Strategizing Your Training

If you’ve been following my blog and/or my social media for a hot minute, you know that running is my absolute passion, but workout classes and lifting are my hobbies as well. You also know, I like a good morning sweat session!!  Finding the balance between a good HIIT workout, a tad bit of lifting, and a whole lot of running is a daily struggle for myself and for others who also enjoy all areas of fitness. 

That being said, a couple common questions I get is, “when should I workout?” and  “do you prefer running first or do you do your weight/strength training first?” 

I give the full disclaimer that the answer to this question truly comes down to the person, their training, and their preferences. But I am going to write about my routine and my preferences, in hopes that it helps others who also work on strength + cardio sports together. 

To begin, let me explain that yes, a typical training day for me does include two workouts: one strength based, one cardio based. But it hasn’t always been that way. I did not wake up and jump right into double workouts. When I first began working out in 2015, I only started with one, 25 minute session a day. I actually didn’t start double workouts until I was training for a road marathon and trail ultra simultaneously in 2017. And, I only started double workouts because I truly enjoy a good lifting/strength session, and I love the endorphins of cardio rush that I get from running. 

The short answer (about workout routines/structure) is this: I prefer and highly suggest morning exercise. I strength train first, I run/bike second. I do my lifting and strength work first thing in the mornings and I get my cardio when I run and/or bike later in the day.  

The long answer and a few explanations: 

Why morning? There are so many reasons I firmly believe in morning workouts for all people. 

First off, I firmly believe that one needs to give their full, undivided attention to their workouts – for sake of energy, form, and injury prevention. I believe that you can put better, higher effort levels into your training when you are fresh, first thing in the morning after a good night’s sleep. From personal experience and seeing client’s experiences – working out at the end of a long day often means working out when you are already fatigued physically and mentally. Working out while fatigued, even if just mentally fatigued, is a recipe for disastrous injury. 

Why strength training / lifting first? As I talked about, fatigue happens. And lifting or working on strength while fatigued is no bueno.  Cross training and lifting is where the majority of the injuries happen. Yes, some athletes have injuries while out working on their sport, but many many many (way too many) injuries come from poor form, lifting too heavy, or cross training through fatigue. Most athletes do not have time or patience for injuries. And, if we are being honest – the workout drills that happen in cross training take a whole lot more focus than the repetitive motions of our cardio exercise. 

Therefore, I believe that in order to give your full attention to the details of your form, your tempo, your weights, you need to perform your lifting/strength training BEFORE your cardio work. Whether your cardio work is running, biking, hiking, rowing or many other options, if you opt to do cardio first, you are likely to completely exhaust your body through that workout. Then, you are more likely to “half ass” it in your cross training, leading to injury.  

That being said, I feel that if you are going to do double days, starting with your cross training in the morning is key, and then add in your cardio directly after or throughout the day as it fits into your schedule. 

Again, these routines and suggestions are merely what works for me and what I suggest. Every person is very different. Whatever routine you are opting for, I suggest you do what works for your and your body for the safest options with the least possibility of injury. 

Dealing with Derailers

6 weeks into 2021 and you’re feeling strong and focused towards your intentions and goals for the year. You’re feeling determined and dedicated to carve out time for your meditations, journaling, workouts, meal prep and other elements of your wellness that you’ve listed as priority. You feel like you’re making strides and progress is showing. 

Then bam – other elements of life interfere: busy work schedules, career meetings, spouses who have different goals, kids’ schedules, friends with different agenda short term and long term, weekend plans, holidays and many other things. 

The reality is that no matter how dedicated we are to our wellness, we are going to encounter life obstacles that may possibly derail us from our straight shot to success. Or, they (the derailers) at least cause us to take the long route to our destination of victory. 

While I cannot tell you exactly how to navigate relationships, careers, family life and other situations, I can help you navigate your GOALS.   I am here to remind you of a mantra I spoke a lot about in 2020: “I am a strong, independent, determined & dedicated woman.”  (or man for the male following). 

In telling yourself this mantra, I want you to really remember and focus on the “I am independent.” Even for those in relationships, married, and committed to family needs, I want you to remember that you are your own individual. You are YOU. While the needs of others are important, you still have your own independent goals that look different than those of your spouse and of your friends. If your daily routines and meals don’t align with those around you, that absolutely does not make you any less of a person. You are strong and independent and fully capable of remaining dedicated to your plan.  It is just that YOU have to decide to be okay with saying no more often, advocating for yourself, and using your voice. Regardless of whether it is your workout plan, training for an event, eating right, meal prepping, or managing the fridge, I highly encourage you to focus on YOU, taking priority over the derailers that step into your path to achievement. 

