Do you ever get inundated by constant training on the trails? I do, and that’s OK. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by trail running goals or looming adventures. For example, I signed up for Black Canyon 100k, thinking if I signed up, the motivation would come, but racing does not motivate me to run and the thought of hours on the trail “training” depressed me. However, I am such a social runner and run to spend time on the trails with friends, Shane, Tia the dog, and the occasional solo run to clear my mind. Despite not being motivated by races, my overall goal is to feel confident I can, and on a whim, run in the mountains or the Columbia River Gorge.
When the overwhelming feelings of running set it, it is my inner self craving variety. As a middle-aged woman, I know strength training and agility are vital to my longevity. I’ve been going to Orange Theory (OT) for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) off and on for five years now and recently picked it up again. I choose to go to OT when I feel off-kilter or need variation/break from the trails. It helps me because I am focused on the single exercise or set at that moment, and if I stop focussing, I lose track of where I am. I can stay in the moment, focus on the muscle group I am working with as the coach guides the team. This type of exercise is what I need to get back to the basics.
I enjoy cross-training workouts, and I’m horrible at speed workouts, so Orange Theory classes seem to fill that void. Orange Theory uses the Mindbody app for scheduling. Over the last three weeks, I’ve been going three to four times per week, usually in the morning but sometimes I go after work. If the class is full, I jump on the waitlist, and you are notified by text if you get into the class. Members can cancel 8 hours before the start of the workout. Orange Theory offers a variety of memberships, including drop-ins.
The workouts are not social, which is the exact opposite of my love of running. The classes get divided into two (2G) or three groups (3G.) One group starts on the floor with a dynamic warm-up while the coach explains the treadmill workout to the second group. With three groups, the treadmill and rowing get split into separate sessions. Don’t let the non-social aspect fool you; the gym is blasting a great collection of 90’s remixes that will have you dancing on the treadmill.
The coach gives group one instructions for the strength training blocks. The exercises vary but always work the lower body, upper body, and core. The workouts include lifting dumbbells, TRX band, step work, body-weight movements (pushups, planks, squats, jumping jacks, lunges, etc.), and core workouts (plank, sit-ups.) The treadmill workout has two options. Run or walk. The run is a combination of base, push, all-out sprints, and occasionally with walking recoveries, or you can speed walk on an incline. All outs are speed work that lasts 15-60 seconds with a base. Walk, or push the pace on either side. In a 2G class, the rower can be part of the strength training or treadmill blocks, and in a 3G class, the rower is its block combining rowing with body-weight movements. The standard workout block will last anywhere from 3-14 minutes.
This conditioning helps me improve strength, balance, and quick movements, which helps with trail running and hopefully not falling. After three weeks now, I feel great! What I like best is how cross-training has alleviated the stress of training runs. The short burst speed workout on the treadmill leaves me feeling satisfied from a training standpoint and all the other miles to enjoy my time in the forest or on the mountain. And like that, my weekly mileage has increased with the addition of OT.
Isn’t that what it’s all about?