If you follow my Facebook page you saw a little over a month ago that I decided to start holding myself more accountable with my eating by taking a picture of everything I ate and drank for the next 30 days.  Part of this was a challenge with my running group Run Grrrls Run.  I was inspired by having a night of over indulgence and feeling very sick afterwards because of over eating and drinking too much.  I was already struggling with having gained weight with my marathon training and feeling like my appetite was out of control.  I used my Instagram account Formerlyfatgirlrunning to document my journey.  It’s been more than a month now and I plan to keep doing it on occasion, but I won’t flood it completely with food and drink pictures now.  I admit that I stopped doing pictures of water, but the other calorie laden drinks I kept doing (read mostly coffee, smoothies, and alcohol).


Today I looked over my photos and made a few observations and I had a few surprising results as well that I thought I might share with you.  First I want to ask you: have you ever tracked your food?  I know that many people working to get fit and be healthy start tracking their food along the way.  In fact it is sometimes a necessity so that we can really see where we are starting from.  It was a valuable tool when I started my journey because over the years as I got bigger my ability to eat more and more grew as well; my stomach inside and out grew.  So in order to really make changes I had to start with weighing and measuring.  One of my friends shared some articles recently about the-art-of-food-tracking, she had some great tips in it and shared that she does it a few times a year to figure out where she is at, a mini self assessment.  I see now why she suggests to keep doing it every once and awhile.

One of the things I noticed is that doing this in general made me much more mindful of how much I was eating.  I had this accountability whether real or imagined that people would suddenly see how I ate.  More than that if I really want to get back to a healthier weight for myself and have the fuel I need to do the activities I want then I had to start making some better choices.

The second thing that happened was I stopped taking little sneaks here and there of food during the day and while making meals.  I had gotten to where I was finishing little bits of the meal if there wasn’t much left or I was eating the “occasional” treat but it was slowly becoming more than occasional.  It was becoming a habit to eat a tiny piece of chocolate daily and sneak some chips daily.  I had clearly started slipping back into old behaviors and this made me stop and think before making that choice.

I also got more creative in dealing with meals that weren’t my choice to make.  I live in a large family situation and what I would eat that would be healthier isn’t always what others would eat so I had to take a look at how to improve it.  I literally pealed the breading off of fish one night in an effort to make it a healthier meal.  I ate smaller portions when the meal wasn’t that healthy too.

Finally it helped to continue my transformation in my relationship with food.  In the past food has been my comfort, my friend, and the thing I looked to when I wanted to change my mood.  Doing this experiment really helped me to shift my focus on eating to make myself stronger and satisfy hunger.  I started to slow down and recognize cravings verses true hunger better like I mentioned in a recent post.  In fact today did not start off in the most stellar way, actually it started with having a really rough night.  One thing after another seemed to pile up, all little things, but frustrating either way.  I had one last errand to run and as I walked around the store to get what I needed I strongly considered getting a candy bar.  The occasional treat is okay, but I was clearly considering it to reward myself for putting up with people and to improve my mood.  For the first time I thought to myself, “I’m really tired of allowing food to rule my moods”.  Never before would that thought have resonated so clearly in my mind.

What started off as an effort to get increased accountability ended up with an increase in mindfulness and *drum roll please* a surprising loss of 4lbs and 2 inches off of my stomach.  Yep, I managed to lose weight without doing the weighing and measuring.  I am so pleased with this.  I know that the increase of weight lifting has also played a good part of the loss, but I can’t help and wonder if I would have achieved it had I not gotten my eating habits under better control.  I’m not going to continue to post it on a regular basis now, but will probably use this as a spot check in the future.  I also plan to share some of my creative and new meals with my Instagram followers.


