Tag Archives: fuel

Getting Ready

Happy Wednesday!

I hope you had a nice long weekend (if you got Monday off) and your [short!] week has started off well. Again, not a lot of interesting things to report on these parts—I went to Spokane for the weekend to visit my friend Anna, which was ridiculously needed/enjoyable. Lots of laughing, staying up late, food, etc. Fun was had by all.

Sitting atop a giant snow ball (or perhaps the bottom half of a snowman?) with Koopa the dog. She was clearly enjoying herself.

Sitting atop a giant snow ball (or perhaps the bottom half of a snowman?) with Koopa the dog. She was clearly enjoying herself.

Last week, I did something I’ve rarely done before…I ran 5 days in a row. It wasn’t really planned, it just kind of happened. And despite feeling really tired on the final day (Saturday), everything held up well! I’m really pleased with how the ol’ legs have seemed to be recovering in this base-building stage, and it gets me even more excited for Eugene training to start in 1.5 weeks!

Speaking of, there are a few things I’m planning on doing differently this time around. Or at least, there are some things I’ll be doing differently and some that worked before that I’ll be incorporating again. Here are some of my focal points for this training session, in list form for your (and my) convenience.

1) An actual training program

Yes, it’s true. I ran my first, second, and third marathon all via a self-made regimen  I think my first program was *loosely* based on Hal Higdon, but not very closely. It’s worked out in certain ways (more flexibility, more personalized tailoring) but since I’ve gotten two (minor) overuse injuries in my past two training sessions, I’m heading over to the pros.

I’ll be following a Pete Pfitzinger plan from his book Advanced Marathoning. More details on that to come—but essentially I’ll be following the 12-week program to a T, with minor adjustments if I need some rearranging. But other than any scheduling conflicts or necessary resting…my training is going to be entirely dictated by this plan.

2) SLOW running!

One of the reasons I’ve been able to do a good amount of running recently is because I’m doing my fast runs fast, and my slow runs slow. I talked about it last week, but I’m realizing just how beneficial slow paces can be—you still log miles, however without the strain of always running a more difficult pace.

Rocket science people. I love that I’ve learned this though…because not only is it helpful in recovery, I’m realizing I kind of love running slowly. It takes the pressure off, or something. It’s like a different type of running, if that makes any sense? Less plugged in, less intense, just leisurely  happy running. Plus it means I get to run with BF—my new favorite dating activity.

3) Stretching, foam rolling, compressing

Yada yada yada, I always say I need to do this—I’m not normally the best at it. In fact, the universe is rolling her eyes and laughing right now at me because recently I’ve been exceptionally bad at it.

But, it helps make the miles feel better and eliminates the usual aches and pains. I’m committing to these small but mighty tasks. In two months, if I tell you that I’ve been slacking on rolling or that I’ve “forgotten” to stretch my always-so-tight hamstrings, someone come hit me over the head with my roller.

Only kind of not kidding at all.

4) Good fuel

I’m someone who can really feel the benefits when I put good, wholesome food in my body. I’m also a big believer in real food—meaning not protein bars, not sports drinks, not packaged things—to be the very best fuel for our bodies. It’s truly a personal matter for everyone, but for me—the more simple the foods, the better. A diseased digestive system will let you know this very quickly.

Therefore, lots of vegetables, lots of fruit, lots of fish, etc. It’s not necessarily that I want these things all the time—but my stomach and my muscles always appreciate it. So during the week, and pre-long runs, I’m going to at least try to eat like an athlete. Although I also believe eating for sport and eating cookies are definitely not mutually exclusive. The desserts stay. Brain health is important too.

5) Logging

I started a training journal after Chicago, and I think it’s been a really helpful tool to not only track mileage, but also for tracking progress and general running “check-ins.” In that journal, I’m not afraid to hate-write “THAT SUCKED” all about a horrible run, or “I FELT INCREDIBLE!” after a good long run. There’s a little more privacy, and honesty, in a training journal that isn’t splashed all over the internet, and for me—it’s been the only way to successfully track my mileage.

But don’t worry, I’ll still be posting weekly training recaps here 🙂

That’s all folks! I’m getting excited to get this show under way. I feel like I’ve done more prep work—both physically and mentally—for this round of training than I ever have before, and that preparedness has eased a lot of nerves and paved the way for a shot-gun start. I’m feeling ready, and that’s exactly where I want to be.

Oh! One last thing…WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER, NUUN, WATER, WATER, WATER!

How do you get psyched for marathon training?

What things do you incorporate along with the miles of marathon training?

Tell me about your weekend!

