Tag Archives: running

I’m A BodyRocker

When I started this blog back in 2009 (read my first super cheesy post here), I was completely immersed in running. I loved running for two reasons: 1) it felt really good to use up all my energy- I love endorphins, and 2) it kept me in shape. I had been running for eleven years, dating back to the high school track team, and it was one of the only forms of exercise and release that I knew. It was just a part of me.

At some point though, I think I burned out mentally. I got bored of it. I struggled to find the motivation (I was even googling motivation.. hilarious)–and also started to get knee pain from my intermittent long runs, which scared me. So I finally decided to break free of my running regime and try something different. Besides, I always wanted a six pack (not beer) and let’s face it, I could run 10 miles a day but that wasn’t not going to give me the kind of muscle tone I was looking for. Am I right or amiright?

In search of a new workout, I came across a website called BodyRock while reading the Fitnesssista’s blog. And I become obsessed.

Meet Zuzana:

zuzana at bodyrock tv

Yes, she’s real. Pick your jaw up off the floor.

Zuzana and her husband Freddy write the BodyRock blog, and post a new workout almost everyday. The workouts are high intensity interval training (HIIT) routines, that never fail to kick extreme butt in a very short amount of time. Most of the workouts are between 12-20 minutes, and can be done at home. When I lived in NYC I did them in a gym due to my crazy neighbor, but now I can do them wherever I please! Shyeh!

Almost every morning I wake up around 7am, make some coffee, and watch the day’s routine online. I always wake up with a growling stomach, so I make myself half a piece of bread with pb&j on it to quell my hunger and get some pre-workout fuel without getting weighed down.

peanut butter and coffeeThen I bodyock.  Aw yeahh. It always hurts, and I’m always sore the next day. But I have to say, I’ve never seen better results doing anything else in my entire exercising life. I’m someone who once couldn’t do one real push-up, and now I can do 10+ (shaking at the end, but it counts!). I’ve been following BodyRock so religiously, that when things come up in life that I’m unsure how to handle, Dave says to me, “What would Zuz do?” I urge you to adopt this :).

This morning I did the “Caught Stripping Fat Workout“, after running outside for fifteen minutes to warm up. Click on that link to get your face melted by a video of Zuzana, OR read the steps below to see what I did:

Part 1 – repeat sequence as many times as possible in 6 minutes (I did 7.5)

  1. Commando Push Ups 2 reps (down on stomach, then push up and drive one knee towards chest. drop back down repeat with alt leg)
  2. Roll over (on your stomach a full 360 degrees so you end back on your stomach)
  3. Power up into a squat position
  4. Big jump forward
  5. 10 squats holding an 8lb weight on each shoulder
  6. Put weights down and do 2 small jumps back so that you are standing where you started
  7. Get down onto your stomach and roll over on the other side to the starting position

Part 2 – 6 minutes of intervals (alt 10 seconds rest and 50 seconds of go time)

  1. Sandbag swing (I used a 10lb weight because I don’t have a sandbag. Basically, stand in a squat position and swing weight in between legs and up. On the way up, stand up and squeeze everything. Your butt and lower abs will burn. Hot fire.)
  2. Sandbag situps (used 10lb. weight instead of sandbag again)

I was a sweaty mess after this, and ran up to my apartment to shower. Then proceeded to make oatmeal for a change, only to have it explode in the microwave.

exploding oatmeal

Have any of you ever bodyrocked? If you’re in Austin and want to give it a shot, email me and we can get a group together.

The Lost Potential of A Little Bit Good

Sometimes, I get home from work, think about all of the things I’ve once done beyond the 9-5, and wonder why I’m not doing them anymore. Why am I not writing songs like the voracious animal I was a year ago? Why am I no longer a freelance writer? Why did I stop posting on this blog frequently?

And that’s just the beginning of it. There’s also:

  • the book I never finished (it would’ve been great, I still believe)
  • the pictures I stopped taking
  • the race training that faded
  • the drawings I stopped creating
  • the startup business that didn’t start..

unfinished book

There are cliche sayings that I can apply to all of these shortcomings. I’m a quitter. I don’t want it bad enough. I don’t follow through. Sometimes I think to myself: I wish I was really good, really, really, talented, at just one thing. Because then it would be easy. That’s what I would do, there would be no questions about doing anything else. I wouldn’t start a in new direction. I would simply excel in my one niche and never look back. I would be the BEST potato farmer you ever met, or the GREATEST songwriter you’ve ever imagined.

