What To Know About Training For Your First Marathon

“Any idiot can run but it takes a special kind of idiot to run a marathon.”

When it comes to working out, running, eating healthy – all of it – I tell it like it is. Sure, I always try to see the upside of things but I don’t shy away from the struggles and “suckfests” that come with living a healthy lifestyle.

Sometimes, this is how I feel about running.

Sometimes, this is how I feel about running.

In the past, I’ve blogged about the less-than-glamorous side of running and have been open to all the quirks and crap that can come with being a runner. Let’s face it, running, while great for the body, mind and soul, isn’t all rainbows, unicorns and smiling selfies. There are plenty of awful moments that come with it.

I think people need to know both the good and bad. No one deserves to be blindsided. It’s like, I hope people tell me the real, ugly truth about being pregnant and having a baby, not all the happy bullshit of “It’s such a miracle.” “Pregnant women glow.” “Childbirth is an amazing experience.” Oh please (insert eye roll). Can I get a #cmonman?!

So I’d like to talk a bit about the truth of training for your first marathon (much of this applies to those of you training for your first half marathon too so please read on). Those who have decided this is the year they’ll run their first full or half, that’s awesome. Whether the race is this spring, summer or fall, there’s plenty of time to make that goal a reality.

You already know you’re going to have to commit a lot of time and energy to running, that’s a given. But there’s a lot more that goes into preparing for a run of this caliber.

The Sacrifice Goes Beyond the Miles
The comments I most often hear from non-marathoners are always related to the mileage. From the, “You did a 16 mile run today?” on a Saturday afternoon to the, “I can’t even run a mile without stopping,” when you log a typical Tuesday night 10k. And my favorite, the disgusted, often horrified looks when they find out a marathon is 26.2 miles.

Yes, running a long way without stopping is obviously a huge part of full or half marathon training. But there’s more to training than just covering a lot of miles in one run. The commitment and sacrifice that enables one to do that is much larger.

Get to know these - you'll be spending a lot of time together.

Get to know these – you’ll be spending a lot of time together.

I’ve had to forgo Friday nights out on the town for girls’ nights, birthday parties or random acts of fun. I regularly miss out on post-work happy hours. I’ve had to skip weekend trips out of town to see friends or family. And it always sucks to have to tell people why. Most don’t understand why I’m making the choice, and it’s the worst when they feel like it’s personal to them, like I’m not going because I don’t want to hang out with them. I get it, I wouldn’t understand either.

The simple truth is, if you want to succeed in a goal of this size, running has to be your first priority. Making sure you get in the weekend long run and log all your weekly miles, plus any speedwork, hill training or other specialty running – it can be frustrating and exhausting. But when it boils down to it, it’s just a sacrifice that one has to be willing to make.

It’s Not Just About You
Speaking of the sacrifice, it doesn’t all fall on you. Yes, there’s a lot of personal investment in training for a full or half marathon – unless you have a running coach constantly with you, no one is going to force you out of bed for early runs or make you head straight to the gym after work to hit the treadmill. But others feel the effects of your quest more than you think, especially if you have a significant other and/or children. I blogged about this last year in an effort to recognize and thank my manfriend for putting up with all the crap that goes with my personal goal.

Here are a few of the fun (actually, not fun) examples others have to deal with:
• You’re frequently tired and ready for bed by 9, even on weekends – not fun for others.
• You’re always hungry or, worse, hangry – really not fun for others.
• Your top priority and main focus in life becomes running – definitely not fun for others.
• Rest and nutrition are extremely important so social commitments often have to go by the wayside – obviously, not fun for others.

And, probably the hardest thing others have to deal with is seeing you on the bad days. When you have an awful run, when your knees hurt, when you’re ready to throw in the towel – it’s tough for us, imagine how hard it is for someone you love to see that.



Your Appetite Will Astonish You – And Controlling It Is Hard
Did I mention you’re always hungry? It’s amazing how much food runners can put down to begin with and add all the extra calorie burn, suddenly your appetite rivals that of an NFL lineman. You feel like a bottomless pit, you rarely get full and, even if you do, it passes quickly. During the height of training, it’s not a terrible thing if you can reign it in to a reasonable amount – but that’s so much harder than it sounds (you’ve heard of people who actually gain weight training for a marathon? It’s true and this is why). The worst part comes post-marathon when you’re no longer burning all the calories but your appetite hasn’t yet reset to non-marathon status. Let me tell you a little story to illustrate.