 

Advertisements

Running Quiz!

Holy Monday Batman, today kind of stinks. Cold, rain, tired, cranky, blech.

Not really fair to say before 10 am? I agree. But let’s just say that getting out of bed this morning was about as pleasant as watching The Ring by myself in the dark.

So, since I’m sure I’m not the only person in need of something a little fun this morning, let’s do a little running quiz!

One of my absolute favorite runner bloggers Janae posted this quiz a few weeks ago, and I figured I’d partake. I’ll repost all the questions again at the end, and you should answer them too!

Here goes!

1. FUEL: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?

Honey Stingers! Or, I suppose anything that sounds good in the moment. At Chicago, I had a few orange slices that were being handed out by kind spectators.

2. Race Length: 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?

Marathon, but recently I’m really digging shorter races.

3. Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants or Other?

Almost always shorts, sometimes capris.

4. Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?

Almost always just water—or Nuun! Sometimes Gatorade at races.

5. Running Temperatures: HEAT or COLD?

COLD!!!!

6. Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brookes, Asics or Other?

Brooks baby.

7. Pre-race meal: Oatmeal, Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?

Banana and a handful of cereal.

8. Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or Other?

1 per week.

9. Music: Have to have it or go without it?

Either. I used to be all music all the time, but recently it’s back and forth.

10. #1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or Other?

Hmm, narrowing it down to one reason…that’s tough. I would have to say my number one reason is because when I run, I feel the most like myself. When I run, I am genuinely and completely 100% me…and I don’t think there are many things in life that can bring out that kind of pure self-recognition.

*****

Now it’s your turn! Answer some or all of the questions in your own blog, or in the comments below!

1. FUEL: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?

2. Race Length: 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?

3. Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants or Other?

4. Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?

5. Running Temperatures: HEAT or COLD?

6. Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brookes, Asics or Other?

7. Pre-race meal: Oatmeal, Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?

8. Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or Other?

9. Music: Have to have it or go without it?

10. #1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or Other?

Mulan music, weekend things, and GOTR love

Why have I not used “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” as my pump up song for every race I’ve ever done EVER???

This is such a no brainer, and when it came on my Pandora station mid-shower yesterday, I decided that it will now be my pre-race anthem forever.

Sure, the title/lyrics of the song are a bit sexist—and by a bit I mean a lot—but in the end, Mulan proves that being a WOMAN is not only good enough—it’s better. So take that.

{Glee Cast radio was the station, in case you’re wondering how you too can hear such an epic song}

Ready for the most random post of your life?

Okay, good.

I just have too many things I want to talk about, but none of them are really worthy of a singular post. Is anything I write really worthy of publication though? Whatever, you’re here…right?

Cool. So, to start out, I want to give some snapshots of last weekend, as it was spent in my most favorite place on Earth with some of my most favorite people on Earth. And I say “some of” because Kate Winslet, Kara Goucher, and T. Swift all couldn’t make it. Next time, girls.

[An aside…I’m obsessed with Kara Goucher. I love Shalane and Desi too, but there’s something about Kara that I just adore. It’s probably the fact that her son Colt is the cutest thing in the world (and he’s probably already faster than me), and Kara’s a runner who isn’t afraid to show her vulnerability. You go KG. And on that note… Runner’s World, why the f didn’t you send me the cover with Kara on it this month? I didn’t want semi-creepy-looking-though-still-fast-as-shit Ryan Hall, which you decided to send me instead.]

Where were we? Oh yes…my weekend.

My brother Scott, my cousin Lily, BF, and myself

In a nutshell, I jammed as much as I could into the 36 hours I spent with my family at our summer house. Some highlights include:

A trail run with BF. We tackled 6.5 miles and some serious rolling hills of a gorgeous forest trail. It’s my favorite trail run in the world, mind you, which admittedly isn’t saying much—because I think I’ve run about 3 different trails in my life. Still, it’s spectacular and it’s actually the trail that inspired me to run outside more years ago. And I’m still tallying…but the mosquito bite count for this run alone is at about 2,500 right now.

No, you’re right, this is not a picture applicable to trail running.

Swimming with my Granddad. If there was a lifetime fitness award, it would go to my Granddad. He has been a consistent exerciser his entire life, and even now at the age of 79—he still manages to get out there. Since the only swimming he can do at our summer house is on the lake (aka, open water) I joined him to both try out my own open water abilities and play lifeguard.

Waving from the raft!

I also remembered that I’m terrified of swimming in open water and should probably practice that.

