Category Archives: intervals

Why Doing An Obstacle Course Race Might Jumpstart Your Fitness

If you are on social media, you have probably scrolled past an ad or post from someone telling you to sign up for the next closest Tough Mudder, Spartan Race or Warrior Dash.  The ads might show people covered in mud attempting to run over fire, crawl through barb wire or carry heavy objects.  While those photos can either appeal to you or not, there is something to be said about the consistency and variety of training that does into preparing for an obstacle course race.

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If you have heard my story, humor me by allowing me to introduce it to those who have not.  I finished my first obstacle course race in 2012.  It was a Warrior Dash.  While I loved it, I didn’t put much thought into it again until after the birth of my second daughter.  I was in a rut.  Two kids in seventeen months had left my body feeling broken, tired, soft.  Something I had never experienced.  After much complaining to my husband about plateauing and not seeing any changes, he suggested that I sign up to do a competitive Spartan Race that he planned to participate in.  The thought of trying something new and very much out of my comfort zone left me feeling anxious.

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Upon researching various obstacles I might encounter and what type of terrain that I would be running on, I changed my entire outlook on training.  Long gone were the days of way too much cardio and low weight/high rep lifting.  I began to be intentional about my workouts.  You see, the ideal obstacle course racer can run efficiently, climb (when terrain gets very steep), hang for long periods of time, while also being able to carry heavy objects up and down significant inclines and declines.  It’s really a fine line of balancing not being too strong, yet not being too skinny.  You can’t sacrifice one thing or it will slow you down somewhere else.

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You can’t just practice upper body and strength, you also must practice running, mobility, and time OFF your feet.  What does a typical obstacle race training program that I would build look like?

  • One long run a week.  Depending on the distance you are training for, you are working for time on feet (not necessarily mileage).  I want you to build endurance for the duration of time that you think your race might last.
  • One interval running workout per week.  Let’s get some mileage in by pushing our paces to threshold then recovering.  Let’s practice hill training, running speed on grass and perform running form drills.
  • Two Strength Days per week.  Strength days are solid.  Not much running at all.  This is not the workout you can expect to build mileage.  I want you working grip strength, picking up heavier things than you are used to and building that tight core that makes everything easier.
  • One Easy Run/Ride per week.  The purpose of that easy run/ride is to build muscle endurance without wearing you out.  That’s it.  Enjoy it.
  • One Strength/Run workout per week.  Let’s drop our weight a little bit and focus on running in between strength exercises.  How do you keep your heart rate controlled moving from a run/row to a strength exercise and not lose bad form?
  • One rest day.  That’s right.  Take a day OFF!

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The constant variation of not knowing what is coming next keeps your mind and body challenged.  Engaged. Right where it needs to be to continue to see results.  Not to mention, allowing yourself to set a goal will also give you a benchmark in which you can celebrate success.  Success is what drives us to be better versions of ourselves.  Through this simple programming, I have watched people change their perception in themselves and exercise by challenging themselves in ways they never thought possible.

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I find so many people have so many options they need direction of which way to go to get the most benefit out of everything they could be doing.  There is absolutely no reason for people to be plateauing and bored in our current fitness environment.  I am currently working with people specifically building out calendars of what to do on what day of the week to make the most out of their training, social life and work balance.  If you are stuck in a rut, you may just need to do something way out of your comfort zone!

 

 

Week 31 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of a butternut squash. Approximately 3-4 pounds.

Weight Gain – 22 pounds. I am holding steady at about a pound per week.

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Movement – The baby (no we don’t know her name yet) is moving lower than either of my other two girls.  My first daughter spent a lot of time pressing into my rib cage.  While I can feel this child at the bottom of my rib cage, most of the movements are focused around pressing out from my belly or down towards my hips.

Sleep – No sinus infection equals more quality sleep.  Note, we are taking a rest period each afternoon.  Sometimes we fall asleep, other times we just turn the lights off and sit on the couch (or in bed).  Oftentimes, we play with faces on Instagram stories.

What I miss – Bottomless cups of coffee!  This weekend was Father’s Day.  My husband had a full list of things he wanted to do with the family on a weekend dedicated to him.  As he pounded cup after cup of coffee throughout the morning, I felt my energy levels drop as the temperatures rose.  No, I don’t rely on that much coffee, but with the combination of heat and pregnancy fatigue I could have used a pick me up on more than one occasion.

