My Thoughts on “Healthy Living”

I do have a Treat Yourself Tuesday post written, unfortunately it’s in the drafts folder of my laptop, and I’m at work, so I’m posting tomorrow’s post today and my Tuesday post on Wednesday. Long weekends mess with my brain.

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This is a post that’s been brewing in the back of my mind for a while. I’ve resisted actually putting my thoughts down for a few reasons 1) I’m not even sure if this will make sense, 2) I don’t want to come across as ranty, and this might, and 3) I don’t like it when people are upset with me.

But, I’m over it now. After continually seeing articles about how people are doing it wrong or not being healthy enough I’m about to lose my ever-loving mind.

The headline that put me over the top?

healthy

Disclaimer: I didn’t read the article because I was too scared my head would explode.

I also muttered (silently) a number of profanities because….ugh!

I….can’t…..even.

What in the heck?!

Really?!

Okay, sure, eating apple peel is healthier than not eating it, but if the only way you’re going to eat an apple is to peel it, then by all means peel the dang thing!

This whole, food-shaming-everyone-has-to-eat-perfectly trend is getting on my last freaking nerve.

How do I approach “healthy living”?

Balance.

It’s all about balance.

Eat healthfully. Enjoy your food. Want a beer? Drink a beer (I do!). Want dessert? Eat dessert.

Exercise. Get your sweat on. Feeling tired? Take a rest day. Something ouchy? Take two.

Yes, I 100% agree that people should be aware of the nutritional value of foods consumed, so I say make choices that make you happy, but make informed choices. I know eating a salad is better for me than greasy pizza, but some days I want (or need, depending on the day) greasy pizza and beer. So I’m going to eat it. And not feel guilty.

Moving your body is better than not moving your body. But, sometimes stuff happens. Sometimes we get injured, sometimes work or family or friends take priority. That’s okay. A lot of times I’ll arrange my day so I workout right after work and will see friends later in the evening, around 7:30 or 8:00. If that doesn’t work? I’ll skip my workout. No big deal.

I’m tired of seeing so-call motivational posters convincing us we’re less-than if we skip a workout because we’re tired, or sore (OMG this was pisses me off so much! If you’re sore your body needs to HEAL and REST) or have a friend in town.

I’m constantly questioning if I’m truly tired or just feeling lazy. If I’m just feeling lazy, I’ll go workout and then I feel better and am glad I did it. Tired? I’m going to enjoy every freaking second of that rest day, thankyouverymuch!

I’m in no way trying to make anyone feel badly for being healthy, or motivating, or eating healthy. I just feel bombarded lately with messages that if we aren’t eating kale for every meal, or cutting out carbs (FYI – I’m pretty strongly against any diet that requires cutting out entire freaking food groups (unless you’ve been advised by your doc) because it’s the cool thing to do. Personally, I eat very few refined carbs, but I certainly don’t actively work to cut them out, I just don’t like sandwiches and prefer smoothies over oatmeal for breakfast so that reduces my carb/grain intake right there) or vegan, or paleo, or, or, or then we aren’t good enough.

We are all good enough.

That stuff just drives me batty.

No one is perfect.

No one should feel the need to eat perfectly or work out perfectly.

Life doesn’t work that way.

One of my personal mantras is “life’s too short”.

It can be applied in many a situation:

  • Life’s too short to not eat that cookie.
  • Life’s too short to drink crappy wine [as I dump a bad bottle down the drain]
  • Life’s too short to feel guilty for skipping a workout
  • Life’s too short to not drink that beer
  • Life’s too short to not see my friends

Now, I understand that for some people recovering from eating disorders involving fear foods, what I’ve written above isn’t quite so easy. I get it. I understand that; I’m not speaking to you. You’re on your own journey.

Actually, we’re all on our own journey.

We need to find what works best for us and do that.

Don’t worry about eating an apple wrong (seriously WTF?!), skipping the gym or enjoying a beer.

You do you, and I’ll do me.

da-mo-10

Tell me: what is YOUR approach to healthy living? Do you feel you’ve found a good balance, or are you still working to find it?

I’m sorry, how many calories are in that?!

Since I was gone for five days and haven’t yet had a chance to go grocery shopping since returning from running my marathon, I decided to pop into the cafeteria at work to grab a salad for lunch.

(I actually completely forgot we even had a cafeteria at work until yesterday – and I love that it has a salad bar!).

After I fixed up my salad I took a quick peek in the cooler and noticed this awesome looking container.

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Hummus and pretzels – pretty much the perfect afternoon snack, right?!

Well.

Maybe.

Once I got up to my office (yes, I eat at my desk. yes, I know it’s a bad habit) I ended up looking at the nutrition label.

