12 is the Best Number for Workouts

As I warmed up for my 12×300 track workout this morning, a thought popped into my head I’ve had many times: 12 is the best number of reps for a workout.

Almost every rep is a new, generally recognizable fraction. Rep 3 (1/4), 4 (1/3), 6 (1/2), 8 (2/3), and 9 (3/4) all bring a new milestone. You really shouldn’t need a milestone for your first or second rep, and once you hit the 10th rep, you only have “one more ‘til one more.” Then you finish the 11th and let the elation of the “last one” carry you to the end of 12.

Working out with a team in college meant workouts full of comradery. There’s something about suffering together that forms solid bonds of sweaty friendship. The phrase “one more ‘til one more” came from that group of girls, and we used to sing (between gasping breaths) Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” once we reached the halfway point.

Now that my workouts are solo, I use fractions and other internal motivations. But sometimes, all you can focus on is the interval you are currently running. There’s a great passage in Once a Runner where Cassidy is running a terribly difficult workout (I don’t want to spoil it for you) and talks about focusing on one rep at a time – to slay it and then it’s brother after, over and over. There are times when it’s rough early – when you’re struggling much earlier than expected – and you have so far to go. If I can only focus on the rep at hand, I use rhymes.

One is for fun.
Two is for you.
Three is for free.
Four is a lore.
Five I’m alive.
Six is for kicks.
Seven I’m in heaven.
Eight is great.
Nine is mine.
Ten is (almost) the end.

Sometimes – everything goes well, and the rhymes are just for fun. Those are the best days.

Oh – and one more reason 12 is the best number? This guy wears it.

Tips for Getting More Vegetables in Your Diet

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist or registered dietician. I am armed with little more than the common sense knowledge that you should include vegetables in your diet.

 

I grew up eating relatively healthy. My mom made us balanced meals for dinner, you had to eat your fruit before you could have your cookie, and we could drink one soda per weekend – usually splitting the can between Saturday and Sunday. Despite the introduction to many vegetables, I struggled to like them. I was distressed when my mom told me that corn and potatoes (my two favorites) were technically starches. Here are some ways I’ve learned to include more vegetables in my meals.

Bribe yourself. I love mac and cheese – not even the homemade stuff. I’m talking about the orange powder packet kind of mac and cheese. Now that I work from home, I face the temptation to make it for lunch on a regular basis. This is obviously not the healthiest option, so now whenever I want mac and cheese, it comes with strings attached, and those strings are broccoli. Broccoli, like most cruciferous vegetables, is not my favorite, but mixed with mac and cheese? It’s not so bad, then.

Learn new techniques. Did you know you’re supposed to massage kale? The first few times I made a kale salad, I didn’t massage it, and I thought kale being popular was a conspiracy theory. I couldn’t believe this was the superfood so many people were fawning over. Then I learned if you sprinkle some salt on kale and massage it, it actually tastes like food rather than roughage.

Mask them with stronger flavors. I got the cookbook Run Fast, Eat Slow for Christmas, and my friend Keri raved about the “Can’t Beet Me Smoothie.” Beets have an incredibly strong flavor, and I knew from smelling them that I probably wouldn’t like this smoothie. I choked down the first few batches, and then I adjusted the recipe. I added a higher ratio of blueberries and almond butter. Those increases plus the fresh ginger overpowered the beets, and now I get all of the benefits of beets without holding my nose while drinking my breakfast.

Add them in unexpected places. Another great recipe from Run Fast, Eat Slow is for the Superhero Muffins. In addition to normal ingredients like eggs and oats, these muffins have shredded carrots and zucchini as well. The shredding is a bit labor intensive, but these muffins freeze well, so it’s worth it to make a batch and defrost them as needed.

Thankfully there are vegetables that I like, so I don’t have to employ a trick or bribe every day. And if any of these stop working, the internet is full of recipes!