Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday Night Spin: Race Recovery Edition

There are no fun additions to my indoor cycling music library or new playlists this week. Balancing parenting, running, serving, and spinning sometimes requires that I recycle a playlist or throw songs together however they may suit my mood. As much as I'd always love to be at my prime every Tuesday at 6:45, last night I definitely had to fake it to make it. I'm not talking about the effort, though. I just had to pretend that I didn't feel like my quads were tearing at the seams. It's easy to "grin and bear it"; when you're grinding your teeth and grimacing in pain, just turn it into a really big smile if you catch anyone looking at you.

I threw together some quick-paced, up-beat music, took a bunch of Advil, and hobbled my way into the room. I wasn't going to admit I'd been taking elevators and escalators for the past two days, nor was I going to pretend to turn up the resistance when I instructed the class to the same. The truth is, the longer I sat around, the worse I started to feel mentally. Getting on the bike and giving it a good effort would help my body and my mind, which I needed after the frustration of several days of limping.

I want to be clear that it IS important to rest after a hard effort, especially something like a race. Sometimes, I'm less than brilliant when it comes to that. I'll think Sure, I can work a Saturday night right after a half-marathon! and then forget to eat enough or drink enough Gatorade. My rest didn't come until Sunday evening and my body was just completely broken by then. I looked as if I'd been born without any joints in my legs, I was so stiff. I was walking like a peg-legged pirate, with two pegs. I may as well have been wearing an eye patch so that guests in the restaurant could maybe only half tell that I was making weird faces as I fought the urge to whimper and moan.

My window of opportunity had passed to get in a decent recovery workout, or so I'd thought, which is why I wanted to make sure I put together a decent class to really help "flush" my muscles out. As it turns out, even with all the wisdom I've gained from my personal training certifications and classes, the workout was beneficial, but not for the reasons I thought. A recovery workout actually does nothing to help the body recover, although it is practiced by people of all abilities and levels, from the elite marathoners down to you and me.

Makes no sense, right?

I'll let the smart people over at to clarify: 
There is evidence that fitness adaptations occur not so much in proportion to how much time you spend exercising but rather in proportion to how much time you spend exercising beyond the point of initial fatigue in workouts. So-called key workouts (runs that are challenging in their pace or duration) boost fitness by taking your body well beyond the point of initial fatigue.
 Recovery workouts, on the other hand, are performed entirely in a fatigued state, and therefore also boost fitness despite being shorter and/or slower than key workouts.

So it's not about pumping imaginary magical healing fluids throughout the body and into the muscles to make the stitch themselves back together after the damage sustained from a hard run. Also, you are not ridding your muscles of lactic acid; your body does that on its own within an hour of completing your workout.

For me, what this translates to is less emphasis on when I do a "recovery" workout so long as I make sure I get moving again within a few days after a challenging race. Theoretically, I already pushed my body above and beyond its most fatigued state when I had to don my uniform and slip-resistant shoes.

What I read also supports what I told my class last night:
When you're feeling the most tired from work, life, your last workout, or all of the above, is when you need to get back to the gym the MOST. There is nothing to gain from NOT working out!
What's your tried and true post-race recovery routine?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Half-Marathon that Almost Wasn't

Several months ago the husband got this brilliant idea that maybe we could do the Tough Mudder in February. As the weeks ticked by I hounded him to register (his idea, his responsibility kinda thing) and he continually forgot. By January I told him we needed to sign up right then and there so we could plan out some solid training sessions to prepare for the insanity. He finally went online and discovered the entry fee was $150 or something ridiculous like that. Well, that kind of made up our minds for us. No Tough Mudder.

My ego would not be content to just forgo a winter race all together. When I only enter 2-3 events a year, I need to make sure I have something planned every few months to just ensure that I don't slack off or plateau. So I searched the local and regional race calendars and found a 21K trail race in Winder, GA, which is part of the Xterra racing series. If I wasn't going to crawl through mud under barbed wire, run through fire, or subject myself to electric shock therapy, I could at least challenge myself to a half-marathon trail race.