One summer, a friend and I went out for breakfast a couple weeks after we had both run a marathon. When I casually ordered the French toast platter AND an eggs and hashbrowns combo meal, and he proceeded to order two items as well, the waitress looked at us like we were messing with her. We both assured her we wanted two breakfasts and, more importantly, we would finish all the food. Her look then turned to disgust, primarily towards me, the smaller and female offender in this ridiculous display of excess. The food arrived with a smirk; I’m sure she was thinking to herself there was no way in hell we’d finish it all. Well, we did. And it was glorious. And I think she judged us worse for it than if we wouldn’t have finished. Our photos are probably hanging up in the kitchen like common criminals in the post office.

So yeah, you’re gonna eat a lot.

You Will Question Yourself More Than You Ever Have
If you feel you’re a mentally strong person, that’s good – keep that as long as you can! Because there will be plenty of times during training where you’ll feel defeated and like you can’t go on; where you think you should just give up because you’re going to fail anyway. The good news is, these moments typically pass quickly, although there will be at least one run that is so awful, so unbearable, so out-of-the-norm that it makes you break down and cry (I’ve blogged about this before but it’s worth repeating because it will happen). Whether your speed isn’t there, you feel like you can’t finish the last five miles or your brain has finally woken up and realized this crazy thing you’re doing, there will be plenty of moments that shatter even the most confident person.
That’s just some of the ugly stuff, the mental stuff, that I think a person should be aware of when they decide to make this kind of commitment. So why do people do this? I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t worth it. It totally is.

There’s no greater feeling than finishing a tough run or crossing the finish line of your first marathon. It’s empowering. It’s the kind of rush you can’t get unless you actually do it. It can be tough to endure weeks and months of hardship for just the one moment but don’t forget: Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.

Do you have any horrific stories to share about training for your first marathon? It’s best to get them all out there so please comment with yours!

Those of you training for your first race, shoot me any questions you have on Twitter @runlikeagirl311.

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Why You Should Be Keeping a Food and Exercise Journal

“There’s something about the ability to write about how you’re feeling and look back on it, especially when you thought you’d never get through it.”

I love to write. Whether it’s pounding the keyboard on my computer or journaling with a good old pen and paper, there’s something very therapeutic to me about getting my thoughts out of my head (it gets crowded in there) and onto paper. It’s also a great strategy for maintaining health and fitness goals.

There’s something incredibly simple yet incredibly powerful about journaling your exercise and food.

My exercise journal: variety, hard work - even rest days!

My exercise journal: variety, hard work – even rest days!

In terms of exercise, it’s great to track progress, plus it’s really rewarding to see all the workouts add up and get a visual of how much you’ve been doing. Flip side, it’s a wake-up call if the journal looks really bare.

As for food, it can create awareness of exactly how much and how many calories you’re eating (as much as I try to convince myself otherwise, “fun-size” candy bars DO have calories and they DO add up). It helps you identify where you have weak spots (maybe you’re like me and always get hungry around 9 p.m.) so you can be prepared and plan. It also gives you accountability, (knowing you have to write down that extra cookie might make you reconsider if you really need it).

In that same breath I will caution that, like anything, there’s a fine line between conscious and obsessed. You can see how easy it is to become too wrapped up in journaling, especially on the food side. You might catch yourself always thinking about every little bite, every single calorie. Worse than that, you might become “THAT” person.

You know, “THAT” guy at happy hour who points out how many calories are in the spinach artichoke dip. Buzzkill. Or “THAT” girl at the 4th of July barbecue who keeps groaning she can’t believe she ate a brownie and drank two beers…and won’t shut up about every additional thing she consumes. Annoying. I’ve been around “THAT” person and, trust me, you don’t want to become him/her. You’ll drive everyone nuts and ruin their good time. Double fault.

But it can happen on the exercise side, too. You may find yourself thinking, “Just 10 more minutes on the Stairmaster,” or “Just one more set of squats.” Again, not the point.