Beach sunset followed by ice cream. Do I really need to explain this one? Here are some photos to prove myself:

Oregon coast love ❤

16 mile long run followed by blueberry pancakes. Emphasis here on the blueberry pancakes…I credit them with my willingness to get the run over with. I’m convinced if you imagine delicious post-run food awaiting you the second you’re done, you’ll actually run faster.

This would, however, not work with imagining a Whey 1000 Maxx Green Soy TurboCharged 50mg protein smoothie. At least…not for me. No. Long run refueling needs to be solid, real food…and while I personally kind of suck at making pancakes, my Uncle Dave is a pro and it was his promise of hot cakes that got me through the hills on Sunday morning. And sorry, there is no photo available as I was too focused on expediting consumption instead of developing my food blogger resume.

This is how close people will get to you for post run photos. It’s okay Uncle Dave, your pancakes make up for it.

Oh yea, back to the whole long run highlight.

I tend to go on food digressions, in case that’s news to you.

Anyway, I ran long, which I was happy about, and it wasn’t too tedious, although the terrain was never really flat the entire time.

Talk about a hilly course. There really wasn’t an alternative though, and in the grand scheme of things—testing my flatlander legs out on some real elevation changes will benefit me in the long run…long run meaning Chicago, which is all flat. I can actually draw their elevation chart for you:

start_______________________________________________________finish

-Wakeboarding. On Friday I said that I needed to redeem myself for my massive face injury that occurred the last time I wakeboarded. And although I was a bit nervous at first, I eventually got into my groove and claimed my redemption over that little board.

Look ma, I still have both my cheeks!

Impressed with how much I was able to accomplish in 36 short hours? Yes me too…BUT when I need to capitalize on time, I make it happen. And the good news is I’ll be heading back this weekend for more lake fun, family fun, and pancake fun.

Although round two of a 6 hour car ride there and back isn’t exactly awesome…

Good thing I capture the on-goings of these road trips:

This is me, in the car. No I will not photograph my ice cream, but I will document the most boring moments of my life for you to see.

To finish up this random post, let me show you what was waiting for me when I returned home Sunday night.

I was giddy with excitement and totally unsuspecting that GOTR would send such wonderful goodies!! I’m actually not sure if the top they sent is supposed to be worn for the actual race, so that’s yet to be determined, but you can bet your britches that I’ll be using every last thing they sent.

What are britches? Are they pants? Underwear? Can someone tell me why I use outdated expressions that I don’t even understand?

A big THANK YOU to GOTR for showing me, and all other Solemates, so much love. It makes me feel even better about raising money for them.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, what a wonderful transition for me to probe you to donate!!!

If you want to learn about my fundraising efforts for Girls on the Run while training for the Chicago Marathon, check out my page here.

If you feel inspired to donate, I will love you forever, as will thousands of excited little girls all around the country.

So, if this were a school essay and it had come time to write a conclusion, I would now realize that this post was about 10,000 different things, and I was probably going to get a D on my essay.

But this isn’t school, it’s blogging—my blog to be exact—and in this world, I think the more haphazard, the better.

I also don’t know why I am continually justifying my lack of continuity today. I don’t care, you don’t care, I’m done.

Oh, and as for the CIM decision…not telling, YET.

Do you have a pre-race pump up song?

What’s your favorite post long run breakfast?

I love a huge bowl of oatmeal 

Is there an age that’s too old to have Glee and Disney music on your iPod?

If your answer is anything but, “NO! NEVER!” kindly get off my blog.

Beware: Taper-Tantrum Diva Ahead

You guys, I really thought I had everything under control…really, I did.

Although I’m not usually a big fan of taper-time (especially the final week), I was feeling pretty good about it. I was happy with my training, I felt ready, and I knew that all that stood between me and a 3:xx:xx finish time (not that’s not cryptic AT ALL) was a week of resting, hydrating, and eating. I had an easy walk/run 5k Girls on the Run practice on Monday, a not-too-fast, not-too-slow 6 miles on Tuesday, and I was feeling calm and collected.

Enter: the terrifying taper gremlins.

Yesterday was not a pretty sight people, and despite my better efforts—the Taper Beast crept up behind me, and pulled the proverbial rug from under my feet—dragging all my rhyme and reason along with it.

I don’t have much reason to begin with, so you can imagine what happens when all sense of logic and rationality is dispelled in one foul swoop.

And just like that, I entered a dark, deep, supremely uncomfortable state of undying restlessness. Every little thing was bothering me, and every single person in my line of sight would have readily run as far as they could in the opposite direction had they been able to hear the unwarranted and over-the-top hate thoughts going in my head. And then I would have been jealous of the fact that they were running and I was not, and then they would be in some real danger.