Then the 3-week funk bug hit the household and whoever wasn't coughing, snotting, puking, or laid up with a fever was taking care of someone else who was. My plan to hit some decent mileage in January went out the window as I had to focus on just getting and staying healthy and in the midst of that, training for a new job. I started to have my doubts about doing this race at all, and then I got an email informing me it had sold out. I knew I could not back out without some serious guilt.

The funny thing about doubt is that it creeps in even when it has no place being there. Despite lack of mileage (my longest run since Thanksgiving has been 8.5 miles), I had kept up with interval runs and spin classes. Still, come last week I was still worried that having gone over two months without moving on my feet for much more than an hour would leave me gassed out half-way through the trail race. I knew that if I was scheduled to work Friday night and/or Saturday morning, I'd try to give my entry up to someone on the wait list.

I wasn't scheduled to work Friday night or Saturday morning. Hooray! I could still run this thing!

Crap! I'd have to run this damn thing!

As I've mentioned before, it's hard to ignore when things fall into place in a certain way. This race was destined to be.
The only time I see the sun rise is before a race.

I managed to go to bed at 11:00 the night before and actually fall asleep before midnight. I didn't hit snooze on my alarm. I left with plenty of time to get gas for my car and for myself (we have the best gas station in all of Atlanta around the corner: they carry G1 "prime" in the cooler and Snickers Marathon bars among many other calorie-dense runner snacks). I made the 1-hour, 10-minute drive in just one hour flat without getting lost. I got to go to the bathroom TWICE before the race started (if you don't run longer races, just trust me, this is a big deal). My race outfit was perfect for conditions. I was ready.

My plan was to run without holding back or pushing too hard. The first part of that is a challenge because it seems like no matter what, once an air horn or gun goes off, my legs are like, "Oh shit! Go! Go! Go!" and I my brain has to force my muscles to just back the F off and relax for a bit. With a path that quickly narrowed down to a single-track bottleneck, I was forced to start at an uber-conservative pace until the field started to space itself out and it was safe to start making passes. The first two miles were the 2nd-most difficult part of the entire race. I felt like I was trotting in place and going nowhere, fast.

As we were able to gain some breathing room I was able to increase my pace from 10- to 9-minute miles. This felt comfortable as I was still working toward my "zone" and carefully picking my way around slower runners who didn't position themselves appropriately at the start (my #1 running pet peeve). Finally, by mile 5 I reached the point where no one was nipping at my heels and I wasn't forced to tailgate the person in front of me. I've never been much of a group runner so I really enjoy the part of the race where I have my eye on the next runner a little ways ahead but otherwise, there's no one else around me.

The miles were starting to tick by really quickly. I actually completely missed a couple of the mile markers. Thanks to having to pay attention to every footfall and navigating changing terrain. We hit this one section of trail designed for dirt-bikers with these huge jumps. To get over one of them, I had to practically pull my knee up to my ear to get my leg high enough to jump up.

The most difficult part of the race came toward the end, from miles 10.5 to 11.5, where we had to climb a monster of a hill one way, loop down through the woods, then come back up the other side of the same hill. The first time we saw it, a bunch of us cry out, "Crap!" The second time, it was more like, "F***!" I slowed to a trot but did not walk. More importantly, I did not puke. I hate puking.

A little after mile 12 I glanced at my watch and knew I was on target to finish around 1:50, which is more than I could have hoped for with my complete lack of trail training runs (by "lack" I mean "none"). We came out of the woods at the parking area where we started, right next to the reservoir where I first saw the sun come up. Now, the sun was high and shining bright over the water, creating a dream-like effect, making me forget for a moment that I just murdered my legs for 111 minutes.

My official time as 1:51 and change and I placed 2nd in my age group.