The Fueling and Weight Seesaw

I am all to familiar with it and maybe you are too; that struggle to fuel your body enough while training/working out and trying to maintain or lose weight.  It’s such a hard thing to wrap your head around especially when like me, you used to be or you are overweight.  I won’t get into the psychology of it in this post, but that relationship with food can really be a roadblock in your journey.  I feel like I am just now maintaining a healthier view of that relationship and I lost my weight about 2 1/2 years ago.  Regardless of that, while you work through some of those issues it’s a common struggle and definitely worth a discussion here.

Here are 4 things to look at while trying to keep this balance, these are things I consider when fueling my body through out the day and maybe they will assist you as well.

  • Your post work out meal will look different than your pre workout meals– The preferred fueling source for your body is carbohydrates, it is one of the many reasons runners “carb load”.  Now it’s true that all carbs are not created equal so when we carb load or just eat carbs in general we really should be pickier about what we use.  For instance the pasta buffet the night before the race is more likely to leave you feeling bloated than energized.  However if I eat a nice solid meal with complex carbohydrates such as whole grain or whole wheat pasta and a nice big salad I can get full, but not bloated.  A bonus of that is they generally have fewer calories so I can fill up and not break the bank with calories.  The post work out meal should have more protein in it because it helps to satisfy my hunger, will stay with me longer, and the protein helps with rebuilding my muscles.  Options like chocolate milk (a runners favorite), eggs, and protein drinks will help with this and also won’t break the calorie bank.
  • You’ve eaten, but are you still hungry– I know how this sounds, but hear me out.  I am one of those people that can down a ridiculous amount of food in 5.2 seconds, okay not literally but I eat really fast.  I try to slow myself down, but when I feel starved it is sometimes more restraint than I have.  Out of that I learned that after I scarf it down I need to stop and back away from the plate.  I sit and enjoy the company or distract myself, anything to allow time for my body to decide if it is still hungry. After 20 minutes or so if I still feel hungry I will find a little bit more to eat and that typically does it for me.  The old saying about it taking time for your body to feel full is true so slow it down while you eat and enjoy the tastes.  Or sit back and relax after you clean your plate, but before you load up the plate again.  Either way, wait!
  • Is it hunger or a craving– Again there is a difference to these and if I don’t listen to my body I may not make the best choices.  A good general rule is if the sensation is based below my body I am hungry, but if it is in my head it’s probably not hunger.  Hunger is a physical sensation not a thought and if I am focused on one particular type of food then it is probably just a good old craving.  For instance since last week I have been craving onion rings, I have chosen not to eat them because of the calories and fried fatty goodness involved.  I know that although it would be nice I will live without them.  This doesn’t mean I won’t eat some again someday, but just not now.  It’s okay to spurge or treat yourself here and there, but if you want lose weight or maintain it you have to consider if it fits where you want to go.
  • The most important one– IF YOU ARE HUNGRY YOU NEED TO EAT!  Seriously if you have done the things up above it could very well be that you are physically hungry and you need to fuel your body.  If you are working out like a fiend several times a day then you do need to eat.  Food is about fueling your body to do those awesome kicka@# things like burpees, marathons, lifting 2x’s your own body weight, etc.  If you want to do those things you have to keep up the energy in your body.  One of THE BIGGEST mistakes that people make when trying to lose weight is going overboard with calorie restrictions.  It may take some experimenting to get the calorie deficit right, but doing things like eating only one meal a day or having an all liquid diet for instance will actually cause your body to slow it’s metabolism down. This is where getting past calorie counting and using mindfulness can really help you.  If you aren’t there yet then you might start working towards it.  I know that counting my calories really helped me in the beginning, but it wasn’t a long term lifestyle that I wanted to keep (it’s a real pain in the rear).

When all is said and done you have to look at what your goals are because that should help shape your habits.  My overall goal is to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy body so that I can be that 90 year old runner/weight lifter you hear about in the news.  I love being active and fit; it makes me feel good both physically and mentally so all of my choices should head that way.  It’s possible to get that perfect equilibrium that we strove for as kids when we played on the seesaw or as my part of the country calls it a teeter totter.  However just like a see saw we may have to reposition ourselves and adapt based on life changes just keep working towards your goals.  I also suggest finding a dietitian or a personal trainer to help you with specifics, they are there to guide you when you are feeling a bit lost.

