Posts Tagged Nutrition

Kansas Half Marathon Race Plan

We ran for Boston today – a run at lunch with a friend and a run tonight with the local running store. Runners throughout the world are adding up the miles dedicated to those affected by the tragedy.  In a way, this is our prayer. We run for those who can’t, we run to show support, we run because it feels right. And as we run, we meditate on lives lost, but more importantly on the amazing show of humanity and love in the outpouring of support that has surrounded and lifted up those affected in Boston. We will continue to run and we will be strong.

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This Sunday is the Kansas Half Marathon, and with everything that has happened, it will have a little bit different meaning for every runner who is there. I will be wearing the Runners United to Remember bib as I attempt to reach a new PR.

I am still working toward breaking that 2:00:00 barrier, so I am aiming to get closer with this race. My previous PR of 2:16:43 was at the Kansas City Half in October. Despite being a PR, it was not my best race, and I believe I can greatly improve on the time. My hope is to finish close to 2:05 and my plan to achieve that is to start running with the 2:10 pace group to warm-up and then increase speed after mile 6 of the race to attempt to catch the 2:05 group. My goal time is 2:06 (10 minutes faster than my PR) and my stretch goal is anything faster than 2:05. I would be ecstatic if I managed to break 2:00, but I’ve never yet managed to sustain the pace required for that amount of time, so not sure I’m there yet.

The weather should be perfect for running on Sunday morning, starting with temperatures in the mid-40s and rising to no higher than 65 that day. I’m planning to wear capris and a tech t-shirt with a long-sleeved quarter-zip to begin the race. I’m going to carry my own water and Honey Stinger Pink Lemonade gummies for my race day nutrition. On my long runs, I’ve been practicing taking one chew about every mile starting around mile 3, and it’s worked pretty well for me, so I’ll stick with that for this race. Here’s my packing/wearing list for Sunday:

  • Boston remembrance bib
  • Fuel belt & water bottle
  • Honey Stinger Pink Lemonade chews
  • Garmin watch and HRM
  • Running capris
  • T-shirt
  • Long-sleeved running shirt
  • Gloves & Hat/headband
  • Socks/Sports bra/Deodorant
  • Hair tie & Bobby pins
  • RoadID
  • Brooks PureFlow shoes
  • Cellphone & $$
  • Banana & Almond butter for breakfast
  • Change of clothes for post-race

My plan is to have everything laid out and ready to go Saturday night, so I don’t need to think about anything at the crack of dawn Sunday in time to leave the house by 4:50am to leave town by 5:00am. That will put us at the race start around 6:15am to pick-up our packets and have a nice cushion of time before race start at 7:30am.

The rest of this week’s training will be focused on tapering for the race on Sunday. My plan is to run an easy ~5 miles tomorrow afternoon, do a short but fast 2 miles on Thursday, full rest on Friday, and an easy 1-2 miles on Saturday to loosen up my legs. I’m also hoping to do a little yoga tomorrow or on Thursday. I’ve opted to skip the weights this week to avoid any unnecessary soreness on Sunday. My other major goal for this week is to get enough sleep. I’m off to a bad start, but my goal is to be in bed by 10pm the rest of the nights this week.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, so I may update this post as I think of other aspects of the race that I need to worry about.

Do you have any races planned? Do you write a race plan ahead of time? 

Today’s Training:

3.04 miles run + 3.07 miles run = 6.11 miles total

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Brew to Brew 2013 Race Report Part 2

To see part one of the Brew to Brew race report, visit here.

After the first exchange point, we all piled into vehicles and headed toward the second exchange. We did have some trouble finding a few of the exchange points early in the day, but they got easier and more obvious as the day progressed. We lost the other vehicles on the way to the second exchange point, so we spent a little time texting and calling to try and get them to the right place. Despite the lost time, we had a little bit of time to kill even after everyone else found the exchange point. Leg 2 was 5.3 miles, so we were expecting our runners to finish in about 40 minutes. We sat in the car for a bit to stay warm, and about 7:25 am we got out to cheer for other teams while we were watching for our runners. Before long, we spotted green shirts in the distance.

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They were together and approaching at a breakneck pace! We cheered them in as our next runners got ready to take on legs 3 and 4.

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Double exchange 2 complete! This photo looks posed and perfect, but I swear it was real! The leg 2 runners absolutely rocked their leg and it took them a little while to recover before we could snap a photo of them.

