Rest Day: the #Chaturanga #Challenge is born!

yogarat_Chaturenga ChallengeAfter my 9.5 mile run yesterday, I took a rest day today. But I have to tell you, my legs feel great – not a bit stiff or sore – it’s unbelievable!

So since it was a rest day, I decided to do a bit of Yoga this evening. I was supposed to be focusing, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how I should really challenge myself to incorporate yoga into my daily routine. I used to be really good at doing it in the morning, but life has gotten pretty hectic, so in light of not wanting to make excuses (like being too busy) it’s on the list! And as a result, I’ve developed the “CHATURANGA CHALLENGE” [duh duh duh]

WHY? You may ask…

I love how I feel after I do yoga, so why not incorporate a little bit every day? This part of the sun salutation strengthens arms and wrists and it also tightens core muscles (Oh snap!)

First, watch this video to see proper form. It is difficult (or at least it is for me) but you can modify and complete from your knees. It is amazing how fast your strength will increase. Trust me!

* Modifications: You can get a feel for this challenging position by practicing it standing upright. Stand and face a wall, a few inches away from the wall. Press your hands against the wall, slightly lower than the level of your shoulders. Imagine that you are trying to push yourself away from the wall, but the firmness of your shoulder blades against the back prevents any movement. Lengthen your tailbone into your heels and lift the top of your sternum toward the ceiling.

* Beginners Tip: The completed form of Chaturanga Dandasana is quite difficult to perform at first, until your arms, back, and legs are strong enough to support you. From Plank Pose, begin by lowering your knees to the floor and then, with an exhalation, lower your sternum to within an inch or two above the floor.

Here are the rules:

  • Pick a start day – this will be Day 1. 
  • On Day 1: complete one (1) chaturanga
  • On Day 2: complete two (2) chaturanga’s
  • And so on… until you forget to do them, or you just cannot possibly complete any more!
  • Make sure you tweet about it or leave a comment to let us know that you’ve completed your chaturanga’s for the day!

*** I had a teacher who had to do 100 a few times a day, so I know we can do this! I’m setting my goal to 50 for now. I think it’s manageable if they’re done right.

So – are you in?

Day 109: #YOGA with @BryanJonesYoga — SLAINTE!

yoga stretchSo TRX didn’t happen. It was a busy morning at our joint and I didn’t manage to get over to the gym in time, so I pulled out the old yoga mat and followed along with Bryan Jones on YouTube. It had been a while and was long overdue.

It felt really great to do the stretching and complete poses that a few months ago I found incredibly tricky. It’s unreal how it gets easier and easier; binding isn’t nearly as painful as it used to be (it’s still not always comfortable though). The pace of his yoga session allowed me to push just enough, but not too hard to quit. I also spent some time afterward doing a few circuits of weights and planks. It was grand!

Now that I’m all stretched out I’m ready to bring in the new year with some great friends!

SLAINTE! 

Day 77: #Speed training at the track. Ouch.

“The five S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.” -Ken Doherty

Tonight was speed training at the indoor track because it was way too slippery outside. I’m not much of an indoor runner (as you know) for a few reasons: (1) it’s boring, (2) I feel like people stare and (3) it’s too stuffy. I do find a huge difference running on the rubberized floor though, my knees are thanking me rather than hating on me this evening. However, my quads are still incredibly sore from TRX the other evening. No joke. I’m still bracing to go down and up stairs, as well as sitting (first time I have ever wished I had those senior handles in the loo). But the stubborn person that I am, I cannot bare the thought of losing another day of training so I felt like powering through it. Not going to lie, literally half-way through I was almost ready to quit.

The internal struggle:

“Don’t be silly Kat, no one else would continue in this pain. Quit. You have blisters on your feet. Your quads are burning. Your chest is burning. You’re red and sweaty.QUIT!vs. “You can do this. You’re half-way done. Everyone else has had awesome runs this week, join them. Dig deep. Take a break if you have to, but DON’T QUIT!!“.

So, I grabbed a quick drink of water and hopped back on the track. And then when I had about six minutes left I took another break to stretch. I didn’t quit.

