Monday, December 28, 2009

Climbing at Planet Granite

Uh oh, I may have added yet another activity to my repertoire.

Rakhi, Gabe, Vikram and I went climbing at Planet Granite in Sunnyvale. Vikram had never belayed and I hadn't done it in 4 or 5 years, so we started by taking lessons. I took climbing classes at Cornell my second year, but these lessons were much more relaxed. I feel much more confident about my belaying abilities this time. I enjoyed the climbing much more because I'm actually in shape. I went climbing at a wall in Berkeley once when I was an undergrad, and I was sore for days afterward. This time was relatively painless.

I'm currently signed up for weight lifting classes in the spring, but I think I'll drop the class and try climbing instead. It's equally good for building arm and leg muscles, but it's far more exciting and less regimented. The cost is almost the same ($30 for a climbing pass +$4 for shoe rentals vs. $90 for the class). The climbing wall at Cornell isn't the nicest, but it'll have to do. The biggest problem is that I don't have anyone to climb with and this is one activity that I can't do on my own. I have a few ideas of friends I can harass to accompany me however.

We had a great time and I hope that we make this an annual event. I think that this was the most active winter break I've ever had.

running + dim sum = a bad idea

Poonam, Vikram, and I went for an evening run together. It was right after sunset so the air was cool and a layer of fog had settled over the valley. I seldom feel homesick for California, but this run did the trick. We stayed together for this run, more or less. We had a late and heavy dim sum lunch and my stomach was not happy with this run, so I ended up walking more than I would have liked.

Nike+ run stats: 3.82 miles, 45'01" minutes, 11'46" minutes per mile

I didn't quite meet my weekly goal. I'll aim for 15 miles of running again next week.

Remaining workouts for the week of 12/21/09
1 hour of biking
15 3.84 miles of running
1 mile of swimming

Goal for the week of 12/28/09
1.5 hours of biking
15 miles of running
+climbing (no swimming this week because the pool is closed)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

12/26/09: running

Today I went for a quick run on my parents' treadmill. I'm not really on track to finish my weekly goal unless I go for another run this evening or do an extremely long run tomorrow.

Nike+ run stats: 2.71 miles, 29'50" minutes, 11'00" minutes per mile

Remaining workouts for the week of 12/21/09
1 hour of biking
15 7.66 miles of running
1 mile of swimming

Friday, December 25, 2009

12/25/09: running

Merry Christmas!

What better way to start off a major holiday than with a run. This morning, all three Juneja kids put on their running gear and headed out for a run. Vikram went out on his own to do 18 miles. Poonam and I opted for a shorter 4.6 mile route. Both my siblings are in full training mode for their upcoming Mississippi Blues half-marathon in January 2010. It'll be Vikram's second race and Poonam's first. It's amazing that all three of us are suddenly gung-ho runners, but I think it helps build motivation.

It was the perfect day for a run: clear blue skies, a crisp 40F temperature, and my sister as a running companion. With apologies to all my other running friends, no one beats my sister as a partner. We have genetically matched running styles. We're the same speed, have the same endurance, and even have the same right hip and back problems. (Our working hypothesis for this quirk is that we're both lopsided and that our right legs are slightly shorter than our left ones.)

This run put me in such an exuberant mood that I was singing at the top of my lungs while running through my hometown --- I love how my shyness completely disappears when the adrenaline kicks in.

Nike+ run stats: 4.63 miles, 54'59" minutes, 11'51" minutes per mile


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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Runner's world

On a whim, I picked up Runner's World magazine to read on my flight home. I feel a bit like a poser calling myself a 'runner' after running for only 5 months, but it was worth it because I read the entire thing cover-to-cover on my flight.

Some highlights:
-summaries of reader's favorites marathons based on organization, fun, destination, speed, etc., including one in Corning, NY
-a weekly training regime for working towards half-marathons or full-marathons
-swimming exercises for runners
-safety information, including the stats that upward of 20 runners and 700 cyclists are killed in motor collisions every year-- important for me since I tend to be really lax about anything related to safety

At $12 per year, it's a no-brainer to get myself a subscription.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

12/23/09: bike trainer

I affirmed a couple of things about my personality today. One, I'm a procrastinator. Two, I'm very stubborn-- if I say I'm going to do something, I'll try my very best to do it. I hopped on my bike trainer 1.5 hours before my ride to the airport was to pick me up. It was the last chance that I was going to have to bike for the week and I really wanted to be able to cross it off my list. I just barely had time to shower, pack a lunch, and do the dishes afterward. It was worth it though because flying is a lot more pleasant if you're slightly worn out.

