Fitness: Interval Running Workout #3

Can’t let this week go by without posting another interval running workout. We wouldn’t want that now, would we? 😉

As mentioned last week, this workout is a little more endurance based. The previous workouts have focused on shorter periods of fast running but this time, we are going to run a little slower (most of the time) but  for a longer period of time. It’s still intervals but a little different. It’s good to throw in a different workout into your routine every so often. The more your body does something, the easier it becomes. Meaning your body doesn’t need to work as hard  to get where it wants to go or accomplish what it needs to. If you constantly tweak your workout routine your body won’t get “bored” and stop working. You don’t want to work your butt off for nothing so make sure to change it up every once in a while.

This workout goes by super fast for me because you are changing speed every minute so it keeps you busy and you lose track of how much time has actually gone by. And don’t worry, you still get to walk- for two minutes each round. It’s great recovery and something to look forward to at the end of each cycle. Also, don’t worry if you can’t do the whole thing just yet. It takes a while to build up endurance. All that matters is that you are taking the first to get there.

Well, here it is.

The Workout:

Warm-up for 2 minutes by walking at 3.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 5.0 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 5.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 6.0 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 6.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 7.0 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 7.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 8.0 mph.

Walk for 2 minutes at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 5 times without the warm-up (or as many as you can, many days I only make it to 3 reps and it is still really effective).

I definitely noticed a difference in my running after doing this workout for a few weeks. A 5K race doesn’t sound so intimidating anymore.

Let me know how it goes. Happy running!

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Book Review: Home by Toni Morrison

I shouldn’t be surprised that my heart skipped a few beats when I discovered Toni Morrison’s newest novel (alright, I’m a little late to the game but now is better than never- right?). Feeling a little nostalgic about my college years and missing its security, beauty, and friends- Toni Morrison was exactly what I was missing. I have become somewhat of an African-American lit junkie, if you will. During my freshman year I took an Introduction to Literature class where the professor focused mostly on apartheid literature and this completely sparked my interest. I went on to take a Richard Wright class in which we read many books by Wright, Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, and James Baldwin among many others. Venturing further into this literary circle I took an African American Literature course my senior year where we read Ralph Ellison, Anne Petry, more Wright, and more Morrison. I had become completely immersed and I loved every second of it. Hence, my excitement for HOME by Toni Morrison.

Morrison definitely does not disappoint with her latest novel (does she ever?). HOME is about a young Veteran, named Frank Money, who just returned from the Korean War. Frank had a far from easy life. His family was very poor, lived in a depressing town in which Frank described as, “the worst place in the world, worse than any battlefield.” All his parents ever did was work for practically nothing, leaving him and his sister to fend for themselves, mostly always starving. Both parents died at a very young age, making Frank feel more alone and more without a real home. The book opens with Frank in the hospital when he receives a letter that his sister, Cee, is in trouble and if he doesn’t come now she will most likely die. Cee had always been dependent on Frank, she never had anyone else she could turn to. He needed her, so he was going to be there. The book tracks Frank’s journey to find his sister, the revelations he makes along the way and just as important, the revelations that Cee makes herself without her brother there to hold her hand.

What I love most about Morrison is that she puts so much meaning into her books with so few words. I could type on and on for days and I still wouldn’t be able to say half of what Morrison could in a couple hundred pages, let alone so gracefully and resonating. I could sit here all night and list off meaning after meaning of each character, object, and place in this book. But, for everyone’s sake (including my own) I won’t. My first reaction is to talk about the character of Frank Money and his journey to find his manhood, purpose, sense of self, and “home”. After all, I did write many of my college papers on manhood- its challenges, meaning, and the struggles that many African American male characters seem to face on their journey to becoming a “man” and feeling worth something. But thats not what sticks out to me with this book. Instead, I am fascinated by the character of Cee.

Cee’s experience working for the doctor is horrible, gruesome, and definitely beyond anything I could ever imagine. But, in a sense- it set her free. Being young, black, and a woman were all disadvantages Cee had to learn to deal with her entire life. These characteristics made her feel insecure, worthless, and incompetent. Cee felt like she was only there to serve others because that’s all she ever knew. Miss Ethel, Cee’s nurse after the horrific events at the doctor’s, opened Cee’s eyes up to a whole other world. A world where she was her own person. A world in which she decided her own fate and what she did or didn’t do. She doesn’t need to listen to what anyone else tells her- she has her own brain with her own thoughts, dreams, and desires.

