Running up 36 flights of stairs shouldn’t be too hard. Heck – I take the stairs whenever possible and usually I’m lugging shopping bags, luggage, or my purse while I’m doing it. Plus, I think I’m in pretty good shape. This should be cake…. Wrong. Dead wrong.
Bop to the Top is a stair race in the America One building in downtown Indianapolis. I’ve run my fair share of 5Ks, 8Ks, 10Ks, and even a half marathon, but never have I raced up a bunch of stairs. I didn’t even know what to expect or how to train for something like this. So naturally, I didn’t. Maybe that was poor planning on my part. I wanted to start my race season off in January this year rather than wait until March like I did last year. I had already taken November and December off so I was ready to get back into the swing of racing. Bop to the Top sounded perfect because it was indoors and I’m not a huge fan of running outdoors in the bitter cold.
The way the race is set up, you can seed yourself based on your previous year’s time or your latest 5K time. Since I had never ran up 36 flights of stairs before, I wasn’t sure where to seed myself so I went with my last 5K time: 24:10. I’m glad I did that because if you opted out of seeding, the earliest time to race would have been 11:00 AM (the race started at 8:30 AM). So I was scheduled to race at 8:40 AM. After stretching in the lobby and warming up, I nervously said goodbye to my husband who was patiently waiting for me in the lobby. I rounded the corner, approached the line for Stairwell A, waited, and watched. It’s a very calculated system. The event volunteers have you stand on the mat and wait exactly 30 seconds from when the person in front of you started to give them enough time to get a start. This prevents congestion in the already small stairwell. It’s also a fairly quick process and keeps the lines moving.
Soon it was my turn. My heart was racing. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just prayed I didn’t trip up the stairs and bust my shin open. I took off skipping a stair at a time. Not sure if that was a good move or not because I got tired pretty fast. My thought was that I wanted to put enough distance between me and the person behind me before I needed to slow down. Soon I was just running step-by-step. As I was running past floor 6, 7, and 8, I noticed my pulse starting to quicken. By floor 10 my lungs started to sting and my heart was beating even faster. I thought to myself, I’m not even half way there – this can’t be happening…
Then came the slowing down to a quick walk up the stairs. There was no way I could run. What the hell was I thinking not training for this?! My lungs are burning, it’s hard to breathe, and I’m utilizing the stair rails next to me to make sure I don’t trip up the stairs as my legs are starting to slow down. The hardest part of this race was that you are by yourself. There are no cheering sidelines to tell you to keep going. This is all about you and you alone. You are the only thing that will keep you from stopping and taking a break. Finally, I saw another human being. It was the first aid person making sure no one was going to pass out around floor 18. He offered a quick, “your halfway there.” And that was it. Floor 20,21,22 … Thank GOD I’m almost there.
By now my lungs are ON FIRE. I’ve never felt this kind of pain in my lungs in all my life. I cannot for the life of me figure out what is going on, but I persevere and keep going. I hear the person behind me gaining on me. There is something about hearing the person behind you that gives you a little more pep to your step. Floor 33, 34, 35… OH MY GOSH when will this end?! And there it was, the open door with the blue mat and volunteers to guide you to water.
My lungs along with my heart are in my throat. I cannot breathe let alone say thank you to the man who cut my timing chip off my shoe. I walk into the room where the shirts are (because you didn’t get your race shirt until you made it to the top), got my shirt, and found my way to the water room. I can hear the poor guy even before I see him. A college-aged boy is losing his breakfast (or drinks from the night before) all in the trash can. He really must have given it all he got because he was best friends with that trash can for a good 6 minutes. Me, on the other hand, I am now coughing up a lung, my eyes are watering, and I can’t even stand on the elevator ride down. Every time I coughed it felt like I had smoked a pack of cigarettes the night before. It hurt SO BAD. As soon as the doors open, I find myself a nice seat against the wall where I proceed to cover my head, cough some more, and continue to catch my breath. My poor husband (who is still on the other side of the building because no one without a race bib was allowed back there) was wondering where I was and if I was okay. After about another 5 minutes, I was able to come find him.
