Tag Archives: Marathon Training

A Banana-Free Protein Smoothie!

I know I’m in the minority, but I hate bananas… and they’re everywhere. In cookies! Muffins! Smoothies! After races! I can’t escape them. I know they’re good for me and believe me, I’ve tried to like them. But I just can’t do it. My mom jokes that she must have fed me too many when I was little, and that’s why I don’t like them anymore. I’ll take her word for it and accept the reasoning, since I have no recollection of ever enjoying a banana. Just the thought of them puts a bad taste in my mouth!

I should also note I took to Twitter to ask whether or not you liked bananas and the responses were hilarious. Below are two of my favorites. And yes, the two favorites are proponents of bananas – go figure!

bananas

But enough about bananas – this post is about how you can make a delicious protein-rich smoothie without them! When searching for smoothie recipes, I’ve found most of them include a banana – usually frozen – added for texture. I was never really sure what to use to replace the banana, so instead of trying I completely skipped attempting to make smoothies at home. I remember trying to make a “green monster” a few years ago with frozen spinach and a crappy blender, and it was gross. I begrudgingly gulped it down, spinach mush and all, because I thought I was supposed to like it. I’ve since come to my senses and no longer try to like things just because they’re “cool.”

I like to think that I maintain a mostly well balanced diet, but I know there is always room for improvement. And since marathon training is about to start, I know that my diet is even more important; I need to make sure I’m getting enough calories from the right kinds of foods. That isn’t to say I’m going to stop ordering a side of waffle fries with my breakfast egg skillet that includes potatoes at the diner after a long run (yes, I did that on Sunday), but I need to make sure that aside from those moments of pure gluttony, I’m maintaining a well balanced diet. If there’s anything I’m learning as I get more and more into running – which is an entire post for another day – is that that there is more to it than just running.

Since I want to maximize my nutrition, when I realized I had a big bag of spinach in my fridge, I started to think about how I could use it in a smoothie. Like I said, the first (and only) time I made a smoothie using greens resulted in something I could barely drink. After a few minutes of looking through my pantry, I decided I’d throw a few things in the blender and hope for the best. Thankfully, it turned out really well! It’s funny how limited I felt by not liking bananas when it came to smoothies, when the reality is that there are endless possibilities. I’m looking forward to trying different combinations!

Vanilla Peanut Butter Spinach Smoothie | FoodosaurusRex.com

 

Vanilla Peanut Butter Spinach Smoothie
– makes one smoothie –

Ingredients:
12 oz. Vanilla flavored non-dairy milk (I used coconut-almond)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Plant Fusion vanilla bean)
1 Tbsp Peanut Butter (I used Earth Balance’s coconut peanut butter)
2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender
2. Blend until smooth
*feel free to add some ice cubes to the blender, or just drop them into the smoothie once it’s all blended together

Tell me…
Do you like bananas? 
Have a favorite (banana-free) smoothie recipe you’d like to share?

11 Comments

Filed under Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Race Recap: Firecracker 4 Miler

When I started running 5 years ago in the late Spring of 2009, I decided that my first attempt at a race would be the Cranford Jaycees Firecracker 4 miler. I was nervous, ran in a pair of three-year-old Nike Shox sneakers and a cotton t-shirt, but made it to the finish line in 36:26. By that point I was hooked on running, and wanted to make this race a yearly tradition… and on Friday I ran my 6th Firecracker 4 miler!

Who doesn't love a dark, cotton t-shirt for a 4th of July race?!

My first race! Who doesn’t love a dark, cotton t-shirt for a 4th of July race?!

It works out that this is the only four mile race that I do each year, so it’s a great way for me to see the progress I’ve made from year to year. When I signed up for the race this year, I was excited to see what I was capable of, especially after a big half marathon PR and my recent attempt at the mile. After talking with my coach about time goals, we settled on a time, which I of course thought was a little on the faster side. Jason has been really good at knowing my ability better than I do, so I trusted his suggestion and decided I’d go for it.

I woke up on Friday morning not sure what to expect outside. It had stormed pretty heavily the two nights before, and there was a pretty good chance that it would be raining for the race. I was happy to see that it wasn’t raining, but was instead overcast and in the upper 60s. Of course I scrolled right to the humidity section of the weather app on my phone, and wasn’t surprised to see 90%. I had my normal pre-race breakfast (picky bar, half a peanut butter sandwich, and a lot of water), and was out the door by 7am for the 9am race start. I packed a few different options for the run (hat? headband? sunglasses? shirt?), but after my 2 mile warm-up I knew exactly what I’d have to wear: a hat to keep the sweat from my eyes, and no shirt to keep me as cool as possible. Sure, it was “only” in the upper 60’s, but the 90% humidity made it a typical July sweat-fest.

