Feeling Fine with Five

Just 5 days left until the race!

How are you feeling?

 Amy: Right now it’s a combination of excitement and nerves. I’m excited for the race but nervous about how I’ll do. I’m a competitive person so I want to do well. I have to keep reminding myself that finishing the race is an accomplishment in itself and three months ago I wouldn’t have been able to. If I focus on the excited part I’ll be in great shape!

Kate: I think Amy captured it exactly. These next few days is all about keeping that positive attitude, and capitalizing on all that hard work we’ve been doing. I’m also feeling very tired! The fall is a busy time for me, and there hasn’t been much time for me to really give my muscles the rest and recovery they would like. I think that’s what’s making me the most nervous—the uncertainty of how my legs will hold up given how sore I’ve been.

 Are you ready?

 A: Yes and no. Some days I have good runs and feel really great and other days it feels like I won’t be able to finish. As long as I have a positive mindset on race day I know I’ll be able push through. I will admit, I wish I ran more than I did this summer. Once the heat wave in August hit I came up with every excuse not to run. If I had pushed through I would be in great shape now, but I’m still ready to crush it on race day!

K: Define “ready!” I’ve mobilized my pre-race plan of leafy greens, lots of hydration, and a little extra stretching. My workouts have been really difficult the last few weeks. I wish I had just a little more time to prepare, but I’ve put in the work and it’s time to see what I can do.

 Training Reflections:

 A: Like I mentioned, looking back I probably could have trained a little more and a little harder. But, I think I found a good balance between training, eating healthier, and still having a fun social life and finding time for myself this summer. Now that it’s cooler out I’m running more and I’ve started to push myself. If I could do it over I wouldn’t have taken so many breaks in between runs. I found once I took a few days off it was harder to get back into it.

K: I had the same experience as Amy. I had a really tough time earlier this week, and felt super defeated. My family reminded me that even though I recognize where I could have done more, I’ve been working really hard. It’s an accomplishment just to be training, and just to show up and give it a go on race day. I’ve come a long way, and I’m excited to see where I go from here.

 Good luck runners!

You Are What You Eat

A little over a month ago we talked about our eating habits and how they impact our running. With the race less than two weeks away, let’s check in and see how our #TrainingTuesday runners are fueling up for race day!

Looking back on your last post, have you noticed any change in your eating habits?

Amy: Something I noticed as my training progressed is that I’m now naturally inclined to grab a healthier option, especially if I know I have to run the next day. In the beginning/middle of my training I would have a debate in my head when picking healthier options, now it just comes natural. I do indulge every once and awhile, but nowhere near as much as I used to. Like Kate mentioned in the previous post, crappy food makes me feel crappy.  

Kate: Absolutely. It’s small things that I don’t think an outsider would notice, but I’m making healthier choices. I’m definitely less judgmental about what I eat and how. I also find myself planning ahead a little better. I embraced the fact that I can’t pack a whole day’s worth of food, so instead I let myself eat what feels or sounds good. When I’m not constantly stressing over whether I’m going to ‘mess up’ or make a bad choice, I find myself eating better.

 What’s your favorite meal or snack that helps you fuel up for a run?

 A: I’ve become obsessed with mini cucumbers! I’ve started eating them plain, with hummus, wrapped in turkey, or thrown in a sandwich or salad. They’re refreshing and crunchy, making a great afternoon snack. 

K: I’m getting back into salads. They’re so versatile and easy. Sometimes I load them up with protein, or sometimes it’s just a couple handfuls of lettuce and oil to get a leafy boost. And when it’s just greens, I find that I don’t have to worry too much about keeping it refrigerated.

 Are you looking to keep any habits you’ve developed after the race?

 A: Absolutely! Training for this race has reminded me how good it feels to be in shape and work out regularly. With fall and winter coming it will definitely be harder for me to motivate myself to keep running outside, but now that I’ve developed healthier habits, I’m feeling more confident.

K: I’ve settled into a routine that I’m looking forward to keeping up. Every week, I do a particular yoga class, and I go for my runs the same days and times. It’s gotten built-in so that even when I start to slack or lose motivation, I won’t lose all the habits that I’ve built up.

 Two weeks until race day, how are you feeling?

 A: I’m starting to get nervous, but I keep reminding myself of all the times I’ve been able to push myself in my training and I feel better. Part of me is also excited to finish the race. It feels like we’ve been working on this forever (so I should probably be more prepared than I am…) and it’ll feel great to accomplish a goal.

K: I’m just going to keep pushing. I’m planning a few more workouts, and then I’m going to give myself a good few low-impact days to rest up. I keep telling myself that attitude is everything! I’ve put the work in, so now all I can do is trust that I can make it happen. I’m feeling a little tired, but I also don’t need as much time to recover as when we first started training.

Stronger and Smarter

With less than a month until race day, it’s time to check in with our #TrainingTuesday runners! Remember our first week of training? Has Amy kept her motivation? Has Kate found her pace on the trail?

