Monday, May 31, 2010

Turning Up The Heat

This weekend I decided to kick my yoga practice into overdrive... turn up the heat, if you will. I went with some friends to my first Bikram yoga class. For those of you who don't know, Bikram yoga is a 90 minute class in a heated room. The room usually gets between 95-105 degrees. I know it sounds totally crazy and it is. But it is also a great workout, once you get past the constant sweating.

Yoga, in general, is great for your flexibility, strength and balance. It also helps clear your mind and calm your soul. So it amazed me to learn that just by adding some heat you can double the benefits. Hot yoga flushes all the toxins out of your system, makes yoga a cardiovascular workout, burns more calories and improves your immune system. The heat also makes your muscles stretch more easily, reducing the risk of injury.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first hot yoga experience. I think since I am use to the yoga poses, the only thing I had to contend with was the heat and sweat. The guy next to me had puddles of sweat all around him. It was quite disgusting.

I do have some advice for those of you thinking about giving Bikram yoga a try. First, don't run before going to class. I did a 5K training run a couple hours run before class. I felt fine in the beginning, but then came the warrior poses (lunges). After several of these strength building poses, my legs started to shake. It could just mean I'm a weakling, but I think the running had a bit to do with it. Second, try to arrive to class early. Unfortunately my friends and I were running a bit behind, so by the time we arrived the only spots left were right next to the heater. I ended up the closest to the dreaded heat machine. I could feel the heat blowing on me the entire class. And third, while you may think wearing yoga shorts and a sports bra is a good idea, it really isn't. The sports bra is ok, if you wore a shirt or a tank top it would be soaked with sweat. But the yoga shorts weren't the best idea. There are poses where you have to balance your foot on the inside of your leg, but of course, my foot just slipped right down my leg because off all the sweat. It's also more difficult to grab your legs when you need to. So capris would probably work best.

I definitely think I'll be giving Bikram yoga another try real soon. I was not sore the next day, probably because the heat takes some of the stress off your muscles. I also felt great and my complexion looked better from all the sweating. If you're interested, the place I went to was called Yoga Energy Studio in St. Petersburg. The teacher was great and there isn't a set price for class. You're just asked to donate what you can afford. There is also a studio called Yogani in Tampa that is suppose to be nice.

Namaste :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Living La Vita Coco

Move over Smart Water, I have a new "go-to" health drink - Vita Coco. This coconut water is amazing. It is loaded with electrolytes, like magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and calcium. It also has 15 times more potassium than Gatorade or Powerade, which is great for your legs.

There are several other non-sporting benefits to coconut water. It helps detox your body, improves your complexion, boosts your immune system and aids with digestion. It's also fat and cholesterol free with no added sugars. All pluses in my book.

I have to admit, I was a bit leery about trying Vita Coca. The company slogan is "just like sticking a straw in a coconut." Well, when I went to Jamaica last year, I tried coconut water directly from a freshly cut coconut. I was not impressed. Actually, my friends and I thought it tasted awful. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I popped open the tetra pack and gave Vita Coco a taste. Maybe it was because it was cold and pasteurized. I also like that it comes in a variety of flavors, including acai pomegranate, peach mango and pineapple.

Don't worry Smart Water. You're still one of my favorite beverages. I just have a new drink for replenishing my body after long training runs. One that's not too sweet or salty, like sports drinks.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Namaste Needed

Consider this my confession: My name is Hello Kimmy and it's been more than two weeks since my last yoga session. Who knew yoga would have such an affect on my running? Sure I know any form of stretching is great for runners, but that's not why I started yoga. I was actually a yogi before I became a serious runner. I like the relaxation and strength aspect of the practice. Now, after more than two weeks without yoga and running more than eight miles a week, I'm starting to notice the positive effect it has on my running. My itiotibial bands feel much better. There's no soreness after longer runs.  Also, my legs feel stronger, which is allowing me to run at a faster pace. Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to my regular yoga class this week. Namaste is desperately needed. Until then, I have a double date with my foam roller and roller stick.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Miles For Moffitt = Best Race Ever

As I've mentioned before on this blog, my marathon training really doesn't begin until July. So until then, I've been running a couple days a week and entering short races like 5Ks and 10Ks. It's keeping me in shape, but it's also allowed me to speed up my pace a bit. My first short race was Sunday. The Miles For Moffitt 5 Mile Run. This was my best race to date. I finished with a time of 46:25. Since I've never run a 5 mile race before, it was a personal record (PR), but this race was also a personal best for me. My average pace per mile was 9:18. Of course, I know from my trusty Garmin Forerunner that my best mile was by far my last. I ran mile 5 in 8:28 (which included a 14mph sprint to the finish line). I also know I finished 26th among the 90 women in my age group and 341 out of the 944 men and women who ran the race.

