Run wasn’t bad, but it was made better when I cheated and walked for 10 minutes in the back half of the run when my friend Kelly stopped by my treadmill. Cheating? Yes. Do I feel that guilty? No. ;)

So I probably got in only 40 minutes of running – but I still consider that a success :)

Was running with my heart rate monitor and was interesting how slowly I had to run to keep in the green zone (T2). Was averaging about 5.4 mph. Hopefully can get that cranked up a bit!

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I was definitely not looking forward to this practice – first swim practice of the season! First, it meant I had to get into a swimsuit in the middle of winter – never a pretty sight. Second, I hadn’t swum since my last race in August.

But it wasn’t that bad! Yay!

Most of the hour we did drills meant to improve our balance and stroke. We followed the drills with two 100-yard time trials. Not realizing I would have to do a second, a put my all into the first 100. Then I was informed I had to do it all again – oof! Second time around I lost 10 seconds :(

One of the things I noticed when walking to the El after practice was how light I feel after I swim. Almost like swimming stretches me out. But of course today I was pretty sore - especially in my upper back/neck region Рbut hopefully that will be worked out with time :)

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Although I got my bike trainer more than a year ago, today was the longest session I’ve actually completed on it (yes, I know, 45 minutes isn’t that long). But it felt good and actually wasn’t as boring as I thought it might be!

I thought that I might not be as motivated if I wasn’t watching one of those snazzy DVDs that you can pop in, face your bike toward it, and then it looks like you are on the road. Not to say that I might not purchase one of those, but listening to music on my iPod worked just as well.

My neck was a little stiff during the ride, but that should decrease over time.

Unfortunately my speedometer wasn’t working – maybe the battery? First have to figure out how to get it off my bike…

Oh, and apparently my bike wasn’t fit securely into the trainer because at exactly 40 minutes, my bike and myself, became the leaning tower of Pisa. Leaning over on the side of your bike is particularly scary when you are locked into your bike with your bike clips and see your life flash before your eyes as you begin to crash into the desk next to you. Who knew that you should wear a helmet when riding indoors? ;) Fortunately, my clips unlocked easily and crisis was narrowly avoided. Got popped back in and finished my ride with pride :)

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As you may know, I’ve been training with a heart rate monitor since the beginning of the year. It’s a better way to improve the health of your heart so that you can work out more efficiently. Since then, I have been running 30-45 minutes a day, a few days a week. So starting with a 40 minute run felt pretty good.

Today’s training started with 5 minutes in the blue zone (the lowest heart rate zone), then I spent 30 minutes in the green zone (the next zone up), followed by another 5 minutes in the blue zone.

After about 30 minutes, my heart rate increased so much that I had to slow down to about 5 mph, which is a 12 minute mile, to maintain my heart rate in the green zone. Then I walked the last 5 minutes at an incline of 5%. I generally have a hard time getting my heart rate down to the blue zone after a run of this length – am hoping this improves with time!

Warning, I’m a very slow runner.

Today’s stats: 40 minute run, distance = 3.4 miles

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I knew late last year that 2013 was going to be the year – for many reasons.

First of all, I’m turning 30. Part of me thinks that’s a monumental thing. First, I thought by 30 I would “have my life together” – but I’ve learned that it’s debatable what that exactly means. Second, it’s another decade. Third, I’m no longer in my 20s, an age with a built in excuse for most acts of stupidity. Then again, it’s just another year of life, and technically, I was already considered to be 30 by insurance companies on my half birthday. My dad informed me about this, and I think it brought him joy ;)

Second, I got a promotion at work. Need I explain why this is exciting??

Third, I knew I was going to sign up for an Ironman event, specifically the Ironman 70.3, also known as a half-Ironman. I had already completed a handful of sprint distance and Olympic/International distance triathlons, so I thought the next step was a half-Ironman. I was a bit leery because I didn’t feel so hot after my previous Olympic distance races, but I thought if I truly committed to the training regime, I could do anything.

But I also knew I couldn’t do it alone.

I completed my first triathlon in 2010 with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. One of my friends from college passed away from Leukemia and the cause resonated with me. The wisdom and support I received from the Team was indispensable, so I’ve turned to the Team once again. On August 4th, I will be competing in the Steelhead Ironman 70.3 with the team. Training starts Monday, March 4th and I couldn’t be more excited!

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I had heard about training with a heart rate monitor and thought, “oh that’s cool, but not for me.” Why? Because it sounds complicated and expensive. So I read some pieces about it, then moved on.

Then saw some more pieces about it, read a little, and moved on.

But as this process continued my interested continued to get peaked. So I decided to actively seek out some research on what heart rate monitor training is all about and it’s benefits.

