Gym Do’s and Don’ts

I’ve been doing a LOT of treadmill running lately. Sub-zero temperatures plus feet of snow plus not having any daylight hours to spare means that the treadmill is my only good option. And honestly, as I’ve said before, I don’t actually hate the treadmill. In fact, if I had my own treadmill in my own house, I’d probably run a lot more.

It’s the other people at the gym that make treadmill running less pleasant. You know who I’m talking about. The Grunter. The Weight Dropper. The Phone Talker. The Smelly Guy. They all exist in every gym in some incarnation. It’s like common sense and common courtesy go out the window the second people step into a gym. Here is a simple guide of Do’s and Don’t’s to help you navigate the jungle that is your gym.

DON’T get on the treadmill/elliptical/bike right next to me if there are several others available. This is a widespread phenomenon that I’ve discussed with several of my blog friends lately. There’s absolutely no reason for you to be right next to me when there are 13 other empty treadmills. It’s just plain weird.

DO wear deodorant. Yes, I know, you’re going to be sweaty and smelly by the end of your workout, but you shouldn’t already have noticeable body odor when you walk in.

DON’T wear perfume, cologne, or scented lotion. I need to breathe in order to run, and I can’t do that if I’m choking on your Axe body spray.

DO use the sprays or wipes that are provided to thoroughly clean up your machine after using. This isn’t just about sweat, people (although it is mostly about that); flu season is upon us and the shot doesn’t do jack-diddly this year!

DON’T talk on your cell phone unless it’s an emergency. No one needs to know your latest boyfriend drama.

DO put your weights or equipment back where you found them when you’re done. It’s a safety issue as well as a courtesy issue.

DON’T just sit on a machine playing Candy Crush on your phone. Other people want to use that, and you’re being inconsiderate.

DO offer to rotate sets with someone if they’re obviously looking to use the same machine/weights you are. It’s just plain common decency, and who knows, you might find a workout buddy!

DON’T grunt like an animal when you’re power thrusting/cleaning/jerking/whatever. Yeah, I get it, you’re lifting heavy. You’re really strong. But the animal noises are kind of unnecessary, and make it seem like you just want me to pay attention to how heavy your one rep max is. Good for you bro. Keep it down.

DO abide by your gym’s time limits, if they exist. At my gym, you have to sign up for cardio machines, and there’s a 45 minute time limit during busy hours. Learn the rules at your gym and follow them, so you’re not known as the treadmill hog.

DON’T drop your huge heavy weights on the floor after you barely are able to lift them up. Number one, it startles the crap out of me every time–I don’t need a heart attack halfway through my speed workout. Number two, it just makes you look like you’re desperate for attention (see above).

I was going to go over locker room etiquette too, but I think I can cover it with one phrase: PLEASE DON’T TALK TO ME IF YOU’RE NOT WEARING PANTS.

What are your top gym do’s and don’ts? Did I miss anything that you feel strongly about?

Cross-training? What’s that?

It’s not a secret that cross-training (biking, yoga, strength training etc) can help your running performance.  At the outset of my half marathon training, I was really good about getting to the gym once or twice a week to “pump iron” or hit the elliptical.  But as the weather got nicer, those gym trips became more sporadic, and then stopped altogether.  I realized recently that the only “cross-training” I’ve been doing for the last two months is riding my bike to and from work.  While that’s great, and certainly better than nothing, I could probably benefit from doing some strength training too.

I have had a membership at the local Planet Fitness for a while, but it’s just far enough away that Ben and I find it a pain in the butt to get over there.  And as I’m sure you know, PF isn’t exactly the cutting edge as far as gyms go–weights, a circuit training area, and cardio–not terribly stimulating.  So basically, I’ve been paying $10 a month to NOT work out.

The good news is, through my job I can get a discounted corporate membership with a local fitness company that has FIVE different locations in the area.  For $40 a month, I have access to all 5 facilities, which include:

  • Lap Pools
  • Aqua Classes
  • Spinning
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Indoor track (!!!)
  • Les Mills
  • Zumba
  • Hot tub

And more!  So, I finally bit the bullet and signed up.  One of the locations is about a 5 minute walk from my office, and one is halfway between Ben’s parents’ place and my office.  I’m really excited about the opportunity to try Zumba and Body Pump, and have access to an indoor track for speed work and rainy day runs.  I’m also hoping the fact that I’m paying significantly more per month will force me to actually go a couple of times a week.  I guess we’ll see about that!

