Friday, August 31, 2012

August in Review

Wow, August went by super fast. Probably because I've been staying busy, as usual. I feel like I've had a really great month with my running, riding, and being consistent with my workouts, and that makes me happy! I've also been doing a couple "new" things this month...

First, I've been trying to go on a walk during my lunch break...I can usually go about 1.4 miles in 25 minutes without breaking too much of a sweat (although on really hot days I get pretty sweaty...sorry coworkers!).  It gives me a much needed mental break as well as a nice physical break from sitting on my butt all day! I don't know if this is necessarily helpful to me fitness-wise (especially since I'm walking in flip flops - and no, I will not change into running shoes and be a "lunch walker"), but I figure it's 100ish calories I wouldn't be burning otherwise.

Before I had my seizure, I was finally getting consistent with lifting weights at the gym.  But since I can't drive until December now, my strength training came to a screeching halt in the beginning of June. At the end of July, I happened to discover a set of weights at my parents house, which were apparently a Christmas present to me when I was younger. So we lugged them home and I have been using them pretty consistently throughout August, usually at least two times a week for 40-50 minutes. I'm loving it, and I can definitely tell that a stronger me = stronger runs.
James is my weight lifting buddy.
He is really only good at resting between sets
and you can't depend on him for a spot.
I did three "long" runs of 7, 9, and 10 miles. I had a taste of cooler weather for my 9 miler, but my 10 miler today was super humid.  I'm definitely looking forward to doing long runs in cooler weather.  Despite the humidity, my run this morning was absolutely beautiful so I snapped a few pictures along the way.

clockwise: little baby turtle, cool greenway bridge, Mill Mountain Star, Roanoke River 

Earlier this month I finally cashed in my Fleet Feet gift cards I received for my birthday in May and I purchased some new running shoes...the Saucony Ride 5.

To be honest, they are good for shorter weekday runs, but I'm not really a fan of running in them during long runs.  They have a slightly lower heel-to-toe drop than standard shoes (8 mm instead of 12 mm).  I think I felt this difference at first, but I'm used to it now. It's not as different as I expected it'd be. Unfortunately, my knees and feet start to hurt any time I get past 7 miles in these shoes.  I'm thinking that since they're lighter and not as substantial, they are a little too soft and I'm feeling the road a little too much. I think I'm going to go back to the Brooks Ghost as soon as I can afford to buy them.
I am a little disappointed because I only rode my bike twice this month. With my husband going back to school this month, I am working an hour later every day since he can't pick me up until then, so we're not getting home until later. Going for a ride takes a more time than going for a short run, so recently I've been opting to go for a run instead of a ride just to save time. Hopefully I can be better about this in September.

On one of the rides we went on, after we did our "real" ride, we stopped by the house and then we cruised downtown and enjoyed some lunch! Have I mentioned how much I love the convenience of where we live? Because I do.
only cool people dine in cycling clothes and cycling shoes

In other news, I've decided to try again at training for a full marathon. I'm signed up for the Blue Ridge Marathon on April 20, 2013. Conveniently, I'm also an official blogger for the Blue Ridge Marathon.

And speaking of Blue Ridge, even though I can't drive right now, I've decided that I want these pretty new Blue Ridge Parkway licence plates, but I can't decide which "bike" to put on them - B1K or BYK?? (BIK was taken)
help me decide! and please don't steal my ideas.
So in summary, August was a great month. My running mileage was up, but my cycling mileage was way down. I feel like if I do a lot of one thing, the other sport is just the opposite.  I guess I can't do it all, huh?

Running Miles in August: 58 - quite an improvement from August's 24 miles!!
Walking Miles in August: 23
Cycling Miles in August: 39 - I only rode my bike twice this month. Not cool! 

Running Miles YTD: 388
Cycling Miles YTD: 800

So long, August! Hello September :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Healthy Fast Food?