When it was time to line up for the race, I put myself right up front. I knew that if I didn’t, I’d spend the next mile or so wasting energy weaving in and out of the crowds of people who are somehow overly confident with their expected finish times. Despite being right up front, I didn’t hear a countdown. The next thing I knew the starting cannon sounded, and everyone surged forward. I was swept up in the crowd for a moment and glanced down at my watch and saw my pace flash as 6:20. I knew at that moment I had a decision to make: fool myself into thinking I could hold onto it and fight through later, or slow down slightly and save a little for later. I pulled back ever so slightly, and settled in to a 6:50/6:55 pace as we rounded the first corner. I was able to count the women in front of me, and found myself running as the 6th woman. We passed the first mile marker and I clocked a 6:42, according to my Garmin. The next mile or so is straight down a main road, and I spent most of it jockeying back and forth with another woman and man. I could tell the woman was doing everything in her power not to let me pass her, and I think the guy was too – I even got an elbow a few times, despite the road being plenty wide enough for three, even four runners to run next to each other.

I'd say "Where's Waldo?" But there was actually a kid dressed up as Waldo at this race...

I’d say “Where’s Waldo?” But there was actually a kid dressed up as Waldo at this race…

The third mile starts right after a turn onto a post-winter potholed road with a water stop, which is where I was able to shake the girl and guy I had been running with. I ran the second mile in 6:54, and started to worry that I wasn’t going to hit the time I was hoping for. I was getting tired, and bargained with myself that I could ease off just a bit to save some energy for the fourth mile. Slowing down a little helped (7:03), and by the time I hit the third mile clock I realized that I was about to hit a small 5k PR (clocked 21:23 according to the Garmin), and I knew it was time to try my best and hammer home. The last mile includes a path in a bit of a wooded area, and as I looked down at my Garmin and saw my pace listed as 10:00, I realized I’d just have to push it without really knowing my current pace. We looped into the park, and as I passed a spectator he yelled, “Just a quarter to go!” and what I thought was, “alright, 11th female!” I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back, and focused on the 12 year old boy in front of me that I just couldn’t seem to reel in (6:34).

Firecracker 4 Miler | FoodosaurusRex.com

I pushed it to puke pace like I do every time I enter that park, and I crossed the finish in 27:18. I made my way right over to the water truck and tried to walk as best as I could to prevent actually puking. I noticed they had a results table, so I made a beeline over to see if I was in fact the 11th female like I thought I heard the spectator yell. While they didn’t have overall placing listed quite yet, I caught my name on the scrolling computer screen to see that I had placed first in the 25-29 age group! Since I knew it would be awhile before they presented the awards, I took the opportunity to jog back to my car to grab my water bottle and a shirt. I made sure to run away from the course, because there’s nothing worse than seeing someone that’s already done jogging back towards you as you’re killing yourself to get to the finish line.

This race always provides free snow cones, popcorn, yogurt, and ice cream at the end of the race, so I was excited to grab a free Yasso frozen Greek yogurt bar to help cool me off as I waited for the awards and chatted with some hometown friends. Before I knew it they were starting the awards, and I scored a sweet little medal and a t-shirt! I should note, though, that the t-shirt says “2014 RACE WINNER” on the back which is just a little deceptive… since I won my age group, but not the race! It turns out, though, that I misheard that spectator as I was coming down the home stretch and I was actually the 7th woman overall, which was a nice surprise! (But again, does not warrant a “race winner” t-shirt).

Firecracker 4 Miler

Overall, I’m really happy with this race. Originally I went into it thinking I would run around a 28, but after Jason’s suggestion to go for a 27, of course, I hoped I would run slightly faster… internal competition is fierce. My 6:50 per mile average is the fastest I’ve averaged in a race, ever (aside from my road mile), so it was a big boost of confidence. I’m looking forward to a few 5k’s this month before really starting to marathon train.

Tell me…
Did you race over the weekend? How did it go?!

8 Comments

Filed under Running, Uncategorized

That Time I Raced a Mile

If there’s one thing most people remember about gym class in middle school and high school, it is having to run the dreaded mile. For some reason no one minded in elementary school; running around in the school’s field as fast as you could against your classmates was actually fun. By the time you turned 12, though, being told you had to run the mile – in gym class, no less – was among one of the “OMG worst things ever” for most people.

Admittedly, I don’t remember having to run the mile in high school. We definitely had days where we’d run outside in elementary school, and we were taken to the track a few times a year during middle school (it was right across the street), but we were never told to run a certain distance in a certain amount of time. By the time high school rolled around, we never ran. I think I remember one of my gym teachers taking us for a “jog” around the block once. In four years. Sure I was exempt from gym during swim season (usually mid-November to early March), but that isn’t prime running weather anyway. My school district just didn’t include running in it’s physical education curriculum. Most people are shocked when they hear this since for most, it was their least favorite day of the year in gym. Even though I didn’t run growing up, I’m not sure how I would have felt about running the mile in gym. Knowing me, I would have enjoyed it.