Becoming obsessive with what you eat and every workout isn’t the goal here. The goal is to eliminate mindless eating and make sure you’re eating enough of the right foods. It’s to  figure out your own eating patterns and set yourself up for success as much as possible. The goal is to help plan balanced workouts and stay on top of strength goals. It’s to keep track of mileage and make sure skipping leg day “just this once” doesn’t become too-frequent an occurrence. And it’s to prove treats and rest day are good things and should always be included – if they’re missing from your journals, you’ve got some “work” to do!

Do you keep track of your food and/or exercise? What benefits have you realized from keeping a food or exercise journal? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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A Few of My Favorite Things – Leg Workouts

“You make me feel weak in the knees. Just kidding, yesterday was leg day.”

It’s Valentine’s Day and this is a blog about leg day. I couldn’t resist the above quote to kick it off.

Speaking of all things love, I love leg day. Especially the past few months, as I’ve been preparing for marathon season and a new strategy to build speed, I’ve really been pushing my leg workouts. I used to keep them pretty light and basic, and rely on running to keep my legs strong. In fact, I would regularly skip leg day while training for races and focus my energy on different types of distance and speed work.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that. Me, the person who loves and preaches lifting! But it’s amazing how much the mind can shift from a mentality of “lifting, cardio” to “miles, speedwork, MORE MILES!” when a big race is coming. I think any runner can relate. Not to mention the amount of energy it takes to keep up with all those daily and weekly mileage goals, often there’s not much left over to devote an hour to a good leg session. Plus, the fact there’s no room in the schedule to miss a run due to post-leg day soreness.

But I’ve become more and more addicted to leg day and it’s showing through in my runs, proving it’s something I have to work into my weekly training schedule. Rather than try to fit in a weekly 50-60 minute dedicated leg session, my strategy has been to shoot for one 30ish minute leg workout each week. Thus far, that strategy has been going well! So I’m excited to share some of my favorite leg day exercises. Putting all of these together, it would easily take more than an hour to complete so I’ve been picking a few exercises from each category to get a solid workout in just 30 minutes.

Those of you looking to mix it up or who aren’t sure where to start with a leg workout, do the same! Choose a few and it won’t take long to get in a solid lower body workout. I especially like this option vs. pre-built workout routines you have to follow exactly as they are – Day 2 & 5, these exercises, in this order, yada, yada, yada. Next week, it’s Day 3, 5 & 7, now these workouts, with these weights, blah, blah, blah. It’s hard enough getting people motivated to work out, let’s not complicate the workout to make it less enticing. So choose what you’re feeling (or what’s available at the crowded gym) and go! Just start with the heaviest weights and biggest muscle groups, and work you way down.

Disclaimer: Please excuse the simplicity and poor lighting of the demo photos. I’m uncomfortable taking gym selfies (and I judge people who do it for the sake of their own vanity) so I had Chris take these in our basement with his phone – which is also why there are no bars, weights or equipment, but I think you’ll get the idea.

The foundation of any lifting program is typically squats. Obviously, they’re awesome for your butt and legs, but did you know squats are among the best ab workouts too? Think about it: You have to keep your body perfectly stabilized and engage your core the entire time.

Just as with real estate it’s location, location, location, the key with squats is form, form, form! Good form is essential for getting the most out of your squat but, more importantly, to avoid injuries. Engage your core and imagine you’re about to sit down in a chair. That’s how you should squat. Stick out your butt, keep your chin and chest up, and don’t let your knees cave into each other.

1. Standard Back Squats
Load up a bar or grab a couple dumbbells and you’re ready to go. Keeping good form, lower into a squat, pause, then pop back up.

Dumbbell Squat Step 1 and Step 2

Dumbbell Squat – Step 1 and Step 2

2. Dumbbell Squats
Grab a set of dumbbells, a little lighter than what you’d choose for a shoulder press, a bit heavier than what you’d choose for curls. Using an overhand grip, balance the weights on your shoulders, elbows out and perpendicular to the floor. Perform a standard squat, keeping your elbows stabilized.

