Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

2013 Fitness Wrap Up January 18, 2014

Filed under: Fitness — Stephanie @ 3:23 pm
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I already wrote a review of how things went for me moneywise in 2013.  So, just like last year, I’m going to review my year in fitness.  And think about what 2014 will bring in fitness.

I set out some fitness goals for last year.  Let’s see how I did:

Goal 1:  Keep working toward running an entire 5k.  And once I hit that goal, it will help me reach my stretch goal of coming in at the top half of finishers.

Achievement:  Of the five 5ks I entered this year, I fully ran 4 of them!  The only one that I walked part of was the Tory Row 5k, which was on a VERY hot day, and my body just couldn’t handle the weather.  I’m still a far cry from the top half of finishers, but I’ve managed to attain a few new Personal Records (as noted in my Steph on Fitness page)

Follow-on goal for 2014:  Keep improving my speed/stamina for my 5ks.  More personal records!  Keep training!  Get a sub-30-minute race time for a 5k (was so very close at the Turkey Trot, with a time of 30:02!)

Goal 2:  Enter some more 5ks.

Achievement:  As mentioned above, I ran in 5 5ks last year.

Follow-on goal for 2014:  Sign up for more 5ks!  And sign up for a 10k!  I’ve heard really good things about the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women, though I’d have to take the day off to do it (Columbus Day, not a holiday at my job).  Anyone have some favorite 5ks or 10ks in the Boston area?

Goal 3:  Keep going to the gym, including surviving this month’s UXF Ripped program that I won through a raffle at the gym.

Achievement:  I survived most of the UXF class (reviewed here) and also tried out Barre exercises.

Follow-on goal for 2014:  Keep going to the gym (duh).  Add more outdoor runs and longer runs to my training.  And maybe track down a training plan that I will actually stick to.

Goal 4:  Lose a few more pounds of fat/gain a few more pounds of muscle (basically, keep training!)

Achievement (and also the 2014 follow-on):  I was pretty close to my goal weight, and, when I’m really trying (i.e. practicing mindful eating, exercising regularly, tracking everything on LoseIt) I can get down to my goal weight.  But at my last physical, my doctor told me that she’s very happy with the weight I’m currently at, so I’m just going to maintain healthy habits and just try to sustain this weight

Goal 5:  Sign up for the Walk for Hunger again this year, and raise even more money!  And complete the entire walk even faster than last year!

Achieved:  Completed the Walk For Hunger in just over 5 hours.  Not that much faster than in 2012.  But I raised over $2000!

Follow-on goal for 2014:  Sign up for the Walk for Hunger yet again this year (can’t wait until February to sign up!).   Thinking that, since I raised over $1000 my first year, and over $2000 my second year, can I raise over $3000 this year?

Other than working on all these goals, I’ve been getting more involved in the health and fitness community on twitter.  I usually participate in tweetchats hosted by HealthYourWay (follow @HealthyWayMag and #HealthyWayMag) and Runchat (follow @TheRunChat and  #Runchat), where I meet new people interested in health and fitness, and learn and share ideas about warmups, workouts, and food (and other helpful hints!).  It’s become a pretty great community!  I also like checking in with my fellow personal finance bloggers with the hashtag #pfworkout.  And trying to keep up with #plankaday (information on that here)

A related goal to this twitter fitness stuff is finally meeting up with some of the local tweeters I’ve met online.  Let’s hang out, maybe we can go for a run together!

What have been your 2013 health and fitness achievements?  What do you have planned for 2014?


How I hit my latest 5k personal record April 30, 2013

Filed under: Fitness — Stephanie @ 10:13 pm
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Guys, I’m pretty excited about this.  At the 5k this weekend, I squeaked in under the 32-minute mark (31:59, thank you very much), with a pace of 10:17 minutes/mile.  Which is a Personal Record for me.  And I couldn’t be happier, especially after seeing how much I’ve improved over the years.

My first 5k in June 2010 was not fast.  I clocked in at 42:12, which is equivalent to 13:35 minutes/mile.  I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I wanted to be cool like all my friends who were running races.  So this 5k was a combination of me jogging and walking.

I kept entering 5k (my boyfriend and I would sign up for them together, and often along with our “runner” friends).  I looked to one of my friends in the Somerville Road Runners for guidance on which 5ks to sign up for.

I showed a little bit of improvement during 2011.  The two races I entered, a 4.2 miler (insane) in September and a 5k in December, had me speeding up a tiny bit, to 12:50 minute/mile and 12:30 minute/mile, respectively.  I think I had started going to the gym a bit more.

I entered 4 races in 2012.  My pace was getting faster with more trips to the gym.  For races in March and June, I went 11:36 minutes/mile, August and December I had 11:10.  I started doing Couch to 5k in earnest in mid-November.

Leading up this past weekend, I found a lot of ways to improve.  I needed to get my body into better shape, especially since I found myself throwing up at the end of the races.  I was pushing my body too hard, and not really doing things right.

What did I do?

