Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Group Run and Tips for Newbies

Last night I took my introverted self to a group run in my neighborhood for the first time. Discovery Run is a free weekly meet-up that was started in June by three well-known local fitness enthusiasts in Discovery Bay. Their goal is to help DBers get healthy and have the opportunity to participate in running in a non-competitive way.

With all of my recent knee issues, I was nervous about attending the free Monday night 5K run. I've done group meet-ups before (usually with at least one friend in tow), but it's been a while and this time I did not know a single person. I was also a little worried that I might be doing too much in one day since I had attended Bodystep class in the morning.

See the girl in the green top? That's me behind her in white ;)

At 7:45 on the dot, the organizers welcomed all 30-ish of us and led us through some dynamic warm-up stretches. I'm guessing most people had walked or run to the meet-up, so the stretches were nice. After a rundown of the route (including where the leaders would be standing and directing us) and a quick photo (see above), we were off.

I was excited to wear my Nathan lights for the first time (I think). I don't even remember where or when I got them, but they made it to Hong Kong and if I need more, they're available on Amazon ;) I clipped them onto my shorts, but only used one because they are very bright and there were plenty of street lights. Speaking of shorts, I just picked up this pair of Track This Run shorts from Athleta and I love them. I can't wait to maybe get another pair when I'm in Cincinnati next month.


Most of the runners took off very quickly and at first I kept up with what I would call the "middle of the pack." I stayed with them for the most part until the turn around, but eventually we were pretty spread out. I passed about a half dozen runners on their way to the turn around and it felt good to know that I was holding up better than I had expected. I tried to keep a couple of runners in my sights (you can barely see them in the photo below), but the second half of the route had a lot of downhill that I was taking slowly and walking occasionally. Overall, my knee felt good.


With less than a mile to go, my watch died (I don't know why I didn't think to charge it ahead of time). I brought my phone with me (for pictures of course) and in case I needed to catch a bus home I'd have my bus pass (I wasn't sure how my knee would do). Because I had my phone I used an app to track the end of my run. So I don't know my exact time but between the two runs, I think it was about 34 minutes.


When most of the group appeared to be back from the run, the leaders led a quick cool-down stretch. Even though I didn't really "meet" anyone (this time), I did have fun and look forward to joining them again.

Here are a few things I do to make joining a run group for the first time a little easier:

1) Introduce yourself - just saying hi and making some small talk let's others know that you are new. The regulars will catch this and make you feel welcome. I got some extra information about the group this way.

2) Don't worry about your pace - most group runs are social which means ALL ARE WELCOME. If you are still worried, call or email the organizer. I reached out on Facebook and was relieved to hear that there were indeed runners of all types.

3) Walk when you need to - I knew that I would need to walk, especially the downhill portions because my knee doesn't like them. You will probably find other people need to walk too or you will eventually catch up to the people who slow down. I did end up passing a few people.

4) Know the route - I've never heard of anyone getting lost on a group run, but knowing where the run is going will make anyone feel better. This group had shared run routes on the group page, but the organizer also told us the route before we left.


What tips would you give someone who feels nervous about going to a group run?
What gear do you use for running in the dark?


By the way, it's good to be back. I didn't blog at all last week because it felt like I was saying the same thing, week after week. It felt like a good time to take a break and let my fitness experiences inspire me. I'm still following my carb cycling program and have some pretty awesome results to share with you soon!

(If you are interested in joining the FASTer Way To Fat Loss program, use my affiliate link to join and start carb cycling with me! Click here).


Today I'm linking-up with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! 





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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Weekly Wrap - It's Sunny in Hong Kong

We finally had some great weather around here and just in time for the weekend.

Work before play, Saturday was Leg Day! Before heading to the pool to soak up some vitamin D, we hit the fitness center. For my warm-up, I ran for 10 minutes on the treadmill. Normally I would have gone for the mile, but my knee was feeling little wonky, no pain, just off. I used to push through moments like this, but not anymore.

The rest of the workout was the same as last week, except the one-minuters were doubled up and I increased my weights. I could still only do one round of the finishers although this time I did some really slow lunge jumps. No one said they had to be fast, right? I was toast at the end.


One of my favorite things to do after a good and sweaty workout is relax at the pool. I'm so thankful that our fitness membership gives us access. It's so nice to just change in the locker room and walk outside to this beautiful view. It feels so good to just sit in the water to cool off and then dry in the sun.


We took advantage of the sunny weather again today and took our SUP boards out for a couple of hours. It had been awhile since we had them out. Between rainy days and other workouts in the morning (it is way too hot even for the pool or SUP after lunchtime in my opinion), it just hasn't worked out. Until today. I forget how tall my board really is 10'6". We got our boards on Amazon and brought them to Hong Kong as checked baggage. My exact board is not currently available, but they have this newer version out now.