But that’s just not how it is. I’ve classified myself as “a little bit good” at a range of things (I think I’ve been telling myself that since junior high school I think). So I try them all, and then when I think I’ve reached my “little bit” full potential, I stop. And what a pity, isn’t it? If we all thought that our potential at a new endeavor was “just a little good”, we’d be living in a world with only half-planted potato farms (potato famine?…nah), unfinished songs, very very short books… and 5,090,230,122,426,999,999,999 “eh” ideas that just stayed locked up in people’s heads.

The next question I should ask myself is, how do I measure this “little bit of potential”? And how have I determined once I’ve filled it? It must be an external comparison. Because compared to myself, each stride and each creation is like nothing I’ve ever done before. I should break my “little bit” mindset, and find a new scale by which to measure. And then maybe the passions will keep burning.

People Helping People

There was a summer morning last year that I woke up in a bad mood. A mood that meant it would be “one of those days”. Do I normally remember a bad mood morning a year after I have one? Definitely not. But this one morning ended up kind of cool.

I decided to go for a run, and headed out of my Brooklyn apartment determined to get in at least four miles. I convinced myself that four miles was what I NEEDED to achieve if I was going to turn my day around. It’s funny that I gave myself that ultimatum. It was a really hot morning that day.  Four miles or bust? Why? It was that tendency that people have–when something is going wrong, you look for other things that are going wrong, so you can beat yourself up and complain all day that nothing is going right. Horrible idea, mel.

tragic

So, creating my own unnecessary downward spiral for the day, I set out on the four mile run. I remember the heat was getting to me, and around mile 2 I was huffing, with my head leaning to right in exhaustion. That’s a weird thing I do when I’m running to the point of “oh man, I can’t go any further” (my high school track coach used to yell “left! left! left!” when I ran past her in races to try to correct my head lean; didn’t work.). At this point, I was on Marcy Avenue, running parallel to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The two mile mark meant I was at the midway point to turn around and rack up the 2 miles back for my grand finale of 4. But I was hurting. I was ready to call it quits and walk home. Run fail. Day fail. And my day hadn’t even really started.

With my head cocked to the side, I struggled to continue running down the street, passing by people who were walking to the train, walking to work, walking their dog. I thought to myself, I must look like an idiot. I kept pushing though. Looking ahead of me, there was another person coming up; a kid with a backpack on his way to school. As I approached him to pass, eyes straight (no eye contact when you’re running and hurting!), he stuck his hand out for a high five. And I stuck out mine.

CLAP!

HIGH FIVE!

A huge grin came over my face. Right on, dude! Thank you! I stopped at the corner and looked back, but he didn’t turn around. I’m not sure why I thought he would, this wasn’t a love story scene. But I’ll tell you, that small gesture, that high five, changed the rest of my day. I chilled out. I walked for a little, then finished a slow run home feeling happy. That kid pulled me out of my little run or die microcosm. My day was going to be great.

I love when the smallest things mean something big.

The Beginning of Strength Training, Kind Of

So when I said I was focusing on strength training, I really had no legitimate plan to make that happen. My knowledge on how to “strength train” is somewhat limited. I’m that guy who walks into a gym, runs 30 minutes (okay, 25, treadmills are possibly the most boring experience in the world), and then plays with free weights wondering if I’m actually doing anything productive. Usually that means a few reps of bicep curls, and then standing there thinking for another five minutes before I give up and tell myself I did the best I could.

I guess technically that is not doing the best I can, is it. No mel, it’s not. To solve for this lack of expertise without spending a trillion dollars on a personal trainer, I bought a few workout DVD’s that focus on strength and toning. To me, the beauty of a DVD is that someone tells you what to do for an hour. There’s also the side bonus of being able to workout in your underwear without ever leaving your house. Yeah.

For the past two weeks I’ve been switching between these two workouts:

lady #1

lady #2

I might be fooling myself, but after the first week I noticed slight differences. For example, I was more aware of my lower abs and that alone affected my posture in a good way. I don’t know if I actually toned anything, but I was holding myself differently and it made me feel stronger. My ability to do certain strength moves like the walking plank have also improved with time, and that’s sweet.

I should also note that I haven’t been this sore since I once took a kickboxing class four years ago at a gym and then never went back because it hurt too much.

I am going to keep going with this semi-plan of strength training and see what else happens. Have I been running at all? Maybe two miles stints two days a week, but that’s it. Scary for me? Uh, very. But what the hell. Enter cliche: Thus is life.