  • I kept going to the gym, but I tried new workouts.  I took a cross training class and tried to incorporate what I learned there into my own workouts.  I needed to build stamina and muscle strength, not just running skills.
  • I heeded the advice of a friend.  She told me to try not to stop early by slowing to a walk.  I needed to continue to jog, even if it’s a really slow jog.
  • More friends also told me to run farther than my goal distance.  If I get good at going these farther distances, I’ll be faster when it’s time for my goal distance.
  • I sought out a training schedule meant for a 5k.  There are many resources out there, but I think I heard about the Nike Running Race Coach [edit: I just tried that link recently and couldn’t find the coach, but you can find it with this link instead] during a #runchat on twitter.  It was very helpful having instructions for my workouts (or rest days) each day.  I didn’t follow the training schedule exactly, but I ran more and incorporated more cross training into my routine.
  • I trained outside.  Running on a treadmill vs. running on the sidewalks is VERY different.  While it’s easier to keep a consistent pace on the treadmill, it’s also easier to let the treadmill do some of the work for you.  Plus, I needed to get more experience dealing with actual inclines of hills in the road versus the programmed incline of a treadmill.
  • I ran with a friend.  Running with my boyfriend was difficult.  He’s faster than me.  He has longer legs.  He’s a dreamboat.  Part of me wanted to keep up with his pace.  This was not actually feasible. Instead, he slowed his pace.  But, the good part of running with him (or any other friend) is that there’s extra motivation.  I wanted to slow down or quit at times, but he encouraged me to keep going.  Plus running with someone is more fun!
  • I learned what MY pace was.  While it was easy on treadmills to know what speed I was going, I was very bad at gauging what speed I should be going at when running outside.  The pair of outdoor runs I did with my boyfriend one weekend really helped me to get a better sense of what speed my body could handle.

Race day, my three goals were:  get a new PR, never drop down to a walk, and don’t throw up!  I’m pretty sure finding my ideal pace was key in me achieving all three of these goals.  Going at a consistent pace that my body could handle meant I wasn’t overworking myself to the point of nausea.  It also meant I wouldn’t tire myself out into wanting to walk.  And keeping my pace up (above a walk) meant I could finish the 5k faster than ever.

I’m not a personal trainer, or any sort of running expert.  I’m just sharing what I’ve learned.

I acknowledge that my 5k time is not the best.  But it’s MY best!  Yes, one of my friends who ran the same race finished 12 whole minutes before I did.  She came in second place!  I’m super impressed!  But I look at this as inspiration for future races!

Up ahead, I’ve got the Walk for Hunger (20-mile walk) and the Tory Row 5k.  So I’m going to get moving!  I intend to keep training using what I’ve learned.  I’m heading back to the Nike Running Race Coach, but I’m planning on using the “Set a New PR” goal instead of the “Finish a Race” goal I used last time.

How do you train for races?  What have you done to improve your runs?  What advice have you heeded or ignored?  What’s your latest fitness accomplishment?


It turns out exercising isn’t that bad! July 2, 2008

Filed under: Fitness — Stephanie @ 10:45 pm
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So, anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m not the most athletic person.  I get winded pretty easily, and find it hard to get into the habit of exercising.  I know it’s a good idea to stay fit and healthy, but that knowledge doesn’t always translate to activity.  I’ve been debating joining a gym for a while now, but I always decide that I don’t want to spend the money on it.  When I was working, I figured my commute to and from the subway would be a good amount of exercises.  But now that I’m unemployed, I’m only walking to public transportation on interview days.  I do occasionally bike to the library, which is a nice ride, but I don’t do that too often.

My boyfriend and a few few other friends of mine ran the New Charles River Run this weekend.  I felt a little lazy just “supporting” them and not running.  It turns out one of my friends wasn’t running (she had signed up but had gotten sick beforehand and was unable to run), and was there to cheer on her boyfriend.  I complained to her how I am nowhere near running something like that (they had a 5k and a 7.5mi race).  She said that I should just start slow, and check out programs called “Couch to 5k” (or “Couch Potato to 5k).  So when I got home, I hopped on the internet to see what I could dig up.

So I found a site with a lot of the information on it, and this site in particular has the description of what you should do each week.  I the first site in particular has a list of a few different podcasts that are meant to guide you through your runs/walks/jogs.  I think this one is pretty good.  I’m thinking I’m going to start doing them pretty soon.

I also occasionaly read a bunch of different feeds from the Sugar Network, including CitizenSugar, GeekSugar, and CasaSugar.  One of the other ones I read is FitSugar.  The other day they had a post that caught my eye.  They mentioned ExerciseTV.  It turns out, you can watch free exercise videos on the website, and if your cable company provides OnDemand, you can watch on there, too!  And I did!  I closed the shades (I felt like people could watch me contorting about, and I wasn’t ready to be laughed at!) and went through 2 of the workouts…one for abs in particular, and one that was a combination yoga/fitness program.  Yes, I probably shouldn’t have done so much right off the bat.  I was definitely worn out afterward.  And I’m still feeling aches and pains in my body today.  But it felt really good, even if I was struggling through it a little.  I’m planning on doing some more exercises tomorrow, and work my way up.  And I also want to try out the Couch to 5k program.

So, we’ll see what happens.  I am starting this with the best intentions, but I’m not sure if I can keep at it.  Anyone have tips on how to stay on an excercise regimen?  I’ll let you know how I do with this!


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