Guess who got caught in a crazy thunder storm on a run after work, at the furthest part of her 5 mile loop, with a metal water bottle in hand:

And metal keys in her back pocket?

 

This girl:

Yeesh. Not gonna lie, that was pretty intense. I guess hiding under a huge tree for a few minutes wasn’t the smartest decision of my life either.

Oh well. I’m home now, soaked, tired, and juuu-uust fine. However, that was about enough excitement for today. I’m off to make some dinner. Operation Eat Everything in My Fridge has commenced. I’ve got some work to do!

 

Then it’s time to start packing. First up? Under my bathroom sink.

Yeah. This will be fun.

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For the better part of my life after college, my goal has been to be an “effortless runner”.

You know, like one of those people who can just run. Someone who makes it look easy. And fun.

Sadly, I am not one of those people.

Sure, I’ve run a half marathon before (with a time of 2:15, which averages out to about a 10:30 pace. Not bad. But certainly not “effortless runner” status.)

And aside from that, I’ve got several 5 milers and 10ks under my belt.

My fastest pace in a race has been a 9:02 mile. It was a 10k. And boy was I proud. (Side note: this is not where I am now. It makes me sad.)

Anyway, the bottom line is– I can run. I’m just not good at it.

Recently, I haven’t really been focusing too much on my running, and have been concentrating more on strength, flexibility, and functional exercises.

But the past few weeks, I’ve been getting the itch to run another long race. For a while I couldn’t figure out why, but yesterday, in the middle of a set of 28kg kettlebell swings, it hit me.

While my workouts have certainly been kicking my butt, there’s been something lacking.

I just haven’t been feeling…accomplished.

I don’t want to work out just to work out. I need a goal. Something to work towards.

And since I accomplished my push up goal (3 sets of 12 full ones! Go me! Go me!), I think it might be time to embark on another running goal.

Perhaps a…marathon.

Or, maybe another half first. (Baby steps, here, people. Baby steps.)

But, I have also decided that if I’m going to do this, I’m going to this right. I don’t want to run a long race just to run it.

I want to run it, and feel good.

I want to feel accomplished.

So, step one is to work on how I run. After years of running in my Saucony’s, my gait, posture, and overall technique leaves much to be desired.

I basically look like I’m always running headlong into a gust of 30 mph wind.

Which is why I’ll be purchasing this book:

Without boring you too much with science, it teaches you to run from your core, not from your legs. Translation: Less injury. Stronger body.

If you want to read more, go to the Chi Running website. And if you want the book, you can get it on Amazon.

For a little more inspiration, I will also be getting Born to Run:

And along with the books, I’m making the jump to Vibram Five Fingers.

Yes. These things:

Don’t knock ’em til you try ’em. (Actually, I haven’t tried them yet. But, I know they are what I need.)

So, expect a few posts here and there as I slowly wade into the barefoot running craze. My research suggests it’s a very slow process, so a long race might be kind of far off.

But for the first time in a long time, I’m actually excited about the gym again.

And in the words of Martha Stewart, that is a very good thing.

Try as I might, I always seem to have run-ins with the homeless people around my building.

There’s the guy who still loves to call me Thunder Thighs.

There’s the guy who I walk by everyday who is holding a sign that says “I Need Alcohol or a Redhead”.

(Talk about awkward. I always kind of speed walk past him and pretend to look the other way…as if me doing this will cover up the fact that I am one of his “needs” written on his piece of cardboard.)

And then there’s the one who punched me.

No, really. He punched me.

It was about 4:30 pm on a nice, sunny day.

He was hiding in a doorway, quite obviously calculating his attack on some poor, unsuspecting person.

I was happily on my way to the T after work.

I remember I was in a particularly good mood that day– smiling and walking with an extra spring in my step.

(Although, that was probably my first mistake– seeing someone with a huge, annoying smile on their face can definitely make you want to punch them.)

Anyway, as I trotted on by, he jumped out, made a fist, wound up– and punched me (hard!) on the shoulder.

Then he turned around and walked away.

At first, I was shocked. I mean, what the hell did I do to him?

And then I didn’t really know what to do.

Do I go after him? Do I keep walking?

Do I continue to stand on the sidewalk, holding my arm like a gimp, staring after him in disbelief?

My first instinct told me to see what others around me were doing.

So I did one of those weird, quick side-to-side head swivels to see if anyone else had seen.

(You know the head swivel I’m talking about , right? Like when you trip over absolutely nothing and are wondering if anyone else saw it too, but don’t want to make it seem too obvious that you’re looking around, so you do a kind of jerky, shifty-eyed glance to your left and right? Yeah– it was one of those.)