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We had plenty of time to get to the next exchange point, so we hung out for a bit and dug into those muffins I had made. I was going to be running next, so I was a little hesitant to eat a muffin. I decided to just risk it since I was hungry and still had at least an hour before my leg.  I think in the future I will need to do a better job of preparing nutrition to run non-consecutive legs, but I hadn’t put much thought into it this time around.

After we finished eating, we decided to go out to the next exchange point to cheer our runners even though they were running through to finish two legs. We parked and walked up to the road to cheer for the other teams till we saw our runners coming through.

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They had just a little over 2 miles to go at this point to complete leg 4, so we hit the road quickly after cheering for them and headed to exchange point 4. I was running leg 5, so I started getting ready to run in the car on the way. I got my fuel belt adjusted and shed my outer layer to just wear shorts and a t-shirt for my run. When we got to the exchange point, we made a quick port-a-potty stop and headed down to the course.

Before long, our first runner was approaching. The two runners on this leg had gotten split up, but I knew the second runner who I was relieving would not be far behind.

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Leg 4 completed and leg 5 begun for team 2!

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A few minutes later, and I started leg 5 for team 1! I knew I had to run about 4.7 miles, and I wanted to catch up as much as possible to the other team’s runner to get the teams back in sync, so I started at about a 9:00 min/mile pace. Initially, I had planned to run this leg quite a bit slower, but I felt great so I just went with it. My legs never got tired during my run, and the course was fun, flat and fast, so I felt like I was cruising. I passed a few runners, and thought I caught a glimpse of our other runner at one point, but I wasn’t able to catch her. She finished her leg and handed off for leg 6 to begin.

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I finished my leg in just about 42 minutes, which was just under 9 minute miles. I handed off the slap bracelet to my hubby and he took off for a hard 3.3 mile uphill run.

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We regrouped at the station, and took a photo to commemorate the end of the leg before driving to the next exchange.

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At this point, the two teams had to diverge a bit as the race coordinators split up teams into exchange points A and B at a few different places along the course to reduce the congestion at the exchange points. For our early start, it wasn’t really needed as there were few teams running that early, but I expect it’s really helpful for the volunteers to keep things moving smoothly as the day gets busier.

We drove to exchange point A to start leg 7. Curtis killed his hilly leg and ran those hills like a champ.

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We were finished with more than half of our total miles, with just four legs left to run.

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We met up with the other team again at the next exchange point. It was in a small Kansas town and there were delicious grilling smells wafting around, making us all very hungry! I decided it was time for some more food as I’d be running again at leg 9, but I had to pass on the burgers. 😦 I settled for some banana and a Power Bar.

Leg 7 is interesting because the runners have the option to either run an extra mile or take a short boat ride across a creek. It sounds like the vast majority of runners take the boat, and our runners commented that they didn’t see an option to go by the road. The actual mileage for the A course and the B course are drastically different, so this is something to remember and be aware of next year, as my notes did not have this info when I was putting together the teams.

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The leg 7 runners came in very close to each other, so the teams were getting back into sync again.

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After leg 7, it was time for me to get ready to run again. I strapped my fuel belt back on and stripped my long-sleeved shirt to get ready. The last few legs are all on gravel/dirt roads through small farms. Our teams congregated at the exchange to wait for our runners.

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We didn’t have long to wait before it was time to take off for leg 9!

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I felt ok as I started my leg, but it didn’t take long before I felt the 5K from the day before plus the earlier leg that day catching up to me. Leg 9 is on a rolling gravel road. My shoes were slipping on the gravel quite a lot, and I was tired by this time in the day. I think that I could have done a better job of fueling to help get me through this leg. I finished the 4.2ish miles in 10 minute miles, so quite a bit slower than my earlier leg, but it was about all I could push myself to do. The very end of the leg has a bit of a “fake out” exchange station where you have to keep running about .25 miles after you see the first vehicles to get to the actual exchange. I tried to pick it up as I ran down the hill to meet my team.

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Leg 10 began and we were on our home run! We left the last exchange point and headed to the finish line in Lawrence, KS to cheer for our final runners. We almost didn’t make it in time to see team 1 finish the leg. Luckily, we were at the finish line just in time.

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Our leg 10 runner finished strong to bring team 1 into the finish in 6:44:07, which averages just about 9:10 minutes/mile. Curtis and another of our teammates walked out to meet our final runner from team 2 and run her into the finish line. It was another strong finish for a total time of 6:58:40 (9:30 min/mile pace) for team 2.

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After a long day, we finished our 44.4 miles and went out for a well-deserved meal of burgers and beer at a local restaurant.