On my lunch break the other day I was surfing through the Runner's World website and I came across a post by Dean Karnazes about the fast food industry's recent attempts at offering "healthier" options (you can read his post HERE). I came to the realization that I have a lot to say about this. 

Before I get into this, let me start off by saying that I do eat fast food occasionally.  My favorite fast food place is definitely Chik-fil-A. If you live in a part of the country where there isn't a Chik-fil-A, I am so sorry. When I go (I would say maybe once every 2 months on average? Sometimes more, sometimes less), I might get a salad, but there are other times when I will shamelessly get a chicken sandwich and their amazing waffle fries and drown them in Polynesian sauce. And their milkshakes are to die for (or at least worth running 10 miles for). 

Now that I've confessed, let me get on with my rant. 

Many people try to blame the fast food industry for the "fattening" of America. This really irritates me. The reality is that the fast food industry does not make people fat. This may seem harsh, but pure laziness, lack of self-control, and poor food choices is what makes people fat. People will try to use a number of excuses...I don't have time to make food is cheaper...etc. You do have time to make food and you can eat healthy on a budget (and you won't have to pay for the health problems you'll have down the road). Yes, it requires a little more effort to do so, but in my opinion it's totally worth it.  You and only you are in control of your health and wellness. 

Regarding fast food companies offering "healthier" options, I can see both the positives and the negatives of this. The positive, of course, is that lower calorie options are at least available to fast food diners. Whether or not these options are actually "healthy" is debatable. 

The new "Favorites Under 400" menu at McDonald's includes foods that are under 400 calories.  The problem I see with this is that most of the options are in fact not healthy at all, and most people will probably get more than one item off of the menu.  For example, a medium fry is on the under 400 menu, coming in at 380 calories.  Please tell me who makes a meal off of French fries alone!?  Add a cheeseburger (also on the under 400 menu, coming in at 300 calories), and you're at 680 calories.  The hot fudge sundae is also on the menu with 330 calories. Under 400 calories, yes. But healthy? No.

Consumers should also be weary of items that seem like they would be healthy, but really aren't.  For example, the Real Fruit Smoothies are 250 calories but they also contain over 50 grams of sugar (the hot fudge sundae actually has less sugar than the smoothies). I will give McDonald's some credit for offering a few healthy items such as apple slices, fruit & walnuts, oatmeal, salads, and wraps. But, really? Why do you have to go to McDonald's and pay for someone to cut up your apples and heat up some oatmeal? And let's be honest...

What do you think about all of this? Do you think that fast food companies offering "healthier" options is going to make a dent in the obesity epidemic? 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Game Plan

I know that the Blue Ridge Marathon is still almost 8 months away, but it's not too early for me to be thinking about a game plan for training.  I feel like I've learned a lot over the past year with going through a marathon training schedule (something that resembled one of Hal Higdon's plans), getting injured, making a comeback, and hitting a few bumps in the road along the way. There were things I liked and didn't like about training, and some things I've done since my injury that I know I need to keep doing, even if it means sacrificing a few miles here and there.

