Archive | March, 2013

Mile a Day in March Challenge: Complete

31 Mar

When a friend pointed out that I Love to Run was hosting a Mile a Day in March challenge, I figured, “Hey, why not? I can do that without a problem. A mile a day will be a piece of cake.” It was actually a little harder to squeeze that mile in on some days than I initially anticipated, but I did  it!

Instead of taking two-ish days off from running a week like I usually do, I decided to just run a mile on those days and add some strength training. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my longest days in the office, so those are the days I typically take off from running. On the other days, I stuck with my regular routine and continued with my mileage buildup.

So how’d it go?

My most favorite part of this challenge is that it gave me an opportunity to run with my husband, Mark a couple of times a week. He’s not really into running (yet) but he was willing to do a mile here and there with me. I loved the runs we took together. Even though they were short, it felt nice to be active together despite it being a very busy time of the year for him (tax season, ughhh). There were even a few times when he ran with me late at night just so I wouldn’t give up on hitting that mile for the day.

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Love him.

The least favorite part of this challenge was that since I struggled all winter with getting myself out of bed to run before work, getting a mile in sometimes meant running after 9:00 PM. In at least one case, it was 10:30 PM by the time I was home from work and throwing on my running shoes. There were times I just wanted to put my PJs on as soon as I walked in the door and struggled to force myself to get that mile done.

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Running at 10:30 PM on a week night is totally normal

The weather was pretty crazy in March, too.

Some days it was sunny and warm, like Spring was arriving right on time. That made for a pleasant Sunday afternoon run with the hubby.

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Sunny Sunday Runday

Then, there were freezing and snowy days. Looks pretty, but not as pleasant. The weather really didn’t know what it was doing or what season it was supposed to be.

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Just when we thought Spring was showing up to the party…

Regardless of the weather, time, or daily schedule, I ran every single day in March. And I’m proud I did that.

Overall, I’m glad I did this challenge. It definitely felt good to say that I completed it, even if it only meant getting in 1 mile for the day. I also really appreciated the miles I got to run with Mark. I think if I were to do a daily challenge again, I would definitely make sure I was running in the early morning to avoid that whole near-midnight running thing. The next challenge will be training for that hilly half marathon in May!

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Challenge complete.

Total Miles in March: 88.67

If you’re looking for another daily challenge, I Love to Run is doing a 1-3-5 Miles and Smiles Challenge for April. You can join it by clicking here.

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This week in training AKA: The Hills and Junkpouch

30 Mar

As I mentioned earlier this week, I just registered to run the Jog4Jugs Half Marathon on May 11. Since it’s not far away and it’s super hilly, I didn’t waste any time getting into training mode.

First, I checked my Hal Higdon Novice 2 Half Marathon iPhone app and plugged in the race date. Turns out, I was already pretty close to being right on track for weekly mileage and distance according to the plan. I immediately felt relieved and excited at the same time. I don’t plan on following Hal’s plan exactly this time around, but using it as a checkpoint is helpful.

Monday

Since this half is challenging and hilly, I got started on some hill work. I did 3 different hills 5x each and a total run of 5 miles. I also did an arms circuit. You can read all about it here.

Tuesday

An easy 1 mile for the Mile a Day in March challenge. It was late and I was exhausted, so I just stretched and put PJ’s on afterward.

Wednesday

A 4.02 mile run at a 9:15 avg pace for a total of 37:10. I don’t think there was anything notable about this run, just a mid-week “get it in” kind of run. Unless you count the fact that it was still light out when I started just before 7PM, because that’s pretty great!

Thursday

Another easy 1 mile followed by an 8:00 core workout with lolo Easy Abs iPhone app. The circuit included these exercises:

  • Opposite Elbow to Knee Raises – 15 reps
  • Plank with Alternating Knee Tucks – 15 reps
  • Side Plank with Leg Abductions – 15 reps each side (I’m getting slightly better at these)
  • Sit Ups – 15 reps
  • Supermans – 15 reps
  • Leg Raises w/Straight Legs – 15 reps
  • Double Crunch – 15 reps
  • Plank – 30 seconds

Friday

A 4.08 mile run at 8:47 avg pace for a total of 35:50. I started this one kind of slow and sped up as I went along. It took me a while to wake up and get into it, but it turned into a great run.

This probably had a little something to do with the increase in momentum:

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Strings version of Journey? OK!

On Friday, I also took a shopping trip to get some much needed hydration gear. I haven’t had a big water bottle in months, ever since I left my Nalgene at the office and it was thrown away. I finally bought this 1L CamelBak from Target. I am very excited to get back to drinking water all day. I grabbed some nuun and the Swift hydration belt by Nathan from Fleet Feet. I ended up finding the Strawberry Lemonade nuun (my fave!) at Eastern Mountain Sports. I have yet to find the new nuun flavors while out and about (um, I think I need that caffeine enhanced Cherry Limeade, please).

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Hydration station

Not surprisingly, our supply of Girl Scout cookies is depleted. Mark and I may have also bought this at Target:

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Oops.