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Overall, it was a really successful day of running. Everyone did phenomenally well and I am so proud to have such awesome teammates. The course was a nice mix of terrain and the exchange points were pretty well organized. This year the weather made for a gorgeous day for running, unlike the unbearable heat from last year. I can’t wait till next year!

If you ever have the chance to run on a long distance relay team, I highly recommend it. The experience was fabulous!

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Dog-N-Jog and Brew to Brew Race Plans

This weekend, I have a 5K race on Saturday (Dog-N-Jog) and a relay race on Sunday, in which I’m running two legs for about 9 miles total. Both races are more “for fun” than major goals for me. I’m very tempted to go for a PR on my 5K at Dog-N-Jog, but knowing that the start will be insane with all the people and pooches, I think it is more important to just enjoy the event without setting any race specific goals. My major goal for the Brew to Brew relay race is that the day goes smoothly and everyone gets to the exchange points on time!

Thursday

I’ve toyed with the idea of going to the gym in the morning to lift, but I think I am going to prioritize sleep over an extra workout this week. My plan is to do a light 3 mile run around the neighborhood right after class ends in the afternoon.  I want to leave plenty of time to get my studying done so I can get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Friday

Classes don’t start till 9am on Friday morning, so I should have time to fit in a short yoga routine to stretch and loosen up in advance of the race Saturday morning. Otherwise, my time will be spent in class in the morning and then an exam in the afternoon. Packet pickup should begin by the time I get out of my exam, so I’ll grab my bib/chip before I leave school. Then, Friday afternoon/evening, I’ll prep everything for the 5K and lay out my running clothes and Tara’s gear:

  • Timing Chip/Bib
  • Leash/Collar
  • Poop bags
  • Water bottle(s)/bowl
  • Heart rate monitor/Garmin
  • RoadID
  • Running shoes
  • Socks
  • T-shirt/Capris/Sports bra
  • +/- Race belt
  • Hat/Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen!
  • ID badge

 Saturday

The race doesn’t start till 9:00am, so I have plenty of time if I get up by 7am to eat breakfast and be out the door by 8:15am. That should put me at the race start early enough to do a quick warm-up and hit the bathroom before lining up.  Last year, I think the race started a little late, but they’ve enlisted the help of Manhattan Running Company to do the timing this year, so I’m hoping we start right on time. As I mentioned, I’m not setting a goal time, but I expect to be done in around 30 minutes give or take depending on how congested the start is. After the race, I need to remember to stretch well so I’m not stiff/sore for Sunday. I might take a short nap before getting packed and ready to head out to Lawrence, KS for the night.

Packing list:

  • Change of clothes and shoes for after the race on Sunday
  • Neon green tech shirt, sports bra, and long-sleeved shirt
  • Running capris and tights (just in case it’s colder than expected)
  • Rain jacket
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • RoadID
  • Garmin/Heart rate monitor
  • Race belt
  • Hydration belt
  • Water bottles
  • Snacks and Breakfast foods
  • Running shoes
  • Running socks
  • PJs for Saturday night
  • Toiletries
  • Small first aid kit for the car
  • Cooler
  • $$$

We’ll pick up a few of our teammates and head to Lawrence around 5pm to all have dinner around 7 or 7:30pm and a brief race meeting. Then it’s early to bed for a really early wake up call.

Our teams start at 6:00am Sunday morning, so we’ll need to meet at the race start to coordinate and get into the right vehicles by 5:30am. Once the first racers go off, we’ll start the crazy carpooling and driving around to exchange points to cheer in runners before moving to the next exchange point. I’m running legs 5 (4.8 miles) and 9 (4 miles) so I’ll have awhile in the car before my legs, and will need to eat around the time the race starts and probably snack after my first leg is finished. Hopefully the day will run smoothly and we should finish around lunch time. 🙂

This will be my first attempt at running two races in one weekend. The overall mileage is pretty reasonable, so I’m not too worried about the physical challenge. I do think this weekend is going to be just a little mentally exhausting, especially since I’m going to try and fit in studying anytime I have some downtime!

Have you ever done a relay race? 

 

 

 

Wednesday’s Training

4.6 mile trail run, easy

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Beginning Running with your Dog

There’s no running partner quite like a dog. The uncontrollable joy when you grab your dog’s leash is infectious and is almost guaranteed to get you out of the house to hit the roads or the trails. And who else can we convince to run in rain, snow, sleet, and even a stiff Kansas wind with us? Whether a seasoned runner or a newbie, your dog can help keep you motivated in your toughest moments and be there to share your greatest runs. My dog, Tara, has helped me train for five half marathons. She keeps me going on those tough long runs when I just want to take a break and she races me, pushing me faster, when I’m working on speed. In honor of our upcoming Dog-N-Jog race this weekend, I’ve put together 10 tips for beginning a running program with your pup.