She Runs Kansas

I am currently sitting in a hotel room in Kansas City watching the ABC Family Channel from a king size bed. This is interesting for a few reasons:

  1. I’m in Kansas?
  2. I don’t have a TV in my apartment.. ohmygod… tv
  3. Just straight chillin.. in a hotel room.

hotel, motel...

Okay, I’m not really just straight chillin. I’m here on a business trip doing some work in between meetings. I’ve been on a great running kick lately, so while packing for this three day adventure, I threw a pair of sneaks and workout clothes in my suitcase in case the hotel had a gym I could use. Once I got here though, I realized I could just run outside!

Yesterday and today I set my alarm for 5am Kansas time–less crazy than it sounds since my body is on NY time which would be 6am–and set out to run from the hotel. I ran down a street called Nall Avenue, and I’m going to estimate I did a 2.5 mile loop. The avenue is more like a highway to me, as it’s very wide and traffic moves fast, but there were traffic lights which was helpful.

#1 most notable thing from a New Yorker running in Kansas: THE AIR. Holy man, the air. It smells sweet and fills up my lungs like an ocean. It’s times like these that make me wonder what growing up in Staten Island and running there, Brooklyn, and Manhattan have done to my lungs. This is fresh, clean air. Hit me like an acme piano over the head (I could’ve said ‘like a ton of bricks’ right there, but that’s so boring).

Also, for some reason i assumed Kansas would be completely flat, but apparently I’m a naive New Yorker because I hit two hills on these runs. Not monster attack hills, but in comparison to flat Manhattan, my calves and lungs were burning. I also packed old kicks I have because they were a little less bulky than my newer ones, and that was definitely a bad idea. Never run in old, worn out sneakers. You will kill your shins and more.

So, off to find Dorothy and Toto back to my Family Channel tv viewing. Yes, I also like chick flicks and the bravo channel.

The Garbage Truck Run Battle

I woke up exhausted this morning. Last night I went to an impromptu concert with my brother (Circa Survive at Highline Ballroom) and got home past the time I’m usually asleep during the week.

I pulled through with a strong cup of coffee and the Simon and Garfunkel song Cecilia to pump me up–then I was out the door. My initial plan was to run to the track and do some tempo running again to 1) minimize the length of my workout and 2) still kick some ass. That didn’t happen though.

Somewhere around mile 1 I started to feel awesome, and decided to turn my run into a 3 mile loop. SWEET! It’s a Miracle! I thought. Until.. as I stayed on the pavement.. I began to run into garbage trucks.

the enemy

The first one attacked me from behind. It was a cruel game; stopping long enough that I could get ahead, then moving up right next to me again to repeat the cycle. Holy man, what a stench. The smell that radiates from those garbage trucks is just rude. Can a smell be rude? If you’re a runner getting trapped behind it, definitely. Imagine an odor that’s a mix of hot sour milk and rotten meat following you as you gasp for deep breaths. If you just winced, then you get it.

post-run reenactment. accurate expression.

Every other block I turned down there was a garbage truck. Could it have been the same garbage truck looping around? Maybe. Was there a garbage truck brigade out to sabatoge my miracle run? Also, maybe. Is it just garbage day in my neighborhood? No. They were out to get me.

Outrage.

Speed Work For Any Runner

I went to bed last night confident that I would wake up and get in a kick-ass run. I was right. I’ve never pinned down what the ingredients are for an awesome morning vs. a tired one during the week, but I got it right today. When thinking about the variables, the most notable change in my routine yesterday was a second cup of coffee at 4pm, which I rarely do anymore I’m now down to 3/4 cup in the morning, and a large tea when I get to work. HUGE progress for this coffee addict. But I don’t know how more coffee could help me the next day.. isn’t that counter-intuitive?

I completed 3.7 miles, and felt really good. Great, actually.

shyeah

On the way back I did 4 pick-ups (running at a fast pace for 2 blocks or so) to get in a little speed work. You might ask yourself why I’m “getting in speed work” when I’m not training for a race. It’s because after 10 years of running and reading about running, I know that distance stamina and  quick-speed sessions work your muscles in different ways, a collaboration that makes you even stronger.

Here’s a quote about speed work from Runner’s World:

“Speedwork doesn’t just make you run faster. It makes you fitter, increases the range of movement in your joints, makes you more comfortable at all speeds, and it will ultimately help you to run harder for longer.”

My pick-ups–also known as a tempo run–are definitely not traditional training speed work by any means, but it’s somethin'(always better than nothin’) and I like it. If you’re really looking to get into this kind of training, you can read the full article at Runner’s World for some workout tips.