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?

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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?

The good, the bad, and the okay

First up the good:  I just got a new book this week, a few of you may be familiar with it.  It’s called the Ultimate Booty Workouts by Tamara Grand aka Fitknitchick. ImageI am excited to start integrating this into my strength routine, which is sadly almost nothing at the moment.  I struggle with keeping a balance of running and strength normally, but the high mileage runs that I am doing for my marathon have all but stopped them.  Tamara has done an excellent job of outlining some simple, but effective exercises to help “build, lift, and sculpt and amazing butt”.  In reality it also helps to really work out your core, which is also really important (especially for runners).  Tuesday I will do my first round at lunch since I have the equipment available at the office.

The bad: I didn’t get my long run completed as scheduled.  I just didn’t have the energy in me since I hadn’t been feeling well for a few days.  I am certain that it was in part exhaustion, allergies, and somehow I got really dehydrated.  I say somehow because I know I had more water to drink Friday and Saturday than I have for a long time, yet (TMI sorry) I wasn’t feeling the need to pee frequently and that just didn’t add up if I were hydrated enough.  I am doing better today, but still disappointed that my 17 miles didn’t get done yesterday.  I will still be able to accomplish it and my 18 & 20 mile run that I need to before I start to taper. 

The okay: I am in size 10 jeans again.  I will call this okay…because I have been struggling with the whole weight issue since starting marathon training.   Right now I can fit some size 8 pants and some size 10 depending on the cut or style.  The part that isn’t really the best is that although I am not really “fat” I have lost some of my muscle definition and my belly/hip area has expanded.  I have not checked my lean muscle/fat ratios but I expect that they are not what I want to see. I’m also calling it okay, because it is what it is at the moment and I KNOW that I have the ability to change it (see the good up above).  If I dwell in despair I will emotionally eat and it just makes the cycle worse, overly dramatic I know, but truth.

That’s part of my week in a nutshell, not bad overall.  I will however add one more good in an effort to end this post on a more positive note.  I have been getting the opportunity to do more health wellness related things that aren’t necessarily related to my primary role at work.  My bosses have noticed how much I want to do that and are giving me some opportunities to be creative and I love that.

How was your week, share some of the good so we can inspire each other. Do you have some new equipment or a new training plan to try?

Why a Marathon?

Probably the best question I have been asked for a bit actually, right up there with why do you run? 

I run for a lot of reasons and to someone that doesn’t really enjoy it there is a challenge in understanding, so here is my attempt to help translate.  Probably the biggest reason I run has been because it helps me feel free.  In the period of time I am running I am free of the rest of life.  I don’t get asked to do anything for anyone, I go where my two feet will take me, and I get the challenge to see where I end up or how far I can go; I’m free.  Even when I am on a time crunch, I do my best to be present and enjoy my run.

I had the desire to run many years before I lost my weight, I was just too afraid to do it.  I also had that desire, a secret wish to run a marathon.  It’s not like I really sat and watched marathons on TV as a kid, but I did pay attention.  I saw a look on their faces when they crossed that finish line, it was pure bliss.  I like feeling good, we all do, and the feeling of pride when I meet the next challenge is bliss.

Once I started seeing how I did with training and running for my first half marathon I REALLY started dreaming about it.  I wanted to do it, but fear was holding me back.  I have let too many things in my life pass me by due to fear.  Don’t get me wrong I have achieved a lot in my few years on this planet, but there are dreams I gave up on or put off out of fear and I didn’t want to do that anymore. 

I guess you could say that a marathon is my line in the sand right now.  I gave/give a lot as an employee, a friend, a counselor, and a caregiver for other people.  This marathon and being able to finish it as a Formerlyfatgirl, this marathon is for me.

Ways to add protein to your diet

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Part of my marathon training has involved taking a look at my diet and making some changes.  I like many marathon runners in training started gaining weight.  If you follow me on FB or twitter you could tell it was FREAKING ME OUT. I admit it may have been an over reaction, but after being 250lbs and pretty much overweight from 1st grade on I don’t want to go back there.  I worked hard the last few years to get where I am by changing my eating, gaining healthy habits, and working out.  That being said one of the big things I have done to help lessen the weight gain from overdoing carbs is I have worked to increase my protein.  There is a lot of emphasis on carbohydrates with running, in part because that is what our bodies preferred source of energy is; it is not however the only source of energy.  Also protein is very important in the repair process for our muscles and is one of the macronutrients that helps us to feel fuller longer.  Both muscle repair and not having the runchies all the time are super important in being healthy and maintaining my weight.  So I have a few things I thought I would share about how I am increasing my protein intake with snacks and meals.

  • Eggs- I love them anyway so I usually have an egg sandwich in the morning with 1-2 eggs or an egg for a quick snack in the afternoon to help hold me over for dinner.
  • Protein powder- yesterday after my 16 mile run I knew I would be starving the rest of the day if I didn’t do something about refueling right away.  I grabbed a double dose of Designer Whey vanilla protein powder, I could spare the calories so it was no big deal.
  • Nuts- I love raw nuts and nut butters so I find that they help sustain me as a quick little snack, especially paired with some pears (pun intended).
  • Dairy products- some days I find I crave milk, greek yogurt, or cottage cheese so I will have a little bit.  I also find that if the runchies get me later in the evening a small glass of milk will sit on my stomach better and not be too filling.
  • Quinoa- I love quinoa, it is so versatile, you can eat it as if it is a side like rice, you can throw it in your eggs, you can eat it instead of oatmeal, or throw it in your favorite soups.  There are so many things you can add it to that I can’t possibly list them all here.  They are used like a grain, but guess what?  They are actually a vegetable and a complete protein; I am a major fan if you can’t tell.
  • Edamame- I discovered dry roasted edamame at the store the other day and oh my goodness it’s great!  I must admit it is one of the healthy things I could easily go overboard with if I am not mindful. 