The race was truly a great experience and I feel like I want to do some more trail running and maybe find another race. I would train for the next one, though. Because as much as I tell myself during a race that I don't care if it hurts later, when later comes around, it hurts, and I care.

I really, really, really don't want to go work brunch today but alas, I must be on my way. Stiff and limping, but I'll do it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wordless Spin

This week's class was all about pace and endurance. For each hill I did a set of runs to come back down the other side so that throughout the entire class, riders were encouraged to reach and then maintain their heart rate (or effort) at the top of their aerobic threshold. I really wanted everyone to focus on their own workouts so the playlist was completely wordless. That's not to say that I didn't speak up. I don't know how to shut up and if people look like they are slacking off, you bet I'm gonna say something!

"Wordless" Spin

"The Bomb" Hans-o-Matik
Warm up in all 3 positions, starting with position 1 for two minutes on a flat road, position 2 for 1:30 plus a gear, then pick up the pace a little in position 3 for the last two minutes. Moderate pace, just to start getting the HR up.

"Mr G (original mix)" DeadMau5
First hill: start by adding 2 more gears to start on a very slight incline, about medium resistance. Find the pace as you continue to work toward getting that HR up to the 75% range. Half-way through add one more gear and take it up to position 3 without dropping off your cadence. (75% = can't sing, can still talk, but must break for breath every few words)

"Brasileira" Veron & Praia Del Sol

30s/30s run and rest intervals for the first half, taking the effort/HR up to 85%. Move up to 45/45 run and rest intervals for the second half of the song. (85% = could talk but don't really want to. Breathing is heavy but rhythmic, not hyperventilating)

"Halloween Americana" Everclear
30/30 seated and standing hills. Add two gears and climb for 30 in position 3, take one off and sit for 30, repeat.

"El Distorto De Melodica" Everclear
Keep your resistance where it's at from the last song and sit and grind it out, adding another gear every 45s. Once it gets too heavy to pedal smooth in the saddle, stand and climb it out in position 3.

"Sandstorm" Darude
Free-style intervals. Start on a flat road and use the first 1:30 of the song to recover from the hill. For each interval either speed up, add resistance, or both. You can sit or you can ride in position 3. Regardless of what you do, it's near max effort:  about 90% HR Max or an effort of 9 on a scale of 1-10. The first interval is about 30s, the second is about a minute. Keep in mind that you will work harder and get that HR up faster if you do a combination of adding resistance and trying to pedal faster.

"Theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean" L'orchestra Cinematique
Recover + climb, medium resistance. Position 3 for one minute, pos 1 for one minute, pos 3 for the last minute. Steady on the beat, keep those muscles moving as you bring your HR down.

"Climbatize" Prodigy
Starting at medium resistance sit and start your climb. On the beat, this shouldn't feel hard initially. Starting at 1:00, you're going to add a gear and try to keep the pace. Each minute, add another gear. As it gets heavier and harder to keep up, you can take it up to position 3 to continue the climb. You should be climbing hard by the end!

"Devil Drums" Scooter
Discovered this awesome sprint song (and pretty much the entire format of this playlist) from Lisl, my first indoor cycling idol. Get right into it about 15s into the song with 3 X 30/30 run and rest intervals, pushing your effort up to 90%. Recover, then for the last 2 minutes of the song we are going to max out with 15/15 run/rest intervals at 100%. Max effort for 15s, then slow it WAY down for each rest interval. Your HR will continue to climb even as you rest so be prepared mentally to be completely out of breath by the end.

"Lancaster Gate" Enter the Haggis
Last little bump! Start at light resistance and climb in position 3 at a moderate pace. When the music slows down start adding it in for one last, short, steep hill. As the music picks back up take it off one gear at a time and pick up the pace to bring it home.

"#34" Dave Matthews BandSweet recovery! Cool down and stretch.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oh, you silly runner, you.

