Friday, November 30, 2012

Get off the Couch - Week 3

Are you starting to see results from moving more? It should be getting a little bit easier every week.

Always make sure to hydrate before, during, and after your workout. This is important to prevent cramping and headaches that can come from dehydration.

Disclaimer - consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise or diet program. :-)

Day 1
Get up off the couch!! Ready? Get down into a push-up position. Hold it steady and walk your feet toward your hands as far as you can go without bending your knees, then walk them back out. Put your knees on the ground and do one push-up (or keep your knees up to challenge yourself). Repeat the whole sequence 9 times. Hydrate. Relax. See that? I knew you could do it!!

Day 2
Get up off the couch! Ready? Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, toes pointed. Sit up straight and tall with your arms folded like I Dream of Jeanie. "Walk" backwards using your butt cheeks (yup you read that right) all the way across the room, then do it again going forward. Use your core muscles to keep you balanced and going in a straight line. Don't use your hands. Rest and repeat the whole sequence 4 times. Hydrate. Great job! I knew you could do it!!

Day 3
Get off the couch! Ready? Stand tall with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Step out to the right with your right foot as far as you can, bending your right knee and keeping your left leg straight (this is a lunge). Bend at the waist leaning toward your right foot with your chest facing right and touch the floor with your fingers on either side of your foot. Straighten at the waist a

Day 4
Get off the couch, get your fitness ball and get ready! Put your chest on top of the fitness ball and roll forward until you are in a push-up position with your legs on the ball and your hands on the floor. Do one push-up as far down as you can and then back up again. Touch your right hand to your left shoulder, using your core muscles to help stabilize you. Replace your right hand, then repeat wit

Day 5
Get off the couch, get your fitness ball and get ready! Sit on the floor with your feet stretched out in front of you, toes pointed and back straight. Hold your fitness ball high up over your head. Turn your torso to the right and touch the ball to the ground, return to start and repeat on the left. Breathe. Repeat the sequence 9 times. Rest, hydrate, and repeat all. To add a challenge, hold your legs up off the ground a few inches instead of leaving them on the ground. For additional challenge, use small hand weights or cans of soup instead of the ball. You can do it! I know you can!!

Day 6
Get up off the couch! Today we're going to roll like a ball. This is fun! Sit on the floor and hug your knees to your chest and balance on your bum. Without using your hands, roll backwards as far as your shoulders then back to balancing on your bum. Repeat 4 times, then rest and repeat the whole sequence again. To make this more challenging, straighten your legs in the air and hold your ankles, increase the roll count to 10 and your reps to 4. You can do it, I know you can!

Day 7
Stay on the couch today! Get some rest, you deserve it. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Get off the Couch - Week 2

So how are you doing with your exercising?  Even if you are not following the Get off the Couch program, I hope you are moving more.  Have you been inspired? I have heard from some of you who are really making an effort to try. You are inspiring me to work even harder to create a realistic program for the sane.  I appreciate your feedback.

Starting this week you will need a fitness ball. These can be purchased for less than $12.00. Make sure to inflate it!

Always make sure to hydrate before, during, and after your workout. This is important to prevent cramping and headaches that can come from dehydration.

Disclaimer - consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise or diet program.  :-)

Day 1
Get up off the couch! Shadow box for 1 minute. Bob and weave, bounce on your toes. Rest. Try another minute, and then another. Celebrate by inflating your new fitness ball and hydrating. You can do it!

Day 2

Get up off the couch! Lay on the floor with your calves on your fitness ball. If you didn't get the fitness balll use your couch, but the results will not be the same. Ready? Lift your butt high up off the floor (no using hands for balance, use your core) and hold it for 1 minute. Then try one leg for 15 seconds, then the other leg for 15 seconds. Rest, drink some water, then repeat 5 times. Yay!!! You did it!

Day 3
Get up off the couch! Ready? Lay on top of your fitness ball, tummy down. Put your hands on the floor in front of you and your toes on the floor behind you. Pick up your right hand and left leg simultaneously and hold them out straight while you balance on the ball. Hold that for 20 secs then switch arms and legs and hold again for 20 secs. Repeat 9 more times on each side. No fitness ball? Do the same exercise from a push-up position or on your hands and knees. Yes you can!! Great job. :)

Day 4
Get up off the couch! Stand tall and straight, raise your right knee waist high and raise you right hand over your head. Now slowly bend your standing leg just a few inches then come back up to standing. Now try the other leg and arm. Alternate until you have done 10 on each leg. You can make this a little easier by holding on with one hand while you bend, or harder by holding a hand weight or can of soup in your raised hand. Yes you can! Great job!!

