Pure Barre DC – Oiselle Style

On Sunday, I tried out my first Pure Barre class in D.C. Thanks to several teammates who go their regularly, the Eastern Market studio hosted a group of DC birds for a free trial class. Photos are courtesy of Courtney over at Eat Pray Run DC.

I have to say I was a bit skeptical, but that’s only because I would rather just run all day everyday than have to cross train. It’s also a bit on the pricey side for me when I know I can do a lot of strength workouts out of my own home or at the gym I already pay a monthly fee for. Whether or not I actually do those strength workouts on my own is another story. ūüôā

Our instructor Sydney was fantastic. You could tell she’s very experienced and did a really great job of keeping the class flowing while simultaneously stopping to help us newbies – something that is not easy to do. She also made the class fly by. I looked down at my watch at one point thinking maybe we were halfway through and we only had 10 minutes left to go.

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Another pro – I loved that it was set to a playlist. I don’t run with music much anymore unless I hit the treadmill, and forgot how fun it is to work out to tunes.

I honestly thought the strength component would be tougher. I’m not saying it was easy (it was not) – just that I thought it would be torturous. Reading things like this guy’s hilarious recap of attending Pure Barre with his fiancee made me expect the worst! Maybe I am just getting better at those strength workouts on my own …and those near daily P90X core sessions and push ups are having more of an impact than I realized!

I wish I had grabbed at least the 3 pound weights. You have a choice between 2, 3 or 5 for arm workouts and being overly cautious I grabbed the 2-pounders and did not get as much as I could have out of the arm sections.

The leg stuff was great and a few of those squats on your tiptoes while squeezing a ball between your thighs (there is probably an actual name for these) had my legs shaking pretty good. Still, I thought it was all very doable and having run a half marathon that morning had expected this to hurt a lot more. I was pretty proud I didn’t collapse mid-class! Adding pistol squats and single leg lunges back into my routine about a month ago definitely helped me out on these ones. We also did some hip opening and strengthening exercises I struggled a bit on that has to be helpful for runners doing this on a regular basis knowing how common hip tightness can be for us.

The stretching – now this was a whole other story and every bit as tough as I expected and then some for this not-at-all flexible runner. I nearly burst out laughing at a couple of the things we were expected to do – then realized as others in the group started to do them with no problem that this was no joke! Nose-to-knees? Ha, I can’t even touch my toes, so that is just not happening. From one position we were told to reach back and grab our foot if we could. I’m pretty sure my foot was in another zip code. My favorite was when the instructor raised her arms over her head and pulled back as far as she could then asked us to do the same – the only way my arms could find that position would be to start them behind my back and pull them up!!

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While Pure Barre may not be entirely my style of workout it was definitely a cool experience. The stretching clearly made an immediate impact as I was way less sore on Monday than I was just two weeks ago after the RNR DC half. So much of it is also great for runners, so I can see why so many like it. I don’t think I’d make it a regular thing, but could certainly see myself dropping in for a class here and there. If you’ve never tried it, I’d certainly recommend giving it a go!

I’m Back!

Hi everyone! It’s been far too long since I’ve posted, but I’m back and ready to get back at it. I’ve been crazy busy lately and in addition to neglecting my blog I haven’t made time for reading a lot of the many other blogs I enjoy. Time to fix that!

Aside from being busy I’ve been a bit off my running game lately, which I think in turn knocked me a bit off my writing game too. I even skipped a race last weekend because I knew I wasn’t in shape to race it and didn’t want to be embarrassed by my time. Not super proud of that, but what can you do?!

Now I’m looking to turn things around. I’ve got my sights set on the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler as a goal race now in hopes to get things going by then. I downgraded from the half marathon to the 8k for Shamrock so I can really race that weekend instead of trudge myself through a half marathon I’m not ready for. I’ve done that before – it’s not fun! It will be a blast however to cheer on my teammates doing the half and the full that weekend.

Despite being in a running funk it has been a pretty good month. To keep this blog post from going on for too long, here are some of the highlights of what I’ve been up to:

  • Cross training and core work – and lots of it.
  • I made it 21 days plus without a soda. I’m back to drinking it now, but not as often!
  • I’ve been reading a lot more. I set a goal of getting through a book a month this year, but already cranked through three of them in January. Reviews to come.
  • So much wedding stuff! The wedding isn’t until October, but my fianc√© and I have been on a roll getting things done like the wedding website, save the dates and more. Expect another post on this too!
  • Took an RRCA Running Coach Certification Course – yes, you’ll hear more about this one too.
  • Family fun! I spent a weekend down in Florida visiting my grandparents. I also got to hang out with my Mom for a weekend while my Dad enjoyed some warm weather on a golf trip to Florida.

