Monthly Archives: August 2013

sit ups? crunches? none of the above?

There is definitely conflicting advice about what is best to tone your abs, strengthen your core, what can actually do more harm than good, what is not worth the effort. It’s confusing!!  As I was doing the 30 day challenge, I was doing sit ups for the first time since elementary school – no lie – back when we did the Presidential Fitness Award – do kids even still do that????

In the beginning I was thinking wow these are strengthening my back, but I wasn’t sure how much good they were doing for my abs.  As I increased reps, my back was not happy.  I wasn’t in pain and nothing major was going on – my back just wasn’t happy – more than normal soreness.  So I did a bit of research – just enough to confirm my thought that sit ups were putting too much pressure on my spine and not worth it when my end goal is a strong, lean core.

My personal opinion (based for more on personal experience than research) is that a variety of exercises is key to a strong core – combo of different types of planks, push ups, crunches, leg raises, and plyometrics/calisthenics.  Too much of any thing does not mean better – and I do think people often focus too much on crunches and not enough on other aspects of core muscles.

I am going to finish out the 30 day challenge – 5 more days – and then come up with a routine that incorporates the listed above and does NOT let me loose the arm strength I have built over the past 30 days of doing so many push ups!

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week 17 recap

week 17 total – 31.4 miles

5.1 miles @ 8:20 pace

notta – had scheduled blood work that morning which meant I had to fast from midnight on – so figured an early morning run would not be wise – and if I don’t run in the morning, it doesn’t happen!
30 day challenge – 55 push ups, 90 sit ups, 105 crunches, 52 leg raises, 80 sec plank

6 miles speed – McMillian’s “faster/faster” – 1.5 mile warm up, 400 @ steady pace, 400 @ tempo, 400 @ fast, 1/2 mile jog – did 3 sets, 1.25 mile cool down
30 day challenge – 60 push ups, 55 sit ups*, 110 crunches, 55 leg raises, 85 sec plank
*decided to stop the sit ups – more on that in a separate blog post soon!!!

4.3 miles slooow and easy – 8:44 pace :)
30 day challenge – 60 push ups, 115 crunches, 58 leg raises, 90 sec plank

6 miles @ 7:50 pace

10 miles @ 7:50 pace – great long run!!
30 day challenge – 65 push ups, 125 crunches, 60 leg raises, 95 sec plank

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week 18 recap

(some would call this week 1 – I like to count down rather than count up – so I call it week 18)

total weekly miles = 34 miles

6 miles @ 8 min/mile pace
30 day challenge [45 push ups, 70 sit ups, 75 crunches, 42 leg raises, 60 sec plank]

5.5 miles – speed workout

45 min elliptical, 30 day challenge [45 push ups, 75 sit ups, 85 crunches, 45 leg raises, 65 sec plank] – arms felt like jello

2 miles warm up on the roads (8:45 pace), 4 miles tempo on treadmill – 7:20 pace.
30day – did 25 of my 50 pushups in the morning and then did not do any thing else.  Took me 18 days before I missed a day. UGH. Will pick it back up Friday!!!

7.5 miles @ 8:10 pace
30 day challenge [50 push ups, 80 sit ups, 90 crunches, 48 leg raises, 70 sec plank] – it’s getting harder!!!!

REST! Was supposed to do 30 day challenge at least but didn’t even do that!

9 miles @ 7:50 pace
30 day challenge [50 push ups, 85 sit ups, 95 crunches, 50 leg raises, 75 sec plank]

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I did a speed workout this morning – first one since early June. It felt so good and definitely began rekindling the fire within!  Since we joined a gym in January, I’ve mostly done my speed on a treadmill.  I like that I run a forced, consistent speed.  In an ideal world I’d meet a group of people at a track every week.  Yet I don’t have consistent access to a track or to a group of people at a similar pace as me.  When I attempt speed on the roads by myself, it’s too hard to maintain my pace – too easy to slow down.  Thus the treadmill it is.  I typically set the incline to 1%.  Not sure if it makes much of a difference, but smart runner people say it does, so I do it!