Day 5
Get up off the couch! Tonight we will learn a modified burpee. Get into a pushup position with your hands up on the edge of the couch (on your knees is okay). Do 1 pushup bringing your chest all the way down and back up again and keeping your butt in line with your back and legs. After you have done a pushup, stand up and do 1 jumping jack. Repeat 9 times. Drink some water. To add some challenge, do a regular pushup from the floor instead of with your hands on the couch. You can do it! Great job!!

Day 6
Get up off the couch! Ready? Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, toes pointed. Sit up straight and tall with your arms up high. Pull you knees into your chest and hug them tight, balancing on you bum. Hold for 20 seconds. Stretch back to start then use your arms to climb an imaginary rope hand over hand making sure to twist your body, reach and pull 20 times. Rest and repeat the whole sequence 9 times. Hydrate. Great job! I knew you could do it!!

Day 7
Stay on your couch!! Today is a rest day, you deserve it. But if it is a lovely day, I suggest taking a loved one for a short but brisk walk. (Hint, hint.)   


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Get Off The Couch - Week 1

OK - I have been posting all these simple workouts on Facebook and I have received such a positive response that I decided to consolidate them all into blog posts to make it easier to refer to them in the future. 

My goal was never to create an exercise program, however so many people have told me how much they are enjoying this and look forward to the next workout that my focus changed.  I coined the name "Get Off the Couch" and then I set out to target the people in my life who need a little motivation to move more and whose health could greatly benefit. I would simply love to see everyone I  know take better care of themselves - 1 exercise a day. 

I hope that I have motivated you to move more, even if you never do these exercises that I suggest.

For those of you who already move, you can incorporate these exercises into your daily routine and you probably already know how to make them more challenging for yourself. Going forward, I will look to add a "challenge" option to each day.

I signed up for a nutrition class next month, so I am hoping to share what I learn there as well.

Disclaimer - consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise or diet program.  :-)

Here is Week One

Day 1
Get off the couch and move your body for 10-20 minutes. Walk, run, stretch, hop up and down...anything. Repeat again tomorrow. I know you can!!

Day 2
Get off your couch and march, march, march!! Swing your arms high and raise your knees as high as you can. Keep going for 5 minutes, then drink some water, then repeat until you've marched for 20 minutes. Sure you'll look stupid, but who cares? You can do it!!

Day 3
Get up off the couch. Ready?? Stand up tall and reach for the sky, bend down to touch your toes, even if you have to bend your legs to do it, then sit down on the floor and stand up again. Repeat 5 times. Rest, drink some water. Repeat the whole 5x sequence four more times.

Day 4
Get up off the couch and get ready! Lay on the floor on you back with your arms stretched up over your head and your chin in your chest. Flutter kick for 30 seconds then, without using you arms or hands, roll to your belly. Keep your arms up ahead of you and your head lifted and flutter kick for 30 secs. Repeat 4x. Drink some water and then repeat the whole sequence 4 more times. Is this helping you? I hope so!!

Day 5
It's a beautiful day to get up off the couch and go for a walk. Head out for a mile. And that means, yes you guessed it... another mile back. You can!

Day 6
Rest and hydrate, for tomorrow we begin again. :)

Day 7 
Okay, are you rested and ready to go? Get up off the couch. Get down on the floor in a push-up postion and hold it for 20 seconds then stand up and reach for the sky - stretching as high as you can. Rest, take a sip of water and repeat 5 more times. I know you can!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekend Race Report

I realized today that I haven’t blogged for many months. This is not from lack of desire, but from lack of time. So as I get close to heading off on two of the most amazing adventures of my life - a trip to Africa with my church group and a trip to Italy with some girlfriends - I figured I would give a weekend race report. And hopefully I will have time to blog about my big adventures when I return!

I set a goal for myself a long time ago to have a double race weekend. I was a little crazy when I committed to it in 2012 given that I have not been focused on tri training to any serious degree. But this was the year and last weekend was the weekend.

On Saturday I competed in the DKH – Give it a Tri Sprint Triathlon as the swimmer on an all female relay team with two wonderful fellow athletes Stephanie and Tara. The venue was perfect, the water temperature couldn’t have been better for the .5 mile swim, and the spirit of the race was one of encouragement and supportiveness. Since I was the swimmer, I started off first. Knowing that I didn’t have to bike or run, I positioned my self at the front of the pack and took off like a shot determine to give everything I had for the team. About half way through the swim I started having a lot of breathing problems and realized that I had left my inhaler at home. I made a mental note for Sunday and then pressed on determined not to panic. I paused along the way for just a moment to provide smiles and encouragement to fellow swimmers and then sprinted on to the finish.