Whatever your particular diet (paleo, vegan, vegetarian, clean eater) getting enough protein is vital for muscle repair, brain functioning, and fighting off hunger (runchies) so you can maintain weight.  What are some of your favorite ways to boost your protein intake, especially after a hard run or workout?

Teachable moments from marathon training

I have been at a loss for a few weeks at what to write so I haven’t posted for a bit.  I have had a lot going on in life and have been concentrating on doing the things I have to do.  I enjoy blogging/writing, but it it fell to the bottom of the list.  I’m back though and still working on my marathon training.  I have found that it is a pretty time demanding activity, more than I thought when I started.  There are a few things I have learned along the way and I want to share a few with you.

  1. The treadmill is not the enemy- it’s a bit more boring than running outside, but it is a useful tool when you want to run, but are maybe not feeling the best or can only fit the run in during a time period that is dark (I live in the middle of Vegas and running alone in the dark is not a choice I would make).  Options are important to have when you are taking on big challenges.
  2. Calorie restrictions are NOT for marathon training- I tried it, I gained weight; I listened to my friends (the more experienced personal trainer and the dietitians) ate more started stabilizing.  In fact it’s helped me confront an older way of thinking that focuses on restricting rather than focusing on clean eating.  It’s a different and healthier mindset because it uses more of a mindfulness perspective where I have to listen to my body more.
  3. Food prep is invaluable during marathon training- I would eat any kind of junk if I didn’t have stuff prepared already and to be honest there have been a few days where I have had some regrettable meals.  Instead of that being a major set back I use it as a learning lesson.
  4. Get support- having family around to help out has been vital, I don’t say it often enough, but I really appreciate them and all they have done to help me.  Being surrounded by supportive people can encourage you when you might feel like giving up.
  5. I have more strength than I thought- I always held back on my dream to run, I was scared and intimidated by the thought of running that far.  I talk to other people now about running, hearing that some reluctance from them, I smile and say I thought that too.  It takes a certain amount of determination and goal setting to go out there and run an insane amount of miles.  That same determination is going to keep me going on my journey.  I expect that same determination will help me facing other challenges in life.

Each goal we set, each part of our journey in life, should give us teachable moments.  I can’t wait to see what the teachable moment is when I cross the finish line.  What are some of the teachable moments you have had in your fitness journey that you have applied to your life? 

My friend the foam roller

If you are newer to fitness and just learning about running pay attention to this post…I am about to introduce you to your best friend/favorite torture device the foam roller.  This is one of those pieces of equipment that I love to hate.  I learned about the concept of self myofascial release from a trainer friend of mine about a year ago.  She explained how the use of it had helped her a great deal with muscle spasms and was a big part of treating her sciatica.  At that point I had never experienced any problems really so I found it interesting, but didn’t really go further with it. 

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My travel roller, love this thing!

Then I started working on getting my CPT and I really learned about it…I started foam rolling before runs, after runs, and other workouts.  I realized that I really dodged a bullet by not having any problems that are common to runners like IT and TFL issues.  In fact it hit me that I really hadn’t even stretched for ANY of my half marathon training…yikes!  As I started foam rolling at the gym and at home I felt the difference immediately in my hips, calves, and lower back.  Foam rolling and self myofascial release allows you to apply gentle (HA!) force to an adhesion or knot that may have developed as a result of stress on your muscles.  Doing this type of stretching stimulates the Golgi tendon organ and creates a reaction that leads to a release of the tension in the underlying musculature aka breaks up the knots.  I laugh out loud at the gentle part because there are days that it feels anything but gentle while applying the pressure.  I can’t deny that it works and it works well; the days I have to rush back and end up busy so I don’t roll I can tell.  Especially as I start doing these longer runs during the week. 

The key is to find the sensitive spot and to hold for at least 30 seconds, even if it hurts a bit hold on as long as you can. You can add pressure to it by placing one leg over another or finding another way to add body weight to the equation.  The benefits of doing it are:

  • it helps to reduce the knots
  • improves flexibility and joint range of motion
  • reduces muscle soreness
  • helps increase blood flow starting the repair process for the muscles
  • reduces the chances of injury

You will find that most foam rollers start at around $20 and go up from there.  There are some other options besides just a foam roller that you can use including some things you might have around the house: golf balls, tennis balls, soft balls, etc.  There are some rollers that come with bumps and ridges to add to the pressure and you can just get some handheld ones and ones that are more like sticks.  A foam roller and a golf ball for my feet are some of my must haves for my training and in future posts I will share a few more with you. Do warn your loved ones if you are going to use it so they don’t panic if they hear you scream…it’s a good pain really it is. LOL!

Let me ask, have you tried foam rolling or self myofascial release?  What did you think? More

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…

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?

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