Essentially, I was/am feeling very overwhelmed…not necessarily by the race (at least not consciously…I’m sure my subconscious is a shit-storm of hallucinations right now), but more so by the things crowding around me. Yesterday I had an incredibly claustrophobic feeling of everything closing in on me, and all I wanted to do was to throw away every piece of technology I own, give away all my money to some war-torn country, and run away to a place void of human contact. I wanted to be completely free of accountability, free of material possessions, and free of the giant knot of thoughts that was pounding against the walls of my brain.

Sound crazy? You bet. Sound like a taper effect? Oh yes. I’m glad that this time I was at least able to recognize that these out-of-the-ordinary, nomad-like thoughts were more than likely the result of nerves, anticipation, and a general overflow of energy. However, the fact that this was a taper-tantrum and not  a stream-of-consciousness epiphany in which I decide to sell all my possessions to children in need did not help me feel any less constrained.

I felt completely out of my skin, as if everything and everyone was closing in around me until I would disappear into the abyss. Unfortunately, the only thing that sounded freeing was running—without a watch, without an iPod, and without an agenda. However, I still had a few morsels of reason left over, despite the Taper Beast’s best efforts, and I knew running wasn’t a good option in the long run. (Pun intended, and by long run I actually mean “in the 3 days you have until running 26.2 miles with a very pointed goal in mind”). So, I did the next best thing.

I went swimming, where silence is unavoidable, but all forms of intrusive technology and people are completely avoidable. Little by little, stroke by stroke, my brain began to crack just enough to leak the poison that had overtaken my better self. Sure, I still had the desire to “accidentally” breast-stroke kick the guy next to me who’s version of sharing a lane means that I got the far left 6 inches while he got the middle, but I refrained.

And by the end, I felt better. Sure, the Beast was still there, but instead of allowing it to drag me all over the place without my consent or compliance, it was more as if I was carrying it piggy-back style. It had transformed from my ruler to my infant—I still had to haul it around with me and tend to its every need, but I was the one that was in control.

After leaving the pool, very gingerly and carefully—wary of the swarms of bad feelings coming back—I readily put on some encouraging, soothing, inspiring music and plotted my marathon playlist. That, with the addition of huge fistfuls of trail mix, calmed the diva yesterday, and so far this morning she has stayed calm. She is fed, she is currently being caffeinated, she is wearing a fuzzy jacket, and today she gets to be taken out for a dress rehearsal run, clad in marathon apparel. Sure, she might have spent a good hour last night Googling every last taper plan available via the internet, in some desperate attempt to tweak her already prescribed and effective schedule, but you know…baby steps.

The good news is once I can control the diva/Beast that gets to hang around these next few days, I manage to think about all the things I would prefer to occupy my mind space—like going to the running store for Body Glide and Energy Gels, updating my iTunes with 8:10 minute mile jams, and planning every last carbohydrate I’ll consume until Saturday night.

Ultimately, I know all these things will get done—and I know that despite all the stress and anxiety, it’s all in the name of kicking the crap out of the race on Sunday. Because if there’s one thing I know will tame my Beast—it’s letting her compete. She’s a ruthless little diva, and there’s nothing she loves more than chasing down strangers and leaving them in her dust.

So, lucky for everyone out there right now, the tantrums are at bay. I’m focusing on doing one task at a time, very carefully, and trying not the check the course map and weather report more than 5 times every half hour.

Also, reading NYT Bestseller Certified Porn Fifty Shades of Grey and listening to “The World’s Greatest” by R. Kelly are both excellent distraction mechanisms.

Yes yes, I know R.Kelly isn’t exactly a dinner-appropriate conversation piece anymore. But that song was one of the Summer Olympics songs many years ago, and I’ll be damned if I can’t listen to it and pretend like I’m prepping to represent the U.S. in front of the whole world to see. A small marathon in Tacoma, WA is essentially the same thing all you haters—DON’T DISAGREE WITH THE DIVA.

I am sure that my eager competitive self will overpower the crazy within a day or so, and I can promise that come race time I will care only about the 26.2 miles of running ahead of me. Writing this has actually helped quite a bit, and presuming there are still a few of you left reading that haven’t run for their lives away from the cyber space occupied by a Crazy Lady, I appreciate your attention to my freaking out. Knowing that there are people out there who get it helps tremendously, and any thoughts you have regarding easing taper anxiety and crazy anti-materialism and anti-society thoughts would be more than welcomed.

