Category Archives: How To

how i got a 20 minute pr

halfmaryI’m coming off a really good running month and I’m not really sure how I feel about it.
I’m excited, proud and amazed at what my body was able to do but also anxious about whether I’ll be able to maintain that momentum and tired. Always tired.
I did take enough time off between the Nashville Half Marathon and I’m now OK to run more again (lots of RICE-rest, ice, compression, elevation). Even with all that pride about what I’ve done and pent-up worry about being “good enough” I still have hopes that I’ll get faster. I mean, I know I have to right? Practice makes perfect.
I got a few questions on Facebook about my awesome (and I can totally say that because 20 minutes is definitely AWESOME) PR at my last half. I crushed my previous PR from January of 2:28 with a 2:08 at the Nashville Half Marathon. That’s 20 freaking minutes!
I’ve had CrossFit coaches try and tell me it’s due to increasing my functional fitness. I did focus on adding a day or two of CrossFit in as my cross-training per the Hal Higdon half training plan but I don’t think I did enough to cause such a substantial decrease in my average run time. If I had to credit it to anything I’d say it had to be track workouts.
Running more didn’t hurt but I’ve always followed a plan for half marathons so it’s definitely got to be the speed work.
During the eight weeks I trained for this last half I followed a plan that incorporated speed work once a week. This was crucial.
I’d do mile repeats on the track for 2-3 miles. It’s where I saw my best mile times ever and I think knowing that I was able to get consistent sub-9 miles on a track made it a little easier to stay at a consistent sub 10 during a long run. It hurt a little, yeah, but it was possible.
Last week I also PRed my 5K time at the Hopkinsville Turkey Trot with a 26:46!
I credit that to speed workouts too.  So yeah, how in the world did I get a 20 minute PR on my half time? Mile repeats. Do them. They’re not fun and they may hurt, but they sure are effective.

What tricks do you have for speed?

how to: find your fit community

WORKOUT-
4 miles (39:49, 9:57 pace)

I did an easy breezy four-miler today with a friend. It went quickly as the miles always do when they’re passed with good conversation, but our run got me thinking about how lucky I am to have found my “place” in this new community I’ve been transplanted into. It’s plenty hard to make new friends after a regular move but sometimes it’s even harder as a military spouse.
While the average family may move every seven years they don’t move as far as we do or anywhere near as often. I’m looking at 3 to 4 years tops here at Fort Campbell before it’s time to make new friends elsewhere. Some of those friends will move before me, some will move after me but we will all move at some point.
So my issue has been this: How do you find the “right” friends? The ones that get you, share (some of) your beliefs, values and lifestyle choices? In my case, how do you find fit-minded friends?findyourfitcommunityI consider myself an open-minded person. I’d say there’s a lot that I can tolerate, but letting yourself go and not having the drive to pick yourself back up again is not one of those things. I’ve been there before and I’ve overcome it so it’s really hard for me to relate to not wanting to better yourself each and every day. Baby steps. That’s all it takes in my book.
Finding a community of like-minded people has been a blessing for me. I love having people I can share fitness tips, tricks and stories with. People that I can run, CrossFit and try out new classes (like hot yoga) with. That’s what keeps me going each day.
Exercise and healthy living has become such a huge, scratch that, integral part of my life that it’s the first thing I thought about when planning our move. You know, besides the address of the closest Starbucks and Target. We’ve all got our vices, right?
I started with looking up the closest CrossFit box and then sought out local running clubs. There is one 25 minutes outside of post in Clarksville, but I found it kind of crazy that there wasn’t an existing running club on post so I started one. It’s not booming yet but the women I’ve met make it worth going three times a week. That’s success to me.
If I was any good at competitive sports that would probably be a route I would take through the MWR but that boat has long since sailed and I kind of have this thing for running anyway.
Win some. Lose some.
It’s these communities that have made the past six months here a time to learn and grow instead of a time to dwell on the past.
That’s all I can recommend.

1. Start with Google + whatever you’re interested + your new location.
2. Seek out a gym, CrossFit box, yoga studio or attend group fitness classes. Get involved with recreational sports leagues. Join a running club. Do whatever floats your boat and gets you active and the active friends will follow.
3. Make it a point to introduce yourself to one new person at every class or gym you try out in a new area. Talk to people even if you have to force it and aren’t used to telling everyone your life story like me.

