The circuit workout that has been kicking my butt

I am finally back home in North Carolina after a whole lot of traveling last week. After spending most of the week in California for work, I headed straight to New York City for a friend’s bachelorette party.

The beach on Coronado Island, CA

The beach on Coronado Island, CA

The ladies wandering around New York City

The ladies wandering around New York City

Both trips were great! Although we had more than a few travel issues that caused everyone plenty of stress during our NYC weekend. On that note, I will NEVER fly on American Airlines again unless I am somehow forced to. I could write an entire post about how incredibly crappy this airline proved itself to be last week, but instead I’ll take the high road and spare you the angry rant post.

After a week away, I am so happy to be back home with Jeremy and Juneau. And hopefully (maybe) back in the groove of blogging.

I wanted to share an intense, full-body strength circuit workout that I have been loving lately. It always leaves me tired and sweaty and it is easy to do with minimal equipment (just dumbbells and a medicine ball). I got it from this Clutch Cut program on

*Start with an easy five minute cardio warm-up and some stretching.

*Do a quick, 15 minute HIIT circuit to get your heart rate up. Try alternating 30 seconds walking, 30 seconds jogging and 30 seconds sprinting on the treadmill and repeat 10 times.

*Repeat the following circuit 3 or 4 times, doing 10-12 reps of each exercise (videos of all the exercises are available through the link above):

Clean and press
Overhead medicine ball throws
Dumbbell rear lunge
Push ups
Bench dips
High knees
Bodyweight squat
Wide grip lat pull-down (I do upright dumbbell rows instead when I’m not in the big gym)
Medicine ball jumping jacks
Incline push ups
Dumbbell bicep curl
Side lateral raise
One-arm dumbbell row

*Finish up with an easy 5 minute cool-down on the treadmill and more stretching.

Let me know what you think if you give it a try!

Any favorite circuit or plyometric workouts to share? I am looking for new ones!


Changing focus

Though it may not have seemed like it over the past year or so, I actually do like to do other things besides running. A few years ago, after finishing my first marathon and right around the time I started this blog, I was really into a weight training phase. I never stopped enjoying strength training but it definitely took a back seat while I was training for race after race after race recently. I have been thinking for a while that after I finished my marathon mania I wanted to get back into the gym and do a lot more cross-training. And this week I did.

I will still be running and racing down the road. In fact, my goal is to do a lot more races this year. But I don’t anticipate running any race longer than a half marathon for the rest of 2014. My body is just beyond done with marathons right now. The great thing is that, since I just came off of marathon training, I’m easily in half marathon shape so I really only need to do enough weekly miles to maintain my running fitness. And that leaves plenty of time and energy to channel towards cross-training.

I spent a lot of time browsing and found a new, fun (to me) workout schedule to follow that I could easily mix with some weekly runs. I’m going to go on a tangent and say that I feel like there may be a negative perception of sites like… at least for women. It seems a lot more women are embracing weight training in various forms while some are really hesitant to put a lot of focus on it at the risk of becoming more  muscular than they want to be. From my experience, even when I am doing a lot of strength training, I tend to only get slightly more toned but I feel a whole lot stronger – which I love.  This site has been a really good resource for me and, if you have never browsed around on it, I would recommend it if you are wanting to find some new exercises or routines to try out. Every exercise mentioned on the site is linked to a video demonstration.


Anyways, I am a huge fan of schedules and plans. So leave it to me to compulsively make a weekly work out schedule. Here is what I did this week/what I think I will do for the remainder of it. It is based around this plan but with things shifted around and more cardio added in. And even though I am a compulsive workout planner I am not the type to follow a meal or supplement plan (diet is probably the only four letter word I won’t say), so I don’t pay attention to that part.

Monday: Run 2-3 miles, shoulder & arm strength, core work
Tuesday: Run 2-3 miles, back strength
Wednesday: Plyometric circuit, leg strength, core work
Thursday: Run 2-3 miles, shoulder & chest strength
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: A longer run whatever distance I feel like, core work
Sunday: Rest day, yoga, or whatever I feel like

I am so incredibly sore in so many places right now, but in a good way. It is amazing because I know I am in good running shape but these workouts have challenged me more than I thought they would because of how different they are. The plyometrics circuit was especially hard. Ask me to run 16 miles? No problem. Ask me to do box jumps then immediately do tuck jumps? Doubled over gasping for air.

My body is really happy with the change and my brain is a lot more motivated and engaged. All good things!

Are you a fan of weight training? Tell me about your best workout this week!


Good links lately

It’s been one of those kind of weeks for me. Not great, not bad, just a week. I was pretty cranky on and off and it wasn’t the type of week where I was full of brilliant blogging ideas.

On weeks like these, when my creative juices are stagnant, I enjoy reading my favorite blogs and websites even more. Since I’m in much more of a reading mood then a writing mood I’m going to take it as an opportunity to share some of the best posts and articles I’ve come across lately with you.


Edamame Black Bean Salad – I’ve made two batches of this in a very short period and Jeremy and I crushed it both times. It’s so delicious!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Dessert Hummus – I was skeptical but decided to give this recipe a shot. I modified it slightly by using four tablespoons of regular peanut butter instead of powdered and two teaspoons of stevia and two teaspoons of honey to sweeten it. Turns out that I love it. I made it Wednesday and just finished polishing off the whole bowl all by myself. Don’t judge me. It actually tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough to me. Jeremy wasn’t impressed but I think that’s because he saw it was made from chickpeas and it weirded him out. If you’re going to make it for husbands or children I would suggest making it in secret and letting them think it’s bad for them.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Overnight Oats – I was 100 percent sure that I would never be a big fan of overnight oatmeal, until I found this recipe. Now I’ve been making it several times a week, every week. It’s so simple but so good.

