Marathon training update; commiting to me

Training is moving right along and I do mean moving.  I got 13.1 miles in today, the plan called for 12, but I had a virtual half to complete so I did that little bit extra.  I found that today I had to take some time and slow my pace as well as walk a tiny bit to keep my strength up.  I don’t know why but the idea of walking during a race really bothers me, but I am not sure I would have finished otherwise. 

Having done this today instead of Saturday does throw my running schedule off a little bit.  Tomorrow I am supposed to run 4 miles and I plan on trying to do that after work, but we will see.  I find that this training is really helping me get to know my body and in a way is like a great experiment.  

One of my friends believes that we have the power to sculpt our bodies with weight lifting, I know that we can influence it’s shape by the foods we eat, and running is showing me how to influence my mental resilience as well.  I had several times today where I considered stopping, in fact I considered stopping before I even started.  I spent that time thinking about the fundraiser that I was running for, the runners that inspire me, and the people I love that can’t run.  I decided to suck it up, go, and keep going.  I love running and no matter what I intend to see this through and finish my marathon. 

I am also doing some changing up of my diet and trying to cut back on my simple carbs, increase the veggies and fruits, and increase my protein.  I met with my friends and they made some suggestions to my diet and one major thing is I really need to focus on cleaner eating.  I have been slacking on that and it is reflecting on my waist line.  It’s strange to me, but I am having to find my motivation to get lean again.  Weight maintenance is not easy, it’s major behavior change and lets face it when you like food as much as I do it adds to the challenge.  Trying to figure out how much is too much and not crossing that line is hard for someone that is food addicted. 

I’m recommitting to me and to getting the healthiest physique I can.  I am also just not satisfied with having the amount of belly that I do; ImageI want to change that.  Changing it and doing the type of eating that will get me there will take commitment as well.  I know the days of the week I struggle with the most when it comes to eating and I plan to do better this week.  I am committed to me…

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Getting to know the treadmill

As you all know if you have read my posts I have a love hate relationship going with the treadmill.  It’s really pretty common for most long distance runners to feel this way, so I am definitely not abnormal (not about this at least).  What I wanted to share today was a little info on how to use a treadmill.  Sounds funny I know, but based off of observation there are many people that have some misconceptions about them and frankly risk bodily injuries every time they use one.

Lets’ start with this: first if it’s at home take the clothes hangers off of it and dust it off, just kidding.  Seriously though if you have one it’s time to get familiar with it and actually use this wonderful (ish) piece of equipment.  You paid money for it or for the use of it at the gym so might as well use it.

Next thing to consider: If you are going so fast that you must hold on to the treadmill you need to do one of two things.  Either go faster and actually run, or if you can’t do that slow the treadmill down so you can do a comfortable, yet challenging brisk walk.  Holding on the the treadmill presents a safety risk, if you are going too fast and you let go you risk falling and hurting yourself.  Another issue is that it encourages hunched over shoulders and a jutting head, both postural distortions that can cause your body to adapt in other areas and ultimately can cause pain in the lower back and legs.  If you are someone with desk job chances are you already have some posture issues because of the computer, no need to make them worse.

Finally let me ask you this: if we don’t normally walk sideways at a fast pace or backwards at a fast pace why would you do it on a machine that can throw you off and cause you injuries?  It’s simply not safe and there is no need to do these two things on a moving belt that can throw you into a wall, other equipment, or the poor unfortunate person walking behind you.  If you want to work your glutes, thighs, and hamstrings then do some other exercises such as burpees, ice skaters, squats, and lunges.  There are plenty of ways to work your legs that are challenging and safer for you and the people around you.

Get familiar with your treadmill, know the programs that if offers and if those are intimidating then just remember although I joke about racing the person next to you to pass the time, you are only racing yourself.  Many treadmills have incline control (no holding on here either), heart rate monitoring, and pretty basic stop/go/pause buttons.  It’s not necessary to go all out, you can do a brisk walk while you grow more comfortable with this piece of equipment and work towards adding speed or incline as you grow stronger.  Know where the safety off switch is and enjoy the fact that you are getting up and active which is the first step to better fitness/health.

5 things to consider starting your fitness journey

For awhile I have had an idea swirling around in my head about sharing some of the “learning” moments I have had while training for both my half marathon last year and so far in my journey for my marathon this year. I earned my CPT last year, but truthfully am still young in my fitness journey.  I expect I have a lot more to learn and now rather than being intimidated by it I am embracing it, a benefit from my journey.

1) Nutrition is an important part of the equation. It’s true that you can run, jump, lift, and do all kinds of exercises eating things like McBurgerBell type foods, but you will never get your best achievements with that type of food. I’m starting to make even bigger changes with mine now and already seeing an increase of energy and recovery from my long runs. Nutrition during your run is important too. I had no idea that “hitting the wall” at mile 4-5 was a fueling issue until an experienced runner pointed it out. It’s different for everyone, but that is one of my fueling spots.