Home stretch of our 10 miler and the snow is just starting to stick to Tara's fur.

1. Warning: Always Consult a Physician Before Beginning an Exercise Routine

We see these signs and warnings every time we go to the gym or read about starting a new exercise routine, and the same goes for our dogs. It’s a good idea to take a trip to the veterinarian before beginning an exercise program with your dog, particularly if she hasn’t had a complete physical in awhile. Just like in people, we want to make sure there are no heart, lung, or musculoskeletal abnormalities before beginning a running program. Also, ask your veterinarian to teach you how to evaluate your dog’s Body Condition Score to determine if she’s at a good weight, which will be helpful for you to evaluate her condition as you increase your mileage. And if your dog is under two years old, make sure to ask what age it is okay to start running so that the repetitive physical stress does not affect joint and bone development in young dogs.

2. Know Your Dog

It’s obvious from the vastly different physical characteristics that different breeds of dog were bred for different purposes and have different strengths and weaknesses. While our herding dogs and sledding dogs may be able to accompany you on even your longest distance runs, smaller breeds and dogs with flattened faces (e.g. pugs, bulldogs, etc.) may only be able to run shorter distances due to their conformation. It’s important to recognize your dog’s abilities and keep your expectations in line so that you are not pushing your dog beyond his physical capabilities.

3. Start Slowly

If your dog has been a couch potato her entire life, or even if she’s active but has never done any endurance running, it’s important to build up slowly to avoid injuries. I follow the same general rules for building doggy training plans as for people – build weeks increasing no more than 10% total mileage and no more than 10% long run distance interspersed every 2-3 weeks with a step back or recovery week. If you are already running consistently, you may want to plan some runs in which you can run a short loop with your dog, drop him off at the house and then continue on the rest of your run until you’ve built up your dog’s endurance.

4. Be Aware of the Weather

Unlike people who can sweat, dogs use panting as their primary mechanism for cooling themselves. Because dogs are also extremely willing to please, they may push themselves past the point of safety on hot days. If you notice your dog is excessively panting, trying to seek shade, or lay down during a run, it’s time to stop and let them cool down. Tara is fairly heat tolerant for a German Shepherd Dog, so my general rule of thumb is no more than 3-5 easy miles when it’s over 80 degrees F. You will need to find the comfortable point for your own dog, and avoid pushing him beyond his tolerance.

5. Hydration

And on that note, if you need water on a run, there’s a good chance your dog does too! For short runs (under 6 miles or so), I don’t carry water and have found that Tara will not drink even if I offer it. On longer runs, especially on warm days, I offer water every time I take a sip. You can teach your dog to drink from a bottle or there are small collapsible bowls you can use that will fit in a hydration belt. Since Tara has never learned to drink from a bottle, in a pinch I will pour water into a cupped hand and let her take a few sips. There’s no need to gorge themselves on water, just enough to quench their thirst.

6. Nutrition

This is a tough aspect to cover, and could fill an entire blog since such a large percentage of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Running is a great way to help your pup get more exercise and lose some of that weight, if needed. You may also be helping your dog live longer, as some studies have demonstrated that thinner dogs may have greater longevity. If your dog is already a good weight – something your veterinarian can help you assess (see #1) – you may have to increase your dog’s rations to fuel the extra exercise. Dogs may also benefit from extra nutrition on long runs (10+ miles), but their smaller size means they probably do not need nearly the number of calories that we do, so it’s important to be careful to find an appropriate balance.

7. Strength and Stretch

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but just like you, your dog will benefit from strength training and stretching. Cross-training such as swimming, hiking, and tugging can help build muscle strength. You can also use simple tricks such as doggy push-ups, perch training, and backing up to improve body awareness and agility. Learning to do simple stretches and massage on your dog can be a great benefit for them to work out sore muscles.