Do you have tips to find the balance between fueling your body and weight loss/maintenance?


Checking in

I realize I haven’t posted for awhile, call it writers block and life block; I apologize and hope to get going again.  I would love to report that I was up and running with no problems, but today’s run stopped at 6 miles because it started hurting so bad.  I’m not sure what I have done, but I am frustrated.  I am going to have a self imposed hiatus from running for a week to see if this helps.  If it doesn’t seem to be helping I will start the process to go see a specialist.  I believe that I may need some new shoes as well so I will be looking for some new ones.  I hope your summer is going well so far and you are finding some great ways for yourself and your kids to stay active.  I know the kids in my house would be happy sitting on their electronics all summer, but there are a lot of draw backs to that plan.  Anyway, for now I will say goodnight and I should have a post or two for you soon.  Jenn

IT Band+Pain= Lessons Learned

Well, I haven’t really posted anything on here since my marathon race recap. I am pretty sure that I coasted on that runners high for a few weeks.  I started doing a little bit of running here and there and even got a 6 mile run in last Sunday.  But then….

I was on the treadmill Wednesday after work with a goal of hitting somewhere around 4-5 miles.  I got a little over a mile in and I felt some nagging pain right on the outside of my left knee.  It wasn’t bad at first and I was certain it had more to do with me not paying attention to my form. So I slowed it down a bit and focused on my form and for a second it seemed to help.  Finally I did some walking in between trying to watch my form, but it didn’t do any good.  My knee was killing me and I had to call it after 3.5 miles. 

From what I have read I believe it is an IT band issue and given that the treatments recommended have worked for it, I believe I am correct.  I got an IT band brace and have been wearing it, icing my knee, and using the foam roller.  Most imporantly, even though it is killing me…*sigh* I am not running, doing squats, burpees, etc on it.  The part that kills me is the running, but believe it or not I do enjoy burpees (I’m weird I know, but going from not being able to be that strong and coordinated to being able to do them makes me like them).  Back to the point, I want to run as long in my life as possible so I am doing my best to practice patience and not run.

Research says that I need to wait 3-5 days before attempting to run again, so Monday will be 4 days and I think I will try and do a few minutes of running and see how it goes.  I plan on wearing my brace and focusing on time rather than distance and doing a slower pace with walking in between.       Image

What is the lesson learned here?  To be honest there are several things that I learned in this process:

  1. I am pretty sure this is partially a result of not taking it easy and trying to start running and cross training too early after my marathon.
  2. As strong as my body feels, this is further proof that I need to increase my lean muscle mass and should be doing strength training.
  3. Foam rolling (while painful at times) and stretching are a must to help prevent further irritation and injury.  So even on those days where I don’t feel like I have time or just don’t feel like doing it, I have to make time for it.

Have you injured yourself by pushing too hard in your exercise?  What lessons did you learn from it?

My First Marathon- Frisco Railroad Run

I finally did it, I ran my marathon last Saturday!  It was surreal leading up to it, I let myself get so busy visiting family and friends that it almost snuck up on me.  I think that really helped, because then it didn’t cause me to get too out of control with nerves.  The night before meal with my family at a local Italian restaurant was perfect, I held back a bit so I didn’t make myself too bloated and because I had been doing some carb loading slowly through the week so I wasn’t concerned about it.  We had a ton of fun at the restaurant, no one can make me laugh like my brother; it was again the perfect release for any jitters.