I know this post sounds like I'm bragging and I am. This is a really big accomplishment for me, a person who usually just runs slow and steady to the finish line. I'm pushing myself a bit and it's paying off. It also gives me hope for next month's Oldsmar Tap House 5K. The first 50 men and 50 women to cross the finish line get a free Das Boot that can be filled with free beer the rest of the night. That's my goal. I'm running for a Das Boot, baby! And even if I don't get the Das Boot, I still get the free beer, so it's win-win. :)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Injury #1

Well... I guess I get to use the new ice packs I bought for training. My left knee is injury #1. I have no clue what I did to it. I ran a 5K training run Tuesday, no problem. Did yoga for an hour last night, no problem. Then a few hours later while walking up stairs, sharp pain in my left knee when I bent and put weight on my leg. It's still a little sore a day later. I really hope it's something minor and goes away by the weekend. I need to get in a 5 mile training run to prepare for my Miles For Moffitt race next weekend.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Good... The Bad... And The Garmin

I guess you can now call me a serious runner. Why? Because I now own a Garmin Forerunner 305. What's that? It's an amazing GPS training watch. Sure, it may be HUGE on my tiny little wrist, but this is going to help me tremendously with my training.

What's good about the Garmin? It tracks your time, distance, pace, heart rate, speed... all while recording exactly where you're running in the world.

What's bad about the Garmin? It tracks your time, distance, pace, heart rate, speed... all while recording exactly where you're running in the world. There's no way you can cheat yourself while training.

I took the watch out for a training run yesterday. Just a 5K down Bayshore Boulevard. I was amazed at how it was tracking my time, distance and pace. Hooray, no more going online, plotting runs and hoping I ran the full distance. I now know exactly how far I'm running. That's great. However, I found myself constantly looking at the watch to see my progress, probably because it's my new toy. But knowing how far you want to go and how far you've actually gone can be a downer. Of course, last night it was ridiculously hot and there really wasn't any shade, so that didn't help. I was ready for my 5K to end quickly.

Another cool thing about the Garmin is that you can upload your workout to your computer. It was cool to see how it worked. It pulled up a map and showed me the exact route I ran. There were several different charts, including one that tracked when my pace slowed and quickened along the route. There were also sections showing my speed, heart rate, calories burned, elevation and more. Here's a small glimpse of some of the information it provided.

I really have a lot more to learn about this device, but I have a feeling it's going to be a GREAT training partner. I was skeptical when I read a bunch of reviews where people said they can't imagine running without it and don't know why they didn't buy it sooner. Now, I see what they mean. My Garmin will now be going everywhere my running shoes and I go from now on.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Stretching: Foam Roller - 1 / Kimmy - 0

I am really bad about stretching before and after runs. So as a prepare physically and mentally for this marathon, I thought I'd get a couple tools to help. First I bought "The Stick". It's basically a stick with rollers on it that you run across your body. It helps compress and massage out any knots and lactic acid in your muscles. I haven't really used it much yet, but when I do I feel a difference. I'm definitely going to be using it more as my training progresses.

Another new tool I have is the foam roller. All I have to say is WOW... using that thing is rough! It's a large foam tube that you use to stretch and massage muscles. There are different positions you can do depending on the muscle group you want to work. I bought mine because I am starting to feel pain in my iliotibial bands after long runs.

The problem is balancing on a 6" x 18" foam cylinder and using your own body weight to roll and massage your muscles is not as easy as you think, even for someone who does yoga and considers herself pretty athletic/flexible. It was awkward and painful. In the end, it was foam roller - 1 / Kimmy - 0. But I'm determined to win the next battle. It's going to take some practice, but I'm sure I'll get used to it by the time the marathon rolls around in January.