Category Archives: challenges

February Yoga Challenge

I’ve been looking, scanning, scouring for tips and tricks to get myself more motivated to be a little more consistent in my yoga practice. I love me some yoga, but struggle to make it a regular part of my routine… I’ve been interested in trying out hot yoga as well, but haven’t yet made it happen.

As fate would have it, a Groupon landed in my inbox last week — 25 yoga classes at Be Yoga for $25. WHOA! Since many drop-in classes at yoga studios are around $15-20 a piece, this was a steal — if I go once, it pretty much pays for itself. And the perk? Many of their classes are heated yoga classes, too! While I’m more interested in trying Bikram (hot) yoga, I think this will challenge me to try a more intense, decidedly-heated atmosphere before I jump into this challenge at some point. (Go big or go home, right?)

Heather recently posted about her yogaversary and mentioned a month-long challenge she did several months ago and what she gained from it. I really felt inspired reading that, and since February is American Heart Month, I have decided to embrace the heart-healthiness of yoga and challenge myself to a month (albeit a short one) of daily yoga in honor of heart health awareness.

Stay tuned… and namaste.

Back in the game

After taking about two weeks off to nurse an injury– caused by (in succession): a birthday (mine), a beach, dancing, and (lots of) alcohol — I decided tonight after I got home from work that it was ‘now or never,’ so to speak with regard to a run I’ve been wanting to go on for over a week. My knee has not hurt for the last week or so, but it does feel ‘funny’ sometimes and there’s been a twinge of something ‘not quite right’ if I flex it back too far or too hard.

That said, the trial trots up and down my office’s hallway and around my apartment were telling me that my knee was much better, but I still didn’t want to push it. (Okay, I was being lazy, too.)

But tonight I ran. I did an 11:20 mile pace, which is better than I’d been running before I tweaked my knee. I felt light, I felt strong, my pace was good and my form was awesome. Having stood at the edge of that “Oh, crap! I need to do that! Big Sur is coming up in May! I don’t want to duck out because of injury!” cliff, I’m completely one-hundred percent relieved that tonight’s easy run went so well… And really, it wasn’t so scary after all… 🙂

Here’s to a good 3-miler (hopefully! will have to see if body is willing…) tomorrow!

Spinning, spinning

Many will play, but she of strong mind and bottom tissue will prevail.

Last week, I took on a bold challenge in fitness: my very first spin class. I left work promptly at 5 and drove down to Planet Granite. My intention was to make it there in time for a 5:45 yoga class, but apparently there are no Monday night 5:45 classes. Not really wanting to wait it out until 7:30, I grabbed a snack and some water and checked out the class schedule — there had to be something else, right?

And there it was: “Cycling — 6:30 — Carole.”

Bingo.

Now, as I’d mentioned, I never tried this. I knew it would be hard, I knew it would probably hurt the next day, but what the hell. At the beginning of class, Carole got us warmed up and worked her way around the room to check out the bike set-up for any newbies (yours truly). I’d set mine up almost perfectly without any assistance, so you can imagine that after giving myself some mental kudos, something pretty humbling would have to occur next — because, of course, when I get those little ego boosts, inevitably something ridiculous has to happen. It’s like gravity.

Well, having gone to the gym with the explicit intention of doing yoga, I hardly came prepared with the appropriate footwear. Most of the people in the class donned snazzy looking spin shoes, but of course, I was left with the Sophie’s choice of this-is-not-a-smart-idea-Robyn-Elizabeth footwear: rock climbing shoes or my Vibram Five Fingers (another post for another day — I have drank the barefoot running Kool-Aid).

I opted for the Five Fingers.

Are you wincing?? (Rachel, did you just slap your forehead? I know. I. KNOW.) Yes, I often have to learn lessons the hard way — like “Why You Should Always Wear Stiff-soled Shoes to Spin Class.” Carole advised me not to wear those shoes again and to be very careful if I wanted to spin. Since she wasn’t outright kicking me out, I happily nodded and pedaled on. (Seriously, this is where the ominous music starts playing…)

And then the class really got going. We did jumps, we did hills, we spun fast, we spun slow, we cranked the resistance (whimper!), and we let up the resistance (aaahhh!) until an hour later, our class was just one big hot mess. I never knew my own body contained that much fluid to sweat, but apparently it did. The guy next to me had his own puddle under his bike. (Yeah, gross, but impressive!)