So I got up at 5 am to eat some fuel, I used some natural hazelnut butter and honey on whole grain bread. The night before I had gathered all of my gear up and only had to fill my Camelbak, drop in my Nuun tablets, and dress.  I gave myself plenty of time to walk around and feel alert before I had to drive to my race.  Once I got there it was FREEZING!  Not really, but to this chick that loves the heat and is used to Vegas it was very cold.  I was thankful that they had a school gym we could wait in for a bit before the start of the race and I managed to hit the bathroom line early (score!).

ImageI was starting to get a little nervous and anxious to get going, so I had to get up and move.  I chit chatted with a few other racers while stretching and pacing.  I was very clearly not the only one nervous and at the same time felt reassured by the veteran marathoners/ultra runners that were there.  I figured I might have traveled the farthest, until I saw the Canadian flag on someones shirt, so much for the one award I thought I might get (there wasn’t a traveled farthest, but I could dream).


Notice the ominous looking clouds, for a little bit I actually thought we might avoid the rain, but there was no such luck there. ImageStill the rain did hold out for a bit so I got to enjoy some music for a little while.  On top of the marathon there was an 50 mile, 50k, half, and an 8k. 

7:30 am- we started, I hung out in the back of the pack, I know my tendency to go out too fast and it’s the number one thing on my mind along with reminding myself not to worry about anyone else, because this is my race and my pace not theirs.

8k– as we pass this point it goes from the black top to the fine crushed gravel.  I think to myself how short that distance is and laugh inside.  At the same time I had briefly talked to someone that was doing her first race and doing the 8k.  She was obviously that fun mix of excited and scared, I am reminded that it’s all about perspective at this point in my running journey. I feel strong and I feel confident, I can’t believe I am finally doing it.

Half marathon turn around (6.55 miles)- As I am approaching it I get passed by a kid sprinting (for me it would be a sprint) I am well aware that he is going to win the half marathon and he is way ahead of the others in his race.  At this point it isn’t raining, but it feels like it will very soon.  I had to make a pit stop which slowed my pace, but again as long as I finish it’s a PR so I don’t worry much about it.  I had met two older men and had been chatting with them about their racing experience.  Both were marathon maniacs, one had completed 75 marathons and the other one 25.  They were doing the walk/run method and we were going back and forth passing each other.  They reminded me that I was not allowed to pass old people at the finish line, I laughed.  After the pit stop I they pulled ahead and I met another runner and we paced each other for a bit.  I still felt strong and in a bit of denial of how far I had left to go.

13.1– My turn around point was coming and Deborah the girl I was pacing with and I had really passed the time talking about our common love for running.  She is a mother of 5 and totally kicked butt on her race.  She was a few months older than me and we discussed how this time next year we would be in the next age group.  We also laughed at the pace we would have to keep to qualify for Boston, I shared that I doubted it would ever happen for me, but I now have added NYC and Chicago to my bucket list.  It started raining on us in between the half turn around and our turn around so it was nice to have someone to talk to.  I had used my wireless earphones for the race so I quickly stashed them in my pack as soon as it started to sprinkle.  Thankfully my new phone is water resistant and the band is to, so the phone is fine and I admit to a few pictures and texts along the way. Halfway done and as you can see still smiling!

Image2.5 miles out– I felt like it would never end.  I was encouraged by the knowledge that I was close to finishing, but my energy was definitely waning at this point.  Just before 2.5 miles out I had allowed myself to walk for probably less than a quarter of a mile.  I also passed the guy who said I wasn’t allowed to (oops), he laughed and said, “and there you go” as I went by.  As I did it I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to make myself start again so I forced myself to get going again.  With that in mind I made myself pick up the pace again.  I also had an awesome friend meet me at 2.5 miles out, Sarah from Beauty School drop out who lives in my home town.  I have to admit part of why I pushed myself to keep a decent pace is so that I could get to her soon and not have her waiting forever (though after meeting her she is so sweet I doubt she would have minded).  My brother was there to wave and cheer me on as well and that was awesome.

