It’s not a secret that I love running… but I have, in recent years, fallen out of love with strength-training. In high school, I absolutely LOVED strength training, and got really freakin strong (I can remember squatting 180 lbs as a 3-rep max when I was 17… now I’m right around half that!)
I used to manage to do at least a few sessions, albeit short ones, per week back when we had YMCA membership. Now that we have no gym membership, we have a home gym (in the attic) with a decent amount of dumbbells, kettlebells, and even a squat rack. Do we use these things? Nope, pretty much never, I’m sad to say.
Why? Well… the attic is hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. Plus, even though I have years of experience with weight-lifting, I just don’t enjoy doing it anymore. It makes me very sore (usually), I don’t know the best way to integrate strength with running, and I second-guess myself… Is this actually helping me? Am I doing this exercise correctly? What if this is just a big waste of time?
Those of you who know me, know I hate wasting time.
But one thing I hate just as much, if not more, is being injured…
Background: In March, when the COVID pandemic shut everything down, I was glad for the extra time to work out. I started another run streak, and even upped the ante with a 10,000-steps-per-day streak. You can guess what happened. Yep, I got injured. With my highest mileage week at 27 miles, at the beginning of May, I had been ignoring the pain in my upper left leg for weeks. I was two months into my run streak and hated to give it up. I had reached that “next level” where running felt effortless… until it felt painful, yet effortless 🙁
I never had it checked by a doctor, but I believe I had an overuse injury. Too much running, not much stretching, and zero rest days or strength training makes for an unhappy hip flexor and upper quad. So I took a week off. It got better, but I still feel twinges of discomfort now and again. I realized I needed to get stronger and more mobile, and injury-proof my body. And I didn’t have the mental energy to think about what to do, so I needed a plan. Enter Ashley and her Ten Minute Plan:
View this post on Instagram
Little did I know last year how much I would NEED my 10 Minute Plan!! Today I did Dumbbell HIIT, Perfect Posture & Progression Challenge, with kids, barbies & GI Joes everywhere. (3 workouts/day = 30 minutes total, then you’re on with your life feeling like you just burned an hour’s worth of calories!)💦 I don’t think my posture was bad before…but this past year that I have been deliberately training posture with this workout and a few others from the plan (Back & Arms Precision Superset, Push Pull Trainer, Back-Neck-Shoulders Mobility), I notice myself slouching less and it feels amazing! 💃🎉 . . . I don’t do one-on-one specific time every day, but instead shoot for it once per week with each kid. At home we set a 15 minute timer. Whatever they chose, I play 100% for at least 15 minutes and the other kids get no attention during that kid’s block. Getting to the lake for Gavin to fish was the biggest treat for me to hear his heart/thoughts/desires/questions/plans and feed into his love language of quality time.😭🧡 . . . 📚Have you read the 7 Love Languages? What is YOUR love language?… Has yours changed since becoming a mom?? . . . Www.glowbodypt.com . . #motherhood #momlife #adventuremom @legacymag @healthmagazine @womenshealthmag @military1source #militaryspouse #mommyandme #fitnessmotivation
I have followed the career of my fellow-West Pointer Ashley Keller (we were in the same company at West Point!) for years. After her Army career, Ashley started GlowBody personal training.
Ashley is a real badass: she is a VERY gifted athlete (half Ironman world champion, competed on NBC’s Spartan Ultimate team challenge), a mom of 3, and one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet, with such a big heart. She keeps it real, and she makes workouts fun! I knew of her 10 Minute Plan and had been waiting for the right time to buy it. I did her Lean Fast Strong Capable plan in 2018 (but never wrote a review!) so I was already familiar with Ashley’s workouts. Note: I am writing this review because I want to–all views are my own!
Overview of the Ten Minute Plan: The plan comes with 2 bonus running options, in addition to the 12 week plan. I wanted to do the advanced speed 5K plan, to see how to combine strength + running, and hoped I would get stronger and faster during the 8 weeks. The other run option is an 8 week walk-to-run 5K plan.
Goal: Drop at least a minute off my 5K. Get stronger and faster. What I really wanted was something easy to follow, easy to do at home without much equipment, challenging and effective, and not too time-consuming. Check, check, and check. This plan accomplishes all of that!
I began the plan on June 1st. The plan only has run days on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, which was a big change for me. I prefer to run daily, even if just 1-2 miles, so I can wake up, as well as exercise my dog, Luna. I decided to stick with the plan as much as I could, which meant drastically reducing the number of runs each week. My initial 5K test, at Oak Ridge town park on a warm & humid day, resulted in a 26:55. This is a pretty slow time for me, and I felt a little embarrassed and discouraged. For perspective, I ran sub-23 (with Luna) in December 2018, and 23 minutes on a hot day in July 2017. I haven’t had too many fast times in the past year, so I know I need to mix up my training and do something different.
The plan: There are 10-11 separate strength videos, each about ten minutes, per week. These are spread across Monday to Thursday, with Friday and Sundays as rest days. Saturdays have one ten minute session, usually a foam rolling or mobility session, after a hard run. I found these extra Saturday sessions to be the most difficult for me to complete–after I run on Saturdays, I usually eat breakfast as soon as I’m done, so then I’d forget about the additional workout. I do love how the plan is a PDF with links for each video, which makes it super easy to get going on each workout.
In the first few weeks, I found my groove in completing each day’s prescribed plan, typically in the morning, on our back patio.