After the class, my knees really did not like me. They were angry with the workout (undoubtedly, their rage was misdirected — the shoes were the culprit). My butt REALLY, REALLY did not like me. (When was the last time I’d ever been on a bike? Ouch.) I’d found myself doing more jumps in class just to get my derriere off of the saddle. I wonder if Carole thought I was pushing myself. I just thought I needed to keep my butt bones from boring through what I assumed would be adequate padding…

Aside from being sore for a few days (the good kind of sore, mostly), I really liked the class — so much so I did it again tonight… with better footwear. I’m still trying to decide if it’s my good fortune or not to have decided to try spinning when the instructor is in the middle of her “Extreme November!” challenge — this week’s theme was “Extreme Strength!” — Oh. Goodness.

But in the words of our out-going Governator, “I’ll be back.”

Have you ever tried spinning? What was your first time like?

The Morning Person Experiment

alarm clock

My alarm clock doesn't look like this -- it looks like an iPhone. But have you ever woken up to one of these? Frightening.

Good morning!! I promise, I haven’t been *completely* absent — last week, I posted about a diet/health book I’m test-driving with my best friend only to find WordPress had cut off half of my text. (Seriously? What gives?) Anyway, I didn’t have time at the time fix it, so closed my laptop and vowed to do it tomorrow . . . except tomorrow kept getting pushed back.

But here I am, already jumpstarting November’s experiment — being a morning person. Yesterday, without rhyme or reason, I got up around 5 am. I wasn’t “up” up, but the alarm went off at 5:05, and without fail, I flipped on my bedside lamp, rolled over and dozed for another ten minutes, when I got up and turned on the tea kettle to boil water for coffee (I use a French press), and then snuggled in bed for a few minutes more until the water was ready — hey, it was Monday.

I’ve never really been a ‘morning person,’ someone who rises before dawn and manages to accomplish half of their day’s to-do list before they even hit work or something else like that. I’m usually in bed until 7, when I finally decide that I *have* to get up because I *have* to go to work (a girl’s gotta pay bills, people… plus I really like my job — that helps).  I stumble about my day, caffeinating as necessary and find that when I get home, I have little energy to work out so I cook some dinner, work out a bit if I can muster it and collapse in bed later.

Yesterday, I took my new-found early riser status slowly — making coffee and toast, fixin’ my hair (oh yeah! I gotta post pics soon — I got it cut… reeeeeally cut), and ticking things off of my morning routine.

This morning, the alarm went off at 5:05, I snoozed for 1o minutes with the lights on and got up to make coffee. This is the part where I feel like my body’s been snatched — I put on a Core Fusion DVD. And then I did it — just a couple of segments (start small, Robyn, start small).

I am so confused. Who is this person inside me??? Why is she waking up so damn early? There’s something seriously the matter… isn’t there?

Obviously, the rest of the week hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll keep you posted. Last night, I was surprisingly defensive of my sleep — on the phone, I told Alex I’d catch him tomorrow right at 10 pm. Tonight, the goal is to be asleep by 9:30 — which will require some more complex maneuvering as I’m planning on taking a yoga class that goes from 7:30 to 9:00ish (they usually end a few minutes late).

For now, though, I think I’ll finish my coffee.

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you have a hard time getting out of bed first thing in the morning? Do you work out in the morning?

Climb on.

 

Don't bother asking me when I'll actually climb outdoors. Most days, I'm still working on getting myself to the gym.

 

I have a gym membership, but I don’t use it as often as I’d like. I seem to have found two great groups to join — a team of climbers who like to climb in the morning and a team that climbs in the evening, but I rarely get to the gym out of total insecurity.