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Shut the front door!

370 calories and 19g of fat?!

For a meal maybe, but not a snack!

I still don’t count calories, but I certainly like to be aware of what I’m putting in my body, and I think this is a perfect example of not knowing the calorie content of some foods.

I grabbed this assuming the calorie content would be in the 150-200 calorie range – just where I prefer it to be for a snack. Enough to fill me up a bit, but not make me full.

Considering my breakfast and lunches tend to be in the 300-400 calorie range, this definitely falls into the “meal” column for me and is certainly not a snack.

The packaging of this was super attractive and even managed to suck me in.

Heck, if I’m going to eat 370 calories in an afternoon, I’m going to use it for something good, like a pumpkin cookie!

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This was a good reminder for me to be a bit more aware, especially since I’m not running as many miles, I probably shouldn’t eat everything in sight right now.

I still plan to follow my moderation plan – and I know I feel better when I eat lots of protein and lean veggies (with a cookie thrown in!) – but impulse buys of “convenience” foods aren’t the greatest idea.

Are there any foods you’ve come across that haven’t been as healthy as you first thought?

My thoughts on dieting and calorie counting

A friendly note: I talk about calorie counting, dieting and my own disordered eating habits here. If you’ve struggled (or are currently struggling) with disordered eating and feel this might be triggering for you, I urge you to click away. If you’re struggling with disordered eating and haven’t yet reached out, I also urge you to reach out and seek help. You are beautiful and you are worthy.

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A friend of mine posted this post on Facebook (evil, evil Facebook) the other day.

If you haven’t read the post 1200 Calories yet, please, click over and read it; you won’t regret it.

Okay, you’ve read it? Super.

So, let’s talk about dieting and calorie counting…

About nine years ago I had massively disordered eating. I’m not sure how it came about, but I was on the 1200 calorie bandwagon. Not only that, I was fueling myself with fake foods during the week and then would binge eat on the weekends. A typical day looked like this

Breakfast:

– Coffee. Yup. Coffee. Usually a venti because I was freaking tired. Probably because I wasn’t eating enough and my body was exhausted, so I decided to fuel with coffee.

Snack:

– Pepperoni stick and cheese. My blood sugar would normally plummet around 10am (due to the lack of breakfast) so to prevent myself from passing out, I needed the protein and fats.

– Grapes. Because grapes are delicious.

Lunch:

– Cup of instant soup. I’d scour the aisles of the grocery store looking for instant soup. If anything was over 120 calories I’d put it back because that was “too many” calories for me to eat. Yeah……..

Dinner:

– Frozen chicken breast and corn. I was working from 2pm-10pm during this time (going to school from 8am-1pm) so I’d bring chicken and corn and heat it up. No matter how hungry I was, I never had an option for more food.

Let’s not attempt to count those calories. It’s far below 1200 calories. I never logged my food, but believed being hungry was good for me, so I kept my body in a hungry and semi-starved state during the week and followed it up by eating everything in sight on the weekends. Okay, just on Sunday because I worked on Saturday and was able to keep my food intake to a minimum on Saturday as well.

During this time I broke my left elbow when leaving work. Due to the break and the time of year I was in the hospital from Wednesday (when I broke it) to Saturday (when it was set). As I was “on-call” for surgery I wasn’t allowed to eat I was actually glad I wasn’t allowed to eat because I was able to make sure I didn’t gain weight because I was just chillin’ at the hospital. That should give you an idea of the extent of how disordered my eating was. I was in the hospital with a broken elbow and I was concerned about my weight. During the day I’d do laps of the floor with my IV pole and was thankful the morphine took away any appetite I might have.

Although I trained as a swimmer throughout my youth (competitive swimming from 7-19 and competitive synchronized swimming from 11-16) and never had any body image issues during that time, as soon as I moved out I experienced a bout of depression and that lead into a downward spiral of self loathing and controlling myself with food.

As a result of my disordered eating past, counting calories is a very fine line for me. Very fine.

Two years ago I logged everything I ate in MyFitnessPal. If I had a day where I was within my calorie goals it was a good day and I was a good person. If I had calorie room that was even better. I flip-flopped between praising myself on my calorie deficit and binge eating because I had room. If I had a day where I was over my goal, even by very few calories, it was a bad day; I was a bad person and had no self-control. If I was able, I’d go to the gym and work them off; if not, I’d shame myself.

I am so, so thankful I am no longer in this place.

To compare that stage in my life to now: I am roughly 15 pounds heavier now that I was then. I am also one million times happier now than I was then. My weight does not (nor will it ever) dictate my happiness or worth. Never again.