Remember how you felt after week 1, how does it feel now?

 Amy:  Training for this race has definitely helped me get back into shape. Slowly but surely I’m feeling more and more prepared. It definitely helps following the training app. Because each week was broken down into manageable sections, I never felt overwhelmed with the amount I’ve had to run, which helped me not give up. There were a few weeks I lost my motivation, I was sick, I was “too busy,” I was “too hot,” the excuses were endless, but luckily it only lasted a few days and I pushed myself to get back out there.

Kate: I’m with Amy. I feel way stronger than I did at the beginning of the summer, and way stronger than I would feel had I not been running. I have felt really overwhelmed at times, but I’m trying to just have faith that I can do it.

 What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed since you began training?

 A: I definitely have more energy than I did when I started. Because I’m mostly running after work, I’m tired and ready for bed at a normal hour, which means I’m waking up feeling refreshed. I’m getting better sleep which gives me more energy to wake up early and walk, and I’m eating better meals to fuel my runs. Overall I’m noticing a positive impact on my mood and I love not feeling sluggish and exhausted all the time.

K: I’m stronger. Way stronger. And I’m able to power through things that felt impossible before. I’ve always gravitated towards strength training over cardio, so I’m surprised at how much running has changed my body. I don’t get sore as easily as I used to, and I can push myself a lot farther than even just a few weeks ago.

 What are you most looking forward to on race day?

 A: I’m looking forward to finishing and proving to myself that getting back in shape is possible. I’ve definitely pushed myself a lot more than I ever have while training. A few times I’ve wanted to give up, so crossing that finish line will be really rewarding. Even though I’ve run longer races before, this will be a huge accomplishment for me, knowing how out of shape I’ve become.

K: Ugh, finishing the race! I’m counting on that common belief that anything is possible on race day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve put in a lot of work and gotten a lot out. But 5 kilometers is starting to feel really daunting, when my workouts only get up to about 2—and that’s a combination of running and walking. I’m looking forward to crossing the finish line and proving to myself that I can do it.

Treadmills and Trails and Terrain, oh my!

Is too much of the same thing a bad thing? When it comes to running, our #TrainingTuesday runners prefer to test out different terrain every once and awhile.

 What are your thoughts on trail running, road runs, and the treadmill?

 Amy: I do a combination of all three and I feel it helps my training a lot. Because of the recent heat, I’ve been using the treadmill a lot more. I like the treadmill because it helps to stabilize my pace and it really gets my heart rate up. However, I need a really great playlist when I’m on the treadmill because it’s hard for me to stay motivated enough to go longer distances.

I like road runs because they help me prepare for a race the best. Sometimes the literal pounding the pavement can put some stress on my body, which is when I’ll switch up my routine.

Trail runs are great, but it’s easy to get lost. I haven’t been able to do many trail runs because I’m less familiar with the trails around here and don’t always have a running buddy.  I tend to run a little slower and a little longer on trail runs so I can enjoy the outdoors and de-stress a bit. 

Kate: Like Amy, I only do trails with a buddy for safety’s sake. Fortunately, I have an occasional running buddy who knows local trails inside and out! I love trails because I find them relaxing and peaceful, but roots and debris can be tripping hazards when I get fatigued. Trails are a good option when I need some time in nature and have a friend to join me.

I rarely do treadmills. They can be a good option when running outdoors isn’t an option, or when I need to be able to control pace or incline. If I need to train indoors, I stick to an elliptical machine. The elliptical takes the pressure off my knees, and I like the upper body workout. And as I said, I don’t usually train on a machine.

Most of my runs are on the road. The pavement can start to wear on my ankles and knees, but I go to local parks with a track or field when I need to be on something other than concrete.

 Which do you prefer?

 A: My favorite is definitely trail running, but I also enjoy the benefits of road running and the treadmill. To me, the best part of trail running is the scenery, it’s so beautiful and peaceful on the trails I almost forget I’m running sometimes. However, I find road runs to be the most beneficial to my training because they prepare my body and my pace for the terrain of the race. I used to hate the treadmill, but now I don’t mind it on rainy days or when it’s really hot out. In my opinion the treadmill helps to increase my speed and it keeps me at a consistent pace.

K: It kind of depends on my mood. I love trail runs, but they can be impractical and even unsafe in the wrong conditions. Most of my training this time around has been on the road—or rather, sidewalks. It’s nice passing by and waving to neighbors going for walks, or exploring different streets I don’t often go down. As Amy mentioned, it’s also the closest to an actual road race, so I can gauge how prepared (or unprepared) I am.

Do you recommend testing out all three?

 A:  Yes! I enjoy mixing it up so my training doesn’t become stagnant and boring. It also helps my body to run on different surfaces. If I strictly ran on the treadmill I think my knees would hate me soon enough. Plus, I love switching up my scenery. After trying out all three I can definitely see the benefits of each and plan to continue using a combo in my training.