Stupid, I know. Everyone has to start somewhere, right? But when you’re a rookie who pants at the top of a 5.6 (easy-to-medium difficulty) and your climbing buddy for the day is flying up a 5.11 (very hard), you feel a bit like a joke. Or at least, I do.

A couple of years ago, a careless mistake in a climbing gym (my mistake, no less) led to an accident — a 12-foot fall to the ground. I wasn’t properly clipped in and I fell hard. The fall knocked the wind out of me and left me with a couple of ripped fingers (I tried to grab the rope on the way down) and a twisted ankle. But mostly, it just left me shaken up. In a split second, my security was gone.

It’s the kind of thing that you just can’t even believe happened — frustrated with a route I was attempting to master, I unclipped myself to reevaluate my method. I stood back, worked out a new plan, and then went back to climb. I didn’t look. I didn’t see. I didn’t comprehend that my safety was at risk — that I had not properly clipped in and if I fell, nothing would stop me from plummeting to the crash-pad flooring, which is exactly what happened.

I picked myself up off the ground, gingerly put some weight on my hurt ankle to assess how badly I’d messed up and glanced at my fingers whose skin was opened up from the friction of the nylon rope. I caught my breath, got a sip of water and walked into the locker room, where I sat on the bench to process what had just happened.

And then, without even really thinking, I left the gym and I didn’t come back for over a week.

More than anything the experience was humbling — I saw just how quickly, easily my mistakes could take a fun experience and turn it into something that transformed me into a bundle of nerves. But my biggest mistake after the fall wasn’t that I beat myself up mentally (though I’m sure that didn’t help), it was that I didn’t immediately get back on the climbing wall.

When I did, I clipped myself into the auto-belay, took a deep breath and nervously grabbed the handhold. Then another. And another. My feet were probably 3 feet off of the ground — I’ve hopped off of counters higher than that. But I couldn’t shake the need to check my harness every .4 seconds. Clipped in? Good. Grab a hold. Clipped in? Good. Grab the next hold. But as I glanced down, I could actually feel the blood leaving my face. And then I put my foot on one hold lower, another hold lower, until I could step back down onto the ground. I was done after climbing 4 feet.

I tried climbing one more time that summer before deciding that I needed a break. My (relatively) fearless self became paralyzed by nerves and apprehension. Almost two years later, I joined a climbing gym in San Jose (actually, it’s in Sunnyvale, but whatever). I signed up determined to conquer whatever lingering fear was there — I’d been away from it for almost 2 years . . . that’s enough time to suck it up, right?

Well, I’m not there yet. I’m still incredibly nervous when I start climbing over my belay partner’s head. I still check my harness with almost every step up. And I still grip those handholds like my life depended on it — because when you’re climbing a 50-foot wall and you’ve had an accident before, you’re acutely aware that at such a greater height, your life could be dependent upon it (not to sound all dramatic, but it’s pretty true).

But in spite of all of my nerves and apprehension, I still love doing it. It exhilarates me and leaves me so proud of the accomplishment, even if it’s a lower-grade route.

For me, climbing has become more metaphorical than just a fun exercise, which is what it started off as. I started climbing when a dear, sweet friend‘s enthusiasm for the sport sparked a curiosity, an interest and eventually lit a flame for a new hobby I wanted to pursue.

Now, I’m learning how to fall back in love with the sport one foothold at a time as I’m working through releasing the fear and anxiety that come with climbing higher and higher. I guess the moral of the story is “Please don’t ever think you’re infallable . . . because you’re really not” “Always check. Always be careful. They don’t warn you about this stuff for no reason — especially when you’re taking on a hobby where safety truly matters.” (And the secondary moral would be, “Please bear with me — I’m still learning!”)

And I’ll get there — the grace of my climbing buddies and my determination to kick that anxiety to the curb will really help, I’m sure.

(And if you ever see me at the gym, hugs are always appreciated — they’re heart-healthy and have nerve-calming properties.)

Climbing? Climb on.

P.S. On a completely UNrelated topic . . . I came home to find one of my fish eating the other fish. I have a cannabal fish and I do not know how to process this (aside from being a bit grossed/freaked out.)

It’s good for my heart.

