Nothing will make you choke on your morning oatmeal worse than logging on to CrossFit to discover the WOD is to run 15K (9.3 miles). Just as I was hacking up a whole raspberry that I’d inhaled, my phone rang – which is awesome, you should totally hear my ringtone, makes me dance every time! It was Gym Buddy Allison.
See, I used to be a runner. I used to be very proud of being a runner. I ran races, although never won them. I logged miles and obsessively checked mapmyrun.com like it was a magic 8 ball. Sometimes it was just running and other times is was running away but either way it was the only zen hour of my life.
But then I had to ruin it with my competitive nature. I wanted to do a marathon and in my running hubris upped my mileage too quickly. I blew out my shin. Stress fracture fun! Six weeks of low-impact recovery (where I learned to love 12/8 Tabata intervals on the bike) gave me time to reevaluate my goals. Q: Why did I want to run a marathon? A: To be able to say I did it.
After that, I decided to focus on getting stronger and dropped almost all of the long cardio, favoring HIIT (high intensity interval training) and weight lifting instead. And it worked. My sprints got faster. My fast mile got faster. My arms and back got some lovely definition. And now I can do pull-ups! But my distance running suffered.
Back during the Primal Experiment, we had to run 10K (6.4 miles) for CrossFit and I gained a hugely disappointing 10 minutes on my time. Part of me wanted to just blame my carb-depleted state but part of me knew that you are what you train for and I was no longer a runner.
All That and A Bag of Jelly Beans
Fast forward to today and the 15K. I put on my best wicking wear and told myself the goal was just to get the miles done. No pressure about breaking any speed records. No personal judgments about how far I’ve slipped. Just the zen part of running.
81 minutes later (ta-DA!) with the last mile done in 6 minutes, Allison and I were laying in a sweaty heap on the stretching mats, cesspools of bacteria they are.
“Why don’t we do this more often?” she gasped.
“I know, it’s awesome.”
“Seriously, why do we feel so good?”
“Runner’s High. Endorphins,” I managed between breaths would sound porno anywhere but the gym.
“That’s for real???”
Bulking and Cutting
My bodybuilder friends’ lives revolved around the bulk-n-cut cycle. No, this has nothing to do with the case lot sale at your local food warehouse but about how you cycle your workouts. The basic premise – and this is admittedly old skool – is that building muscle and losing fat are very difficult to accomplish at the same time. So you focus on one and then the other. You “bulk” by lifting heavy and minimizing cardio (CrossFit essentially) to build muscle and then you “cut” by dropping some weight and upping the cardio to lean out. If you do it right, the one should not cancel the gains in the other out.
At this very moment I can hear hardcore CrossFitters and everyone over at Mark’s Daily Apple smacking their collective foreheads and sighing loudly. But yes, the Experiment for August is long, steady cardio. It’s beautiful outside and I plan to take advantage of it.
Here is the plan the gym buddies and I will be following (feel free to roll your eyes, it probably burns a few calories;)):
5 days a week of 40-60 minutes steady moderate intensity cardio
1 day a week of interval/speed training
2 days a week of weight lifting
1 day a week each of yoga and pilates because… I love them.
I’m also adding a measurement. In addition to weight, inches and body fat I will also be measuring my mood. Because if I learned anything from July’s Experiment, if I don’t feel good then it’s going to blow up in my face. And really what is the point of all of this except to find what makes me happiest? Plus I’ll get to wear my running skirt more:)
I am aware of the over training issues here and will make sure to have at least one rest day a week. Also, remember that my experiments only last one month. So September will be some new kind of torture, er, fun!
PS> I really really wanted to do a kettlebell experiment for August but I only own Tinkerbell. And those suckers are expensive. So I put in a request at my gym to order some but I have no idea if they will. One way or the other though, I’m gonna find a way to do kettlebells. Just gonna take some time.