At this point, I will periodically log my calories to make sure I’m eating in an appropriate range for my metabolism; especially with my marathon training. I know I should consume roughly 1600 calories for my height and weight and will eat more on the days where I have long runs, usually. I do my best to eat intuitively: if I want a hamburger/fries/whatever, I will eat them. If I’m not hungry, I won’t eat. There are some days where I’ll run for 90 minutes and won’t experience a lot of hunger –  I always refuel with a protein shake (Vega Performance Protein in Vanilla) and then use my hunger cues for the remainder of the day.

So, with all that said – calorie counting is not for me.

However, I do believe calorie counting can be beneficial for some people.

As a result of being highly involved in swimming during my teenage years and then picking up running at 18, I’ve always had a basic idea of  what healthy looks like. While I wasn’t a fan of always eating healthy growing up (dinner always involved a vegetable, protein and carb) I recognize it was easy for me to take this and apply it to my life when I started living on my own. Sure, there were times I ate junk because I could I also wanted to eat the healthy stuff. I knew protein and veggies were good for me and cookies and sugar and McDonald’s wasn’t.

I don’t believe logging meals every day is sustainable, and I feel it can also result in feeling shame. There were times I wouldn’t log something because I felt shame over having eaten something unhealthy. Yeah, let’s just go ahead and agree that’s not a good habit.

So, with all that said, I feel calorie counting can be a beneficial tool when starting to move towards a more healthy lifestyle. In the end, diets don’t work. They don’t. Sorry. “Diet” implies something will be sort term, whereas a healthy lifestyle is something to be maintained for the long run. Once I moved out of my diet mindset and into a sustainable healthy lifestyle, I was able to rid myself of shameful thoughts over food and eating and am consistently able to make better choices regarding what I choose to eat.

I know what 1600 calories of food in a day looks like. I know when I likely go over my calories because I listen to my body. I no longer have a running commentary of how many calories are in item A, B, or C. For someone who doesn’t know what 1600 calories looks like, calorie counting can be a helpful tool, just to establish portion and serving sizes to be used when moving forward with a more healthy lifestyle. This could involve weighing and measuring out food for months, or even a year, but I believe (and this is my opinion, so take it for what it’s worth – not much) in order to truly maintain a healthy lifestyle (I’m talking about more than just the number on the scale here) it’s important to move away from the measuring and weighing. (Now saying that, I always measure my trail mix. Every morning 1/4 cup. Why? Because 1/4 cup isn’t much and trail mix is good, yo!)

The key takeaway (and what I spent a long-ass time trying to get at) is counting calories is not necessarily a bad thing. What is a bad thing is getting caught in the cycle of I can only eat 1200 calories a day  and putting your body into starvation mode and, really, causing potentially irreparable damage to your metabolism.

Whew. That was long-winded and rambley, wasn’t it?

Do you count calories?

What are your thoughts on calorie counting?

How I lighten up my Starbucks

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When I first started my new job in April, what I was most pumped about (aside from, you know, having a job) was that there was a Starbucks in my building.

See, I’m an accountant. Accountants run on Diet Coke and Starbucks. No joke. If I’m at an event where there’s pop (<– Canadian term) I’m making a beeline for the diet stuff. If there’s no diet, you bet people will grumble. (Yes, I know fake sugar is all chemicals and awful and bad for me, but it’s also delicious). Anyway, this post isn’t about diet Coke (which I do try to limit to 1 per week….) it’s about my beloved Starbucks.

Ahhhh. Starbucks.

It’s always easy to pick out the newbies to accounting, they’re the ones who suggest Tim Horton’s for afternoon coffee when it’s 3pm and you know you’ll be stuck at the office until at least 11pm. Me? I’m going for the good stuff. Gimme the Starbucks.

However, there are two problems with Starbucks:

  1. It ain’t cheap, yo.
  2. Calories, calories, calories.

Unfortunately there isn’t a heck of a lot I can do about the cost (except for, you know, not buying the stuff) but I can do my best to reduce the calories. (Oh, and not drinking a sugary drink every day also helps. Now that I’m not working one million hours a day, I keep my Starbucks habit to 1-2 per week max.) (Anyone else wondering how many times I can type “Starbucks” in this post?).

I’ve read a bunch of websites that tell you to just get plain coffee, but, really, that’s not very much fun is it? If I want to treat myself to Starbucks, I’m going to treat myself to Starbucks, thankyouverymuch!