3. Pulsing Kick Squats
A form of a goblet squat, these add a little extra “kick” for your inner thighs. Grab a dumbbell and hold it at your chest. Lower into a squat but rather than pop back up, pulse it for two beats, then explode up with all your weight shifted to your right leg, kicking your left leg out to the side, punching with your left arm. Come back to the start. Do your reps, then switch sides.

Another staple in most exercise plans, lunges are obviously good for your legs, but offer additional benefits. They’re great for balance, strengthen your hip flexors (crucial for runners) and some types are a functional exercise (i.e. walking lunges) that give you more bang for your buck.

As for form, it’s pretty basic. Keep your chin and chest up, and don’t let your front knee get past your front toe. When doing static lunges, approach them in a “train tracks” stance, meaning allow some room between your feet, don’t try to place your back foot directly behind your lead foot.

1. Standard Lunges
Again, load up the bar or grab some dumbbells and you’re set. Keeping good form, lower into a lunge, pause, then pop back up. Repeat for both sides.

2. Walking Lunges
That whole idea of a functional exercise? Here it is. Grab that loaded-up bar or some dumbbells. Step forward, drop into a lunge, then push up and end with your feet together. Alternate sides.

Curtsey Lunge - Step 1 & Step 2

Curtsey Lunge – Step 1 & Step 2

3. Curtsey Lunges
Stand feet hip-width apart, dumbbells at your sides. Keep right foot planted, swing your left foot behind you and lower into a “curtsey” motion, keeping your arms stabilized at your sides and your back straight. Pop back up and step back to starting position. Repeat for all your reps, then switch sides.

Ask any expert in the fitness world for his or her top three exercises, you’re likely to hear deadlifts on that list. These are among the best strength builders for your lower body but they offer some upper body benefits too. Plus, they’re a real-life exercise – what does that mean? Well, remember in school, when knew you needed to learn trigonometry but were unsure of when you’d actually use it in real life? The deadlift is the exact opposite of that. You’ll use that strength and motion all the time in real life – think lifting boxes, groceries, even your children.

There are a couple variations you can do; some add a little more focus to your lower back and balance.

1. Standard Deadlifts
Grab a bar or dumbbells and grab with an over or underhand grip, whichever is more comfortable (I prefer overhand, as it helps me keep my knees stabilized and from caving in). Keep a slight bend in your back, bend at your knees until the weights touch the ground. Then, pop back up.

2. Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
Don’t take the name too literally, you should have a slight bend in your knees when performing this exercise. Grab a bar or dumbbells; again, you can choose an over or underhand grip. Bend at the waist, keeping the weight very close to your legs. Slowly lower to at least your mid-shins or all the way to the floor, then pop back up.

Single Leg Deadlifts - Step 1 & Step 2

Single Leg Deadlifts – Step 1 & Step 2

3. Single-Leg Deadlifts
This variation of deadlift takes a lot of balance. You might want to start with no weights or just one weight until you get the motion and balance down. Hold a weigh in each hand. Place all your body weight on your right foot. Bending at the waist, lower the weights to the ground, while keeping your left leg straight. When your hands are at the ground, your back leg should be straight out. Pop back up, yet don’t let your left leg fully touch the ground unless you need a balance check.

Box Step-Ups
This is one exercise where the motion is the same, it’s the equipment that can vary. One, you can vary the height of the box you choose. Two, the weight source and placement can vary. You can place a bar on your back, hold a dumbbell at each side or forgo weight entirely. Simply step one foot on the box and, in a controlled motion, swing your opposite knee up. Swing that leg back and step to the ground, then step down with the other. Switch your starting foot and do it again.

Donkey Kicks
The donkey kick is a great booty-builder. There are a few different ways these can be done; the motion is the same so choose the one that fits your abilities and equipment availability (or lack thereof).

1. On the Dedicated Machine
Most gyms will have a machine that’s designed for donkey kicks. Choose your weight, grip the handles and don’t let your back sink in while performing the kick.

2. On the Smith Machine
In general, I’m not a big fan of workout machines, the Smith Machine included. For squats, shoulder presses or anything really, I feel you lose out on the added challenge of maintaining the stability you’re forced to have with free weights. But there are exceptions to every rule, donkey kicks is one of those exceptions. This is a great machine that allows you to load up the weight and be able to safely support it with one foot. Grab a mat and assume a cat-cow yoga pose with a flat back. Position your foot directly underneath the bar, then kick it up and slowly lower it back down.