K: I agree—trying out trails, road runs, and treadmills can help keep runs interesting while targeting areas that need some attention. In my experience, trails usually require a little more dexterity and footwork; treadmills help you hit specific targets under particular conditions; and road runs provide an analogous setting to the race itself.

 Training Update

 A: I’m feeling pretty good about my progress! After being sick and taking some time off I was worried, but the past few weeks I’ve been able to get back into it. Sometimes I’m amazed at how I can push myself when I have the right mindset. I was feeling pretty bad about how out of shape I got, but after having a great run, I reminded myself that I’m back out there trying hard and that in itself is a big success. I’ve heard the quote, “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch,” and that really hit home. For the past year or so I was the one “on the couch” and now that I’ve finally started running again it feels great!

K: I spent the last week helping a family member move, which meant most of my energy has gone to moving boxes and furniture. I honestly felt so tired that I couldn’t imagine ever running again. Instead of making me more exhausted, going for a run helped my body reset after a really difficult week. Running has become cathartic: it provides a physical outlet for stress, while reminding me that I am stronger than I sometimes feel.

Breakfast Made Easy

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Here are some of our favorite breakfast recipes.

Amy:

Greek Yogurt Parfait
1 Container of Vanilla Greek Yogurt
½ Cup Fruit, fresh or frozen
¼ Cup Dry Cereal or Granola

Combine all ingredients and enjoy!

Tip: Leave the fruit in the yogurt for about half an hour before you eat it to give the yogurt a fruity flavor (a little bit longer if you’re using frozen fruit, that way it can thaw a bit). Add the cereal or granola just before you eat it so it doesn’t get soggy. 

Thoughts: I love this breakfast! I used to hate Greek yogurt, but eating it with some fruit and dry cereal (I use Vanilla Almond) gives it great flavor and a nice crunch. I’m not a fan of granola at all, so I add the dry cereal to take its place. It’s nice and light but the added ingredients help fill me up until lunch time.

Training Update:  I think the biggest accomplishment for me is that I’m still training! I normally give up, stop training, and try to wing it on race day. I’m really proud of myself for sticking to it. Splitting my training up into manageable sections really helps not become overwhelmed. Even though I’ve done longer races in the past, it was crazy to see how out of shape I became. Now that I’m making running a habit, I am definitely getting back in shape. 

 

Kate:

Three-Minute Egg and Cheese Sandwich

1 egg
1 slice cheese
2 pieces of toast, or one set of sandwich thins

Did you know that you can cook eggs in the microwave? Any microwave-safe bowl or ramekin will do, and it takes less than a minute.

Process:

1.     Put bread or sandwich thins into the toaster and start toasting.
2.     Put egg in the microwave and set for ~30 seconds. It might take some experimenting to figure out how you like it.
3.     Place the slice of cheese onto one piece of toast and let it melt for a moment.
4.     Slide egg onto the other piece of toast.
5.     Combine the two halves, and enjoy!

Tip: Add some seasoning to your egg before you cook it for a bit of flavor. I like to use onion powder to get that “diner” feel without using salt or butter.

Thoughts: I started making egg sandwiches in college as an easy and nutritious alternative to fast food in the morning. If you’re in a rush, use aluminum foil instead of a plate for breakfast on the go! I love this sandwich because it’s filling and feels indulgent, even though it’s all healthy stuff. And I pair it with a piece of fruit and a mug of hot tea­– a luxurious, nutritious breakfast prepared in less than ten minutes.

Training Update: I had a really good run before the heat wave settled, and it gave me a lot more confidence in my running abilities. I feel a lot stronger than I had even a few weeks ago, so I don’t feel bad about skimping on workouts in this hot weather. My priority right now is staying hydrated and safe, even if that means modifying and even shortening my runs.

Breaking Bad Habits Part 2

Time for a check-in! Remember the bad habits we discussed awhile back? (Don’t worry, Amy didn’t either) We’re here to check in and see if our #TrainingTuesday runners have broken them.

Have you broken any of these habits?

Amy: To be honest, I forgot about trying to break these bad habits. The only thing I really remembered to focus on was stretching more. I was really excited to re-read the article and our post to see if I broke any of these habits over the course of my training.

I did! I have definitely taken my training slow and steady and I make sure to incorporate rest days as needed. I’ve also noticed I’m getting better sleep at night which is helping with my overall energy level and mood. In terms of stretching, I’m getting there. I’m not where I’d like to be, but I’ve gotten a lot better!

Kate: I tried to keep my goals in mind as I’ve been training. In fact, the one that resonated with me the most, “being your own doctor,” actually ended up being an important one for me. An old foot injury resurfaced, and instead of trying to deal with it myself, I went straight to the doctor to make sure I was clear to train.

My other goals were about staying hydrated and stretching. I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I have good habits, but I’ve been a lot better about drinking water instead of sugary juices or iced tea. I’m still terrible about stretching, but I’ve gotten less terrible--I make sure to stretch out anything that feels particularly tight or sore.

Is there anything else you’re looking to work on?