I did 1 hour on my bike trainer to an episode of my new favorite show, 'Dexter.' In the episode I watched, one of the characters was dealing with a crisis by going into workout overload-- it made me laugh.

Remaining workouts for the week of 12/21/09
1 hour of biking
15 miles of running
1 mile of swimming

Monday, December 21, 2009

12/21/09: swimming

I miss swimming class. Some of the people who swim during open hours are douchebags. The pool is NOT for socializing, people! It seems like everyone left in Ithaca decided to go swimming at exactly the same time. At one point, we were up to 6 people in my lane.

I did the same workout that I did on the last day of class: 50 meters with the kickboard, 50 meters pull, 50 meters freestyle. In all, I did 37 laps (1.15 miles) with an average split time of 1:10 -- down 4 seconds from last time.

Remaining workouts for the week of 12/21/09
1 hour of biking
15 miles of running
1 mile of swimming

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12/20/09: running

I went for another run with Maddy. I decided to push myself a little further than usual, so we ended up going 4 miles. This is going to sound ridiculous, but I feel really out of shape. I blame that partly on Maddy. She likes to sprint when she runs, so we have to alternate between running really fast and walking. But I also haven't been exercising as much as I was over the summer. Here's a quick tally of my week:

1.5 hours biking
1.75 hours of running (8.5 miles)
1 hour of yoga

Compare that to the summer where I'd regularly bike at least 60 miles a week (~5 hours), plus hit the gym several times a week. Many training guides will tell you to set a daily workout schedule. That doesn't work for me because I get very discouraged when I miss a workout and then give up. What's worked really well for me in the past is setting weekly or monthly goals. Even if I don't meet them, I still feel really good about what I do manage to accomplish. As a test run, here's my goal for this week:

1 hour of biking
15 miles of running (~3 hours)
1 mile of swimming (~45 minutes)
total: 4.75 hours

Run stats for today: 4.07 miles, 53'24" minutes, 13'06" minutes per mile

Running music

Music is a big part of my life, and running is no different. For me, running is when I allow myself to indulge in my guilty pleasure music: Pink, Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and so on. Good running music has the same qualities as good dancing music-- it's upbeat and catchy.

My Nike+ allows me to program a "power song" that I can access by holding down the center button on my iPod. I use it whenever I feel close close to giving up. More than once, it's given me a boost in energy that's allowed me to finish a run. My power song is currently "Just Like a Pill" (props to Shamoni for introducing me to Pink, the queen of angry borderline psychotic pop music). It took me a few weeks to realize that the chorus was perfect for running:

"I think I'll get outta here, where I can run
Just as fast as I can
To the middle of nowhere
To the middle of my frustrated fears"

Until now, my running mix has had about 25 songs in it. Today I finally invested the time in copying over a bunch of music from my old PC so that I could add a little variety. I'm excited to go for a run and give it a try.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12/19/09: running

I was incredibly sore on Thursday because of doing yoga the previous day. My hamstrings, shoulders, and upper arms were the worst. I guess those are muscle groups that aren't getting worked in other exercises. That's one more reason to go back to yoga.

After two days of rest, I decided to go for a run ... outside! I'm dog-sitting for a couple of days, and running is the perfect activity to tire Maddy out. It took a lot of willpower to run outside. I actually turned around the first time, came back, added a few layers, and then headed back out. I far prefer skiing outside to running at this time of year, but there isn't nearly enough snow yet.

On a side note, I just redid the layout and added a section for blogs I'm following. Check them out! My brother is training for his first marathon, Asti just did her first half marathon, and my new blogging friend is also training for his first triathlon. I didn't realize that I knew so many budding athletes.

Run stats: 2.01 miles, 21'56" minutes, 10'54" minutes per mile

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12/16/09: yoga

It had been a long time since I went for a yoga class. I asked Annie this morning if Tammi's class was any good. She gave it a thumbs up and decided to accompany me. I really like exercising with friends because 1) it motivates me to get my lazy butt to class and 2) it gives us time to catch up in the locker room.

