Category Archives: Goals

Cardio & Kitchen Abs: November Challenge

Well this post is about seven days late, but not a dose-of-ab-inducing-awesomeness short. Don’t you worry.

My colleague and fit-buddy, Melissa, brought me onboard for her November “Abs Challenge”, and you know I can’t turn down a monthly goal. The first week’s focus: the kitchen & the cardio workout.

It’s a pretty common misconception to think that you’re 1,000 crunches away from a six-pack. Rather, those abs may never been seen if you don’t tackle nutrition and cardio, too. Core strength can be achieved in a variety of ways, but if you want visible results you have to take it a few steps further.

Exhibit A: the interval workout.

Track Interval GRP workout_Dietitian on the Run

I’ve spent more time with the 6-lane oval in the past 6 months than I have in the past six years. (But it’s worth noting that you certainly don’t have to run in ovals to get in a quality interval workout!) With any interval/speed workout, make sure you give your muscles a proper warm-up with some walking, jogging, strides and/or plyometrics (depending on how much/fast you intend to whomp yourself). Then, hop to it!

If you’re training for a race, have your goal-pace in mind (goal race pace = GRP). If you’re just out working on your fitness, go by feel and your level. Ex: recently raced a 10K for the first time? Go for that 10K pace by feel. Turn the hurt up a notch for the 800s (GRP – 30 seconds). Something comfortably hard. Don’t be all chatty during that 1 mile or any of the 800s, but don’t reach that finish-line-puke-threshold level.

Cool-down. Recover. Refuel!

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Now that we’re in the kitchen, we have Exhibit B: Quality Carbs.

natures carbohydrates_Dietitian on the run

Newsflash: most people eat plenty of carbohydrates! Rather, most people eat them in excess. And the body is so used to this that is has plenty of mechanisms in place to put the extras away for later. In case we, you know, randomly go into starvation mode or suddenly find ourselves with NO FOOD ANYWHERE or maybe decide to hibernate. All of which are such unlikely circumstances today that what actually happens is we store layer upon layer upon layer of extra carbs. Some of it can be found in the liver and muscles for quick use, but because those stores are pretty full, too, guess what’s next? Your belly! 

And your abs don’t take precedence here. They hide in the shadows.

So, rather than pile on the extras, let’s hop on nature’s carb party! If your goal is to build lean body mass (muscle), shift your focus to natural sources of carbs and leave it at that. They happen to also be full of fiber and water, so you fill up pretty quickly! We’re looking at things like squash, potatoes, fruit, beans and legumes. And did you know some nuts have carbs, too? YEP. See, plenty of nutrient-dense options!

These are just a few of my personal favorites:

Natural Carbs_Dietitian on the Run

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Ready to join? It’s okay if you’re late, too. Check out Melissa’s posts for some more food & workout ideas, and let us know if you’re in!

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Filed under challenges, exercise, food, Goals, health, Nutrition

Recovery & Resilience

This year has taken my running+racing ego for a wild ride. Let’s just say this:  I severely underestimated the cumulative effect of taking 2013 “off”.There’s not one single thing I would change about that decision, or any of the other ones I made in that calendar year (‘twas a great one, indeed),  but set me up for peak physical fitness it surely did not. Noted.

2014 started off like a rocket: taking the RRCA running coach certification course, signing on to work with a Coach and subsequently starting to train for a marathon (after a 10 day trip to Africa, of course).  If you’ve hung around for a while, well, we know how that turned out.

Desire to Change_Dietitian on the Run

Right away my name was thrown into the MCM lottery just to see what might happen.  I knew that my body had more to give. I also knew that was a lot more to be learned from MAF, my coach, and my favorite sport.

I ran MCM with a goal to re-qualify for Boston. It wasn’t a huge stretch, but it certainly wouldn’t be easy (and it’s not supposed to be!). I let Katie whoop my butt from July to October, and have never been so happily exhausted.

Aaand, now we know how that turned out, too.

Katie reminded me that I took a huge chunk of time off my spring vs. fall marathons in one year; I did what I did on that day. And it’s up to me how to move forward from that, how to recover.

Resilience_Dietitian on the Run

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this year, it is this:  whether or not you choose resilience will teach you a lot about yourself and your strength. It won’t give you measurable pounds lifted or minutes per mile run or a specific race time. (At least not right away….) But every time you choose it, you run a meter that deposits a lot of emotional energy in a bank with an incredible interest rate.

When you choose to be resilient after your perceived failures, set-backs or let-downs, you’re recovering and coming back stronger.  You’re soaking in a mental ice-bath – letting the sting of the situation-at-hand cool down, become numb, and eventually dissipate. It’s absorbed into your muscle and brain tissue to rebuild and get ready for what’s next.

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It took a few days and enough time to accept, absorb and let go of a race day that wasn’t what I expected it to be, before finally giving credit to a few things. I didn’t enter this year with the fitness base I’ve had in the past. I didn’t keep building on the successes of 2012, and because of the year I did chose to have ( think: more fun less fitness, in a great way), I entered this one as a different athlete. I’m rebuilding. And it’s a long, tedious process that involves using a lot of patience that I didn’t think I had (still debatable, I s’pose). 