The turning point of Cee’s journey is when Miss Ethel tells her, “You young and a woman, and there’s serious limitation in both, but you a person too. Don’t let Lenore or some trifling boyfriend and certainly no evil doctor decide who you are. That’s slavery. Somewhere inside you is that free person I’m talking about. Locate her and let her do some good in the world.” These few sentences really jumped out at me, left me staring at the page for a few moments longer than the rest. Although Cee wasn’t physically a slave to anyone, she certainly was mentally. She let other people decide her worth, her destiny, her life. In this moment, Cee decided she was worth something, “I ain’t going nowhere, Miss Ethel. This is where I belong.” Cee doesn’t want to die, especially from the doings of an evil, heartless man. She wants to stay here on Earth with her people, friends, family and fight. She wants to put her own mark on the world as Cee, not as another helpless patient who succumbed to the dominant forces around her.

If you couldn’t tell already, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. I warn you, don’t expect a happy story with pretty butterflies and flowers. But what you will get is hope, empowerment, and a sense of pride. Nothing can hold me back after reading this book. I feel like I can accomplish anything right now because I’m my own person. I have my own hopes and aspirations and I am the only person who can control them.

Whew- I feel like I am sitting back in one of my college classrooms and I couldn’t thank Morrison, my readers, or this blog enough for that.

Fitness: Interval Running Workout #2

As promised, here is the second interval workout in my running circuit. This one involves more running than the last workout, but it’s still not horrible. You still walk more than you run, and it’s shorter! You can power through this entire workout in only a half hour. The downside- you are going to sweat. You are actually going to sweat a lot. You need to make every single second of this workout count if you want to receive maximum benefits. Every time you hold back or put the treadmill on a lower speed than you know you can do, you are only hurting yourself. This workout goes by extremely fast. Make the most of it.

Oh yeah, and you might have a tiny bit of trouble walking to your car after. But that’s only a minor detail.

 

 The Workout:

Warm-up for 3 minutes by jogging at 5.5-6.0 mph.

Run fast (not a sprint, but make sure you’re moving) for 1 minute. I set my speed for 7-7.5 mph.

Walk for 2 minutes at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 4 more times (without the warm-up)!

Sprint (yes, sprint) for 30 seconds. Again, I set my speed for 8-8.5 mph.

Walk for 1 minute at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 9 more times!

Bonus Tip: To burn some extra calories you can do this whole workout at a slight incline. And I mean slight. Set your treadmills incline to 1.0 or 2.0 for some extra spice. Warning: you WILL feel it.

 

…and you’re done! That was quick! Go buy yourself  a new blouse, you deserve it. Nothing wrong with some positive reinforcement, right?

Check back next week for a more endurance focused interval run. I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Happy running!

Buffalo Pork Chops

I’m not the biggest fan of pork, but I eat it. Sometimes I feel like I am running out of dinner options. There’s only so much chicken, beef, and turkey you can eat. Pasta can quickly become boring. And we are slowly but surely getting into the fish game. Sometimes you just need something different. That’s when the pork comes in. If I’m going to cook and eat pork its got to be all about the seasoning. That’s why I was very happy to come across a recipe for Buffalo Pork Chops.

This recipe was actually very good. I go into any meal with pork involved expecting to be disappointed- it’s just better that way. This time was no different except for that the fact that I wasn’t disappointed at all. As we were eating, my husband and I turned to each other and said we should make this again (he shares my same sentiments about pork). Wait, what? Make pork again? Were we crazy? I have made a few other pork recipes in the past and those words definitely never came out of our mouths before. Those recipes were good or should I say tolerable, but I wouldn’t care to make them ever again. Maybe it’s just the buffalo sauce talking, but this is a recipe for the books.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of butter

2-3 tablespoons of hot sauce

Thinly slice or shredded mozzarella

2 boneless pork chops

Salt & pepper

Directions:

1. Season both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper.

2. Heat olive oil, butter, and hot sauce together in a large skillet (medium high).

3. Once the mixture is heated, add in the pork chops. Cook on each side until done (about 5 minutes each side).

4. Transfer the pork chops to a baking sheet and coat with additional hot sauce.

5. Put some mozzarella cheese on top of each pork chop.

6. Broil on high for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

The best part of this recipe is that it is actually two recipes in one. Instead of using hot sauce, you can see barbeque sauce instead. Since barbeque sauce is one of my absolute favorite things ever and possibly one of the greatest inventions ever, we will definitely be trying that one out soon.

While cooking the pork chops I roasted some asparagus and potatoes (tossed in olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper) for sides.

The picture above (because I somehow never remember to take my own picture — mental note, mental note) and recipe was taken from Allison’s Skinny Jeans.

Happy Friday and happy cooking! As always, feel free to share your thoughts on this recipe and others below.