Here’s what I do to reduce the calorie content of my drinks:

  1. I always order a tall, unless it’s an Americano. Espresso drinks with milk and syrups I keep to a tall.
  2. Go with the non-fat milk.
  3. Order the drink half sweet. I’ve never found this makes much of an impact on the taste of the drink – so half sweet it is!
  4. Go sugar free (if that’s your style). I order my drinks half sweet and sugar free if it’s available.
  5. Skip the whip. Sorry. I know. ::sadface:: Or if you’re having an especially rough day, go with light whip, we all need a little whipped cream in our lives every now and then.

What’s your favourite Starbucks drink?

Mine used to be the good old PSL, but I think the salted caramel mocha is my new favourite!

Are you a pain (like me!) when ordering from Starbucks?

How many times did I say/write Starbucks?

Answer: 12

The Thursday Runs: Rest Days

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As shown in my marathon training plan there are numerous types of runs used to prepare for a race. In this series I’m breaking down the types of runs, what they mean and their purpose, and also talking about other important such running things.

Today’s topic is rest days. Surprisingly, these are in specific places in my marathon training plan and are a super important part of the training process.

That said, I struggle with rest days.

rest day

The illogical part of my brain things I’m being lazy because I’m doing nothing when, in reality, I’m allowing my body to heal so I can keep running.

Rest days help to (source):

  • restock glycogen stores
  • build strength
  • reduce fatigue

Taking 1-2 days off each week won’t result in any detraining, so I’m not losing fitness, and I’m certainly not being a lazy bum (although I may feel like it).

I’ve been working on changing my view around rest days, instead of thinking that I’m doing nothing I’m thinking of rest days as something scheduled into my training program as something I am doing to heal. So, instead of doing nothing I’m actually actively healing my body in preparation for the upcoming week.

Sometimes I really struggle with listening to my body and taking rest days. I made the decision to take today as a rest day for a couple of reasons:

  1. My heart rate felt elevated last night (this can be a sign of over training)
  2. I went for a very intense massage last night and I’m a bit sore
  3. I woke up feeling tired and dehydrated this morning

With only 4 more runs until my race, I know I won’t lose any fitness and, 10 days out (there’s that pesky countdown again!) my number one goal should be keeping my body healthy. That means drinking more water (I’ve been struggling with this lately), sleep (some studies recommend sleeping 8-10 hours when training) and eating healthy foods.

Are you a fan of rest days?

Intro

Tempo

Hills

LSD

Speed

Happy Monday

Hello again, friends!

I hope everyone had a wonderful last weekend of summer/first weekend of fall.

My weekend was pretty enjoyable – I can’t say I got up to anything terribly special; I just truly value being able to chill and relax for a few days since I seem to be crazy busy during the week lately.

Friday I actually ended up leaving work a few hours early because I just could not kick my migraine. Pills, Coke, food, nothing helped, so I went home and napped instead. Right before dinner UPS dropped off an awesome collection of books I ordered from Amazon – I dove right into a few of them.

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I think I managed to read until around 8pm and then I crawled into bed. Oh, you’re jealous, I know it!

Saturday is my designated sleep in/errand day, so I headed to visit my favourite chiropractor and then ran a few errands. Number one on my list was buying a mini muffin pan, and wouldn’t you know that all bakeware was 15% off this weekend. Score!

I was feeling pretty blah once I got home, so I decided to toss on my shoes and go for an easy run. I was struggling because I kinda didn’t really run on Wednesday and took Thursday and Friday off, so I was craving some running endorphins. I did an easy 7.5km in about 45 minutes; however, RunKeeper, gave me the weirdest stats ever. I actually ended up deleting the log and manually logging it. If I were actually as fast at RK said, I’d have an Olympic gold medal by now 😉

I also picked up a self-cleaning litter box which Merlin has already approved of. I was sick and tired of having to scoop and carry a bag with cat poop in the elevator daily (for some reason my building doesn’t have a garbage chute – first world problem? Yes. But tell me, do you want to ride in an elevator with cat poop? I thought not) so I did some research and chatted with the peeps at the pet store and made a purchase. There’s a 20 minute delay between doing his business and the scooping and every.single.time it scoops he runs to the litter box to watch, “whatch doin’ to mah poops?”

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Sunday was long run day. I was struggling with a bit of sickness on Saturday, so I wasn’t sure how far I’d make it, but since I do an out and back route, I figured I go half distance and then decide. I did end up cutting my run down to 10 miles instead of 20 miles – I knew it would be best for my body to heal than to be sick all week. I’m planning on making it up on Monday (next Monday!) more so for the mental confidence than the physical fitness.

The rest of Sunday was spent exchanging silicon muffin liners (I picked up a package with 23 instead of 24 liners, whoops!) and then chilling on the couch watching the UFC fight from Saturday. I’m glad I didn’t spend the $60 to rent it. The main event was entertaining, but overall it was a pretty meh card.