After crossing the timing mat I was in dire straights with my breathing. I had to walk to transition to hand off the timing chip to Stephanie who headed out on the bike. I sat in the grass and used every breathing trick in my book until I was calm and back to normal breathing. Before too long, Stephanie was back in transition after a great ride and Tara was off like a shot on the run. We waited for what seemed like only 5 minutes and then Tara rounded the bend toward the finish line as fast as could be. We all ran across the finish line together as a team and it felt great!

We did quite well and placed 3rd overall in the women’s relay and I placed first in the swim in our category. I haven’t had a “relay 1st" ever, so I was tickled as pink as the polish on my toe nails. I hadn’t done a relay tri for a couple of years and I had forgotten how much fun it is! There were three other participants from my little tri-group in the race who did the race solo and all had a great showing and a great time! Chuckles even took first place in his age group which should be good enough to qualify him for next year’s USAT Nationals for the 2nd year in a row. Marc was 4th and Josh was 9th in their respective age groups. Wow!

Oh – and don’t tell Marc about how I forget my inhaler. That will be our little secret, okay?

On Sunday I competed alongside 5 other tri-girls from my training group in the Cranberry Olympic distance tri. My former relay team members from a couple of years ago and I each did the race solo and the other three tri-girls formed a team. Again the venue was perfect! The water was just ever-so-slightly too warm for the .9 mile swim. The bike course was a beautiful 26.2 mile ride through Lakeville MA and the surrounding towns, including a tour of the local cranberry bogs. And the 6.2 mile run was mostly shaded, very well marked, and had frequent water stops with great volunteers along the way. And most importantly I remembered my inhaler!

I made the mistake of starting the swim in the middle of the pack and was crammed in on all sides. I didn’t even realize my error until it was too late and we were swimming and I was stuck behind a wall of people. Swimming is my best event and gets me the only advantage that I can get in the whole race and I was stuck! It seemed like an eternity before I UFC’d my way out of the log jam. I headed on fast and strong in an attempt to make up for lost time, but it is not really possible. I found myself once again being the local swim angel and encouraging struggling swimmers until…one guy socked me in the mouth in a full on elementary backstroke. I got a little more serious at the point and starting making a beeline to the finish. The water was a little too warm for the wetsuit so I occasionally let some water in to cool my body temperature but kept moving. I started passing dozens of pink caps and other colored caps from the waves ahead of mine and then started catching and passing yellow caps from my own wave. I headed out of the water and across the timing met feeling strong.

I started the wetsuit stripping process and then, well, think John Candy in that movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles when he gets both arms trapped behind him while driving the car down the highway. I was stuck. Trapped. Except with my arms in front of me. And I couldn’t run! My transition time for T1 was a joke. Over 6 minutes! I just couldn’t free myself. When I finally broke free I dried my feet but then couldn’t find one of my socks. This is really no big deal on the bike, I put one sock on finished my transition and headed out on the bike. I had a great ride, my fastest ever, averaging 16.2 mph. Not very fast for most triathletes, but really fast for me. I rode along playing cat and mouse with two other really sweet women out on the bike course. Each time we would pass one another we would give words of encouragement. Two of us ended up crossing the timing mat together and the third came in shortly after and soon caught me on the run.

My T2 was a little better; however I was still down a sock and spent a couple minutes of earnest searching to no avail. This is not good for a run. Not at all. I couldn’t run with just one sock. So I chucked it and ran with no socks. Now, there is one thing we all need to be clear on. I am a swimmer, not a runner. I don’t actually run. I walk and jog and walk and jog. Telephone poles, it is all about the telephone poles. Jog 3, Walk 1, and repeat for 6.2 miles. Pretty much the only time I varied from this was on the one big hill and whenI did a couple of cartwheels at mile 5 because I was so happy to be almost done! As I neared the finish line I broke out into the fastest run I could muster and came across with a great big smile. I had two major blisters going from not wearing socks, but I didn’t let that slow me down or make me cry.

I had predicted 1:30 for my run, but finished at 1:23 which I think is just under 13.4 minute miles. For me, at the end of an Olympic distance tri, is lightening fast. But I must give credit where it is due here. At the suggestion of a friend I painted lightening bolts on my toenails. I really think they made me bike and run faster than ever!