1.2 miles left– I swear to you on everything, this was THE LONGEST MILE EVER!  I mean it, I felt like this mile was much longer than that, technically it was longer than a mile I know, but I focused on it being just a mile to keep myself going.  By the time I crossed the finish line my Garmin said I did 26.76 miles, I like that because that means I did my first ultra, ha!  As I got right up to the finish line I sped back up and reminded myself to not slow down until the last mat (remember that if you race, the last one has to record you for the results).  Of course I started crying at the end, not overwhelming tears of a break down, but tears of joy, relief, and some disbelief.  This is a goal I had wanted to do for so many years of my life.  It was a secret goal that I dare not share with anyone, a secret desire.  Now it’s an achievement that I am so proud of and ready to tackle again.  I love running more than I can express, it’s such a challenge to your mind and body I can’t explain.  I’ll even be brave enough now to say that even though I don’t know when, I will meet the challenge of an ultra marathon one day. 


Waving to Sarah who’s about to run with me!

My average pace was 11:23/m, fastest was 9:40 (around mile 3), I was 46th overall, 7 out of 12 in my age range with a finish of 4:58:05.65.  Since I was figuring on a 5 hour finish I felt pretty good about that.  I will do another post to share my post race plans with you to get my muscle mass back and lose some of this increased fat.  I want to do this too because the cross training will help increase the chances of a longer running life.  Tomorrow I get my 26.2 sticker for my car and soon a new tattoo to celebrate.  They say if you run a marathon it will change your life, the training and the race both did that for me.  I can’t wait to do it again!!  PS my Swirlgear totally kept me warm and dry, being in Vegas I hadn’t had much opportunity to try the water resistant factor, it worked great!


The finish line!

If you are a runner, what is your race distance bucket list or race bucket list?



Fit Vegas Vacations

There are a lot of reasons to visit Las Vegas when you head out on vacation this summer.  There are the obvious places to visit like the famous Strip, Fremont Street, and of course all of the buffets.  But I want to introduce you to a more fit  and active Las Vegas that won’t leave you broke and bloated.  In all seriousness I do find many of the casinos to be really interesting to look at and people watching is one of my favorite hobbies.  If you go from one end of the Strip to the other it is 4.2 miles (according to Google) so that is a good walk and I suggest comfortable and supportive shoes.  However, there are a lot of things to do inside of and just outside of Vegas that are a lot of fun.

  • Valley of Fire- Valley of Fire is just 55 miles northeast  of Las Vegas and has some wonderful hiking with beautiful scenery.  You can hike, camp, picnic, and take pictures to your hearts content.  It’s open year around, but some of the hiking, etc. is best done when it’s not the heat of the summer.  Here is the website if you want to see pictures or get other details, let’s just say it is a local favorite.  http://parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire-state-park/
  • Lake Mead-  There are so many things to do at the lake, there are tunnels that can be run or hiked (there are a few races each year in them).  One of the ladies in my running group suggests this is one of the best ways to get to see both the lake and Hoover Dam.  There are also options for being on the water, with some boat rentals, cruises, and paddle boats.  The first link is a link to the tunnels and the second is a link to the marina information.  http://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/hikerr.htm http://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/marinas.htm
  • Willow Beach Marina- Okay technically this is in Arizona, but it is very close to Vegas and well worth the trip.  It’s a beautiful area for some kayaking, camping, and picnics. This is a favorite spot for many Vegas locals to go to on a Saturday or Sunday to relax.  http://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/marinas.htm
  • Wetlands Park- Here in Clark County we have a park that has over 300 species of plants and animals with paved and unpaved trails for hiking and bike riding.  It’s technically in Henderson Nevada, but Henderson is entwined with Vegas and it’s not far from the Strip.  http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/wetlandspark
  • Springs Preserve- This is a little wonderland in the middle of Vegas, off to the south and east you will see the Stratosphere, but inside of it you will experience a different world.  It has trails, a museum, classes, gardens to explore, and a pretty taste cafe as well.  https://www.springspreserve.org/
  • Gold Strike Canyon- This is another favorite hike of locals that is just beautiful.  I mention it in particular because you can get to it hiking and scrambling and it takes you to the Colorado River and some hot springs.  http://www.birdandhike.com/Hike/LAME/Goldstrike/_Goldstrike.htm
  • Red Rock- this has great hiking and trails for running.  The main loop is a nice 13 mile loop that is perfect for long runs. http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/lvfo/blm_programs/blm_special_areas/red_rock_nca.html

