Hill repeats: 30-minute incline treadmill workout


Disclaimer: The information below is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional help. Before beginning a new exercise regimen or making any other changes in your lifestyle, always consult with your physician and/or a certified coach.


It’s been a while since I last shared my workouts, so here goes.

06177a53c50379c6dc0b3b0f24c7f487The day of the week when I give it my all in terms of fitness is mostly on Saturdays. That has been the pattern since I was still living in Frisco – my long runs (6-mile [9.7km] or more) mostly fall on Saturdays, and in terms of fitness, that hasn’t changed today, except for certain technicalities.

These days, my protocol actually consists of minimizing my weekly mileage while still maintaining the strength and stamina for long-distance runs. Why? Because I’ve learned to better prepare my runs and eliminate junk miles, and pardon my jargons from hereon.

In addition to getting more intentional with my runningthere is such a thing as too much of a good thing (ergo the importance of cross-training, i.e. doing other sports that are not running aren’t your primary sport), particularly when your run feels forced. In spite of all this, running has been my main mode of meditation for the last 6 years, and still, nothing else in the world feels better than to just sprint your way through the anxieties in your head and release all the stress you’ve built up throughout the week. Do that in a secluded area with fresh air, greens, and breeze – tension is gone.



More power, less effort

This morning, I just want to share this effective hill workout that will surely jazz you up by the end it (get your hill workout 101 here and here). It’s a straightforward way to simulate the perfect terrain indoors with the singular goal of improving your lung capacity.

Also, running uphill is actually easier for your joints, and for someone bruising easily around the knee area, it’s an ideal way to build strength without squeezing in too many sprints. I’ve been doing a lot of hill variations for the past few weeks, and they vary depending on my mood. They don’t necessarily make you become faster, but what you’ll get out of it is ultimately rewarding: You’ll breathe easier. This makes you run on a steadier cadence, and with that, you’ll be much more efficient with your energy on level grounds.


Should I try it?

Before I move on to the workout, I want to give a heads up again that this is just my personal routine. In general, it’s unsafe to do any hill workout before you’ve got a good base of long runs before you (and no, the ones where you stop doesn’t count). I shared this 40-minute workout that includes slight elevation a while ago that you can also refer to, but for the most part, please consult with your healthcare provider before attempting to do this.

Alrightey then, let’s get on with it. If you put your mind into it and give it time, and you can certainly do this.


Screen shot 2014-09-19 at 4.40.12 PM


You up for the challenge? Do come back and let me know how those big, sexy lungs are working out for you.


P.S. Yoga and Pilates are fantastic ways to practice breathing on days you’re not running. I’m not particularly disciplined on stretching *guilty*, but here’s 3 everyday ways to amp up your lung power. Have a great one ;)



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via Molly Swenson on Pinterest


12 do-anywhere moves to tone up all over


Disclaimer: The information below is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional help. Before beginning a new exercise regimen or making any other changes in your lifestyle, always consult with your physician and/or a certified coach.


Most of us are now spending more hours than ever during the day driving in a car and/or sitting on a chair (I’m guilty too). In case you’re not informed, it’s a silent killer. Putting sad salads and gym memberships aside, you can get fit and take charge of your health by making one simple change: Give yourself half-hour or hourly breaks from your desk to go do these simple exercise moves.

For me, I’m a big believer of the growth mindset. By the same token, if you train your mind to treat physical activity as a stress release (rather than a source of stress), you’ll do yourself a huge favor by moving more throughout the day and stressing less by the end of the day. By now you probably know how easily stressed out I am already. A toned physique is just the bonus.

These are just some of my favorite just-do-it, no-equipment moves that keeps me on my toes and lifts my mood up, along with expert video demonstrations on how to do each of them properly:


1. Squat jumps


2. Jumping jacks


3. Crossover jumping jacks


4. Lunge jumps/Split hops


5. Burpees


6. Pushups


7. Bridges


8. Mountain climbers


9. Butt kicks


10. Reverse lunges + knee drives


11. Kneeling rear leg raises


12. Plank


Which exercise(s) are you going to try today?