When I finally started running after college, I joined the local road race scene which meant 5k’s and longer. I didn’t know of any shorter road races, and the thought of hopping on the track intimidated me. Every race distance requires a different approach, and as I’m getting more comfortable with racing (it’s been 5 years!), I’m finally learning the “tactics” and applying them (albeit slowly) to my racing strategy. So when I heard about a local 1 mile road race, I knew I had to sign up. Plus, knowing one of my fellow NJ Oiselle birds, Jen, was racing made me want to run even more.

The College Avenue Mile runs two loops in New Brunswick, on you guessed it, College Avenue! This was actually the third year for the race, but the first time it actually worked out for me to run. Since I’ve never raced a mile, I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous knowing I’d have to race hard from the gun, but tried to reassure myself that the pain would be over in 6-ish minutes, a solid 14+ minutes less than any other race I’ve run! When registering for the race, you had to select what heat to run in – elite (sub-5:30), emerging elite (sub-6), masters, sub-7, or sub-12. I checked off the sub-7 option during registration, knowing that the McMillan pace calculator predicted me at 6:01 based on my recent half marathon PR. I was wary about running in the emerging elite heat and posting a 6-something mile. After much debate and some encouragement from my Twitter bud Sarah who was manning the registration booth, I decided to hop in the emerging elite heat. They were running over an hour before the sub-7 heat, and I figured running with a group of women slightly faster than me would be motivating… and I’d get home earlier! Plus, seeing that the race was relatively low-key, it was no problem for me to hop into a random heat. Probably the only time in my life I’ll be called an “emerging elite,” ha.

I warmed up three miles around College Ave. while the earlier races were going on, and before I knew it, we were being called to the start. As we waited for the go-ahead, I couldn’t help but think, “What have I gotten myself into?” along with, “Try not to come in dead last.” Everyone in my heat was friendly, so we were able to distract ourselves a bit by chatting about how we just wanted to get the race over, how hot it was, etc. And I finally met Meghan! You can see us in the picture below talking strategy, ha.

Serious business

Serious business

When the race started, the first quarter felt relatively slow. Of course it wasn’t, but in my head I needed to be going balls-to-the-wall immediately. I held back, though, knowing that there was at least someone I was running with that knew how to race a mile. We ran the first half mile in a pack, and started to thin as we reached the halfway point. Two laps of just one block meant 8 left-hand turns, which proved to be somewhat difficult for me. Since I was running so fast (for me!) and had a younger girl right next to me against the curb the entire time, I wound up swinging out a little further than I would have liked. At one point, the girl even had the nerve to put her arm out to make sure she had enough room for herself. I wouldn’t have minded, except for the fact that she started the race on the right-hand side of the road, cut across all the way to the left, and hugged the curb the entire time running the exact same speed as me. Guess it’s good the race was only a mile! I tried to focus on my own race, and realized I was really working based on the fact that I could hear myself huffing and puffing within the first quarter of the race.

Let's play "Where's Danielle in the pack?"

Let’s play “Where’s Danielle in the pack?”

 

Before I knew it we were on our second lap, and as I started the last quarter I somehow had a little gas left in the tank to pass two women that were right in front of me the entire time. Thankfully we finished on the right-hand side of the road, so swinging wide on my last left-hand turn worked out in my favor. I kicked my legs and pumped my arms as fast as I could as I rounded the corner and saw the clock slowly ticking away in the 5:50’s. I wound up crossing the mat in 5:56.06! As it turns out I did belong in the emerging elite heat – go figure!

Home Stretch!

Home Stretch!

In addition to the race, because I do my long runs on Saturday, I wasn’t getting away with just running a mile for the day – I had a total of 10 on the schedule. So after my three mile warm-up and one mile race, I set out for another 6 miles to finish off the day. When it was all said and done I was tired and all my legs wanted to do was relax, but it was  a fun way to get in 10 miles. I also won’t lie – my legs (and core!) were pretty sore on Sunday which I wasn’t expecting. It made my recovery run more of a slog… but it was nice to know I pushed myself the day before. Next on my schedule is a 4 miler on the 4th of July, followed by a bunch of 5k’s. Aside from the heat and humidity, I love summer racing!

Tell me…
Did you have to race the mile in school? Love it? Hate it?
What’s the shortest race (distance-wise) you’ve done? Longest?

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Filed under Running

On Marathoning

I remember when I first decided to run a marathon. I’d successfully completed two half marathons (I use the term loosely), a handful of road races, and I was just starting to immerse myself in the world of running on Twitter and through blogs. I was floored by the number of marathoners I was now following, and felt like I needed to be a part of that exclusive club… despite the fact that after finishing my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again.