I’m really excited to see what kind of impact additional cross-training will have on my running.  Before we left Massachusetts, I was attending several strength and conditioning classes a week in addition to running, and I was really strong.  I’ve already talked a bit about how I’ve gained some weigh since moving back to Vermont (and no, it’s not muscle, trust me), so I’m hopeful that mixing up my routine will also help me get back to where I started weight-wise.

Do you have a gym membership?

What’s your favorite form of cross-training?

Sunday Summary – 4/6/14

Oops!  Yet another “Sunday Summary” on Monday.  Maybe I should just change it to weekly wrap up so I can post it whenever?  But I really like alliteration…  Oh well.  Anyway…

What a difference a week can make!  Being back home has been incredible, both on the running front, and on the healthy eating front.  I have really been focusing on upping my produce and protein intake.  I also hit all my mileage goals and managed to get some cross-training in.  I’m feeling great!

Monday:  First day back in the gym for lifting in over two weeks, and boy did I feel it!  Squats, dead-lifts, bench press, bent over rows, donkey kicks, fire hydrants, lots of abs and a one minute plank.  It was nice to just get a full-body, all over workout in.  I also walked 2 miles to work in the morning.

Tuesday:  Walked 2 miles to work in the morning, and then did a lovely 3.3 mile outdoor run.  It was warm(ish), then sun was out, and I felt great, even though it was wet and muddy!

Wednesday:  Walked 2 miles to work in the am.  The weather was incredible and I thought about going for a run, but my calves were still stiff and sore from my Tuesday run, so I decided not to push it.  I had a glass of red wine and watched the Walking Dead instead 🙂

Thursday:  Walked 2 miles to work in the morning  Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as nice out as Wednesday, but I got a comfortable 4 miles in.  My calves are a bit sore again, so I’m really looking forward to getting the foam roller that I ordered.  I hear it hurts so good!

The view over Lake Champlain

The view over Lake Champlain

Friday:  Ben and I went over to our friends’ house for a couples date.  We had a few drinks and played some Wii.  We were supposed to go downtown to meet up with some people after, but I was tired, and knew I had a long run scheduled for Saturday morning, so I just hit the hay at 11.  I turned down drinks so I could get my sleep for running… Who am I?!?!

Saturday:  LONGEST RUN EVER!  Personal record of 6.1 miles.  And what’s crazy is, I actually maintained an average pace of just about 10 minutes/mile.  That’s WAY faster than I expected.  I’m feeling way more confident about my ability to complete a half after this.  From here on out, every long run will be a distance record.  Yeehaw!

Photo Apr 05, 9 37 08 AM

Sunday:  We slept in.  Had a leisurely breakfast.  Did our taxes (yuck).  We went for frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf (yum!) and then decided to go for a nice long walk along the water front and through downtown, which helped to offset the fro-yo a little bit 🙂  Then I made some absolutely heavenly butternut squash soup for dinner–recipe will be posted this week!

Frank's Red Hot makes everything better!

Frank’s Red Hot makes everything better!

This has been a really excellent week, both on the life side of things and the running side of things.  I’m feeling way more positive about running, and excited to continue on this journey.  I think it’s the weather.  It’s finally warming up and the sun is streaming through the windows as I type.  Definitely a mood booster!

Getting it Done

Last night I made it all the way to the gym only to discover that I’d forgotten my running shoes.  I yelled a few choice curses and got back in the car to head home.  On the way, I had an epic back and forth between Lazy Rachel and Motivated Rachel.  It went something like this:

Lazy Rachel:  See?  This is a sign.  Just give this whole thing up and go home.

Motivated Rachel:  No!  This is a test!  You’ve just got to go home, get your shoes, and go back and get on that treadmill!

LR:  Seriously?  Drive all the way home across town and all the way back?  Are you nuts?

MR:  You can do this!  You have to!

LR:  F%$#!  This is so stupid!  I don’t wanna!  I’m hungry!  I’m tired!  Let’s just stay home and go another day.

MR:  Don’t be a lazy a$$!!  You HAVE TO DO THIS!  Don’t be lame and give up your first week of training!

And so on.  At any rate, I’m pleased to report that Motivated Rachel won, and I went back to the gym and ran a slow, but steady and free, three miles.  It actually felt wonderful.  I haven’t been running with any regularity for months, so to be able to bust out 3 miles like that felt so good!  I am so proud of myself for going back even though I REALLY didn’t want to.

For those of you who know me, you know that I get “hangry” or “hungry angry.”  Just ask my poor, sweet boyfriend, who usually bears the brunt of my “h-anger.”

Me all the time

So the fact that I got back to the gym with my shoes around the time I was planning to leave, and was consequently REALLY hungry the whole time I was at the gym but still managed to do my run, is a complete miracle.

How do you stay motivated on a tough day?