Category Archives: travel

Healthy Habits of the Traveler in {MCM} Training

Fact: it’s a challenge to keep up with your daily habits while you’re traveling, no matter what category they fall into. The layers of difficulty can quickly pile up depending on where you’re going, for how long, why, how you’re getting there, and you know, any other life things you may have going on at the time!

I never turn down an opportunity to travel, simply because it means branching out of the norm and getting some sort of experience. But as of late the travel has been frequent, so I’ve had to get creative in maintaining some sense of normalcy for my system-in-marathon-training.

Last week I got to head up north to Seattle for four days to conduct a few coaching trainings. I love that city. Love it. But in those four days my schedule also included three runs – one of which would be over 3 hours. I wanted to eat healthy for those runs, to avoid being the girl in Seattle seen frantically searching for public bathrooms in her running attire. And I wanted to keep stress levels low so that my heart wouldn’t decide it had its own plans for those miles.

Here’s how that stay-on-track strategy looks, in my world….

1) Bring what you love (and what you need*)!

I packed peanut butter, fruit, homemade trail mix (pepitas, almonds, cashews, dried blueberries and raisins), Larabars and a refillable water bottle. I also packed my Long-Run *essentials: handheld water bottle, hat and fuel.

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I’ve learned to pack nut-butter in tupper-ware, as the TSA deems the ‘jar’ a liquid in some cases. And that’s been confiscated. And that was a bad day.

2) Shop for the rest!

Once I got myself to the hotel, I immediately looked up a grocery store. As you might assume, the Seattle area is saturated with healthy options! So, this one was easy. I headed straight to Trader Joe’s after lunch (see: leftover Thai food, ‘Thank you!”) and stocked up on the good stuff:

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Obviously that tiny tupper-ware of peanut-butter wouldn’t suffice for the whole weekend. The other things: bananas, salad for lunch the next day, organic peaches and apples, plums, (not pictured) sparkling water and sea-salt + almond dark chocolate.

This was one of three grocery-store stops in 4 days.  Just trying to do my part for the health food store economy!

3) Use the web to plan ahead! 
  
  It’s full of (mostly good) information. Exhibit A: MapMyRun.com

MMRbellevue run_MMR

Friday morning had “3:10 // 20 miles” on the schedule (i.e. run for that amount of time, as prescribed, and don’t exceed 20 miles). I did a quick search of the hotel’s zip code with a mileage filter and found a ton of options. This search also led me to quite a few park trails in the area, which would be ideal for many miles during the Friday morning commuting hours.

Another vital MapMyRun tool while running in Seattle? The elevation chart. It took me a while, but I finally mapped a route that only included approximately 1,000 ft of climbing over those three hours. That’s skill.

4) Stick to your workout ‘plan’ (make one, first).

Exploring new cities with a run is always fun, but I rarely feel motivated to do so before tying up the laces and convincing myself to GO. As soon as the legs get moving, I’m happy. In three runs I discovered crazy-hilly neighborhoods, a cute little park near my hotel and a lovely downtown area to return to for some afternoon sun-soaking and planking.

Having a plans works wonders; I don’t do as well with the “we’ll just see what happens!”. On this trip I wanted to check a few training boxes and, of course,  stick to the plank challenge!

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When on vacation, attempt a new plank-hold record. At least when your arms and legs start shaking, no one’s watching your craziness…or judging your continuous plank-selfies…

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5) Head back to the grocery store!
I.e. Take advantage of the Whole Foods (
or similar available option
) hot + cold bars.

In four days I managed to only eat “out” twice. I was lucky to have stayed in the Hyatt House Hotel, where each room is stocked with a few kitchen supplies and a full-sized fridge. But even a mini one would have sufficed here – there’s luxury in having a real plate to eat off of, along with real utensils. Bliss!

Thursday afternoon I went to Whole Foods and picked up the following from the buffet bars:

Dinner (Pre-LR): honey-ginger salmon, steamed kale, roasted vegetables (squash, onions and peppers), roasted cumin sweet potatoes.

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Breakfast (Post-LR): two hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes (from the salad bar), plain roasted sweet potatoes, 1 avocado (from produce section). (I already had my pre-run banana + Peanut-butter ready to go – see picture above.)