In total, I did ten minutes of sprinting and twenty minutes of regular pace running. So the intervals were one minute sprint, two minutes regular running (sometimes slow). I have absolutely no idea how many laps I completed, but I didn’t really care this time I was just thrilled to finish. I felt really good for the first 15 minutes, but it took a lot of willpower to continue the sprinting once I hit the halfway mark. I am proud to say that I finished on a sprint interval and finished strong. I took a half lap around the track just walking – my legs felt like rubber! It reminded me of the days when we would be training for basketball and had to do suicide after suicide after suicide (without the throwing up afterward). I wouldn’t say it was completely miserable because I actually felt like I showed the track who was boss but I would say that I’d take hill training over speed. Nuff said.

To cool down was some yoga and of course, planks. I did lots of stretching and drank lots of water and now I’m just relaxing in front of the tube.

Hope everyone is having a terrific Friday out there!

#YOGA with the wonderful Rachel from @TricoCentre

I love yoga.

‎”I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.” ~ Gandhi 

Tonight I attended all level yoga class at Trico and as usual, it didn’t disappoint. My favourite instructor led us – Rachel. She’s incredibly patient, thorough and really takes the time to explain each pose so that people (like me) don’t injure themselves. Her encouragement never ceases and I can truthfully say I’ve never felt self-conscious or intimidated when she helps out.  She’s also ridiculously fit and always has good tips/advice.

We did some balancing and learned how to separate our toes to give us better posture. I can’t remember what she was calling it (I am terrible with yoga names) but basically you mentally envision your big toe moving away from your baby toe and finally (miraculously) some day it will happen (or so she says). I enjoyed tonights class because it wasn’t as vigorous as it sometimes can be and truth be told, I just didn’t have it in me (as I type this, my eyes are struggling to focus). Mind you, I do enjoy getting my sweat on at yoga, but tonight was not the night! I felt really strong when we did our chaturanga’s (which I did full ones). And in my research I learned about SUP Yoga – does anyone know anything about this? I guess it’s when you do Yoga on a paddle board. Check it out! 

Anyhow, I borrowed the below from Yoga Channel about spreading your toes – have a read, I feel like it’s going to help!

Why should you spread your toes?

  • Improved postural alignment; spreading your toes assists in lifting the arches of your feet. (To very briefly summarize,) this action lifts the ankle, the knee caps, and finally sends the energy upwards to properly support and symmetrically align the pelvis, spine, neck, and head. This is called pada bandha, one of the energy locks in yoga.
  • A smarter foundation; with “awakened” toes, they become smarter in detecting the subtle weight shifts in your body, thereby better abling to communicate to your brain and body in how to stabilize (Hello balancing postures!). And P.S. – Better communication also means less tripping over your feet/ ankle sprains (for you clumsy ones).

How do we spread our toes? 

  • Warm up by manually massaging your feet and wiggling your toes with your fingers. You can also roll your arches on a squash ball or tennis ball (or any ball really).
  • Use your fingers to separate the toes apart by placing them in between each one – this shows your unfamiliar brain what the action of abduction feels like. If you are really ambitious, you can also use toe separators.
  • In hero pose, lift your heels off the ground and hold for a nice stretch along the backs of your toes and feet.
  • Have a seat, extend your legs out in front of you and look at your toes. Look at each toe one at a time and attempt to abduct it. You’ll have to be patient – this will take a while to achieve. Doing this while watching TV, on your lap top, reading, etc may make it easier.
  • Standing tall, practice lifting your toes, and spreading them apart as wide as you can. Once again, take advantage of idle time (ie. Waiting for water to boil, food to be microwaved).
  • During your yoga practice, use mountain pose or equal standing pose to lift your toes, spread them wide, and set them on your mat.
  • Finally, you can incorporate this into other asanas – balancing, seated, even in arm balance. We could always use a little more pada bandha in our practice!

Another interesting fact is that you can actually BUY these things called “Yoga Toes” and they’re basically like the rubber things you use to separate your toes while putting nail polish on them. They basically train your toes to separate, without all the mental work. They run anywhere from $20 – 30 (so I’ve seen) OR you could just go to the drug store (as Rachel advised) and buy the toe separator from Sally Hansen.

There is nothing you can’t do, if you set your mind to it. Anything is possible. – Rick Hansen

So far I’ve learned that blogging can make people feel uncomfortable, happy, relieved, bitter, elated and everything in between. I’ve learned that just because I’m confident in sharing my ups and downs, others just aren’t. And while there’s oodles of support out there, unfortunately there are just as many Debbie Downers.