  • I don't like following a strict training plan. It takes all of the fun out of it for me to feel like I have to run x miles today, tomorrow, and the next day.  Basically I'm just stubborn and I don't like being told what to do. I think my goal is to plan out the buildup for mileage on long runs, and leave the rest of the week up in the air, with a goal of running at least 2 more times during the week and also incorporating cycling and lifting weights into the mix. This could either be great or leave me completely unprepared. 
  • I don't like running more than 3 times a week because my body hates running 2 days in a row.  I know that many of you are thinking oh, she'll never finish a marathon only running 3 days a week! To which I'll respond that everyone is different and what works for me might not work for you. The training plan we followed last time had 4 days a week of running but towards the end I usually skipped one run anyways because I was too tired and burnt out. 
  • Something that I will continue to do is to take regular walking breaks during my long runs. In fact, since there is a ton of elevation change at Blue Ridge, I'll probably be walking even more. Walking really breaks up the monotony of running, it helps to prevent fatigue on the run, and it speeds recovery afterwards. Plus it's a good time to refuel. 
  • My strength training has been very off and on this year for various reasons. Right now it is ON and I plan to keep it that way. I always feel so much stronger (duh) and confident when I'm strength training and I can really see it translate to having stronger runs. I know that it will also help prevent getting injured. Strength training was one thing that basically got cut out of the mix last time and I think I paid for it in the end.
  • I really need to be good about foam rolling, stretching, icing sore spots, etc. Last time I only used the foam roller after my long runs, but I'm trying to be good about doing it after every single run now. 
  • Something I'm really great at is taking rest days and doing cutback weeks, both of which are really important in preventing injury. I'll try my best to keep being lazy. 
  • I used marathon training as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted and I know that's not right. If I want my body to perform at it's best, I need to fuel it properly. 
  • For the same reason, I need to make sure I get plenty of sleep. I am terrible about this. Somehow the time between 9pm and 10pm moves at light speed and before I know it I'm going to bed too late. Not only does my body need sleep to recover, but sleep deprivation can also trigger seizures. Thankfully I haven't had anymore and I'd like to keep it that way.
  • I need to listen to my body, whether it's adjusting the training schedule or being willing to say I don't think this 26.2 thing is going to work out...because being injured is NOT fun and I don't want to go through that again. 
  • My only goal is finishing. There is an 8 hour cut-off time, which means you have to be faster than 18:32 min/mile. So basically I could walk the whole thing and still finish. 
I'm sure I'll think of more things to say later, but that's all I have for now. Do you have any tips for me?

P.S. Here's a random Blue Ridge Marathon video, in case you are interested.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm Official

I really appreciate everyone's encouragement on my last post about giving 26.2 another try. As I mentioned, I'm signed up for the Blue Ridge Marathon, which calls itself America's Toughest Road Marathon. Not only is this race in my hometown, but I'm also now an official blogger for the Blue Ridge Marathon. I'm pretty excited!

That's right. I'm official! 
So this means that you'll hear me talking about this race even more. And at some point in the near future, I'll be giving you a chance to come run it with me (you can run the half or the full). So go ahead and clear your calendars for the weekend of April 20, 2013. And since I've given you 8 months warning, I don't want to hear any excuses!

fact: the dark blue portion of the word “marathon” is the elevation profile
(7,234 ft of elevation change)

This is one of the many beautiful sights you'll see at BRM

yours truly cruising down Mill Mountain at the 2012 Blue Ridge Half

So, who is crazy enough to want to join me at Blue Ridge? 

Friday, August 17, 2012

giving it another try

This time last year I was in week 5-6 of marathon training. We were up to 12 miles. I would go on to complete 15 weeks of training, including two 20 mile runs. If you were following my blog back then, you'll know that my training stopped there and I never ran my marathon thanks to jacking up my SI joint pretty badly. My running came to a screeching halt for a good 6+ weeks in November/December and it was a slow return to running after that. It was devastating to say the least, but thankfully I was able to work my way back up to running the half marathon distance again by the following March.

The most devastating part, in my opinion, was the fact that I put so much work into training and yet I never got to bask in the glory of actually running 26 point freaking 2 miles and putting that stupid sticker on my car.

So naturally, I still want it. I want my 26.2.

It has taken me a while to actually want it and to be willing to put in all of that work again. And while I'm still doubting my abilities, particularly when a 6 mile run feels like an eternity, I'm 99% on board with at least giving it another try.

Which is why I'm currently signed up for the Blue Ridge Marathon. Only America's Toughest Road Marathon. NBD. I mean, I've done the half twice, so of course it's time to attempt the full, right? Nevermind the fact that I've never run a marathon and it has 3,620 feet of elevation gain (7,234 feet of change - the downhill hurts too, trust me).

The good news? I can train as much as I want on the hills mountains because it's in my hometown. And the other good news? It's 245 days away.