2) Stretching regularly is HUGE! Okay so it’s not brain surgery and no huge surprise to any yogis out there, but it’s taken time to sink into my head and my routine. I ♥ my foam roller now, the golf ball for my foot (I use it under my desk, shhh), and my yoga mat. I’m amazed I didn’t have an injury while training for my half because I don’t remember stretching hardly at all.

3) Strength training helps everything fitness related. After all of my studies for the CPT it became obvious that development of strong muscles and core only enhance my true love of running. It also helps to strengthen my bones because it’s never too late or too early to fight against osteoporosis. The muscles also help support my joints and have helped with stability, a huge bonus for a klutz like me.

4) Don’t skimp on the equipment. Proper gear for your favorite fitness activities cost money, I wouldn’t recommend running long distances in dollar store shoes. A lot of the equipment will last a while (except the shoes) so think of it as an investment.

5) Make a plan and track your progress. Get a measuring tape, an ap on your phone, a notebook, and take pictures.  Any of those ways will work to help you see the changes, especially the ones you don’t see on the scale. Consult a trainer to help solidify your goals and make a plan to get there, random exercises get random results.

These may sound simple, but there is so much information out there to sort through and it can be overwhelming to start this fitness journey. Take the time to plan and research to get the results you want. What are some of the things you would add to the list?

Adventures in cooking

I have been experimenting in the kitchen today trying to come up with some good ideas for breakfast and lunch.  I was getting tired of the same old things over and over so I have opted to switch a few things up.  I must admit that some of the experiment didn’t go horribly awry, but it didn’t really go as well as I hoped.

First up I decided that I wanted to do something different for breakfast in the mornings.  I must admit at this point that I have an ever so slight addiction to Starbucks in the morning.  It’s just too easy to get their egg white reduced fat turkey bacon sandwich and my coffee.  I know it’s not the worst food ever, but I am looking to go clean and lean.  So a friend gave me some guidance and I grabbed some vanilla Whey protein powder, oatmeal, and cottage cheese; yup you read that right.  The consistency seemed good with 1 heaping scoop of the powder, a cup of oatmeal, and half a cup of cottage cheese.  I added water to make it a bit thinner, but I didn’t measure it. This is what I ended up with:Image

They taste great, but were hard to flip and I am pretty sure needed a binder like flax egg substitute or egg it’s self.  I’m not giving up on this and will just revamp what I did next time by adding some egg and reducing the water.  I will be adding some fruit and a tiny bit of natural peanut butter with it to round out the meal.

Next up was a total success!  I hollowed out some green peppers and stuffed them with barley, jalapenos, red peppers, and Swai fish.  I sauteed the fish, the jalapenos, and the red peppers before adding them to the barley; then I mixed in some organic diced tomatoes and garlic powder.  I baked them covered in an oven for 45 minutes until the peppers were tender.  I had considered adding some pineapple to the mix and may later when I have to reheat for lunch.  I grabbed a spoonful whiel stuffing the peppers and the mix tasted great!

ImageThis was part of my weekend adventure; I find it fun to experiment in the kitchen and I am working on doing better with clean more nutritious eating.  I also have some cut up veggies, have some fruit, and some Luna bars for snacking.  What are some of your go to items for meals and snacks?  

The first mile & the last/the short goals & the long

I have been thinking a lot about a phrase that I have heard used frequently on other blogs, Twitter, and FB lately.  The saying that “the first mile is a liar”; I think there is a fair amount of truth to that statement, but I would add a bit more to it.  The first mile a lot of times is a rough one, sometimes physically and sometimes mentally.  There are just days that it requires a lot of self talk to get out the door and to even lace up the shoes.  I started off my journey often making bargains with myself that I would do at least a mile and then decide if I stop or keep going, most of the time I kept going.

What I would add, in my experience at least, is the last mile lies at times too, it feels like it will never end.  This Saturday when I got to mile 9 it seemed like I would never get to mile 10.  I thought the world must have slowed down and not one bothered to tell me, or maybe I had slowed and like a bad scifi movie the world was still going forward. 

I know the reality of it, that a mile is a mile, but when you focus on something you make it seem like it lasts longer.  This is both a benefit and a drawback depending on what you focus on.  Realizing that my focus affects me (and perhaps you) that way is an advantage.  Focusing on the things we enjoy can add to life and making our focus move to the short term can help us keep our motivation.  At the end of last year I worried about how I was possibly going to make it through the training.  How was I going to fit getting those miles in?  I think now that I was looking too far ahead, I realized it and started focusing on weekly goals.  I still look at the big picture (I need to so I keep the big goal in mind), but I find that the small steps keep me going and motivated.