So the primary focus of this blog is to chronicle my journey to half-marathon. If it helps inspire other people, that’s fantastic and a true honour. I share these details so that others know it’s alright if you can’t walk to the mailbox right now, lift 100 lbs weights or just feel crappy. There is light at the end of the tunnel. So I thought I would also share more details on where I was a little over a year ago.

I was only wearing yoga pants. And though I’m mortified to admit it, I was still wearing some of my maternity clothes (my son was born Feb 2011). I was busy worrying about how horrible I’d look at the gym, rather than just getting my arse into gear and going. I HATED having my picture taken, at least from the waist down; and for all those out there who like to take skinny-photos, talk to me I know all the angles! I never shared many photos like the one below because I was really ashamed of myself. I was worried about what others would think of me; how I had “let myself go”; “gained soooooo much weight.” etc. It’s always funny when word gets back to you or you hear whispers of what people think. Most of the time they’re totally off-base; and generally lack the life experience to pass any type of judgement. I have to laugh though, because it’s usually the same people who have something to say about everything. And never nice. But now I realize now how silly I was to feel that way. So what if people thought I got fat? I did!

A year ago I couldn’t do a push-up. Not one. Seriously. I couldn’t. I would’ve liked to blame it on just having a kid and having no..uhh..chest muscles, but that’s not the case. I could never do one. Ever. I also couldn’t do a side plank. At all (unless I cheated with one leg on the floor.) And I definitely couldn’t do a back bend. Are you kidding me? At my first yoga class I sat there in awe of everyone who could. And silently thought to myself, “There’s no way I’ll ever be able to do this.” Yet, being as stubborn as I am; watching others successfully complete the pose was the impetus I needed to get my arse in gear.

But now a year later I can do them all. I don’t look pretty whilst in the process, but it doesn’t matter. And I’m certainly not a pro. It’s sort of like running. If you run, you’re a runner. If you try to run, you’re a runner. These may seem like minor things to those of you ultra and elite athletes out there, but it’s been a huge deal to me. I’m healthy. I can run around with a kid and actually enjoy myself. I don’t sit on a bench, on my iPhone and watch him entertain himself. I actually get down in the dirt and play.

  There are lots of things I couldn’t do a year ago and still can’t – like a headstand, which is next on the list. But I plan on tackling my list of “cannot” and turning it on its arse. Hey -anything is possible!

 Finally, when I have days where I need some added inspiration or motivation, I always consult my absolute favourite collection of words. 

Oh & PS: I did a cartwheel at the park the other day. It was awesome. Haven’t done one in years.

Holy Crap, Yoga with Mark G is tough!

So I tried out about an hour of the 75 minute video from Mark Gonzales. It was tough. VERY tough. ESPECIALLY the arm balancing. Okay people, I just figured out how to do a proper push-up!

It was a great video though – he did a fantastic job explaining each posture and also demonstrated alternatives. I found the dolphin pose sequence particularly difficult, but I was also being pushed around by an 18-month old who also wanted to share my mat. Obviously the balancing was quite tough, but I was pleased that I could do the extended versions (something I have never been able to do before without falling over.) I love the variety of postures he uses in this video – it was really close to classes I’ve had. I enjoyed that the flow wasn’t too fast or slow, but perfect for someone not quite a beginner, not quite intermediate 🙂

Needless to say, I will definitely be trying this one again – maybe even tomorrow after my 3 mile run.

For those of you who gave it a try – how did it go?

Day 5: Rest Day from half-marathon training

Today is my glorious rest day – YAHOO! Actually, I’m feeling great and if I wasn’t following a training schedule I probably would’ve fit in a run today. However, in listening to my body I’ll instead get my yoga on this evening.

Since I’m single-parenting this weekend, I won’t be able to make it to the Trico Centre for yoga class. But thanks to brains of Leonard Kleinrock (internet) + three amigos from PayPal (YouTube), I can get my workout in at home. Now, you all know that I have a severe allegiance to Bryan Jones and his great videos on YouTube, but upon further research I found a video by Mark Gonzales, which you can find here. I have a few reservations about the 75 minute video based on the comments (tough; people are sore etc.) but there are others who claim it’s the best workout they’ve ever had so I’m excited to give it a try. I’ll report back and let you know what’s what and if it’s a good one or not.

Not much more to report right now. It’s a grey, rainy day here in Calgary – hope it’s nicer tomorrow for our 3 mile run through Glenmore Reservoir!

Happy Trails!!