P.S. Remember to keep breathing all day. Whether you’re in the blissful state of nirvana or merely surviving in one of those hectic days at work, remember that your breath is just about the only thing you do have control over.



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Build your base: Nice, long, steady treadmill workout with fast finish


Disclaimer: The information below is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional help. Before beginning a new exercise regimen or making any other changes in your lifestyle, always consult with your physician and/or a certified coach.


HIIT is all the craze these days. The ACSM1 was right: You see Paleo devotees running around, sporting their sturdy physiques from all that sweat sesh from CrossFit and P90X.


Truth is, HIIT is nothing new. Experts have been advocating these time-saving workouts that anyone can squeeze in daily in their busy schedules.

While I have nothing against them (I do love a good quick-and-intense burn on most days), I still believe in building a solid foundation of long slow distance before getting myself to that fitness level.

As time goes by, I personally think it’s more important to minimize the chances of getting yourself injured than to get fitter and stronger. I may very well be a timid tortoise, but naturally, the hare that runs around with tremendous energy all day gets higher chances of losing balance, falling down, and breaking a leg.

Trust me, I’ve been there. Instead of reaping HIIT’s benefits, doing it more actually prevents me from building my pace in the long run (poor posture, blisters and bruises, IT band syndrome, anyone?). Matthew Basso, president of Iron Lotus Personal Training, breaks HIIT all down according to your personal goals: If you want to lose weight, build muscles, and gain strength, doing HIIT 1-4 a week is great. If you want to build endurance, it probably won’t help much.

So what exactly is HIIT?

Wikipedia defines high-intensity interval training as “an enhanced form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise. Usual HIIT sessions may vary from 4–30 minutes. These short, intense workouts provide improved athletic capacity and condition, improved glucose metabolism, and improved fat burning.”

As much as I love intense exercises, I have a long-term soft spot for long slow distance. I think best during and after logging those miles; something about being still and breathing deep provides the clarity I need with all the stormy waters in my head2.

In that sense, these days I’m treating HIIT as a supplement to my miles instead of doing full-circuits of it (although I still do them whenever I feel sluggish), because squat jumps and burpees do get your heart rate up pretty quickly, which comes in handy when your mind tells you to quit the last mile toward the finishing line.

With that in mind, I want to share the standard long and steady workout (with a final sprint!) I do whenever I’m hopping on the treadmill:


Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 4.06.48 PM

I included hill repeats because they build up your endurance over time. Plus, running on incline is easier on the joints (even though you’ll end up huffing and puffing more). Please feel free to adjust speeds according to your running level.


It’s more about conserving energy and holding yourself back in the first 30 minutes of getting your heart rate up, saving it all for the end, whereas HIIT is about spending it all right now.

I know the steady state can be boring for many, and not everyone has the luxury to spend as much time if their fitness goals are purely aesthetic. But for me, just the motivation you get to beat your last PR is enough to keep me moving on the ‘mill. Plus, it’s more of a mental work than you think.

Nonetheless, I guarantee you’ll come out stronger – in fitness and in life – by the end of this workout. I recommend bringing some good music to get you longer in the zone.



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via Angry Trainer Fitness


  1. American College of Sports and Medicine []
  2. Hence the blog is called Stillwater, right? []

Get in, get out: My go-to 25-minute elliptical workout


Disclaimer: The information below is for educational/entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional help. Before beginning a new exercise regimen or making any other changes in your lifestyle, always consult with your physician and/or a certified coach.


Confession1: I’m a cardio queen. After years of experimenting, I found no other form of cardiovascular exercise I enjoy more than running.2


But several months ago, I was hit by a really bad IT band syndrome on my left leg. Even walking became difficult. The pain creeped up really slowly during the weeks before, and I just thought it’s one of those sores that’ll go away as long as I keep moving those muscles. But the pain only got worse.

It forced me to stop playing during one of my weekly tennis rallies – I couldn’t run after the balls as fast as I could, much less control my shots as accurately as I’ve done before. And then there’s the crazy painful sports massage. The following weeks after left me completely restrained from hitting the treadmill whenever I’m at the gym. Either I skip cardio entirely or choose to work with some other cardio equipment until I fully recover.