My training for my first marathon, Philadelphia 2011, was less than stellar. I knocked out a 14 and 16 mile long run early in the summer, but quickly lost my enthusiasm. I managed to get through one 18 miler that was a huge struggle, and that was the extent of my distance training. Not to mention the miles I logged during the week leading up to my mostly failed long runs weren’t great either. I found myself falling into the trap where I’d worry so much about the upcoming long run and needing to rest my legs, that I’d only run a few miles during the week. It wasn’t good! I was really worried when it came time to race, but I knew to start super slow and just do the best that I could. I finished in 4:37, which considering my lack of training, wasn’t too bad.

Thumbs up for my first marathon!

Thumbs up for my first marathon!

Logically I ran the Disney World Marathon only a month and a half later as part of the Goofy Challenge, and finished in just under 5 hours [I ran a half marathon the day before – another genius move]. I swore to myself that things would be different when training for Chicago 2012, but they weren’t. Again, I didn’t run more than 18 miles for a training run, and my weekly mileage was rather paltry. Naturally I ran into super tight hips around mile 18 and by mile 20 could barely pick up my leg from knee pain. After hobbling about a mile, I was able to run the last 5ish miles and finished in 4:26. I followed this marathon up with another Goofy Challenge, and ran the marathon in 4:27 (with 4 bathroom stops).

Hope I can actually "own it" this time!

Hope I can actually “own it” this time!

By this point, I realized it was time to stop signing up for marathons if I wasn’t going to actually train for them. I wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any favors by half-assing my way through training. I had grand plans of running Richmond 2013 and crushing my marathon PR, but some weird ankle and foot issues in the beginning of the summer knocked that out for me. I thought about maybe doing a spring marathon instead, but after the Polar Vortex winter we had, I’m glad I didn’t! So instead I spent the winter training for a half marathon PR, which I achieved (big time) this past Saturday!

Of course after Saturday’s extremely successful race, everyone has been asking me what’s next. And at first, I wasn’t really sure. After my lack-luster marathon training attempts, I started to think that maybe I’m just not a marathon runner… and that’s okay. However, I’m not okay with quitting the marathon with a PR of 4:26. I know I can do better. According to race predictor calculators, I should be able to run nearly an hour faster. While I think that may be a little overzealous, I do want to give the marathon another shot; I think I owe it to myself (and to the marathon!).

Hurray for marathons!

Hurray for marathons!

So I’ve decided I’ll be running the Philadelphia Marathon this year, on November 23rd. I’m looking forward to working on my speed and strength the rest of the spring and early summer and knocking out some speedy short races. And then from there it’ll be time buckle down and marathon train like everyone else does; high mileage, weekly long runs, and proper cross-training. I’m nervous, but also excited to see what I can do with a real training plan. I don’t have any specific time goals just yet, but I have some lose ideas of what I think I’m capable of running!

Tell me…
Do you have fall marathon plans? 

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Filed under Running

Souper Simple: Kale, Tortellini, & Bean Soup

Two recipe posts in one week – look at me go!

Whenever I’m training for something, you can assume that I’m hungry at all times. Since my next (goal) race is the Asbury Park Half at the end of April, training has been getting more intense as each week passes. I’m averaging weekly mileage that I’ve never seen before (40+ miles), so it’s no surprise my appetite has grown to match. So when it comes to my meals (especially dinner), I try to get the most bang for my buck. I always want to make sure I’m eating a decently balanced meal that is quick and easy to prepare. On weekdays where I have to run anywhere from 6 to 10 miles, time is of the essence. Plus, I want to make sure I’m fueling and refueling properly.

Enter this Kale, Tortellini, and Bean soup! It comes together in a matter of minutes, has barely any prep, and can easily be doubled (or more!) and frozen. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, and even better for lunch!

Tortellini, Kale, & White Bean Soup | FoodosaurusRex.com

Simple Kale, Tortellini, & Bean Soup
– Serves 2 –

Ingredients:
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups your favorite tortellini [I used frozen]
3 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup white beans [Cannellini, Great Northern, Navy beans, etc.]
Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Heat the vegetable broth over high heat until boiling.
2. Add in the tortellini, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add in the chopped kale, and allow it to wilt for 5 minutes. 
4. Add in the white beans and allow them to heat through, an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with salt + pepper to taste. 

