Spring Fling Shakeup

I know I spent the last month lamenting over the end of cross country ski season, but now that the temperatures have started to thaw my icy heart, I can say with confidence, I’m ready to tackle spring.

The upcoming months are proving to be exciting ones, and I’m definitely reaching outside my athletic comfort zone with a handful of obstacle races, mud runs, and a duathlon to look forward to.

Trying to fashion a structured training program around my many flippant goals was an adventure in itself, but I was really looking for an excuse to buy some glitter gel pens anyway, so it was all good.

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I have kind of tormented over sharing this stuff with you guys, only because I typically take a stance that is more pro lifting and less cardio, and I 100% still do. If you are just trying to get in shape or lose weight, that in my humble opinion, along with a tight diet is the optimum way to go about it. I’m torn between saying something along the lines of “do as I say, not as I do,” and “oh, fuck it, you’re all the conductors of your own personal train wrecks.” You have to train for your current goals.

The fact of the matter at hand is – I need to be outside when the weather is nice, I like to eat a lot of food, I like “free” t-shirts, and if it means I can get out of and or show up late for work every once in awhile, I will run, climb, bike and crawl my big ass all over the tri-state area.

All day yesterday, I blocked out my next 6 weeks of training for my upcoming adventures, after Bethany, who is doing Tough Mudder with me, told me about hers. My first concern, which should be anyone’s was avoiding injury. I made sure one day a week was blocked off for rest, and I made sure another day of the week was super easy and short. I also left room for stretching and yoga on a regular basis.

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This is what old glitter pen and I came up with.

My next biggest concern was retaining a solid strength training program. Although the allure of blazing through trails in the woods on a beautiful summer afternoon and trying new physical feats that test my mental and athletic competence are calling my name right now, I want to be ready to compete in powerlifting by December. I also wore fat pants all winter so I could build some muscle. I’m not wasting that effort just to play in the mud. I stuck to my 5/3/1 program but tweaked the assistance work to include some more heavy, strength building moves as opposed to the more hypertrophy focused boring but big program I was following before.

It’s a pretty well known fact that I’m not a skilled runner. So obviously, I need to run a few times a week to build that skill set a little more. Most of my runs right now are short, with an “interval run” during the week where I run 2 minutes and walk 1 minute.

I also programmed in a few circuit training sessions a week in order to work on explosive strength moves as well as “cardio.” These will be especially beneficial when Mudder rolls around because of the nature of obstacle courses.

Most of my training sessions are kept under an hour, except one day a week when my focus is training for multiple hours in order to get acclimated to being under tension for an extended period of time like long races require. This session is split between various types of training, and is followed by a rest day.

I’m so excited to start this next chapter in my training experience, and I’m pumped to see what my body is capable of outside of just the strictly lifting shell. I’m excited to gain personal experience to apply towards my clients’ training in the future in the realm of not only performance, but nutrition for such activities. Basically, I’m ready to shake things up this spring!

Anybody else training outside the box this summer? How was the transition for you?

Act for Yourself. My big break.

Yesterday I threw up a very vague tidbit on twitter about being really excited about an announcement I had to make. Although I have confided in a few friends about said announcement (and close family,) I still can’t come out to everyone I know, and it’s driving me freaking insane. Ah, the beauty of having an anonymous blog where I can run my big blobby mouth with no repercussion.

Earlier this week I was approached by a close friend with an amazing business opportunity. Basically, I was invited this summer to open and operate a bar in a popular tourist district about 2 hours from my home. I not only have financial backing, but my fiancĂ© and I have free rein to run it however we please. This area is a notorious celebrity hang out, and we are encouraged to book giant weekend events with national recording artists. It’s a dream gig.

The only downfall is my own personal fear. The small town bar I own and operate now is my life. Although we are not closing it, I feel like I am “abandoning” the place and staff I care so much about to take this leap. I am afraid of living away from home for half of the week, I’m scared to not have my dog with me all the time, I am afraid I’m going to hate it – or worse, everyone is going to hate me. I’m also afraid if I take away the “me” I put into my business now, if it will somehow fall apart. Even worse, I’m scared that my bar, my baby, will function perfectly fine without its mommy.

My stomach has been in knots for days. I am trying not to talk too much about it, because I’m concerned it will fall through and I will look like an ass. So my secret is safe with you all, my Internet confidants.

The one thing I’m not concerned about, though, is my ability. I know I’m spectacular at my job. I am really good at creating one of a kind menus with food people will love. I’m a whiz kid at beer and wine pairings. I can create cocktails that will drive anyone to drink. I have an ear for music. I throw fun events that people talk about for months. I’m good at accounting, law, advertising, and being a “boss.” I need to keep reminding myself that these strengths, plus having a business partner who is equally as strong, will help make this a huge, life changing, amazing career choice.

It’s funny how comfortable I’ve gotten with something that initially scared the shit out of me. When we first opened the bar, I was clueless. I had bartended for many years, but every other aspect of it, we had to figure out along the way. The fact that it is successful now, and most days everything moves like clockwork is clutch. Last month though, I went into a bout of depression. I have never opened up to really anyone about this, but I just felt “stuck.” I felt like my career was at a standstill, and I didn’t want the rest of my life to be being a glorified line cook with part ownership of a business. I felt like my abilities were being stifled by my circumstance, my staff was so tiny that my function was doing all the things they didn’t have time to do. I was putting 10 hours of my life 7 days a week into standing in a kitchen cooking. I will be the first to admit, that’s the WRONG way to run a business. Other things go to the wayside, you don’t have the opportunity to grow or get better as a business. Sometimes it has to be done like that until things get straightened out, but I was straight up sad and miserable. It reflected on my relationship with Aaron – all we did was fight. And it was about scary hurtful things too… Who does more work around here was the biggie – and there were many days of crying myself to sleep and praying for a solution.