Here’s what I did today –

1.25 mile warm up
3 sets of

400 @ 8.4 MPH  (7:10 pace)
400 @ 9.1 MPH  (6:38 pace)
400 @ 9.6 MPH  (6:15 pace)
1/2 mile recovery

1 mile cool down

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day 15 of 30

Half way there!  It is definitely getting harder!  I give myself a serious pat on the back when I think about that fact that I am doing 45 REAL push ups in a day!  Not on my knees!  I still remember the day last winter when I attempted a real push up and no lie pulled my back and could not stand up straight for 3 days.  I’ve come a long way!!

Today was 45 push ups, 70 sit ups, 75 crunches, 42 leg raises and 60 second plank.  Notice I omitted the squats.  There is a slightly ridiculous story …

Last weekend, day 6 and 7 of the challenge, I noticed my achilles was a bit tight. It felt a bit like I had rolled my ankle, but I knew that hadn’t happened.  It wasn’t bad and didn’t keep me from running. I was just aware of it.  I have not been injured since 2008 (yes I count my blessings ALL.THE.TIME.) so it did make me a bit nervous.  Monday was a rest day of the challenge.  I ran 6.3 miles at a decent pace and felt great.  Tuesday morning when I began my 1st of 100 squats I felt my achilles big time  when I was in the bottom of the squat. I think I did 1 or 2 more out of stubbornness/denial and then realized that I the squats where the culprit of my sore achilles. What the heck?!?!?! Who hurts their achilles doing SQUATS?!  

It made me feeling like a looser to stop the squats part of the challenge. Yet running is what is most important, and this 30 day challenge is supposed to help my running – not hinder it. So the squats must go.

But wait. It gets better.

I’ve been icing my achilles to make sure this doesn’t turn into something nagging.  I iced after Saturday’s long run and I GOT FREEZER BURN on my heal. For the freakin love.  It hurts like nobodies business. Seriously took my breath away when I put my shoes on this morning.  Thank goodness I just happened to buy an aloe plant the other day. I’ve been lathering it up.

Such a quirky thing!

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18 weeks out

[I’ll post an update on my 30 day challenge soon! As in later today or tomorrow! It’s taken an unexpected shift to say the least.]

So today marks the beginning of my 18 week training plan building up to the Huntsville Marathon.  I still haven’t registered. But I did reserve a hotel room in the host hotel.  That doesn’t make me nervous. I can cancel if plans change.  Yet when I pull up the registration page, my heart beats fast and I get that I’m so nervous!! pre race feeling.  The price doesn’t go up until the end of September.  So I keep putting it off.  Yet if the race happened to sell out I would be 1 mad girl!  (do you hear my internal pep talk going on right now?!?! – yes I need to bite the bullet and sign up!!!)

For the past month I’ve been running 4 days a week.  For the rest of August I plan to run 5 days week.  I’d like to bump that up to 6 days a week some time in September and see how my body handles it.   I’m also starting back up speed work and tempo runs – nothing fancy this week – just enough to begin to kick start my fast twitch muscles again!

I’m going to start writing up weekly recaps so that I can have a good record of what is working and what is not working.

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day 7 of 30

A few days ago I wrote about the 30 day challenge I was beginning.  Today I finished day 7 – 25 push ups, 80 squats, 40 sit ups, 35 crunches, 20 leg raises, 30 second plank.  My arms are the most tired.  Squats are making the legs a bit tired, but not bad.  The core stuff has been fine.  The sit ups are harder because normally I never do those.  The crunches are fine (I’ve thought about doubling the amount but am leaving as is with everything else I’m doing). The leg raises are like the sit ups.

Overall I know I am getting stronger and I like that.  I like that this gives me something consistent since normally my strength training is an inconsistent, scattered mess of whatever I’m inspired to do on a random day.

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