How does this apply to you?  This time of year the people that started off wanting to do better this year with exercise and diet may or may not be seeing results.  The people that don’t see the neon flashing signs that change is happening tend to give up, the ones that focus on the small changes or small steps keep going.  Keep the changes going, they will add up and you will see results.  Stay focused, if you need to stay focused on the small steps that works, but don’t forget the big goal.  Mine’s crossing that finish line at 26.2 at least once in my life.  Truth be told my motivation is so hi at the moment if I could afford it I would be signing up for another full and I haven’t even finished my first.

What are your goals and how do you stay motivated?

Marathon Training Update

I am now 103 days away from my first marathon, holy crap!  Yesterday was my first double digit run since I did my half back in November.  The pace was an average of 10:20, not the best I have done, but not the worst.  I’m still doing the occasional hills or speed work, but I honestly forced myself to focus not on increasing speed on this run.  Right now you might be scratching your head asking why?  It’s because I know I must practice self control in pacing myself instead of pushing to hard too fast on long runs.  If I push to hard and too fast I might not make it to the end of my 26.2 journey, and that is not acceptable. 10 mile trainingmarathon (That’s me after I got done showing the number 1 and 0 in case you can’t tell.)

My training schedule is going according to plan so far; next week I get a weekly total of 24 miles in, 11 on Saturday.  Here’s the thing, I just did the math and my current plan has me hitting my highest mileage 26 days early, crud!  So I am going to have to figure out how to extend it by just a bit.  In figuring that out I am also going to have to look at my travel days and the mileage I will need there and how I will work that out.  So I will have to do some research on some other plans and hit up a few of my marathon running expert friends.  I’m not worried, just glad I discovered this now and not a month down the road.  Good news is I will be carb loading while traveling, woohoo road trip snackage!

Beyond that the training is going very well overall.  I am working on the nutrition factor and hope to get some recommendations from a few RD friends of mine soon.  Part of why I worry about it is that I gain all of my weight starting in my mid section, it’s the first place I gain and the last place I lose.  I have noticed that I am gaining there again and that is the last thing I want.  I’m not going to be deterred from my marathon by gaining, I know it’s a matter of figuring out what works well with my body.  I am going to keep up my strength training as well, I know I will be healthier for it and I am getting used to it again.

I am finding that the reluctance or the lack of motivation to get started has really faded away with each new challenge in the plan.  I’m looking forward to the long runs and showing myself that I can do it.  I have also found some new songs to put on my playlist and am working on changing it up with some motivating songs.  Speaking of motivation, I also plan to see if any of my friends or family might want to meet me out on the trail and run next to me or bike next to me starting around mile 20, where I expect to face my biggest challenge.

When you know you have a big challenge coming up, whether it’s physical or mental, how do you prepare or pump yourself up?

My training grocery shopping list

This week I have been doing a lot of research in trying to make sure that I am addressing my caloric and nutritional needs correctly for my marathon training.  While I am still sorting out details in the ratios and how many calories to eat I have started doing some planning.  I realized “holy crud!” I need to hit the store to get some of my better quality carbs handy for my long runs.  In fact this is the last week for a while where my long run will be in the single digits.  I really want to make sure that I am refueling my body correctly because I don’t want to feel like death warmed over as I increase my mileage.  Putting in 19 miles or more a week is a real strain on your body, especially when it isn’t something you do all of the time.  I imagine as you get used to it then the difference in calorie intake and the eating becomes more routine, but until then I have to do more planning to make sure I stay on track.  So I thought I would share with you the grocery list that I have come up with of things to stock up on so far.

·         Sweet potatoes- I love eggs in the morning, but don’t do a lot of carbs (or the more complex at least) so I will have those as hash browns instead.

·         Barley- I don’t have much, I am thinking I need to keep some cooked and ready to add to lunches.

·         Pears- I have found that bananas and apples actually cause me (and those around me) distress (me intestinally) so I am forced to find some other options so far I have come up with having pears around and will have to see what is available seasonally.

Quinoa- I haven’t made my protein bars for a bit so I am going to make a batch soon and make sure I have some on hand to cook.

Oatmeal- I can probably change it up and do some oatmeal for breakfast every once and awhile.

Nuts- They are great for a quick snack, throw it in with any fruit and you get a good combo.

Dates- I love these for a long run, they have the sugar to give a nice boost and are a lot cleaner than gu’s.

Brown or black rice- I love both, they have a nice nutty taste and are a great addition to any protein.

Beans- okay well chickpeas for sure (not beans really, but whatever) and I am going to try some other kinds.  I don’t generally like them, but added to the rice with some veggies I think I might.

That is just what I have come up with so far in addition to my regular veggie mix and hummus, I am thinking about other things and would love suggestions from you.  What are some of your favorite healthy carbs and fueling options?

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