I got so many comments on this picture, both on Instagram and on the blog, that I decided to write a post about my workout routine and workout gear.
First, let’s discuss my workout routine.
It’s nothing earth shattering or original. I basically run and lift weights. As far as I am concerned, those are the two most efficient ways to stay healthy and strong. Biking is awesome too, but I feel like it presents more hindrances than running, so it’s my backup exercise.
Lest you get the wrong idea, I am NOT a life-long athlete. Far from it, in fact! I once brought an entire group camping trip home early because my legs gave out and I couldn’t hike to the summit. True story.
I was in college, and that episode did NOT make me popular with the guys. I guess they were looking forward to camping out overnight? I do not understand such things.
I tried various types of exercise over the years, but nothing stuck until I discovered running about five years ago. It’s my outlet, my release, my thinking time, my me-time, and basically the key to my sanity. When I had to stop running due to injury, I about went out of my mind, and I’m not exaggerating one iota. I would be medicated without exercise. (There’s nothing wrong with being medicated, of course, but I’m glad that I found an outlet that did the trick for me so I don’t have to pursue that avenue of relief.)
My Running Program
I’ve been pretty inconsistent this winter, but my goal is to get back to running between 3 and 5 miles, 4 to 5 times a week. I had to take a year off due to injury, and I’m just now getting back into it, but by springtime, I’m hoping to be running 15 to 20 miles a week.
I love running local 5K races and I ran one half marathon. I doubt I’ll ever run another half because I don’t think my feet can handle that much mileage, and the training was intense and time consuming. That said, I’m SO glad I did it once. Besides birthing 3 children, that was by far the most rewarding experience of my life.
Speaking of my 3 kids, I think it’s important for them to see me pursuing my dreams and personal goals and making time for myself and my hobbies. They were so excited for me when I crossed that finish line, and having them all there meant the world to me.
It’s easy to put off exercise and think we’re too busy, but there is always time for the things that are important to us so this is my mantra:
My Strength Training Program
As much as I love running, I detest weight lifting, but I do like the results. I’ve learned after many tried and failed attempts to stick to a workout program over the years that I have to have someone standing over me, making sure I’m doing my exercises properly, consistently, and thoroughly. I have no will power when it comes to strength training activities. I will always take the shortcut, I will always skip the last set, and I will always find an excuse not to go to the gym.
The only way I’ve found to sustain a workout program for a significant amount of time is to work with a trainer. Having a standing appointment and a financial investment I’m unwilling to forfeit keeps me motivated. I found her at my local gym, but now I go to her house. It’s very convenient, and she has become a good friend, which is a bonus.
We meet twice a week for an hour, and we do a variety of activities including traditional free weights, TRX, and body-weight resistance activities.
Before you ask, TRX is a suspension training program using your body weight and these thick straps. The program was actually developed by Navy SEALs as a way to stay in shape in tight quarters. Take a look. These pictures are about 4 years old, but you get the idea.
There is virtually no limit to the different exercises you can do with TRX equipment. If I had to work out at home and I could choose only one piece of exercise equipment, I’d invest in TRX. It is as hard as all get out, but it’s incredibly rewarding. You can adjust your position based on your strength level and make it challenging no matter what your fitness level is. Because I’m clearly no Navy SEAL.
I don’t mind heavy lifting, but I hate resistance activities or anything where you have to hold a pose. I’d rather bench 3 sets of 8 reps of 70 pounds (I did that last week!) than hold a plank for 60 seconds (ugh, I did that too), but I do whatever my trainer tells me to do because that’s why I’m paying her the big bucks.
There are definitely days that I want to quit, but I’m in the best shape of my life, and I don’t want to lose everything I’ve gained, so I keep plugging along.
I used to work out in whatever old schlumpy clothes I had laying around. (See the TRX pictures above.) But as I got more serious about training and running, I began investing in more stylish and practical workout gear.
Having the right gear definitely makes a difference in your attitude and motivation. It’s like anything else — if you invest in it, you will be more motivated to actually do the activity and be consistent with it. It also tells your subconscious that you’re taking your workouts seriously, and soon you’ll find that you DO take it more seriously.
Proper workout gear isn’t just cute. It actually serves an important purpose. You want to exercise in material that is breathable and moisture-wicking, and if you exercise outside during cold weather, you need cold weather exercise gear. Of course, proper shoes are a must as well.
For the gym and for running outside in mild temperatures, I’m a huge fan of the Athleta be free knickers. They have a nice, wide waistband that smooths out the midsection, and they’re moisture wicking so when you sweat, it evaporates faster than with cotton. They also have an internal key pocket and a rear zip pocket.
I put my inhaler in that rear zip pocket when I’m running races because I have asthma. They even have strategically placed mesh ventilation that allows sweat to escape so your skin can breathe. They’re stretchy, lightweight, and comfortable, and they don’t get in the way when I’m running or weight lifting.
In the summertime, I wear the salutation shorts to run in. I have 3 pairs of them in various colors.
You can see me wearing the knickers here. The top I’m wearing here is also one of my favorites. I like the feminine shape and that it’s not clingy. I can’t find the exact link (mine is old) but I think this is similar. I also have a few of these Nike Racer DRI-Fit Running Tees.
For running in the wintertime, I usually wear the Athleta Polartec Power Stretch Tights. They are good for ALMOST any kind of cold weather, but I’m finding they have their limitations. I need something that is wind resistant to layer on top of those.
On top, I like to wear one of these Under Armour Cold Gear turtlenecks under a sweatshirt or jacket similar to this. I also have something like this Nike running jacket for running in the rain, but mine is bright orange.
For wintertime running, a hat and gloves are an absolute must. A few years ago, my husband and my mom set me up with a ton of running gear for Christmas. The nice thing about this gear is you will use it for years.
Everyone always asks me about shoes, but everyone’s needs are different. The only rule is do not skimp on shoes. You can skimp on workout clothes, but your shoes should be the right style for your feet, and you should keep them updated. When your shoes start to break down, you will start developing aches and pains, and you could end up injured.
I’ve gone from wearing minimalist shoes a few years ago to a full stability shoe with custom orthotics. I currently run in the Saucony Guide 9, but you really can’t go on someone else’s recommendation. Go to a running store and get fitted by someone who knows what they’re doing and can give you the best recommendation based on your feet and the way you walk/run.
When you learn the type of shoe you need (neutral, stability, etc.) then you can try different brands and see what is most comfortable. I’m a huge fan of Saucony because they have a wide toe box and they feel good on my feet, but you might prefer Mizuno or Brooks. The only way to find out is to try them all on with the help of a trained professional who can guide you to the right amount of support for your feet.
I have an armband for my phone so I can listen to music, and I use the RunKeeper app to keep track of my mileage.
I also have a Garmin GPS watch, which I love when I’m actually working on speed and timing for races. I like that I can look down at any time and it tells me my pace. I haven’t been bothering with that lately, as my goal right now is just to get back into the swing of things, but I’ll need to charge it up and start using it again soon.
For me, working out is more of a necessary evil than a treasured pastime, but the older I get, the more I realize how crucial it is to staying youthful and strong. It may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you, but it’s so worth the investment. As always, feel free to leave any questions in the comments.
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