In general, this was a great, healthy week full of morning workouts, getting back in the pool (second time since July!), tons of kale smoothies, new technology, and utilizing my Xbox for fitness. I had a little setback with a muscle injury, but I’m completely fine today. I’m really glad I took the weekend off to stretch, ice, foam roll, relax and recover. What I’ve learned from past mistakes is that listening to your body trumps any training plan!
New Pool, New Perspective
For the last month or so I have been struggling to find a new lap swimming pool, ideally close to work in Redwood City. Summary of my struggle:
- Club One on Fillmore was close to my apartment in SF and free through work. But there was a change in ownership and we no longer get access to it!
- Another pool close to work? lost access, too
- UCSF near my near apartment? Closing it for 3 months this summer for renovations
- Burlingame High School? Costs $7 every time and not close enough to work to be advantageous for traffic avoidance
So I scratched my head and kept hunting. I finally heard that Oracle’s campus, which is about 5 minutes away from my office, has an outdoor pool and is only $35 per month for unlimited use of the entire gym, as long as an employee sponsors you! Bingo!!
On Thursday night I set out to do my first swim workout in a very very long time. I almost backed out last minute because it was cold outside, then I thought about my friends/family battling the Polar Vortex, and went straight to the pool. I was also nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find my swimming rhythm and I would completely fail. But I kept moving, and when I got to the pool I thought maybe it was closed because there was literally nobody there. An entire 5-lane pool completely empty and all to myself. That has never happened to me in my entire (short) swimming career. I loved the peace and quiet; just me, the black line, and the insanely beautiful sunset. It looked like the sky was on fire that night!
I did about 35 minutes of easy 100 meter repeats, with a few drills, alternate strokes, and kicking, for a total of about 1,000 yards. Definitely nothing to brag about, but a great way to ease into swimming again after a very long break.
I absolutely love the new pool and I think it’s going to make me appreciate and enjoy swimming much more. I love that it’s outdoors, not crowded, close to work, extremely clean, heated to a nice temperature and appropriately chlorinated. Let’s just say my old pool was the complete opposite of all of those things. And to be honest, it really negatively impacted my view of swimming. I hated jumping into the dirty indoor pool, sharing a lane with 1 or 2 other swimmers, then smelling like a pool for the rest of the day (not cute for date nights). And I also witnessed someone die of a heart attack at my last pool, which really made me associate that place with negative thoughts and images. Finally, paying an extra $15 for each Master’s swim class was not fun. So it’s really no wonder I never fully enjoyed my swim sessions!
So now, I feel like my perspective on swimming has completely changed in a positive way. The Oracle pool offers free Master’s classes on Tuesday & Thursday mornings that I’m going to try and utilize, and even spin classes that are a little longer than the one’s at EA. Very positive all around!
Training Close to Work
I love training close to work (Redwood City) during the week because I can avoid traffic on 101 by leaving at 6:30am, or 7pm at night post-workout. Plus, my commute is so exhausting and long (~ an hour each way) that by the time I get to the pool or track in SF I’m burnt out! So I always try to swim, bike, run, Crossfit, and do yoga near work as much as I can. Plus, the weather in the peninsula is usually warmer than SF, it’s not as windy, it’s pretty flat but hilly if I seek it out, and there are plenty of running paths, bike lanes, and fitness classes available.
Charley Horse in the Pool, Out of Commission for 3 days!
My week was off to a great start; I was feeling positive, energized, healthy, and getting into a morning workout routine. Then it all came crumbling down with a charley horse (muscle spasm) in my left calf. This is officially the second time this has happened to me, and I hope it never happens again! And I hope it never happens to you because it is so incredibly painful.
At the end of my fabulous swim workout on Thursday night, I jumped up to leverage myself out of the pool and onto the ledge. As I did that, my calf started cramping up uncontrollably. It was a good thing there weren’t many people around because there was a lot of four letter words being thrown around. So I massaged the area tried to calm down to let the pain go away. It took a few minutes but I eventually got out of the pool (using the ladder this time) and back home.
I researched causes of this, and it sounds like it’s a combination of a) dehydration, b) pointing my toes too much while swimming, and c) too little potassium and magnesium. So I starting icing, foam rolling, wearing compression socks, taking magnesium pills and just resting my calf as much as possible. Jenny reminded me to eat bananas, and my roommate had this crazy compression band thing that wrapped around my leg. Good stuff! This was Thursday night. On Friday I was still in pain and took the entire day off from physical activity. Saturday was the same. Still hurt and I backed out of my long bike ride (sorry Chris!) to rest. Surely by Sunday I would be better, right? Wrong. I was supposed to run the Hot Chocolate 15K but had to back out of that, too. My calf was sore for 3 full days after the Charley Horse.
Normally when I get them in the middle of the night I’m fine by the time I wake up. So why is it so different when I get them in the pool?? I think I might have pulled something, or maybe there’s an underlying issue with my muscle that I need to get checked out. Either way, I’m glad I’m finally back to normal. I was going absolutely crazy all weekend not being able to run, bike, or swim!
If anyone has any tips on preventing Charley Horses during swimming, please let me know!
Not Just for Gamers… Getting Fit with my Xbox
I’ve been working in the videogame industry for the last 3.5 years, so I have an Xbox One primarily to play games (FIFA, Madden, Need for Speed, and Battlefield are the favorites). But I recently discovered an application called “Xbox Fitness” that has access to cardio, strength training, plyometrics, and boot camp videos from Jillian Michaels, Tracy Anderson, and other famous trainers.