I have lots of fun things coming up this week for y’all, first was my run from 10 days ago. I’m also going to talk a bit about budgeting and have some fun internet finds and speedwork (provided I actually do speedwork this week!).

I also have a hair appointment tomorrow and I am sooooo looking forward to it.

Do you have anything fun/exciting planned for this week?

The Thursday Runs: Staying Healthy

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As shown in my marathon training plan there are numerous types of runs used to prepare for a race. In this series I’m breaking down the types of runs, what they mean and their purpose, and also talking about other important such running things.

With 24 days to go until my marathon, making sure I stay healthy and injury free is super duper important! There are a few ways I’ve gone about trying to stay healthy and before talking about speedwork (coming next week!) I wanted to touch on health since speedwork is one of the more common ways injuries happen.

On Sunday I logged my furthest run to-date: 30.8km, or a little over 19 miles. My original plan had me running 30km on Saturday, but I woke up with some aches and pains in my right calf and glute and I knew going for a run would be setting myself up for failure; it was unlikely I’d make it the full distance and I was pretty sure I’d just end up hurting more.

I put in a phone call to my favourite chiropractor and was able to get a same day appointment (hooray) in the hopes I’d be able to run on Sunday without issue (nevermind that I was going out with girlfriends on Saturday evening….). A visit to my chiro and some foam rolling put me in good shape to complete my nearly 31km run on Sunday (just 200m shy!).

Chiropractic

When I’m not heavy in training, I see my chiropractor every 4-6 weeks. I’ve been seeing her for nearly five years – I started when I was having huge issues with my back and work and now my visits have progressed to my running injuries. She’s helped me with IT band issues, tight glutes and shin splints. Now that I’m just three weeks out from my race, I’m seeing her ever other week, or when I need to come in, like this weekend.

Massage Therapy

I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with massage therapy. I love massages (getting my hair done and massages are up there in the top two things I love most in the world) but finding a good massage therapist can be a bit of a challenge. Thankfully I found the most wonderful massage therapist this winter and she’s done amazing work on my back and lower body. I’ve even left with bruises on my butt!

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is something every runner knows they should  do, but often don’t. I’m that person. However, I know that foam rolling may hurt for the 60 seconds I’m rolling, but once I’m done the pain is gone. A few weeks ago I downloaded an app (PEAR Training Ingelligence) that has a 13 minute foam rolling exercise (under the flexibility category), so I’ve started doing that after every run and it’s really helped things. I’ll also use a tennis ball for my feet and glutes.

After a run I’ll also lay on my back with my legs straight up in the air for about 5 minutes to help drain the fluid from my legs.

FitSugar has a short article on foam rolling and some how to’s here.

Ice Baths

Ugh.

Cold.

I really really hate being cold.

There’s some conflicting data on whether ice baths actually do help with muscle recovery; however, I believe if it works for you then it won’t do any harm to continue to use them. I buy a bag of ice on my walk home from my long run (I have a teeny freezer) and dump it into my bathtub after raising my legs and completing my foam rolling workout. I’ll hang out in the tub with a cup of coffee (after refueling!) for 15-20 minutes and then reward myself with a nice hot shower.

Cross-Training

Confession. I suck at cross-training. Heck, I’ve even emailed myself an awesome cross-training workout from Runner’s World and haven’t done it once. Bad, bad, bad.

However, the same app that has the foam rolling workout also has a quick (9 minute!) cross training workout that I’ve started to do after my shorter runs (I do nothing after a long run. Nothing. No thank you, I’m tired). It’s so easy, I have zero excuses to not complete the exercises:

  • 60 second plank
  • 60 seconds pushups
  • 60 seconds leg extensions on stability ball
  • 60 seconds lunges x 2 (1 minute each leg)
  • 60 seconds squats

BOOM. No excuses, right?!

What do you do to stay healthy while training?

Intro

Tempo

Hills

LSD

Steady

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Running and supplements

Disclaimer: This is what I’ve found works for me through trial and error. Read labels before you take anything and talk to your doctor and all that stuff. Basically – don’t be dumb when it comes to supplements.

I’m a pretty big proponent of eating real food in an attempt to get all the nutrients I need from food instead of from a pill.

One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve upped the mileage and intensity of my runs, is that I’ve been feeling fatigued, and I wanted to be able to push myself a bit harder while on my runs.

Enter: supplements.

