a bent position, stretched out over the bike.

So…. cardio… strength training.

What’s best? Is one best? Which should you do?

Ok, I’m a cardio junkie. I’ll admit it. It just goes with being an endurance athlete. You get a crazy high off the miles and beating the heck out of yourself out there. If I’m not in the double digits I don’t think I’ve done anything.

Yes… I fully understand how you’re reading this thinking I’m crazy…unless you do the same thing then you are sitting there nodding your head ’cause you get it.

You recover to go back and do it again… and again… relishing the strength you build out there and the feelings you get from it.

And I know that’s not for everyone….

Here’s what I would say. Both are important.

First, you really need to know what your goals are. If you are wanting to lose weight, cardio is the biggest burn for your buck. You need it.

I know, I know. It’s hard. It hurts. You really realize that you are out of shape when you do it.

Do it anyway.

But you also need to have some balance of strength training to build a bit of muscle and get stronger.

Who doesn’t love being able to easily snatch up 15 grocery bags and easily carry them in ?? 😉  Do you really always want to wait to have someone help you move something?

Trust me… you want to be strong.

However, you can’t ignore your cardio. Again, knowing your goals is important. If you’re a serious body builder, it’s going to be low on your list. You’ll do it but it will be a small structured part again, depending on what you’re pushing for. If you are gunning for a competition then your goals will be much more centered on lifting and building.

But… in my humble opinion… do you wanna be winded walking briskly for a distance…. even if you are sporting impressive muscles?

No. You don’t. Do your cardio.

If you do a sport like running or cycling, you definitely need to build a couple strength training days into your week.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes a week. That’s roughly 30 minutes, 5 days a week of brisk heart pumping, heavy breathing cardio work in addition to strength training.

Seriously, I know it’s rewarding to see what you are building on the outside, but really, you can’t discount and not take care of those inner muscles that keep you strong , healthy, and alive.. your heart, lungs, all of your cardiovascular system.

and if your cardio system is strong, well heck, that means you’ll be able to do strength training even longer with more power 😉

Again, understanding your goals is a big step to knowing how to structure your week of workouts.

As an endurance athlete I view my couple days a week lifting or doing body work as a type of preventative maintenance thing. I’m not in there to be the next body building champ…  I just want my body strong for the activities I love doing.

You can go to the internet and find all kinds of information on which is better… and the articles will be largely determined by what the person writing it likes or thinks.

Do your own research… educate yourself… but at the top of the list is understanding yourself, and your fitness goals as the top priority.

At the end of the day, you want to have a body strong for living life and handling the daily tasks you do, but you also want to be able to do those tasks without being winded and gasping for air and feeling out of shape.

If you want a strong and balanced body, you’ll learn to do both.

Find your balance and find the right combination of cardio and strength training that works for you will give you the best level of fitness for your life and goals.

 

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Cycling Adventures

If you missed my post a week or two back… I got a new bike.  A cool red and black Cannondale that weighs almost nothing. My first venture into professional bikes.

I feel like one of the big kids out on the road

In the few weeks since I got it, the two of us have been on some adventures together. In the first week it was really about getting to know one another… somewhat like a new relationship.

I kept my rides shorter… 7-9 miles… as I got used to shifting (ugh this is still something I’m learning) and letting my body get used to the new positioning on this bike ( you seem to use muscles in a different way, and something TOTALLY  new for me, being clipped in to my pedals.

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Ready, set, clip.

 

I now understand, and know why cyclists walk they way they walk haha… those shoes with the clips…

There is, I believe, a skillful art to getting on your bike, clipping a foot, beginning to pedal, and clipping in the other.

I wanna ace that move seamlessly… I’m so… close.

So… I do know this.. when you fall over… you come unclipped haha

It really was silly on my part… I was getting on my bike in our side yard which is horribly uneven…my new bike is also taller than my cheapy old one so I have to stretch a bit more… I had one side clipped.. somehow over corrected.. and BOOM… I was down… and unclipped.

Yes I was fine and so was my bike… but I was annoyed with myself. You have to understand I have a high expectation level for myself. I want to nail things pretty close in the first couple attempts, especially when I’m doing something new.