When I was out of commission this weekend from my calf soreness, I had to come up with ways to work out without putting stress on my leg. So I did an at-home yoga video and some upper body work and core exercises through this Xbox Fitness app. The app uses the Kinect camera to visualize your movement (see picture below) and gives you points (like in a game) for correct form. It knows when you’re slacking, there’s no hiding at home! I like the reward and points aspect, it definitely kept me on track with the video and now I know if I’m improving over time if I’m gaining more points on the same video. It’s definitely a fun way to get fit!
Importance of a Backup Plan
On Wednesday morning I had planned on do a 6:00am indoor spin class at Shift (formerly Velo SF) with Chris Hauth, a famous triathlon coach in the Bay Area. He’s actually Rich Roll’s coach! So of course I was really excited to get to his class and train with the best of the best. But I underestimated a) how hard it would be to get out of bed at 5am, and b) how long it would take to get my bike loaded up, and drive down to the studio from my new apartment. So I ended up getting there right at 6am and the class was completely full. So instead of going home and hitting snooze for another couple hours, I dropped my bike back at home, drove down to work, and did a 4 mile run around Redwood Shores.
What this taught me is that if something doesn’t go according to plan, it will all work out if you simply come up with an alternate solution. This type of situation is going to come up a hundred more times in the next 8 months, and definitely during the race (what happens if you drop your water bottle? If your nutrition plan isn’t working? If you have a mechanical problem?), so I have to learn to stay resilient and open to changing things up when necessary.
Walkin’ Like a Grandma
I did Crossfit for the first time in a few weeks and wow, getting back to weight training after time off is brutal for muscle soreness. I was walking like a grandma all week. My whole body was sore, which always feels great and rewarding, but sometimes hard to continue training with the aches. As I get back into weight training on a more regular basis I hope my body will adapt to the muscle strain. Otherwise, I may need a walker…
What I typically do for muscle soreness is make sure I’m hydrated, then I use a foam roller to target the achy areas. But I’d love to hear any other suggestions if anyone knows any better remedies. How do you combat soreness?
You Can Never Be Overdressed, Overeducated… or Full of Too Much Kale!
Ok so Oscar Wilde didn’t say the last part. But I was overjoyed when the cafeteria at work started a ‘make your own smoothie’ bar complete with kale, spinach, strawberries, soy milk, blueberries, beets, blackberries, flax seeds, almond butter, pineapple, walnuts, etc. You can choose from any combination of ingredients and it costs only $4! It really made my week. So I’ve had a kale smoothie every single day, sometimes twice a day when I make another one at night, along with kale salads that I make at lunch.
You can never have too much kale! It’s so good for you and packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that keep you glowing, happy, healthy, and balanced. I happen to love the taste of kale, but for those who think it’s too bitter, a smoothie with fresh fruit is a great way to mask the taste while enjoy all of the benefits. And you don’t need a crazy high powered blender, but I would recommend something a step up from the Magic Bullet. And no need to measure ingredients, just throw some kale in there with fruit and water (or juice or soy milk) and voila! Cheers to your health!
Nuttzo for Nuttzo
Another food discovery this week were Nuttzo nut butters. At first I thought I was a little “nuttzo” for spending $12 on a jar of nut butter. But I love that this company doesn’t use added oils or sugar, and the ingredients are all organic! I bet if you read the ingredients for your nut butter you would see palm oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, sugar, maltodextrin, etc. Some of these are sources of trans fat! So I sought out a new brand after discovering that the nut butter I had been using was not organic. I figured I could either make my own in my Vitamix with organic nuts or just buy an organic brand. Then I found and fell in love with Nuttzo! It tastes amazing and a worth the extra expense. I put it on toast, spread it on whole fruit, or top it on my oatmeal. Your turn to go Nuttzo! You can find it at Whole Foods or even cheaper on Amazon if you buy in bulk.
The Quantified Me!
I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the “quantified self” movement. It’s basically the use of technology and data to improve your life in some way; fitness, wellness, posture, education, etc. I’m a huge data nerd so I love this new movement and am intrigued to see where the future will take us. CES just ended and a ton of really interesting new products (and updates to current products) were introduced that will make us healthier in 2014. My personal favorites are FitBit, Garmin (and uploaded to Strava), Sensoria, and Basis.
I recently got a Garmin for Christmas and it’s going to really feed my inner data geek. It tracks swimming (pace, distance, number of strokes), biking (GPS, elevation, speed, distance, avg pace, heart rate, cadence, etc) and running (same as biking) for every single workout. And then after you upload the data to Strava or Garmin Connect you can create or download reports to see how you’re tracking so you can notice patterns (am I getting faster at a given heart rate? did I hit my time goal? Is my injury due to overtraining? etc). I absolutely believe that data can help you improve your performance.
The Week’s Training Log
Sunday the 12th. Yoga. 60 minutes. Core strengthening on Xbox Fitness.
Friday, Saturday: Rest due to calf soreness and injury from Charley Horse
Thursday the 9th. Swim. 1,094 yards.
Wednesday the 8th. Run: 4.1 miles. 2 laps around Redwood Shores Lagoon. 38 minutes. 9:11/mi
Tuesday the 7th. Crossfit: 25 burpees, 25 thrusters, 50 kettlebell swings, 30 hang power cleans, 40 more burpees, 7×200 meter sprints
Monday the 6th. Run: 6.0 miles. Sunrise in Redwood Shores. 52 minutes. 8:43/mi
Thanks everyone. Swim. Bike. Run. Eat Plants.