So tell me: What is the craziest taper-experience/freak out you’ve had? How did you tame the Beast? Do you think it’s even possible to try and have a “happy taper?” And perhaps most importantly, what do you feed your diva?

Friday Favorites: I love CAPSLOCK

Get psyched friends, it’s Friday…and not only that, but this weekend we will be setting our clocks forward and crawling our way out of the dark and dreary dregs(alliteration!) of winter.

Boo losing an hour of sleep!

YAY gaining daylight!

I think I speak for, well, everyone when I say that longer days means an overall increase in daily morale. Unless, of course, you are a vampire, an owl, or a serial killer who uses the cover of darkness to make their kills and throw their victims into the ocean, then I’m sorry for the whole daylight savings thing.

(If you’re mega creeped out by the above example, all I can say is you should start watching Dexter.)

And I KNOW I speak for runners when I say that longer days are AWESOME. It’s easier to get up in the morning for an early run, you have more time after work for a late run, and it’s just generally safer/more enjoyable to run when you can actually see things.

Suffice it to say, I was chipper when I woke up this morning— which happened not because of my alarm, but because there was daylight coming through the blinds. I hadn’t even set an alarm because today is a rest day, which is quite lovely. I’ve been hitting it fairly hard recently, and I’m basking in some R and R today, complete with a relaxing lunchtime yoga session later on.

Also, I have never, ever said “suffice it to say.” Not sure why that one popped out…

However, despite my merriment upon a having a chill morning filled with cuddling in my bed and listening to the birdies chirping outside, there is a looming thought that’s beating in the back of my head. It goes something like this.

22 miles.

Tomorrow, long run, 22 miles.

This was the longest mileage I trained to last round of marathon training, and so there’s a definite extreme feel to it. Funny, because next week I’ll “get” to go even further, but we’re not talking about that yet. I have a few goals for this run, all surrounding preparation for the real marathon deal. I’m experimenting with a dinner tonight that I think could be really good for pre-long run fuel, I’m setting a very specific minimum finish time, and I’m going to be trying out new mid-run fuel.

After having a potentially TMI conversation with my friends at the local running store, they hooked me up with some packs of goop that they think could help my sensitive digestive system. They’re called Power Bar Energy, and they’re a lot more liquidy than other gummies and gel, which apparently will help deplete the stomach cramping that every other fuel source tends to give me. Stayed tuned.

Okay, let’s move on to the real reason for Friday blogging shall we?

FAVORITES!

Magazine Day

I am obviously my most beautiful after long runs. Salt on my face and a smell being hidden inside a fleece. Mmmm. Right BF?

I think we can all agree that when you open your mailbox and you see the newest issue of a magazine inside, your day is instantly made. It sure beats getting endless credit card offers from various banks and pleads from your Alma Mater for alumnae money (Sorry UPS, but…really? LET ME PAY MY LOANS FIRST).

I get THREE magazine subscriptions, therefore the beginning of every month is normally riddled with happy mailbox days. Runner’s World day is the best, followed by Real Simple, with Women’s Health in third. I really love to hate that magazine. It always makes me angry, but I still resubscribe.

I digress.

Magazine Day is awesome, and it’s easily one of my favorite things.

Blueberry Bagels

I ate 75% of this bagel before calming down to take a picture. I would be a horrible food blogger.

My sister has adopted the saying “TGIB,” which I believe should probably be made into a bumper stickers. Bagels are really, really good. Anyone who disagrees is lying to themselves, or they haven’t done enough experimentation with all the wonderful varieties available.

I need no experimentation. In fact, my bagel order has remained the same since I had teeth to actually nom on a bagel. I have ordered a blueberry bagel with plain cream cheese and raspberry/strawberry jam since before I could even string sentences together. And it will forever remain my favorite order. A go-to staple that is the perfect combination of comfort food and Sunday ritual.

 

The Les Miserables Soundtrack

Okay, so this favorite should actually say Les Mis in all shapes and forms. It’s my favorite book of all time, and the musical is a part of my personal gospel. I adore everything about Les Mis, and recently I have taken to listening to the entire show while working. It’s fabulously entertaining, and it sends me through all the heartbreaking and empowering moments in the show. That said, I am elated because the traveling Broadway show has decided to come BACK to Seattle this summer after having such a successful show last year. I plan on dragging inviting my musical-hesitant-yet-culturally-experimental boyfriend this time, as I saw the show last summer and loved it all over again. You kill me Javert, every time.

