Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On the Treadmill

I think I will always prefer running outside.  I enjoy finding new paths to run and basically getting familiar with my surroundings in an intimate way.   You can only achieve that on foot.  But since I joined the gym, I have been making use of the treadmill (and the exercise bike but that's another post).  Initially I thought I would really hate the treadmill--you know, running (sometimes fast) but going nowhere.  It turns out that there are some really cool things about the treadmill.

Photo Credit
First of all, it allows me to run.  This winter has just been brutal and some days I can't go out for a run due to ice or other terrible conditions.  Some days I just don't want to deal with the cold (in another post, I'll give a rundown of my cold weather running gear).  It was a nice surprise to find out that whether I'm running outside or on the treadmill, I just really like to run.  And since I'm in the gym lifting weights three times a week anyway, I've been running more now than in the warmer months.  I finish lifting and then I run for 20-25 minutes--I don't have to carve out another special time to go for a run.  

Secondly, the treadmill keeps track of my stats:  how far I've run, how many calories I've burned, etc. and that's really cool.  While I use www.mapmyrun.com to tell me how many miles I cover on a given run, that's the only information I really know when I run outside (since I have not yet invested in a GPS/heart rate monitor watch).  It's interesting to know exactly when I hit 2 miles or to push myself to break 300 calories.  

I don't have any specific mileage goals but during the warmer months I would run about 6 or 7 miles for my long run and 2-3 for my short. Because of the treadmill, I can still keep my mileage up and also it encourages me to keep better track of my miles (I write everything down right on my NROL4W log sheets).  I had always struggled in terms of keeping a training log for my running and while jotting it down on my log sheets is not formal or systemized, I still have a better idea of what I'm doing and how to improve.  

Still, I cannot do a long run on the treadmill.  I get bored far too easily and then I get antsy.  So I've been doing intervals and I have to say, this is a really fun way to use the treadmill.  I enjoy trying different interval combinations.  Here's a site I found with lots of options.  Here is an example of something I've been doing recently which I call 1/2/3/4/recover.

One minute at effort level 1 (an easy pace--you can talk easily, maybe even sing)
One minute at effort level 2
One minute at effort level 3
One minute at effort level 4 (basically sprinting)
One minute to walk it off and almost completely recover

There are many ways to do intervals.  You could do hill intervals by changing the incline (which I haven't done yet but look forward to doing).  The combinations and possibilities seem to be endless.  

Basically, intervals keep it interesting for me.  And It doesn't take an hour--after about 20 minutes, I've worked up a sweat and I'm ready to go home and shower.   I just couldn't do an hour on the treadmill--the thought of it is even too much for me.  But intervals are a quick, effective and fun way to use the treadmill.  I may even continue to use it during the warmer months just because, like I said, I'm at the gym anyway.  

Oh, by the way, intervals that I control (because some of the treadmills have preset interval programs) are made possible by the Gymboss interval timer, one of the best fitness purchases I have ever made.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Moving on to Stage 2 of NROL4W

Technically speaking, I finished Stage 1 of the NROL4W on Wednesday.  There are some special exercises I could add on to the end of Stage 1 just to gauge my progress but these seem to be optional (at least many folks choose to skip them).  However, I'm not quite ready to move on to Stage 2.  

The fact of the matter is that I feel like I really have to sit down, read and do some research about how to properly perform the exercises in Stage 2.  However, I just feel like I have so much going on!  So, I'm hemming-and-hawing about doing the work and therefore about starting Stage 2. 

So what I've decided is to do workouts A and B once more (I did workout A this morning and I'll do workout B on Monday) and then I'll do Special Workout A on Wednesday and Special Workout B on Friday.  The following week, I'm going out of town so I will give myself a break from lifting and really exercise in general.  I definitely need the break and it'll also give me time to read about the exercises that I'll be doing in Stage 2.  I'll jump into Stage 2 on Monday, February 28.

I really wish I could recommend NROL4W flat out without reservations.  But I think if I were to tell anyone to this program, I would follow up with a recommendation that they also join JP Fitness Forums and read, read, read.  There's so much information on there that the beginner would just not know--not even from reading the book cover to cover.  I honestly feel like a lot was left out and you do have to do a lot of legwork to get the details.  I also don't think, and I'm speaking as a person with a degree in English, that it is a well-written book.  Every week or so, a newbie comes on the forums completely and utterly confused about the formats of the workouts.  The convoluted way in which the workouts are laid out is initially the reason why I hesitated to do the program.  I'm not new to lifting weights but I am new to the gym and so I felt doubly intimidated by the whole thing (no idea what I was doing in the gym and only a slight grasp on how to go about the workout).  I'm so grateful for the JP Fitness Forums but I kind of wish the book was more thorough and, basically, more plainly laid out.  It really should be very straightforward even if it adds a bit more thickness to the book.  

But I'm enjoying the program nonetheless.  Really liking it.  I feel like it's a great segue into serious weight lifting.    

I had a protein shake after today's lifting session.  [I will blog about what's in that in the near future (as well as my trepidation about protein shakes).]  I also took my iron supplement (Floradix Floravital Iron and Herbs) something that I often neglect to do.  I was feeling quite run down, sleepy and tired so I thought why not.  I'm always trying to remember to take it before a meal but I always forget.  So I just took it and it has made all the difference today.