Friday, May 29, 2015

Fuelin' Up Friday: Snacks

With the start of 50k training, I've faced a few new and old challenges. This includes things like scheduling longer work outs into my life, remembering to strength train, the joys of heat training, and my oldest foe, hunger.

Now, don't get me wrong about this, I'm not complaining. I love to eat. I thoroughly enjoy eating and I tend to eat more than the average bear, but it can be a challenge to keep on top of my hunger when I am ramping up miles. This leads to situations where I might not make the best snacking choices.
For example, eating the last two donuts out of the break room (because you can't leave just one. It would get lonely) doesn't always lead to the best quality workout that afternoon (sad, but true). In addition, I don't function with hunger overly well. I've been accused more than once of being 'excessively crabby' when hungry. In fact, my old roommate would actually carry granola bars in her purse purely for those moments when she needed to pump up my blood sugar (also sad, but true).
My all important snack drawer at work.
I faced this problem last year with 50k training: how to stay fueled with healthy options at work when increasing mileage. To add to the challenge, because of the nature of my job, there are frequently long periods of time where I am very active at work, but in an area I can't eat (#MicrobiologistProblems), so I focus on having good quality, long lasting options available. I've come up with a few staples that I keep around my desk to help me prepare for my afternoon run and limit my love for break room sweets.
    Apparently having beer at work is frowned upon, so I've stopped doing that. (This was a big yuck by the way and I normally LOVE Harpoon. I made the Jayhawk drink all of it.)
1. Barnana: After seeing and hearing a lot about them, a friend gave me a sampler pack with 4 flavors (original, chocolate, coconut, and peanut butter. They have since added apple-cinnamon and coffee, both of which I am dying to try). Barnana quickly became a staple in my desk drawer as I found myself eagerly snacking on them the minute she gave them to me. I made the mistake of bringing some home, and then the Jayhawk fell in love with them as well (and severely diminished my stash). Barnana snacks are great because they are bite sized so you aren't committed to a whole bar if you just need a nibble, packed with potassium (which active muscles need!), and free of additives. The original flavor tastes like a chewy little condensed bite of banana bread, the coconut ones are just like the original with shredded coconut tossed in, and the chocolate and peanut butter flavors are the original bites dipped in their respective flavors. I like them all, but the chocolate or peanut butter might be my favorites.
2. PickyBars: An old favorite. I'm sure you've all experienced the goodness that is a picky bar and if you haven't, go pick one up. With a 4:1 carb:protein ratio and made from real foods, they are a go to when I need some tummy filling energy to get me through the day. They are made with the athlete in mind (woot) and are the best tasting bar I've found. I really have no tolerance for the fake, meal replacing kind and I won't eat them, but Picky bars work well for me. They are a little more expensive, but well worth it. The only downside is that all varieties contain nuts (the Jayhawk is allergic), so I keep my stash at work but that also means I don't have to share.
3. Toasted Coconut Chips: Ok, this one might not be the energy goldmine like some of the others on this list, but they serve a purpose. They give me that little taste of sweet without being a true sweet. Honestly, it's a good thing they come in small packages because I am currently addicted to them and have trouble putting them down.

The name says it all.
4. Fruit: On weekdays, I work out after work. That means timing my fueling during the day so that I still have some energy for a post-work/pre-dinner work-out. It's taken a lot of trial and error to figure out that timing, but one thing I've found to work really well, is having a snack of fresh fruit about an hour before I start running. I try to make sure to pack some grapes, melon, an orange, or a peach (I do live in the land of Peaches after all) in my lunch everyday. Not only does it give me a little natural sugar boost before my run, but it also helps hydrate me for those 80+ days (which appear to have returned).
5. Anything with peanut butter on it: I love peanut butter and it's another great way to stay full. Whether it be on crackers, rice cakes, fruit, pretzels, or toast, it's one of my favorite snacks.