I think I stopped going because I usually want the best workout I can get for my time investment, and yoga has been really low of my priority list. Apparently my memory failed me-- yoga can be a very good workout. It's excellent for strengthening core muscles, building arm strength, and stretching out my finicky back and hip muscles. I need to add it back into my rotation and try to go to classes a few times a month. Running and biking lead to tight muscles and I haven't been very diligent about stretching.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12/15/09: running

I was a little surprised that I wasn't the least bit sore after spinning. I did manage to aggravate my hip while walking to work a few days ago, so I'm not completely pain-free at the moment. I was a little worried about hopping on the treadmill, but I took it really easy and my hip didn't bother me at all. I slowly worked my way up to a 12'30" pace on the treadmill.

Nike+ run stats: 2.56 miles, 29'22" minutes, 11:27 minutes per mile

Monday, December 14, 2009

When life hands you lemons...

This quote, which was shared with me by a good friend, sums up my last year. It's probably pretty obvious to my friends that I used exercise as a way to cope with a bad breakup. In fact, one of the first things I did in the immediate aftermath was dust off my bike and go for a ride. I couldn't feel any emotional pain if I was in physical pain. Somewhere along the way, I became addicted. It's true that I used physical exertion to overcome my emotions. But at the same time, it gave me confidence, focus, energy, got rid of my insomnia, regulated my appetite, and gave me control over my life again.

Fortuitously, around this same time, my labmate and I were listening to our favorite podcast and one of the hosts was training for her first triathlon. Just like us, she was not athletic and had never considered doing anything like that before in her life. We started talking about putting together a relay team for the Cayuga Lake Triathlon, which was many months way. She was the swimmer, I was the biker, and we recruited a friend as the runner.

As soon as the spring set in, I started going biking with a friend. Training for the triathlon gave me a goal to strive for. I put hundreds of miles on my bike and forced myself into a regular workout routine, no matter how hectic life and work were. When the triathlon finally arrived, I was a little disappointed how short and easy 13 miles felt and how slow my time was. I hadn't been training for speed just for endurance which was the wrong approach for a sprint distance race. I bought a bike computer, switched to clipless pedals, and decided to train for my first century ride instead. I biked around Cayuga Lake on September 12, two days before I turned 28. It was that ride that gave me the sense of accomplishment that I had been looking for.

I knew immediately after the CLT that I wanted to do a triathlon on my own. I knew that I could do the swimming with enough practice and the biking was obviously not a problem. However, at that point, the furthest I had ever run in my life was one mile and that was in high school, and if there was one thing I knew with certainty, it was that I *hated* running. Since the biking season was winding down (I am not someone who will ever bike in snow), I decided to start training for running. I figured that I could force myself to run 5k so that I could do a sprint distance triathlon. Much to my shock, I discovered that I really like running, so much so that I might even try to do a half marathon next year.

People seldom understand what I mean when I say that I enjoy the soreness that comes after a good workout. I'm in good enough shape right now that a normal run or bike ride doesn't hurt. It's only when I push myself a little further than I can handle that I get sore. The pain reminds me of all the progress I've made and tells me that I'm getting better. Looking back over the last year, it's hard to believe that I've come so far in such a short period of time. There have been ups and downs, but I'm quite proud of where I've ended up.

12/14/09: spinning

Hurrah, I conned my way into spinning class using my driver's license and my temporary pass from when I first signed up for my gym membership! I'm going to be sore in the morning. This is the first time I've gone spinning in over 2 months. It was thoroughly exhausting (as it always is), but now I remember why I was so addicted. You just don't get the same endorphins from working out without 60 year old woman yelling at you to push harder and climb further. I'm also learning to distinguish between mental exhaustion and physical exhaustion. At around 5 PM tonight, I was exhausted from another day of mundane lab work, reading papers, and staring at the computer. I wanted nothing more than to go home and curl up on the couch. It was impossible for me to be physically exhausted: I got plenty of sleep and definitely haven't been overly exerting myself lately. As soon as I hopped on the bike, the mental exhaustion from the day melted away and I was full of energy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12/13/09: bike trainer

I tried to go spinning for the first time in a long time, but I was turned away because I didn't have my Cornell ID. I came home and spent 35 minutes on my bike trainer in front of 'Law and Order: SVU.' My ability to sleep has been really inconsistent lately so I'm hoping that I wore myself out enough to sleep through the night.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Last Chance Trail Run