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Resolution Check-In

During my mini hiatus from blogging last week, I missed my usual beginning-of-the-month resolution check-in. I swear I was just writing those resolutions and now the end of the year is just about here. Crazy!

I didn’t hit everything I was hoping for, but overall it was a pretty good year filled with a lot of fun races, a couple PRs and a couple more challenging ones!

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Last month my focus was cross training and recovery. I mixed it up a bit before starting up with the Runner’s World Run Streak on Thanksgiving giving myself just the break I needed. My legs feel completely recovered and strong, and ready to get back into racing.

For this month I’ll focus on strength training and slowly building my mileage again, so I’m ready to start a new training plan in late December for the Shamrock Half Marathon!

How did you do on your resolutions for 2013? Have you started thinking about 2014 yet?

Cross Training on the Cheap

My major focus for this month post-marathon is recovery and cross training. I’m including strength training in this since it’s something I need to kick up a couple notches, although I know some runners only consider cross training as other cardio activities.

Cross training can get expensive though, especially when you live in a city where fitness classes can easily range from $15-30 dollars per class. I already talked about how I was trying to pick more budget-friendly races, so I thought I’d share how I was keeping costs down with cross training also. After all, there are plenty of Christmas presents to buy, holiday happy hours to attend and plane tickets/gas money to shell out for this time of year, so saving a few bucks is always nice.

I can always count on a kick-butt workout from my favorite spin studio, Revolve. I saw a Facebook post on their page awhile ago about a work-trade program and decided to check it out. In exchange for helping out before and after certain classes, I get to ride that class free.

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It’s pretty simple, I show up early to help riders checking in with lockers and shoes, get the room reset/clean if there’s a class just ending and help newbie riders with setting up their bike. Then after getting a killer workout in I hang around, wipe down bikes, sort and clean shoes and make sure everything is ready for the next day or next class. There are a few others plus staff helping out, so it’s a quick and painless process. I did my first “shift” last week and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to getting in more rides like this! I’d highly suggest checking with your favorite gyms or studios to see if they offer something similar.

Awhile ago I did a post on a community class I took at Dancing Mind Yoga. It was a fun and intense workout and one I definitely wanted to try again. Well, just my luck, a Groupon came out recently offering an unlimited month of classes at the hot yoga studio for just $30! I just activated my month yesterday and look forward to telling you how my yoga adventure goes!

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I’ll be honest, it used to really bug me when I taught boot camps and people would only come when they had a Groupon or Living Social deal even if they really liked the class. From the other side though, I get it. During times when the budget is not as tight, I will certainly go back to places that I got great workouts at, but why not take advantage of the plentiful discounts available when you can? It’s a great way to try out new kinds of exercise and really mix things up too. Check Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local and other daily deal sites for local fitness deals whenever you can!

Finally, moving on to strength training. I’m lucky enough to have a gym right in my apartment building I can use for free, but if that’s not available, you’re certainly not out of luck. I’m a huge proponent of strength exercises that require nothing more than your own body weight. Think push-ups, planks, lunges, squats, wall-sits and more. There’s no reason you can’t get a great strength workout in wherever you are. Check out this Runner’s World article listing essential strength exercises for runners – many of which don’t require equipment.

How do you cross train? Do you shop around for budget-friendly deals or stick to your favorite spot regardless of price?

Resolution Check-In

It’s that time again for my monthly check in on my New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve been putting this one off since I didn’t hit my big goal of a BQ at MCM, and I have no plans of running another marathon before the end of the year. While I’m not going to give it another shot right away, I know I will eventually cross this off my list!

Last month’s big focus was drinking less soda. I did better than I have been doing and managed to go a couple days a week without grabbing a soda. I’m planning to keep working on this and add a few more days without it each week. Damn that fridge full of free soda just steps from my desk!!

Core strength and staying injury free were other resolutions I had this year. I continue to work on my core strength and also was smart enough to get myself in to the physical therapist last month to check out a problem before it became an injury.

With the year winding down, I’m turning this month’s focus to recovery and cross training. I want to get back into working out after my marathon by embracing yoga, spinning, the elliptical and the weight room. Of course, I’m sure there will be some running in there too, but overall it’s going to be a November filled with other activities.

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Are you still working towards those resolutions? How has your year gone so far?