It was really an interesting site – I’m trying to find the results board and EVERYONE around me is coughing. I’ve never seen anything like it! My husband was getting the heebie jeebies convinced he is going to catch something. Finally, I make it over the board, checked my score, took some pictures, and headed home to take a much-needed nap.
36 flights of stairs, 780 steps, 500 ft straight up, monies benefit Riley’s Children’s Hospital of Indianapolis… Next year I think I’ll do the Triple! Who’s with me?
I got home from work about 5:45, talked to my husband for a bit, then talk to my best friend and before I knew it, it was dark and almost 7 PM…
and I really didn’t feel like working out where did the time go? The worst best part about at home workouts is that you have no excuse to get it done. Raining outside? Cold and dark? Doesn’t matter. You are at home in the comfort of your living room and you don’t have to go anywhere. Sorry – we’re in a No Excuse Zone so get your sorry a** upstairs, change your clothes, and turn on your DVD. So that’s exactly what I did.
Today was Plyometric Cardio Circuit. My hamstrings were already pretty sore from the Fit Test yesterday but it was scheduled for the next workout and I figure Shaun T. must know what he’s talking about so I went ahead with it. I looked at the timer, 41:44 minutes. Not too bad, although once I completed it, I was glad that it wasn’t longer. I don’t think my legs or my poor heart could take it! Hopefully when this circuit comes back into rotation, I don’t quite suck so bad at it.
Without further ado, here is my review on Plyometric Cardio Circuit:
In Shaun T. fashion I did each exercise for 30 seconds each with no breaks until the first circuit was completed. I was awarded with a 30 second water break before we moved into round 2 where he told me (yes, he was speaking directly to me through the video) to pick it up and move faster. I could do this is no problem. Then I had another break and moved into round 3. I tried to keep up with the video, but my living room is full of obstacles such as sofas, coffee tables (even though I moved it aside), and a spectator dog that the gym on the video doesn’t have. So I couldn’t move as far or as quickly as the people on the video. I did my best.
Warm up – 3X
Jog – this is no light jog. Give it what you got.
Jumping Jacks – the key is to do the full jumping jack, arms come all the way up.
Heisman’s – Make sure you get both feet up in the air as you switch from side to side.
123-123 – These are Heisman’s with three steps in between.
Butt Kicks – Make sure you are kicking your butt with your heels when you run.
High Knees – Get your knees higher than your hips if you can
The next portion of the workout was a 6 minute stretch. This was probably my favorite part of the workout besides the cool down. The thing I appreciate the most about Shaun T. is that he incorporates stretching into his workouts in the beginning to ensure that you are preventing injury by really warming up the muscles. I really like that.
After stretching, I moved on to Circuit 1. Just like the warm up, you will complete this circuit 3 times through with a quick 30 second water break in between. Each round you need to up the intensity to make sure you are getting all you can out of this workout. It is called a “cardio” circuit. I will say that I preferred circuit 1 over circuit 2 for sure. On the third round Shaun T. went straight into 2 more exercise drills without a break. That was a shock because I was DYING by round 3. But I pushed through the pain…
Circuit 1 – 3x
Suicide Drills – Suicide drills aren’t extremely difficult. If you watched basketball or played basketball, then you know what to do. All you do is run to one side, touch the floor with the opposite hand (so run to the right, touch the ground with the left) and turn around and do the same thing on the other side. Keep doing this until 30 seconds is up.
Power Squats – Power squats are like regular squats but with a small jump when you come to the top. Be sure that you are pushing your butt back like you are sitting in a chair and you keep your arms in front of you to maintain balance and proper form.
Mountain Climbers – I felt super silly doing this and I was glad my husband was out of the room. Basically you look like a person climbing a mountain, really fast, and there is no mountain. Make sure you fully extend your arm up in the air and bring your opposite knee up to 90 degrees. Switch and do the exact same thing on the other side. Now repeat, but only do it super fast.
Ski Jumps – Keeping your feet together, jump side to side like you are skiing downhill.
