Tag Archives: health

Smoothies & 2 miles of struggle.

Yesterday, I took a rest day. Mostly because a crazy storm woke me up in the middle of the night which totally threw me off. And apparently there is something icky going around at my office so I opted for catching up on sleep, but honestly, I was probably just being lazy.

So this morning when I awoke to grey and drizzly weather, I wished I had picked today to be my rest day instead. I almost didn’t get up and run. Weather is a huge deterrent for me, or rather, it makes a great excuse. But I didn’t want to be lazy and take two days off. Plus, I really wanted to run!

run stats

With much reluctance, I got out of bed and hit the road. Once again, getting a late start forced me to knock off a mile for time so it was another 2-miler. I decided since this would be a short run, that I would do it without any stops. Two miles with no stops? No problem, right? Hah! I wish.

It was brutal.

Seriously, it was rough–just all around uncomfortable. It was hot, muggy, still drizzling. I ran slow, but I didn’t stop, so at least there’s that. And at the end, I hit my distance, but I was so close to twenty minutes that I just kept going until I hit that mark.

I don’t know what it is, but this transition to running in the mornings is really difficult for me. A lot of it has to do with my not eating before hand. I can still get out and run on an empty stomach, but my workouts really suffer for it. I just don’t have the energy to do long runs and I can really feel it in my muscles. This morning, my lungs were fine but my legs were actually hurting…and it was only two miles!

Bad runs are frustrating and I seem to be having a slew of them lately. Maybe tomorrow I’ll skip the morning run and hop on the treadmill in the evening instead. It’s not ideal, but it might be good to actually get at least one hard workout in this week.

smoothie

On another note, I am really into smoothies for breakfast right now. They are easy to make, quick, and actually kind of fun to eat/drink. The only problem is now I have way too much to carry when going in to work: my lunch bag, my purse, my coffee, and my breakfast smoothie. Try opening your door with all that in hand! Thank goodness for cup holders.

The smoothie above was my breakfast yesterday, and is sort of a kitchen sink situation, using whatever I had laying around.

Things I typically include in my smoothies//

blueberries
strawberries
blackberries
rasberries
bananas
oatmeal
flax seed
chia seed
salad greens (kale, spinach, etc.)
peanut butter
almond milk
soy  milk
green tea
protein powder

There are a million more options. That’s the best part about smoothies: if it blends, throw it in! Later, I’ll put up some of my favorite smoothie recipes.

What do you eat before you go for a morning run?

What’s your favorite smoothie ingredient?

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My favorite fitness apps

The day I got my smartphone was the day my workouts completely changed. Originally I had an android, but after an unsatisfying two years, I finally upgraded to an iPhone and I couldn’t be happier.

Below is a list of the apps I use, with the reasons why I love them. There are so many options out there and choosing the app that works best for you is important.

nike-plus-gps-icon

Nike +

There are a number of running apps out there, but after trying out a bunch, I settled on Nike+. Why? For one reason: I am extremely competitive. Nike+ has this awesome feature where it ranks all of your friends on a scoreboard on the opening screen of the app to let you know who has been running the most miles that month, and personally, I like to be at the top of that list. Sometimes, I will plan my run distances based on how many miles I need to bump myself up to first place.

Another reason I like this app is because it integrates with SmashRun, the online tracking site I use to record my runs.

iPhone-app-icon

Zombies, Run!

I am usually all about the free apps, but sometimes an app is worth the money, and this app is one of those. This is an audio story about the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse played out as you run. Each mission is about 30 minutes long (but can be lengthened to an hour), interspersing your music with the story. I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to spoil what happens!

You also collect items as you run, which you can then use to build your own base on your phone or online. The longer your run, the more items you pick up and the more you can build. And, if you need that extra boost, you can turn on Zombie hoards which chase you at random times during your run. Personally, I find them exceptionally difficult to outrun, which probably means I need to run even more.

interval

IntervalTimer

I love this app because it is so simple. It doesn’t have anything more than you need. You can save multiple interval workouts, set the times and number of sets, and even pick the specific sounds you want to signal your change of pace. No more, no less. Great for internal workouts and tempo runs!

Fitocracy_icon

Fitocracy

This is actually a new app for me. I joined up back when the website was first in beta testing, forgot about it for a couple years, and then rediscovered it recently only to find that it was significantly improved and actually quite awesome. They have a great community and the app is super easy to use. Complete quests, acquire experience points for various exercises, and level up to become your most awesome self.