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We left the house on Saturday at 9:30AM to head to the berry farm in Gastonia, NC.  After picking two large baskets of strawberries and blackberries, we went straight to the Whitewater Center where we hiked, ate popsicles and let the kids participate in the obstacle course.

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At three years old, my oldest daughter has finally gotten the hang of most of the balance obstacles and can maneuver her way across things that she can hold on to with both hands.

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Best Moments this Week – Celebrating the most important people in my life.  Not only was it Father’s Day, but it was also my mom’s birthday.  I already told you how we spent Saturday afternoon.  We later joined my family at Cafe Monte to celebrate my mom’s birthday.
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Fear not.  My mom made sure to do the girl’s nails before they headed out for the evening.  At this point, I am one hundred percent sure their nails look better than mine.

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We most certainly went all in on Saturday.  By Sunday, the girls were worn out (and so was mommy).  After teaching a class at Flywheel, the four of us met at Phil’s Deli for Father’s Day breakfast before heading home and not leaving the house.

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These days our time at the house is filled with Legos, Slip n Slides, a small bouncy house and afternoon cartoons.

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We invited my family over for a cookout that afternoon to distribute small gifts and cards.  The girls were clearly the center of attention as each gift was opened.  I took them to a local Hallmark to buy their own separate cards for both their “Popi” and their dad.  They took it upon themselves to color them in with markers and add additional stickers.

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Highlight of the day was my two year old repeating my husband say “damn it” as he was trying to put together furniture.  He and I did not acknowledge it as we did not want to provoke that behavior.  The most ironic thing is that he never uses  bad language.  As such, it wasn’t until later when I mentioned it to him that he admitted he hoped I hadn’t heard.  Let’s hope she doesn’t repeat it again.

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Looking forward to – Meeting our new addition.  Even the girls are asking when she can come out.  They can feel her move and they talk to her regularly.

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Cravings – Salt, sweets, food.  Top meals of the week included: NY strip steaks to celebrate Father’s Day, afternoon homemade guacamole snacks (see picture below) and mini eclairs  and coconut cake to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

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Symptoms – Big mama keeps getting bigger and keeps slowing down.  Resting more, running significantly slower and going to bed earlier.

Workouts – If you have been following my weekly updates, you probably have noticed a shift in my cardio workouts and more focus on strength.  I have been doing less running and more cycling and weights.  I have heard horror stories of women pushing through the aches and pains of pregnancies to continue to do certain workouts in the final weeks of pregnancy.  What’s the point?  Do something that doesn’t compromise comfort.  In the grand scheme of things, pregnancy is such a small period of time in your life.

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I have been incredibly fortunate to have the ability to jump on a bike (at Flywheel) on the days I don’t feel like being on my feet.  Focusing on more mobility and body weight core exercises has also prevented me from having any chronic aches and pains.  I am actually in shock with how good my body feels at this point.

Monday – I taught my regularly scheduled 6:30 AM Flywheel class.

Tuesday – See strength workout below. I also taught the 3:30PM Flywheel class that afternoon.

  • Jog 800m
  • 2 Rounds
    • 10 PVC pass throughs
    • Max Dead Hang (approximately 45 seconds each time)
    • Miniband around thighs, roll medicine ball back and forwards 15 yards x 3
    • Miniband around thighs, single leg hip hinge with row x 15 each
  • 2 Rounds
    • Single Leg Glute Raise shoulders on Bosu x 15 each
    • Reverse Fly x 15 each
    • Wall Sit x 1 minute
    • Tricep Extension x 15
  • 3 Rounds
    • 5 Pull Ups
    • 10 KB OH press each
    • 15 KB Swings
    • 20 Lunges each leg

Wednesday – I rode in our newest Flywheel instructor, Shelby’s, preview ride!  Even with sore legs from my Tuesday workout, I still rode a 278 total power score.

Thursday – I have pulled back from participating in my run group on Thursday mornings.  That said, I still taught my 3:30 PM Flywheel class that afternoon.

Friday – See strength workout below.