-Ellen, and more specifically: Ellen “on” The Bachelor

I really, really love Ellen. Her comedy, her talk show, and her general sense of humor is just spot-on hilarious to me. Ellen should be a Friday Favorite all on her own. In fact, she might pop up again. However this week, this video wins the favorite spot. I will never actually put The Bachelor on my favorites list….yes because I’m ashamed, but mainly because it’s not an authentic favorite. It’s a guilty pleasure that I hate to love (different than love to hate, mind you), mainly because it’s fun to talk about with my fellow watchers. I gave up this crap for YEARS people, why has it dragged me back in??? I’m hoping this is a one season fluke, but who even knows what the intrigue of free On-Demand will bring about.

Anyway, Ellen does a fantastic job of playfully mocking this show without totally poo-pooing it like every other non-watcher does. And, you know, if Ellen is willing to talk about The Bachelor…it makes me feel better about myself for giving into it. Oh, and my mom watches (sorry Ma, I’m outing you) therefore again…my conscious is slightly less burdened.

That’s all for favorites for today! Post was getting wordy, that never happens right?

Happy Weekend-ing!

What are your favorite things? Weekend plans? Long run? Hot yoga? Jager Bombs?

My Running Report Card

Hello, friends!

Okay, so I might have gotten a little overly critical in yesterday’s post in regards to the commercialization of running. The running industry has contributed so much information and research toward the improvement and accessibility of running, and many of the “rules” they’ve come up with are indeed very credible. My point was simply that you shouldn’t presume every new fact, product, and tip that comes out about running directly applies to you. Running is very individualistic (one of the reasons it’s great) and don’t immediately presume that you’re doing something wrong if “groundbreaking” research tells you so.

With that said, there are particular “running rules” that seem to apply to at least the majority of runners. For example, hydration and carbohydrates are two things that I think all runners can agree are must-haves. I’m constantly kind of laughing at myself and shaming myself for the things I think I do very right and very, very wrong in regards to these running “basics.” Truly, there are some things I don’t do stereotypically “right” that I believe has no impact on my progression as a runner. However, there is definitely room for improvement, which is why I’ve decided to do a little analysis of my good and bad habits, in conjunction with the “rules” of being a good runner. The grades I’ve awarded myself are what I believe the whole of the running industry would give me.

 

Rule #1 Thou Shalt Hydrate

Grade: B

I always have the best intentions when it comes to hydrating properly. I carry a Camelback water bottle with me constantly, and I awkwardly ask public places to fill it as often as I can. However, I would say I don’t hydrate as often as should given my activity level. I think I’m hydration-proficient when it comes to the Average Person, however given the excess amounts of sweat I create during the day, I should probably be drinking more water—especially later in the day.

However, I really only ever drink water (and one cup of coffee in the morning), so at least my hydration is coming from the purest source.

Changes Necessary? Yes. I firmly believe that runners should pay a lot of attention to how hydrated they are. I know that above all other factors, if I’m dehydrated on a run it makes the most noticeable difference.

 

Rule #2:Thou Shalt Stretch

Grade: B+

If the “importance of stretching” were limited to pre and post run, I would probably get more of a C in this category. Admittedly, I’m not stellar at stretching immediately after a run, and I hardly ever stretch beforehand. However, I’m a dedicated yogi, and I credit the 2-3 hours I spend a week on my mat toward my stretching grade. This is actually a debatable topic for runners; while many argue for the value of stretching, there are many intense distance runners who claim to never stretch (Dean Karnazes for example…although his “human” credibility is questionable). The science behind the importance of stretching is variable as well, so this is definitely an area where I’d argue to do what works best for you.

Changes Necessary? Not really, BUT that is very dependent on continuing to do things such as yoga and foam rolling. Additionally, BF and I take turns torturing rolling each others’ calves with The Stick (remember that Friday “Favorite”?), which I think helps with our muscle relief. So, I would say my habits are working for me, but the measures I do take to remain stretched and loose must be maintained.

 

Rule #3 Thou Shalt Cross-Train

Grade: A

I have to say I’m proud of myself for this one. I never, ever used to think that anything other than running was a viable workout. I thought a sweat was wasted if it wasn’t spent on a run, so it definitely took me a while to really learn to appreciate (and love!) a cross-training routine. And truthfully, I was kind of forced to—when I got hurt almost a year ago (due to excessive running) cross training was my only exercise option for a solid three months. And I’m actually grateful for it, because now I not only enjoy other activities other than running, I definitely think they make me a stronger and smarter runner. I 100% believe spinning has helped my speed, swimming has helped my recovery and cardio strength, and yoga has helped quicken my muscle repair.