From noobs to self-proclaimed "experts" we see runners doing all sorts of silly things. Sometimes "silly" doesn't exactly encompass all the things runners do, but it's the most diplomatic word I can think of. I have been guilty of several things in the past and am probably still an offender of certain behaviors now. I used to wear cotton, tried to run with a Disc-man, and was, for quite some time, a heel-striker (gasp!). Besides never retiring one's 1983 gym uniform, some other silly things I don't quite understand include:

Running on the wrong side of the road. I still see it all the time and it boggles my mind, especially when someone is running to music! If you're running with your back to oncoming vehicles, how do you know to move over if it's a wider vehicle or if they don't have the room to give you enough berth as they pass by? Unless you live in England, you need to run on the LEFT-hand side of the road, FACING traffic. The exception to the rule of course is to not run on the inside of a curve where you can't be seen by anyone. But otherwise, just remember if you can't see them, you definitely can't count on them seeing you. Duh.

Bounding. Now I am really not a fan of people who insist on correcting others' running form because they hardly ever have anything helpful to suggest and almost always come across as assholes. But when I see a runner "bounding" it makes me cringe. My joints literally ache with empathy for their joints. So my one and only running tip is that if it seems like you're viewing the world as though you're wearing a pair of moon shoes, you should focus on limiting your up-and-down movement and instead use that power to propel yourself. Or, try the high jump.

Giving running advice to a runner when you don't run. Yeah, this list isn't limited to runners. I also need to include people who used to run, tried running for a day, or know someone who knows someone who runs and therefor think they have anything to say about the sport. Not saying you can't take an interest in the sport. I love football although I can't catch or throw to save my life, so I don't try to give unsolicited advice to someone who plays the game. I was actually waiting on this couple who were, well, fat. The guy used to do triathlons, and the woman didn't say whether she used to be active. But the man said he knew a guy who runs. He said, "You know you can REST an entire set of muscles while using the others? Yeah! And when they fatigue, you can just switch to the muscles you were resting and give the first muscle group a break. My friend who runs marathons does it. I'm surprised you've never heard of doing that, since you said you run a lot." (I should have known not to engage them in conversation). Uhm... where do I begin? I'll let you all just come up with your own smart-ass reply that I should have said.

(In my mind, I wanted to say "So... you don't know how the body works at ALL, do you?")

Talking about running to non-runners. (Guilty) I feel like I've toned it down, but as the previous example clearly shows, I don't know when to keep my dirty little habit to myself. As I'm sure some of you know, people look at you crazy when you're like, "I kinda wanted to run eight miles today so I, uh, did." They think you're broken. You have issues. And let's not even get into the looks you'll get if you admit that you actually enjoyed doing all eight of those miles on the treadmill. You may as well go ahead and put on the straight jacket and waltz right over to the white coats waiting for you out front.

Dieting. Personally, I think if you run (enough) you don't need to - and probably should not - diet. But this is coming from the girl that makes candied bacon and can polish off a whole bag of 2-Bite Brownies in an evening. Clearly, I NEED to run eight miles at a time. In all honesty, I know I should eat better more consistently, but I know I like my fruits and veggies just as much as I enjoy my chocolate and cheese so I figure in the long run, it'll all balance out. What I don't get are the people who are all organic, vegan, raw-food, flossing-with-bean-sprouts healthy while also training for ultramarathons or some other insane endurance event. They just don't look like they feel good at all when they wearily explain to me the special diet they're on and why they are only eating a dry garden salad with a wedge of lemon. Poor thing and your self-deprivation. I'll try not to roll my eyes too loudly as I watch you pretend to enjoy your raw, undressed spinach.

