Sunday, May 11, 2014

Half Marathon "Training"

I ran today! It was my first legitimate run outside in ages.... 5 months to be exact.

I don't run anymore, especially long distances.

Let's take a quick look at my current fitness routine: total body functional workouts a couple times a week that rarely last longer than 25-30 minutes. I occasionally do treadmill sprint intervals for 10-15 minutes, and I lift weights when I'm in the mood. I am fit, healthy and strong, I just haven't done any real endurance training in a really long time....

So here's a cool benefit of being fit, healthy, and strong: you can go out for a 7+ mile run completely on a whim and survive.

It was such a gorgeous day outside!

As I was getting ready to go outside, I looked out my window and saw the sunshine, looked up the weather and saw that it was 70-degrees. The excitement was quickly mounting.  I used to love running outdoors in the summertime, and I was really looking forward to getting back into it!

However once I got outside, I wondered what the heck I was thinking. Less than 3 minutes into my run, I was bored. No wonder I don't run anymore. It's so boring. I was also in pain. My legs hurt. Going for a long run the day after TRX was not the greatest idea. But it had to be done. I'm running a half marathon next weekend!!! YES. The Brooklyn Half Marathon is actually happening this year. So I figured it was prudent to get in at least one semi-long run before race day.

Thankfully, I found my stride less than 10 minutes into the run, and things got easier. I started moving along at a fairly quick, yet comfortable pace. I was even starting to enjoy myself a little.  Checked my heart rate a few times throughout the run and it seemed pretty high for such an easy pace (168-180) but I guess that's due to being out of practice.

By the second lap around the park, I started struggling.  I really had to keep talking to myself and coaching myself through to the end. I felt like I was talking to one of my clients "you can do it!! keep going!! almost there!! push through!! you got this!!" And I did it. I kept going, and I survived.

So today begins - and ends - my half marathon training. That's it. One single 7-mile run.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'm ready. Let's do this.

All I've ever wanted to do is enter a fitness competition.  Not like bodybuilding, where you just walk around and pose.  I want to perform a choreographed fitness routine.  This has always been my ultimate goal.  It's the whole reason I got into competing in the first place.
However, since I never felt capable of performing a routine, but still wanted the experience of doing a show, I settled on entering the Bikini/Model division.  From my very first show, I had a blast.  I loved it so much!  I was hooked! 
Just a couple months later, I decided on a whim to enter a Figure competition. This was a huge leap of faith, and in just about 2 months, I had completely transformed my entire physique. My first figure prep experience pushed me to my limits. It took me so far outside my comfort zone and tested me in ways I never dreamed possible. Despite how much I hated show prep, I stuck with it. I loved the personal challenge of prepping for a show. As someone who thrives on challenges, I live for that sky-high feeling of ultimate accomplishment, the well-deserved reward for pushing yourself beyond your own perceived personal limits. Any bikini competitor, distance runner, or elite athlete should understand exactly what I'm talking about. That feeling you get once it's all over, and suddenly you realize, it was all worth it... THAT's what I'm talking about.
But what happens when you look back and decide it wasn't worth it!? Even after accomplishing your goal, what happens when you look back on all the sacrifices you made along the way and decide that, the climb just wasn't worth the fall. What if, it just wasn't all you had hoped for? 
I basically catapulted myself into a figure competition.  As a result, I was 100% dedicated and determined to pull it off... and I did!!  But no great achievements come without a cost. I made countless sacrifices, often dreamed about my "old life," and was probably a little too strict with myself during my prep. 
There's this nasty little thing called "post-show" that no one really talks about because it really is SO ugly, but every competitor experiences it to some degree. It's usually worst after your first couple shows until you learn coping strategies. I fell apart after my show. I had no idea how to deal, and I ended up floundering around for weeks, trying hopelessly to pull myself back together. Weeks turned into months and it didn't get much better. My post-show experience was UGLY.  We're talking straight up processed junk for almost every meal. Every day. For months. But enough about that (see?? I told you no one wants to talk about it...)
Post-show was so miserable, I swore I'd never compete again. 
I've made huge strides since then. Over a year and a half later, I am healthier and stronger than I've ever been in my entire life. Plus, I'm getting physically stronger every day.  
I'm ready compete again. I'm ready to pick up the rest of the pieces, dust myself off, and push myself to see how far I really can go. 
I actually WANT to do this. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

To compete, or not to compete. That is the question.

We are less than 12 weeks out from my potential show date, and I am still trying to decide if competing in a show this fall is a wise decision...
I better decide soon, because in order to do something like this, you need to be 100% committed.  In other words, I need to decide wholeheartedly, without a doubt, that I am doing this show.  If I continue to deliberate too long, it's just not going to happen.  Half-assed effort just won't cut it when it comes to prepping for a show. 
I'm genuinely afraid of getting distracted from my primary goal.  Figure prep is all-consuming, and if it distracts me in any way, from my primary goal of doing Fitness, I don't want to do it. 
I am mostly afraid that choosing to compete this fall will eat into my budget for competing in fitness next spring.  The cost of competing gives me serious anxiety every time I think about it (we're talking hundreds, even thousands of dollars), and I know that fitness is even more expensive than the other divisions once you add in choreography, music, etc...
I technically "can" afford it, but I'm constantly thinking about all the opportunity costs. If I were not competing, I could have bought myself the iPad I've been wanting for YEARS.  I could have spent more money on fun experiences in NYC, like Broadway shows and travelled more often. I could have treated myself to more spa days, ate at fancier restaurants, or even splurged on some expensive designer clothes.  I've refrained from doing all of those things, because my budget has been tighter than ever since I began this lifestyle... all the personal training, online coaching, posing sessions, not to mention wholesome fresh food, supplements galore, and all the glitz & glam for show day... it all adds up fast!!  With all the money I've spent so far, I could have gone on vacation to Hawaii - at least two or three times by now.  It's a choice you have to make.
If prepping for Figure will detract from my ability to make real strength gains, if I miss out on valuable time practicing the fitness moves, if I loose endurance, power or flexibility in the process, I don't want to compete this fall. 
I'm also afraid of that nasty thing called post-show.  If prepping for a Figure show - god forbid - messes up my metabolism, uses up all my energy, or throws me back into the depths of ice cream-filled despair, I don't want to do it.  
All these fears keep floating around in my head - some rational. some irrational. But all are very real.
I've dreamed of competing in fitness for so long, that no matter how close I get to making my dream a reality, it's so hard to imagine it actually happening
I just don't want to screw it up.
So the question remains, do I pour 100% of my thoughts, time and energy into preparing for my Fitness show next Spring, and forget about anything else - like other shows - in the meantime?
Can I successfully handle doing both!?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Brooklyn Half, here I come!

I'm registered for the Brooklyn Half Marathon!! It's going to be my first half marathon since September 2011! I am really excited about this. May 18, 2012 is the big day.

I caught wind of registration earlier this week and immediately decided to do this race.  Friday morning at work, I was watching the clock like a hawk, ready to register the second registration opened, at 12pm on the dot. I even excused myself from a meeting early just to make sure I wouldn't miss out (yes, this race is THAT popular and it sells out extremely quickly).

My excitement came with a steep price tag though. $75 to be exact. That is a lot of money for a race!!  Is this how much NYRR is charging these days!?  Granted I let my membership expire last year so my registration costs slightly more than it does for NYRR members, but still... races are expensive these days. No wonder I stopped running.

This will be my grand foray back into the world of racing and I couldn't be more excited about it. The Brooklyn Half is a wonderful race.  I ran in May 2011 and it's one of my all-time favorite races. 

The Brooklyn Half is SUCH a fun race and I have nothing but good memories from that day. It was a fantastic kick-off to the summer, the first time I'd ever been to Coney Island, etc.  It's the perfect time of year when the weather starts getting warm again, and it's just an all around great race.  Easily the best out of the 5-borough series and the only race I've ran in NYC that I can say hands-down is a "must do." 

It's even better now that I live in Brooklyn, right by Prospect Park.  I can walk to the starting line!!!!  No more waking up at 4:30 am just to travel an hour on the subway to get there! woot!

Last year, I was completely out of touch with the running community.  Thanks to figure training, I had to give up distance running entirely, and I completely missed last year's race. 2012 in general was a very sad year in my running career. After missing last year, I'm especially psyched to be running this race again! Training will be fun, running around my new 'hood, through the park, over bridges, along the waterfront, and all around Brooklyn. So thankful for an excuse to get out for some leisurely long runs once the weather starts getting warmer.

I've been running lots of sprints lately, so I'm going to PR this race, I just know it.  That's my goal anyway, and it's very attainable, so I'm going out on a limb here and just declaring that I'm going to PR.  My previous Half Marathon PR is from June 2011 - nearly 2 years ago - and my last PR before that was from 2009 - another 2 years earlier.  So, I'm definitely due for another half marathon PR!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting Back into Shape

Thursday night around 11pm I noticed an email in my inbox.  Reign was hosting a free Tabura class at the 34th St Crunch. I'm not currently a member, so this was the perfect opportunity to get in a great workout. Why not!?  I've missed Tabura and the gym in general, and I've missed the group exercise scene. Nowhere have I felt more at home than walking into the gym and getting ready to take part in a group exercise class, whether as a participant or as the instructor. I walk in there, I know exactly what to do and I feel at "home."  Of course I went to the class, nearly died, and had a blast.

Saturday morning rolled around and when I woke up, my entire body was SORE. I couldn't believe it!! Especially my back!!! Tabura is AWESOME, I swear. If you haven't tried it yet and you're a member of Crunch, definitely check out Reign's class.  Not only is it super fun and the energy is awesome, you will walk away DRENCHED in sweat and totally feeling like you got in a total body workout. You won't be able to walk the next day.

I really wasn't in the mood to go to Pilates the next morning, but as the instructor, I had to follow through with my commitment.  I took my time getting out the door and ended up being 15 minutes late.  I sort of knew in the back of my mind that no one would show so I wasn't too concerned about it. I sat in the park for a while just people-watching, then willed myself to get of the bench and go to the farmers market. On my way out of the park, I discovered a free pop-up yoga event!  I noticed all these yoga mats laying in the grassy triangle at the entrance to the park; I was curious and couldn't help but stop to see what was going on. Freelancers Union was promoting it's new health clinic in Park Slope and holding free half hour yoga classes. I figured, why not? Plus I could REALLY use something relaxing like yoga after yesterdays' Tabura class. So I ended up getting a free half hour yoga class, plus I walked away with a pretty sweet turquoise yoga mat and a matching carrying bag. You never know what you'll find in Brooklyn, I must say. I live in a pretty awesome neighborhood. (Did you know Brooklyn was voted the "coolest city in the country" by GQ magazine!?!)  Then I got in my shopping at the farmers market and made my way home in enough time to get ready for tutoring.

It's about time I started getting back into shape.  Going to Tabura followed by yoga the very next day was exactly the kick in the butt I needed. It re-ignited the fire inside, and I quickly rediscovered my passion for exercising.  I resolved to join the gym again immediately. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting Out of Shape

This weather has been dragging me down lately, and all the junk I've been eating hasn't helped my energy levels.  My poor immune system is struggling to deal with the changing seasons. At times like these, motivation is extremely difficult to come by.

I am out of shape. I'm very curious what my body fat percent is right now, because it's probably over 25%.  Even though 25% is considered the high end of "fit" "athletic" or "average" depending on what chart you reference, for me this is unacceptable.  Quite frankly, the ONLY reason I would ever reach body fat levels in the high 20's or even into the 30's, is if I sat around eating absolutely nothing but junk (high sodium, high fat, highly processed foods) and did absolutely no physical activity whatsoever for months on end. Or if my metabolism just decided to up and quit or crash for no apparent reason. I'm approaching unacceptable body fat levels and need to rectify this immediately.

Maybe my views on acceptable body fat percentages are somewhat skewed after being a distance runner, fitness enthusiast, fitness instructor and most recently, a figure competitor, but that's just the way it is.  Although I may appear to be fit and healthy, for all intents and purposes I am very out of shape. There is a lot of fat on my body.  I say this with complete objectivity, because it's true. 

Now, I know what you're all thinking... "but Julie. you're not fat. you've never been fat! you're fit and healthy and you've always been thin." Yes, to a degree this is true; my overall physique is still slim and slender, and I still have a fairly "fit" appearance.  I just have a lot of fat on my body. It's time to do something about this.