 

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Last week started off pretty rough as I was fighting a cold and despite sleeping 10 hours a night still felt exhausted and missed a few workouts as a result. I came back strong over the weekend though to get myself back on track. I’m hurting pretty good today from all the weekend miles, but here’s hoping lots of stretching, rolling and some cross training today will help take care of that.

Here’s the day by day breakdown…

Monday: Spin on my own – 25 minutes, Elliptical – 35 minutes, Full-body strength workout

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Rest

Friday: I hoped to get my track workout in today, but ran over to the W&L track to find an event going on, so I just kept going and got about 45 minutes in. I felt great on this run, but was just wearing a regular stopwatch so I have no idea how far I went.

Saturday: I put off my run for most of the day wasting a really beautiful August day in D.C. and landing in the gym that night for 12.3 treadmill miles.

Sunday:¬†Not my smartest move… after the 12 treadmill miles the night before I got up early to get most of my long run in before meeting up with a few of my new Oiselle teammates for a few miles along the Mall. It was a bit of a rainy morning, but still warm enough out that it felt good. I got 12 in on my own running through Arlington, Georgetown and Hains Point and was so relieved to have some running buddies for the last 5 miles along the Mall. I’m not sure I could have kept going on my own!

Rainy Run with some members of the Oiselle flock!

Rainy Run with some members of the Oiselle flock!

Back on the Bike

Well, sort of – by back on the bike I mean a spin bike, not my road bike. It’s funny that I much prefer running outdoors in any kind of weather to running on a treadmill, but I’m the complete opposite when it comes to biking. This is probably cause I’m not the best biker and I get nervous on the roads around D.C., but as I’ve mentioned before, spin is my favorite kind of cross training.

I made my first trip to Revolve, a dedicated spin studio in Arlington, at the beginning of this year and was instantly hooked. Their classes are super intense, the instructors are phenomenal, the playlists are always great and I love that you can mix it up with the different style rides. I was there almost every day during my unlimited intro month and then bought 20-class packages to get me through my cross training days for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and Nike Women’s Half Marathon.

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Between travelling every weekend in June, starting the new job and all the expenses involved with moving, it’d been awhile since I’d been to Revolve. They were kind enough to comp me a few rides this month and boy has it felt good to be back. One of the classes I went to was even a request ride where riders got to submit their song requests beforehand. I love that they mix it up with fun rides like this and was pumped that my request got played during class! I’ll be buying another 20-class package very soon as I incorporate spin as my main form of cross training to get ready for the Marine Corps Marathon and go after my BQ!

On top of the great tracks pumped through the speakers during class, I now to get to enjoy music from Revolve anytime I want with the launch of RevolveSounds on Spotify. I’d actually always been on the fence about trying Spotify and am so glad this gave me the push to finally check it out. It’s amazing! I’m already thinking about upgrading to the premium version. Let me know if you’ve tried the premium one and think it’s worth it.

You can follow RevolveSounds on Spotify and check out their various playlists. I love the 2013 Summer Edition playlist, which has a lot of the songs they play during class. My favorite playlist of theirs though is Rethink Office. When I need to focus at work and block out some background noise I’ll pop in an ear bud and listen to this station. It has some fun songs that keep me going throughout the day without distracting me from work. If you like to listen to music at work, definitely check out this playlist.

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They also have a Revive: Sunday morning playlist that’s a bit more mellow and fun to listen to while I’m doing things around my apartment.¬†I don’t listen to music while I run outside anymore, but I’m looking forward to listening to the¬†Revolve Run mix¬†the next time I hit the treadmill at the gym.

Are you a spin class fan? How important to you is the music during spin classes?

 

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

I had to do a bit of shuffling with my workouts this week, but felt great and feel like I’m on my way to getting back into racing shape. This was the first week on my new program designed by my running coach and I think it’s going to be a really great program for the next couple months. I ended the week with a fun 8k at the state park back home I worked at during the summers through college.

Here’s the day by day breakdown…

Monday: 30 minutes on the elliptical, followed by a 35-minute full body strength workout and a 15-minute core workout.

Tuesday: I ran an easy 6.5 miles around Hains Point at lunch averaging just under an 8:30 pace.

Wednesday: 60 minutes on the elliptical followed by a 30-minute full body strength workout

Thursday:¬†Getting to work early, a conference call during lunch and a long drive to Syracuse right after work turned today into an unplanned rest day. I was supposed to hit the track today and ended up moving it to the following Monday, so you’ll see it in next week’s recap!