*After Round 3*
Switch Feet – This looks a lot like my happy dance. You are going from heel to toe keeping your legs straight and switching your feet and arms left to right. (A really bad running man, if you know that dance move)
Football Sprints – Football sprints have your feet out wide, knees are bent, you are down low with your hands out in front and you are moving your feet super fast. You face front, then right, then front, then left, then you shuffle to the right, shuffle to the left, shuffle back, and set (touch the ground), and sprint. You do this twice before you get your next water break.
Onto Circuit 2… circuit 2 totally sucked and when I mean sucked, it sucked because it was so freaking hard. But I guess that’s why I bought this program because I wanted something to kick my butt. It didn’t disappoint. Again I completed circuit 2 three times and after the third round we moved right into the last set of transition moves.
Circuit 2 – 3x
Basketball Drills – To complete this exercise, all you do is face one side of the room, squat down, pick up an imaginary ball, and shoot to the front of the room or “the hoop.” Make sure you squat all the way down with your butt going back to keep proper form and really engage your legs. When you come up, really power up through your legs into an explosive jump. It’s a lower body workout for sure! I’m not going to lie, by round 3 I was taking a lot of breaks.
Level 1 Drill – This is a B**** because it incorporates so many moves and I don’t know who Shaun T. was counting for, but there was no way I was moving that fast! You start with 4 push-ups, move into 4 plank mountain climbers, jump your legs in by your hands, stand up reach for the sky and repeat. I couldn’t even complete one solid push up with good form before he was already counting mountain climbers. Don’t let this bother you, I figure eventually I’ll get there.
Ski Drills – Are you ready to work your core? Starting in full plank position, jump both of your legs up to your right side. Jump your legs back to starting position and then up to your left side. Repeat as many times as you can until 30 seconds is up.
In and outs – Still in full plank position, jump your legs in to your hands, keeping your feet together. And then jump your legs out back to plank position. Make sure to keep your core tight throughout the entire exercise and take a break if you need it. I certainly did!
After round 3, Shaun T. moved right into the last 3 moves.
Jabs – throw alternating jabs for 30 seconds.
Cross Jacks – Like jumping jacks but alternating arms in the air instead of both at the same time and crossing one foot in front of the other.
Upper Cuts – Squat down low and throw as many upper cuts as you can in 30 seconds.
Attacks – Just like jabs only instead of fists, hands are open.
Finally it was time to stretch… Hallelujah! At this point I can feel the sweat running down chest and my heart was pounding. I was ready to be done, however, after it was all said and done. I enjoyed the work out (mainly because I like hard workouts, I’m sick like that) and I’m excited to see what Cardio Power and Resistance has in store!
I’m in the midst between gyms. The gym I joined recently (November 5) closed their doors without warning (December 31) and the gym I just joined is still in renovations and won’t be opening until late February early March. Now while I have to ability to attend any other of the local gyms in the area until my gym is finished, 20 minutes is more than I want to drive to work out for 45-60 minutes. I’ve been spoiled by having both of my gyms within 7 minutes driving distance from my house… with that being said, I decided to purchase the Insanity program to keep me
off the couch busy in the meantime.
I eagerly opened my box and checked out the program. Insanity is a 60-day workout program that is designed to push you to your limits, whatever they might be. What is great about this program is that ANYBODY and ANY BODY can do it. Whether you just decided to do something for the first time or you are a workout fiend looking for something new, it’s totally for everyone. I noticed on the calendar (yes – it comes with a workout calendar and it has built in rest days… 1 each week to be exact) that it said Fit Test fives times. This is in order to track and monitor your progress because although the scale might not move the fact that you are adding numbers to your Fit Test is a testimony to the hard work you are putting in. It is so important to track. You have a better chance of success when you track something, anything than if you don’t track at all. This way you don’t necessarily have to track you weight and get discouraged, you can track your performance instead. I like that!
Today was the Fit Test. Not knowing what to expect (but admittedly thinking I had this in the bag), I had my Tracking Sheet nearby with a pen, popped in the DVD and got to work. We started with a quick warm-up, stretched some, and jumped into the fit test. Let me just say that the video participants were sweating up a storm! I didn’t break a sweat, although that may be because my husband keeps our thermostat at 63 degrees… however, my heart rate was pretty high and it was an intense fit test to say the least. I am happy to say that some of my original numbers were higher than their’s or close to their Fit Test 1 numbers. That made me feel pretty good since I’m the type of person who likes to “keep up” with the instructor to the best of my ability. I will also admit that I had to take some breaks because some of those moves were incredibly challenging.