Saturday

The long run! According to Hal Higdon, I was due for an 8 mile run. No problem! I actually met up with another member of the Albany Running Exchange who posted a 5 mile run for the morning right in town. To get the extra 3 miles, I ran to and from the meeting spot. This was a really great run! Miles seem to go by so much faster when you’re not alone. It ended up being 8.45 miles total for me and a total time of 1:16:18, an avg pace of 9:02.

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Great way to start a Saturday

I used this longer run to test out my new hydration/fuel belt. It has an 8 oz water bottle and little zip pouch. I put some nuun water in the bottle and stuffed the pouch with a house key, Burt’s Bees HONEY lip balm, my iPhone, and a packet of GU (didn’t use it, just wanted to see how much I could cram in there). The belt is pretty lightweight and I was surprised by how much I could stuff into the little pocket. When I started out, I had the bottle/pouch situated on my hip, which is where I’d prefer it to be. Well, it did not want to stay there. It ended up finding it’s way front and center and that’s where it stayed. I guess I’m OK with that…if I don’t mind having a junkpouch. Comfort wise, it was fine. Though I’m considering adding another 8 oz bottle. I get thirsty.

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I will call this photo “Junkpouch”

I did a LOT of stretching afterward and refueled with a Designer Whey chocolate protein shake.

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Ahh, recovery.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good after my first “official” week of half marathon training! I didn’t get in as much core and strength training as I would have liked, but I will bump it back up for next week. I also have to get some cross training mixed in to get some balance in my workouts and use some other muscles.

It is looking like a BEAUTIFUL Spring weekend!

Runner-friendly snacks

29 Mar

When it comes to cookies and candy, I really have no sense of moderation. I try very hard to stick to a small serving, but the inner cookie monster tends to take over and before I know it, the cookies are gone. I think I was born with a sugar fiend gene. However, there are times when I’m more able to manage sweets cravings and I’ve even made it for periods of time without cookies, desserts, and candy.

Then, there are other times when I’m all about the salty and carby snacks. This is probably linked to times when I’m sweating my sodium out more and need to replenish. Along with pretty much every other runner on the planet, the more miles I run and the harder I work, the more ravenous I feel.

With that said, I am always striving for balance in my snacking. At times I am more successful at achieving that balance and at others I eat a whole sleeve of thin mints or a whole bag of Swedish Fish.

Here are some better-for-me snacks that I enjoy regularly:

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Sweet Potato Chips

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Luna protein bars

TJ’s Sweet, Savory & Tart Trek Mix

I also try to mix in things like grapes, cheese and whole grain crackers, Greek yogurt, popcorn, and many others (like I said, I’m a snack fiend), but this post would become unbearably long and boring if I added a photo of every snack I ate. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.

There are many articles and blogs available on this topic full of suggestions for healthy and power-packed snacks for runners. Runner’s World tends to have a lot of tips and I found this article to be helpful for snack timing and portioning and this article for finding the right snack based on cravings. This is a nice list of options in PDF format from another website, so you can print it out and take it to the grocery store.

Basically, snacks should be small in portion (200-300 calories) and nutrient dense. (I actually prefer my snacks to be 200 calories or less because I like to save the bulk of my daily intake for meals and I am kind of a “grazer” and have little snacks at various times throughout the day.) Runner friendly snacks should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats (duh!). Post-run snacks should be more substantial, obviously, and have a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Since I’m not good at math, I’m all about finding out what elite(ish) runners are snacking on and what experts recommend.

BANANAS! The go-to runner snack found in bulk at nearly every race. Carbs, vitamin B6, easily digestible fiber, and simple sugars make it a good grab pre- or post- run.

Chocolate milk. It’s not just for little kids, you know. Keeps you hydrated, provides protein, carbs, B6, and calcium. Runners need strong bones!

(Sodahead.com)

Trail mix. Dried fruit + nuts + a little sweetness = snacky goodness. Be careful when buying a mix because you can end up getting more candy and salt than the healthy stuff. It can also be fun to make your own trail mix and “recipes” are easy to find.

Cereal with skim milk. According to RW, “one study found that people who eat a serving of cereal 90 minutes after dinner consume fewer calories daily than those who don’t have cereal.” Choose a cereal with high fiber, whole grains, and add some fruit on top for more punch.

(kimandjason.com)

Smoothies. Blending fruit with Greek yogurt or skim milk can give you a tasty treat full of nutrients. Add some protein powder to boost post-workout power. STUFT Mama has a lot of great smoothie recipes that you can check out here. You can also buy some Naked juices if you’re not into making your own.

Peanut butter (or other nut butters). Now, we don’t want to just sit there and spoon it out of the jar. It has some protein and good fats, but it is best added to a bagel, apples, banana, oatmeal,or in a smoothie rather than by itself. Pick nut butters with only the necessary ingredients and without added sugar, hydrogenated oils, and all that junk.

(toothpastefordinner.com)

Other runner-friendly snacks include, but are not limited to:

  • Energy bars
  • Cottage cheese (cringe)
  • Oatmeal
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Hummus
  • Raw veggies
  • Low-sodium jerky
  • Fat-free popcorn

So there you go! If you are a snack fiend like me and are looking for ways to make healthier choices that will satisfy and fuel you without negating your hard work, try swapping out some of these options for the cookies. If you have other healthy snack suggestions or resources, please post them below!