Let’s just say now I’m hitting the road, and clipping while I’m pedaling.. I’m getting there 😛

The second week in I was itching to just do some long miles and see how it all felt. I made my first 23 mile ride on it, which was kind of amazing.

Those miles are always involve hills and lots on constant inclines… not a bad thing.. but definitely work for the body.

 

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Yes, those are hills behind me. Yes, I ran off without my gloves, watch and water on this ride. At least my head was covered.

 

 

I’m still learning the fine art of shifting and hills and getting the right gear for when I hit it .. you know .. just the right amount to pedal.. but not be so hard it shuts  me down.

I feel like Dory from Finding Nemo…

Just keep swimming,
Just keep swimming,
Just keep swimming swimming swimming,
What do we do we swim swim swim

Only for me… just put pedaling in there haha

I did my second long ride this past week. I guess it’s a good thing to be finished and still wanting to do more?

Ok as mentioned, the bike is super light, and I’m really learning to move my legs faster to get that speed going.

That speed, is a head rush, a cheap adrenaline thrill.

And then, when you’re flying off big hills, yeah I pretty much lay low and enjoy the blurry ride down.

Admit it. If you’re a cyclist you do too. It’s the reward for torturing yourself going up hills  😉

I’ve learned to skillfully pull my water bottle out of the cage, drink, drop it in all the while pedaling and not crashing.

I call that a win.

I think as I start getting out farther and need to eat, it will be way easier than doing it while running.

Of course being on a bike also means having eyes all over my head to dodge cars and wild life.

Today a deer and I had a close encounter when I went flying onto a side road. I had moments to ponder… ” are you gonna move deer?”

That keeps things interesting.

Clothing. Other than wanting to get set up with the right shoes for the job, I’ve kinda been winging it in my running attire. And since it’s like… crazy warm and summer time… it’s a sports bra and boy shorts for the adventures.

I can’t help it. I just love feeling the sun and wind on my skin…. and the sweat. Let’s not forget all the sweat haha

I did actually purchase my first pair of cycling shorts, I’m thinking if I’m gonna be on that bike for a lot longer mileage, they will come in handy 😛

So for now, in the upcoming weeks, my goal is to keep moving my miles up, pushing myself on speed, heading into more hills to get super skillful on shifting with them, and looking for my first race to actually ride in.

Oh… other goals? To be so good I can be flying down the road, snap a super cool road selfie, and not crash in the process.  I’m kinda jealous of some amazing road picks I’ve seen…skill level… high.

Cycling has been a good fix for me to get miles in while I’m curbed with running. I’m excited to see where I can go with it, how I can improve and ways I can challenge myself.

Tell me… have you began any new adventures in your life?

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Ready to crush some miles.

New Athletic Adventures

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I won’t lie. I love adventure.

I love new challenges and putting myself out there to experiment with new things. There’s a sick kind of rush to it. Maybe it’s doing something I’ve never done or thought I couldn’t do….whatever it is…. in the athletic arena it’s a very broad spectrum of goodies to choose from. Maybe I like pain….

Since I’ve already knocked out one big thing in this year I was after ( a 50K) and since I obviously won’t be running or training those back to back, it’s pushed me to consider other athletic challenges.

Triathlons intrique  me…. but honestly… I suck at swimming.

I mean, I can, it’s just that pool time has always kinda gone like this…. cute suit… sun… get to warm… swim for a bit… and repeat process haha

I’ve never swam intentionally or anything resembling competitive. I will admit though the last few summers of getting in the pool and pushing myself to do laps. It really feels amazing after a long run. And a not known fact maybe, but you can seriously sweat in the water.

So in view of a tri, the running and biking don’t intimidate me but the swimming does.

I however, won’t limit myself if I chose to do it.

A few years ago, I never thought I was a runner either.

My triathlon friends have shared their horror stories of being in the water with nothing but arms and legs flying everywhere and praying they didn’t get kicked unconscious before they hit land again… ha.. did I mention adventures?

I do think it’s kinda cool how they have these mini-tris to um… get your feet wet with 😉 to see if it’s something you’d like.

So there’s that possibility….

But imagine my delight when I stumbled across another event last year called a duathlon.

