Friday Fitness News: Holiday Weekend!

Well, everyone, you made it! It’s Friday and the long holiday weekend is finally upon us. I will be taking my Physics final this afternoon and flying home to see my family tonight, arriving just in time for Christmas Eve. So excited!

Apparently, this is what is waiting for us in Colorado (stolen from Ginger)

I will be so happy to get on that plane and finally be able to relax and start my holiday. Because holidays don’t really start until finals end, you know? Yes, our tree and stockings have been up for a while and I’ve been playing Christmas music while I wrapped presents, but with an exam still looming, Christmas just hasn’t really arrived for me or JB just yet. That will all change when we step into the Obi-wans’ house at midnight tonight and wolf down some of Mrs. Obi-wan’s cookies. Mmm…cookies.

Ready to be here!

But before all that, let’s recap what’s happening in the world of health and fitness this week. It’s been a busy week!

For all of you who are traveling over the holidays, travel safely. I hope each of you finds time to enjoy the beauty of the season and spend a moment or two with someone you love.

Merry Christmas (Happy Chanukah!) to all and to all a good night.

Now go out and run!

Short Distance Challenge

Are you crazed right now? I am. SOOOOOOOO busy. Despite the fact that I didn’t have classes this week, I still found myself struggling to make time for my workouts. They haven’t been as long as I would like nor have I been able to get to a class of any kind. Bummer. Or is it?

Presents had to be wrapped and shipped. Oh, hey thanks for overcharging on the holidays, UPS.

Some runners get hung up on distance. I get it, marathoning is all the rage right now and more people than ever are taking up distance running. I think it’s awesome. Welcome, one and all, to our running community! And a very special community it is…

Image courtesy of Adidas

But there is more to running than just marathons and long runs on the weekends. I’ve actually found that my shorter runs have been kind of awesome. I am focused, fast and 100% tuned into my workout because I just don’t have the time to fool around. Result? Kick-butt speedy runs! And I like it. In fact, I am about to pose a challenge to you. For the next two weeks, right into 2012, I would like to challenge each and every one of you to only run short distances. No more than 5 miles total for a run.

Why?

  1. It’s (probably) something different for you.
  2. The next week or so is likely a busy one for you and shorter workouts = workouts more likely to be done.
  3. Challenges are fun.
  4. Speed workouts are scary.
  5. What better way to start the New Year than with a new challenge?

I know I’m crazy-busy right now with my Physics final tomorrow, last-minute trip prep, doctors visits, flying tomorrow night, the whole family will be together over the weekend, there will be baby cheeks to distract me from my workouts…as much as a long run would be nice, I just don’t see it happening.

Multi-tasking: liquid iron lunch + one-handed blogging! Busy girl.

The added bonus of doing short, hard, fast workouts is that it kicks up your metabolism and makes you a stronger runner. And since I plan on eating Mrs. Obi-wan’s cookies for breakfast, lunch and post-run snacks, the hyped-up metabolism sounds like a good idea for me!

Here are some ways to break down your runs over the next two weeks so that they’re shorter, harder and faster. Don’t forget to always warm-up for a mile:

  • Out and back: Negative split this by timing yourself on the out part and beating that time on the way back
  • Ladders: 400m-800m-1600m-800m-400m *repeat* (best done on a track)
  • Hills: duh, find a hill and try to run it at the same speedy pace over and over again OR run in a hilly park and sprint the hills while your recover on the flats
  • 5K race: Map out your own 5K race route and time yourself…maybe you’ll PR!
  • 1 minute Dashes: On Dasher, on Dancer! 1 minute sprints followed by 1 minute jogs can be done just about anywhere and if you’re really kicking your own butt, this workout takes 30 minutes max to wipe you out
  • Yasso 800s: They’re not just for marathon training! Try to run each 800m sprint at the same pace 4-5 times with full recovery in between

Are you up for the challenge? Come on now, runners. Let’s RACE into the New Year stronger and with new workouts that challenge us instead of the ‘ol 5-miler.

Who’s with me? What are your holiday running plans? Are you doing a Jingle Bell Run? Share it in the comments.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Holiday Spirit

There’s something magical about New York City during the holidays. Yes, the streets are crazy-croweded with tourists who think it’s cool to stop right in the middle of the sidewalk, look up and cause a major commuter traffic jam on just about every major block in the entire city buuuuuuuuuuuuut…

…the lights on Park Avenue,

One can never have too many twinkling lights.

Tiffanys and Bergdorfs all dressed up, the smell of the Christmas trees being sold on every corner, random carolers in random parts of town, the Radio City Rockettes kicking their faces all day long (go Rainbow!),

Hey, Rainbow!

snowy Central Park runs, strolling the streets on a chilly night with JB…ahhhhh, holidays in New York are magical.

Central Park is lovely when it snows.

Sometimes I forget how amazing New York can be during the holidays. It’s tough not to get all hard and irritable when it seems that every person on the sidewalk is out to get in your way at rush hour or during a run. It’s tough not to want the holidays to be over so that 5th Avenue goes back to being semi-normal 5th Avenue again (which has never really been the same since the Apple store opened in front of FAO Schwartz–what a combination!). It’s even harder not to wish the season away so that you can get in and out of Bloomingdales in under an hour when all you really needed was a refill on your favorite lipstick.

I start with our apartment. I pull out our decorations, which aren’t many since we have a “cozy” apartment not a Devil’s Advocate-sized palace, turn on my very favorite Christmas album by John Denver and The Muppets A Christmas Together, light my Williams-Sonoma tree-scented candle and I hang our stockings by the wine bar with care. And then we get a real Christmas tree.

Oooooooo, preeeeeettttty!

I love a tree. JB reeeeally loves a tree. So, we get a tree. I bought my very first Christmas tree when JB was deployed with the USMC in Iraq. It made my whole holiday season feel more holiday-ish even though he was so far away and I was so sad.

My very first real Christmas tree.

And that’s the whole point of doing things that get you into the Holiday Spirit. Because the Holiday Spirit has nothing to do with religion, it’s a feeling of love and warmth and kindness that seems to seep into the soul of the most hardened New Yorker. And that’s a good thing. So, fake it til you make it, folks.

Break out those baking sheets and get your Betty Crocker on, apron and all.

I like making cookies. I like eating them even more.

Get a tree. Go see Santa. Put some twinkling lights up in your home. Play some Harry Connick Jr. holiday songs on Pandora (or The Muppets!). Make some cookies. Donate a toy to Toys For Tots. Do something to get in the Holiday Spirit.

The Holiday Spirit is all about good will toward your fellow man/woman and we could all use a little more good will in our lives, don’t you think? So, start with getting into the Holiday Spirit, however you do it in your world.

Me? I’m going to buy a tree this weekend and let my husband go bananas decorating it while I supervise the spacing of the lights on the tree. I learned from the best, Mrs. Obi-wan, that the lights are best judged if you step back and squint your eyes. If you see holes from that vantage point, you need to fix your lights. You’re welcome.

Point is, get your Holiday Spirit on and revel in the Holiday Spirit around you! Beats the hell out of the alternative, folks.

Now go out and run!