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: I put in an easy 9.8 miles around my hometown running up to my old high school, around the athletic fields and back home. I enjoyed the run, but forgot how hilly it is there!

Sunday:¬†I ran the Charity for Children 8k at Green Lakes State Park on Sunday. Full recap coming soon, but I loved this race and would really like to “race it” next year in better shape instead of just running it as a workout. I finished in 40 minutes according to the official results and wish I’d hung around for the awards, but didn’t realize till this morning that I would’ve gotten an age grouper award!

At the finish after the Charity for Children 8k at Green Lakes

At the finish after the Charity for Children 8k at Green Lakes

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Last week marked the end of my base building phase before I start training for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon this week. I felt really great all week and feel like I’ve gotten my fitness back to a good point to start race training. My mileage total was 24.25 miles. Here’s the day-by-day breakdown of where I left my footprints this week:

Monday: Spin Class

Tuesday: It was a lot easier to get myself out this week with 40 degree temps compared to my 9-degree track workout last week! Track Workout Р2.5 mile warm-up; 6X800m repeats with a 400m jog recovery; 2.5 mile cool down

Wednesday: I hit the gym for a 10-minute warm up on the elliptical followed by a 30-minute tabata workout and some more lower body strength exercises.

Thursday: Early morning tempo run on the treadmill at my apartment gym. I really wish I had room for my own treadmill. 5 miles total Рwarming up and cooling down at an 8-minute pace and reaching a 7:35 pace throughout the middle. I made it a double day getting in 4.25 after work. I met up with a friend who I went to elementary through high school with for a fun run around the National Mall. We looped past the Vietnam Memorial down to Lincoln and back around to the Capitol Building before splitting off to different metro stops. It was a blast to take in the sights while chatting and catching up along the way.

Friday: Spin Class in the morning and I took a late lunch to head down to the office gym and get in 50 minutes on the elliptical in the afternoon.

Saturday: Spin Class

Sunday: I set out in the morning for an easy-paced 7-miler through Georgetown onto the Rock Creek Park pathway and headed for an out and back along Hains Point before heading home via the Memorial Bridge. I followed the run with an hour body ride spin class at Revolve DC.

Sun setting as we ran down the National Mall Thursday night.

Sun setting as we ran down the National Mall Thursday night.

Resolution Check-In

Wow, how is the first month of 2013 already done? I still haven’t gotten used to writing 2013 instead of 2012 yet…I have a feeling this year is going to fly. With the start of a new month, I figured it’d be a good time to check back in and see how I’m doing with my New Year’s resolutions.

My big January focus was core and I had a goal of completing my P90X Ab Ripper workout five times per week. I beat my own expectations on this one, getting through the Ab Ripper workout every day last month. Going back to December I’m up to 34 straight days beating my previous longest streak of 31. It’s becoming a normal part of my daily routine now, so most days I just get up and do it without thinking or stressing too much about it. I’m hoping to keep this up as I know a stronger core will only make everything else I do easier.

Getting healthy was another resolution for the year and I’m off to a great start. I’m officially done with physical therapy, and am on my way to getting stronger. I’m sticking with my strength and stretching routines so I give myself the best possible chance to not end up injured again.

Drinking less soda was also on the list and I’ve had good weeks and bad weeks on this one. I started out the year strong telling myself I wouldn’t drink any soda Monday through Thursday. I made it through the first week and all the way through Wednesday of the following week. It probably hasn’t helped that I’ve been getting up much earlier than normal and exercising in the morning a lot more than I used to, leaving me a bit sleepy when my midday craving for a caffeine boost hits. After several early mornings that second week, I was up even earlier for a 4:30 wake up call to make a group run that Thursday morning, and I caved at lunch giving into my soda craving and falling back into my soda-a-day routine for the most part after that. I’ve tried drinking diet soda since I hate the taste so much thinking that I’d stop drinking it if I didn’t like it, but I just started to get used to the taste…yuck! Oh well, I’ll try again this month!

I obviously can’t realize my big goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon until my October marathon, but getting back my speed is going to be my big February focus. I’ve built a great base of fitness over the last five weeks or so completing mostly easy paced runs and a lot of cross training. Now it’s time to crank it up a notch. My goal for this month is to complete two speed sessions a week whether it’s at the track, running hill intervals or tempo runs.

Smiling after getting home from last week's track workout - need to remember that post workout feeling so I keep getting out there for speed sessions!

Smiling after getting home from last week’s track workout – need to remember that post workout feeling so I keep getting out there for speed sessions!

How are you doing on your resolutions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!