3. On a Mat
Similar to the position and motion of a Smith Machine, but without the machine. You can do this at home a resistance band or something light weight. If you don’t have a band or weights at home, find something. I once read an article about a former anorexic who couldn’t lift even a 5-pound dumbbell at the gym so she started out by curling cans of soup – trust me, you can find something.

As you see, there’s nothing cutting-edge, complex or fancy here – squats, lunges, deadlifts, those are among the most common workouts and they have been around forever. But that’s because they’re so effective! Plus, you can do a ton of variations of each.

These are just a few of my favorites – what are yours? I’d love to know what you’re doing and I’m always looking to add new options to my leg day workouts! Post a comment or Tweet me, @runlikeagirl311.

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A Few of My Favorite Things – Interval Running Workouts

“Anyone who says a minute goes by fast has never been on a treadmill”

By this time of year, I think we can all agree spring can’t come soon enough. I love winter and snow and running in the cold but I’m definitely ready for longer days and warmer temps. In Fargo, we’ve actually been very fortunate that the winter has been pretty mild so I have gotten outside for all of my long runs and a few training runs already this winter.

But the majority of my time is spent on the treadmill. I can usually hang in there and make it through my treadmill runs without going nuts but I’m not immune to some treadmill boredom. That’s one reason I love intervals.

A couple years ago, I started running for speed. It was around this time I came up with Lindsay Intervals, which I blogged about a couple weeks ago. Another of my favorite interval runs is incline intervals.

There aren’t a lot of hills in Fargo (shocking!) so I’ve been incorporating incline work into my weekly training runs. As I was heading into the final mile of today’s 10-mile run outside, I came to an overpass – one of the only sources of incline in Fargo. I was noticeably fatigued after I made it up and it made me think about how crucial my incline treadmill days are. I’m certainly not training for surprise hills along the Fargo Marathon course but there are a few slight incline spots along the way. Plus, it’s just an area that I need to work on to be a more well-rounded runner.

Below is another interval workout that can be customized to every speed ability and fitness level. It’s a great option for treadmill walkers too who are looking to pump up the intensity of workouts but perhaps aren’t interested in running. It’s a similar idea to the concept of Lindsay Intervals but not quite as intense on the recovery portion.

As I did when I blogged about Lindsay Intervals, I’m going to use my base or “comfort” pace of 7.6 MPH in order to illustrate this workout clearly. I’m also including basic time/mileage goals to help give an idea of how to customize for your pace.

Warm-Up and Pre-Interval Portion
• Set the incline on the treadmill to 0.5
• After loosening up with a short walk (1-5 mins) begin running at your comfort pace
• Run at least 5 minutes at this pace (or more, depending on your total goal mileage/time) and this incline
*Try to maintain this pace throughout the intervals (though you can drop it when you start getting up to higher inclines, if needed)

Interval Portion
*18 mins/approx. 2+ miles for this example

If the hills don't exist where you live, bring the hills to you.

If the hills don’t exist where you live, bring the hills to you.

1 min at 1.0 incline
2 mins back to 0.5 incline
1 min at 1.5 incline
2 mins back to 1.0 incline
1 min at 2.0 incline
2 mins back to 1.0 incline
1 min at 2.5 incline
2 mins back to 1.5 incline
1 min at 3.0 incline
2 mins back to 1.5 incline
1 min at 3.5 incline
2 mins back to 1.5 incline

Post-Interval and Cool-Down Portion
• At least 1 min back at 0.5 incline (or more, depending on your total goal/mileage time)
• Gradual reducing of speed to a walk

How many of you beat treadmill boredom with intervals? Do you have other good ones to share? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311. If you try this workout, let me know how it goes!

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What It Means To Me To Run Like A Girl

“I’m not fast ‘for a girl’. I’m just fast.”

I like many of you, took notice of Always’ #LikeAGirl ad during the Super Bowl. And naturally, there was no way I wasn’t going to write about what #LikeAGirl means to me – um, look at the title of my blog. But the meaning behind my blog is quite different than what the title may imply, especially after what transpired in last night’s commercial.