A: Now that I’ve gotten the basics down, I’d like to work on bad habit #4, ignoring your core. One of my goals for the race is to increase my speed from my last 5K, which was over a year ago. The article says strengthening your core will help you run faster, so I’m looking forward to testing out this theory.

K: I think I need to continue staying active and listening to my body. So far, that’s been most useful. If I’m feeling thirsty, I get some water. If my legs feel super sore, I take a moment to stretch. I have a million different things I wish I did, but it feels more realistic to stay in the moment and do what my body is asking me to do.

Do you have any goals going forward?

A: For the next few weeks I’d like to increase my strength training, with a special focus on my core. I’ve found it’s easier to set one or two goals at a time and really work hard on those before trying to fix/work on something new. I guess that means I’ve broken bad habit #10, fixing it all. Now that I’ve realized it’s almost impossible to fix every bad habit at once, I’m seeing much more progress.

K: I agree with Amy, the best approach seems to be focusing on one thing at a time. For me, that’s getting across the finish line without embarrassing myself! Sometimes I need to remind myself that I don’t need to be perfect for my first 5K. I just need to be comfortable running the race.

I’m going to have a moment of honesty here: I haven’t been running as much as I should. Sometimes, it’s only twice a week. But I have to remind myself that twice a week is nothing to sneeze at! Training for a 5K, even when I’m doing the bare minimum, is a big step. I’m giving it all I’ve got, even if all I’ve got doesn’t feel like much.

Morning, Noon, or Night?

Running at different times of the day can have different effects on people. See what our #TrainingTuesday runners prefer.

 When do you usually run?

 Amy: I’m an afternoon, post work, pre-dinner runner. In a perfect world I would be able to run before work, but I am not a morning person. The thought of leaving my nice, comforting bed to go run at 6 am is repulsive to me. Kudos to those of you that have stronger will power!

 Kate: Occasionally I can pry myself out of bed early, and that’s always my goal. But it rarely happens, so I usually end up running after work like Amy. It also depends on the weather—if it’s going to be a scorcher, I’ll try harder to get up and run before the weather gets bad.

 Have you tried running at different times of the day?

 A: Sort of… I’ve been able to go for walks before work and on my lunch, in hopes that the walks will turn into runs. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not giving up hope. I enjoy my morning walks because they help me wake up and give me a little bit more energy to start the day. Walking on my lunch is also great because it gets me outside and gives me a little break from the grind to help refresh my mind.

K: Yeah, I’ve gone for early morning, after work, and after dinner/before bed runs. It was kind of nice in high school and college when I was running as part of athletic practice, because they told us when to run and we ran. Now, I run whenever it’s convenient. It’s nice having the flexibility, but it can also be hard to stay consistent.

After your experience, why do you run when you do?

 A:  Mostly because it’s the most convenient time of day, but it’s also a great stress reliever at the end of a long day. Like I said, in a perfect world I would run in the morning and start the day on a high note. However, even though it sometimes is hard to motivate myself to run after a long day, ending the day on a high note is just as nice.

K:  I like the morning because it wakes me up, gets my day started early, and I don’t have to worry about running on a full stomach. But I also like after work because it’s in that sweet spot between lunch and dinner, and it helps me transition from work to home without just flopping on the couch until bedtime. I do not love running after dark, partly because of safety and partly because I prefer to have time to decompress between dinner and bed.

 Training Update:

 A: After being sick for a few days I took a little time off from running to make sure I was getting better and not adding more stress to my body. I feel confident in where I am with my training, so adding in that break won’t set me back too much. Once I’m 100% better I’m ready to pound the pavement and increase my intensity a little bit. I never thought I’d actually miss running!

K: I also took a week off, but because of the weather. I didn’t feel like I had somewhere I could continue training safely, because I’m really sensitive to heat and humidity. My plan this week is to run outside when I’m able, and to try treadmill workouts if the weather gets bad.

Psychologically, I’m getting nervous about my ability to run a 5K without embarrassing myself. The goal is to just keep trying, because I’ve already gotten so much farther in my training than I ever have before. I’m finding that training is just as much emotional as it is physical, and it’s tough to embrace the uncertainty. It’s been years since I ran in front of other people, and I hope I’ll be ready come September!

Eating and Running

Does eating affect your running? Our #TrainingTuesday runners weigh in.

What are your typical eating habits?

 Amy:  About 4 months ago I moved out on my own for the first time and my eating habits drastically changed. I used to eat mostly healthy food during the week and occasionally eat out on the weekends. After moving, being exhausted from working and commuting all day, I swapped out my grilled chicken salad for a few dollar tacos on the way home. While I am trying to cut down on the fast food, I currently eat out a few times a week, mainly for the convenience and price. Unfortunately I’ve found it’s cheaper to eat fried chicken at a drive thru than to grill your own and roast some vegetables.