8. Leash and Potty Training

There are two major training items that can make runs with your dog much more enjoyable. First, is teaching your dog to run properly on a loose leash. I’m not too picky, Tara can run at my side, behind me or in front of me as long as she’s not dragging me around the entire run or constantly crossing my path. I prefer her to run out in front so we’re not stepping on each other on narrow trails, but if she wants to be at my side, who can argue with that? In my opinion it’s easiest to train loose-leash walking then translating that to running. The second major item is teaching your dog to eliminate on command. It’s not a hard thing to teach (simply give the cue you choose every time your dog eliminates) and it saves a lot of frustration on the run. Obviously, when they gotta go, they gotta go, but the less stops the better! Some dogs will catch on to these faster than others, but if you put in the time having both of these “skills” will make runs much more enjoyable. 🙂

9. Observing Your Dog

I’ll never forget the day I was out with Tara and she went completely lame on one leg. She was non weight-bearing, but otherwise happy as a clam. I had no idea what she’d done to herself – there were no yelps of pain, no sudden twists, turns or stops that could have caused it. When I stopped to check her, I found a 3 inch long thorn sticking out of her pad. After removing it, she was back to normal, so we ran home where I was able to clean and more thoroughly evaluate it. It’s incredibly important that you learn to observe your dog for injuries especially through any subtle gait changes. Dogs are so incredibly stoic that they often don’t show us overt signs of pain unless it’s really really bad, so we need to be able to pick up on the little things. Sore muscles or injuries may lead to lameness that requires rest (and possibly vet intervention) for healing. Paw pads are a frequent place of minor and major running injuries, so I try to inspect them daily for any cuts or abrasions. In the summer be aware of the hot asphalt and in the winter, the chemicals and salt used on roads and sidewalks can burn the pads.

10. Have a Blast!

(The obligatory “have fun” tip). Running with your dog is not just a great way to stay motivated and to get fit, it’s fun! Explore new routes, try trail running with your dog, or find a dog-friendly race to do together. Just take the time to appreciate the pure and simple joy that dogs have when they get to go on a run with you. 🙂

What additional tips do you have for running with your dog(s)?

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Disclaimer: The contents of this post and blog are my own opinions and should be used for informational purposes only. The information presented here is not a replacement for your veterinarian’s medical advice or care.

 

 

Yesterday’s Training:

30 minutes yoga

New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 1, Workout A (1/8)

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A Marathon and Goals for April

Yesterday, I had one of the best double-digit runs, ever.  The weather started a little humid and mid-50s, but cleared up and the sun came out. I ran with the dog, Tara, as well as three other friends and two more dogs. We started on our usually long run route, but instead of doing an out-and-back as we usually do, we mixed it up and turned off at 5 miles to create a loop through town. It’s amazing how a few miles of new scenery can invigorate a long run. On my shorter runs I routinely switch directions and mix things up with new side streets, but on the longer runs I’ve been doing the same route for quite awhile so it made a huge difference to change the route so much.

I think I’ll try to come up with another couple of courses for double-digit runs over the next few months to keep things interesting. It is going to be even more important as I ramp up the mileage for…wait for it…marathon training!  I finally committed and registered for the Richmond Marathon on November 16 in Richmond, Virginia. I am so excited at the prospect of finally tackling 26.2 miles!  My friend, Caitlin, and my hubby are going to run it too, so I’ll have plenty of support in my training here in Kansas and my family in Virginia is already on board with being our support crew while we’re on the East coast.

With such a big race on the horizon, I would like to get back into the habit of setting regular goals throughout the year.  I only set one goal for running for the year and that was to run 1000 miles, which I am a little behind on reaching with my current monthly totals (197.95/1000).  Tomorrow is April 1st, so today seems apropos to start setting some  monthly goals.

Goals for April

1. Run 100 miles in the month. I’ve run just under 200 miles for the year so far, so 100 this month will put me back on track for an even effort in the rest of the year for reaching my 1000 miles goal.

2. Do at least 1 day of weight lifting per week. I would like to start one of the New Rules of Lifting programs again. I’m leaning toward New Rules of Lifting for Women because I’m already familiar with all the moves, don’t need any new equipment, and they’re fairly short routines for the first few months while I’m still in school. My plan is to start by going to the gym this Tuesday during my long lunch break.

3. Prepare 1 new recipe per week. I really enjoyed finding new foods to try and meal-planning during my paleo experiment, and would like to continue adding some fresh new ideas to the repertoire.

4. Do at least 30 minutes of yoga per week. My flexibility is abysmal and running keeps me too tight, so I need to invest more time into stretching and flexibility. I think incorporating yoga into my routine will be a great way to accomplish this.

5. Research the possibility of an early summer triathlon. I’d like to find something to fill the gap between my half marathon training and the beginning of my marathon training. If I find a race that is within an easy morning drive, register and organize my training plan.

Do you have any tips for a first time marathoner? Do you set goals for yourself throughout the year?