What's your go to snack at work? Do you get more hungry when training?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Snakebite 50k Training Week #2

Monday: I was tagged on instagram by Beth over at Running with the Sunrise to post a yoga pose. Her pose was awesome. She did a video of an inverted headstand thing that looked so graceful and serene. I decided to go with a handstand because the Jayhawk was home to finally take a picture. When I was coming down from it, my calf cramped and I fell over (no seriously, I did) and in all my gracefulness, managed to scrape/bruise the crap out of my arm while falling over. Yes, I was injured while yoga-ing. To add insult to my feeble injury, my handstand is too tall to crop to instagram, so I ended up posting with the back bend I've been working on. Who says yoga is low impact and stress free? Next time I am going with Child's pose.
Planned: Rest  Actual: 25 minutes of living room yoga
 When yoga attacks.
Tuesday: As evident from the story above, I've been having calf trouble again lately. I tend to get a lot of tightness and knots in my calves, but recently I've been getting spontaneous cramping as well when at rest. I've been working on stretching and rolling them daily to reduce the tightness and increase the flexibility. As luck would have it, I also came across a yoga challenge specifically focused on calves for runners! I am a little nervous to start posting in it because others have artistic and lovely photos, while I am struggling just to achieve the poses (you can really see how tight my calves are in some of the photos) but I figured it was a good challenge for myself and a great way to learn new poses specifically for my calves.
Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 5 miles (9:10/mile); Foam rolling; light yoga

Wednesday: Ug. That is the best description I have for this run. Ug. I left my office a little later than usual and didn't have my pre-run snack. On top of that, I didn't bring any fuel with me (I did bring water/electrolytes). Yes, I know better. My energy felt low throughout the run and the humidity was really bothering my breathing. I never felt strong during this run and by then end I felt dehydrated  and overheated. I may have to start carrying my hydration pack on hot afternoons instead of just my handheld. Overall it didn't bother me mentally too much. I was kind of overdue for a hard run and it definitely reminds me I need to take hydration and fueling seriously on every run, not just long runs.
Planned: 8 miles  Actual: 8 miles (9:34/mile)
With all the rain we've had this spring, Atlanta is very green!
Thursday: A world of difference. Though the pace isn't anything impressive, this run felt 10x better than Wednesday's. I made sure to heavily pre-hydrate an hour or so before heading to the gym and I really noticed the difference.
Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 5 miles (9:07/mile)

Friday: Is there a better feeling that a sunny Friday night to kick off a 3 day weekend?
Planned: Rest  Actual: Light yoga

Saturday: Joined the Jayhawk on his long run. I didn't get to finish out my miles because we were in a rush to get an open house for a place we really want to rent. Turns out house renting is a highly competitive sport and there were already 5 other families there when we got there!
Planned: 10 miles  Actual: 8.1 miles (10:58/mile)

Sunday: Got in a quick 3 to make up for yesterday's mileage before meeting a group for a 5 mile run. Though we met at our usually coffee spot, we dusted off an old, rather hilly route through the Little 5 neighborhood. This may have been my fault because earlier in the week I asked the route designer if we would be having hills for breakfast. After taking 2 weeks with easy pace, the challenge of some hills was a nice change.
Planned: 6 miles  Actual: 3 miles (9:06/mile); 5.4 miles (10:22/mile)
Planned: 34 miles
Actual: 34.5 miles
How was your week? Any exciting plans for the 3 day weekend?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Roll out: Basic Foam Roller Exercises for Recovery