Kate: Having lived with my parents for the past year, my diet is a mix of “trying to be healthy” and “whatever they’re having.” We do love to cook, and my dad and I share a love for grilled asparagus. But when lives are busy, it sometimes feels like it makes more sense to order takeout. I mix in a lot of healthy options, like smoothies for breakfast, or tuna salad made with Greek yogurt on whole wheat bread, or veggie sticks as a snack. At the same time, I eat out at least once a week with a lot of drive-through for early breakfasts or late dinners.

Do certain foods make running easier or harder for you?

 A: Yes! Ever since I started eating more fast food, I feel slower and more sluggish. The more I train and the more I run, the more I want to eat healthier. Eating healthier gives me more energy, makes me feel less bloated, and motivates me to work harder. Plus I don’t cramp up and feel sick on my runs.

K: Absolutely. Like Amy, I always notice that crappy food makes me feel crappy, and healthy food makes me feel good—and those things carry over into my exercise. Caffeine gives me tons of problems. If I drink a big coffee at any point before running, I end up overexerting myself and feeling sick. But “healthy” foods don’t automatically make me feel better, either: I’ve learned that I need to balance carbs and protein to feel good. Broccoli and hummus is a great snack, but if I don’t pair it with a piece of pita I end up feeling tired and cranky.

 Are you looking to change your eating habits?

 A: I think training for a run and exercising more in general, has naturally made me change my habits. I used to justify eating fast food with “well I’m going to the gym later so it’s ok.” But going to the gym after eating three tacos for lunch, is as terrible of an idea as it sounds. Learning how my body reacts to working out after eating certain foods has been a challenging process, but it has helped me cut out foods I shouldn’t be eating. I’m looking to severely limit my fast food intake and start grilling more lean protein and vegetables. I’ve found planning meals around my busy schedule helps to make better decisions. But let’s be realistic, a life without tacos is not the life I want to live. I still look forward to cheat days!

K: Sometimes I look at what I eat and I get really discouraged with myself, even though I’m doing my best to take care of my body. Food and eating are such value-laden topics in our society, and everyone has an opinion about what’s “good” and “bad.” When it comes to eating, my main goal is to eat without judgment. I’ve found that when I stop judging myself for eating “unhealthy” things, I feel more confident and pick more nutritious choices. My life is busy and complex, and health is only one factor that goes into my eating habits!

So am I looking to change? It’s complicated. Part of me wants to be the healthiest eater out there, who shows tons of discipline and eats one piece of chocolate a week and savors it. But part of me knows that that’s not who I am. I’m the kind of person who has fruit and yogurt for breakfast, and goes home after work to put her feet up and eat a sleeve of cookies. My goal is to find healthy ways of being myself.

 Training update

 A: Because I’m on a corporate team, I’ve switched to run the 5K instead of the 10K race. And to be honest, once I made the switch, I took a little break from my training, justifying it with, “oh it’s a shorter distance, I can take today off and it’ll be ok.” If you couldn’t tell, I’m excellent at making excuses to skip working out. However, I’m back on track and have decided to continue training as if I were running a 10K. My overall goal is to get back in shape and be able to run longer distances, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

K: Running is hard work. I’ll have a great day where I feel like I’m on the top of the world, and the next day every step feels like a major hurdle. I’m paying close attention to my aches and pains to sort out what’s normal soreness versus what might need more care. Sometimes I feel like it’s absolutely impossible, and that I won’t make it to a 5K. But all I can do is keep getting back out there, and even on the hardest of days I feel really good about what I’m able to accomplish.

 

Shake it up...

... with a protein shake! This week we tried different recipes to add a little more protein into our diet/training regimen.

Amy: I’ve never had a protein shake before. I’ve always just assumed they would be thick and chalky and I wouldn’t like them, so I stayed away. I was pleasantly surprised when I decided to toss some vanilla protein powder in my fruit smoothie.

Recipe:

1 ½ cups of frozen fruit (I used strawberries, mango, and pineapple)
2 cups orange juice
½ cup of ice
1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Blend until you’ve reached your desired consistency!

Thoughts:

I loved it! It helps that I love fruit smoothies, but now that I know I can add protein powder and not hate it, I’m sensing a new breakfast in my future. It took some adjustment to get the recipe right (I added too much ice and not enough juice), but I loved the thick consistency of the smoothie and the hint of vanilla from the protein powder. It was my first but definitely not my last protein shake! (Thanks to Kate who told me all the different ways to add protein powder to my drinks!)

Kate: As you may have guessed, this is not my first protein shake rodeo. A few years ago, I had a personal trainer who highly recommended using protein shakes both in my diet and immediately after working out. My favorite use for them was as an afternoon snack when I worked as a camp counselor in past summers. When 2 pm hit, I would be hungry and tired, but needed something quick. My solution was to put a scoop of powder into a shaker before work in the morning, and stick a serving-size, shelf-stable box of almond milk into my lunchbox. It was the ideal snack: I could mix my shake while watching over little ones, even if my hands were covered in paint or glue.