My age group stats for Sunday were pretty good and my overall stats won’t embarrass my family. Swim: 10/46 (195/643 overall) Bike: 38/46 (572/643) and Run: 44/46 (626/643). All 6 of us had a great race and had a great time. Michelle A. beat us all followed by the relay team of Cori, Michelle G., Joanie. Then I finished next followed shortly afterward by Sue. After we had all finished the race, we sat down and had a great meal together with lots of laughs and stories from the race course. What great fun!

I have been saying all season that this is my last year of triathlons for awhile. Well, this weekend changed all of that for me. Even without serious training I can still hang in there and still have a whole lot of fun. Maybe next year I will do a sprint and an Olympic solo in one weekend. Nah, probably not. That’s just the adrenaline talking.

There is still one more triathlon to go for me this season. This final race is coming right in between my two great big adventures. I will once again swim on a relay team but this time with Michelle G. and her husband Dan as the biker and runner. I cannot wait!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Goals for the New Year

It is that time of year when everyone sets New Year's Resolutions of things they want to change or improve in their lives for the upcoming year. My personal feeling on this is that, without goals, resolutions are as pie crust. Easily made, easily broken as Mary Poppins says.

So here are my goals - create your own drum roll!

(1) Lose 20 pounds. I am almost halfway there, having lost 9.2 pounds in the last 7 weeks. To achieve my goal I have dragged myself back to Weight Watchers, become a huge fan of, and managed most of my workouts based on calorie burn. The goal of 20 pounds is realistic and attainable and I am working on it at a fairly slow rate so that later I can actually maintain the weight loss and not end up right back with my pants too tight. Why is the weight loss important? As a triathlete that is a lot of extra weight for me to drag behind me in the water, pedal with on the bike especially up those hills, and stress my knees with on the run. In addition, there is goal #2.

(2) Complete the Tough Mudder. In May of 2012 I will compete with a team of 5 other people to complete the Tough Mudder in Vermont. The race is a 10 mile obstacle course and my friend Pastor Josh thought it would be great fun to create a team from our church to compete. We were able to get 6 of us registered before the race was full. Silly me - I thought it was a 10K when I registered. Fortunately for me, the other 5 team members are all strong men who can carry my dead lifeless body out of the race course and return me to my mommy. To prepare I am working on goal #1 which gives me less weight to heave over the obstacles, I am increasing the intensity of my workouts by including some of the exercises recommended on the Tough Mudder website, and lastly I am trying to maintain my current level of endurance which is already pretty high given my triathlon training. For maintaining endurance, goal #3 becomes important.

(3) Ride 1,000 miles in 2012. I have done some calculations and I believe this to be an obtainable goal, especially if I purchase an indoor trainer. An average of 20 miles a week will more than get me to where I need to be, provided I can ride all winter long. I was inspired in this goal by my friend Sean who has a goal to *run* 1,000 miles in 2012. I was not inspired enough to run with him, however. And I think he is a little crazy... But nonetheless, I will ride a minimum of 1,000 miles in 2012 barring any serious injury in pursuit of goal #2. In addition, I will make some serious progress toward this goal with goal #4.

(4) Go on a European bike tour. I am planning this for the fall with Cori and some of my other tri-girls. We will average 27 miles a day for 6 days touring through three countries. It will be amazing! This is a longtime dream finally coming true for me. All three of the above goals will help prepare me for the rigor of this tour. The good news is that the 27 miles are spread out over an entire day with plenty of opportunity for sight seeing and enjoying being in Europe. And the calorie burn each day will afford me copious opportunities for sampling the local food and wine without compromising goal #1.

How about you? What are your goals for 2012? I would love to hear!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Recent Rides: The Cold 12 Miler and The Portage Ride

This past weekend my little training group got a little smaller. As the weather gets colder and as we move toward the holidays, more and more of us say no to outdoor rides.

The Saturday morning ride was a cold one. I dressed up like a stay-puff marshmallow and did what I call the Cold 12 Miler. There were only 3 of us on this ride and not only was the air cold, but there was a brisk wind that at one point almost knocked me over. For the first 3 miles my fingers felt like they would snap off. Clearly my fingers were not dressed for the occasion! But as we rode the temperature warmed to just over 40 Fahrenheit and the blood started pumping to warm my fingers. We rode a fairly slow pace to keep the wind chill to a minimum and called it a "warm up" for Sunday's Portage Ride. After the ride was over I checked my odometer and I was closing in on the 2000 mile mark! I also headed over to Bicycle Concepts, my local bike shop, and bought myself some fall riding gloves for Sunday. They were out of winter gloves - which means all the smart people got there before me.