It’s like a tri but you run, bike, run. That… I can do…. no water involved 😉

I have done brick training before where I did a short run and then came back and did miles on the bike. Talk about doing interesting things to your legs… but that is soooo doable for me. Again I’ve found beginner races that do a 5K run, a 15 mile ride and ending with a 5K run.

So yeah…. a definite possibility in challenging myself to something new.

I have a bike… an ordinary bike that doesn’t cost as much as a good used car… however my body doesn’t seem to know that when I’m making it peddle up hills and stuff 😉 but you wonder if you need more for racing among the Corvettes and Camaros that are on the road… ah something else to consider…

I fear divorce if I want an overpriced bike haha 😉

In the ways of running…. trail running would be a new beast to conquer since it’s so different from road racing. However to practice I just need to take off down the huge canyon that’s my back yard….

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In tamer things, I will admit to be intriqued by the idea of fencing. Yes, that involves sword play.

Or maybe it’s  the thought I can wear black and have a sword makes me feel like some kinda super hero 😉

Of course, there is always so much more to do with running…. faster… longer.. new PR’s… I think I love running so much ’cause there’s that constant challenge to beat yourself. With that said, I do have a marathon plotted for December.

So share with me. Have you taken on a new adventure ? Or is there something you’re wanting to try out or experiment with ? Something you’ve done and never thought you could ?

Off Season

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We’re gonna talk sports stuff…..athletic(y) things…. you are forewarned.

I never understood, or totally got the whole “off season” thing. I  mean, I understood my favorite basketball games came to an end, or that football came to this great culmination in February that sometimes left grown men crying and gnashing their teeth and we entered the off season which meant the TV wasn’t blowing up with the current games.

After a season was over the athletes were off to Disneyland, right ? Easy, breezy do nothing for months? Not so fast….

Even when I got into running a few years ago, I heard about it, but never grasped it… or honestly thought much of it.

I mean… I run all year long… rain… sun…heat…cold…snow… (well maybe not snow …what’s snow ?? 😉

Enter this past year… and my running….. which has been the most intense since I started. I’ve crashed as ungracefully into off season as a fawn standing on new legs.

The term is defined by Webster’s in this way: a time of suspended or reduced activity; especially :  the time during which an athlete is not training or competing.

So, my training started last August with my goal for a December marathon. You may have read in an earlier post that I turned 50 last year and decided to run a 50K sometime in my 50th year… to celebrate…… haha and I found one this past March.

I slammed out the marathon in December, took it easy through that month, and had to commit fully by January that I was going to do the 50K.

My thinking was my training was already up there, might as well keep on towards the 50K.  Training ramped back up this time with Saturdays long runs getting longer, and ultimately one Saturday just a flat 5 hour run which put about 28 miles under me.

Then came March…. the culmination time for all my training…. two half marathons and a 50k to wrap the month and put the icing on the cake.

My mileage came slamming down like your speed when you see a cop.

I moved through April really letting my body just relax and focusing on other activities I enjoyed. And then this pesky heel issue that came up seemingly outta nowhere really helped me keep my mileage down to….nothing….

I did 3 miles Tuesday and 4 today… trying to keep it easy….it just felt so good to be back out there.

This is when I got it. For the first time in the 5 years I’ve been running I’ve really understood what it means to go into an off season.

My spring races are done.

I might do some shorter 5-10k during the summer but my next “real” race will be a December marathon.

Training will kick up for serious in August.

I love training.

I love planning out my runs and having them written on my running calendar. Perhaps I just love the absolute structure of it and the feeling I get writing those miles in after I do them. Not to mention, in a weird way, the feeling my body has after it’s worked really hard….

I won’t lie that it gets to be a high when I start putting some big volume miles in… which might explain the withdraw feelings I’ve had from it. I also love the lean hungry look I get from all those miles 😛

I know this time down is essential and necessary for my body to get stronger and stay healthy. It doesn’t mean I won’t be running it just means seriously reduced mileage. I do want to keep a good base long run of 12-13 miles so my mind stays in that zone. I feel that (for me ) it’s so mentally important to keep engaged with those numbers.