This is actually another debatable point in terms of “proper” running training. Many people vouch for it, however there is a large number of people who think the only way to be a better runner is to run, and that’s all. I definitely see both sides, and while there are days I’d much rather run than anything else—I know my body really thrives most when there’s variety in my workout routine.

Changes Necessary? Not right now. If there is a time when I’m really looking to amp up my training (either for increased speed or increased race length) then maybe I’ll need to tone down the cross-training, but for now I think that as long as I’m getting my marathon-prep miles in, there’s no reason to cut out the cross training.

 

Rule #4Thou Shalt Fuel

Grade(s):

Pre-run: B, Mid-run: D, Post-run: A

So, I’ll leave the debate of what to fuel with for another discussion, but in general I would say that the grades above are pretty much how the running industry would rate my fueling abilities. If I have a long run in the morning, I’m better about pre-run fueling for sure, but for just an every-day run I normally only have a handful of cereal and a few sips of water. It could be better for sure, but it does work for me and I have a persnickety digestive system to begin with, so I don’t really care to experiment.

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I’m really bad at fueling during my runs. Honestly, I’ve tried the whole gummies/gels/etc gunk, and all it does is make my stomach hurt. I wish they worked, and I think I might be able to condition myself to stomach them a bit better, but I really prefer a sports drink instead. That said, I only actually bring fuel on a run if it’s a really long run—another reason for my D grade.

As for post run re-fueling, I think I’m pretty good about the whole “carb-to-protien” ratio or whatever it is we’re supposed to do. I almost always eat within an hour of running, and I make sure that it’s something at least marginally substantial. I can really only credit my voracious appetite to my skills in this category, in that it only takes about 20 minutes after a run to set my appetite a-flame.

Oh, and in terms of calorie replacement after a long run—I have no issues there. See: My addiction to cookies.

Changes Necessary? Some. I would like to be a better mid-run fueler, and I think that as my marathon training increases, I’m not going to have a choice but to get used to the gummy energy thingers—unless I want to feel like total crap by the end. Also, I’ve started to get hungry during my runs more frequently, so I’m thinking I’m going to try adding something a little more substantial beforehand.

 

Rule #5 Thou Shalt Take Rest Days

Grade: C-

I am really, really trying to get better at this—and I think I am, but as I’ve said it’s not in my nature to intentionally take rest days. I know I justify my lack of rest days with cross-training… as in: well, I’m not running—therefore it’s okay. And actually, there are days where I’ll only do yoga or a light swim, but overall I would say I must be more programmed to completely let my body regroup and relax.

Changes Necessary? Yes, and it’s a work in progress—I promise!

 

So there you have it. Five very basic rules that I would say the majority of the running world agrees upon. I didn’t even get into shoe replacement, speed work, and proper training plans, because there’s way too much variety and—again—I don’t think there’s one right answer. I actually don’t believe there’s necessarily a “right” answer for the rules I’ve stated.

However, my goal is to show you that sure, there are some guidelines to this whole running thing, and as an active distance runner, I’m both sub par and exceptional for different ones. The point is that while I’ve acknowledged the areas I could improve upon, there are certain nuances that I don’t abide by and it’s no big deal. Not that my running career is scientific proof of anything (English major folks, and a liberal arts school one at that), BUT I hope that I’ve shown the importance of analyzing what works best for you.

So listen to the experts, read the studies, and buy the books, but remember that the most credible source of information is your own body. It knows better than anyone else what does and doesn’t work for you as a runner—and in the end that’s who you should be abiding by.

 

NOW YOU! What grades would you give yourself for these running “rules”?

 

 

 

Fuel Failing, Personal Nights, and Ranting about Target

Hello!

How’s it going? How was your weekend? Personally, I felt like it went a wee bit too quickly, but otherwise it was highly enjoyable.

I completed my second 20 mile run in two weeks on Saturday, and although conditions weren’t necessarily ideal, overall it went well and I finished a bit faster than last week.

I felt a general lack of fueling surrounding this run, and it took it’s toll a bit. In a very literal sense, my car was SO low on gas getting to my starting point down by the water, so that troubled my brain throughout the run.

“What if I run out of gas on the way home and I have to walk and I can’t walk because I will have just run 20 miles and then my legs will break and OMG OMG OMG.”

It’s amazing how we can distract ourselves with irrational thoughts, isn’t it?