There was one lady that looked like she was giving me a funny look. But I couldn’t tell if it was out of concern, compassion, or if she was just blind or something.

My thunder thighs homeless guy was there, but he was too busy panhandling and harassing others to pay me much attention.

(Any other day, and this would have delighted me. But damn it– I just got punched. Pay attention to me!)

It was like nobody had seen the abuse I had just endured. I was scared and alone in the middle of a sidewalk with my poor arm hanging, limp and useless, at my side, and nobody cared.*

(*the couple months that have passed since this incident may have led to some slight exaggerating on my part.)

In the end, I went into CVS for a few minutes.

I have no idea why I did that.

I didn’t need anything at CVS.

I guess I felt like I had to take cover in case The Puncher came thundering back to rain more blows onto my poor, battered body.

Once I had stood in Aisle 3 for a few minutes, I began to feel stupid. So, I left and continued on my way home.

Same person as before, just with a nice new bruise on my right shoulder.

I Lost My Sneakers

January 6, 2011

Seriously…I have no idea where they could be.

I wore them to and from the gym last Friday and sometime between then and now, they up and walked away.

And although barefoot running is all the rage right now too (for good reason), I can’t go to the gym and run barefoot on the treadmill or go in the weights area with no shoes because I’m pretty sure that’s against gym policy. Read:

“Closed-toe athletic shoes must be worn at all times on the courts and in the fitness and exercise areas.”

Damn.

In lieu of my sneaker-less dilemma, I’ve been forced to do more kettlebell workouts this week, simply because I can sneak into one of group exercise rooms and do them barefoot without anyone yelling at me to put some shoes on.

So, for now, kettlebells it is. And it’s kicking my ass. I’m actually sore today!

In celebration, I wanted to share a few videos with those of you who might be interested in the good old KBs, but have no idea what to do with them, or for those that are looking for something new to spice up your routine.

Without further adieu:

Video 1:
Kettlebell Basics with Steve Cotter


This guy is insane. Anyone that can do a double-snatch with any kettlebell is awesome, let alone the ludicrous amount of weight he’s using.

Anyway, I like this video because it focuses on the four basic kettlebell movements: swing, snatch, clean, and overhead press. These four exercises alone will kick your ass. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and try it. One 30-60 second set of each, 3-4 times through, one minute rest after each circuit. You’ll be dying.

Video 2:
5×5 Finisher

This is an awesome way to finish up any strength training workout:
5 snatches
5 cleans
5 squats
5 overhead presses
5 lunges
(rest 1 minute)
Repeat on the other side of your body

I did this the other day after 40 minutes of regular lifting combined with some kettlebell circuits. Five minutes of this had me sweating more than those 40 minutes did. And I was only using a 12 kg KB. (Green, for you colored-oriented folk.)

This can also be a great workout if you’re really pressed for time. 2 or 3 times through and your heart rate will be through the roof.

Video 3:
Finally, the Kettlebell Meltdown 300 Workout

Not for the faint of heart:
25 V-ups
50 snatches
25 push ups
50 swings
50 burpees
50 clean and press
50 mountain climbers

All in a row, as fast as you can.

Amazing workout, but only for people who are already in good shape, and are comfortable with kettlebells. The guy in this video finished in 11 minutes and 16 seconds using a 24 kg bell. That’s almost 53 pounds he was swinging around. I know– he make sit look easy. Jerk.

So, resolutioners, if you’re looking to get in shape, do it right. Skip the treadmill and stationary weight machines. Please. Believe me when I say, those won’t do anything for your overall health and fitness. If you don’t believe me, read this post, “Resolve to move BETTER”, written by one of the people who introduced me to the glory of kettlebells. What she says is true.

But, before you trot down to the gym and start swinging around a bell like a bat out of hell, always have a certified (preferably RKC or AOS) trainer show you how to use them first. While KBs are a great way to get stronger/fitter/all-around more awesome, they can also seriously hurt you if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. If the trainer doesn’t know what RKC or AOS is, avoid him/her.

Happy training!

Gingervitis

November 24, 2009

Fun fact of the day: I’m an endangered species.

No really. I am. Read this article.

That’s right folks. Redheads are going extinct.

How in the world are you all going to carry on without us?

Of course, this begs the question: how many of you know a redhead, better known as a ginger?

I know a few. Aside from the completely obvious fact that I’ve got glowing strands of red atop my head, there are several gingers roaming around my circle of friends, including one of my best and oldest friends.