4 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Running Update: Setbacks & Moving Forward

Running was going really well for me during the late fall and early winter. I PR’d two races (5 miler and 5k) and was crushing workouts and loving the run. I was running 6 days in a row with a long run, a tempo/workout run, and 4 “easier” days of running all together. It was a big adjustment to the type of “training” I’ve done in the past, but it was already producing results, and I felt great. I was being diligent about my pre-run warm-ups, and was actually doing post-run prehab, albeit not as frequently as I should have. I let time get in the way of things, and found myself coming in from a run, hopping right in the shower or getting started on dinner, and then going about my business and forgetting to do the routine that was scheduled. Well, that naturally resulted in a little bit of an overuse injury – dreaded ITBS.

I noticed a twinge when I would go from sitting down to standing up after a 10 mile run on December 21st. I didn’t think much of it, and continued the next week as normally scheduled. Looking back, I should have spent some extra time foam rolling and doing some strength work, but I didn’t. By the time I got to Christmas Eve, as I finished up an epic tempo run, I felt that dreaded tightness on the outside of my right knee. It’s a feeling I know all too well, as I’ve experienced it during almost every marathon I’ve run around mile 21. It wasn’t painful, but I knew exactly what it was. Since it was slight, I was hopeful that it wasn’t much of anything, and Christmas morning’s 4 mile run would be fine. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Christmas morning’s run was painful, and I knew the ITBS I thought I had was, in fact, ITBS… and that it wasn’t going to just go away. The run on 12/25 was the beginning of a month of on and off runs, most peppered with knee pain. The pain would start about a mile and a half in, and come and go depending on my stride. Sometimes it was brutally painful, and other times it was manageable. But I’m happy to report that after a month of rest and rehab, I’m back on the streets and running! I think it’s so important for runners to take the time to do a warm-up before they start a run, and to also do some type of post-run prehab routine. There are a few things in particular that I found to be extremely helpful as I battled ITBS, and I wanted to share them with you!

  •  Strength Running’s ITB Rehab Routine – If there’s one thing I’ve learned with the injuries I’ve sustained over my short running career so far, it’s that having strong hips, glutes, and core can be the difference between pain free and fast running, and sitting on the couch whining about how you can’t run. This routine focuses on strengthening the glutes and hips, which is where the ITB starts. All you need is a resistance band and about 5 minutes post-run. I did this daily during the month of January, and now do it 2-3 times a week.
  • Mrtyl Routine – This also focuses on the general glute and hip area, and doesn’t require any equipment. I also do this about 2 times a week.
  • Core work: Strength Running’s Standard Core Routine & Dr. Lesko’s Dozen Routine – Let me tell you, having a flat stomach does not mean you have a strong core (not that my stomach is flat). I always thought my core was decent, since I swam for so many years and a lot of power comes from your core, but I’m learning that is not true. Both of these routines are more than just crunches, and they work your entire core. The supine leg lifts in the Standard Core routine are killer, and I dread that part of the workout every single time… but I know they help, and I’m looking forward to the day where I can get through it without shaking uncontrollably and not counting down every second of the minute.
  • Foam Rolling – it’s awkward and it hurts, but it works. I don’t particularly enjoy it, and for awhile, I just didn’t do it. I bought a foam roller about 2 years ago when I had tight hips, but I just couldn’t get into a regular routine. I learned quickly, though, that the foam roller is really helpful – whether you have an injury or not. I try to spend about 5 minutes everyday foam rolling my hips, hamstrings, quads, and calves. If nothing else, it helps build my upper body strength as I’m trying to hold myself up while using the roller.

I’ve been running again consistently for two full weeks and am just starting my third. I have my fingers crossed that this little bout of ITBS is behind me, and I can carry on with training as scheduled for the month of February. How do I feel about finally being back in action? See below.

Hooray for pain free running!

Hooray for pain free running!

That being said, I don’t think the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 16th is going to be a PR attempt. Unless training over the next few weeks goes fantastically (and it warms up and stops snowing and being icy), I don’t think I’ll have my fitness back up to where it was in December. So, my plan is to run the Shamrock Half as a workout, and run a goal half in April instead. There are quite a few around me, so after weighing my options and chatting with my coach, I decided on the Asbury Park Half on 4/26! This is the day before the New Jersey Marathon, so I’ll be able to cheer for everyone running the half or full on Sunday! Since it’s down the shore it should be relatively flat – I just hope it isn’t a windy day. I’m also planning to work a few other short local races into my schedule, but I haven’t committed to anything yet (as you can see from my Races page).

Tell me…
Have you ever dealt with ITBS? 
What’s your favorite runner specific strength routine?

2 Comments

Filed under Running

Lovely Layers

I’ve always been a big fan of wearing layers, regardless of the weather. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it stems from the fact that most shirts are a little too short for my extra long torso, and I like the extra coverage of a longer tank-top underneath. But that’s just the beginning of my layering obsession. I never seem to be a comfortable temperature – I’m either too hot or too cold… so layers let me add and remove clothing as needed in order to try and make myself comfortable.