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki MurakamiHow it was possible for me to get this far in life without realizing there was a book out there that combined my two loves: running and writing, is beyond me. This book, of course, is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

This book is only 180 pages. Short and poignant, it is a collection of short essays written by Murakami while training for yet another marathon. He describes his many experiences as a runner, including training, running races, and how all of it can be related to his writing.

To be honest, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t run enjoying this book. A writer may pick up this memoir to glean some wisdom about writing–which there is some–but I don’t think there is enough to satisfy someone with no interest in physical fitness.

But for me, it was the perfect mix. I have always said I would never run a full marathon, but having just run a half marathon and  now, having just read this book, I am starting to think a full marathon might be a reality for me sometime in the future. This book was inspiring in so many ways. As soon as I finished, I laced up and ran the fastest, most enjoyable four miles I’ve run probably ever.

One might consider this book a bit self-indulgent, which is exactly what Murakami said he feared in his introduction. It felt like he was working through his own thoughts, never really drawing helpful conclusions so much as, raising questions about life. At times I found this a bit frustrating, like reading someone’s diary, but at other times, I found it really human, and I appreciated knowing that this amazingly accomplished writer and runner has the same fears and concerns that I have, and works through them with the same uncertainty as I do.

As a runner, I really appreciated the discussion of his training and race experiences. He describes a grueling experience running the original marathon race in Athens, and his seemingly unbearable trial of human strength running an ultra-marathon. The details he gives of the pain he felt, physical and mental, remind me of many of the thoughts and feelings I have experienced as well. (And also solidified my resolve to never run an ultra-marathon because it does not in any way, shape, or form, sound fun.)

Below, I have excerpted some of my favorite passages from the book:

“When I’m training for a race, I have to show my muscles who’s boss. I have to make it clear to them what’s expected.” Page 72.

“Even if there were two of me, I still couldn’t do all that has to be done. No matter what, though, I keep up my running. Running every day is kind of a lifeline to me, so I’m not going to lay off or quit just because I’m busy. If I used being busy as an excuse not to run, I’d never run again. I have only a few reasons to keep running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished.” Page 73.

“What’s needed for a writer of fiction — at least one who hopes to write a novel — is the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, two years. You can compare it to breathing. If concentration if the process of just holding your breath, endurance is the art of slowly, quietly breathing at the same time you’re storing air in your lungs…Continue to breathe while you hold your breath.” Page 78.

“Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life–and for me, for writing as well.” Page 83.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I appreciated it both for the wisdom is imparted, and  for inspiration of a shared human experience. It made me feel like I could pour my love into both writing and running, and that I didn’t have to choose one or the other to place my focus. Most of all, it made me feel like things I have been unable to even comprehend attempting are possible and achievable.

I’ll no doubt come back to this book for a pick-me-up every so often. It only took me a few hours to read, and it provided just the push I needed to get myself off the couch, out the door, and back putting one foot in front of the other.

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I really needed that nap.

Pillow ProfessorSometimes I get up in the morning and all I can think about is how happy I’ll be to go to sleep that night.

I try to maintain a fairly regular sleep schedule to avoid days like these, almost never staying up past midnight anymore. Instead, I try to get in bed by 10 pm, read for an hour, and be asleep a little after 11 pm.

Then, I set my alarm for 7 am and usually hit the snooze button a few times. I lay in bed catching up on social media on my phone for a bit and eventually, around 8 am, actually remove myself from under the covers and start getting ready for the day.

That’s a solid 8-9 hours of sleep a day.

So why did I feel the need to come home and immediately nap today? Maybe this was exactly what my body needed and I just had to listen to it.

This is a lesson I feel like I keep having to re-learn. While I was training for the Cap City Half Marathon, all I wanted to do was sleep. I was always exhausted because I was running so much. My body desperately needed the time to heal and recover.

And last week, when I took more rest days than usual, I wasn’t sleeping very well at all. It was as though my body didn’t know how to react to my not feeling completely exhausted from constant workouts, so it caused me to wake up at weird hours and never feel fully rested.

Last week finally caught up with me today and I just had to nap it off.

It’s important to listen to your body, especially when it comes to sleep.

Do you remember those online quizes you could take that would tell you if you were sleep deprived? I took one back in high school and answered “yes” to almost every single question. I don’t know how I even functioned back then! I wish I’d had the time to take naps during those years (a luxury I later took advantage of in college) because I think I would have done much better at everything I was doing (which was a lot.) Yet, somehow I made it through, and  looking back, I can’t believe I accomplished anything with how little sleep I was getting.

Now that I am an adult, I try much harder to get the sleep I need, and I think I am 100x healthier for it.

Don’t take sleep for granted! There may be more you have to get done in a day than there are hours for, but you only have one body, and it needs sleep to recover from everything you’re doing–not just physically, but mentally as well.