Yesterday’s Training:

10.01 mile run

Today’s Training:

Rest day

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What Works for Me

A recent blog post (sorry no link, can’t remember where it was!) started me thinking about the latest trends in fitness culture. From minimalist shoes and barefoot running to Paleo/Primal nutrition to Crossfit and more, it has become almost a rite of passage for fitness fanatics to try and in some cases cling to these fads. I freely admit reading Born to Run and promptly transitioning to a minimalist shoe. I even tried on some Vibram FiveFingers, and still think about going back to buy them. I’ve mentioned that I’ve recently made a foray into the world of Paleo/Primal eating, and the main reason I haven’t tried Crossfit yet is the expense.

Sometimes I find it hard to remember that just because these things are trendy doesn’t mean they’re what works for me.

Thus far, I’ve been pretty lucky. Knock wood, I am not injury prone. My IT band used to act up occasionally, but a little extra attention with the foam roller and I am good to go. Minimalist shoes were no big deal to transition to wearing. I already preferred lighter weight shoes. I’m a very neutral runner with minimal pronation and I naturally mid-foot strike pretty consistently. Minimalist shoes were practically made for me! Are they for everyone? Heck no! But they do work for me.

Let’s talk paleo/primal.

It started as something Curtis mentioned, then I grabbed onto and ran away with it. The transition was easy for me – I had to trade my morning oatmeal for eggs and veggies and my dinners of rice- or pasta-based dishes for more meat and veggies- but as long as I had time to plan and shop it was no big deal. I didn’t experience the first few days of headaches or strange symptoms that I’ve heard are common, and the only unexpected side effect I had was increased thirst over the first few days. My dear hubby, on the other hand, felt like crap the first few days. He bounced back over the next week, but after struggling with the very restrictive plan while out of town and eating at other peoples’ homes, he has opted out of this style of eating. It didn’t work for him.

Does it work for me? Yes and no. I feel no different eating in the primal style than I did before, with the notable exception that I no longer feel hungry all the time. I can actually eat a meal and feel satisfied for more than 20 minutes afterward! I love that about it. But…I still love pasta, bread, rice and all the other “no-nos” that are not consistent with primal. Because of this, primal isn’t going to work for me. I’ll complete my 30 day challenge in just 6 more days. After that, I plan to stick with some primal tenets for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, but if I want to have some grains with dinner or eat dessert, I will with no guilt about it. They don’t give me overwhelming inflammation, nor do they sap my energy.

Will a strictly primal or paleo nutrition plan work for you? Try it and see. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, keep the parts you like and get rid of the rest.

There are no hard and fast rules to fitness and nutrition! What works for me won’t always work for you. I may fall for each passing trend in running faster, eating better, or being healthier, and that’s ok, as long as I remember to listen to my own body and pay attention to what works for me without trapping myself into what works for everybody else.

Have you tried any fitness trends? What works or doesn’t work for you?

 

 

Today’s Training:

4.66 mile run

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A Year’s Worth of Updates

It has been nearly a year since my last blog post. Wow. Time certainly does fly. School keeps me incredibly busy, but I am still running pretty consistently. I ran another half marathon in the fall, and I have several running races fast approaching this spring. The triathlon bug has bitten once again, so I’m thinking about signing up for a race or two this summer as long as the scheduling works.

The next race I have is Dog-N-Jog 5K/10K on April 6. This is the same race I did last year with my German Shepherd Dog, Tara. I’m leaning toward doing the 5K again this year instead of the 10K. The 5K course is being altered a bit so that it is closer to the correct distance, as last year it was a little short at only about 3 miles exactly. The next day, April 7, I’ve organized two teams for Brew to Brew, which is a 44 mile point-to-point relay race from Kansas City, MO to Lawrence, KS. We had two teams last year and it was a blast, so I’m really looking forward to doing this race again. I’ll be running two legs for a total of 8.8 miles. It will be a good warm-up for my next half marathon on April 21, the Kansas Half Marathon, which is the same race I did last spring.

In other news, I’ve been trying a more Primal-style nutrition plan in my daily life. I started a 30 day self-challenge on February 27, so I’m over half-way through. I will freely admit that I am pretty lenient in the dairy department, and usually eat one serving of dairy per day.  I have had a few servings of indulgences, but not many overall and none in the first two weeks of the challenge. The biggest benefit so far is that I’m not as hungry all the time and between meals as I used to be. I also lost about 8 pounds within the first week. I’ve since evened out at about 5 pounds lighter than my starting weight. Since I was already happy with my weight, I’m glad the weight loss has stopped. The only downsides are the meal planning and the expense. It’s a lot more expensive to eat so many fresh veggies all the time, but I do think it’s healthier to eat more fruits and veggies.  Meal planning does take a little more time than a more conventional diet, but I don’t think it’s prohibitive.  I usually plan meals for the week on the weekend and do all my grocery shopping over the weekend. One other observation I made was that initially, I felt extremely thirsty all the time, but that’s no longer the case.

