Monday, October 20, 2014

Training for Training

Two weeks ago, I started an intensive training program with a former pro runner who now trains at my local Equinox. I went in for an EquiFit analysis, to measure my body fat, inches, etc. I'd lost a bit of weight simply from being busy and not eating that much through the whole sister's wedding, moving cross-country thing. But I also hadn't been in any semblance of a fitness regime and I really wanted to get back into concentrated training. I missed having purpose to my workouts rather than aimlessly lifting things now and then at the gym.

I wasn't very pleased with my EquiFit results. Sure, my weight was down, but my body fat was up from marathon training (shocker, right?), and every run has reminded me that I'm not in the same shape I was last year. Which is fine -- priorities change. But I want to train for a spring half marathon PR, not just run a race, and I want to take advantage of the incredible running weather California has.

My mom visited last week, and in the middle of October, she was walking in a sundress on the beach. Like I said, incredible weather.

Since I'd mentioned that my interest was in running, Equinox paired me up with Melanie, a former pro runner. She showed me the kind of plan she'd put me through (strength training three times a week -- twice with her and once on my own, cardio three times a week, nutritional guidance, and I had to promise to foam roll and stretch). I chatted with Sourabh and he agreed with my idea that training for six weeks was a good idea since it takes six weeks to form a habit (supposedly), meaning this would help me get back into the running/fitness groove. Essentially, I'm training to get ready for ... training.

Two weeks down and four to go! Here's some of what we've been focused on:

Hip Mobility

Several of the exercises we've been doing focus on my tight hips. Melanie wants to increase mobility and range of movement. She's had me doing lateral movements over hurdles and side lateral squats. I've also been instructed to foam roll my hips and stretch them as much as possible throughout the day while sitting at the desk.

I want to be as mobile as ... this dog? On the beach? Yeah, if you hadn't noticed, I'm just sticking California pictures in here.

Attention to Heart Rate

I've just started my third week and so far I've been surprised with the strides I've made. On Saturday, I needed to do steady state cardio with the aim being a 150ish heart rate (roughly 60% of my max heart rate). After warming up, I started around a 9:00 mile, thinking that was probably right. Nope. Not even close. I ended up running 30 minutes at around an 8:15 pace.

That's fast for me, especially at my current fitness level, or at least that's what my brain said. I didn't think I'd be able to hang on for the prescribed amount of time. But I'm nothing if not a teacher's pet, and Melanie tasked me with hitting that heart rate for a set amount of time, so I did it. And honestly I could have kept running for a while longer which I don't think I'd ever have realized if I hadn't been monitoring the heart rate and letting that set the speed.

Actually related: I had an awesome interval run along the Back Bay yesterday using the heart rate levels as a guide for effort.

I've never utilized heart rate training before and am really enjoying learning more about my cardiovascular performance. It's making me pay attention to the science of running and exercise much more than in the past. I'm really excited to put the knowledge I'm gaining about my cardiovascular potential to use when I start officially half marathon training (probably December, I'm thinking).

Protein, Protein, Protein

In order to lean out and build up the leg muscles that will fire me down the road toward a shiny PR, Melanie focused on my protein intake. Melanie has me at more than 150 grams of protein a day which I was in no way, shape or form getting previously, mainly because I wasn't focusing on it and I gravitate more toward carbs. But there are a lot of simple things I've done that have made it easier -- instead of morning-of oatmeal, doing overnight oatmeal with Greek yogurt. Eating cottage cheese with chopped up strawberries as a late afternoon snack. Finding protein-rich carbs like quinoa, farro and, of course, oats.

In no way did Melanie suggest giving up carbs, but as she noted, they come pretty naturally (to me, especially), and getting enough protein during these six weeks is going to be the focus.

Last night's sunset. California is really, really, ridiculously good looking.

I feel like I have to include a major caveat to this post. Equinox memberships are expensive. My first year was heavily subsidized by my previous firm, but going forward we're paying the normal one-location rate. Working with a trainer at Equinox is also expensive.

You might have noticed -- or at least, I hope it's come across -- that while I've mentioned long hours, I have never complained about my job as a corporate lawyer. Yes, obviously, part of that is simply the fact that it is poor form to complain about your job online (the Internets never forget!). Part of it is that I *generally* like my work. But another large part is that there are few jobs where I could, as a 26 year-old, make a very good salary. Sure, right now I'm using it to pay off my massive student debt, but it still allows me to indulge in good food and spend money on luxuries like an expensive six week training program.

I am never going to try to prescribe this kind of training to anyone else because it would be incredibly privileged and ostrich-like to assume that everyone can just hire a trainer for an intensive get-me-back-on-the-road-to-running-fitness plan. I feel very lucky that I have the ability to do this (and that Sourabh worked an extra month this summer which made up for the unexpected four weeks I was unemployed!). However, maybe by sharing what Melanie is having me work on, it can be a bit helpful or, at the very least, a bit interesting.