I'm crazy, I know. But I also know that I'm not the only crazy person to do their first marathon on this course, so I know that it can be done! With that said though, I make no guarantees. If I've learned anything over the past year, it's that you never know what's going to happen next!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Anti-Gravity Running Boots?

I feel like I learn something new everyday. Most of the time it has something to do with my job, but other times it's discovering a new product or learning some random fact from my history-teaching and thereby fact-filled husband. Today was no exception. On my run this afternoon I was introduced to an *ahem* interesting new piece of gear.

As I was running I could see a few ladies off in the distance.  At first I thought that they were wearing some compression sleeves and so I thought oh, they must be legit runners. As I got closer, I realized whatever they were wearing was too short to be compression I thought maybe they were wearing some ankle weights or something. No. As I rudely stared at them as our paths crossed, likely with a confused look on my face, I was befuddled by these springy snow boot contraptions that they were wearing.


Honestly I was trying my best not to laugh as they bounced down the street, and I was also hoping they wouldn't bounce onto their faces like I would if I were wearing these.


After my run I Googled "springy bounce running shoes" and I figured out that these are AIR KICKS Anti-Gravity Boots. From their website:
Not only do AIR KICKS Anti-Gravity Boots deliver a soft cushiony motion that’s gentle on joints and bones, they also provide a sensational calorie-burning, coordination-building, leg-strengthening workout. They feature high-traction non-marking treads that are safe to use on virtually any surface, indoors or out, and won’t mar floors! Popular for years, now we’ve made a great product even better with the release of the latest AIR KICKS design.

Now, I really can't knock these ladies for using these because they were being active and that's great, blah blah blah. But really? I think this is about on the same level as the Snuggie.

Your thoughts? Would you ever sport a pair of Anti-Gravity Boots on a run?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Track Running 101

Disclaimer: I am not an expert! The information in this post was compiled from various sources on the interwebs. 

As I mentioned in my July in Review post, I ventured over to the high school track for the first time the other day. It's a nice .8 mile warm up/cool down away from our house (yet another reason I love my new house).