Alright folks, let's talk recovery, specifically, foam rolling's role.  We all know we should do it.  We all talk about doing it, but no one ever seems to mention exactly what are they are doing when they "roll out" other than flailing around on the living room floor while the family tries to watch T.V. Just me?
Apparently beer isn't required for proper rolling, but I find it enhances the experience.
With my recent increase in mileage, I've been working hard to rekindle my relationship with my foam roller. My current training plan asks a lot of my body and I need to take recovery seriously. So when I got an email last week from Angela asking for a little foam roller guidance as her husband got her one for Christmas, I figured I'd explain what it is I do with mine during recovery and see what are your favorite exercises as well. I'm always up for learning new tricks.
Our roller stays in the living room right next to the dog toys so it can taunt me when I don't use it enough.
First off Angela, props to your husband for giving you an excellent gift. For our first Christmas, the Jayhawk gave me a coffee maker. While both are incredibly functional and useful gifts, the foam roller can actually make you a better, less injury prone runner, while the coffee maker just feeds my daily caffeine need.
In the Jayhawk's defense, I use the coffee maker everyday.
We all know stretching is important, but there are certain spots and knots that stretching just won't fix. Here is where massage and foam rolling come into play. Since my budget doesn't allow for weekly trips to the masseuse, I use my foam roller to stretch out muscles and soft tissues, break up scar tissue, and relieve knots/trigger points. I aim to have 2-3 good sessions a week (20-30 min each) and additionally roll out troublesome spots as needed. I usually roll after my run when my muscles are warm or after walking the dog on recovery days.
Come here often? Not as often as I should.
Let's start with the basics. The best way to roll is to slowly roll the muscle of interest across the foam roller while using your body weight to apply pressure. When you hit a knot or tender point, hold it. No, it doesn't feel awesome, but the combination of body weight and gentle pressure helps to release muscle tension and stretch out tight spots. The foam roller can be used to roll out any muscle, but it's all about getting in the right position to access that muscle. I mainly roll my legs, butt, and back so here are a few of my favorites that I frequently focus on.
Butt off the ground, majority of body weight on the leg on the roller.
I usually start by getting in the crab-walk position (you remember from grade school). This is a great position to get all the muscles on your backside (calves, hamstrings, butt, etc). You can roll both legs at once, but I find I can isolate spots better by doing each leg individually. I slowly roll through each muscle while keeping the majority of my body weight on the muscle of interest. It really helps get a deeper massage. Rotating my legs gets different muscles in the calf (or thigh) and access to different spots. To access the quads, I just flip over to the push-up position and do the same thing.
Each one of these positions will get different muscles or different angles to help get everything rolled out.
Rolling out the IT band is another great use of the foam roller. It takes a little practice to get in the right position, but I find crossing over the non-rolling leg really helps to stabilize your body. I start just above the knee and go through just below the hip.
This can also roll out hips.
Angela, I hope that helps get you started! For this post I focused on recovery in particular, but the foam roller can also be used for strength training as well. If people are interested, I can put together a post on exercises for strength. Just let me know if that would be helpful!

Ok, your turn. Do you foam roll? What are your favorite recovery exercises with the foam roller?

Resources for further reading:
How to use a foam roller-Good basics with photos
Runner's Worlds Rolling Tips-Info on specific muscles and types of rollers

Monday, May 18, 2015

Snakebite 50k Training Week #1

Monday: It's always weird to start a training plan with a rest day, but it's a good confidence booster knowing that you are nailing 100% of your mileage after the first day.
Planned: Rest  Actual: Rest

Tuesday: Stuck to the treadmill for my first actual day of training. My goal it to keep most of my runs easy for the first few weeks of my training plan to allow my body time to adjust to the increased mileage and introduce speed and hill workouts after that. I probably should try to keep it a hair easier, but I get bored on the treadmill after a while.
Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 5 miles (9:07/mile)

Wednesday: First 'hotter' run of the year (85ish). Though I've been working on staying hydrated, it will take a few hotter runs for my body to start increasing my plasma volume (there is some good nerdiness for you). I headed down to Lullwater Park near work for a few laps around the reservoir. It's a mostly flat loop, with a 1k hill in/out of the park (down on the way in, up on the way out). When I got home, I focused on rolling and stretching my hips and behind. Just trying to stay on top of any tightness and work on flexibility.
Planned: 6 miles  Actual: 6.1 miles (9:30/mile); 25 minutes light yoga; foam rolling
I ran so fast, I was blurry. Ok, not really.
Thursday: I went back inside on the treadmill not because of the heat, but because of my schedule. It was easier and a bit faster to just knock out the miles inside. Overall, it was a good run, but I need to refresh my play lists. It's getting a little to predictable when you know your mileage based on the song playing.
Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 5 miles (9:07/mile)

Friday: I was so happy when Friday arrived. Why do weeks feel longer after some time off? I celebrated Friday by trying out Fascist Pig Ale from Finch's Beer CO. in Chicago. There is a lot going on in this beer and it's very flavorful for an ale. It has a strong malt flavor and is more complex like a IPA, not light like a pale ale. Definitely a sipping beer and I only had one.
Planned: Rest  Actual: Rest
Beer of the week: Fascist Pig Ale
Saturday: I woke up at 3am sick as a dog (migraine with nausea). No, it wasn't from the 1 beer I drank on Friday. I had hoped it would pass and I could shift my run to the afternoon, but eventually I had to admit I didn't feel well and take the day off. Boo. There goes the perfect week.
Planned: 8 miles  Actual: 30 minutes yoga

Sunday: Feeling somewhat back to normal, I met up with a group for a 6 mile run. The pace was easy and it was the perfect way to get the legs moving again.
Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 6 miles (10:25/mile)

Not the perfect start to training, but overall my legs felt good and keeping the pace light helped ease into the increased mileage. I did a solid job on incorporating more stretching and yoga, but haven't added in strength work yet. Baby steps!