 

Mocha Latte Shake
Recipe:
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 scoop chocolate protein powder

This one works best if you use a shaker bottle—just put your ingredients into the bottle, and shake until smooth.

Thoughts: This one tastes a lot like chocolate milk! I add the instant coffee for an extra kick of flavor. We freeze our coffee grounds so they didn’t blend very well, but I didn’t notice any difference in taste. As they say in the cereal commercials, this shake is part of a complete breakfast—I usually pair it with toast and fruit.

It’s actually been awhile since I used protein shakes, and I realized that I missed them. I’m re-instating them as part of my breakfast, and I’ve noticed that I feel a lot better in the morning when I make one before work. They’re also more nutritious than most of my other morning choices (which generally involve a drive-through).

I’ll also note that it can be tough to find a protein powder that works, since some brands can be heavy on the stomach. But if one particular flavor or brand is too heavy, too grainy, too sweet or too chalky, keep shopping! There are tons and tons of formulas out there to meet almost any dietary need. 

To Celebrate, or to Run...

Happy 4th of July! We know the holidays can be a difficult time to fit a run in. Did you do better than your #TrainingTuesday runners?

What were your goals for the weekend?

Amy: I tried to be realistic when setting my weekend running goals. I knew it was a holiday weekend and I’d want to relax. I planned my week out in advance so I would only have to run once. It seemed manageable at the time…

Kate: My plan was to stay on track by squeezing in some healthy veggies and trying to stay active. I knew I wasn’t going to have the time (or motivation) for full running workouts, so I tried to plan accordingly.

Did you manage to stick to your plan over the weekend?

A: Not exactly… Luckily I have the ability to squeeze in an extra day of running this week so I don’t fall behind my training plan.

K: I did, but only because my plan accounted for skipping runs. We went hiking instead of running, which to be honest was much harder! I also cooked up a ton of zucchini on Saturday to make sure I would have something to eat besides hot dogs and beer.

What motivated/prevented you?

A: Between a trip to Block Island and winning free Red Sox tickets, the weekend was busier than I expected. Even though I tried to plan ahead, things still came up and prevented me from running.

K: Unlike Amy, I did not have a full schedule of activities. Instead, I took advantage of an extra day to rest, recharge, and get some chores done. While I feel a little guilty that I’m behind on my training, I was able to catch up on things that won’t be hanging over my head this week.

Did the holiday change your workout schedule?

A: Yes, absolutely! Looking back on the weekend, I could have fit in that one run, if I woke up earlier one day, or left the beach sooner. I guess my plans didn’t prevent me from running, I prevented me from running. Fortunately, I’m only one run behind and I’m now motivated to put in the extra work this week. But come on, I can’t be the only one who passed up a run for a hot dog and an extra hour at the beach, right?

K: Yes and no. I didn’t go for my usual Sunday run, but I went hiking on the holiday instead of lazing in the pool or on the couch. It wasn’t so much the holiday weekend as it was hitting a bit of a slump.

Training Update

A: I’ve been adding a lot more walks into my daily routine and I can definitely feel a difference in my calves on days I stretch vs. days I don’t stretch. So far I’m happy with my progress and it motivates me to run a little harder and incorporate more cross training and strength training. I’m actually getting excited to run the 10K! It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to run this distance, so I’m looking forward to progressing in my training.

K: As I mentioned last week, I’ve been recovering from some unrelated injuries. It’s hard not to feel like I’m just copping out and falling back into my old habit of giving up. I have to remind myself that I’m being smart by not pushing myself to do full running workouts before I’m ready. Yesterday was my first time going all out and doing something strenuous, and I feel really good about where I am. Instead of dwelling on the past few weeks, I’m ready to get back out there at full speed!

Cross Training is Key

During our training process we’ve discovered the importance of cross training. Not just as a way to break up our running or keep in shape, but as a way to prevent injuries. Constantly pounding the pavement can put stress on your body and cause injuries, here’s what we’re doing to prevent that.

What do you do for cross training?

 Amy: For me, cross training comes in the form of playing sports. I have a hard time sticking with exercise programs because I get bored with them. If it’s fun for me, I don’t think of it as working out. I’ve recently started playing hockey again, and getting back on the ice once a week is proving to be great cardio, it also showed me how out of shape I was…

 Kate: I don’t have a dedicated “program,” but I like to keep a lot of variety in my exercise. I don’t run every time I work out! I’m not big on weight training unless I have someone telling me what to do. Instead, I try to do some basic core exercises, like planks and mountain-climbers, to complement my running workouts. On top of that, I like to make some time for yoga or Pilates on a regular basis, even if it’s just a few Sun Salutes when I can’t get to a class. Podcasts and online videos are great when the same old routine gets boring!

Is there anything new you want to try? Why?

 A: I’ve always wanted to try yoga! (Maybe Kate can teach me…) In the beginning of summer I had this great plan, I was going to walk every morning, go to free Monday night Zumba® classes, play hockey once a week, and keep up with my running program. I quickly realized that was too much too fast. Right now I’m focused on training for the 10K, but I would still like to try out Zumba or Yoga for new cross training ideas.