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Before heading to the airport on Saturday, I made my third trip to WF in as many days. I wanted to make sure lunch was full of fresh deliciousness, since dinner in an airport is rarely promising…

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From the WF salad bar: mixed greens, grated carrots, marinated mushrooms, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, diced celery, Italian dressing and a side of roasted sweet potatoes. To drink: lemon-flavored sparkling water.

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All-in-all, pretty successful trip. I eased right back into training – thankfully with the new pair of kicks that finally arrived on my doorstep. The only thing that’s different is I’ll be right back to running along the bay this week, jonesin’ for that PNW sunshine and already-cooked, ready-to-eat meals.

For those who travel often – work, or wanderlusting – what are some of your must-dos to keep things feeling somewhat normal?

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Filed under challenges, food, health, marathon, Nutrition, training, travel

Marathon {5} Training: Stories of Safari, HRs and Zen

“Go on an eleven day vacation to Africa right as your base-training begins!”, said no running coach, ever.

When I bought the ticket to fly from Dulles to (Amsterdam to) Africa, there were no thoughts of long runs or HR caps or race dates. I wouldn’t change a thing about the trip; we had an incredible experience and the elephants didn’t seem mind at all that I was taking eleven days “off”.  (Nor do they seem to mind that we spent four of those days staring in awe at them and their adorable offspring.) Neither did the Coach, which was an early sign that we would be a-OK working together! In fact, my schedule read: “Above all, don’t stress. Don’t run if you don’t feel like it. ENJOY your vacation. That is the number-one rule!”

This gal and I, we’re in sync.

I did have one specific workout on the calendar:  Take a picture of a lion for me today! Well yeah, I can do that:

Masai_Lion tree Stand

If you know how lazy lions are, you know this was quite the feat. It’s a rare luxury to see the cat standing and alert during the day! Most of the time they look like this:

Masai_Tree Sleeping Lions

So sleepy! It’s tough hunting animals and eating all night. These guys were still here the next day. Truth.

The point is that I put in some work before I left, trying probably-not-as-hard-as-I-could to get onboard with this HR-focused training and the initial crawling feeling that ensues.  I completed the running along with most of the functional strength training and a little bit of SolidCore (hurts so good!).

In the midst of gallivanting around Nairobi and Masai Mara, Kate & I did manage to get in three runs, total. Fun fact: Nairobi is at an altitude of 5300’ while the Mara ranges from 6- 7,000’. It’s 80* and sunny every day. Better fact: one of the Safari camp staff asked if we wanted to join him on a run one morning, and we did. Side note: we requested the 8k distance and ignorantly scoffed that we’d be okay without bringing water. Mmhm.

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(A safari is not the active-vacationer’s ideal situation. Needless to say you can’t just go running around the game reserve. Walking anywhere, unguided, is also inadvisable. You spend most of your days in a jeep, relaxing at camp, eating and sleeping. This running adventure was a treat, despite the profanities my lungs and legs were screaming. Run with a native Kenyan: check!)

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My “welcome back to reality” was a 30* day and snow-packed sidewalks, along with a full TrainingPeaks calendar. As I naively underestimated the effects of jet-lag, my legs and cardio system were happy to teach me a lesson. The coach was spot on with low-key runs and easing in, while I reported things like “well I ignored that “cool-down” and ran up the Calvert hill instead” because 1) I had to, to get home but actually 2) my ego got the best of me.

We all know that any story where the ego is served does not end well.

The ego and I took a big dose of humility yesterday; I’m taking a step back while reading the “this should feel Zen-like” note and conjuring up trust that may not have fully been there before. As an athlete, you are the only one who can tell your muscles what to do – the coach provides a suggestion and crosses fingers that you’ll be diligent,  listen and have faith. Then it’s up to your mind to decide how to play the cards. Man, that’s a tough way to get through the weeks! But that’s the point. Teach your mind, and all systems will follow.

All aboard, now. I took my recovery run today so easy that I could still chat and keep the HR below the prescribed number (huge win! Huge. ). We  covered a short distance in those quick (but actually, very slow) 30 minutes, but who cares? I’m recovered, did exactly what I was told AND I got some QT with my gal. Most importantly, another learned lesson is in the books for this cycle and we’re moving forward.

