Monday, May 7, 2012

You've Come A Long Way, Baby

Two years ago, I could barely muster 2 miles in 30 minutes. On Saturday, I ran 3.1 miles in 29:29. Which means 2 things: 1) baby steps, consistently made over time, make huge changes 2) if you think you can do something, you probably can. Will be updating more frequently. Setting new goals. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sports Nutrition on the Cheap

For purposes of this discussion, I'm defining "sports nutrition" as food or drink ingested immediately before, while engaging in, or immediately after exercise. I'm no expert, so if it doesn't work for you, try something else.

Also, for purposes of this discussion, I am targeting people like me: the recreational athlete who does all this for personal fitness and fun. If you aspire to elite status or some other greatness, go read Chris Carmichael's blog. That said, here's the skinny.

Pre Workout: Water, water everywhere.

Your body can't work well without water. So drink up. You can't make up for what you didn't drink before a workout during a workout, so your water intake needs to be consistent. There's lots of fancy formulas out there about how much you need to take in based on your body weight, activity level, and all that stuff, but a good rule of thumb is your urine should be pale yellow. Darker? Drink more. Clear? Drink a little less.

Pre Workout: Kiss my Grits.

If you've read Christopher McDougall's Born To Run, he waxes rhapsodic about "pinole," the ancient Native American superfood. Southerners have known about it for a long time. Pinole is a fancy name for grits. Coarse ground nixtamilized corn: yep, that's grits all right. There's something about the nixtamilzation that activates all the good stuff in the corn, so corn meal will be a pale substitute for the real thing. Try them; I like them with a little butter or cheese (like a teaspoon) and some salt (for the sodium you'll need). Yum.

Pre Workout: Monkey Bidness

Also, you'll need potassium before you go. The cheapest and most effective way to do this is to eat a banana. If you can't stomach that, try coconut water; it's a little more expensive (about a buck for a serving) but very high in potassium.

During Workout: Redneck Shot Blocks

Let me first say that you will probably not need to eat during a workout until your workouts begin to exceed an hour. However, if you find that your energy flags or you begin to get irritable about 30 minutes in, it may be a blood sugar issue and a little something-something may help.

You can buy expensive gels, candies, and other stuff that contain a bunch of weird ingredients, and those are fine, but you can get the same effect by taking some cheap jelly candy (gummy bears, those orange slices with the sugar on them, or sour patch kids), lightly dampening them, and rolling them in salt. Let them dry, and you can pop one in your mouth if you are flagging. The salt will help replace the sodium you're losing, and the sugar will help with energy levels.

During Workout: The Army's Solution To Everything

Which is, according to my brother, "Drink More Water." Feeling dizzy? Drink more water. Aching calves? Drink more water. Broken arm? Drink.More.Water.

Not really, but yes, you need to drink if your workout exceeds an hour, and some people (like me) need to drink if the workout exceeds 30 minutes.

Post Workout: Chocolate Milk (Yessssss!!!)

Seriously, even the personal trainers will tell you this is theee recovery drink. Something about the ratio of carbs, protein, and fat, blah blah, but I can tell you, I don't really need an excuse to drink chocolate milk. Yum.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Marissa's Run: The Run That Wasn't

Sweetness and I had planned to do this sweet little 5k trail run last Friday. We'd registered and everything.

Then, my sweetest little stepson said "hey, we're doing that one too!!!" Meaning, of course, the imperial "we," Mommie Dearest.

I am not one to run from an uncomfortable situation. And I have run in her presence before. That said, when given the option, I prefer to avoid unnecessary drama, and it was Date Night, and Date Night is sacred, people. I didn't want anything harshing on my mellow on Date Night.

Additionally, my faith calls me to live at peace with everyone, so far as it depends on me. And in this particular situation, living at peace with Mommie Dearest means I stay away from her.

So instead, Sweetness and I went to the lakefront and ran a 5k all by ourselves. It was great. There was a nice breeze, the lake was beautiful, there was music from the festival. Also, I'd forgotten that way back in my early days, I made a sad attempt at running along one of the piers and got about halfway down one side before throwing in the towel. This time, I ran the entire length up and down, plus two minutes before that and two minutes after. It was a really nice reminder of how far I've come.