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My UnDiet Week

CookiesI admit, I have completely phoned in my eating habits this week. I haven’t been on a run since my race, and I have been eating like….so many cookies. I have made an effort to eat fish twice this week, and some attempts at some hearty vegetables, but such efforts have been completely overshadowed by the  2-3 helpings I’ve also been having. Not to mention the various snacks and boozy beverages. All in all, it has not been a very healthy week for me.

I keep telling myself that tomorrow I will try harder–workout, and demonstrate some self-control–but then I get bored or tired, and that all goes out the window. Did I mention how much I love cookies? Because that hasn’t been helping either.

This probably stems from the fact that I no longer have any particular reason to be out running. I’m not training for a race and I haven’t set my sights on any specific goals yet. I have looked for races, but I haven’t found any in my area that I’m interested in. And when I’m not running, I tend to let my eating get away from me. On days when I work out, I am much more likely to stick to my goals. Go figure.

I think everyone has days/weeks/months like these. It’s normal. I read a bit about post-race depression and how common it is after a big race: it’s like there is a hole where the race was occupying for so long. Clearly, I am trying to fill that hole with food.

But I’ll let myself have this week–just this one. I did run a half marathon after all. But once this week is over, I really need to settle back into a set routine. The weather is beautiful and I am wasting these perfect running days by being lazy and sitting around on the couch. (I am, however, getting lots of reading done!)

Sadly, before I can build up a running routine again, I am really going to need a goal to work toward. And probably to learn more about running in general. Next thing to add to my reading list: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.

 

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What gets you up in the morning?

Serious question.

What gets you up in the morning?

When the alarm goes off and you open your eyes to see the sun peeking through the blinds, what is it that ultimately gets you to throw back the covers and swing your legs over the edge of the bed?

The logical answer here is that you have to be at work at 9am so you can earn the money to pay your bills.

For most people, this is the answer five days a week, and on weekends, you lay in bed for a few extra hours because it’s not like you have anything you have to do, right?

One day after work, I was sitting at home and watching TV, and I just started crying. Suddenly, I realized that this could easily be the rest of my life: Getting up and going to work, coming home to sit around, eating dinner before heading to bed, only to repeat the process all over again the next day. I was suddenly very, very afraid.

If that’s all I have to look forward to for the next 40 years, what is the point of living? Honestly, if all I did every day was go to work, eat, and sleep, what would be the point of it all?

At 24 years old, I never thought I would honestly be asking myself to identify my reasons for living. I mean, this is is my prime! I should be more excited about living now than any other time in my life, right? Then why was I suddenly feeling so depressed about my routine?

The fact is that for so many years, school had given my life meaning. Working toward graduation was this ultimate goal that propelled me forward. Once that was gone, I felt like I was floating. What was I working toward now? And I realized, from here on out, I was in charge of creating my own motivation. The universe wasn’t going to provide me with any more freebies.

It’s scary to suddenly feel that kind of freedom. It is 100% my choice whether or not I spend every day after work doing nothing, or if I use that time to work toward something I want.

But what exactly do I want?

This becomes the bigger life question. Before, all I wanted was to be done with school. Mission accomplished. But what now?

Well…I want to be a published writer; I want to have an exciting career; I want to be an accomplished runner; I want to live an exceptional life.

Then dammit, I had better be using my free time to work toward these goals! Screw sitting in front of the TV after work.

It’s moments like this when I grab my running shoes and lace up, or pull out my notebook to scribble down some notes.

Growing up is scary and I was not prepared for this part of the process. I thought it all came naturally, falling into your lap as you moved forward, but that’s not the case.

With freedom comes responsibility–you’re in charge of your own life now. What do you want, and how bad do you want it?

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Cap City Half Marathon Recap

Capital City Half Marathon

This past weekend I participated in and completed my very first half marathon! I decided to run in this race after a good friend said she had signed up for it on a whim. At the time, it was about four months away and as I began my training plan, it felt like race day would never actually arrive.

And then it did.

RunningBuddiesMy friend, Mary, and I were up early, taking our time getting ready. I made us some oatmeal with bananas and blueberries, and some french press coffee. The coffee was excellent, but I could barely manage more than a few bites of my oatmeal. Maybe it was pre-race jitters, or just the fact that I was up earlier than usual and my body was rejecting so much as the idea of food. Either way, breakfast was slim.

But I was still confident. I knew I could finish the distance. Once before, I was able to hit 13.1 miles in just over two hours. On that run, I had stopped to take a few breaks, and I didn’t want to do that this time around. I was going all the way!