Some supplements I take for running, and some I take for overall health – and what better way to illustrate what I take when than with a table! 🙂

Daily Short Runs Long Runs
Multi vitamin PM – before bed
Calcium & Magnesium AM – with coffee
Glucosamine & Condroitin Sulfate AM and PM (I forget to bring it to work to take with lunch)
Omega 3-6-9 AM, or when I get home if I forget
Beta-Alanine Yes, with my pre-workout energizer
Vega Pre-workout Energizer Yes Yes
Vega Recovery Accelerator For hills & speed work only (not steady or tempo runs) Yes. Every single time.

 

Multi vitamin

photo (5) My multi isn’t anything fancy or super expensive. I found this at the health food store and wanted one that didn’t contain iron (since it makes me really really sick) but had high levels of vitamins and minerals.

Calcium & Magnesium

photo (6) Again, this isn’t anything fancy, just something I picked up at the health food store that wasn’t terribly expensive. The calcium helps with strong bones, and because I’m running so much, I want to make sure I’m strong and don’t suffer from any stress fractures and the magnesium helps with recovery and muscle soreness after a run. I like feeling like I’ve worked out, but dislike being unable to walk after a workout, so the magnesium is important for me.

Glucosamine & Condroitin Sulfate

photo (4) Glucosamine & Condroitin Sulfate is thought to help with the regeneration of cartilage which helps in keeping joints healthy and functioning. Since running places a lot of stress on my joints, I want to keep them healthy and happy now and when I’m old so I’m not a cripple 🙂

Omega 3-6-9

photo (2) Omega acids are thought to assist with the following:

  • Heart Health
  • Cholesterol Levels Already Within a Healthy Range
  • Joint Mobility and Bone Density
  • Energy and Endurance
  • Skin, Hair and Nail Health
  • Mental Health, Wellness and Acuity
  • Blood Glucose Levels Already Within a Healthy Range
  • Sexual and Hormonal Health

Beta-Alanine

photo (3) This is a relatively new supplement to me. I didn’t know what it was or what it did until I read about it on Hungry Runner Girl. Beta-alanine helps to reduce muscle fatigue (if you want the technical explanation you can read it here). However, one interesting and fun side effect is paresthesia, meaning, I’m scratching my skin like a meth head while running. It’s actually not that bad at all, but I do notice tingling with a dose of only 1tsp. It’s a completely harmless side effect, but it certainly is an interesting side effect of taking it. I’ve also noticed that my muscle fatigue later, so when running super long distance, I’ll take all the help I can get!

Vega Pre-workout Energizer

photo I’ve been taking this for quite a while before all of my runs and I certainly notice a different. What I really like about Vega products is they’re not filled with weird stuff and I don’t feel crazy caffeinated on these. I do notice a difference in my runs when I take the energizer versus when I don’t; it might be all in my head, but I’m okay with it 🙂

Vega Recovery Accelerator

photo (1) For some reason I have a lot of trouble getting on board with the whole “drink chocolate milk” after working out trend. I just…..feel like it’s encouraging people to drink sugar water. I know a 4:1 carb to protein ratio has been show to assist in muscle recovery, for whatever reason, I just don’t buy into the whole chocolate milk thing, and this Vega supplement replaces the chocolate milk thing.

I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my training and energy levels since starting taking my supplements, so I’ll continue taking them.

Do you take supplements?

Do you buy into the drink chocolate milk after working out trend? (I’m probably crazy about this, but I just plain old don’t like, or drink, milk).

The Thursday Runs: Steady

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Before reading any further, head over to this post to fill out my survey and a chance to win a Starbucks gift card!

***

As shown in my marathon training plan there are numerous types of runs used to prepare for a race. In this series I’m breaking down the types of runs, what they mean and their purpose, and also talking about other important such running things.

Full disclosure: I struggle with steady runs. If I’m going to skip a run, it’s going to be a steady run. Bad, I know, but hear me out. As stated in my LSD post, all of my runs have the following hierarchy:

  1. LSD
  2. Tempo/Hills
  3. Speed
  4. Steady

And so, if I’m dropping my runs from 5 to 4 (which I usually do) this means dropping off a steady run.

Before I get into why I’ll drop a steady run, let’s see what our friend John Stanton and the Running Room have to say (Toronto Waterfront Training Program):

Steady run is a run below targeted race pace.

Run at a comfortable speed; if in doubt, go slow. The run is broken down into components of running and walking. Based upon the clinic, the ratio of running to walking will change.

In the 5km and 10km clinics the Running Room now use the run/walk formula (10 — 1) on all runs, which includes regular steady weekday runs. We do not encourage participants to run continuous at these levels but prefer the walk/run approach. In the Marathon and Half Marathon programs walk breaks are optional during the week but not optional on the long run (Sunday), they must be part of the program. They are a great way to keep you consistent in your training.