My intention when starting this blog and naming it was never to send any sort of underlying message. It’s not about “girl power” nor is it written strictly for a female audience or to leave out the male population. I have plenty of dudes who follow and read my blog, and the articles are relevant to both guys and gals.

The reason I started this blog was two-fold. First, and most selfishly I admit, it’s a great outlet for me. I love to write, I have ever since I was a small child. I have tons going on inside my head and it’s great therapy to unload it all in this space. Second, it’s honest. It’s stories about health and fitness, about running and weight lifting, about random things I choose to discuss at my liking. Gross, offensive, bizarre, funny, relatable – sometimes, all yes. But however you’d choose to describe it, I would hope you’d say it’s nothing if not very honest and simple. And as my “tagline” states, “I’m a girl. So I run like one.” Yep, that’s really all I mean by it.

You see, in my life, I’ve never felt like being a girl held me back from anything or meant that I did something half-assed or not as good as a guy. And guess who gets much of the credit for teaching me that throughout the years? The wonderful men I have in my life.

My "bonus" dad congratulating me after finishing my first Olympic triathlon.

My “bonus” dad congratulating me after finishing my first Olympic triathlon.

From my dad and “bonus” dad (stepdad) who have encouraged me since my days as a high school athlete to every race and triathlon I’ve competed in as an adult, to my five brothers (yep, you read that right – five) who taught me at a very young age that I could swing a baseball bat and serve time in the penalty box. Then there’s my BFF Erick who doesn’t judge me for mowing through four pieces of dessert pizza when we hit the buffet – actually, he encourages it. Then gives me a high-five after. And of course, my manfriend, Chris, who supports my need to run marathons, watches my form on leg day and restocks my supply of Quest bars.

Maybe I’ve been lucky to have supportive guys in my life, those who would never downplay my abilities or achievements because I’m a girl. I’ve never had to justify anything, like my speed in the quote above. And I should also note that my intention of staring this blog was never to inspire other girls to believe they too can run, lift or do anything #LikeAGuy or that’s “okay” for guys to do. But I guess if that’s what happens, that’s awesome.

Now I remind you that doing anything #LikeAGirl doesn’t equal a negative. I’m a girl. I run like one. And I’m damn proud of it. So what does it mean to me to run or do anything athletic #LikeAGirl? It means going from a less-than-healthy, slightly pudgy, unfit 20-something to a runner. A health and fitness nut. A person who looks forward to lifting days. It means running a 3:39 marathon. It means having no fear of the weight room, squat racks or cables, or worrying about how I look when lifting. It means finishing a local 10k in the top 10 (males and females). It means playing first base because I can do the splits, a handy skill to have when stretching way out to make a close play. It means growing to love running as more than just a way to stay fit, and also looking at it as stress relief, therapy and a way to balance out a mild Cheez-It addiction.

That’s just my story. What’s yours? What does it mean to you to run or do anything #LikeAGirl? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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The Season of Marathon Training – It’s Back!

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for”

I interrupt my Favorite Things blog series to bring you this special notification – Marathon Season has begun! Today marks the official start to my marathon training program and, although the big day isn’t until May 9, I’m so nerdily excited to get to it and start working towards my best race to date. So excited, in fact, I couldn’t wait to bundle up and get outside to hit the pavement for my 7.5 miles – never mind it was 10 degrees with 20+ mile wind gusts.

Thank you, North Face. Couldn't have made it thru this one without you!

Thank you, North Face. Couldn’t have made it thru this one without you!

Yes, Mother Nature welcomed me back to Marathon Season in her typical January fashion. Despite the chill, eyelash icicles and brutal wind, I had a really great run. It was sunny, no ice or snowbanks to fight and I layered up really well.
(Side note: I have no affiliation with or obligation to North Face – the company doesn’t give me free products, discounts or pay for my race entries (though I would love any of that!) – but I have to give major props to the company for designing killer running gear. North Dakota gets some pretty brutal winter weather, today is a shining example of that, and that wind would have been miserable without my beloved wind-resistant jacket.) Sorry, back to running.