Week 4, it’s on.

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Now, let’s hear it. I know I’m not the only one who has started HR-focused training and been like “MAN, WHAT THE EFF?”. Vent, tell your story, come have a glass o’ vino (or water), or ask questions. All ears.

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Filed under learning, marathon, running, training, travel

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

RW Festival & Icon Fitness Finds

Backtracking: Our first day of the full-on RUN weekend in Bethlehem, PA.

Related posts: Day 1 (the RW Tour), 5 & Dime and the Half-marathon.

During our first full day of the RW Festival weekend, Miss L. Beachy booked our itinerary with the best kind of run-nerd activities. We were in the company of the Icon Fitness + Altra team, Bart Yasso, Summer Sanders, RW staff & of course each other (i.e. 20 run-loving bloggers!).

Things started bright n’ early with a shuttle to the Steel Stacks and a shake-out run with Bart along a similar route that the 5K would take us the next morning.  RWF_shakeout Steel Stacks
Quiet today, ready for the runners to come!

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Bart led us up to the Bethlehem library, which provides a most beautiful overlook of the self-proclaimed Christmas town.

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Photo credit: StuftMama

Three miles was actually just the warm-up. Next on our activity agenda: RunningSkirt Olympics! And don’t think the boys skipped out. Check this video, for your daily dose of entertainment.

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During our post-run+Olympics breakfast, Golden Harper (Co-Founder / Brains)  & the Altra team got us prepped and ready for the Zero-Drop run clinic:

RWF_Altra Zero Drop shoesRWF_Altra clinic

Golden started his running career at a young age, helping out the ‘rents in their family-owned running shoe store while snatching up marathon PRs at the age of 12 (ahem, 2:45…no big deal). He walked us through some mid-foot strike exercises with and without shoes, reviewed proper posture, efficient ways to use your arms while running (hint: it’s not by swaying them dramatically across your body as you run. Noted.), and a trick for doing a posture-check when you get tired during a run or race (reach for the moon!).

I’d hang out with the Altra team any time, any day. They’re passionate about their shoes for any type of runner, and spread the love of RUN all day…

RWF_RUNNING IS

…which was obviously just fine by all of us.

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Now we’re all shaken out and warmed up, so we got in a good stretch with the Icon Fitness Lotus Yoga goods and resident expert trainer, Melanie.

RWF_Lotus Yoga
RWF_Lotus Yoga Bag goods

Top: 3-in-1 Massage Roll (perfect tool to have for a hat-trick race weekend!)
Left: Grip Block
Right: Xfinity Resistance Band (which has already joined me on a work-trip for in-room hotel workouts)

When we sat down to eat again, it was straight from the new Runner’s World Cookbook. And once again, our tastebuds were spoiled in the best way.

RWF_friday lunch

 On the menu: Caprese Farro Salad, Simple Green Salad (Dressings: Mustard & Cumin Vinaigrette, Nutty Olive Oil), Mushroom Tacos al Pastor (gluten-free), Spicy Fish Tacos with pineapple slaw and Banana Oat Energy Bars (dessert).

All straight from the RW Cookbook pages, and all simply delicious. We all went back for seconds (thirds?) of the banana oat bars. We did need plenty of energy, after all.

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Our next agenda item definitely topped my list of favorites for the whole weekend: Summer Sanders came to chat with us about her Olympic accomplishments, life as an athlete and now a mother and (speedy) runner, and just, you know, life. You can’t be in her presence without smiling, and you can’t listen to one of her stories without thinking you’d love to be her neighbor and/or running buddy. She ran all three races throughout the weekend, starting off with a family-affair 5K and finishing up with a fast half-marathon!

If you ever get a chance to meet her, jump on it. Until then, pick up the latest Runner’s World (November) and let her stories inspire you.

RWF_Summer Sanders RW COVER_Summer Sanders

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By this point it’s 3pm and we headed over to THE EXPO for a ProForm iFit treadmill demo and packet pick-up.

RWF_Expo Entrance

ProForm’s iFit treadmills were set-up and ready for testing, ooh-ing and awe-ing right you walked onto the Expo vendor area.