Anyways, I also knew right off the bat that I hadn’t food-fueled well enough the night before. I had a bad stomach ache all day Friday, and so I wasn’t feeling too keen on a big carb-load that night. It took it’s toll though, because I woke up hungry, and although I ate a bit before going out I was feeling pretty empty earlier than anyone wants to on a 20 mile run. This also added to why my Gatorade supply (which was meager to begin with) diminished quicker than normal. You see, I’m not very responsible when it comes to fueling during a run, and I only bring water or a sports drink if my run is above 15 or so mile. Bad. However, I do think this helps my resilience to needing a ton of water/electrolyte replacement—on a normal day. Right? That makes total sense. This run was proved otherwise, though, and my liquid energy was consumed in flash.

And to add insult to an already fuel-less run, my iPod died around mile 13. On a normal run, this would have been no problem, and I would have gotten all existential and credited the universe with wanting me to pay more attention to my surroundings. Remember that hippy-dippy post?

But on long runs, the iPod is a bit necessary—both for motivation and distraction. However, I focused on the lovely scenery (I saw TWO bald eagles!) and I tried to maintain a consistent pace. My energy waves came in spurts, and although my legs were barking by the end, my last mile was 8 minutes flat, which I was very happy with.

{Admittedly, I think I was just happy to be done}

Anyways, total time was 2:47 for 20.24 miles. Approximately 8:15 miles…and given the fuel deprivation I would say I’m very pleased with this, especially after 20 miles last Sunday and 13 miles last Thursday.

Dear legs, thank you. You guys are the best.

Also, I would like to pay homage to my decision to take a rest day on Friday. It paid off big time, and I felt so much better than I know I would have during this beast of a run. I wish I could say that I was a stellar smart and prepared athlete who intentionally took that day off in lieu of the big weekend ahead, but truthfully it was an impromptu decision and happened to be the right one.

What’s the lesson? Scheduled rest days are good. Our bodies like them.

Along those lines, I’m starting to rethink my normal routine in terms of pre and post long run day regimen. I used to always take my rest days (or do an easy swim) the day after a long run, however I’ve recently been introduced to this concept of a “shake out” or “recovery” run, which I’m becoming a HUGE fan of. The idea is that you do a shorter, slow run the day after a long run to, quite literally, shake out your legs and get some blood flowing to your sore muscles. I’ve done this twice now, and I’m a big fan. I really like the excuse for some slow, leisurely running, and I do think it’s helping me recover faster.

And speaking of recovery, my favorite kind of recovery—the kind that requires ample food consumption and couch sitting—was it optimal form on Saturday night. BF attended poker night with some of his co-workers, and while I could have planned a fabulous Seattle nightlife outing with my friends, I knew I wouldn’t make it until 10 pm—therefore a Robyn Personal Night was in order.

I am very much someone who enjoys their own company, almost as much as the company of others. Don’t get me wrong—I love being around people, but there are sometimes when I relish being by myself for a night. And yes, I was the child who sang to themselves played alone on the playground and didn’t give a second thought about it. I really like to think I’ve gained some sociability since then, but nights like Saturday night indicate otherwise.

Allow me to give you a glimpse into what my perfect home-alone setting looks like:

Pajamas on before dinner

A Beecher’s grilled cheese and tomato basil soup {This is the best grilled cheese you will ever eat. If you don’t believe me, come to Seattle and I will buy you one myself.}

Bridesmaids

Blue Moon Spring Ale

US Weekly

A big sugar cookie

These ingredients, topping off a day spent at Target and Trader Joe’s, just about sums up my perfect Saturday. Lame? Totally. But I’m not ashamed. And the word “spent” above is very much pun intended. I went into Target to exchange a shirt for a different size.

That’s. It.

So what did I walk out with? The better fitting shirt…oh and a new dress, a new necklace (the dress needed a friend), another new shirt, bobby pins, and sport headbands.

DAMNIT TARGET.

It’s okay, this is why the Bull’s Eye Boutique made Friday Favorites a few weeks ago, and will continue to so long as it’s within my driving range.

I would just like to say that my receipt was $48.57, meaning I successfully defeated the infamous $50 minimum rule when leaving Target. Therefore I essentially won, and Target pretty much gave me all my new wonderful things. Oh, you’ve never heard of that rule? It’s real, and if you don’t believe me…next time you go to Target for one item, check out YOUR receipt once you walk out of the store.

So there you have it peeps. My idea of a perfect Saturday and an unplanned rant about Target and how it owns my soul.

This is cutback week, meaning my long run won’t be quite as daunting, which honestly I’m a little relieved about. I’ll see you before then, though, and I hope you had a merry weekend of your own.

Tell me about your weekend! What would your version of a Personal Night look like? Did you watch the Oscars? Did you do a long run? Do you have a horrible addiction to a chain store?