How was your week? What is your favorite rest day activity?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Weekly Training Recap: 5/4-5/10

With this being my last week before 50k training starts (or as the Jayhawk calls it, when the grocery bill blows up), I focused this week on consistency. We were travelling again for a long weekend, so I had to shift around my days a bit, but I was happy with all of my runs. Now just to up the mileage and heat training!

Monday: Swapped Monday's usual rest day with Sunday this week. While I am not specifically focusing on a particular pace for my 50k training, I am hoping to keep some of the shorter runs at a little bit of a faster pace and the longer ones at an easy pace.
Actual: 3.5 miles (9:06/mile)

Tuesday: A nice 5k for Cinco de Mayo after work followed by making spinach pasta salad for my mom for Mother's Day. It's the little things sometimes.
Actual: 3.1 miles (9:21/mile)
Pasta making is a key part of training, or at least carbo loading.
Wednesday: We travelled back to South Carolina to spend Mother's Day weekend with my family. We weren't able to spend the whole week, so we settled for two long weekends instead. It's so relaxing, I didn't even think twice about it.
Actual: Rest
It was worth making the drive 2 weekends in a row.
Thursday: Snuck in a few miles before tropical storm Ana dumped some rain on us. We were lucky in that the rain really only lasted one afternoon. It remained windy throughout the weekend, but that is just some bonus resistance training.
Actual: 3.1 miles (9:20/mile)
Where to put my chair....
Friday: We rested and it was just what we needed. Turns out, I hadn't taken any time off work since last June (Whoops!) except 1 day for each of my last two marathons. It was well overdue. (Note to self: remember to use vacation days).
Actual: Rest
Saturday: I joined the Jayhawk on his long run. While we run different paces, I enjoy joining him, getting in easy miles, and seeing how close I can get to pacing him at his desired pace (11:00/mile this week). I think I did pretty well this time.
Actual: 8.5 miles (10:57/mile)
Sunday: Started the process of reintroducing weekend doubles and running on tired legs. I tried to push the pace a little, but it was still a bit windy due to the remains of tropical storm Ana so I felt like I was battling the wind the entire time. Happy to get in 13+ for the weekend and have plenty of bounce left in my legs. The Jayhawk joined me on bike, and I really enjoyed having him there.
Actual: 5 miles (8:55/mile)
And just like that, our mini break was over.

How was your week? Do you enjoy running with people who run a different pace?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

50k Training Plan: The Second Snakebite

It's time to talk training plans again. Please contain your excitement.
 This is what happens when I try hard not to close my eyes in a photo.
Overall, I was really happy with my training plan last year for Snakebite 50k. The mileage was challenging, yet doable for me. I didn't miss many workouts due to fatigue or injury (most 'misses' were due to travel or schedule changes). So for the most part, this plan is very similar to the 50k training plan version 2.0 that I developed last year. The mileage is basically the same except for a little shifting for races that I already had on the calendar. I will still have 2 non-running days a week because that works well for my body, and I hope to be going steady with my foam roller (we kind of have a hot/cold relationship right now). The big changes that I hope to make are in execution.
Green numbers indicate races.

In my lessons learned post after the race last year, there were several things I had wanted to improve in the future and I will focus on those items this training cycle.
  1. Time on feet: Only one run during my last 50k training cycle was longer than 3 hours, the Troop Trot 39k. This was partially do to the fact that most of my long runs were on the road or treadmill and my pace kept them all below the 3 hour mark. I am aiming to make sure that I have several workouts (probably the three 20+ milers) that keep me on my feet for over 3 hours.
  2. Time on Terrain: I was sore after both the 50k and 39k. Much of this was due to the different stresses that trail running puts on your body and the fact that I didn't do a lot of trail training. This round I am hoping to get in several long trail runs (which will also help with item #1 above). This will improve both post race recovery and muscle fatigue on race day.
  3. Continue to work on fueling: My fueling went well last year during the race (no barfing, no major bonk), but I did feel my energy drop on the 3rd lap. I plan on continuing to try to fuels and strategies during this training cycle to make sure I am getting enough during the race.
  4. Strength training: Though I did do strength training during last year's training cycle, I didn't make it a priority. This year I plan on not only making it a regular occurrence during training, but I hope to develop a few strength training routines that I can rotate through to make it easier. My current strength training habits lack organization, so this is an opportunity to work on it in general.
So there you have it. My plan officially starts on Monday. That leaves me time to revise it several times between now and then as people make recommendations.