In this post, I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty scientific details of heart rate monitors, but I would like to tell you about my experience and give you a little bit of information on why they work.

The essence of heart rate monitor training is knowing how hard your heart is working relative to your body’s capacity for the activity you are doing. Most heart rate monitors are attached to a strap that you wear around your chest while you are exercising. Your heart’s fitness level is the key to your aerobic endurance, also known as “cardiovascular respiratory endurance.” Your heart can only beat so hard for so long before you’re not doing yourself any good anymore. Heart rate monitors are the most effective aids for tracking and improving your aerobic endurance.

Aerobic endurance is one of the most significant factors in your speed as a runner. Being aware of the “work-rate” of your hearts is the most accurate method of determining how much benefit you are deriving from your workout.

A heart rate monitor helps you avoid over stressing your body so that you maximize the efficiency of your training, while minimizing the risk of injury. Once you determine the true intensity of your workouts you can use the monitor to gauge whether your hard days are truly challenging, and whether your recovery days are really allowing your body to recover.

The monitor can also help determine whether you are training hard enough to improve your performance. If your heart rate drops below a certain level during your training, a heart rate goal for that particular day of training, the monitor will let you know to increase your pace to achieve the goal rate.

I had heard from others that when they started with a heart rate monitor they felt like they were being held back and not necessarily getting the same challenging workouts that they were getting before. I felt the same way today – my first workout with the HRM. The goal for today’s work out was to keep my heart rate between 136 and 152, while running. I quickly realized that I could only run 4.2 MPH, about 13:19 min pace, in order to keep my heart rate in the goal zone. I also had to walk occasionally to keep my rate down.

But what amazed me is that after my 30 minute training session, I felt like I could have run for 2 more hours. If I had run at my usual pace of 6 MPH, or 10:00 min pace, I would have felt spent after 30 minutes. My heart would have been pounding and I probably would have rationalized not going to the gym the next day cause I felt fatigued from the day before.

I may do triathlons, I love triathlons, but that doesn’t mean that I love running – not by a long shot. But today, I learned to love running because I didn’t beat up my body, or my heart, in the process.

I have the Adidas MiCoach Heart Rate Monitor. The data from the actual heart rate monitor is transmitted to a piece that fits into my iPhone where it is recorded into the MiCoach app, which is free. You create a profile online and can sign up for various training programs, depending on your goals.

While you listen to music you have selected from your iTunes account, you are coached through your workout. It’s awesome, easy to set up, and makes working out fun. It’s like having a personal trainer without having to pay for one ;)

If you have worked out with a HRM, let me know about your experience. If you haven’t, and you’d like to improve the health of your heart, I’d definitely recommend it.

 

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I had my biggest race of the year last week, the Chicago Triathlon. It was the first triathlon I competed in back when I started triathlons in 2010. It has become  my favorite race, not only because it was my first, but because it is in my hometown. I am comfortable with my surroundings and any of my friends or family who want to, can come and see me.

I had already competed in three triathlons this summer – but they were sprint-distance races, so nothing too bad. I was supposed to also race in the South Shore Triathlon, but due to a toe injury, had to back out. So there was six weeks between my last triathlon and the ChiTri. During that time, I didn’t get much training in.

I could lay out several perfectly good and rational-sounding excuses for why I didn’t train enough during this time: toe injury, working late hours at my job, extremely hot weather…blah blah blah. The fact of the matter was that I wasn’t motivated enough. Period.

You read about this all the time in triathlon publications and blogs – how do you stay motivated to train?

One of the issues that I struggle with is that completing these races is about 70% mental for me, 30% physical. I knew that I would get through this past Sunday because I had completed an Olympic-distance triathlon before – so I knew it was possible. But I also knew I would struggle physically – and I did. I got my butt kicked.

I’m sitting here now debating whether or not I should sign up for an Ironman 70.3 next year. After what I just wrote about not having training enough for the Olympic distance, you’re probably thinking, What is she thinking? So here is my rationale.

A. It’s a new challenge – and triathletes love new challenges – we never seem to be satisfied sticking to one thing, the nature of the sport.

B. I’ve never completed an Ironman before – so I’d have to train. Really hard. I mean, I would be so scared of not surviving the race I’d have to train night and day.

C. Tons of triathletes do Ironman races and survive.

D. I’m turning 30 next year and I’d love to do it in style, and hopefully, in the best shape of my life.

So what’s stopping me from signing up? I think the thought of not being prepared. Of having to drop out mid-race. Of injuring myself during training and all that hard work, and not to mention money, going down the drain. It really comes down to being scared of failure.

So if/when you decided to do an Ironman 70.3 – was it a tough decision? Did you mull over it? Or should I just not be thinking about this so much and as Nike says, just do it?

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