From Polaroid to PR: Week Four

For the next five weeks, I’m working with NTC Chicago to achieve my New Year’s resolution of running a sub-1:50:00 half marathon with the help of Nike Master Trainer Kate Hiipakka and our crew. The date is set for May 18th, and I’m using Fab Fit Chicago to keep me accountable during my training. Check out my first post here. Let’s run!

Friday: Barre at Barre Bee Fit

After a week with more mileage than I’ve had in quite some time, I needed something low-impact to give my joints a break. An early morning Friday barre class was just the ticket. I only wish that there had been more cardio blasts in this class- I didn’t really break a sweat throughout, which was kind of a plus since I went straight to work after, but I hate hate HATE seeing my Nike+ FuelBand points so low when I know I had a solid workout.

After a long week at work, I got home on Friday in the mood to relax with some college basketball and a meal at home. While I was watching the Kentucky game, I multi-tasked by completing Shawn Johnson’s Full Stretch Guide on the NTC app. Have you guys tried it? My barre class made me a little ashamed at the level of difficulty I have stretching on the bar, so I’m going to try and do Shawn’s fifteen minute stretch a few times a week!

Saturday: 7.65 miles at 8:39/mile pace


What better way to prepare for a day of Chirish pub crawls than a long run? About ten minutes into my run, I realized that I was facing the pleasant annoyance of having worn too many layers. Off came the gloves and headband, up went my sleeves as far as I could roll them. Haven’t gotten to say that for awhile! The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and I took a route down by the river to catch a glimpse before it turned kelly green that day. I finished by taking the Ohio Street exit to the lakefront path and going north- I guess I was in the mood to be by water, and I definitely wasn’t alone, as I caught my first glimpses of running clubs coming out of hibernation. The pace of my run was pretty much where I wanted to be, and I’m kind of dying to break seven miles per hour (Saturday’s run put me at the seven mile mark at 01:51). Next weekend?

Sunday: Aerial Yoga with Gina at AIR Aerial Yoga


So I wouldn’t consider myself a yogi, per say, but when Gina invited our crew to join hers for an aerial yoga session, I couldn’t say no. Gina is one of the most upbeat and kind instructors I’ve ever met, so no one in the crew felt uncomfortable or self-conscious when trying out some of the poses. Our workout was less yoga, more strength training with a little cardio thrown in, and Gina hinted that she was showing us a little mercy on the cardio front just in case anyone celebrated a little too hard the day before- so sweet! At the end of the workout, we played around with some of the poses, including the incredibly un-sexy “diaper” pose (me, above), the inverted “star” position (Julie in the middle, below), and a few more. It was a great time and I think my arms are going to feel it a little bit tomorrow!


Monkeying around with some NTC girls!


Lucky enough to be a part of a Gina/Jeana sandwich!

Monday: Advanced Free Wheelin’ at Cheetah Gym Bucktown

My work is generous enough to provide me with a free membership to a nearby gym, and I finally got the chance to check it out on Monday night. After sitting down all day and complaining via group text with NTC girls about how my triceps were so sore it hurt to use a pen (thanks Gina!), I was excited to stretch my legs a little, even if I’d still be sitting down. And wow, did this class deliver. Our instructor ran a very well-structured class, which I know sounds a little stiff, but I always notice when an instructor knows the music s/he’s using to count down correctly and when the class is paced well. Also, this was my first Spin class in at least a couple of weeks, and I was sweating buckets by the end of it (although the room was a little stuffy).

Something that I’ve really started to notice since beginning this PR resolution is how much more I’m paying attention to my breathing during exercise. I think the Nike trainers do a great job of letting us know when we need to inhale and exhale, and that’s carried through to my other strength/fitness classes and my cardio training. For example, during a “surge” in this Spin class, I really focused on my breathing and its pace to get me through the interval. In general, you want to exhale during the “power” part of your movement and inhale during preparation/recovery- I highly suggest paying attention to your breathing during your next training session! It can really help you power through a difficult set.

Tuesday: 5.05 miles at 8:58/mile pace


#nofilter! Are you following me (@KristenMGeil) and Jeana (@JeanaAnderson) on Instagram?

Okay people, let’s play a game. One half of my run was at an 8:50 pace, and the other was at 9:06. Which was which?

First half: Just out of bed, wishing I had drunk some coffee, pausing my workout to take pictures of the crazy pretty sunrise, going against the wind

Second half: Alright, got my legs under me, no stopping, running with the wind, feeling better.

Got your guesses in? And the results are… first half was at 8:50, second half at 9:06 for a grand average of 8:58 for the run. I’m just baffled. How could the second half of my run feel so much better than the first and be so much worse? Does pausing and then starting again really make that much of a difference? Any wisdom, please leave it in the comments because this run left me really disgruntled and on such a pretty day, that was NOT what I wanted!

Wednesday: #AirSweatworking with Jeana and Cat at AIR Fitness 

photo 5

I left the full event recap to Jeana, but suffice to say that my arms will not be the same. Cat led us through arms, legs, core, and cardio work with the trusty fabric, and despite the fact that this is my third or so class (and second this week! Who am I?), aerial fitness classes are not getting any easier. That’s a good thing! Each time I go, I’m shocked to learn that a) I can’t really lift my own body weight; b) I am so so inflexible that sometimes getting into the fabric is a struggle; c) the cardio is INTENSE; and d) it’s seriously addicting, especially because it’s so different from your typical workout. Pricey? Yes, but worth it to throw a little variety in your training every now and then.

Thursday: NTC Barre with Trista

I was a little tight after Air Sweatworking, but Trista came through as always with a tough workout. Our arms section used weights and I was surprised to find that I made it through the entire thing without resting- progress! She ended the workout with wall sits (flashbacks to high school soccer conditioning!), and I needed every second of stretching afterwards.

Next week’s plan:

Friday: Run

Saturday: Long run with Kate’s Crew- eight miles is on the docket!

Sunday: Cross-training (Spin?)

Monday: NTC Yoga

Tuesday: Run

Wednesday: NTC with Kate’s Crew and crew dinner after!

Thursday: NTC Barre

We’re nearing the end of the Nike Resolution Crew, and I’m attending as many events as I can before the Shamrock Shuffle on March 30th! The Crew has been so much fun and a great variety to my usual solo approach to working out, and I can’t wait for our finale week!

How’s your training going? Anyone else running a lot more now that the weather is nicer?

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About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

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