Runners who act like running is a burden. This is a rare one and if you're reading this, it most likely doesn't apply to you at all. Once in a while, though, I'll meet a person who says something like, "Ugh. I'm SO tired. I had to get up at 6:00 AM to run! It sucked SO much." Really? I don't care. Sometimes people are surprised to learn I never get up before the sun for anything except a race (and that's only because I paid money for it). I know when my ideal time to work out is, and I know when it isn't. So you'll hardly hear me bitch about having to run. I say make your run work for you. If you have to run early, embrace the alone time. If you have to run late, enjoy the last surge of energy before your day comes to a close. The ability to run is a gift, damnit!

Come on, I know we're not all BFFs here. What do other runners do that annoys the crap out of you?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

silence on the radio, ramblings in my brain

Nothing quite compares to that blissful moment when your child finally stops experimenting with how loud she can be before the windows break and just passes out for a nap.

I've been exhausted and I'm sure it's been affecting us both, as I think is clearly indicated in yesterday's post. I've lost my focus on running due to two weeks of my sinuses exploding on a regular basis and all but lost my motivation to work out at all. I need to get my groove back and I know it's a matter of doing, not talking blogging about doing.

My Valentine's spin class was great - the usual hills and intervals with some new beats to mix things up - and was a much a kick in the rear for myself as it was for my class. Granted, I could conserve some energy and maybe attempt multiple classes in a day, but should no other opportunity arise for me to instruct another group, I know I need to make my Tuesday nights count. This week's class really helped me get out of a funk and set the tone for the rest of this week's workouts.

Today was my usual 6-mile tempo run with hills and intervals. I never do an easy run indoors; it seems like cheating. Plus, with this trail race being just nine days away, I feel inclined to make every workout count until it's time to rest up for a couple days before the event.

Tomorrow it's weights or yoga following work. Training in a new restaurant is a lot like going back to being a fly on the wall, so I don't anticipate expending too much energy there. I was stiff from work on Wednesday because of how much standing around I did.

This weekend I HAVE to do 10 miles. It's purely mental. Like, if I can hit the trails and do 10 miles now I can do 13 in a week. I mean, who really tapers for a half-marathon, anyway? Right? That's something those "normal" people do.

What's your go-to workout to get out of a funk?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's all love and games until somebody gets hurt...

I thought we had by-passed the terrible 2's.

I was wrong.

OOOOoooohhh.... was I wrong.

For one thing, can someone explain to me the superhuman strength a toddler suddenly gains while engaged in an all-out, blow-the-roof-off-and-get-the-cops-called-on-mommy temper-tantrum??

And what about those lungs? The kid can scream for longer than Steven Tyler.

And why, after a day full of her telling me to go away, not to help, leave her alone, begging to go to our neighbor's house, crying when it's time to go home with me, and chucking legos at my head, does she insist that Mommy, and ONLY Mommy, be the one to tuck her in, read her stories, and sing her to sleep?

What kind of twisted mind game is this whole raising a toddler thing, anyway?

It's totally illogical, but my kid hurts my feelings. Then I get frustrated and raise my voice when she doesn't listen. Then I yell. Then there's time out and screaming. Then we hug and it's my turn to cry. Nothing is more rewarding than being my girl's mother, and nothing has ever felt this hard or hurt this much, either.

I just pray that with every whimper, every wail, that it doesn't somehow signify that I'm failing as a parent.

Help a Mama out. Tell me I don't suck. Tell me I'm not alone!

Monday, February 13, 2012

"I'm flying! I'm not an ostrich! I'm not an ostrich!"

I think... I'm pretty sure... *knock on wood*... we're all better here. I say this with trepidation because when I thought I was getting over my cold earlier this week, my congestion returned with a vengeance for one more round snorting, dripping, and not being able to taste my food.

Then, Saturday rolled around and we got out to participate in the Virtual Run for Sherry. I have to say that if not for the purpose of the run, we would have all retreated to the comforts of indoors. Running in Sherry's memory pushed us to get out there despite the wind chill and a cranky, constipated toddler. Even if the goosebumps never went away, it was sunny and bright and we felt lucky to be out there together, running for Sherry and anyone else who might not be able to.