Most common derailers & suggestions: 

Spouses/Family Need. No doubt that the people you live with have the greatest impact on you and how you live your life.  However, just because you live together doesn’t mean that you are all at the same points of your life.  For sure, you and your kiddos are at different points of life – they are growing up and you are adulting. Your schedules are going to look different. Your meals are going to look different. Your routines, schedules, workouts, lifestyles are going to look different.  Coming to senses with this will be the first step of navigating these differences and preventing them from derailing you. Understanding that how your teenager eats is significantly different than how you eat isn’t going to be easy. But choosing your battles will be crucial in the situation. You can fight with your family members to eat the same chicken salad that you’re having for dinner or you can spend less energy having a couple options available. But ultimately, you have to decide if the differences among family members, especially the spouse that chooses cookies and beer for dinner while you are enjoying your vegan tofu-topped salad. 

Friends: There is a meme on the internet that says you find out who your true friends are when you have a baby. I find that to be fairly accurate, but it is more along the lines of “you find out who your true friends are when your habits in general change.” No doubt, finding yourself and loving yourself isn’t easy on friendships. Friends tend to see you giving attention to yourself and your health and that is essentially energy that you could be giving them. Naturally, they are a bit envious of where you are focusing your attention. You’ll start to see which friends vanish and which friends become encouraged by your newly acquired lifestyle. Some friends will mock you and block you, some friends will eat and exercise with you while encouraging you.  Good and bad news here. Bad news: you will lose/distance some friends. Good news: you will gain a whole new tribe of friends, connections, like minded individuals. Whether on the internet, facebook groups,  running groups or other areas, you will slowly make new connections to people with commonalities to your new lifestyle. 

Eating out / Taking Out: Eating out is America’s favorite pastime. When meeting up with friends, having a work meeting, traveling with your business partners, signing on a new work deal – so many things require meeting over a table full of five course meals. It doesn’t have to be this way. While you probably cannot change the eating out of your career and CEO’s choice of restaurants, what about the moments with friends and family. Can you suggest other ideas of meeting up: going for a walk, going to play a game, mini golf,  coming over to each other’s houses.  However, if you do opt for the eating out, you don’t have to choose the unhealthy options. There is no rule that says you must order beverages or cocktails. Eating out and choosing healthy options is something I could talk about for days – but to spare you the details I am going to link this “Traveling, Eating out, Reading Menus” video from my Nail Down your Nutrition package. It’s a simple 30 minutes of listening to my educational thoughts and suggestions to managing eating outside of your typical household situations.

Work Schedules: While many work schedules have shifted and even gone remote/virtual this past year, many work loads have also increased. I understand that whether you physically go to work or you have altered your work to be from your living room couch, it has become very difficult to set boundaries. I know that your work is your livelihood, your income, and what builds the stability in your life. As a former teacher and a coach that works A LOT and also struggles with work hours/boundaries, this is a difficult topic to speak about. However,  I can highly suggest that starting slow in creating a TIME FRAME and creating a healthy WORK SPACE will greatly impact your productivity. Whether working from home or an actual place of employment, knowing which hours are your most productive hours will be important. Creating structure within that time frame will be essential. Create a check list of which tasks need to be finished in those time frames and go from there. Following your checklist will allow you to focus on the tasks that are of the highest priority. Therefore as other tasks arrive to the table and in your inboxes, you stick to your list. Newly acquired tasks won’t derail you from your work priorities or your life tasks as much if you know which list, which tasks to stick to. When it comes to work derailing you from your own life, your personal goals it is important to do your work ONLY , in your time frames and ONLY in your workspace. Outside of those times/space, you focus on you and your family. It’s much easier said than done. But if you can try to accomplish this one day at time you will feel more on the straight route to succeeding in your work and personal life. 

Snacks: While I would love to say the answer to end snacking is to end purchasing them, I also understand that you have children, spouses, roommates and others that have the snacks in the house. Or maybe the snacks aren’t even in the house. Maybe they are in your place of employment or places that you visit often. Snacking has to come down to personal discipline. It has to come down to knowing that what you put into your body has a function. Fuel is fuel for your body to keep going and keep recovering from workouts and other tasks. Depending on what you are snacking on, the ingredients may derail you entirely for  a day or so depending on how it makes you feel. The ingredients in your snacks may be healthy and contribute to your success (veggies, fruit, guacamole, hummus, deli meat, other quick produce options) or the ingredients may cause you a migraine, constipation, bloating, cramps, gut pains, fatigue or many other symptoms. It has to come down to if you want your snacks to contribute to your route to success or derail you off path for a day or so. I highly suggest you take a moment to make a list of which snacks should be on hand for healthy options and then create a list of what you should stay away from. If you need a suggestion or ideas, I will give you an example of my list. Healthy options: chopped veggies with avocado or hummus, chopped veggies with shredded chicken or deli meats, bell peppers with taco meat, apples or other fruit with yogurt. Options that derail me: candy, chocolate, tortillas, bread, toast, quesadillas, any thing with flour in it, anything that is too much dairy in one sitting. 

Girl Scout Cookies: This one is just to conclude this blog with a little bit of humor and because I know it is Girl Scout cookie season. My opinion on this one contradicts the entire blog. I say, buy the cookies. Support your girl scouts. Help them out. But, eat them in portions. Ration yourself one cookie a day for a few days. Tuck them into a cabinet or back of the freezer so that if you want one, you have to actually get it. Put them out of site, out of mind. And leave a note on the box itself reminding yourself that you are a strong independent woman with goals and you are working towards them. 

Existing Emotions: You had a bad day.

As I talked about in last week’s blog – it is the dead of winter – winter in a year of social distancing, nonetheless. It is no joke, and should also be no secret that winter blues, anxiety, depression, COVID emotions and much more play a part of our daily lives.  

I promised to write more about this exact paragraph above and this topic of COVID emotions. So, here I am. As always, I like to start off with a hypothetical question of how are you feeling? This week’s questions to ponder are more along the lines of do you experience the winter blues? The stay at home loneliness? The quarantine boredom? 

Are you feeling a little uneasy with the ups and downs and back and forths of the virtual world versus doing in person activities? Are you feeling overwhelmed with attempting to run a household, manage your career, have self care time and take care of your health all under one roof now? I understand. It is a seriously tough year. It’s a tough world.  

Spoiler alert: I don’t have any of the answers. I have zero solutions. 

Spoiler alert #2: I am just writing this blog to share with you that you are not alone. Though we feel lonely, we shall not feel alone. 

However, one thing I want to gently remind you is that yes, you can absolutely do ANYTHING. You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to. However, you do not have to do EVERYTHING. There is a large difference between trying to do anything and trying to do EVERYTHING. Remind yourself of that as you select what is most important to do, and what can be pushed to the side. Because at no point do you need to try and juggle everything.  

Last week I wrote to you in a blog about managing motivation, finding a rhythm of consistency and having a tribe for camaraderie. But in these days and moments, even the best of systems still yield moments of what I like to call “Covid Emotions.” It is like you just can’t describe how you are feeling or why you are feeling that way. 

Really, the best I can present you is a song that has worked for me and a concept I spoke about last year: So, you had a bad day. 

“You had a bad day

You’re taking one down

You sing a sad song just to turn it around

You say you don’t know

You tell me, “don’t lie”

From a wellness standpoint, the best I can tell you is you had a bad day. It’s not a bad life. It’s not even a bad month or bad week. It’s a bad day. And, being completely transparent, sometimes it’s just a bad moment that doesn’t need to take over your entire day. Either way, you had a bad day. Let it happen. Let’s not deny that emotions exist. Let’s allow ourselves to move through the existing emotions. Try to naturally work through and overcome these rollercoasters of thoughts. Even more importantly, avoid hiding or pushing these bad moments, bad days, bad emotions aways. You can’t hide them. You can’t put them under the carpet and pretend they don’t happen. Because, the reality is, they do. And, it happens to all of us. 

If I had to list out my top my top tips for overcoming these existing emotions would be : 

Meditative Movements in your body – preferably outdoors, taking in some sunlight, fresh air, and deep breaths. If you meditate, add some slow meditative breaths to your outdoor movements. This will help reset. 

Drink your water – hydrate your body, to activate all the internal pieces and as your flush your body with hydration, reset the mind

Eat & Nourish Your Body – nutrients run your body, including your hormones and mood. Eat a healthy, colorful meal

Disconnect – Take an hour or a day to just turn off the technology and disconnect from what you can disconnect from. Refrain from checking social media. 

Reconnect with only what matters: I know I just said disconnect. But once you re-connect, make it a connection with what matters. Whether a group text with  family or a video chat with friends, or a facebook group with a tribe of like-minded people, reconnect and keep that connection going. Lean on those connections for support. 

At the end of the day, the solution still remains: tomorrow is a new day. Take what you can in strides. Take it day by day. And when needed, take it moment by moment.