I haven’t noticed an extreme difference in energy levels or inflammation, so I don’t think grains have that much of an effect on me in those aspects. With only 10 days of my challenge left, I think that I will not stick to the restrictions on grains long term, but I will probably keep to the main principles and not feel that my meals have to be centered around a grain or a starch.  I want to be able to eat bread or pasta on occasion and enjoy the occasional dessert indulgence. 🙂

I will not pretend that I will be able to post on a regular basis over the next few months, but just wanted to jump in and do a quick update while I have some time. I hope to at least write some race reports for the upcoming races, but life may have other plans.

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Free Training

It used to be that I could go to the gym, do my workout, shower and get home without speaking to a single person. It’s not that I’m antisocial or anything, but usually I prefer to just get my workout done, and get out. I’ve never really had a need to be buddy-buddy with anyone at the gym. Lately, it seems like I’m just a magnet for conversation. Yesterday, I got to the gym and the main floor was relatively quiet, but the weight room was pretty busy for a Friday evening. After a quick warm-up, I dove into my NROLW routine. After a few sets, a guy came up to me and asked if what I kept my legs straight or bent doing what I was (single-leg Romanian deadlift) and whether it worked the hamstrings because he had been having trouble with his hamstrings. I said yes it did and briefly explained how to do it so I could get back to my next set. A few sets later and go figure, the guy is trying the move! And his form was all wrong. I felt obligated to go correct him because the way he was moving he was bound to hurt his back. I never thought for a second that he would actually try it right then! His form in the next few reps were much better, thank goodness. I think he must have thought I was a trainer or something at first. He made a comment about getting some “free training” and I made sure to tell him that I was definitely  not a trainer. Through all this, I lost track a bit of my rest times, which kind of bugs me, but oh well. I hope the guy has better luck with his hamstrings in the future and doesn’t hurt himself doing anything he tried because I did it first!

My workout was NROLW stage 3 workout A.

A. One-armed dumbbell snatch – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 17.5 lb DBs

B1. Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 30 lb DBs

B2. Barbell bent-over row – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 85 lb barbell (1st set) and 75 lb barbell (2nd and 3rd set)

C1. Dumbbell single-arm overhead squat – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 12.5 lb and 25 lb DBs

C2. Dumbbell incline bench press – 3 sets of 6 with 105s Rest @ 22.5 lb

D1. Plank – 3 sets of 120s with 105s Rest @ BW

D2. Reverse Wood Chop – 3 sets of 6 with 25 lb (1st set), 20 lb (2nd set), 25 lb (3rd set)

Body Weight Matrix – 2 sets (24 squats, 12 lunges each leg, 12 lunge jumps each leg, 24 squat jumps)

Eating-wise, I’ve stuck to the plan the last few days. Thursday ended with 1772 calories, Friday with about 1685 calories and today (Saturday) with about 1886 calories. Today was a little high, but yesterday was a little low and I worked out, so I thought it would even out a bit. Friday and Saturday are approximate because we went out for dinner on Friday night and I had leftovers (white pizza with red peppers, mushrooms and artichokes) today for lunch. It was delicious and worth every bite. 🙂

Tomorrow morning we need to get to the gym between 8 AM and 2 PM because it closes early for Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter!

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Already a loss?

Yesterday, I ended up eating 1713 calories, which is a little less than predicted. My dinner plans had included two servings of broccoli, thinking I had some in the freezer but I did not. I subbed a single serving of frozen peas and carrots instead and had more than enough food.

This morning I stepped on the scale. Imagine my surprise when it showed a loss of another 1.6 pounds since yesterday morning and a number I haven’t seen in probably 6 months! I know this is probably just a normal weight fluctuation or my scale is broken, but it’s still nice to get that momentary gratification. 🙂 A pound or more in a day is really a much faster rate of weight loss than I want to maintain. If this trend continues, which I doubt it will, I will probably have to increase calories a bit. I am very satisfied on the amount I’m eating right now and do not feel hungry at any time during the day (except when I first wake up in the morning), so I shouldn’t need more but we’ll see. Logging will help me notice trends like this.