I learned today that running in snow is hard. It's a lot like running on sand, but with the added danger of frost bite and black ice. We did the Last Chance Trail Run and Pancake Breakfast in Fabius, NY. Runners will do the craziest things: we paid $5 to wake up at 7 am on a Saturday, drive an hour, and run at below 20F temperatures uphill in the snow. I swear though that pancakes have never tasted so delicious. Michelle and I ran 4 miles (~55 minutes), and Ben, Gretchen, Cresten, and Aaron (B&G's friend) ran 6 miles. Afterward we all enjoyed mickey mouse chocolate chip pancakes in the ski lodge where the run started.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

12/10/09: running

Apparently my motivation was short-lived. I almost bailed on running today because I was feeling tired, but I convinced myself to go for a short time. I ended up being able to run 25 straight minutes on the treadmill at a 13 minute per mile rate according to the treadmill. I bumped into Melissa and Michelle at the gym. Apparently they've been starting to work out again, so I told them to start bothering me to join them. I'll be more consistent if I have people depending on me.

Run stats: 26'56" minutes, 2.12 miles, 12'41" minutes per mile

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

12/8/09: running

I was really worried that I'd lost all my motivation, but I think I just needed a break from swimming. It's nice to go back to working out how I want and when I want. I've also come to terms with the fact that the treadmill is how I like to run in the winter. I like running between 5 and 7 in the evening, and those are the times that the indoor track is shut. I've learned my lesson about being careful on the treadmill and I'm gradually increasing my speed until I feel comfortable running faster. Today, I stayed around 13'30" minutes per mile, according to the treadmill.

Run stats: 2.6 miles, 31'44" minutes, 12'10" minutes per mile

Monday, December 7, 2009

12/7/09: running + squash

After an extremely lethargic weekend (if you don't include the dancing that I did on Saturday night), I finally feel like working out again. I decided to give the treadmill another chance, with the vow that I would stop running if my back started bothering me. I also ran at an extremely slow pace so that I can begin to the build my running muscles back. I averaged 14 min/mile according to the treadmill and felt terrific afterward. My back and hip did bother me, so I alternated running and walking. I felt like a little more exercise, so Maddie and I played a few rounds of squash. We were pretty evenly matched -- she won 2 and I won 2.

Run stats: 2.53 miles, 31'38" minutes, 12'28" minutes per mile

Thursday, December 3, 2009

12/3/09: swimming

Last swim class of the semester! I'll probably keep swimming over winter break, just not at 9 am twice a week. My swimming endurance and form has definitely improved over the last few months. I've switched from breathing every 3 strokes to breathing every 4, which means that I always breathe on the right instead of alternating. I also focus on keeping my hips high in the water, which should mean I have less drag. And whereas I used to be exhausted after every class, now I feel energized afterward.

Today we could do any workout we wanted and I decided to swim a mile. I did 100 yards as a warmup, and then alternated pulling, freestyle, and kicking (recovery). This way I could really isolate my arms and my legs separately. This would be a good workout to do again.

Swim stats (no more split times-- I started a google doc for that): 37 laps, 1850 yards (1.05 miles), average split time 1:14

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

12/2/09: running

I didn't sleep very well last night because I woke up in the middle of the night feeling really dehydrated. I tried to go for a run on the indoor track in the morning, but I had to stop because I felt like I was going to pass out. I think that it was more from lack of sleep than any residual effects of the blood donation. Run stats: 1.12 miles, 12'55" minutes per mile

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Punita vs Poonam, part 2

12/1/09: swimming

Lesson for the day: swimming and blood donation do not mix. I donated blood a few hours after swim class and felt light headed and nauseous afterward. Swim class itself was rather uneventful. My lane did 1550 yards (0.88 miles).

Split times: :51, 1:00, :59, 1:02, 1:10, 1:13, 1:14, 1:03, 1:16, :57, 1:11, 1:36, 1:12, 1:10, 1:17, 1:14,
1:25, 2:05, 1:25, 1:37, 1:09, 1:15, 1:15, 1:20, 1:31, 1:36, 1:06, 1:24, 1:13, 1:26, 1:27 (31 laps, average time 1:19)