K: This feels like a cop out, but no, there isn’t! Training for a 5K in itself is the new thing I’m trying. I want to focus on developing myself as a runner first, and then figure out how I can get faster and stronger. As long as I’m stretching, remembering to work on my core strength occasionally, and staying hydrated, I’m on track with my goals. When I’ve got all that on lock, then we’ll talk about something new!

Can you feel the benefits of it?

A: Yes! I don’t know if it’s the hockey that’s helping my running, or my running that’s helping with hockey, but it’s definitely getting easier to breathe, keep up, and stay on pace. I’ve also started walking almost every day on lunch and I’m noticing I have a lot more energy and I’m sleeping better.

 K: I’m starting from scratch rather than focusing on improving times or distance, so it’s tough to say. When I focus on strength and endurance outside of running, it makes a world of difference in terms of how easily I get through workouts and how much harder I push each day compared to the last. I also think it extends beyond just cross training. When I’m eating and sleeping well, I see huge, immediate benefits in my stamina and will power. Does that mean sleeping counts as cross training?

Training Update

 A: I just started week 4 of my 10K program and I’m pretty impressed with myself. Mainly because this is the longest I’ve ever stuck to a training program. Usually I get discouraged after two weeks and give up because I’m not faster, I haven’t lost any weight, I haven’t been able to increase my distance, etc. I’m not making excuses anymore, I’m going out and running which is a big accomplishment for me. And it’s getting easier now that I’m working in stretches and increasing my endurance!

K: This past week was challenging. We went for runs later in the day than usual, which I did not love. Now I know that I don’t like to run at dusk—we can’t run the trails in the dark, which means trying to find somewhere well lit. And dusk usually means mosquitos. I’m working through some unrelated injuries and trying not to do anything dumb. I feel behind where I wanted to be, but I’m also patting myself on the back for listening to my body and not overdoing it. 

Breaking Bad Habits

As novice runners, we’re looking for all the advice we can get. That’s why we fell in love with this article from Runner’s World. Breaking bad running habits isn’t easy, but the sooner you spot the bad habit, the sooner you can try to break it!

Do you have any bad habits?

Amy: I must admit, I’m guilty of all of these bad habits, except of course, overtraining. Skipping my post-run stretches is probably the worst habit I have. My mindset always used to be “ok, lets hurry up and get this over with.” I hated exercise and wanted it to be over as soon as possible, so I skipped the stretching. After just a few weeks of training, I’m starting to see that stretching will help with the pain I feel during my runs, and sitting outside to stretch on a beautiful summer day doesn’t seem so bad.

Kate: I have a lot of trouble establishing good habits, so most of my bad habits consist of forgetting or skimping on things I should be doing. For example, I get dehydrated easily because I forget to drink enough water. And like a lot of people, I’m bad about stretching after workouts.

Were you surprised by some of the bad habits listed?

A: I was most surprised by “forgoing SPF” mainly because it never occurred to me to put sunscreen on before going for a run. A valuable lesson to learn, and thankfully before I turned into a lobster.

K: I was surprised by “being your own doctor,” especially because I know a lot of athletes who assume they know their body better than a doctor. It never occurred to me that this might keep people from taking their injuries seriously.

How do you plan on breaking these habits?

A: I’m definitely going to start wearing sunscreen on my runs, regardless of how cloudy/sunny it is outside. Not stretching is also a habit I need to break. The article linked to some great new stretches for me to try out, including stretches for when you’re in a hurry. Being more educated on the dangers of not taking the time to stretch is also a big motivator for me to break this habit.

K: I’ve been trying some creative ways to stay hydrated, like drinking flavored seltzer during the day and “pre-portioning” water with labeled bottles so it’s easy to keep track of how much I need to drink. In terms of not stretching, we stop at a pond on the walk back after every workout to look for frogs, fish—we’ve even seen a few swans. I’ve started squeezing in a few stretches whenever we stop there, in the hopes that it makes a difference (and I think it already has). 

Training Update:

A: I now look forward to getting out of work and spending time outside running. Before I would spend all day coming up with excuses not to run or go to the gym. In just two weeks, my mindset has changed which I’ve always considered my biggest obstacle. My ankles still throb and my calves cramp up, but I can breathe easier and increase my distance. I’ve even noticed my pace pick up a little bit. Once I can make stretching a habit, hopefully it won’t be as painful on my legs!

K: Has anyone ever gone into a workout already a little stressed, and then started accidentally hyperventilating during their workout to the point of bursting into tears while running? …No? Just me? It was a tough week. And my running buddy was a little shocked that I 1) burst into tears and 2) just kept running. But every workout I notice something a little different. It’s easier to breathe, or my calves aren’t so tight, or my mind is just a tiny bit clearer than it was before. It’s taking a lot of energy to stay focused and to keep getting out there, but I can already tell that this is becoming a good habit.

Week One is Done!