Anyone have any questions about this strength and heart rate-focused base building?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sparkly Soul Headband Giveaway!

Hi guys!

My first week of work last week went very well. I'm in love with my office view, I really like the people I'm working with so far, and the work itself has been interesting.

Maybe I'm just...

... slightly obsessed with my view. I stare out of it fairly frequently and pretend I'm having deep legal thoughts.

I've also gotten a few runs in around the beautiful Back Bay near Newport Beach. It's currently my favorite place to run.

Anyway, on to more exciting things...

Sparkly Soul Headband Giveaway!

So over the summer I became a Sparkly Soul Ambassador. I've mentioned before how much I LOVE these headbands. I have thick but fine hair and almost no headbands will stay on my head.

Here's a Sparkly Soul headband sticking to my head in the Grand Canyon...

I have wispy hairs around my face that are really annoying to deal with when I get sweaty, so I have to wear a headband, but before I found Sparkly Soul headbands I couldn't get one that stuck to my head. 

... here's one sticking with me post-sweaty workout while volunteering at the NYC Marathon ...

This is a total champagne problem, obviously, but that doesn't lessen my dedication to Sparkly Soul for their awesome product. I'm proud to be an ambassador for the company and its headbands.

... and here's one pre-5K. It also stuck with me for my full marathon last October!

Now, the good news for you! I've partnered with Sparkly Soul to do a fall giveaway! If you win, you can choose the color and width of your choice. I'll randomly pick two winners on Friday, October 17, so be sure to get your entry in by 11:59 p.m. PST on Thursday, October 16.

Here's how to enter:

  1. Follow Sparkly Soul on Twitter and post a comment saying that you followed them (or post a comment saying you already follow them).
  2. Like Sparkly Soul on Facebook and post a separate comment saying you liked them (or post a comment saying you already follow them).
  3. Follow Sparkly Soul on Instagram and post a separate comment saying that you followed them (or post a comment saying you already follow them).
That's a total of three possible entries (meaning you have to comment three times). Now get out there and start liking/following/loving Sparkly Soul!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ice House Canyon Hike

Yesterday, Sourabh and I drove to the northeast of Orange County to meet friends for a hike in the San Gabriel Mountains. It was our first legit hike here in CA!

It's great that Sourabh worked in LA and Orange County this past summer because he made friends with some of the other summer associates in his class (and I got to know them when I visited twice). Bjorn and Leah are also into hiking, so we decided to meet up for a Saturday morning hike somewhere close to both LA and OC.

We met in the parking lot of the Von's on the corner of Base Line Road and North Mills Ave. It's right off the Mt Baldy Road, so it was a great place to meet up so we could grab some water and snacks and take one car up the windy road to the trailhead. We saw several other groups doing the same thing so it's definitely a good meet-up point.

The hike itself has two options: an out-and-back that's roughly 7.5 miles or a loop with a short out-and-back to the Ice House Saddleback that's roughly 9 miles total. We did the out-and-back since it was actually fairly cold at the saddle and we wanted to head back to the warmer, lower part of the canyon ASAP.

There was no real flat section other than about half a mile near the beginning. Then it's up, up, up. However, it's a nice open trail, so you are looking around the canyon the whole time, which is a nice distraction.

Ice House Canyon Trail Stats
Length: 7.5-9 miles
Elevation Gain: ~2700 ft. (starting around 5,000 ft elevation so it gets cold at the top)
Dog Friendly? Yes!
Water? Nope, make sure you pack plenty.
Bathrooms? Only at the trailhead. Trees are somewhat sparse at that elevation in CA, and the sides of the trail are fairly steep, so it would be tough to get off trail behind a bush.
Parking? Yes, but it's a popular hike so at 8:30 AM it was fairly crowded and we had to park on the street.
(Edited to Add) PermitsForest Adventure Pass required for hiking from Icehouse Canyon or Middle Fork. Adventure Passes are $5/day or $30/year. Interagency Passes also accepted. (This site explains it all quite well.)

After the hike, we went to Eureka! Discover American Craft (yes, that's a mouthful of a name) in Claremont for burgers and beers (or hard cider in my case). The service was pretty meh but the food was fine and it was very dog friendly which was key since Mason was along. Mason got quite a few bites off the table since he had worked so hard -- he made it all the way up the mountain with no problems!

I'm so excited to be within an hour drive of mountain hiking. I hope we can do at least one or two hikes like this a month, depending on my work schedule. Speaking of which -- tomorrow is my first day at my new firm! AHH!