Layers! Oh how I wish I could wear this on a run right now...

Layers! Oh how I wish I could wear this on a run right now…

When it comes to running, I tend to run on the hotter side (pun intended), but with temperatures below 20 and windchill making it feel like 0 or lower, it’s difficult even for me to overheat on a winter run. That being said, I still need to make sure I have enough layers to actually feel warm. And with the temperatures holding steady at about 25 or below the last few weeks (with the exception of a warm spell while I was out of the country, of course), making sure I have the right layers on to stay comfortable while running has been extremely important.

My last few runs have all taken place when the temperature has been between 20-25 degrees, but with windchill it’s been anything from a few degrees negative to about 20 degrees, thanks to that fun little thing called wind chill. I say it every year, and I’ll say it again; if it weren’t for the wind, winter in the Northeast wouldn’t be so bad! So what do I wear for a run when it’s in the teens and even single digits? Let me break it down for you:

Top layers

I like to wear a tank top that has a built in bra when it’s super cold, because it winds up doing double duty. Instead of having to wear a sports bra and tank top, I can kill two birds with one stone. The Oiselle High 10 Shimmel has been my go-to since the fabric is on the thicker side so it keeps me warm but still manages to keep me dry.

Just a few of my favorite tanks!

Just a few of my favorite tanks!

Next up is a mid-weight long sleeve shirt. I am obsessed with Oiselle’s Lux Layer, so I wear it as often as possible. It’s buttery soft and manages to keep you warm when it’s cold, but again, you won’t overheat in it.

Favorite base layers - Oiselle Lux Layer & Oiselle Rundelicious

Favorite base layers – Oiselle Lux Layer & Oiselle Rundelicious

My final piece up top is actually a half zip I found at Marshall’s this past fall. I was drawn to it because of the herringbone design and its $29 price tag. I didn’t think it was going to be anything special, but it quickly became my favorite super cold weather running piece this winter. It also helps that there is a zipper pouch on the left arm that’s big enough to fit my iPhone 5 which I’ve been taking with me on these icy runs just in case I slip and fall and need to call someone! I have a few other half zips (like this Brooks nightlife) and they are probably my favorite layering piece, since the zipper provides versatility; you can stay zipped up when you start your run, but as you warm up, you can easily unzip to get some air, and then re-zip when you’ve cooled off. I need to get my hands on the Oiselle Lux Layer Side Zip

Half zips FTW

Half zips FTW

Bottom layers

This is actually the first winter in my running career where I’ve had to double up on bottoms. When it’s 20 and below and the wind is howling, my thighs need some extra protection. I’m all for burning legs when you’re running, but I much prefer that burning sensation to be from hard work, and not from the freezing temperatures! So for the past few weeks I’ve been wearing a base layer of winter running tights (ones that are fleece lined have been especially wonderful), with my Oiselle Run Pant on top. A pair of running pants on top of tights might sound like too much, but it’s actually been perfect for runs where I’ve found myself in snow, since the pants give my ankles and lower legs a little extra protection.

Never thought I'd run in pants

Never thought I’d run in pants

I’ve also been doubling up on socks, which may sound like a bad idea, but has actually been wonderful. I’ve found that a pair of Injinji toe socks underneath a pair of Thorlos socks have been a perfect match. If you don’t have toe socks, a pair of more compressive socks layered underneath a thicker, looser pair also works. I was worried at first that doubling socks may result in blisters, but since I’ve been wearing two pairs of running socks that are supposed to prevent just that, I’ve been fine. And, if your legs are super cold, you could wear a pair of knee socks or compression socks as one of your layers to help keep your calves and shins warm!

Double socks

Keep your toes toasty!

Accessories

While this section is labeled “Accessories” which may make it seem like they’re optional, they definitely aren’t in these temperatures! I’m talking about gloves, hats/headbands, and maybe the necessary scarf. My hands are really sensitive to the cold, and it’s safe to assume that if my hands are cold, I’m miserable. So I don’t mess around when it comes to running gloves. I’ve been tempted to run in snow gloves, but have opted for thinner layers instead to make sure I can actually move my hands and fingers if needed. After a lot of trial and error, the best combination for me is a pair of cheap gloves (I’m talking the kind you can buy at Target in a pack of 2 for $3), and then a pair of fleece running gloves on top. This gives my fingers the ability to press buttons on my watch, but it also keeps them warm. And in the event I overheat, I have a layer I can take off.

As for the top half, I opt for a headband on most days, specifically a Bondi band. While it isn’t winter-specific, I find the material to be just the right thickness to keep my forehead/hairline warm, and the band is big enough that I can use it to cover my ears. Plus, it wicks away any sweat, and if I do wind up getting hot and don’t need my ears covered, I can easily shift the headband back to expose my ears. I know that a lot of people swear by hats, especially because that’s where you lose a lot of your internal heat, but since I run relatively hot, having the top of my head exposed helps regulate the rest of my body temperature.