On Sunday four of us did the Portage Ride which is a 20 mile ride with portage and 2 decent hills. Before taking off I asked Curtis to check my tires. Well, apparently I have not been inflating them properly for the last 3 seasons (which is how long I have owned the bike) and according to Curtis I was riding at about 50 lbs of pressure. I am a slow rider, but this was slowing me down beyond even what Curtis and I could explain. He had been thinking there was something wrong with my bike, and now he was finally at the bottom of the problem! We took off on a screaming downhill and once again my fingers were screaming at me. But also once again they warmed up after a few miles. It was there and then with my fingers screaming cold that I decided *definitively* to say yes to joining a Tough Mudder Team. (More on that in another blog post.) As I rode along I felt like I was on a cloud, now that I actually had properly inflated tires. Curtis remarked on several occasions that he could see the difference in my ride. Boy could I sure feel the difference!

We had a great ride - hit the portage area, climbed the first hill at about mile 10, and then continued on until the final climb back to our starting point. It was a cold ride, it never quite made it to 40 Fahrenheit. At one point we went over a river and saw a a waterfall and there was ice on the trees in the falls and black ice on the bridge. But we had fun and are hoping for at least one more ride before the Christmas holiday. And at the end of the ride I checked my odometer and was at 2011 miles. It took me three seasons to arrive at 2011 miles, and I did it in the year 2011! For me this is quite an accomplishment. I want to set a goal for myself of 1000 miles in one year, but I really need to think through that before committing myself to it. Stay tuned for my final answer for 2012.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Recent Rides: "Burn the Pie" & "Hills and Chills"

I love to give names to the group rides that I organize. I am not always successful, but over the past two weekends our little group had 3 great rides. Two were post-Thanksgiving "Burn the Pie" rides and today was a "Hill and Chills".

Burn the Pie ride #1 was on Black Friday. While others were exhausted from all their shopping, our little group of 7 rode a quick, flat 12 miles. We were joined by the Schoppe family for this ride. Dad Jay towed his 5 year old daughter Ella behind him. Ella gets the award for being our youngest ever tri-girl! She peddled hard and steady for the whole 12 miles behind her dad. I had my camera, but failed to snap a picture of the group. The weather was beautiful and we barely broke a sweat. I am not sure how much pie was actually burned that morning, but we all had fun. This short ride also gave a great option for people who wanted to opt out of the 32 mile Burn the Pie ride #2 on Saturday. This short ride was a just a warm-up for what followed the next day.

Burn the Pie ride #2 was on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We had another beautiful sunny day in the high 50's (Fahrenheit) and 5 riders. We did a modified version of the Deary Bike route which normally starts at JD Coopers Restaurant in Putnam. Instead we started in Thompson and headed down to Putnam out to Dayville and Pomfret, through Woodstock past the fairgrounds and up Paine District Road, back into Thompson, and ending with a long 1.2 mile climb for a total of just under 32 miles. We had to take a detour at one point due to a car accident and downed wires across the road. This led to a really big hill that almost had us completely physched out and defeated because we knew what was still ahead of us. Cori (below all the way to the right) snapped this picture of the dreaded hill. Be we cheered each other on all the way to the top, and realized when we got there that it only looked bad. It ended up being a fairly easy climb. Some pie was definitely burned on that day. As usual I struggled on the many hills. But my friend Curtis (below in the purple jacket) was good to me and made sure that the group didn't lose me. I know that my ability to attack the hills will improve with practice, but man do I dread each and every one.

Today was our Hills & Chills ride, aptly named because it was mostly uphill and it was never over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. There were also a few sweet downhills but we needed to be pretty bundled up to avoid the wind chill. We had a group of 7 riders -- hard to believe for December! And we even managed to get a group photo. This was a 24 mile ride that had us reaching the top of Buck Hill in Rhode Island right around mile 16. I fueled my ride with chocolate from my recent trip to Venezuela and alternated between Powerade and good old fashioned H20. We once again ended with a roughly 1.5 mile climb and I whined a little coming up the last hill. But overall I felt good on this ride. In July of this year a few of us did a "Quad Buster" 50 mile ride. Today's route covered the final 24 miles of that ride. It was much easier to ride this route today having not ridden 26 additional hilly miles first!

Curtis, Michelle, and I did all three of the rides over the last two weekends plus a ride the Sunday before Thanksgiving with various other participants along for the different rides. I hope to get a few more outdoor rides in before we have to deal with the snow and freezing weather. My odometer is about to turn over to 2000 miles in just under three seasons of riding and I am looking forward to passing that milestone. I had taken a couple months off from riding this fall after the Funtastic Nantasket tri to focus on running and traveling, but am back in the saddle and feeling great!