Finally a few websites that you can visit to get even more information about natural things that you can do to be active while in Vegas. The bird and hike in particular profiles trails in the Vegas area and provides pictures and elevation info; I have used this several times.  http://www.birdandhike.com/ and http://www.naturallyvegas.com/

Do you like to make sure you are active on vacations?  What active or natural attractions would you recommend in your area?


Cooking experiment

So it’s almost time for my road trip to go and visit family and *gulp* complete my first marathon.  I actually do feel pretty prepared, physically I know I am strong enough to do it, now I will just have to face those mental demons that will try and tell me to stop and give up.  I fully expect them to come, and my answer to them will be to shut up.  That aside I cannot wait to face this challenge and beat it!

If you have followed me for a bit, you know that I do food prep each weekend to help me stay a bit more on track during the week.  I still slip (especially lately), but knowing I have food ready keeps me from making poor choices more often than not.  For my road trip/vacation I do the same thing.  One of the things I want to do is to take some homemade veggie chips.  Chips are a downfall for me I will eat too many of them and they really aren’t that good for you with all the preservatives, etc.  So I looked up on line how to make my own sweet potato chips and decided that I needed to give it a try at least once before I count on doing it to take with me on the trip.  So here’s my practice run:

Step 1: I bought a mandolin slicer, one sweet potato, and one zucchini.  I already had some coconut oil to brush on them for baking and I threw in a bit of salt and pepper for a little more flavor.  I sliced them up tossed them in the oil and spices and then tended to my sliced up finger.  Yeah, some days I do better in the kitchen than others.

Step 2: I put them on parchment paper on a baking sheet and baked them at 250 for 3 hours.  I checked them frequently to make sure the smaller chips didn’t burn, about every 10-15 minutes, and shuffled them around.  A lot of recipes out there vary on how long and what temperature, you may have to experiment a few times and luckily sweet potatoes don’t cost much.

Step 3: After they crisp as much as you want let them cool and then put them in an airtight container with some rice in order to keep them crisp a bit longer.


I had mixed results, some of them came out okay and some got a bit burned.  I was really surprised and how much it looked like before I baked them and how much it was when I was done.  It was a bit time consuming as well and unfortunately it’s already getting very hot here in Vegas. Bottom line I’m glad I tried ahead of time, because if I want to make them successfully I think it will take some practice.  As a result of the experiment I discovered a brand of mandolin slicer I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND (but I won’t name any names in public message me on my FB page if you want to know).  I got my finger sliced up because the safety holder wouldn’t go into the potato so I returned it this morning.  I also decided to finally take the plunge and buy a dehydrator so that I don’t heat my house up as badly.  I’m pretty excited to get it so I can dry my own fruits and make some other healthier snacks. 

If I get my dehydrator soon enough I will make some more chips, if not then I will look for some other alternatives.  I do have a protein cookie that I found on a website that is full of all kinds of power foods that I will be making to take with me.  The remainder of what I take is yet to be determined, rest assured there will be a fair amount of carrots and tomatoes to snack on.  I will be carb loading a bit since it will be the week before my race, so my choices will reflect that.

What are some of your favorite foods you take on road trips, homemade or otherwise?

