In my January training recap, I mentioned that we joined Fitness 19 towards the end of January. At the time, I felt skittish about spending money on a gym membership because the sidewalks are available to me for free at any time and because we are learning to incorporate a whole host of bills into our budget that we didn’t pay when we rented.

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Working out with Sheila has been great. I’m so blessed to have a spouse who encourages me to go to the gym and doesn’t mind working out while most other couples are going out on the town. Can’t imagine how difficult this journey would have been with a partner who wasn’t supportive of healthy eating and running!

After going through yet another month of brutally cold weather and heavy snow, though, I’m extremely grateful that we joined Fitness 19! Otherwise, I’m fairly certain that I would have wound up either forcing myself to be satisfied with the few outdoor runs that I managed to sneak in towards the end of the month or hurting myself as I attempted to navigate through the mazes of black ice and potholes on Cleveland’s sidewalks and streets. Falling last year on snow and ice and buttdialing my boss at his house on a Saturday night when I landed on my phone was not fun, and I’m very grateful for the good ole treadmills at Fitness 19.

Because my official half marathon training plan for the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon began at the end of the month, I planned to spend the majority of February developing good cross-training habits and regimens, strengthening my core, and maintaining a 3 mile base. A normal training week went like this:

Sunday: 30-45 minutes of cross-training
Monday: 30-45 minutes of cross-training
Tuesday: 3 mile treadmill run
Wednesday: 30-45 minutes of cross-training
Thursday: 3 mile treadmill run
Friday: Rest day! (During some weeks, Monday would be my rest day, so I’d do cross-training on Fridays)
Saturday: 3 mile treadmill run

Working out 6 days per week took a bit of adjustment on my part during the early part of February, as I found myself always running behind and feeling extremely busy. In the old days, I would have just eliminated working out from my schedule. Fortunately, those days are long gone!

By the end of the month, I had learned how to balance my workload and my workouts. Realizing that cutting a workout short because I have a lot of deadline-specific work to do won’t cause my fitness level to plummet dramatically took some time, but I’m glad I did. Conversely, I’m glad that I learned that going to bed and getting enough rest and allowing some non-pressing work to wait until the next morning isn’t the end of the world either.

What did I do on my running days? Two of my running workouts consisted of 3 miles at a normal pace. Generally, this fell somewhere between 10 minutes\mile and 9:20 minutes\mile. My other running workout consisted of a hard 3 miles at race pace (9:00 minutes\mile) or slightly slower. By doing this, I was able to maintain my base without getting hurt while simultaneously learning how to stay focused and run a disciplined, fast, and even pace over 3 miles. I was only able to work in one outdoor training run in February, but it was beautiful!

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First-ever run on the Towpath in winter!

I’m pretty sure that my treadmill work paid off in the form of relatively uniform mile splits during the Bay Village Snoball 5K, but unfortunately my GPS watch didn’t cooperate at the start of the race and I don’t have any data from that race. Darn!

On my cross-training days, I would generally start off each workout with 10-15 minutes on the exercise bike to get warmed up. Afterwards, I’d lift weights on two of my cross-training days. I researched good weightlifting plans for runners, and the general consensus seemed to be that runners should lift lighter weights with large numbers of reps. (If anyone out there with more experience and success would like to correct me in the comments, please do so!) I did dumbbell curls and skullcrushers (love those!) with dumbbells and used machines for bench press and shoulder press. I would spend my other cross-training day riding the exercise bike for 20 additional minutes or staying at home and doing some yoga.

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Boat pose!

Towards the end of the month, I realized that the abs machine at the gym just wasn’t doing it for me. I have read countless articles that have stressed the importance of core strength and stability, and I know that I need to strengthen my core bigtime. As I look back on some of my races in 2013, I can tell that a weak core hurt me during the middle miles of the Towpath 10-10, and I don’t want that to happen again.

After a bit more research, I decided to try to get back in the habit of planking on a regular basis. I had done a very limited amount of planking in early 2013, and I found it incredibly difficult and taxing. I hoped that having more focus and direction in my training would help me hang in there, and it did! By the end of February, I had increased my plank time to approximately 2:05.

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Looking at these pictures makes me realize that I need to focus on my form!

I love how a good plank leaves you shaking, sweaty, and exhausted, and knowing that each and every plank is one more step towards a strong and steady core helps me keep going when I’m ready to collapse on our carpet in a giant heap.

Here’s my workout summary for February:
21 total workouts
32.0 miles running (25.3 on treadmill; 6.7 outdoors)
I have no idea how many calories I burned…I’ve gotta do a better job of keeping track of that in March!

 

How did your training go in February?