Here is the breakdown and my Fit Test 1 Results
15 second – jog
15 second – jumping jacks
15 second – butt kicks
15 second – high knee run
Fit Test – 1 minute of each exercise and the record your number
Switch Kicks – Don’t let this exercise fool you. It totally creeps up on you, it starts out and you are like this is super easy but by 30 seconds you are ready for a break. This move is basically front kicks with a hop as you switch legs.
Power Jacks – Power jacks are a lot like jumping jacks except when you bring your arms down and legs jump apart, you sit in a squat upping the intensity just a bit. The key to really getting anything out of this exercise is to really sit into your squat (like you are sitting into a chair making sure your knees don’t come forward over your toes) and then powering through your legs into the jump. I did okay with this exercise but not as good as I hoped.
Power Knees – For those of you who are familiar with cardio group fitness classes, power knees remind me a lot of repeater knees except your stacked leg stays grounded and you are lifting your knee to the chest as quickly as possible, pulling your arms into the knee and lifting your arms overhead as your foot returns to the ground for stabilization. The only problem is that you only do one leg so the other leg feels left out. I paused the DVD so I could do the other leg just to be fair. I’m an equal opportunity exerciser.
Power Jumps – If anyone is familiar with Shaun T. then you would know what a power jump is. Power jumps are probably the most intimidating exercise Shaun T. performs (at least to me) in the Insanity DVDs. Power Jumps are simply jumping up into the air and touching your knees with your hands (while they are at waist height…yes in the air). Using your abs HELPS! If you are not comfortable with jumping or having your feet leave the ground, this will be your biggest challenge. It gets easier with time, trust me. The key is to land with soft knees. If anything, try. No harm comes in trying.
Globe Jumps otherwise known as Box Jumps – Globe jumps are incredibly difficult. I totally started out strong but about half way through my legs started to give up on my. You do a squat jump (exactly what it sounds like) and you are jumping in a box, or you jump to all four corners of your imaginary box. Four jumps in a box count as 1 repetition. Don’t try to be an animal and don’t expect to get a lot of these completed in one minute. Even Tanya didn’t get that many and she’s on the DVD!
Suicide Jumps – I call these burpees so I’m not sure where he got this name from. Burpees/Suicide Jumps are hard to describe without visual representation but I will give it my best shot. Start in standing position. Squat down with your hands touching the floor and jump back into plank position. Jump your feet back towards your hands and explode up into the air. That counts as 1 repetition. Make sure that you exhale with every jump you do (3 exhales). Do this as many times as you can without breaking form. Form is everything. If your form breaks, then you are no longer getting a beneficial workout from it. Take a break (albeit a quick one) and come right back. If you cheat on your form, you are only cheating yourself.
Push-Up Jacks – This is a combination of a push-up with a jumping jack. You are going to start in push-up position but there is no “knee option.” You must be on your toes. Hands are slightly wider than your chest. As you lower yourself into your push-up, your feet will jump out wide like a jumping jack. As you push up from your push-up, your feet will jump back together completing the push-up jack. This was definitely hard for me and by this point in the Fit Test I was seriously in the hurt locker and we hadn’t even been working out for 30 minutes yet!
Low Plank Oblique – The last exercise has you in low plank position (plank on your forearms rather than your hands). As you hold yourself in plank position, you bring your right knee out towards your right elbow and then bring your foot back into starting position. Repeat this move on the left side. You do this as many times as you can in just one minute. Make sure you really try because this is your base line assessment. Hopefully you only get better from here. The key to this move is to keep your proper alignment and don’t let your hips drop down (as I often see with participants in my group fitness classes) and keep your core tight.
Stretch – YAY! I made it! This was only a 25 minute assessment but boy did I feel like I got my bootie handed to me! All in all, I am happy with my baseline assessment and hopefully I will see improvement when I take my second Fit Test.