This is no ordinary treadmill…

RWF_ProForm Treadmill 1RWF_proform remoteRWF_Proform iFit

First of all, it has a remote that fits right on your finger, allowing you to change your speed while you run without doing the awkward reach/lean right into the front of the machine. You simply tap and go/slow. GENIUS.

Secondly, it takes you wherever you want to go! The screen on the front shows you anywhere from the Grand Canyon trail to the course of the Walt Disney World or Boston Marathon. The treadmill adjusts the incline to mimic where you choose to run, as the screen takes you for a virtual outdoor run. A friend of the treadmill I am not, but this thing? Well, this could convince me otherwise.

It syncs with tablets, smartphones and fitness trackers. They’ve also partnered with the Runner’s World training programs so you can pick your race distance, personal preferences and paces…and bam! Personalized program? All yours.

We were impressed.

iFIT group_RW 3

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We were also pretty overloaded with gear, shoes, yoga accessories, Larabars and race goods. It was a day full of all things running, and an amazing way to kick off the weekend!

THANK YOU to Icon Fitness – specifically Altra, Lotus Yoga and ProForm – and your energetic, knowledgeable and welcoming team of experts and run-lovers!

Full Disclosure: RW provided hotel and food accommodations and race registrations for the weekend. Icon Fitness provided Lotus Yoga accessories and Altra Zero-Drop shoes. All opinions are my own.

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Filed under runners world, running, running gear, travel

On the First Day of Runners World…

I remember my very first issue of Runner’s World; on the slow mornings at the hospital (circa summer 2008) I wandered around looking for which magazines might be worth skimming through. (People donate a LOT of magazines to said hospital.) Through one stack I saw the huge “RUNNER’S” letters, and having just run my second half-marathon, my interest was immediately piqued.

There is an entire magazine dedicated to just runners? Not elites, not pros, but just…us everyday runners?! YES. Give me that.

I don’t remember what I did or didn’t learn from that exact issue, but I do remember spending every remaining working break in that hospital searching for more. My eyes scanned every pile looking for the familiar capital letters peaking out. Then I scanned airports and Targets and bookstores. Then I bought a subscription. Five years later, the magazine’s arrival still my favorite monthly mail day.

Five years later, I’m still soaking it in that an invitation was extended to step inside, and see where the running-magic happens…

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When our itinerary arrived for this weekend’s RW Half-Festival blogger events, I had to do a double-take. On the first day of our all-Runners-World weekend: a tour of the HQ and a BBQ and s’mores and the company of Bart Yasso? Yep. All of it. I’m in.

Runners World HQ

First we sat down to eat with RW staff, family and friends. It was a welcoming crew, eager to meet us and ready to chat! We were also joined by the Altra Zero-Drop shoe team – all the way from the mountains of Utah. They’re stopping in DC next, so we made some plans for a Monday night run. (What else do you do at a Runner’s dinner?)
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Full of good eats* and round 1 of dessert, we took a walk. Bart showed us around the RW digs:

(*They have a garden outside the office! And Rodale started publishing Organic Farming & Gardening in 1942 . They eat well around these parts.)

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Well of course they have a treadmill desk…

…and of course Bart’s office is full of race + travel mementos.

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He has stories for days (weeks, years?) and a grin that doesn’t stop. He undoubtedly loves the world inside these walls and the experiences that  have, and continue to, come with it.

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The Runner’s World Editor-in-Chief, David Willey, joined us for part of the tour, too. His office has a few less bibs, and a lot more shoes.

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A few other things we got to peak in on: the bike room, the Men’s & Women’s Health areas, the online marketing team and the wall with the next issue’s spread all lined up.

Then we had S’mores.

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We all owe a HUGE thanks to Bart, David, Golden (Altra Zero-Drop’s Co-Founder), Ms. Laura Beachy (+ David T.) and the RW family.

Thank you for bringing us here together, for hosting us at your dinner table, for letting us ooh-and-aah around your workspace and for welcoming us into your home for the night!

Bethlehem PA view

Last, but not least, thank you for challenging us – would I have signed up for a Hat-trick race weekend otherwise? Who knows. But this one’s credited to you!

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Next: we shake it out, take our shoes off & meet the (former host of Figure it Out and) Olympic swimmer, Summer Sanders! Among other things (i.e. racing).

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Filed under running, things that make me Happy, travel