3.17 miles vs 13 minutes & 7 seconds Suicide Awareness Virtual Run

Statistics say that every 13.7 minutes a person in the US commits suicide.  That fact impacted my life over 20 years ago this March when my senior year a friend that I cared for dearly took his life.  I and others close knew he struggled with depression, but the news was still unexpected.  I struggled with many emotions over the years related to this, anger, grief, depression, and finally acceptance & forgiveness.  No matter what I will never forget him, his laugh, and his hatred of cats (a friendly argument we had frequently). 

In my running I have become aware of many different runners and running groups on Facebook and on Twitter.  One runner that I admire and can relate in many ways to is the Driven Runner.  He and some of his family and friends started a virtual run to help raise funds for suicide awareness.  He himself shares through his page how he struggles with depression and how running has helped him win the battle against it.  I have made no secret that running has brought me relief from my depression and emotional woes, in fact it has for many runners, I am hardly unique. 


My more than a 5k 3.17 miles

So today I finished my 5 miles for my training and while doing it spent my time meditating not just on my friend, but the disease of depression.  I stopped at 3.17 miles to acknowledge not just my friends, but all those who have considered or attempted suicide.  It is a disease, just as deadly as heart disease, diabetes, and addiction.  The good news is that there is hope, there are people out there that care and want to help.  The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is who the fundraiser is for as well as general awareness.  If you suffer from depression there is hope and there is help please reach out to a friend, family member, or call 1-800-273-8255.  This is just one of the numbers you can call for help a quick search on the internet will even give you some chats to use as well.  I can’t wait to get my t-shirt so I can start the conversation with others. If you want to check out the run on Fundly the link is https://fundly.com/driven-runner-suicide-awareness-virtual-run please consider checking it out and helping to raise awareness.  Out of the virtual runs I have done, this one is my favorite.

Perfecting the lunch run aka “runch”

One of my favorite times to run is actually during lunch, what I affectionately call “runch”.  I have a different kind of work schedule and like a lot of you many responsibilities when I get home at night.  So when I started my marathon training I knew getting my runs in would mean some creative thinking.  Having done this now for 16+ weeks (long story and a lack of math skills on my end), I have become a bit of an expert in the “runch” and wanted to share how to successfully do a run at lunch.

Prep- pack your gear the night before; this isn’t new to you if you do a lot of long runs early in the morning or a lot of races.  Being the planner I am I always set out my stuff for the next day anyway, this is just a continuation of the behavior.

Gear- there are certain things you want to make sure you have to run during the day and then go back to work, you not only need to have your running clothes and shoes, but also a few personal care items.  Deodorant (I get a little travel size one), fresh underwear, a towel, and some baby wipes.  With those on hand you can freshen up just fine after the run and not offend coworkers or clients.  For ladies, a hair tie is a great option to have as well if your hair isn’t already up that day.  I find I can get my bangs to look okay, but need to put my windblown hair up after a run.

Time/route- make sure that you have enough time for your run, plan for enough time to change before and after as well as the cleanup.  I know the type of pace I need to keep and want to keep for my shorter runs so this allows me to manage my time without going  over my lunch hour.  For the route I took time to get familiar with the neighborhood and safe paths or streets to take as well as how to get my mileage in without going too far away from the office in case of an emergency.  Personally I can safely get 4 miles done during my lunch hour and still have time to get cleaned up and eat.

Food- it may sound silly, but your lunch hour is for eating and since you just ran 1-5 or more miles you have to refuel for proper recovery.  If you haven’t picked up on it, during my marathon training I am finding that I am starving most of the time anyway, I can’t imagine trying to go without eating after I run.  I pick easy to fix and ready to eat things on the days I am doing my lunch runs.  Either simple reheated meals or sandwiches are perfect as well as prepared veggies.  I also make sure that I have something to snack on later in the day should I still be hungry.

Hydration- I don’t usually carry water with me on my shorter runs anymore, but I need to make sure that I don’t get dehydrated so I make sure that I drink plenty of water before and after my run.  If you are just starting or it is a particularly warm day make sure you can take some water with you even if it is just carrying a small bottle of water.