  • 2 Rounds
    • Jump Rope 2 minutes
    • Single Arm Squat to Overhead Press x 10 each
    • Scapular Pulls x 15
    • Single Leg mini band hinge x 15 each
  • 3 Rounds
    • KB Swing x 15
    • Backwards Lunge x 15 each
    • Pushup x 15
    • Bicep Curl x 15
  • 3 Rounds
    • Slam Ball x 10
    • Pull Up x 10
    • Squat with Band x 15
    • Dips x 15

Saturday – I went for a run/walk.  See stats from my run above.  My husband has mentioned a few times that he may run in the Famous Toastery Fourth of July 4 mile run.  If he does, I may actually jump in.  Before committing to the race, I wanted to see how I felt even running.  I ran slow (11:10/mile) and I walked one or two minutes here and there, but I got over three miles in and I actually felt pretty good!  Who knows, you may just see me cross the finish line in two weeks!

Sunday – I taught my regularly scheduled 7:30 AM Flywheel class.  That class was just fire.  I can’t explain how much I love that crew!

Week 22 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of a small doll.

Weight Gain – 16 pounds (Yep!  I put on 2 pounds this week).  My belly definitely popped and became noticeably bigger this week.

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Movement – The baby is moving quite a bit more these days.  The movements are less low in my belly becoming stronger up top.

Sleep – I have been worn out this week.  I can always tell when the baby is going through a growth spurt because it sure does hit me.  Not only do I feel hungrier, but I just don’t feel like doing much at all.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of time for me to straight up lounge, so I am in bed early.

What I miss – Not being pregnant.  With my belly bump growing significantly this week and the weather warming up, I realized how uncomfortable the summer is likely going to be.  While some women embrace pregnancy and the joys it brings, it is really hard for me to constantly be aware of what foods, drinks and even moisturizers I am putting in and on my body.  I miss sushi, craft beer, bottomless cups of coffee, and lunch meat that doesn’t have to be heated up in the microwave.

Best Moments this Week – It was Spring Break for my girl’s preschool.  We did a staycation.  They are too young to really hit camps for Spring Break that they can go to together.  As such, I enjoyed spending some quality time with both of them together bouncing around town visiting every toddler hot spot in town.  As tiring as it was, I really did enjoy getting some quality time with my oldest for the entire day.

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We ended up making it to several parks, Discovery Place, lunch uptown with dad, Chicfila (of course), the Harris YMCA, Pike’s Soda Shoppe (for ice cream), and haircuts.  When we weren’t driving around town, we kept ourselves occupied doing projects at the house:  making bracelets and necklaces with beads (fine motor skills), dying Easter Eggs and decorating them, reading new books, and coloring (sometimes missing the coloring book).

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Spring Break was capped off with a serious Easter celebration.  While we did our own egg hunt after the kids discovered that the Easter Bunny had left them Easter surprises, we actually did head down to a larger egg hunt on Saturday that the actual Easter Bunny appeared at.

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The hunt is held at a farm that our friend owns South of Charlotte.  The land is incredible with various activities for kids to do along with a barn that is the home of a horse.  My youngest loved getting a chance to feed the horse.

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Looking forward to – Celebrating my husband’s birthday.  He hates making a big deal out of his big day, so we will keep things small at our house (planning to get a donut cake).  My oldest daughter also asked if we could all go to a baseball game for his birthday.  SOLD.

Cravings – I think I mentioned it above, but I could really go for a craft beer.

Symptoms – Restless legs hit me this week!  I have had this with all of my pregnancies which is why I am not surprised.  It doesn’t necessarily affect my ability to sleep, but I have noticed when I lay down on the couch at night to watch a tv show, I find myself fighting the urge to move my legs around to get comfortable.

Workouts – With less energy this week, I found my workouts took a hit.  Sure I am putting on serious weight these days, but I am also still teaching a lot (as compared to either of my first two pregnancies).  I now have four standing classes at Flywheel (in which I participate) as compared to two during my second pregnancy.  I was done teaching at this point in pregnancy number one.