  • To develop stamina, build strength and pace judgment

  • Improves your confidence

Steady runs build on the pyramid from the LSD post:

runninghouse

steady

(All images from John Stanton’s marathon training program)

Since I’m talking about skipping my steady runs, I want to clarify that it’s not because I think base training in unimportant, it’s actually just the opposite, I’ll skip a steady run in order to rest my body and to prevent injuries.

Everyone has a point at which they’ll start to get injured – some runners struggle with mileage over 20 miles per week, some can run up to 50 miles per week, it really depends on the individual. I’m lucky in that I haven’t felt much in the way of niggles since starting my marathon training, but I have felt tired, so I will always sacrifice a steady run for rest (usually on a Saturday because 10 hours of sleep > 8km run).

For this training program, I really haven’t fussed over pace, I run what’s comfortable and, like John Stanton says, if in doubt, go slow. If my legs feel tired or sluggish, I’ll just run slower. One slow run isn’t going to make or break my marathon.

After writing all this, I skipped hills this week. I ran on Tuesday and I felt good and ran at a good pace, but my stomach just wasn’t feeling it at all. Not even a little bit. I felt off until I went to bed. I had hoped I’d feel better in the morning, but spent all day Wednesday feeling off and debating if I should head home (I stuck it out at work) and knew there was no way I’d be running hills. Not the best, but I also know running when I’m feeling off is only going to set me back.

This week I found an awesome article from Runner’s World that discusses training fatigue and really talks about pace times and how they are not the be-all end-all when it comes to training:

If you’re training by a calculated pace based on a formula or a race you did four weeks ago, you’re likely to over- or under-train, as your body is never in the same place daily. It’s like guessing the winning lottery numbers. The body knows effort not pace. For example, a common mistake I see runners make with long runs is to base them on planned finish time or just bump them up faster than last year’s training pace because the goal is to improve. That’s fine until you start running in your anaerobic zone because of the heat, lack of sleep, or the fact that it’s early in the season, and your fitness doesn’t support the planned pace. You end up struggling to finish or completely wiped out when you do. If you continue on this trend you can accumulate too much stress and end up in a continual state of fatigue, unable to recover from the greater demands of training along the way. One sign that you’ve overdone it is if the fatigue doesn’t subside after a few weeks.

I really, really needed to hear this this week. I’ve been worried about whether my tempo runs were too quick and my long runs too slow, but according to the above, nope! I still fully plan on using my pace chart below as a guide, but knowing that it’s okay for me to listen to my body is awesome.

Last week I did my steady run in 30C (86F) and that is hot for this Canadian! My pace was pretty slow on this one, but based on the above, my pace is good so long as I’m not wiped after. (You’ll note I almost always start out too quickly on my runs, I’m really trying to work on this!)

steady 2

steady 1

Last, but certainly not least – PACE TIMES!

Half Marathon

  1:45 2:00 2:15 2:30 To complete
Tempo/Hills (min/km) 5:00 6:15 6:36 7:17 8:37
Tempo/Hills (min/mile) 8:00 10:00 10:30 11:13 13:52
LSD* (min/km) 5:33-6:16 6:56-7:47 7:19-8:12 8:03-9:00 9:29-10:53
LSD* (min/mile) 8:53-10:02 11:06-12:27 11:42-13:07 12:53-14:24 15:10-17:25
Steady (min/km) 5:33 6:56 7:19 8:03 9:29
Steady (min/mile) 8:53 11:06 11:42 12:53 15:10

*note all LSD times are adjusted for a 10 minute run/1 minute walk interval, so if you’re not doing 10:1 you can adjust your times accordingly

Marathon

  3:45 4:00 4:15 4:30 4:45 5:00
Tempo/Hills (min/km) 5:24 5:44 6:05 6:26 6:47 7:07
Tempo/Hills (min/mile) 8:38 9:10 9:45 10:18 10:51 11:24
LSD* (min/km) 6:00-6:45 6:22-7:11 6:45-7:45 7:08-8:00 7:30-8:25 7:52-8:49
LSD* (min/mile) 9:36-10:48 10:11-11:30 10:48-12:24 11:25-12:48 12:00-13:28 12:35-14:06
Steady (min/km) 6:00 6:22 6:45 7:08 7:30 7:52
Steady (min/mile) 9:36 10:11 10:48 11:25 12:00 12:35

*note all LSD times are adjusted for a 10 minute run/1 minute walk interval, so if you’re not doing 10:1 you can adjust your times accordingly

Intro

Tempo

Hills

LSD

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The Thursday Runs: Long Slow Distance

photo (37)

As shown in my marathon training plan there are numerous types of runs used to prepare for a race. In this series I’m breaking down the types of runs, what they mean and their purpose, and also talking about other important such running things.