If I ran out of time (aka didn’t get out of bed early enough!) I would finish the remaining workouts at lunch or after work. I like how each one is so short (10-12 minutes, and usually includes a brief warm-up plus quick stretch at the end). Thus, it’s really hard to make the age-old excuse that we all know and love (and use!) “I don’t have time.”
The fact is, we all have the same 24 hours in a day, and we must MAKE the time to workout. Ashley makes it fun, easy to “press play,” and DANG is each video just the right amount of challenge–and some of them are super challenging and make me hit muscle failure! Throughout the videos, Ashley offers advice on life, nutrition, proper form, and how to make the exercise easier/harder depending on your needs. Many days, I actually feel that I’m right there working out with Ashley in person, so that sense of accountability helps me to perform better, and give up less often.
Still, even with my success in showing up and completing the workouts, I wondered if the reduced miles would still result in a faster 5K at the end of the plan. I had been averaging 21 miles/week of running, from Feb to May, and now on this plan, was only running 10-15 miles/week (avg of 11). It was weird for me to take 2 rest days, so I turned Friday into a day of easy running, usually just 2 miles.
The first 4 weeks went well, and quickly, but then I had a small hiccup: vacation!
How to finish when a vacation is in the middle of the plan? I took a week long “break”–if you can call it that–when I traveled to PA for vacation. I wasn’t going to stop doing the videos, but then my computer crashed, and I was doing some big hikes anyway. I don’t think it made too much difference. I just picked back up with week 5 when I returned home, and I had extra energy from the additional rest (and junk food, though I didn’t go crazy or anything!)
Month 2 (weeks 5-8): The workouts do get progressively harder, but I found that I felt stronger and could handle it. Some of the runs were VERY hard (example: “Speed Ladder” of 1200m, 800m, 400m, and 200m, as fast as possible, with short rest periods). But towards the end of the plan, I could tell I was faster and runs felt easier.
5K test: Finally, I ran my final 5K test. I didn’t run the same route, and I had my dog, so it’s not perfectly comparable BUT in any case, I dropped more than TWO minutes–see my Instagram post below.
View this post on Instagram
Ran my fastest dog-assisted (or dog-hindered? 🤔she was slowing me down at the end!) summer 5K today. Went from 26:55, nine weeks ago, to 24:44! I can’t say enough great things about @glowbodypt’s ten minute program (I did the advanced 5K plan). It really works—I feel strong, fit, and fast. Thank you Ashley, for being an amazing trainer! 🙌 you’ve done a phenomenal job creating a plan that WORKS, without having to devote hours a day to training. Highly recommend!! 💪🏼 . 5 miles for today & Happy August!🥵 #motherrunner #oisellevolée #oiselleteamnc #5K #nevergiveup #cantstopwontstop #nuunlife #nuunambassador #weim #weimaraner #dogrun #runhappy #flystyle #womensupportingwomen #womensrunningcommunity #womanup #headupwingsout #gofarfeelgood #fastfitfierce #riseandrun #beatyesterday
Recovery & Soreness: For many days throughout the two months, I had muscle soreness. On one hand, I enjoy muscle soreness because I know it means I’m getting stronger. But of course, on the other, it can be hard to deal with! I did my best to use my Normatec boots, gentle stretching, foam rolling, BioFreeze gel, and massage, as well as eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water, plus tart cherry juice.
Nutrition: Ashley includes multiple recipes for meals, plus snacks, smoothies, and desserts! I tried many of them (probably at least half) and found them to be easy to make, and delicious! The orange chicken is a favorite dinner, and I absolute love the freezer fudge, peanut butter protein bars, and chocolate energy balls. Yum! The recipes made it easy to starting eating much healthier, and creating better habits for myself food-wise. I give the recipe section an A+!
According to my Whoop band, my sleep performance and heart rate variance (HRV, the measure of nervous system health) both improved, as well as resting heart rate!
- Sleep performance—July was 3% better than June:
- Training behavior—HRV was down in June by 11% (adapting to the more difficult strength training workouts, I presume) but in July, bounced up to 98ms, a 32% improvement over June–and my best this year!
In the same vein, my average heart rate in May, prior to starting the ten minute plan, was 59 beats per min. In June, it went up to 61, and in July, my average bpm was 58. That’s the lowest it’s been all year!
I sometimes dread taking before & after photos, but I did my best to make the conditions the same so it would be easier to notice any differences. I got sunburned in PA, so that helps with noticing definition, but I can also see subtle changes in my legs, glutes, and especially posture! Note: I weighed myself before and after, and basically stayed right around 150 lbs. My main focus was strength and speed. As I get older, I care less and less what the scale says.
If you can’t tell–I feel AWESOME, and I loved this plan so much that I’m doing it again! I can tell I’m much stronger, and my hip flexor pain has subsided nearly 100%.
I took a week off after the final 5K test to rest/recover/chill (I did some runs and workouts, at my own pace, and whatever I felt like), then started up again on August 10th. This time I’m tweaking the plan slightly: I am running in the morning. If the plan doesn’t call for a run, then I do an easy 1-3 miles. If I’m super tired or sore, I’ll walk instead of run. That way, Luna gets her exercise, and I get some easy miles in. Then I do the videos during lunch or after work, which breaks up the day and helps me have more energy for the workout. Plus, then I don’t have to wake up so early 😉
Highly recommend this plan if you want to get fitter, faster, and/or stronger, without taking up more than 30 minutes a day (approximately 45 min/day on the running version of the plan)!
Have you tried a plan from GlowBody PT?