Thoughts? Comments? Feelings? I always open to hearing them!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Weekly Training Recap 4/27-5/3

Monday: I'm sure I did something amazing this day, but I honestly can't remember. Sure sign I'm losing it.
Actual: Rest

Tuesday: For today's run I decide on a progressive 5k workout (increasing speed with each kilometer). I did this one on the treadmill starting at 6.6 and upped the pace at each k. When I got home, I got in some cross training with both foam rolling and vacuuming (not at the same time). I even got in a second round of vacuuming when I accidentally dumped the dust trap thing on the floor.
Actual: 3.1 miles (8:52/mile); foam rolling; vacuuming repeats

Wednesday: If you saw my Wednesday post, you know that training is about to ramp back up in a big way. I finally took the plunge and signed up to run the Snakebite 50k again this year. After hearing it was the last year of the race, there was no way I was missing it. I'm really excited about it with a healthy dose of respect for the work ahead.
Actual: 3.1 miles (9:11/mile)

Thursday: Drove to South Carolina after work, so I didn't get in a run but I did see a stunning sunset.
Actual: Rest
I feel relaxed just looking at the photo.
Friday: In South Carolina for the weekend to visit some family vacationing from New England. I always love getting in some miles on the coast not only because it's a nice break from the hills, but it's so beautiful. We had a pretty active weekend with lots of bike riding and beach walking. I even got in some squats while strawberry picking (totally counts).
Actual: 4.25 miles (8:44/mile pace); 30 minute bike ride
Getting in my squats while getting a healthy snack. Win-win.

Saturday: I joined the Jayhawk on his long run on bike. It was like a scene out of Rocky (kidding, I yell more than his trainer). It was fun to chat with him and make sure he kept the pace light. He finished up with the last half a mile or so on the beach. We also went for two more bike rides that day.
Actual: 2.5 hours of biking

Sunday: One last bike ride before heading back to the city.
Actual: 1 hour biking
What do you do to stay active when on vacation? Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Friday, May 1, 2015

April Recap


Races: Miles for Maria 6 hour

Highpoint: Running wise, it was the 6 hour. I was unsure of it going in, but I learned a lot and am happy with how it turned out.  On a personal level, I became an aunt for the first time to a 10lb, 23.5 inch linebacker bundle of joy. Yep, we are tall folks.

Not so Highpoint: Running wise I am pretty happy with the month. Maybe I could have been more consistent, but I upped my mileage and began working on speed again, both steps in the right direction. Personally, I am a little bummed I haven't had a chance to meet my nephew yet, but I will in July and at this rate he will probably be as tall as me by then.

New item of the month: I ran my first timed event (see above) and loved it (not just because of the Fritos) and went to my first non-running event at a running store: Ladies Night Out at Road Runner Sports. I'll be honest, I'm not a big shopper. In fact, I'm a pretty horrible shopper, but I had fun at this event. The best part is that I even learned something while I was there. Not only should you not put your sports bras in the dryer (confession: I've been known to do this when in a hurry), but they also should be retired before their first birthday because the elastic wears out. So treat your ladies right (or your lady's ladies) and replace that old, faded one (you know you have one... or four).

What I am excited for next month: May is kind of a blank slate for me right now, or as I like to think of it, full of possibilities. I have no races on the calendar, but 50k training will start. I get to see my family, which is awesome and even get to take a couple days off work (I've taken 2 day off since July and both of them were for marathons, lol). Safe to say, these days off will involve running as well. I'm still undecided on a 'new' item for the month (I have a few ideas), but if you have any recommendations, let me know!

How was your April? What are you looking forward to in May?
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