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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Weekend Adventures

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That’s a wrap…. 15 miles on my maiden voyage into the big town haha 😉

I love new adventures. Let’s just blame it on the free spirit in me, but I do, and no apologies for it.  Particularly I love adventures that push me, once again, out of my comfort zone. Those my friends, are the best kind. Challenging myself with new athletic endeavors that demand new things from my body, mind and spirit.

It’s no secret as I’ve been recovering with a running injury that I’ve been well, actively, recovering. And by that I mean spending a lot more time on my bike than I typically had been. I got a cheapy little road bike for my birthday in July and took it to the bike shop and let him tweak it to the best of the best he could make it.

Oh my… I will say… there was a big change when I got it back so that’s a good thing =)

I live in the rolling hill country so I have been burning miles up all over the place and doubling back on roads to get some distance with each ride. I have great terrain to train on whether I’m running or on a bike.

Flat roads, small rolling hills, inclines, and well, monster hills that are really paved over mountains.

I plot out where I run/bike based on the workout I want… I consider it the best of both worlds. However, in doing this, I have to encounter very few cars as the roads are fairly quiet and most are dead end.

I had decided this past Saturday would be my maiden voyage into town on the main road ( meaning a lot more cars and having to be a part of the “traffic”) when I run I of course run against traffic and that feels a bit safer to me… I can see what’s coming… as you know a bike moves with it…. so this was a whole new, and semi-heart stopping thought for me.

I plotted everything out Friday and that night I ran everything through my head just like a do the night before a big run….ah…it’s hard to settle in for sleep!

I was up and on the road by 7…. all was quiet…. and I quickly remembered how much I loved being out for these early athletic activities. Passing houses where people were still asleep, hearing nothing but the sound of my tires swish down the road, watching the sun coming up, feeling the wind in my face flying down the road…. awesome… seriously… it makes leaving your bed ALL worth it.

The miles flew by a lot faster than running them and I had covered ground quickly so it didn’t take long to get to the main road that led into town. I already knew from running this distance that the hardest miles were still in front of me…. lots of constant never ending inclines that were challenging to put it mildly.

However, my happy little bike and I, churned through those inclines and only once did I really feel like an out of shape sea walrus haha 😉

The fun part was the big hill I knew I would get to sail down close to town… seriously… my bike speed said 40… it was so crazy….

Cars and big trucks had passed me at several points on my journey, but thankfully, cut wide around me.

I felt strong and invigorated when I sped into the parking lot where I had parked. 15 miles under me and it had been a successful voyage, leaving me feeling like the kid who’s been on a fun ride wanting to know when they can go again 😉

You know, riding a bike is something most of us learn as a kid. Yet today,cycling has become this big, pricey, almost intimidating thing to take on. I had to remind myself when I started running… I was doing it in non-name brand athletic shoes and cheap Wal-mart cotton shorts and t’s with no tech gear whatsoever… but I was out there running and learning along the way. It looks like I’ll handle cycling in the same way… just get out there and ride and learn the other stuff along the way.

I do have some future plans for riding… and running….. and well… maybe anything else that comes along too 😉

What about you? Did you have any fun, new weekend adventures ?