Weather- finally I always check the weather ahead of time.  Out here in the desert spring time means nasty winds (20+ miles an hour) and dust/sand.  I already have allergy issues so if it is too windy then it will mean I will have to modify my running plans for the week.  It will also start to get too hot pretty soon, so unless I have a way to run indoors my “runches” will have to stop.  Having adjusted to the weather in the desert I can run midday for a while if I take hydration with me, but I pay attention to my hydration and how I am feeling to help gauge that as well.

Being able to run at lunch has a lot of time saving advantages when you have a busy home life and a lot of responsibilities.  The other big advantage for me is the stress relief during the day.  I don’t have the worlds most stressful job, but like anyone else there are days when I am already stressed when I get to work and being able to actively let go of stress during the day has helped my mental health a great deal.

If you have done a run at lunch or another workout what are your must have items to make it successful?

If You Want to Lose Weight Don’t Count on Running

This weekend I finished my 17 mile run, the farthest I have gone to date.  I was exhausted and sore by the time I finished it, but I got it done.  While I was on the treadmill and for almost this entire 16+ weeks of training I had some time to think about the misconceptions of running.  The one I want to address today is stated pretty simply in my title: if you want to lose weight you shouldn’t count on running.

Misconception #1: Cardio is the way to lose weight.  It is a way you can lose weight, but if you go to many races you will see that runners come in all shapes and sizes, even the larger sizes.  The solution if you want to lose weight you should be doing a healthy combination of aerobic and resistance.  Resistance builds muscle= higher metabolism among the various benefits (sexy looking body, stronger bones, stronger core, resistance to injury while running).

Misconception #2:  I just ran _____ miles so I can eat anything. Wrong!  Not if you are trying to do things like eat clean and perhaps maintain your weight.  There is no out running a poor diet, I have tried this, many others have tried this, and we all fail.  Run To the Finish calls it “runners entitlement” this thought that since I burned a ton of calories I can eat a ton.  In fact this happens often enough that you will find several articles out there on how to try and keep the over eating and weight gain under control.  One article that explains it very well is from Runner’s World http://www.runnersworld.com/weight-loss/why-do-i-gain-weight-during-marathon-training ; it offers some great insight and suggestions on how to combat this. A side note to this is that the people around you might encourage that kind of thinking, because they are in awe of how much you ran. Be cautious about feeding into this justification or rationalization it’s an easy thing to do.

Misconception #3: I just ran ____ miles and got my steps so I can relax now.  *Raises hand in guilt.* Yeah it’s pretty easy to say to yourself I ran 8, 10, or 16 miles today so I deserve to be able to relax the rest of the day.  The fact is, it’s awesome that you were active for so many minutes or hours, but sitting down the rest of the day will not help your metabolism to keep going, nor will it help you fight the increase in health risks that come with sitting all day.  Most runners do their run first thing in the morning so they can get it out of the way and because it wakes you up better than a cup of coffee.  Personally I have to work to be mindful to stay active the rest of the day on my long run days on the weekend.  The shorter runs it isn’t as challenging in part because of the time of day and the fact that they aren’t as draining. The solution, get up and do some household chores, go for a walk (with dog or kids maybe), add a little resistance later in the day, but make an effort to get up and move.

Misconception #4: The more often I run the more calories I will burn, i.e. if I do 3 miles a day or 5 miles a day.  Sadly this isn’t true, if it were I can think of many run streakers who would LOVE IT!  Just like other exercises you have to “shake it up” or your body will adapt and you will hit the dreaded plateau.  To address it consider throwing in the resistance and other forms of cross training, like bike riding, swimming, or yoga. 

If you address these issues you will see that while yes you can lose weight by running, but it isn’t the only nor is it the best way to do it.  If you are like me you have a hard time finding the balance, but just like other parts of life finding balance is very important.

Are any of these misconceptions one that you believed or that you struggle with?

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