Well, the solution not only presented itself, but it’s a million times more than I could ask for. Although this blog has mostly been my voice as a fitness aficionado, I really look forward to letting you all in on this part of my life. I also think it’s important to act as a resource for other aspiring entrepreneurs so they can not only see that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but also that if you dump every possible resource you have into something you feel passionately about, you will get back tenfold. Not only financially, but in the enrichment of your life, your very being as a whole. So as I am off to daydream about fun details like creating a great menu and what kind of uniforms my staff will be wearing, I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite modernist minds, Katherine Mansfield –

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Weekly Training Update 3/21-3/27

This week was my deload week. 5/3/1 advocates one week per every 4 where you lighten the workload so you can come back the next cycle lifting heavier. Sometimes I forgo these (once in a blue moon when I know my rest and nutrition can support going right into another cycle), sometimes I do jack shit during my deload (Christmas week was aptly timed), this week I was a good girl and balanced some lighter lifting and getting out and doing active things I actually enjoy, and now I’m refreshed and ready to rock my next lifting cycle. I did not however do all the stretching and yoga that I wanted to, and I’m pretty bummed about that. But I did go skiing almost every day, so it was totally worth it.

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Thursday: Cross Country skiing trip. We were out for well over an hour, the conditions were pretty icy, and it was hard work. Lots of digging, downhill was even a chore, but it was a blast. I forgot how much I love winter sports, so I’m trying to suck up as much snow time as possible before skiing turns to hiking and trail running.

Friday: Cross country skiing – I went out alone, we got fresh snow the night before so everything was nice and fluffy. I lost track of time and was out for over 2 hours! I have no idea how many miles I did, but I definitely felt this one later in the day. I did my 5/3/1 overhead press day followed up with some 5×10 bench presses with half the weight I normally use.

Saturday: Rest Day!

Sunday: Cross Country for speed for about 30 minutes. Deload week deadlifts. 5×10 squats with just the bar. 2 Rounds of ZWOD #2 and then realized I was late for work.

Monday: Deload week bench presses. Light overhead presses. 30 Minute Circuit Training via Sworkit.

Tuesday: deload week squats, plyo circuits, stretching.

Wednesday: Last ski trip of the year – it was a LONG one. I’m feeling pretty banged up today (Thursday). It was definitely worth it though.

Today I start a new cycle of 5/3/1 Boring But Big. This week’s focus is “adjusting” – for some reason, the first week of a cycle is always mentally the toughest for me. I up the weight on my 5×10 sets, assistance work, and the sets of my big lifts also drain me. I also really need to work on my flexibility. It’s becoming a nagging issue that needs fixed.

How was everybody else’s training week? Ups and downs? Feel free to share links!

Jump around. The Plyo Chronicals

Recently, I’ve been tweaking my training to help manipulate my current athletic goals. Always a constant is increasing my strength. More recently, though, I’ve started training for some obstacle races and the like, which has forced me to shift outside of my comfort zone, and add a little more cardio into my life.

As a powerlifting purist, it can be said cardio can be counterproductive to strength gains. Obviously, if you are wrecking your body with hours upon hours of steady state anything, and not eating enough to support said activity, you’re going to waste some muscle and feel like ass when it comes time to lift. This is why we have to get creative. We have to strive to get the most gain out of our cardio bucks, preserve muscle mass, encourage adequate recovery, eat enough… it’s kind of a hot mess if you dwell on it.

I have been integrating HIIT and other forms of circuit training into my regime in order to meet my cardio needs, and one form that I’ve been particularly keen on lately is Plyometric Training. Without going all science nut on you, plyometrics are explosive exercises that typically involve jumping. I really like this article about plyos as it goes into great detail on the how’s and whys and an overview of a few various exercises. Basically, Plyometric training can help aid in the “explosive” muscle contraction you undergo in your sport. As a powerlifter, this means the bottom half of a squat or bench press, or the entire deadlift (in my opinion). Every sport requires some element of explosion, and the more power you have behind the movement, the more force you can exert, which translates to bigger, stronger lifts in my opinion.

Plyo workouts can also completely wreck you in a short period of time. However, you only get what you put in. I treat my Plyometrics as a strength building move, I do each exercise with a full range of motion, and my goal each rep is to jump higher, squat deeper, or go faster depending on the exercise. I rest between sets and exercises. Even though you will get sweaty and your heart will pound, when you do plyos you’re getting a two-fer – building explosive strength and pounding out some cardio.

I dedicate one workout a week strictly to plyometrics. Usually, it’s a day when I’m short on time, but still want to squeeze something in. I also pick one lifting day and do Plyometric exercises in between sets of my assistance work. It’s an easy way to save time in the gym and still accomplish the sprinkles on your already hardcore training cake.

I whipped up this little nugget for you guys to test drive if you’re looking to dabble in plyometrics. I suggest you do this on a carpeted floor or outside in the grass, as plyo can be hard on the joints. If you’re a beginner, rest longer between sets and cut back the reps to maybe 5 per set. Make sure you are adequately warmed up before doing this, and I don’t suggest doing jump training on back to back days for recovery purposes:

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As you get stronger and more comfortable with these moves, you can integrate other plyo exercises into your training including box jumps and plyo push ups.

I have definitely seen results from training this way, in that there is a little extra “oomph” in my squats which were lagging for a minute there. I’m sure you can find a practical application for this kind of training regardless of your sport, I know we did a ton of this in my high school track days, and I was one hell of a hurdler. I like the concept of being explosive and dynamic – and I like that a little goes a long way.

Anybody else specifically train plyometrics? What are some of your favorite moves?