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  • Monday – I taught my regularly scheduled 6:30 AM Flywheel class.
  • Tuesday – I typically sleep in on Tuesday, however, with both kids at home, I forced myself to get up early and workout before my husband left for work.
    • 10 minute run
    • 2 Rounds
      • KB glute raise with halo rotation x 5 each side
      • Marching crunch on Bosu x 25 each side
      • KB lunge to OH press x 10 each side
      • Scapular pulls x 10
    • 3 Rounds
      • KB Swing x 25
      • Rope Pulls (Legs Out or Touching the Ground) x 10
      • Burpee x 15
      • Deadlift x 15
      • Knees to Elbow x 10
  • Wednesday – 30 minute easy run around the Harris YMCA track.
  • Thursday – I actually got myself up and back into the swing of my run group again on Thursday.  I modified the workout, but they completed it all.  I also still managed to squeeze in 4 miles at an 8:42/mile pace.
    • 2 mile progressive warm up
    • 8 x 400m, 200m recovery (I did 6 instead of the full 8) – however, I did stick around to cheer the group on.

I also went on to teach my regular 3:30 PM Flywheel class. that afternoon.

  • Friday – I have been having some lingering issue with my shoulder and low back that have forced me to really focus on mobility and adapting my exercises over the past week.  Friday was all strength (I did a lot of other cardio during the week).
    • 2 Rounds
      • Turkish Get Up x 5 each side
      • Mini Band around thighs walk forward x 15, back x 15
      • Flex Arm Hang Max
      • TRX Row x 15
      • Band Squat TRX x25
    • 2 Runds
      • Lunge with Foot on Wall x 10 each
      • Side Plank x :45 each
      • Overhead Press x 15
  • Saturday – I subbed the 2:45 Flywheel class.
  • Sunday – I taught the 7:30/8:30AM Flywheel class.  Yikes!! Lots of time in the saddle this week.  Less time running.

 

Week 19 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per ultrasounds) – 9 ounces!

Weight Gain – 12 -13 Pounds.  There is definitely a pop in my belly that becomes increasingly larger as the day goes on.  It is crazy how much bigger my belly looks at 6 PM versus 6 AM.

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Movement – I feel more and more every day.  She is sitting very low, which was confirmed in my ultrasound.  Most of the movement is felt around my waistline.

Sleep – I sleep with a body pillow that rotates from one side of the bed to the other depending on which way I am sleeping.  Lifesaver.  Sleep is good.

What I miss – Sushi?  Maybe a craft beer?  You know what.  I’m okay with where I am at.  I’m not really missing much these days.  I’m pretty happy.

Best Moments this Week –Our anatomy scan ultrasound and a check up with my doctor.  The day started on a rough note when my three year old threw up just before her ride to preschool arrived.  I opted to keep her home from school with my toddler.  First we stopped at the pediatrician for my youngest daughter’s two year annual appointment before heading to the OBGYN office for my own appointment. There was a little chaos, but my husband was able to stop in for most of the appointment to rally the troops.

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There she is.  Measuring a little larger than her estimated due date.  Why am I not surprised?  The ultrasound technician was able to confirm that she clearly has 5 fingers and 5 toes and she passed all of her required anatomy tests.

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One thing that she did that neither of my other girls did in an ultrasound was stare us down – over and over and over (see below).  Seriously, this kid sat with eyes wide open and looked right as us several times.  Technology is now able to check a baby for cataracts!

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While I was at the doctor, I did discuss my exercise routine and diastasis recti (ab separation).  I did not have an issue with ab separation with my first two pregnancies.  It is not something that I want to experience round three.  That said, I had never talked to her about exercises that might cause your risk to increase and or how to prevent it.  Her answer was simple.  Our tissues are predisposed to ab separation.  While she didn’t recommend doing straight sit ups, she felt that doing hollow body ab exercises could do nothing but help.  That said, as I do pull ups, planks, even squats, I need to focus on tucking my hips and pulling my stomach in, rather than pushing out.  She checked my abs at this point and they were separated only 1 cm.  She does not expect me to have an issue.  Cross your fingers!

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Aside from the ultrasound, there were a lot of memorable moments from the week.  Morgan found a new way to crush bagels (see above).  She also celebrated her birthday one final time.  This time at school (see below).  She was happier than she looked.