We wound up running pretty well, and the cold air felt great on my face. Afterwards we went to our favorite Mexican brunch/lunch joint to undo the run refuel and perhaps enjoy a pre-siesta margarita. Little Miss was being her normal, goofball self and we felt pretty good ourselves, for a change, so I figured that we were finally in the clear from whatever funk had intruded our lives this week.

Not so fast.

After a glorious 3-hour nap, we woke up refreshed but the Little Miss... not so much. She had started to burn up and *kindly requested to remain on my hip at all times for the rest of the evening. All she wanted for the rest of the night was her "tea" (milk warmed up with a bag of decaf tea and some honey), so we hydrated her, drugged her, and put her to bed with our fingers crossed that we weren't in for another round of grossness.

First thing the next morning, she asked for juice, which I of course gave her (diluted) and she proceeded to throw it all back up all over herself and me. Yum. After cleaning up we spent the rest of the day lounging on the sofa, which as wonderful as that sounds, is actually quite challenging when your toddler *kindly requests that you not leave her side for anything. Not to get a cup of water or coffee. Not to go pee. Not to stretch before your lower back cramps and refuses to let you stand upright ever again.

(*kicking, screaming, slapping, hyperventilating, purple in the face, sobbing, begging kind of requests.)

There were perks, though, I won't lie. We watched "Rio" like 8 times, most of "Shrek Ever After" (not my favorite of the series) and "Megamind." CGI animation to the rescue!

Cheese and sprinkles.

Today is a new day. We are, as of this moment, puke and goop-free, just in time for our first official "interview" with the Montessori school we want her to go to. I appreciate that we get to go without having to appear to be diseased.

All joking aside, I really am grateful for our good health and fortune. Just when it started to look like we'd need to take our daughter to urgent care yesterday, she started to turn around and perk back up. Disney movies helped, but she is also a strong kid and for that we are incredibly lucky.

How was your weekend?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Not through hell, probably not through high water, but possibly, through a sinus infection

Is a sinus still a sinus if it's no longer a cavity, but a goop-filled pocket of complete suckage? Because I have 2 of THOSE right now.

I'm usually pretty good at listening to my body and taking a break to recover from illness or injury, but sometimes enough is enough and I just need to run already, damnit. On Wednesday, when despite blowing my nose (and nearly blowing out my eardrums) every 5 minutes I decided I needed to run. I had also decided that despite tweaking something near my knee changing out kegs at work, I needed to do at least 6 miles. While 3 miles would have been enough to break a sweat and burn off some comfort food, 6 is purely a mental number. It's the distance I run the most because I can do it in under and hour or - if really crunched for time and highly motivated - in about 45 minutes. Running 6 miles means I'm not that sick, whereas being unable to complete the distance would signify that I either need a trip to urgent care or am severely out of shape. So jumping up on the treadmill on Wednesday (I was not going to push Alexis in the stroller with the knee pain and dripping nose), I knew I had to just cover up the display with a towel and knock it out before I had to a chance to second-guess my decision.

Never mind that I had just taught spin class the night before. You other runners out there know that when you need to run, you need to RUN, and no other activity will suffice.

And thus 6 miles at about an 8:15 pace happened, and I survived to blow through another box of Puffs. While still annoyingly congested, I'm no worse for the wear, and actually found myself breathing better with my heart rate elevated. Too bad it doesn't work like that while I'm running around the restaurant.

Getting back to my regular routine after a week of feeling crudy is still somewhat challenging, though. On the back of my mind is the trail half-marathon I signed up for that takes place on the 25th of this month. I haven't run more than 10 miles since before Thanksgiving. For the $35 entry fee, I definitely don't feel obliged to go run my best race ever, but I want to feel somewhat prepared verses just slogging through it just to check a trail distance event off a bucket list. I don't have a bucket list, anyway.