I had the track to myself the entire time, which was great since I've never really run on a track before and I'm sure I was probably doing some things wrong! I knew I wasn't breaking any of the written rules posted on the sign (no dogs, no rollerblades, etc.), but I knew that there had to be some unwritten rules and etiquette for running on a track. My post-run research led me to discovering a few of those unwritten rules.
  • Always run counter-clockwise (I think this might have been written, but I don't remember...I did know this one before though)
  • If you are slow, keep to the right (outside) and allow the faster runners to pass you on the left (inside). I would say run on a track like you are driving on the highway but I feel like nobody follows those rules anymore (don't even get me started on bad drivers...). 
  • Stay alert and aware of others on the track. Although headphones usually aren't banned from the track, I'd recommend leaving them at home for track workouts so that you can hear other people coming up behind you. 
  • If someone wants to pass you, they may yell "track" or "passing" or "on your left". The "track" term when passing was new to me. I probably would have responded, by saying "Yes, you idiot, we are on a track!" That would have been totally embarrassing.
name that tune! hint: Ludacris
  • Don't stand around on the track or let your kids (or pets) play on the track. People will get angry at you and give you mean looks. Running at the track means business and you are interfering with that if you are in someone's way. 
  • If you are running with other people, don't run 3 and 4 abreast. 2 is probably okay.
  • If a team is using the track, ask the coach if it's okay for you run on the track. Or just come back later.
So with all of these rules, why run on a track? Why not run on the open roads where there are no rules besides don't get hit by a car?  While I wouldn't recommend doing every run on a track because you'll probably end up dying from boredom, occasionally running on the track does have its advantages. 
  • The track surfaces are often more forgiving. This is great for preventing injury or if you are coming back from an injury. I noticed that I felt a lot more "springy" and bouncy on the track. I was running faster than normal but I didn't feel like it. 
  • Tracks are flat. Need I say more? 
  • The distance around the track is the same every single time.  This allows you to easily track your time and progress as you (hopefully) get faster, even if you don't have one of those fancy pants GPS watches.
  • You can stay hydrated without carrying your water. 
  • If you're not feeling so hot one day, running on a track allows you to stop pretty much whenever you want.
  • No cars. And if people follow the rules, you won't get chased by a dog, either (or step in dog poop).
  • Tracks are great for intervals and speed work...
...which leads me into my next point - I'll (very basically) explain all of those crazy, mathematical-looking track workouts.
  • 1 lap = 400 meters 
  • 1 mile = 1609.34 meters, so 4 laps + 9.34 meters (30 feet) = 1 mile
  • Example: "6x800" means that you will run intervals of 800 meters (2 laps) a total of 6 times.  You'll run the interval at a prescribed goal pace and you'll also have a period of recovery in between intervals.  
  • The recovery period may be based on time, distance, or heart rate, and it is either walked or run at a slower pace. 
  • The goal pace for each interval can either be the same every time or you can try to run faster with each interval
  • A "ladder" workout is completed by increasing the distance of each interval while maintaining the same pace. For example, a 400 m (one lap) interval, followed by a 800 m (two laps) interval, followed by a 1200 m (3 laps) interval, and finished off with a 1600 m (4 laps/1ish mile) interval, with recovery periods in between each interval.
So now that you're all prepared to run on a track, here are a few tips to help you have a beneficial track workout:
  • Try to come to the track with a plan. Don't just go into it thinking, I'll just run for however long I feel like at whatever pace I feel like. This is definitely okay to do sometimes, but if you have a goal in mind, your workout will be much more rewarding.
  • Warm up and start slow so that you can finish strong. And don't forget the cool down either!
  • If you are running speed intervals, allow for enough recovery time in between.
  • For best results, be consistent! 
  • Focus on your run. Don't feel intimidated or embarrassed if people lap you, and don't run faster than you should to catch up with them.
  • If you're trying to figure out what pace you should be running for your intervals, check out the McMillan Running Pace's pretty fun to play around with! Just enter your time for any of the specified distances and your paces for other distances are automatically generated. 

That's all I have for now! Please feel free to further enlighten me about track running. I'm a newbie. 

Do you run on the track? What's your favorite track workout? 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July in Review

July has been a pretty busy month for me.  The first week of July was filled with packing and moving into our awesome new house. I honestly didn't work out at all the week of July 2-8 because of this. dailymile made me feel extra guilty when they sent me this e-mail instead of my usual weekly Hey Lauren, gnarly training last week!

your last workout was 8 days ago - thanks for that confidence booster, dailymile!

I did manage to squeeze in some workouts the next week though. I took some big steps and went for my first solo run and my first real bike ride (not on the trainer) since I had a seizure back in June. Sometimes I still get nervous about having a seizure while I'm exercising, but I can't let that stop me.  I think I'd rather risk getting hurt than not doing what I love and becoming sedentary, obese, and getting diabetes.

I made up for the terrible first week of July by having an epic week of sweatyness at the beach.  104 miles on the bike, 8 miles on the run, and a 4 mile walk? Throw in some TdF watching and it sounds like a good vacation to me.

The rest of the month wasn't really anything to write home about. I did manage to run over to the nearby high school track just to see what it's like (because good runners occasionally run on a track, right? I think they call them track workouts - such a creative name). Anyways, it was pretty cool and I think I'll be going back in the future.

Monthly Mileage:
Running Miles in July: 24 - I think that is my lowest since December when I was injured and ran 0 miles
Walking Miles in July: 10
Cycling Miles in July: 173 - Highest monthly cycling mileage ever. What what! 

Running Miles YTD: 330
Cycling Miles YTD: 761!

I think I'll trade my lowest running mileage for my highest cycling mileage last month. I enjoyed being on my bike more than usual, especially at the beach, and I enjoyed most all of my runs.  I didn't do any long runs and I am a little disappointed in that. I would love to do the Star City Half Marathon this November, but if I'm going to do that I need to start doing some long runs.