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Madison went to the dentist for the first time!  Her look says it all.  My husband took an hour off from work to meet us.  He figured she might be a little scared.  Boy was she.  Upon the dentist entering the room she had an epic meltdown.  10 minutes later she told us we were going to have to come back another time.  At that point, we gave our daughter an ultimatum to go home and sit in her room the rest of the night or see the dentist and she chose the dentist.  Another 10 minutes later she was done and happy as can be. Wow, the wave of emotions for a 3 year old.

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Looking forward to – Our summer crop!  We started a family garden last year with strawberries, yellow beans, peas, tomatoes, jalapeños, cucumbers and basil.  It’s already time to plant again!  Somehow our strawberry patch from last year survived.  What started as two plants spread to MANY.  See below.  They are already budding.

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Did I mention the girls also love to get their hands in the dirt and help water?

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Cravings – Serious sweet and salty.  I am still finishing off the leftovers of birthday cake from my toddler’s birthday party.  I have also had plenty of help in the kitchen these days. My kids love being hands on in the kitchen.  We cooked up pancakes and pizza this week.  Great afternoon activity AND it saves mommy time on making dinner.

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Symptoms – Other than a bigger belly, symptoms have been minimal.  I have stayed pretty active which has kept my mind from wandering with what might feel uncomfortable.

Workouts – Before I detail what I did this week, I want to share the link to the Spartan Race blog post that featured 17 of my realistic workouts for expectant moms.  These can easily be done by someone who is not pregnant.  Stay alert, I will be doing more updates throughout my pregnancy!

17 Realistic Workouts for Expectant Mothers

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  • Monday 6:30 AM – I taught my regular 6:30 AM Flywheel Class
  • Tuesday – Garage Strength Workout
  • Wednesday – 30 minute easy run.  I was tired.  I just needed something to get me moving and start my day.  Heart rate was low and steady as was my run.
  • Thursday – I made it to my run group this week.  Somehow it was still cold Thursday morning, but we made an effort to get some intervals in.  Truth be told, people ask me how I am still running at a good pace.  This was the first week that I strapped on my Medela belly band.  It’s essentially a bra for your belly.  I mean you wouldn’t go for a run without a sports bra.

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Enough of that.  The workout?

  • 1 mile warm up run
  • 2 x 400, 200m recovery jog between rounds
  • 1 x 800, 200m recovery jog
  • 1 x 1600, 200m recovery jog
  • 1 x 800, 200m recovery jog
  • 2 x 400, 200m recovery jog between rounds

I went on to teach my regular Flywheel class that afternoon at 3:30PM.

  • Friday – I did a short workout in the morning knowing that we were headed to check out Kinetic Heights that evening.
    • Run 800m
      • 2 Rounds
      • TRX Squat with Mininband x 25
      • Shoulder Mobility x 10
      • Dead Hang x 1:00
      • Deadlift x 15
    • Run 1 mile
      • 5 4-3-2-1 Pull Ups
      • 10 Toes to Bar
      • 25 Lunges each leg
      • 25 Pushups
      • 50 Yard Farmer Carry
      • 50 Air Squats
      • 50 Yard Farmer Carry
      • 25 Pushups
      • 25 Lunges each leg
      • 10 Toes to Bar
      • 5 4-3-2-1 Pull Ups
      • Run 1 Mile

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A lot of people asked me what I thought about Kinetic Heights.  I was kind of underwhelmed.  The front desk checked us in, but did not show us around.  The location was not appealing and actually very small in the inside.  There was a distinct area that was made for obstacle racing, but if you are expecting them to resemble specific obstacles in a race you will be disappointed.  It is extremely difficult to mimic exact obstacles in OCR races simply because they don’t want you to be able to practice them.  Hence, “obstacle” race.

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I was limited with what I could do because I am pregnant, but I had a great time watching everyone else (specifically the warped wall).  We will likely be back, but working out in the garage and at the gym can adequately prepare me for what I am doing at this point.

  • Saturday – I am trying to get in as much time on my feet before I too uncomfortable to take too many steps during the day.  That said, I got in an easy 4 mile run before joining my OCR team at the Whitewater Center for some trail running and obstacle practice.  While I did not practice most obstacles, I did enjoy getting some good time outside with the group.  The first local Spartan Race is less than 2 weeks away!

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  • Sunday – I taught my regular 7:30 AM Flywheel class.