This leads me to reunite with my longtime pal, the elliptical trainer, and it’s something I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with.

It doesn’t help that out of the four basic components of physical fitness, i.e. speed, strength, flexibility, and stamina, I value stamina the most. Too often, the longer I stay during an elliptical workout, the more I find myself ended up compromising myself and go easy.

It just doesn’t take as much mental effort to last through an elliptical workout as on the treadmill, and there’s always the voices in my head that will come while the clock is ticking (“I’ve got resistance to keep up with the intensity”, “I can lay low for a bit with my balance”, “No need to go long when I’m already this fast”).

It’s very different from running, at least for me, where your balance, posture, and movements are entirely arbitrary.

But here’s the good news: This machine is much easier on your joints, as you’re not stressing them a lot like when you’re pounding the pavements. When used correctly, the elliptical shouldn’t cause knee pain. As it turns out, those precise reasons I don’t find the it as challenging have become the reasons that allowed me the time to heal while still keeping myself active. So I figured it can also benefit anyone who’s recovering from a running injury, but still wants a gripping workout to keep those cardiac muscles strong.

That said, I want to share this particular workout today. It’s the minimum standard whenever I’m running short on time:


Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 2.00.24 PM

Depending on your current fitness level, the goal of the resistance is to maximize your use of perceived exertion. Also note that there isn’t any particular speed requirement: As long as your heart stays within the 150-200bpm range, you know you’re getting an effective aerobic workout.3


So the next time you rationalize yourself out of cardio with the after-burn effect, or simply decide to forgo the gym, think about this: The time you need for this workout is equals to the time you use watching a sitcom episode (or about seven cat videos on YouTube). Choose one that your future self will thank you for.




via Healthy Relationship


  1. and this may not come as a surprise []
  2. Although swimming comes to a close. []
  3. Speaking of which, please check your target heart rates here, as reported by the American Heart Association. []

Fitness Journal: Long note, short run

1.25 mi run in 14:12 min (pace: 11’20” / mi)

Music: International Departures with Myon & Shane 54 Episode 135

8 sets of 20-rep squats
 throughout the day, alternating between normal squats and sumo squats









Just in case you have no idea how to perform a sumo squat, take a look at this video. I have been one of those who perform workouts without proper form, and you don’t want that, trust me. Don’t focus on whether you’re going to make it through all the sets; focus on your form and take it slow… you’ll be fine.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXJrBgI2RxA]
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shqsb5Ke7gI]



Okay, okay, I lied. To you and to myself. I know I said I don’t want to know how far and how fast I go, but I did use a Nike+ monitor in my left shoe. I don’t want to know but I wanna know, get it? I don’t.

As long as during the run, I was enjoying the moment, not stressed out looking back and forth at my iPod nano.

First run at the Embarcadero again. Brings back lots of memories… private memories, just my body moving with trance music when it’s still dawn.

When I was at the Pier this morning, I almost don’t believe why I stopped running completely. The atmosphere is so calming – it’s not very sunny, a bit windy and very chilly, there’s not many tourists in the morning (less crowded) and all you see are fellow joggers/runners running past me. I am happy to exchange smiles with some who are quite panting but still managed to give a genuine smile and keep their heads up. I smile back in return, not knowing who these strangers are, except that they’re the ones who give a s**t to wake up every morning and take time to reflect upon their lives, running away from the hustle and bustle, put the messy pieces together with each stride, and come back to reality in a much relaxed state.

I was one of those fast runners who don’t give a s**t about even looking at other fellow runners’ faces, other than getting to my destination as fast as I can. That’s bad, really bad. Look what happened! (1. disappearance of menstrual cycle; 2. depression; 3. never-ending diets that load me weight I’ve lost; 4. impatience; short-circuit; 5. extra-low self-esteem). Let’s skip the crap and fast-forward: I’m a traditionalist and a big believer of long, slow, steady progress now. God tests your faith.

I learned the hard way that security, taking good care of things before they become a problem, is better than solving problems in the first place. Which comes back to the main motivation of running: If you focus on maintaining your health above everything else, which is an intrinsic motivation, you’ll take care of yourself better and increase that feeling of self-worth.