But slog, I likely will, so I'm hoping at least for good weather and nice scenery. I may leave the ipod at home, too, along with the Garmin. Have you ever opted out of racing in an event to simply participate in it, instead? It's hard for me to swallow my pride sometimes, especially now that I pay to enter these races (as opposed to being shoved onto a bus to run cross country races in upstate NY), but I know that not everything needs to be done for a medal or for time. Some runs are about so much more.

Tomorrow, I will be participating in this virtual run at 11:00 EST / 9:00 MST. We don't know Sherry and I am only somewhat "acquainted" with her cousin via the blogosphere, but this virtual run is an important event taking place to honor Sherry and - in my mind - all victims of senseless tragedy. It's so hard to wrap our minds around why bad things happen to people who have done nothing but give their hearts and souls to their families and communities, but coming together for this run is a way to prove there is still SO much more goodness out there.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Get Back!" Tuesday Night Spin

These past few weeks have brought some major developments. Having my birthday fall at the end of January makes the new year hold a special significance because if there's any time to embrace organized chaos change, it's when you enter into the next year of your life. So far, I have already earned new personal training credentials, gained employment with a new restaurant, and am now getting ready to enroll our daughter in preschool.

And it's only February. I am on a roll and I am not going to let anything slow me down. Not even this bitch of a head cold. So tonight's playlist is for the Mamas out there taking charge of their lives and taking over the world.

I wanted to make my playlist a little more viewer-friendly, hence the new format. You'll notice I do still cycle through some of the same songs, but I'll often mix and match songs from different playlists to suit my mood. There isn't much new on here today, just different. And different is fun and fun is good. So says Dr. Seuss. And maybe Ludacris?

"Get Back" 2/7/12

"Good Feeling" Flo Rida

Warm up on a flat road. After the first minute alternate pedaling with just the left leg for 30s then just the right. Even out to pedal with both legs, focusing on only pushing for 30s then just pulling. Even out and pedal smoothly and evenly for the last minute.

"The Power is On" The Go! Team

Add a gear and pedal quickly on the beat. Position 1 for one minute, position 2 for the second, position 3 (add a gear) for the third.

"Know Your Enemy" Green Day
Jumps- starting on an 8-count then speeding it up to 4-count half-way through.

"Praise You" Fatboy Slim
Take it back to a flat road. Set your pace to the beat (should feel easy). After a minute add a gear and keep the pace. Gradual turn up the dial until you reach the point where it feels really hard to stay on the beat and then hold it there for a full minute. Your legs should ache! Dial it back down to a flat road and recover for a minute then repeat.

"Get Back" Ludacris

Attacks on a hill- start by adding two gears from your flat road (light resistance). Add two more and pick up the pace for the chorus in position 3. Take off ONE gear to sit, add two more for the 2nd chorus, so that each time you stand up it's a little steeper than before. But don't slow down! Try to keep an aggressive pace throughout each push.

"Pumped Up Kicks" Foster the PeopleWherever your resistance was from the previous song, leave it there so long as you can sit and pedal smoothly (if not, dial it back until you can pedal against heavy resistance without getting choppy). Grind it out and crest this monster of a hill.

"Sandstorm" Darude
Take it back to a flat road and recover for one minute. Instead of the usual sprints I do for this song, today we're going to "free-style" it. When the music picks up it's the rider's choice to either 1) sprint, 2) add resistance, or 3) BOTH! The idea is that regardless of whatever you choose to do, you are going to work up to your Heart Rate Max for two intervals.

(220 - your age = your HR Max. This is an approximate formula. If you don't use a monitor, just work at your hardest effort without hyperventilating or throwing up.)

"Lonely Boy" The Black Keys
Recovery runs. Add 2 gears and "jog" in position 2 for the verse, take it off and flush out those legs at a quick (not sprint) pace for the chorus.

"You And I" Lady Gaga
One last big hill. Start at medium resistance and add a gear with each minute until it's heavy enough to need to stand. Then add a little more.