Accessories

Gloves & Headbands galore

In terms of optional/less frequent gear, I’d include a scarf and a pair of sunglasses. I’ve only worn a scarf a few times, and that has been when it was actively snowing or the wind has been exceptionally brutal. It covers those few inches of skin that a mock neck or turtleneck doesn’t cover, and it’s perfect to pull up over your mouth and face when it’s bitterly cold. Sunglasses are also helpful for those mid-day runs when it’s sunny out and there is snow on the ground, leaving you nearly blind. They also act as a great shield from the wind – no one likes having tears pouring down their frozen face! My sunglasses aren’t anything fancy, though, they’re just your typical plastic wayfarer styled glasses you get at a party, or for $5 at the store… and they’re perfect.

So there you have it. That’s how I layer in this awfully cold and windy weather. It’s A LOT of clothing to have to put on and take off, but one redeeming quality is that you don’t sweat as much (at least I don’t, and I’m a serious sweater), so laundry frequency doesn’t have to increase that much. Even though I’ve figured out how to be comfortable on the run, I really can’t wait for it to be at least 40 degrees out again. Maybe I just need to move to California!

Tell me…
Have you been running in these temperatures? 
Are your layers similar? More? Less? 
What’s your favorite cold weather running piece? 

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Marathon Madness

It’s no secret to anyone that pays attention to distance running that the fall is prime marathon running season. There’s a marathon every weekend, and you probably know of at least one person participating. I was supposed to be one of those runners, gunning for a big PR. But I suppose it’s time for me to admit to myself (and the Internet, obviously), that I won’t be running a fall marathon.

When I first started having ankle issues, I thought I could still toe the line at Richmond in November. But as the discomfort and inconsistent training continued, I realized I would only be setting myself up for frustration, and possible injury. I switched from the full to the half, and after three weeks of pain-free running at the beginning of September, thought I could squeeze in an early December marathon instead. I eagerly signed up for Rehoboth Beach and got to work on a new training plan.

A week into my new training plan brought me an inflamed tendon in my foot, and another week not running. After some cursing, crying, and a little back-and-forth, I realized it was time to graciously bow out of the marathon training game. It was hard for me to admit at first; I had a fast and effortless spring racing season, and had every intention of crushing all my shorter distance PR’s this summer. When that didn’t happen, I figured I would still have time to come back for late fall and early winter. But after DNS-ing four different races since the middle of July due to all these issues with my right foot & ankle, I knew it wasn’t realistic.

Am I disappointed? Absolutely. All of my friends are out there crushing long runs and PR’s, while I sit idly hoping to get through each short run without a new ache or pain. But I know that I need to be “slow and steady” with my training right now, and if I can get a few months of quality runs under my belt without issue, I’ll have a much better chance at a successful marathon training cycle, and ultimately, marathon race.

I have every intention of continuing to run, and racing when I feel up to it. I think part of my problem has always been I have a quick and heavy trigger finger when it comes to signing up for races. It seems as though the further away the race, the more likely I’ll be unable to run it. So for now, I’m going to sign up for races only a few days before they happen (or gasp, maybe even that morning). I think my brain, and more importantly my wallet, will thank me in the long run. And I’m going to keep up with my cross-training! I’ve been trying to do as many foot strengthening exercises as I can, along with calf stretching and strengthening. Here’s to hoping I’m well on the recovery train and can get back to loving running, and not dreading each run in fear of finding something that hurts!

Any advice for me?
Know of any late-spring marathons I can eye up?

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Running Update: Marathoning

For those of you that have been following along, you know I was struggling with some weird undiagnosed pain in my right ankle & foot for most of July and August. Early signs of marathon training in June pointed to a successful training cycle, and the chances of me crushing my current PR were high. But, after two months of inconsistent training, I knew it wasn’t logical to think I would be able to successfully (and easily) complete marathon training by the November 16th race date for the Richmond Marathon. So in what seems to be like an unfortunately common theme among a lot of my runner friends right now, I had to pass on the 2013 Richmond Marathon.

The good news, though, is that my ankle and foot are 90-95% better, depending on the day, and the run. I was able to run in Disneyland with no problems! Since I already paid for a hotel room, I decided to drop down to the half since they provide the option for only $10. So at least I’ll still get to run part of America’s friendliest marathon!

This leaves me with a new problem, though… finding an early winter marathon! My initial thoughts are to run the Rehoboth Beach Marathon on December 7th, since it isn’t too far away from me and doesn’t have to be a big weekend away. But that only gives me an extra three weeks of training, putting me at about a 12 week cycle. Any other races would obviously be in different locations (South, West, etc.) because the weather in January and February around here is not exactly marathon friendly. Thankfully I’ve been able to bounce these ideas off of my coach, Steph, so I’m confident we’ll be able to come up with the best solution soon.