We paddled out and back and then out again. The second time I went around the corner of the little beach bay area further than I've ever gone before. Then I did a little SUP yoga - my version anyway. It was so peaceful laying there. I could have taken a nap.


After we put our boards away, we walked down to the other end of Tai Pak Beach to check out the Funtastic Summer event that has been set up for the month. For the kids they have big inflatable slides, mini powerboats and a couple of inflatable endurance games (like a mild version of what you would see on Wipeout). For the adults there are deck chairs with umbrellas and a big misting zone. This is provided by the company behind the development of Discovery Bay and it is all free.



The other big highlight of the weekend was making banana protein bars. I mostly make these to have for hiking, but I was in the mood to make them today. I changed the recipe a bit and used almond butter instead of peanut butter. Both ways are good.


Here's how the rest of my week looked:

Monday - Mixing sprints and Tabata

Tuesday - Outdoor HIIT workout

Wednesday - Bodypump ---> and revealing breakthroughs

Thursday - Strength training at-home workout

Friday - Easy run ---> my attempt at a heart rate run

I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!


How was your weekend?
Any big events going on in your neighborhood?
Favorite DIY snack?


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Friday, August 4, 2017

That's Not the Fat Burning Zone!

That's what I thought when I looked down at my watch during my run.


This morning I set out to do an easy two mile run. My goal? Stay in my fat burning zone. My zone is between 108 and 126. I don't normally focus on my heart rate during a run, but on low calorie days our workout is supposed to be low intensity.

I did my usual loop which starts off with a gradual and mostly down hill but then ends with a giant climb up a hill to get back to our apartment. It was muggy (partly the stormy weather and because it is pretty much always like that here), but there was a small breeze (a little relief is all I need).

It took me a few tries to check my heart rate because I don't know how to work the screen on my watch very well. Turns out two clicks will toggle between apps. I found that out completely by accident. Maybe I should have planned a little better. Anyway, my heart rate was way above my fat burning zone. I made myself slow down, but it stayed too high. Once I hit the hill I knew it was going to stay up there.


Well, I tried. I'm thrilled that I was even able to get out for a run. This is what it looked like before and after. Torrential rain? No thanks.


In the end, I had a good run. Here's why:

1. I liked listening to my playlist on my wireless earphones (available on Amazon) which I hadn't done in a long time. It had been so long that I forgot how to connect the earphones to my phone.

2. My shoes earned another two miles and I'm still very happy with the way my knee feels since I started running in them.

3. No intervals! I totally ran by feel. I took breaks when I needed (or wanted for a photo). Once or twice I stopped to stretch my quad and hamstring because that is what makes my knee happy.

4. I didn't want to die, haha! Sometimes the two mile loop that I ran can feel overwhelmingly hard. There's a tunnel and if there's no breeze, it can feel like an eternity running through it. Then there's the hill at the end. Today it didn't feel that long. I'll be holding onto that for awhile!

5. I did it. It's not easy going out alone when I worry about my knee ALL the time. Add to that, I worry about the weather. Not because I'm afraid of getting wet, but because I'm afraid I will slip and fall and hurt my knee. So getting out there alone is a pretty big deal these days!


I used to stretch in the car on the drive home after a run. Now I'm multitasking in the elevator. We live on the 20th floor, so I have some time to kill. I figured I might as well make the best of it!


Low calorie day - the meals

Broke fast at 11:15 (while watching the USWNT defeat Japan) - scrambled eggs with ham and PB&J rice cakes.


Lunch - Left over cheesy quinoa and tuna plus a snack bag of Cheez-its


Dinner - shrimp carbonara and green beans!



Do you listen to music when you run/workout?
Strangest place you have ever stretched?
Are you a soccer fan?


I'm linking up with Lacey and Meranda and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0!




Thursday, August 3, 2017

Just One of Those Days (TOL #2)


My usual trip to the fitness center for strength training was scrapped when severe storms passed over Hong Kong. I woke up to the sounds of thunder and lightening echoing off the mountains and multiple alerts hitting my phone. I can do rain, but I don't do storms.


So instead of doing the planned gym workout for the day, I did the FASTer Way at-home version. I love that I have options for my workouts so that I can do what works for me any given day. Even with options, it took me a while to get motivated though.

-I was tired from waking up earlier than usual.
-Our small apartment is not exactly an ideal space for workouts.
-The hand weights we have are not really heavy enough for me anymore.
-There may have been multiple episodes of RHONY playing via Slingbox (available on Amazon)

It was just one of those days. We all have them once in awhile and it's totally ok. Eventually, I put on my workout clothes and got out my gear. We don't have much. A couple of 4kg hand weights that we bought in China.


Today's strength focus was back, biceps, abs and finishers at the end. It actually went ok even with my underweight dumbbells. I was expecting to feel underwhelmed, but it wasn't like that at all. Only couple of exercises felt a little futile. Thinking out loud, even if the first part of the workout had been mediocre, the finishers kicked my butt. As usual.


Regular calorie day - the meals

Broke fast at 11:30 - breakfast while catching up on the Bachelorette!


Lunch -


Dinner -



How do you motivate yourself when you don't feel like working out?



I'm joining the Thinking Out Loud linkup with Running with Spoons



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Strength Training and Breakthroughs

This morning I went to Bodypump. It was a strength training day and I have finally figured out how to match Bodypump to my carb cycling workouts. My workout plan for today focused on legs, chest, triceps and shoulders. I can do all of these on my own at the fitness center weight room, but Bodypump is a lot more fun.


In true Hong Kong weather fashion, as soon as I was getting ready to leave it started pouring rain. Instead of walking, I took the bus to stay dry. Ha! At least my shoes stayed dry. By the way, I'm loving these new Nikes for my indoor workouts. They're good for running too, but I like the simplicity of this shoe for cross training. It's actually the first running shoe I bought about a thousand years ago, just kidding. It was 2005.


Bodypump went like this: warm-up, legs/squats, chest, back/glutes/hamstrings, arms/triceps, arms/biceps, legs/lunges, shoulders/arms, abs, cool-down. Bam, bam, bam. It was a fast one today and it was good. 800 reps but it was over before I knew it.

Today's class was packed. Not a single piece of equipment left on the rack. And it was 100% women. It's amazing to look around the room and see so many strong fierce women sweating it out. I realize that many of us here in DB are traveling spouses and we don't work, but I still love it!


It wasn't raining when class ended so I took advantage and walked back to the apartment. Even with the looming storm clouds, I have a pretty awesome view no matter which way I look. I wasn't sure if I would make it without having to pop open the umbrella, but I was willing to risk it. I made it.


There goes my bus! No sweaty marks left on the seat today, haha ;)


Walking home lets me get in additional low intensity cardio. The goal is to keep the heart rate in the fat burning zone. I determined my zone to be between 108-126. I was powering up the big hill today (which felt easier than normal!) and probably spent more time above my fat burning zone, but during Bodypump my average heart rate was right in there at 114.


When it comes to fitness, I have had a few breakthroughs over the last year.

1. I'm RUNNING again! This is by far the biggest and best thing happening right now. I am so thankful that my knee has responded to the osteopath and chiropractor work and just me taking things slow and steady. I'm not running long distances, but I embracing the fact that I can run a 5K and a little more.

2. LISTENING to my body. I can honestly say that I do this. I have tried to do it in the past, but now I really, really do. If I'm not feeling it, if my knee is cranky...I don't do the exercise, the workout, the activity. I take time off. I don't let FOMO make me do something that will ultimately hurt me. I just finished this super funny book that makes fun of all the wild and crazy things people will do in the name of fitness. I used to be that person!

3. Working out SMART - this year I have learned not to push too hard. I'm following a workout plan and taking rest days. I warm-up and I stretch. I foam roll and do yoga. All the things the super smart people tell us to do. I'm finally doing it.

4. I understand the relationship between FOOD and WORKOUTS. When I was younger I didn't need to know any of this because my body was a fat burning machine 110% of the time. As I've gotten older and my fitness habits have changed, I've had to educate myself on how fuel and exercise affect my body. Through the FASTer Way to Fat Loss carb cycling program, I have gained valuable information that has become a lifestyle for me. *

5. I've embraced STRENGTH TRAINING. I used to dread anytime a coach or instructor told me to lift weights. Now I know that my body will not burn fat without muscles and the muscles I used to have are, well, gone. I have to build new muscles, 46 year old muscles.

*There's a new session of FASTER Way starting August 14. If you'd like more information or want to join, please use my affiliate link. There is no extra cost to you, but it will let Amanda know that I referred you and I earn a small referral fee.

Regular Calorie day 1 - the meals

Broke fast at 11:00 - I was seriously craving the grapes today.


Lunch - I was feeling lazy and went for the Cheese-its.


Dinner - One of the recipes I make most often when mrC is on a trip, cheesy tuna and quinoa (recipe here)


Snacks - 1 cup of Chex rice cereal

What breakthroughs have you had recently?
Do you watch your heart rate during workouts?


It's Wednesday Word and I'm linking up with Deb. Today's word is breakthrough and I'm linking up with AnnmarieNicole and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!!





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