Plus, afterward, we had dinner at Whole Foods. I love their salad bar. Sweetness had loaded baked potato pizza, which I will recreate at home in the near future.

Drama avoided. Date Night held sacred. 5k completed. Win. Win. Win.

Review: Go Girl

This one's a life changer, ladies.

Ever get really envious of the men at races while standing in line waiting for a port a potty? Men can get in and out to pee in thirty seconds flat, while we womenfolk must disrobe our lower half, hover over the usually naaaasty seat, wipe, redress, and sanitize our hands. This takes at least three minutes, more for me if I have on compression tights. If you are hit with the urge on the race course, you have to pray that the race organizers strategically placed a port a potty. Men just find a tree.

Enter the Go Girl, which levels the playing field.

This is made of medical grade silicone, and comes in a cool little tube which would fit in a hydration pack or a SPI belt. Open the tube, and a funnel pops out which contours itself to the female anatomy and drains away urine. A shake, pop it in a ziplock for washing later, and you are good to go.

Concerns I had which were addressed when I tried it: no, it doesn't leak. Yes, you can just pull your pants down slightly like men do or, if you are wearing shorts, just push it into place and guide the end of the funnel out of the bottom. No, there isn't much urine left on the inside. No, if you are careful there won't be urine on your hands, but a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer in your spi belt or hydration pack would resolve the issue. Yes, it's discreet enough that the braver women among us could use it behind a tree. And yes, you will get to discover what it feels like to pee like a man.

More seriously, this is a must have -- MUST HAVE -- for the active woman. Any concerns I had about being away from a bathroom for outdoor activities -- camping, backpacking, hiking, fishing, kayaking -- are now gone. I got mine at amazon for a whopping 4.99. Small price to pay for pees of mind.

Sorry, couldn't help myself there. :D

Friday, August 12, 2011

Franklin Cross Country Two Miler: August 11, 2011

This was a fun family two mile course supporting the Franklin High School cross country team. It was an evening run, which I don't prefer, but the weather was relatively mild and the course was pretty.

I didn't have high hopes for this run, as I don't have a lot of training time in the summer, I was in a three day training MTW, and I had a touch of food poisoning the morning of the run, which meant I was slightly dehydrated. Also, the course was freshly mowed, and I couldn't get a handle on my breathing.

Still and all, I finished in 28:47, which is a little over a 14 minute mile, and less than the 30 minutes I anticipated I'd finish in. So go me! All my kids ran this course, and 2 miles is perfect -- not too long, but not too short. And my husband set himself a PR: 13 minutes and some change. Woot!

Next up, a trail 5k this evening with my husband for "date night." My, how my idea of "fun" has changed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Don't Compare Your Start To Someone Else's Finish

If one is starting from scratch, as I was when I began my fitness pursuits, it can sometimes be discouraging to be reminded of how . . . well, how SLOW one is. I remember reading about people who could run the blistering speed of 10 minutes per mile and thinking . . . man, is that FAST. I mean, when I started "getting fit" I could barely finish 2 miles on the treadmill at an 18 minute/mile speed without thinking I would die, and I recall thinking . . . how am I ever going to get faster? Will I ever get faster?

The thing is, I didn't realize at the time that the people who could run those ten minute miles had, for the most part, been running for a long, long time. Even assuming natural running talent, running any number of consecutive ten minute miles requires cardiovascular endurance training. This does not happen overnight. In fact, for the average recreational runner, it happens very, very slowly.

My 18 minute miles very quickly became 16, then 15, then 14 minute miles. In fact, tonight I did a 2 mile run at a 13.58 minute pace. My next training goal, which I hope to meet by the end of August, is to run a sub-40 minute 5k. That requires a 13.3 minute per mile pace. It's not a pace I could have imagined 18 months ago. It's also not a pace I intend to stay at for very long. I completed a half-marathon a month ago. I couldn't have imagined that 18 months ago either.

All of this is to say, when you are slogging away at what feels like an interminably slow pace, or when your distance goals are in the single digits, remember: don't compare your beginnings to someone else's middle or end.

Monday, June 13, 2011

South Shore Duathlon: June 12, 2011

My time wasn't spectacular, I didn't have any dramatic difficulties or obstacles in finishing, but the best part of all can be summed up right here:


I used to think this was the "year of me." I now realize it's the year of "God in me."