In the meantime I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed that all of these annoying pains are gone for good. I’ve been trying to be as diligent as possible with cross-training and ankle, foot, and leg strengthening exercises, while also working on my core and upper body. I’ve always known how important it is to condition your whole body and how great cross-training is, but I’m realizing it more now than ever. I just have to remind myself when I’m feeling lazy or unmotivated that these few minutes here and there can mean the difference between running pain free, or being sidelined.

So tell me…
Do you have any good cross-training or exercises you do for your feet, ankles, and/or legs I should be trying? 
Know of any great December, January, or February marathons I should consider? 

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Oh Hello!

Hey friends, remember me?!

I know I haven’t posted in awhile, but that’s because I’ve been busy trying to enjoy the last days of summer (while refusing to believe it’s almost over), and more importantly, because I really haven’t had much to say.

I’ve been in the kitchen cooking up some really great dishes. There have been a few that I’ve come up with on my own and hope to re-create for blog post purposes, but the majority of them have been based on recipes I found online. I’m not one for “photo dump” posts, but I want to share these recipes with you guys, since they were big hits in my house.

Dessert theme, clearly.

Dessert theme, clearly.

Clockwise from the top left:
1. Vegan Oreo Pancakes: Reminded me more of an Almond Joy (it uses shredded coconut) and is awesome. Definitely a “dessert for breakfast” type pancake.
2. Flourless Chickpea Chocolate Chip Blondies: I know, chickpeas in your dessert? It sounds weird, but is absolutely delicious. It’s vegan so you can eat the entire thing raw if you want (and it’s gluten free)! I need to make these again ASAP.
3. Peach & Blueberry Spiced Muffins: I’ve had a surplus of blueberries and peaches from my CSA box, and this was the perfect way to use some. The spices added a nice hint of almost-Fall, with fresh summer fruits.
4. Agave Lime Tofu with Asian Slaw and Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash: First time using The Conscious Cook cookbook I’ve had forever – SO awesome and easy to make.

Aside from cooking and eating, I wish I could say that I’ve been running and crushing marathon training with my ankle issue far behind me. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. I took a full week off per my doctor’s suggestion, and seemed okay when I started back up for that first week. I was a little achy and sore in places, but it wasn’t unbearable. I assumed that I would just have to run through the discomfort, and eventually things would start to feel better. I started the second week after seeing the doctor with a decent 6 mile run, and followed it up the next day with a 4 miler that just didn’t feel good. I woke up the following morning barely able to walk, and extremely frustrated. I saw my podiatrist that afternoon, and he really didn’t have any suggestions for me. He told me to come back in a month, and if the pain was still there, I’d be sent for an MRI. Nothing like a non-answer to make you feel better! I haven’t run since then (it’s been a week), and to be honest, I’m kind of lost. Do I wait until the pain is completely gone from walking (it is now), and try to run again? Do I wait longer before trying to run? I need to find someone with answers, or at least suggestions! I’ve had a few suggestions to go to a chiropractor and get some ART done, so I think that is next on my to-do list. I’m still planning to run (or walk, if I have to) the 10k and half marathon for the Disneyland Dumbo Dare at the end of the month, but I’m undecided if I’ll still run the Richmond Marathon. I may drop down to the half, or defer to next year. I’m so thankful that this particular race at least provides those options!

At least I have this sweet all-sport Picky Bars water bottle to keep me company!

At least I have this sweet all-sport Picky Bars water bottle to keep me company!

Even though I haven’t been running, I’ve been trying to stay in shape. I also figured if I couldn’t run, it would be the perfect opportunity to try and get myself a 6-pack, and increase my overall strength (LOL on the 6-pack). I’ve been participating in Kat’s August Core Focus, and adding in my own variations (hello Pinterest). I’ve also come up with some decent arm workouts that use only your body weight and 5-10lb. dumbbells. Maybe I’ll share it in a fun little graphic one of these days. I’ve done a few biking sessions at the gym, have done yoga almost every single day, and have a swim planned for tomorrow — first time back in the pool in at least a year… wonder how many yards I can do!

The biggest thing I’ve been doing during this whole “situation” is trying to stay positive, which I think I’ve actually been pretty successful at. In the past, as soon as I felt a twinge of discomfort or had a bad run I would immediately freak out and become a ball of misery. Recently I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may not run a fall marathon, but there are marathons all over the country every single weekend, and my health is more important.

Have you ever dealt with a non-injury, injury (or as I’m calling it, a “situation”)?
Any great non-running cross training things I should try?

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Filed under Food Blogging, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan