Monday, September 20, 2010

C25k Plus

For the last six weeks or so, I have attempted to incorporate regular exercise into my daily routine.  I, like many people, struggle with making/taking the time to exercise.  Since moving, however, I have had exclusive access to workout equipment including a treadmill, an exercise machine that does everything, weight benches, dumbbells and an incline bench.  So, I told myself that there is no real excuse for not getting off my butt and getting moving.

My initial plan was to exercise with My Friend five days a week. We were going to alternate equipment on alternating days.  On Day 1, I would use the treadmill while he used the machines and weights.  On Day 2, I would use the machines and weights while he used the treadmill.  And so on and so forth.  That was the plan. Of course, the plan didn’t work out like I had imagined it would.

My Friend realized that he is used to having a spotter when using weights.  He found himself doing a set and then sitting around wasting too much time during his rest in between sets.  Whereas, if he had a spotter, he would do a set, his spotter would do a set and then they would switch back and forth giving adequate rest time while not wasting time.  He also prefers to do more treadmill work which causes conflict because we both like hitting the treadmill each time we work out.

 The plan I had for myself was to follow the Couch to 5K plan three days per week and then weight train on the off days.  I found myself conflicted regarding this because I like to weight train and do cardio together in order to burn more calories.  (Thank you Jillian Michaels!)  And, I have found in the past that my legs benefit from a good days break in-between running.

So, the last six weeks have been a trial and error type thing until we could get into a routine that we both liked. Unfortunately, My Friend caught a wretched cold about two and a half weeks ago and hasn’t come back to working out with me since.  Though I enjoyed the idea of working out with a partner, I don’t mind going it alone.  I actually prefer it given we both want to use the treadmill. Now there’s no waiting or fighting over it.

My workouts got off to a rocky start. The first week that I started, everything in life just kind of blew up. My Friend had someone quit at work so he was having to work a lot more and a lot later to cover for this person.  We were house-sitting as well and some other odd things came up. I got in two workouts that week and then had three days of nothing so I gave myself a full week and started all over again.

I started with Week 1 of the Couch to 5K program.  After each session on the treadmill, I would do some weight training.  My favorite moves consist of the following:

·       Lunges with bicep curls with 5 lb dumbbells (moving up to 10 lb)

·       Side Lunge with Anterior Shoulder Raise with 5 lb dumbbells

·       Overhead Tricep Extensions with 10 lb dumbbell

·       Tricep Kickbacks with 5 lb dumbbells

·       Chest Fly with 5 lb dumbbells (moving up to 10 lb)

·       Standing Leg Extension with Shoulder Press using 5 lb dumbbells

·       Should Shrugs with 10 lb dumbbells

·       Sit-ups on the incline bench (2 sets of 5)

Most of these exercises come from Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred dvd.  (I heart Jillian!) I also have to share that I had a bit of a misadventure doing sit-ups on the incline bench. Being a smartass, apparently, I executed 3 sets of 10 sit-ups on the incline bench during my first week of exercise.  I couldn’t rotate my torso for two weeks.  Standing up and sitting down without the support of my arms was torture.  I even gave it another week after that to make sure I was fully healed.  Now, I take it easy eeking out two sets of five.  They say you can’t do much harm to your stomach muscles, but au contraire, mon frère.  Really!  It hurt! Like hell!

I’m also taking it easy with the whole C25K thing.  I’m the kind of person that likes to be good at something before I move on to the next level or the next stage.  Instead of immediately going from week 1 to week 2 to week 3 and so on, I’m doing each week of training for two weeks.  I just finished my second week of week 3 and started my first week of week 4 last night.  This gives me time to build up a little stamina. It gives me time to get bored of something before I move on and I have a better feeling that I will be able to accomplish the next week.

Going in, I already knew that I liked to run. I don’t love it, but I like it well enough to do it.  I had never run on a treadmill though. I had only run outside. At first, I didn’t think I’d like the treadmill. There’s very little margin for error when it comes to footing and timing. You have to keep your feet moving. There’s no real cheating (which is good for me) unless you step off to the side.  I really have to make an effort to pay attention and keep my eyes forward otherwise I’m likely to veer off to the side and that is a tooth loss waiting to happen. 

The benefits that I have found when running on a treadmill as compared to outside is that the surface is smooth and consistent. No worrying about stepping in a hole or on something and twisting your ankle.  No worrying about someone coming up behind you on a bike or having to pass anyone.  You can maintain a consistent speed which I have found to be much harder when running outside.  You can track your speed and distance easily. 

I’m sure that, should I ever want to train for a race, it would behoove me to train outside or on a track. From what I can figure, and I have done zero research on the matter, there is a something lacking in treadmill running.  When you run outside, you have to use your legs to push yourself forward.  When running on a treadmill, you really just keep your legs moving while the belt moves for you. There’s no real force to keep your body moving in the forward motion.  Like I said, I’m not expert on the subject but this is what I think about when I’m on the treadmill needing something to keep my mind off the monotony of running.

The main purpose of my exercise endeavor is to try to have a healthy body.   My doctor once said that the only fountain of youth out there is exercise and I buy into that school of thought.  I wouldn’t mind toning up and losing 7-8 lbs either. Though, I do know enough about exercise to know that three days per week probably isn’t going to cut it if I want to lose weight. It will help me maintain my weight, but not lose it necessarily. And given that I only have 7-8 lbs to lose, it may take a lot more work to lose than if I had 100 lbs to lose.  I don’t own a scale so I couldn’t really tell you if I’ve lost weight or not. I did notice that my pants are a little bit looser, but it may be a fluke too. (I don’t want to jinx it.)  I would like to work up to getting exercise 5 days a week since we are planning another trip to Cabo San Lucas in about six months. So I have six months to get in shape. =)

So far, I’m enjoying my workouts. I usually have a Friday-Saturday break making my Sunday a great running day. My legs are well rested and I am eager to get back at it.  (I find my calves to be my biggest obstacle – always tight and always burning.)  Usually the second day, Tuesday, is the roughest. I’m tired from work, my body isn’t as rested and I am just dreading hauling my butt to the treadmill.  By Thursday, my third day, I feel accomplished that I made it through another week.  I am pretty proud that I’ve kept up the pace and kept going. I hope, again, that I’m not jinxing myself.

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