"Shake it Out" Florence and the Machine
Take two gears off from where you maxed out and stay in position 3. Take off one gear and gradually pick up the pace in position 1. Repeat, taking off a gear each time until back at light resistance.

"Walk" Foo FightersSprint intervals on the chorus in position 1. Flat road or light resistance for control and/or extra challenge. This is the last song so make it count and maximize this high-intensity workout with one last solid push!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Shake it up, shake it out"

I'm not one to read a whole lot into a situation. Life happens as it happens and I'm pretty happy to just go with the flow. I tend to think that the more time we spend analyzing any given moment is less time spent actually enjoying it.

But sometimes things happen so conveniently, so effortlessly that I can't ignore my seemingly coincidental good fortune. This past week has been one of those times.

It started Monday, when I called for my schedule at work. A coworker informed me I had been scheduled for two shifts. Two. They had brought in a new manager without so much as showing him where they keep everyone's availability sheets and put him in charge of the schedule, so I can't necessarily blame the error on him alone. I do blame other managers, however, for not recognizing that I have been there for a year and a half, working the exact same 25-30 hours since I started, and suddenly I'm hardly there anymore thanks to the new guy. This was compounded by the fact that I've just been generally unhappy there. A combination of factors - menu prices that don't mesh well with our average clientele and others' inconsistent standards of service - lead to me to the conclusion that it was finally time to get on the ball with my never-ending job hunt and get out of the restaurant I'm in.

On Monday, since I was already down a shift but up a babysitter, I started driving around to various restaurants and gyms. I set out Monday afternoon to fill out applications, try to shake some hands, and see if I couldn't come up with any other ideas for my immediate future. Nothing seemed to lead to anything, as I watched my applications get shoved underneath hostess stands and watched my Gmail inbox remain empty of any new messages in response to resumes (both for serving and personal training) I had sent out in the previous week. Almost frustrated to the point of giving up and driving home, I started heading back toward our house when I remembered a newer restaurant that opened in a hotel nearby. I figured, what the hell, and drove over.

Upon walking in, I was given the standard run-around.

"I can take you down to HR but they probably won't talk to walk-ins."

Go down to HR. They don't want to talk to my having-just-walked-in self.

"Well let's see if I can get you on this computer to do our application online."
Computers are offline.

"Well let me scribble a web address on a Post-it and tell you to do it at home."

Post-it gets crumbled in a fist behind my back as she turns away to lead me back up to the lobby.

As we walked across the lobby, a man in a suit is walking toward us headed in the opposite direction. "Oh, that's our GM, maybe you can talk to him," says not-so-helpful girl (can't say she didn't try, which I do appreciate). She catches his attention and tells him I'm interested in a position at the restaurant. "Great!" Says the fancy suited man in a fancy French accent. "A serving position just opened up."

With his business card in hand, he sent me home with instructions to apply online (good thing the crumbled post-it remained in my purse and hadn't yet made it to the trash) and then to immediately email him my resume.

Two days later was the interview. According to them and their executive chef, who opened a restaurant around the corner from where I worked in Greenville, I was hired so long as my background check came through clean and clear from HR. And I have to take a drug test. I think I'll be OK on that one.

Later that day, one of the managers at the current restaurant got fired. I don't know any circumstances surrounding his termination, but I'm taking it as a sign that I'm making the right move at the right time.

It took several months for me to arrive at the decision that it wasn't going to matter if my next job would be in an apron or professional fitness attire. I worried that once a server, always a server. This past week I realized I'm fine with doing either so long as the passion is there. Honestly, I figure you can't have a passion for fitness if you don't have a passion for food, as both are so closely entwined in the overall picture of health and wellness.

I mean, the new restaurant I'll be working for does an elevated version of southern friend chicken and boasts a respectful house-made charcuterie platter... but let's just let that one go for the moment.