Fitness: Interval Running Workout #1

I hate running. I love working out, I love going to the gym, and I love being active. But, I don’t love running. No matter how many land sports I tried growing up and throughout high school I always went back to swimming. Not just because it was the sport that I felt like I excelled the most at, but because it also does not involve running. My hatred for running was evident at an early age. During my kindergarten soccer games I would plead with the coach to be the goalie because that was the one position that running wasn’t really involved. Plus, the ball was not really flying at you that hard, if at all. Through middle school and high school I tried tennis and lacrosse. I tolerated the running but it was definitely not something I looked forward to. In college, I pretty much abandoned the running world altogether and just stuck with swimming. Once I graduated, that is when the real problem arrived. I needed a cardiovascular exercise to partake in. I had been so active my entire life that it felt strange not to have an activity to turn to. Swimming was pretty much out of the question. First, I was kind of sick of it after about fourteen years of competitive swimming and second, the membership to all the pools around me are expensive. I tried biking at the gym, and using the elliptical as well, but I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted and wasn’t getting that same post-workout “high.” That was when I decided I needed to face my biggest fear: running.

Over the next couple months I slowly tried to build myself up to running 3 miles. I was getting there but it was a slow process that really wasn’t much fun. At all, in fact. I searched for a new running method, talked to some friends, and was introduced to interval training. This has completely changed the way I feel about running. I actually don’t mind running now (I won’t say I like it). What is interval training? Interval training is when you push your body really hard for about 30 seconds to a couple minutes, then you “rest”/take it easy for another 2-3 minutes, then you work your body back up to high intensity for a couple more minutes and repeat, etc., etc. You get the point. I like interval training for many different reasons. One, it’s quick. All you need is 20-30 minutes. If you can make it 40-45 minutes, great but it’s not needed. Two, I can see and feel the results. I love how interval training is sculpting my body without me even having to pick up a weight. I also notice that the actual running is getting easier each week enabling me to push myself a little harder than I normally would. It seems to be working a lot faster than just straight running. Three, it burns more fat (especially for women) than just straight running. Pushing yourself hard for a few minutes, “resting” for a few minutes, then going hard again actually makes your body work harder. To achieve that mountain/roller coaster effect your body needs to work each time you increase your intensity, then it gets to rest, but only before it needs to work its way back up all over again. Lastly, interval running also keeps your body burning long after your workout has finished. I can feel my body working, sweating, and radiating off my hard earned heat throughout my drive home from the gym and until I hop in the shower. After one of these workouts I feel like I have accomplished something, like I have just done something really good for my body and myself. Probably because I have.

I have a set of about eight interval running workouts that I continually cycle through. I hate doing the same workout twice in a row because I get bored very easily. I am always finding and adding new running routines to keep my workouts fresh. In hopes to inspire other running-haters to give interval training a shot I will be sharing my workouts here with you, one at a time. This week I am going to share one of my favorites because it really doesn’t involve a lot of running but it’s still highly effective. But you will need to get your butt and calf muscles pumping because there are a lot of hills involved:

 

1st Set: Warm-up!

0-3:00: set incline on treadmill at 2 and the speed at 3.5 mph

3-5:00: incline- 4; speed- 4.0 mph

5-7:00: incline- 5; speed- 5.0 mph

7-8:00: incline- 2; speed- 6.0 mph

2nd Set: Get the blood flowing!

8-16:00: Repeat the warm-up set above

3rd Set: Hill time (a.k.a. booty time!)

16-20:00: incline- 12; speed- 3.7 mph

20-21:00: incline- 15; speed-4.0 mph

21-23:00: incline- 10; speed-3.0 mph

4th Set: Feel the booty burn!

23-30:00: Repeat the 3rd set above!

5th Set: You’re really working now!

30-37:00: Repeat the 3rd set above, again!

6th Set: One last time!

37-44:00: Repeat the 3rd set above! Yes, again.

7th Set: Sprint- give it all you have left!

44-45:00- incline-2; 6-10 mph- whatever you can do, push yourself, it’s only 60 seconds.

8th Set: Cool down!

45-50:00- no incline; speed- 3 or 3.5 mph

*Disclaimer: This is one of the longer work-outs. I don’t always have time to do the whole thing but even if I just do half of it, I’m sweating big time!

 

For more information about this work-out, go to the awesome Blogilates website. I found this work-out there. You can also find a lot of other health/fitness tips there too. And plus, the website is super cute.

If you want to read more about interval training/running, visit Nerd Fitness. They give a pretty straight forward and simple explanation of how it’s done/it’s benefits.

I hope you all get a chance to try this workout, it’s worth a shot. Feel free to post your experiences below. Make sure to check back next week for Workout #2. Happy exercising!