Running and Fitness

Perform Your Best with the Proper Warm Up before Running – After reading this post I became a lot more conscious about the need to do a better warm up before my tough runs. It has great recommendations of a series of dynamic stretches to try.

Fitness Friday on Taking a Break from Running – Whenever I have to or want to take some time off of running my obsessive compulsive runner side always wonders how much of my running fitness I will lose in the process. This post has some good resources to ease the worried voices of the obsessive runner in all of us.

Tempos vs. Intervals – When I first started incorporating speed work into my training, I was really confused by what tempo runs were supposed to be like and what they were meant to accomplish. I also despised them so for a while I just didn’t do them at all and did all interval training. Well… I still don’t like tempo runs. But now I know why they’re important and how to scale them based on what distance I am training for. I really wish that this post had been written a year ago to help me figure out what I was doing that much faster. Any runners who are just getting into speed training should check this post out.

5 Phases of Endurance Training – A great run down of all the components of training for an endurance event and how long they should last. It can be hard to know how long to base build, when the best time to peak is when training for a race, or how long you need to recover afterwards before you can start training again. This post is a good reference for answering those types of questions.

5 Reasons Why I Practice Yoga – For anyone wondering if you should take up yoga or work it into your cross-training routine, the answer is definitely yes!

Other Stuff

Help, I’m Married to a Blogger – If you’re a blogger or know and love one and want a good laugh, you should probably read this.

New ways to break a sweat

Last week was another week off of running for me as I was trying to make some real improvements to the muscle damage in my right leg. I went to Active Release Therapy three (three!!) times last week and resolved to resist the urge to run. But it wasn’t easy. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have a hard time working up a real sweat when I cross train.

Determined to break a sweat last week somehow, I looked up a few cycling and elliptical workouts for runners on the web. I found two great pages with specific workout recommendations from Competitor and Runner’s World.

The cycling workout from the Runner’s World article got me especially sweaty and out of breath on Saturday morning. It mimicked the intensity of a running interval workout, which is probably my favorite type of training run. Here’s what I did:

  • 10 minute warm-up at an easy pace.
  • 2 minutes hard followed by 1 minute recovery for about 45 minutes. I upped the resistance during every 2 minute interval but I alternated between really high resistance climbs (butt out of the seat like you’re pedaling up a massive hill) and medium-high resistance sprints (seated, leaning forward and going for a high RPM). So a full set was 2 minute climb, 1 minute recovery, 2 minute sprint, 1 minute recovery. I repeated this 7 or 8 times.
  • 5 minute cool down.

I am not much of a cyclist (actually, the last time I owned a bike was in elementary school so I’m not a cyclist at all), but this workout plus some weights left me tired and happy.

My former toddler-aged bike-enthusiast self would have been proud.

My former toddler-aged, bike-enthusiast self would have been proud.

Runners – what is your favorite way to cross train? Everyone – what has been your best, sweatiest workout recently?

#Winning Wednesday 6

Since we are just a week away from Christmas (which still blows my mind), and since I doubt I’ll post on Christmas, we can go ahead and consider this a very happy holiday edition of #Winning Wednesday!

1. Vacation time

My office has it’s annual holiday staff dinner tomorrow evening and Thursday also marks my last day of work in 2013. I have a lot of vacation days backlogged that need to be used so I am taking the 20th of December through the 1st of January off of work. I don’t have travel plans besides going to see my parents next week for Christmas and I am more than okay with that. Having days at home with no demands on my time is going to be a perfect opportunity to decompress, relax and reflect on the year and what I want to happen next year. I’m very excited.

2. Egg nog

At 25 years old, until last week I had never tried egg nog. I’m not sure why. I suppose no one ever encouraged me to try it and I assumed that it was something I wouldn’t like so I didn’t jump on any chances to buy it. Jeremy suggested we buy some at the grocery store a few weekends ago and, as it turns out, I actually do like it. During our next trip to the store, we opted to try pumpkin egg nog and I am kind of obsessed. It tastes like a pumpkin pie milk shake – pure deliciousness.

Egg Nog

3. Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

Jeremy and I are a bit slack in terms of decorating our apartment. We haven’t hung all of our pictures and decorations and we have lived in the same apartment for a year and a half. But we are all-stars when it comes to our Christmas tree. It is a huge artificial tree that was given to us by his parents and it definitely has a presence in our house during the season because it takes up half of our dining area. We love it! We also added a few new ornaments to our collection this year that are pretty fantastic as well.


In case you were wondering, we named him Francis.

In case you were wondering, we named him Francis.

4. Classes, classes, and more classes

I am still pretty obsessed with BodyPump this week. I also tried out my first ever spin class on Monday. It was tough and got me sweating and, most importantly, I didn’t make a fool of myself by falling off the bike which had been a legitimate concern.


5. Homeward bound

My dates to visit Charlottesville for Christmas have been set. I’m excited about spending time with my family and enjoying some of my favorite Christmas traditions. I’ve also already made fun plans with my closest high school friends to celebrate the fact that one of them recently got engaged! The sad part of my trip is that Jeremy has to work a lot during the week and won’t be able to join me. But we usually have our own Christmas celebration a few days after Christmas that is always perfect so I have that to look forward to as well.

I get to go on a date with these three people next week. Be jealous.

I get to go on a date with these three people next week. Be jealous.

What are your plans for the holidays? How do you feel about egg nog?