Red wine is good for your heart, remember? Okay, I just wanted an excuse to put in wine.

I ran a little over 3 miles tonight and walked for another mile and a half or so. After I got home, I logged my minutes on SparkPeople and poured myself a glass of chocolate soymilk (indulgently delicious!) and made a quick, tasty veggie wrap.

Training for a marathon is t-o-u-g-h. I’ve finally crossed the threshhold into the NFA runs (Not F#cking Around) — double digits, much foam rolling, and an increased panic about the impending race.

But as scary as some of these runs will be (next week? yeah, I’m running 11 miles) I really like how my body feels after a run — tired and weathered, but so much more alive. My chest is still a bit flushed (don’t ask me why, but I don’t actually blush — my face almost never turns red), my clothes are damp with sweat and my joints feel good, yet move just a little differently. And I know deep inside, my heart is beating stronger from the effort.

My heart beats for many things: my loved ones, the thrill of the next adventure, the causes I hold dear, and the feeling of being so much more aware and alive by getting outside and pounding some pavement.

As intimidating as my long runs are getting, it’s good for me to push harder. It’s good for me to keep pressing forward and challenging myself — to keep redefining my limits. Once upon a time, I never thought I could run more than a mile. Today, I’ve completed a marathon, two half marathons, and I will complete three more races that I know of (two full marathons, one half) in the next 12 months.

It’s good for me. It’s good for my heart to run, sweat, push harder every day.

What’s your favorite way to get out and sweat? What do you do to motivate yourself to keep going?

Tuckered out.

So . . . flippin' . . . pooped.

A late night last night led me to oversleep my alarm this morning, but I’m still a little proud of what I did accomplish today. I worked a full, eight-hour work day and still came home to do my third round of Level 1 in my 30 Day Shred Challenge.

But I wasn’t done . . .

I allowed myself to be a liiiittle lazy and loaf on the couch while I watched Jeopardy! and ‘mentally prepared’ for my run. It took a little more than Jeopardy! to mentally prepare me, though as I was still struggling with the motivation to get out the door at 7:45. So . . . I busted out the big guns.

Abba, Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, the Glee soundtrack, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, a random assortment of 80’s wonders (think ‘Jenny/867-5309’ and ‘Livin’ On a Prayer’), Britney Spears, Queen, and of course, my favorite Run-DMC gem — a little ditty known as “It’s Tricky.”

All of these artists wafted through my headphones after I finally left my apartment — I won’t lie, I spent a good five minutes dancing to “Magic” by B.oB. and Rivers Cuomo as well as the Glee version of “Bust a Move.”

I never thought I could be the type of runner who could run without headphones — I guess I never thought my own thoughts were that interesting. The marathon I’ve signed up for, though, is a trail race and headphones/iPods are strictly verbotten, so I have been trying to practice running without my snazzy little white earbuds.  In the interest of motivation, though, sometimes, I just can’t do without and tonight was no exception.  When you’re sleep deprived, you need every ounce of help you can get just to get your butt out the door.

Wait, did I just say ‘you’ and ‘your’? Definitely meant ‘me’ and ‘my.’

But I got out the door and I cranked out 4.57 miles in 57:51. For me, that was pretty darn satisfying given how exhausted I was and how badly I didn’t want to be running right then. But I pushed myself – more so mentally than physically – and that feels pretty darn amazing.

Right now, the third day of the 30 Day Shred Challenge has my quads and my calves a bit disgruntled, but they’re slowly coming to terms with the fact that I mean business and don’t plan on giving up. As I put on lotion on tonight after my shower (I’m a sweaty, sweaty girl, my friends), I smirked to myself and felt incredibly satisfied feeling how muscle is developing in my legs – my quads are shaping up, my calves (as displeased with me as they are) are starting to look downright foxy.

Stay tuned . . . I’m not quitting yet.

P.S. Caitlin’s book was released today and I was thrilled pick up my copy. I even used this as a reward motivator – if I did my 30DS challenge and went for my run, I could read after. Well . . . I’m in bed now, looking at the lovely book, and sadly realizing it will need to be my motivator tomorrow.