Our first week of training is complete!

So how does it feel?

Amy: It was hard to motivate myself at first, but after making it through the first week I already feel more energized and accomplished.

Kate: Week 1 was surprisingly easy. I sat down with my training buddy (10/10 recommend having a training buddy!) and mapped out our plan, including which days we would go out together. It helped having an organized plan, and I cannot stress enough how important it is having someone to keep you accountable.

Ok really, how did it feel?

 A: It hurt. A lot. I didn’t realize how out of shape I was until I started training. My ankles were throbbing and my legs felt like Jell-O, which didn’t help with my lack of motivation. I kept repeating “just push through and it will get easier” in my head as I was running. I’m hoping that happens soon…

K: Really, not that bad! I’m actually surprised by how easy the first week was, although I know it’ll get much harder soon. I’ve been careful to listen to my body, which can be challenging when training with a partner—when we’re not quite at the same pace, it’s tough to figure out whether one of us should hold back a little, or whether we just meet at the end of the trail.

 What did you notice as the biggest difference in your training routine?

 A: Typically when I start training I try to run the whole distance right away, which never works out. Between stopping to walk, getting frustrated with my lack of progress, and inability to breathe, I usually give up. This time I decided to take a different approach, starting slow and working my way up to the race distance. After one week it feels more manageable and realistic to achieving my goal.

K: Like Amy, I’ve broken my training plan down into manageable chunks to avoid burning out quickly. This is the first time I’ve really sat down and made a plan of attack with my exercise. Any other serious fitness kicks in my life were as part of a team where a coach told me what to do! This is my first time taking the reins and creating (and sticking to!) a workout plan for myself.

What are you looking forward to next week:

A: I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to increasing my distance during week two. I wanted to start out slow and ease myself back into running, considering how long it’s been since my last run, but after each workout I felt ready to do more. I also plan on stretching more and incorporating more strength training into my routine this week. Bring it on, week two!

K: I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time outside. I haven’t run on trails since high school, and I cannot put into words how good it feels to be surrounded by trees for an hour a day. We’ve started turning around about ¾ of the way through the workout so that we have a longer walk afterwards on the way back, and it’s been a relaxing way to unwind and catch up after work. I love that this is turning into more than just training for a 5K!

One week down, 15 to go! Stay tuned next week to learn about common bad running habits and how to break them. 

Welcome to #TrainingTuesday

In preparation for the 12th Annual Reebok Canton Road Race we (Amy Podeszek and Kate Kozak of the Triad Advertising Companies) will be documenting our journey. Follow and run along as we try different training, diet, and stretching techniques to prepare ourselves. But first, here’s a little background on our running experience. 

What does running mean to you?

Amy: Running? As in running to the kitchen to grab a snack on a commercial break? These days that’s the only kind of running I’m doing… However, I am looking forward to getting back out there.

Kate: I really like to exercise in a number of different ways, and everything I do means something different. To me, running is how I keep myself from getting too antsy! I run when it’s nice outside, when I’ve been on the couch too long, or when I want to explore a new area.

 

What is your experience with running?

A: My brother would convince me to do a race, and I would run in an effort to get in shape. I use the word run in a very loose sense though, because if I got too hot, or too tired, I would slow down. If I ran past something pretty, I would have no problem stopping to Instagram it. (This is the part where my brother and any serious runner would cringe and yell at me). I did manage to make it through a few runs. Notable races include, The Bourbon Chase 200 mile relay, Mighty Mosquito 99 mile relay, and the Boilermaker 15K. Since then I have hung up my running shoes, and my workouts consist of pinning ideas on Pinterest and not actually doing them.

K: Technically, I’ve been running since 8th grade running club. I did two seasons of high school spring track, but I was terrible—I tried every event from the 100m to the 2 mile. I kept at it with my friends’ encouragement, but had to “retire” junior year due to shin splints. I went to college in Washington, D.C., and started running again because it was a great way to see the monuments and national parks. At this point, I’ll go for a run every once in awhile when I’m feeling cooped up.

 

Why are you training for the Canton Road Race?

A: It’s been awhile since my last race. It’s time to lace up the sneakers and get back in shape, while supporting the Canton community. Plus, I told my boss I would run this and blog about it.

K: I’ve never actually done a road race, and it’s always been on my bucket list. And preparing for a race is a great way to bond with other people—I miss the camaraderie of sports from high school and college. My boyfriend agreed to train with me, and it’s been a really great way for us to spend time together and share a common goal.

 

So, why should I listen to you? 

A: You shouldn’t. I am in no way trained or certified to give you any advice. However, if you’re looking for some motivation and new ideas, I will share with you what I have found works and doesn’t work for me in an effort to inspire others to run. If I can do it, anyone can!

K:  This is my first time training for a road race, and it’s been almost five years since I’ve really been “in shape.” I encourage you to follow along with me if you’re a road race newbie or if you’re looking for someone who makes you look good!

 

Stay tuned next week for an update on our first week of training!

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