But it’s way more exciting to be resilient – to chase endurance and strength and speed on my own terms – than to throw in the towel.

courage_Dietitian on the Run

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Filed under about me, challenges, Goals, learning, running

And now we run…

We’re here. Two days out!

It’s time to think less and feel more. To trust the training and know everything that could have been done has been done. It’s time to calm the crazies and just enjoy these few short days in the District. Feet up, mind off. Heart and legs? Jumpy, filling up on a steady adrenaline drip, and totes ready to go.

2014-10-17 06.28.12

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The Coach passed along a quote that encompasses the decision made multiple times throughout any race, if not pretty much every second of every mile:

Courage or comfort.MCM 2014

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Those two truths are coming along with me to starting line on Sunday morning. The only thing that’s left to do? Run.

To all racers joining the MCM party this weekend – run strong! Have fun! High-five the Marines and spectators! Remember the hills at the beginning, the bridge in the middle and the sweet finish line that’s waiting for you at the end. See ya out there!

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Filed under DC, Goals, marathon, running, things I Love

{Marathon} Training Tales: Joy is…

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”        Marianne Williamson

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Marathon week has swiftly arrived!

This cycle went quickly since it started in late January and left me with about 10 weeks to figure out this whole HR-based, MAF, aerobic training stuff. I’ve dissected more runs and heart-rates and science-y things than all four previous training cycles combined! At one point there was a LOT of information swirling around in my brain.

Now, it’s just time to let it work. To let it go and see what happens. It’s time to remember that I trained for the process, not the medal (not even sure if we get one of those?). I trained this way to try a new approach with a fresh perspective, for the lifestyle that accompanies the choice to attempt a(nother) marathon. To ask some questions, and move in a different direction (or at different speeds, with different HRs n’ such!).

To grab that joy of running…

simple rules

Joy is…going to the track and doing those very specific workouts.

On the track, I feel more dedicated than anywhere else. You have to seek out this exact location and get here to do this exact, specific, run. I’ve never been much of a “track” runner before – for those exact reasons, having to do something so specific and prescribed and boring  – so it stands out to me.

This cycle involved a  few trips to the track for MAF tests, and one final visit yesterday for some pace testing. I got one last lap (400m) to “unload”! And with that, I ran to toe the line of all-out and you-still-have-a-race-to-run and to turn corners with a stupid-silly grin because whoa, this cycle was a good one.

Joy is…the little rush of looking up your schedule for the week.

I put this entirely in someone else’s hands. The only specific requests I had were: “I’d prefer not to train by HR only” and “I like to do long runs on Saturday”.  So, I got half of what I wanted! But some prayers are best left unanswered; if you want different results and experiences, you have to DO something different.

There were no two weeks alike; every time I logged onto Training Peaks with anticipation – what’s next? What do I get to do this week??? The first time I saw “the big mama” I spent the rest of the week excited for Saturday’s adventure.

( If first-marathon-me (circa 2010) read that paragraph
there would be eye-rolling for days. )

Joy is…asking questions, learning about a sport you love.

Joy is…visualizing that Finish Line clock & banner.

Joy is…realizing you’ve stepped so far forward you’re suddenly in Race Week.

With this week comes the good kind of nervous, slowly seeping into the muscle fibers. I wrote to my coach that it’ll come on strong tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday; the anxious-excited that starts to slowly drip adrenaline into my system every single time I think about the starting line, mile 15, or 21 or 25 or 26.1 and THE finish line sight. The running, all over.

It’s the type of nervous that gets you to that mental place you need to be – just enough fear, because it will hurt – without totally derailing the physical+mental readiness. That feeds your legs all of the juice they’ll need to push past their perceived limits. And that flashes your goal time across that mental clock over and over AND OVER, until you just know you’ll chase it no matter what.

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Joy is chasing a goal.

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Filed under Goals, learning, marathon, new things!, running, training

Once Per Year…

Go somewhere you’ve never been before.

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intention vs. habit—-

Eat at a new restaurant; run a new trail; spend a weekend in a new nearby town or relatively far-away city; show your eyes something unique, wherever or whatever it may be.

Break out of your habits, routines and comfort zones.

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I wasn’t in marathon-training mode when I planned this trip, and I won’t be while I’m on it either. (It’s cool; Coach-approved n’ all!) Instead, I’ll be roaming around Nairobi, Masai Mara and Amsterdam with a heavy backpack and a light step. I’ll soak in some sunshine, because it’s a wonderfully warm 80* there (and a surprisingly warm 45* in Holland), and try not to taunt any wild animals.

puma pantsYes, I know that pumas are native to the Americas.
“Lion” just doesn’t work here.

These explorations are for running if/when we want to, wandering streets and African deserts, catching up with the best kind of friends, tasting new flavors and forgetting, for whatever amount of time you have, that there are responsibilities waiting for you. They’re not going anywhere –  we are.

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Where are you going? Or, where do you plan to go soon?

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Filed under about me, Goals, new things!, random, travel