the sweatiest full-body circuit I’ve ever done and some exciting news!

Wow.  What hasn’t happened since my last post?  It hasn’t even been a week and I’ve been all over the place and then some.  So let’s start it off with some awesome news.  As of Wednesday, I’m officially a NASM Certified Personal Trainer!!

This is something I really wanted to do for myself.  I have loved working out for years, but I knew if I wanted to get serious, I needed to get smart about it.  People had been coming to me time and time again for advice and I decided if I wanted to give advice, I needed to give smart, well-informed advice.  So I did some research and found the NASM program which is one of the most accredited in the biz.  (You can read more about my decision to do the NASM exam here)  The test was not as easy as I expected to be honest (I mean there was 700 pages of material to cover), but I am elated that I passed.  Almost as elated as this nugget who tried to eat the paper that said I passed:

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So what’s the first thing I did when I got my certification?  Hop on the plane and head down to Houston.  I went to college there and lived there for over 5 years, so it has a special place in my heart.  There was an alumni event this weekend and, as always, it was the perfect time getting together with some of my favorite people.

I took Friday off from work and enjoyed some girl time which included hitting the gym with one of my friends who dared to try one of my circuit workouts.  This one left us absolutely drenched in sweat.  45 seconds doing the moves and then we spent 15 seconds doing either jumping jacks, high knees, or resting.  Believe me, by the second time through of the last circuit we were resting more than I care to admit, but boy was my heart rate up there.  Try this one out:

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The workout was a perfect way to prep for the next day which was full of fun, food, drinks, and a lot of walking around.  The Houston sun was a perfect accompaniment to good times with friends.  Good thing it was my rest day though because my legs were shot from an almost 30 mile running week and some pretty killer extra workouts.image3

Want to know the best way to recover from hanging out with friends and eating and drinking all day?  Hop on a plane and head home for some sports.  My parents had let me know that they had tickets to the Blackhawks game on Sunday night and the Bulls game on Monday and that was just something I couldn’t pass up.  I’m a huge Chicago sports fan and wasn’t missing this.

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So happy to be able to spend some time with my awesome parents.  Please note that is not the face my dad had when we ran before the game.
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just a picture of my future husband/one true love Jonathon Toews

The only issue with all this traveling and friend time?  It was hard to schedule my workouts in.  But, you know what, I got them all done.  Whether it was awesome friends offering to workout with me or my dad getting a kick out of the workout plan I wrote for him, I did it.

Pre-hockey game was a 6 mile run and some weights.  I took over 27,000 steps on Sunday between walking around the airport, working out, and stepping around the United Center.  I’m really proud of myself for sticking to my workout schedule and sweating it out.  For anyone who thinks that they don’t have time to workout, you do have time if you make time.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to workout and odd hours just to make sure I got it done.  It could be 5am.  It could be my lunch break.  It could even be after dinner.  I do it because it makes me feel good and I NEVER regret a workout.  If you make it a priority, you’ll get it schedule.  If you don’t, it won’t.  It’s that simple.

-sj

running 101: getting that form down.

Counting down the minutes until this weekend!  So excited because I get to hang out with some of my favorite girls and get our sweat on.  Which is also exactly how I spent last weekend, but I’m not complaining.

I had the privilege of joining two of my friends at City Fitness in Philly for a Thrive Training Class as part of the #MyCityMoves campaign.

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The Thrive Training session focused on training to prevent injury while also building functional strength.  We started with 10 minutes of foam rolling and stretching which really helped to activate our muscles and get the synovial fluid going in our joints.  Then we split up into groups and moved on to a series of circuits.  These circuits ranged from box jumps to speed ladder work to push-ups with shoulder taps.  We completed each of these circuits 3 times before moving on to another set of circuits that revolved around goblet squats, overhead presses, and bear crawl taps.

Then came the piece de la resistance: 6 minutes of kettlebell swings where we focused on perfecting our form and making sure we were actually doing the exercise correctly which was a huge help since I had always wondered if I was doing them anything close to what they were actually supposed to look like.  Turns out I wasn’t far off, but good lord was I feeling it the next day.

The coolest part about the workout and the #MyCityMoves campaign in general is that they gave us a MyZone heartrate monitor that tracks your effort level in real time compared to those you are working out with.

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Your heart rate is calculated based on your age, height, weight, and effort exerted and it was so motivating to watch your percentage change on the big monitor.  Biggest takeaway for me is that I have a really low resting heartrate.  Like slightly concerning, but I’m not worried about it quite yet.

All in all, it was an awesome workout and I have been wearing my MyZone belt religiously since Saturday.  The best part is that it takes your effort levels and gives you MEPS (MyZone Effort Points) based on how long you are in a particular zone and compares it with your friends.  So, it levels the playing field which is awesome.

I’ve been using my MyZone belt for my runs as well and it’s been super nice to be able to see my HR percentage right there on my phone.  On my Polar and on my Garmin, it will tell me my HR, but won’t tell me what Zone I’m in so I have to calculate it myself.

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But you’re probably not here to listen to me blab on about my MyZone belt.  Let’s get down to Running 101 business.  Let’s talk about proper form.

Running is a full body workout.  You’re going to be using more than just your legs and the sooner you realize that, the better.  Your upper body and core play just a big of a role as your legs in running successfully, so let’s break it down:

  • Look straight ahead: You want your gaze to be ahead of you and your neck and shoulders to be relaxed and not tense.  This will keep you more at ease and will make your run more enjoyable.  This also helps your breathing because it creates a good, open airway.
  • Engage your core: Your core is the part of your body that keeps you upright and keeps your body balanced.  It is getting one heck of a workout when you’re running especially if you are running on less stable surfaces like trails.  Make sure you are standing upright with a slight forward lean while maintaining good posture when you’re running.  (Helpful hint: throw in some planks as part of your training, you’ll thank me later)
  • Keep your arms bent and close to your body with relaxed fists. Your arms are really helping you when you’re running even though you may think they’re just along for the ride.  Try and keep your hands loose so that your body isn’t spending energy on making your muscles contract.
  • Try to keep your stride on the shorter side.  No need to prance like a gazelle when you’re running.  Longer strides use up more energy and are less efficient.  Aim for a cadence of 180 (count your right foot strikes for 20 sec. and then multiply by 6).  This will help make sure your stride is the appropriate length.
  • Aim for a midfoot strike. There are many conflicting ideas about how you should land when running, but most experts agree that you should aim for a midfoot strike or landing just below the ball of your foot. I personally tend to land more forward towards my toes and that works for me, but each person is different.  In general, it is good to avoid heel striking or running too forward on your toes as these are both less efficient than the midfoot strike.

Here’s a helpful diagram to give you an idea of what to focus on when you get out there.

  • form

 

Running form is KEY to getting the most out of your workouts.  Once you figure out the proper way to position yourself, your runs will get much easier and you will avoid injury.

-sj