(Hi Bridge!)

And besides the unfortunate creature known as Carrot Top, I think redheads are pretty damn cool.

So, when I read this article about a poor little redheaded boy getting beat up by his classmates, it really upset me.

I mean, seriously!

Don’t they know Kick a Ginger Day is in March??

Oh, relax. I’m kidding.

I know it’s in July.

OK, but really guys. Listen, I’m all for poking fun at different…ummm…types of people. There’s nothing wrong with having a little laugh at someone else’s expense. And by no means have I ever been sensitive about my red hair. Carrot Top, Red, Pumpkin Head…I’ve heard them all.

But when the fun and games turn to violence, that’s when you know its gone too far.

Have you ever heard of Kick a Jew Day?

Or Kick an Asian Day?

What? Do you find that offensive?

Then how is Kick a Ginger Day any different?

That’s what I thought.

So lay off, you big brutes! If you’d like a have a little non-violent fun at our expense, please visit the Ginger Kids website. But stop kicking us, damn it!

And PS- If you’d like to send a condolence gift to my poor endangered self, feel free to mail one directly to my home address.

Monetary donations can be directly deposited into my PayPal account.

Thank you for giving me free gifts…uh, I mean…supporting this great cause.

I’m not a Biggest Loser enthusiast. I don’t know why, I just never got into the show. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I don’t always agree with the way they train the contestants, and it makes me cringe to see bad form, unsafe exercises, and overall incompetence on a show that draws millions of viewers each week.

Which brings me to Jillian Michaels and her kettlebell swing. It scares me to think a public figure such as her, who millions look to for exercise advice and follow her programs and routines, would be irresponsible enough to promote a piece of equipment she virtuously knows nothing about. Any kettlebell enthusiast, be it beginner or expert, can tell you the kettlebell exercises she is teaching the contestants this season are not only wrong, but are almost guaranteed to cause pain and injury to some, if not all of those who try them.

Kettlebells are THE thing to use these days. They promote power, strength, functionality, flexibility…I could go on and on. But for a trainer to merely jump on the bandwagon and teach what they call “proper” kettlebell form and exercises to a group of unsuspecting and naive people is dangerous, wrong, and goes against everything a professional trainer stands for.

Yes, Jillian Michaels might call herself an expert. And don’t get me wrong, she is a good trainer…in SOME aspects of the industry. But just because she is a famous exercise professional does not make her an expert in all fields. Kettlebells are a piece of exercise equipment that take a lot of training, dedication, and hard work to master the correct form and technique.

The scary thing is, she apparently is planning on using only kettlebells and body weight exercises to train her clients this season. I can’t believe the show would allow her to do this without any knowledge or proof that she knows what she is doing.

If you would like to see the difference between the right and wrong way to do a kettlebell swing (and this is just one of the exercises Jillian Michaels does so horribly wrong), check out this video posted by Sandy Sommer, a certified Russian Kettlebell Instructor (RKC).

Jillian Michaels, take note. And to all of you out there, a word to the wise. Just because she is famous, just because she trains contestants on the Biggest Loser, and just because she has an exercise DVD does NOT mean she knows what she is doing with kettlebells. If you’re interested in learning correct kettlebell technique, look for someone who is RKC or AOS (Art of Strength) certified.

I’m always looking for new exercises to add to my workout routine. Not only does it keep the boredom at bay, but I usually am able to find an exercise or two that makes me work a part of my body that I was not previously working. (I know I’ve found such an exercise when I wake up sore the next morning and say, “I didn’t even know I HAD a muscle there!”)

I ran across this website while trolling Twitter. An old colleague from my personal training days posted it. The article mentions a bunch of exercises that most people don’t do in their regular routine, but should.

Now, don’t be deterred by the name of the website. Performing these exercises will not make you look like a bodybuilder. (I’m living proof of that.) In fact, most of the exercises featured focus on core strength, flexibility, and overall body stability…all aspects of your training that are important and essential to everyday life. And you’ll also see many of the exercises are using my new favorite piece of equipment, the kettlebell. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see my kettlebell classes incorporate almost all of these exercises.

You don’t need to do every single exercise in every one of your workouts, but I recommend trying a few of these exercises next time you hit the gym. As always though, if you are new to the gym and/or kettlebells, or are unsure how to perform any of these exercises, make sure you ask a certified trainer to help you out, because safety and avoiding injury should be at the top of your priority list. Have fun, and let me know if you try any of these! I’d like to know how they work out for you. (No pun intended…)