I forgot to mention one of the other changes I have made to my diet. I used to religiously eat 5-6 times a day, with 2 big meals and 3-4 smaller snacks. Recently, I had been eating two large meals and one small and a continuous snacking off and on through the evening after getting home from work. Needless to say, that had to go. I’m back to planning for five times a day with an additional shake or smoothie on workout days.

Today is a workout day, so I’m planning to eat 2049 calories. I already had 305.5 for breakfast (milk, cottage cheese and raisins), 300.5 for a morning snack/2nd breakfast (hobbits anyone?) of oatmeal and some add-ins, and I just finished a BIG salad for lunch with 637.5 calories. I’ll have a small afternoon snack of carrots and hummus again for 85 calories, do my workout and then have a post-workout protein shake for 170 calories. Dinner will be 550 cals of leftovers from last night plus some cooked spinach and a little dark chocolate. 🙂 This is 27.41% cals from protein, 32.34% from fat and 40.25% from carbs. By the way, I find it funny that the Daily Plate tells me that I’m over my recommended amount of fat and protein every day. It also hates the amount of cholesterol (from eggs on my salad), but I must say I’m not convinced that dietary cholesterol has much effect on body chemistry. I used to have high cholesterol while avoiding fatty foods and foods with high cholesterol, then when I changed to eating closely to the way I am now, my cholesterol went down. Go figure. Of course there were other factors that I’m sure contributed, but it doesn’t seem like a couple of eggs every day has much effect on my levels.

My workout is New Rules of Lifting for Women stage 3 workout B and 15 minutes of running intervals. Exact workout may be posted later, but I don’t have it in front of me at the moment.

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Finding Balance

Has there ever been a time when you felt your life got really out of balance? I know I have. After Timberman last summer, I was so relieved to have completed it that I essentially stopped trying to live a healthy lifestyle. I think I had gotten out of balance by putting so much time and effort into training and thinking about training and eating for training for nearly a year that once it was all over I went a little overboard in allowing myself to eat junk and not exercise. I remained active by normal standards (walking daily), but in comparison to my previous commitment to 1-3 hours of exercise at least 5 days a week, I was a sedentary blob.

As a result, I was feeling pretty disgusted and annoyed with myself, and as any readers still out there know, increasingly neglected my blog because I just couldn’t own up to the lack of focus in my fitness journey any longer. I gained about 10 pounds pretty quickly after the HIM and could tell my body composition had changed for the worse. I knew I needed to get myself back on track without the illusion of accountability from recording on the blog. I decided not to do any races this year and start with just 2 days a week of working out. I have continued with the New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROLW) program. I recently added a third workout day in every week, so I lift with my mom usually on Tuesdays and I lift with Curtis on Thursdays and Sundays. I also run with a friend on Fridays when it works with both of our busy schedules. I’m really happy with this schedule. I still walk daily with Tara as well and feel it is just the right amount if exercise for me right now. I wouldn’t mind adding another 2 days eventually, but I am still building back to that. Since the NROLW program has interval training worked in, I’m still usually running 1-2 times per week but in short and sweet doses (about 15 minutes) that I can handle.

I am just now (started last week) trying to get my nutrition in line. Even though I had gotten back on a regular exercise schedule I hadn’t lost any of that extra weight I was carrying. I was still eating poorly and too much. Last week, my focus was to get more protein in my diet, less refined carbs (and more whole grains and fruits/veggies) and be more mindful of my portion sizes. With just those things, I lost 2.4 pounds. This week, I’m tracking my diet to see where I’m at calorie-wise and what my macronutrient ratios look like. Ideally I’d like to aim for 1700 calories on non-lifting days and 2000 calories on lifting days with 30% from protein, 30% from fat and 40% from carbs. If I have another loss this week I’ll stick with the same calories in for next week. If I have a gain or maintenance, I’m going to decrease by 200-300 each day. I’m using The Daily Plate at livestrong.com for tracking.

For today, my breakfast (oatmeal with add-ins for protein) was 330 cals. Morning snack of cottage cheese and raisins came in at 210 cals. My lunch salad was about 458 calories. I have an 85 calorie afternoon snack of hummus and carrots planned. My dinner of quinoa, broccoli and turkey burgers with a desset of dark chocolate is planned for 674 calories. That gives a total of about 1757 for the day. My meals are a little weird on Mondays because my afternoon is scrunched since I have dog training in the evening and eat my last meal around 5pm before I leave for training. Most other nights my dinners fall between 7 and 8 pm.

I’m not promising a daily update on progress, but I’ll be checking-in.

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