Saturday, January 12, 2013

Agility and Speed Workout + Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce

Agility and Speed Workout

Today I decided to focus on speed and agility for my workout.  These are two of my 8 key aspects of training.  Today's nice weather (56F in January?!) was perfect for this workout.  

Agility is the ability to quickly change directions.  You could imagine a tennis player that must reverse directions to reach a ball, a basketball player doing a cut to maneuver around a defensive player, or a wrestling changing body positions to pin an opponent.  Agility requires a combination of balance, coordination, reflex, and quick acceleration.  There are a ton of agility and speed training exercises to choose from; often they involve cones as markers or a rope ladder on the ground.  For today's workout, I focused on different variations of the shuttle run.  

Fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish.  (I'm pretty sure I giggle inside every time I hear or say that word.)  Simply put, it's unstructured interval training.  All you do is go for a run, and keep changing your speed.  Run at a comfortable pace and pick out 2 landmarks ahead of you.  Once you reach the first landmark, start sprinting to the second landmark, then resume your comfortable pace.  It's a healthy heart activity because it trains your heart to adapt to varying levels of intensity.  It is a more efficient workout than running at a steady pace, and it makes your runs more interesting.  During today's runs, I used trees, posts, and planters as my landmarks.  

Shuttle run is an exercise that brings me back to my elementary/middle/high school days when we did the Presidential Fitness Test.  The shuttle run is described here.  I didn't use any blocks; I just touched the ground with my hands.  Also, I just used what was available.  I didn't bother measuring out exact distances; instead, I used the parking lot outside of my apartment and ran from one parking space line to another 3 parking spaces away.  It's not exact, but it's good enough.  No use stressing about exact distances here.  Remember, the goal is to get your body used to changing directions, so you don't need to be running a very far distance.  

For the backwards shuttle run, I ran forwards to my marked spot and then ran backwards for my return sprint. 

For the shuttle run shuffle, shuffle sideways, starting on your right.  For the return, shuffle on your left.  Stay low to the ground and focus on quick feet.

For the shuttle run high knees, do your normal shuttle run but with high knees.  Instead of focusing on completing the run as fast as possible, focus on quick short steps.

I didn't do my burpees with push-ups.

For dice hops, stand on one foot.  Imagine that on the ground you have the "5" of a die marked out; you are standing on the middle marker and you have a marker diagonally forwards to the right, backwards to the right, backwards to the left, and forwards to the left.  Hop out and back to each one of the markers on the "die" going in a clockwise direction; reverse and go counter clockwise.  Then, do your other foot.  This exercise is to improve your balance and coordination.  To make it easier, you can begin by jumping with both feet.     

Needless to say, my heart was pounding from this workout.  In total, it took about 35 minutes, but I'll admit, I took long breaks between each exercise to catch my breath.  This was certainly a workout that my body is not used to, but that's why I did it! 

Try it out and let me know how it goes!  What speed and agility exercises do you do?

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce

Today's dinner was "picture-worthy" according to Nick.  We made pan-seared pork chops with cherry sauce using this Cooking Light recipe.  We couldn't find red currant jelly in the store, so we substituted cherry-- delicious!  I recommend this recipe.  We served it with Cooking Light's mushroom barley pilaf; a baby romaine salad with walnuts, feta, and dried cranberries, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; and washed down with a glass of milk.  I've never cooked barley as a side dish before, so this was a first for me.  The overall flavor of the barley pilaf was so-so, but I don't think that's the barley's fault.  I'll try barley again in the future (with different mix-ins).


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