Switch Kicks – 120
Power Jacks – 58
Power Knees – 86
Power Jumps – 37
Globe Jumps – 9
Suicide Jumps – 16
Push-Up Jacks – 24
Low Plank Obliques – 65
Going away on vacation can be a challenge for anyone. Going home to visit family is another story all by itself. I LOVE my family and probably one of my favorite things about my parents is that they are PHENOMENAL cooks. Every time I come home they fill their fridge with my favorite goodies and cook me all my favorite meals.
This past week I went home to Pennsylvania to spend the holidays with my family and let me tell you… in terms of my nutrition and exercise… it was a wash. Christmas Eve tradition in my family is to go to church, come home, put on comfy clothes, eat finger foods, and open presents. This year my mom and dad really outdid themselves. Dad made THE BEST homemade buffalo wings, my mom made her amazing mini spring rolls, we had jumbo shrimp cocktail, Christmas cookies, and pigs in a blanket. I totally overate because it was amazing. Christmas Day wasn’t any better. My dad fixed prime rib with salted baby red skinned potatoes, broccoli, and popovers. It was to die for. And although it sounds healthy, there was nothing healthy about any of it. The rest of the week consisted of birthday cake, cupcakes, and Christmas cookies in between meals. I tried to make good decisions when I could, but when I am home all bets are off.
On Saturday, my sister and I attended the first annual Cupcake Bowl in Bethlehem, PA. Over 25 Cupcake Vendors participated and most had 2 or 3 cupcake flavors to taste and judge. And although I didn’t eat entire cupcakes, in fact, my sister and I just shared a bite of each, I left with a huge bellyache and feeling quite sick to my stomach. It sounded awesome in theory because anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE cupcakes but 40+ cupcakes is more than anyone should have to try in a day.
I left to come back home on Sunday and spent most of my day in the airport. Trying to find healthy food in the airport is a challenge unto itself. I ended up getting an omelette and just eating a little over half of it and opting for a salad for lunch. I made my husband walk up and down every terminal in the Cleveland airport just so I wasn’t sitting around during our 3 1/2 hour layover.
So although my diet was not perfect during my week long excursion, I did try to stay as active as possible. While at home I attended 2 group fitness classes at Sweat Like a Girl Studio in Allentown, PA. I also took advantage of my sister’s treadmill and elliptical, using both on separate days. So I was home for 6 days and had 2 days of travel time. I was able to work out 4 of the six days I was home and tried to walk as much as possible on both travel days in the airport, taking the stairs when I could, and walked laps when there was time. And while I know there is no exercise that can outdo a bad diet, I feel like my bad eating and my exercise neutralized each other.
Week 9 will hopefully be a little more productive in terms of eating than Week 8.
Willpower and Grace…. reading that class name, I had no idea what to expect. Even after reading the class description, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about trying it out. But it was at a good time slot and I really liked the instructor, so I decided to give it a try. I’m really glad I did. It just goes to show you that you should never judge a book by it’s title.
This class was nothing like I’ve ever taken before. We started out with some basic deep breaths in and out, reaching and stretching to warm up the body, and then we moved into a squat series. We did so many stinking squats that my legs were screaming 10 minutes into class and I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. The next fifty minutes of class kind of whirled by in me in a massive blur with touches of dance, weight training, piloxing, balance, and plyometrics mixed in. All I knew was that I needed a water break but there was no break to come (I had to make my own because I was DYING of thirst). The instructor kept encouraging us to take higher options (actually she gave higher options and I just opted to make my own lower options) but I had made the mistake of eating a HUGE diner style breakfast and my belly was not feeling all the jumping around. I was thinking better safe than sorry, so I listened to my body. I thought it would be a better lasting impression if I took lower options than to blow chunks all over the group fitness floor. If I can remember correctly we began with a squat series, moved into front kicks, picked up some dumbbells and worked on our biceps (which seemed like forever), and we did a little dance break to shake out the muscles. Then we moved into a piloxing series with hamstring curls which eventually turned into roundhouse kicks. We added on alternating front kicks with roundhouse, working both sides of course. She worked in some jabs, upper cuts, and speed bag work. If I wasn’t tired enough, we headed into some dips and abs exercises before bringing it back to the floor with some more squats and dance moves. She brought in some traditional aerobic exercises like repeater knees but added in some yoga balance poses for fun. For the grand finale we alternated 20 second burpees with 20 second weighted squat jumps (I opted for the no-weight squat jump). When she told us to take it to the mats I knew the end was near. Embracing this little “break”, I headed into plank position. By this time my entire body was shaking but I was determined to take the higher plank hold option. Then she had to throw in the, “okay – lift one leg off the floor… hold it… now bring it up to your side and back. Don’t let that foot touch the floor!” And all I could think to myself was, “Gosh, do I sound like that when I teach class because I want to kill her!” (Of course I meant that in a totally nice way!) So of course I just held plank position while everyone else was at leasting trying to do what she said. I know my body, and my form would have sucked, so I stayed in plank with good form like a good student should. We then went to our backs and worked on our lower abdominals and just when I was about ready to call it quits myself, class was over.