Here’s what I do know. Off season  doesn’t mean no training. It just means training differently, smarter, with a focus to build and strengthen my body to take on the rigors of fall training again.

I’ll be spending more time on my bike, lifting weights, boxing, doing body weight work and if I can apprehend one somewhere cheap, a rowing machine ( doesn’t that sound fun ?? 😉 oh yeah, and of course a few running days thrown in.

I will learn to embrace off season in a positive way and look for new ways to add to my training… which actually in the long run…. builds a overall better, stronger and more fit body.

Ok, my fearless 1.5 readers, anyone besides me have to come to terms with this idea ? Let me hear from you and how you handle it =) Do you have an off season ? Or do you just move through the year with your workouts ?

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And a most precious one…..

Yeah I’m a Runner With Muscles

I have a friend who always tells me….

“I’m glad you don’t look like a runner”  the first time that surprised me ’cause I’ve had perfect strangers assume I am.

What she meant was that I don’t fit the typical profile… if there is such a thing as one… (see my Runners World page on that topic)

Well, first of all, blowing me out of the running for any “normal runner” profile is the fact I’m 6’0 tall. I’m definitely an easy target and I’m often paced off of… or targeted to overtake ha

Yes, my legs are long and my stride is one to some of my much smaller counter parts two strides, I’ve had to deal with the fact I’ve got a lot more…. body… to move along and my pace might not ever be that of my smaller, whippet thin running companions.  I’m just stupid happy to be in the club…..

Besides, those obvious things, I pack a decent amount of muscle and that is what my friend means. She likes that I have muscles….  more than the average person/runner …..I kinda like it too 😉

As mentioned in another post, a few years ago, I started doing strength training on days I couldn’t run because of really bad weather ( I hated the treadmill and found it to be sooo boring) so I started doing my own “routine” I’d do some boxing and some weights. Nothing crazy, but enough to give me a decent workout.  I’d do it a couple times a week.

Well, it kinda stuck.

Over time I tried to actively incorporate that into what I do. In the beginning I was a kinda ….uninformed.. runner. I am pretty much self taught, read voraciously, and do a trial and error thing.. if it works for me I keep it… if it doesn’t I toss it out. I shamelessly talk to people who are more experienced and knowledgeable. It’s how I’ve learned.

So imagine my total delight, when I started seeing articles and suggestions that runners needed to do more than “just” run. That strength training/cross training was beneficial on so many levels. I was ahead of the game!

Injury prevention/protection

Overall body strength for those last, long hard miles.

Not to mention, it’s good to work all muscles in your body not just running muscles.

I think my body responds well to some weight training, I don’t go all crazy with it. And genetically, I might have something going on that helps.  But I do know I am more aware than ever of how all my body works together running and how I am aware of the strength coming from other areas and not just my legs/glutes.

Of course, being strong and having muscles helps greatly in my daily active life too =) and let’s not forget… summer and tank season 😛

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Dec 2014…..front view……..
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Dec 2014… and the back… I was surprised… I hadn’t really looked at them in awhile 😛                                                    

So what do I do ?

It’s all stuff I have at home. I have weights of all sizes which I use for upper body ( I really do prefer them over machines as I feel like it’s a little harder and makes me invest more of myself) I spend some time on that as well as core/ab stuff too. Squats of all kinds are my newest fav move….weighted and not weighted. I also use a jump rope and love explosive move exercises like jump squats….. which are not recommended to do a high volume of and then go wear heels 😛

and yeah, I end with a plank. I’m up to 3 minutes which makes me feel super bad ass crazy sweaty and breathing harder than an old horse out to pasture when I finish.

The most recent thing I’ve picked up working on is a single leg deadlift.

BOOM. There’s a move that singlehandedly kills your ass haha.

Seriously, it totally isolates one hip/glute area, develops balance (yikes) I do think I need a lighter kettlebell than my 35lb one to do this move with. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with this. It’s one of the harder things I’ve tried.

Basically, if I have only 30 minutes I cram it with constant movement…. if I have more time… I put more in. I prefer 45- to an hour if I can.

Ah……… all for the progress of becoming a better, stronger runner 😉

If you run do you strength train?  Cross train? Tell me what you’re up to incase I wanna try that too 😉