I have not reach the runner’s high yet (it’s a short run, plus I’m not fit enough at my current state), but I have no doubts that I can reach that point again some time in the not-so-distant future.

Anyway, I’ve learned some things that doesn’t work for me over the years I run, and today I don’t follow these lessons. I don’t feel qualified giving advice for anybody. These are just things I want to keep in mind, so that I won’t hurt myself in the future, especially now that I’ve got someone who loves and cares for me very much. So these are my personal reminders:

1.Don’t wear baggy clothing. You’ll have a hard time trying not to be sloppy. Keep it light and keep it tight. Your clothes must fit your frame.

2. Respect the distance – no matter how short or long it is. 
Like I said, I used to be the one who don’t bother. It’s just a very difficult attitude in running, and in life, when you hold up too much pride in yourself, and that you self-sabotage yourself to work up to your ideals and don’t admit where you are right now. I obviously can’t run a full 60-minute workout at my current fitness level. I’m not the person living in the body I used to be. I can be in that body again, which can be mine for as long as I want but it can only be lived in the right attitude, a great respect for your body and every body else. Okay, I’m just going to quote Amby Burfoot here from his book, The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life:

You can’t go far in running without respect. First, you have to respect the distance. which is often said about marathons but applies equally to all distance running. If you don’t understand the many ways running can challenge your body and mind, it can overwhelm you.
Second, there’s the mutual respect all runners feel for each other. It doesn’t matter what your 10k time is or how fast I’ve run the marathon. The experience is what matters, and the experience is basically the same for all of us. An exercise physiologist can essentially “prove” that a 4-hour marathoner “works harder” than a 2-hour marathoner, even though it seems ludicrous to say this about the slower runner. But when different runners begin talking about a marathon, or any other running, they realize they’ve been through essentially the same thing. A true runner understands this.

3. Keep your head up.
 Stand tall. Look ahead. BE CONFIDENT, simple and sweet as that. Why do I want to go for a run this morning at that long stretch of piers I once used to know so well? I don’t know, and I don’t know if I’m going to make it long enough, considering my fitness level today compared to before. It’s because now I bother. I now care. I now have someone that I care. I care about myself in return. If somebody asks me why do I run? I’ll answer:


Quoting Christian Grey there. And just to add to the note… My boyfriend read to me a line that resonates a lot of truth to him (and to me) too while we’re on the phone:

Anastasia, I’m delighted that you’ve met my parents. Why are you so filled with self-doubt? It never ceases to amaze me. You’re such a strong, self-contained young woman, but you have such negative thoughts about yourself. If I hadn’t wanted you to meet them, you wouldn’t be here. Is that how you were feeling the whole time you were there? (Fifty Shades of Grey)

I don’t know. I just assume all women have a lower confidence level than men in general. But now I think it’s just me.




















5 Must-do moves


November 2011


There are just some days when you have no time to hit the gym. That doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to sweat, even if it’s just a little. In fact, short, high-impact workouts are proven more effective for boosting your metabolism than long, low-impact ones.

I found that doing circuits of these moves, which works your essential muscle groups, energizes me from head to toe.


Picture from Wikipedia


Do an 8 to 12-rep pushup, then build up to 4 reps total. That’s enough to wake your arms, abs, butt and thighs up.


Work your core for 20 reps. Do around 4 to 6 reps, and you’ll feel the burn.



A plank is essentially a static pushup, focusing on strengthening your core. Hold your abs still for 1 minute. If you’re can’t hold that long, 30 seconds is good to go. Do this 3 times a day for great blood circulation.



Do 15 reps, then 4 sets until you feel the burn in the inner thighs.



Same as your lunges. Squeeze as low as possible until you feel the burn in your butt. Personally, though, I need to do 20 reps and 8 sets to feel the burn, because my schoolwork requires me to sit around way too much.

*Burpee (or squat thrusts)

If you still feel like panting some more (loving that endorphins, doncha?) a burpee is a great workout to get your heart pumping at its best. Here is a great video by diet.com to illustrate how to do burpees properly:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIQx1FiQt50]

Feelin’ better now?