I’m definitely leaving Willpower and Grace with a love-hate relationship. I was hating it when I was taking it, but how I felt when it was over was pure love. I loved the feeling I had when it was over. I loved how I felt like I got a great workout. And I loved that it was like no other class I had taken before. I can’t wait to take some of the things I’ve learned today and take it back to my own classes that I teach and I can’t wait to come back to Allentown, PA and take it again!
If you are in the area – check out Sweat Like a Girl and try your first class for FREE!
7 weeks into my challenge and I should be good to go. I’ve been doing this long enough that drinking my shakes and getting my workouts in should be like second nature, but let’s face it, December is a CRAZY month. These last two weeks have been super crazy and it’s all I can do to get an extra walk in the day so I can make sure I’m keeping active.
December is just super crazy with work parties, family and friend get togethers, Christmas shopping, meetings, and just every day life happenings. I have been lucky to make it to the gym 4 days a week the last two weeks and my diet the last week has been less than stellar. Every single day this week my students have come into my classroom bearing gifts of cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, Belgium chocolate, chocolate truffles, and fudge. They sit there and look at you expectantly, waiting for you to take a bite of the goodies they brought you. And of course I thought a cookie and a cookie there wasn’t going to be too bad, but let me tell you… they add up and soon I’m eating cookies, mini cupcakes, and truffles like they are going out of style. Not to mention, my principal and assistant principal cooked us breakfast and it happened to be pancakes (my favorite!) and theses AWESOME sausage pinwheels…. so again I had like 7 of them… my will power has been non-existant these past few days and I really need to reign it in.
This was evident tonight after I decided to take advantage of my sister’s treadmill in her basement. Since coming home to visit for Christmas, I’ve indulged in birthday cake (numerous times a day), iced cookies, Christmas cookies, spring rolls, chicken wings, and things I don’t normally eat on a regular basis. After presents were opened and the kids were in bed, I decided to go for a quick 3 mile run…. boy, was that rough. It’s amazing how poor you feel when you are trying to complete a simple run that you’ve done hundreds of times. I can totally tell that I have not been putting good fuel into my body this last week and now I’m paying the price. I feel tired, slow, and lethargic. It’s time to turn it around and get it back on track. I’ve had my fun, I’ve strayed from my plan, and now it’s time to get serious. I will not be one of those people who say, well I’ve already blown it, I might as well have my fun until the New Year and start over. My resolution is to get back on track and my resolution starts now.
Here’s a new workout for you!
Superset 1: 10-15 reps, 3 sets
- Box step-ups with 30 lbs bar – 10 step-ups on each side
- Leg Press – 100 lbs for the first two sets, increased to 115 lbs third set
- Hip adductor – 60 lbs
Superset 2: 30 seconds each rep, 3 sets
- Body-weight alternating lunges
- Body-weight squat hold
Superset 1: 10-15 reps, 3 sets
- Dumbbell side raises – 10 lbs
- Dumbbell front raises – 10 lbs
Superset 2: 8-12 reps, 3 sets
- Upright rows – 30 lbs bar
- Military press – 30 lbs bar
Abs – 100 exercises total
- 25 crunches
- 20 leg lifts
- 20 oblique crunches, right side
- 20 oblique crunches, left side
- 15 ab roller