My goals for this race: 1) To not stop running, 2) Finish under two hours, and 3) Finish with dignity.

The race started at 8 a.m. sharp, with big crowds of runners and supporters lining the streets. I really wanted to take one last trip to the bathroom, but the lines were long (filled with people with the same idea as me) so I decided to just warm up and see how I felt.  

Ryan Gosling Running MotivationThe race was sold out and everyone was really packed in there. It made the first half-mile of the race extremely slow. Just trying to get the group moving and find some space to get into a good groove was a struggle.

At the same time, one of the great parts about a race this big is the supporters. They have great signs and what seems like unlimited enthusiasm. One of my favorite signs was at the start of the race —->

I was able to stick with Mary for about a mile and a half before she dropped back and I picked up my pace as the crowd began to thin.

In retrospect, I should have been more patient in catching up to the pacer holding the 2:00 sign. I made the mistake of weaving through a bunch of people, averaging around an 8:15 pace (when I should have been sticking to my more comfortable 8:45-9:00 pace). Sure, I was feeling great through miles 3-5, but now I know that such a fast pace early on is not sustainable over such long distances, and it definitely came back to haunt me later in the race.

GU Energy GelAt mile 6 there was a fuel station with GU energy gels. This was a lifesaver. I had never tried one of these before, but I will definitely be investing in crates full of these little guys for increased distance training and future half marathons. It was convenient, tasty, and gave me the boost I needed since those few bites of oatmeal I had for breakfast just weren’t cutting it.

The best part of this race was the course itself. It took us through all of the most beautiful parts of Columbus, including campus, the Olentangy river, the Short North, downtown, and  German Village. Of all these stretches of the course, downtown was the hardest. There were multiple hills (that all felt like they only went uphill) and the pavement was uneven, which was much more distracting than I thought it would be.

ActionShotBy the time I was in German Village, it was getting toward the end of the race. At mile 11, we passed by Katzinger’s Deli, where my wonderful boyfriend, Ben (aka the best supporter in the world), was snacking on a sandwich and waiting for me to pass by. He got a great action shot of me running, and gave me a high five–just the motivation I needed to keep going!

This picture is incredibly deceiving because I look really happy, when in reality, I was 100% focused on not stopping, completely throwing out my goal of a sub-2 time. I wanted to stop so bad, but I was so close to the end…I refused to let myself stop running in the last three miles, let alone the last mile–the victory mile– which was almost entirely uphill. BestSupporterEver

As I reached the finish line, the crowds in my sights, I saw runners being attended to by medics scattered alongside the road. I felt for them–they had come so far and had to stop. But I wasn’t going to let that be me. I was not going to stop, no matter how bad my legs hurt, no matter how hard it was to breathe. I had less than a mile left. There were tears in my eyes as I pushed onward.

As I hit the last tenth of the race, I saw Ben again, and he even joined me briefly to make sure I got across the finish line alright. (I’m pretty sure I was looking like death at this point.)

But I crossed the finish line. I threw my hands in the air and knew that my ordeal was finally over. I had finished. I never stopped. And all in a time of 1:59:45–I was under two hours (even if it was just barely).

Thank goodness Ben was there to keep me upright and moving to get out of the way for other runners. The medics were fairly concerned as I had to stop and bend over a few times. I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep standing, and I was having trouble catching my breath. But then they handed my my medal and everything seemed alright again.

CapCityMedalMy parents (who had been tracking me online as I was running) sent me text messages of support. Mary finished very shortly after, and I was able to meet her at the finish line. We made our way through the crowd of finishers, picked up our water, bagels, and fruit, and met back up with Ben to head to the finisher’s party.

There we had champagne and chocolate milk, the perfect recovery combination! They also had Patron drinks and Beer for the finishers, but somehow, those just didn’t seem as appetizing. (Okay, maybe the beer, but we still had to drive home!)

Overall, it was an amazing experience. It was painful and for a portion of the race, I really, really (REALLY) wanted to give up. But I didn’t, and I’m really proud of that fact.

And I definitely want to do it again. Maybe not for a few months, since I want to get into some more serious training and try to get down to about a 1:45 race time. I know it’s a big goal, but what is life if we aren’t working toward something?

I’ll probably be signing up for some smaller 5k races in the near future, and am already SUPER excited for the Color Run in July! Running is just the best.

Important Things I learned:

1) Pick a pace and stick with it. You’ll thank yourself later in the race.

2) Be patient. It’s crowded and will take some time for everyone to get started. (I think next time I’ll try to start closer to the front of my corral.)

3) Basically, RUN!

basically RUN

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