What also made my run enjoyable was the fact I was able to jump right in and knock out the mileage pretty easily. Although today was the official start to my program, I never really stop running throughout the rest of the year. It’s crucial to my weight and stress management, plus I genuinely enjoy it. And, I’ve found it’s really easy to fall out of running. I’ve worked so hard on my speed and endurance over the years, I hate to see all the work go to waste. I can’t imagine having to start all that work over with every new race season.

As such, I kind of have this unspoken rule that I always want to be in good enough shape to run a 10k – not necessarily race it but at least run it and complete it without feeling like I may pass out. Even if I don’t have a specific race I’m training for, I still keep that in my mind as a goal. Something to keep me motivated til the next race comes along. And when that time does come, I’m always so thankful that I’ve kept up the hard work so I don’t feel like I’m starting all over.

And now, here we are. Back to Marathon Season. It seems not that long ago I was writing about the post-marathon blues, now it’s already time for Saturday morning long runs and Friday rest days. For my amount of laundry to double, thanks to all the cold-weather layers. For the return of my daily struggle of trying not to eat copious amounts of food and my inevitable caving and eating copious amounts of food. For sleeping in compression socks. Ah, feels so good to be back!

What goals are you working towards right now, what’s motivating you? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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A Few Of My Favorite Things – The Beverages

“Drink up”

With as many food choices as we have, and how often we hear about eating well, eating clean and eating for nutrition, it can forgotten that what we drink is just as important.

A specialty coffee drink can have half a day’s worth of calories.
Fruit juices have a ton of added sugar.
A popular brand of soda can be used to clean a carburetor.

Sound familiar? Just like with food, there are beverage choices one can make that offer benefits and those that don’t make the cut.

No matter if you’re an athlete, a couch potato or somewhere in between, my five favorite beverages are good choices for all.

The most important beverage you can put in your body is water. In addition to staying hydrated for improved athletic performance, water has added benefits including burning extra calories (if you drink it really cold), keeping your skin hydrated and healthy-looking, and preventing headaches. I firmly believe you can’t drink too much so fill up a bottle, keep it with you and stay hydrated all day. If you like, add a little flavor with Crystal Light or similar options that are low in calories.

Lindsay runs on Dunkin.

Lindsay runs on Dunkin.

In addition to it being part of a morning ritual for many, coffee has quite a few proven health benefits. It has been shown to lower risk of certain diseases, like type II diabetes. Coffee beans are also packed with antioxidants and nutrients. That being said, keep your intake in moderation. A small amount of caffeine is good for boosting metabolism and athletic performance but too much will leave you feeling shaky and can lead to an energy crash. Also, avoid the caloric nightmare that comes with fancy, supped-up coffee shop delights. Stick to black coffee (just 2 calories a cup) or, if you must add flavoring, limit yourself to a tbsp. of a sugar-free variety.

Milk (Regular or Chocolate)
Protein for recovery, calcium for healthy bones. Milk is a no-brainer for athletes and non-athletes alike. Whenever possible, choose low fat and calcium fortified options. For those who don’t do well with dairy, soy varieties are great as well.

Green Tea
Antioxidants found in green tea extract have been shown to have a ton of benefits. They increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel and may prevent certain types of cancer. Also, green tea is hydrating and provides a little bit of caffeine that can help raise metabolism.

A nice day, kickball with friends & a beer from a local brewery - awesome.

A nice day, kickball with friends & a beer from a local brewery – awesome.

Beer and/or Wine
I typically avoid drinking my calories but this is where I make an exception. Sometimes, it’s really nice to enjoy a cold beer or glass (okay, sometimes more) of wine. If you like either, or both, there’s no reason you should feel like you can’t have them. Why? Why not! You’re human. You work hard. Because, like anything else, they’re fine to enjoy in moderation. True, alcohol is often forbidden from most “diet” plans thanks to its dehydration properties, empty calories and tendency to lead to overeating. But as long as you’re not overdoing it, don’t feel this needs to be cut out from your lifestyle. You can always choose a light or ultra-light beer to keep calories in check. Going with red instead of white or fruity wine packs in some healthy antioxidants. Raise your glass & don’t feel like you can’t join your friends for happy hour once in awhile!

What’s usually found in your glass? Post a comment or Tweet me, @runlikeagirl311.

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