Finding your place and finding friends that are “in” to fitness is possible you just might have to look a little harder in the military community. Some of your friend dates might are guaranteed to be a bust but you’ll find some good ones eventually. I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye to the friends I have made but I’m making it a point to enjoy my time with them whenever I can and that’s all I can expect.

How do you find fit-minded friends?

four tips for a crossfit newbie

This post was originally published as a guest post on runeatdatesleep.com.

When first entering the world of CrossFit it might seem like you have to learn an entirely new language to fit in. Snatch. Clean. Burpee. WOD. Gretchen. Fran. What?

After two and a half months of sweating, lifting, thrusting and yes, even WODing (that’s Workout of the Day…ing) I have learned a few things along the way that will help any beginner get a handle on what can seem to be a scary, new world.

CrossFit is a constantly varied workout method essentially made up of HIIT, Olympic lifting and body weight movements. The prescribed (Rx) workout is the same for everyone but workouts are easily scaled for gender and ability. Speaking of gender, a lot of the workouts have girls names because the founder once said anything that has you lying on your back and out of breath deserves to be named after a woman. Funny man. Workouts are usually under 30 minutes but you’re going full speed the entire time for either a certain amount of RFT (rounds for time) or AMRAP (as many rounds as possible).

Here are four things to keep in mind on your way to the box (gym).

It helps to go with a friend but even if you can’t know that the community is welcoming of all skill levels, shapes, sizes and genders.     

I did my first two months of CrossFit with my friend, Sweta. I’ve since moved from Florida to Tennessee and the first thing I Googled after moving was the closest box. I’ve done drank the Kool-Aid and I’m totally OK with that.

CrossFit is incredibly addicting once you get started but it helps to go with a friend to get over the initial shock factor. When you first walk in (especially if like me you’re used to ellipticals, running and Zumba classes) all the grunting and people throwing weights around is a little overwhelming. Relax and introduce yourself to new people. Everyone started somewhere. What keeps me coming back to CrossFit day in and day out is the likeminded community of healthy living enthusiasts that supports me. At both boxes I’ve been to workouts are completed and equipment is put away when everyone is done and no one gets left to finish alone. I love that.

It’s expensive but so are dinners out, good cheese and weekly nights at the movies.

Because you get specialized attention in the gym with certified coaches who tell you exactly how and when to scale or modify the cost of being a member at a box is two to three times as much of that of a “normal” gym. Surprise! Not all of us have spare piles of money stuffed under the mattress we use to pay our memberships. You may have to cut some things out of your budget to afford CrossFit. One movie instead of four, eating in a little more, one less mani/pedi or in my case good cheese (Why, oh, why does cheese have to be so delicious and fattening?)    

It’s a choice you’ll have to make on your own. While there are plenty of other ways to stay fit it’s up to you to decide whether CrossFit is worth the investment in your health. That’s what it is—an investment. Going to an actual box provides a community you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a great group to be a part of, but daily workouts are also posted for free on the official CrossFit website. Most boxes offer an introductory class for free as well so you can try it out and see what all the hype is about.

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It really is for everyone. Don’t be afraid to scale.

I’ve seen pure muscled amazingness, three hundred pound men (and women), old men, pregnant women and everything in between at my box. That bulky dude with all of the muscles? He can probably lift more than you but that doesn’t have any bearing on what you’re lifting at this very moment. Everything can be scaled and you’re only competing against yourself so remember that no one else matters. Everyone is on different levels and that’s totally OK. Don’t let pride stand in the way of achieving your personal best because even Big Beefy with the muscles on his muscle started somewhere.

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Sweat is your fat cells crying

I’ve always worn makeup to the gym even though I sweat like a beast. I quit that after my first week of CrossFit. After a particularly grueling workout I peeled myself off the ground and left a skin colored puddle of sweat in my wake. Never mind the fact that I looked like a wet raccoon. Makeup puddles are gross, harder to clean and besides, it’s bad for your pores. If you look cute after you’re done you weren’t trying hard enough. Just wait until your palms start cracking from pull ups. Sweat beads flying and a matted ponytail is only the beginning of beast mode.

What have you got to lose? I’m a little biased but I do believe that CrossFit is for everyone. This doesn’t even have to be your primary workout method. I still run, cycle and Zumba it up at the gym and you can too. Sign up for an intro class near you and thank me later (and then we can totally compare our Fran times).

See you at the box,
Margarita