Long slow distance shall now be refered to as LSD, and unfortunately, it is not some fun drug us runners do; we’re crazy enough without the drugs. True story.

I both love and loathe tempo and LSD runs equally. I love tempo runs because they’re over quickly and but they’re haaaard (TWSS); I love LSD runs because I can go out and take my time and run slowly, but they take freaking forever to complete.

From John Stanton and the Running Room (Toronto Waterfront Training Program):

Long Slow Distance runs are the corner-stone of any distance training program

  • Take a full minute to walk for every 10 minutes of running
  • These runs are meant to be done much slower than race pace so don’t be overly concerned with your pace
  • To increase capillary network in your body and raise anaerobic threshold
  • Mentally prepares you for long races

The Pace shown on the LSD Run/Walk day includes the walk time. It is walk adjusted!

  • This program provides an upper end (slow) and bottom end (fast) pace to use as a guideline
  • The upper end pace is preferable as it will keep you injury free. Running at the bottom end pace is a common mistake many runners make. They try to run at the maximum pace which is an open invitation to injury.
  • I know of very few runners who have been injured from running too slow but loads of runners who incurred injuries by running too fast
  • In the early stages of the program it is very easy to run the long runs too fast, but like the marathon or half marathon, the long runs require discipline and patience

“Practice your sense of pace by slowing the long runs down. You will recover faster and remain injury free.”
John Stanton

Contrary to what one might think, the vast majority of runs should be done at a slower pace, with only a few runs truly stressing the body.

runninghouse

I also should have included these types of runs in my intro post, but I didn’t, so I’m showing them now.

running actions

running actions 02

(All images from John Stanton’s marathon training program)

My personal running hierarchy (that determines if I will skip a run) is as follows:

  1. LSD
  2. Tempo/Hills
  3. Speed
  4. Steady

So, if I’m skipping a run, I do my very best to make sure it is not an LSD run. Where I am in my training, this means I’m up early on a Sunday to run for 3-4 hours before I plant my arse on the couch for the remainder of the day. Hey, no one said training for a marathon was going to be easy!

LSD’s also take the most amount of preparation when it comes to fueling and hydrating. I very rarely bring water on my weekday runs (I will for hills because I’m out there for over an hour) and I never bring gels for any run an hour or under; however, water and gels come along with me for my long runs. My personal rule is one gel for every hour or so of exercise, so once I hit 30km training runs, this means 3 gels are coming along for the ride, and for the marathon? Probably four. I’m gonna need some more pockets for all these gels.

For the past two weekends I’ve aimed to complete a 30km run, the first weekend I only ran 15km (ha! “only”) and this past weekend I ran 19km. It appears there’s a section of trail where the camber is such that my left ankle gets pretty cranky. It happened twice on the same section of trail, so next weekend I’ll be turning around before that section and I’ll be taping my ankle in advance.

LSD 2 LSD 1

Seeing as I’m a bit behind on my long runs, I’ll be modifying my marathon training plan as follows:

  • September 7/8 (it’s supposed to rain on Sunday, so I might move my run to Saturday): 30km
  • September 14: 32km
  • September 21: 25km
  • September 30: 32km
  • October 6: 6km (taper LOL!)
  • October 13: 42.2km. YIKES!

And? PACE TIMES 🙂

Half Marathon

  1:45 2:00 2:15 2:30 To complete
Tempo/Hills (min/km) 5:00 6:15 6:36 7:17 8:37
Tempo/Hills (min/mile) 8:00 10:00 10:30 11:13 13:52
LSD* (min/km) 5:33-6:16 6:56-7:47 7:19-8:12 8:03-9:00 9:29-10:53
LSD* (min/mile) 8:53-10:02 11:06-12:27 11:42-13:07 12:53-14:24 15:10-17:25

*note all LSD times are adjusted for a 10 minute run/1 minute walk interval, so if you’re not doing 10:1 you can adjust your times accordingly

Marathon

  3:45 4:00 4:15 4:30 4:45 5:00
Tempo/Hills (min/km) 5:24 5:44 6:05 6:26 6:47 7:07
Tempo/Hills (min/mile) 8:38 9:10 9:45 10:18 10:51 11:24
LSD* (min/km) 6:00-6:45 6:22-7:11 6:45-7:45 7:08-8:00 7:30-8:25 7:52-8:49
LSD* (min/mile) 9:36-10:48 10:11-11:30 10:48-12:24 11:25-12:48 12:00-13:28 12:35-14:06

*note all LSD times are adjusted for a 10 minute run/1 minute walk interval, so if you’re not doing 10:1 you can adjust your times accordingly

Intro

Tempo

Hills

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