Something funny happened when I got to the gym for what I’d intended to be a swimming day yesterday.
I just. Couldn’t. Do it.
I procrastinated by lifting for a while, hoping that would get me in the mood. Eventually, realized I’d have to just suck it up, and I decided to do one last set of calf raises before heading to the pool.
When I hit up the little stretching room where the steps and Bosu balls are kept, I got a surprise: A line of shiny, new rowing machines.
This came about a week after a recommendation from the good people at FIRST, not to mention my runner-friend Sarah, that rowing is one of the best cross-training activities for runners. It’s an all-body cardio workout that’s extremely easy on your joints. The rowing machines before me had to be a sign, right?
I alternated five- and 10-minute blasts on the rower with my physical therapy exercises — squats on a balance board, single-leg squats on a step, calf raises, etc — to equal 30 minutes of rowing. As usual, the FIRST guys weren’t kidding — rowing’s no joke! I broke into a serious sweat after the first five minutes, and was more than ready to be done when I hit 30 minutes.
I’ve avoided rowing in the past because I just wasn’t sure about form – do you lean forward and backwards, or keep your torso pretty stationary and let your arms do the work? To what extent do you use your legs? Do you look as silly as you feel? As luck would have it, SELF magazine’s most recent issue provides some pointers. I tried to find the blurb online without any luck. But this about.com tutorial echoes the SELF mag personal trainer, plus adds some helpful tips about the “catch” and “drive” phases.
I’ll definitely be adding this to the mix for my cross-training workouts. Though I’m back to running today and back to swimming on Wednesday, it’s nice to know I have another boredom-blaster in my arsenal.
On account of my iPod’s convalescence, I borrowed Steve’s iPod for today’s lifting workout. When I sat down at the leg-press machine, I cycled through the list of artists, desperately searching for my standard pump-up tunes. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Wu-Tang Clan.
But then, I found something even better.
There it was, for the first time since that dance in seventh grade: Rump Shaker, by Wrecks-N-Effect. It was like meeting up with a skanky but encouraging old friend, and it powered me through not only the leg presses, but several sets of walking lunges with 25-pound dumbells — a big upgrade from my usual 20-pounders, which are typically more than enough to get me huffing and puffing.
Download this (or dig it up off some mixed tape) before your next workout. I promise you won’t regret it.
A few pictures from our favorite form of cross-training: skiing! We hit the road to Whitetail as soon as we woke up to fresh snow outside (and heard the snow-day declaration from Steve’s work). We volunteer there on the Mountain Safety Team every other weekend, and while we truly have fun every time we work, it was also cool to be on the mountain without any responsibilities at all. We left around 8:30 a.m., skied all day — including at least a dozen bump runs — and got home around 7:30 p.m., sore, tired … and exhilarated.
Next up: a Pacers run tomorrow night. Let’s hope the snow we enjoyed on the slopes has been cleared from the roads by then!
Wednesdays are cross-training days, which has come to mean a post-work date at the pool for me and Steve.
This week, our pool is closed for repairs, leaving me scrambling for a quick but efficient way to cross-train.
Steve recently started doing P90X videos with some people at work, so I decided to try my own plyometrics workout at home. Mine involved most of the exercises described here, plus some sets of push ups and regular, non-jumping lunges, broken up by two-minute spurts of running up the stairwell of our apartment building. I only ran into one neighbor on the stairs, making this not nearly as humiliating a venture as it could have been.
Here’s what was humiliating about this workout: I started out scoffing at the 6-inch cone suggested for use with jumps. Clearly, I thought, I could jump higher than 6 inches. Where’s the challenge here? I found a 5-inch tall tissue box and got to work. Roughly 30 seconds into the workout, I nearly fell flat on my face during the front-to-back jumps, completely crushing the tissue box in the process.
Here’s what was great about this workout: Keeping your heart rate up so high makes it really, truly possible to fit in a killer workout in 30 minutes, a claim I’m always skeptical about when I see it on workout videos and the like. I was literally dizzy at some points. I would definitely recommend this workout for days when you truly don’t have time for a workout, but want to do one anyway. A word of caution: Those nursing running injuries may want to proceed with caution, as my hip is feeling awfully creaky today.
I have a 10-mile run today, followed by an off day on Friday and a 10K in Alexandria on Saturday morning. I’m hoping to see some awesome Valentine’s Day costumes to make me forget about the blistering cold forecast for race day.
Just a quick post today sharing the swim workout I did this morning. Full disclosure: The way I train makes no sense (more on this later), but it works for me, and occasionally, I stumble opon what seems like a good workout. I did what was a long workout for me to make up for a total lack of activity yesterday. You can adjust the total workout length by messing around with how many repeats you do in the main set.
1 x 100 butterfly
1 x 400 freestyle
repeat five times … or however many times works for you
4,500 total, unless my math is worse than I ever imagined.