Friday, December 21, 2012

A new mission

I'm on a new mission... this one is to feel better.

Over the past year, my mission was to teach  myself to run and accomplish the half marathon.  I can see that in 2013, my new mission is to continue to improve in running and strength training, but while doing so on a very restricted diet.  It's been done before, I just may have some challenges. It's going to take a lot of research, a lot of cooking, and a lot of trial and error (and food logging).  I'm particularly sensitive about it because people often feel they need to tell me how I am doing it wrong.  That because I don't eat meat I am automatically not getting enough nutrients.  That I HAVE to eat fish.  I log my food every single day. I am constantly watching to make sure I am getting what I need.  Just because you eat meat doesn't mean you eat healthy by default. Just because I don't eat meat doesn't mean I don't get enough protein.  (exit soapbox).

Anyone who knows me knows that I just haven't been feeling well for the past 6 months. But why? I had this sinking suspicion that it was being caused by dietary issues, but even with my best Nancy Drew practices, it was purely speculation and I wasn't really getting anywhere.  Finally, I gave in and went to the doc.  The gastroenterologist wanted me to add gluten back into my diet, and then a month later go in for an endoscopy to check for celiac disease, gastritis  h pylori bacteria (the bacteria that causes ulcers, gastritis, etc), etc.  I went in for that on Monday and the doc said everything looked great. They took a few biopsies and I will get the results in a week or so.

I also went to a doctor who took my blood panel and sent it off to the Meridian Valley Lab for iGg and iGe testing.  The trick was finding this test - it's not covered by insurance, it's not offered by an allergist or a gastroenterologist.  I found it at the Metro Center Health Center, which specializes in chiropractic, headaches, allergies, and hormonal issues.  The test checks your blood for antibodies having either an immediate (iGe) or delayed (iGg) reaction and breaks it down into low, moderate, and severe classifications so you can determine which foods to avoid. This test helps determine particular foods that might be causing undesirable daily symptoms, migraines, IBS, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  One theory my gastroenterologist had was that I may have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) that is not only flared up by certain foods, but by stress.  Well, fine. But if that's my diagnosis, it doesn't actually tell me what foods are doing it, and IBS isn't curable.  IBS is almost often caused by food intolerance and food sensitives   If I can narrow it down and avoid the foods, I can kill two birds with one stone.  The test cost me $700.00. Here is more information on the test and the differences in allergic reactions:
http://meridianvalleylab.com/igg-allergy-testing


$700.00 well spent.  Here's what it came back with:

"Low" sensitive foods are not a big deal unless I eat them every day.  In this fell things like corn, shrimp, almonds, avocado, soybeans, chocolate, a bunch of spices, pistachios, cashews, kale, pinto beans, zucchini and yams (there were a lot but these were the highest).  Since I don't eat any of these items on a daily basis, I'll just be careful. The only ones I'll have to watch are soy, kale, and zucchini. I love them all.

"Moderate" foods are to be watched as they may or may not be causing a problem. The reaction is high enough to keep an eye on, but I can test them sooner.  The test: Eliminate for 3-6 months and then try to re-introduce and test for reaction.  So, I will be avoiding the following items:

  • Wheat
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pineapple
  • Green Beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Brewer's yeast (no big deal, I don't drink beer)
  • Mushrooms (sad face) 
  • Spelt 
  • Paprika
  • Poppy seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Alfalfa
  • Water chestnuts
  • Tapioca (I'm nervous about this one, since it's a common ingredient in gluten free goods)
"Severe" foods are to be eliminated completely, but tested for at least 6 months prior to reintroducing:
I had a major reaction to several foods.  So, I will not be eating the following:
  • All dairy (cow and goat), especially cheese, casein, cottage cheese, and milk.
  • Eggs (my reactions were so far off the chart it wasn't even funny). Major sad face.
  • Gluten 
  • Navy beans (random. I don't think I even eat them).
Seeing as how we are about to be on the road for a week and traveling over the holidays, I decided to start my full elimination diet starting on January 1st.  I will just try to choose my food wisely and try not to flare my stomach up too bad in the meantime.

:(

I'm tired of being sick, and I'm tired of complaining about it.  Cooking at home will be no problem, but the reality of the situation is that its almost impossible to go out to eat anywhere.  I'm glad I have scientific proof of what's going on, and hope this is the start of finding the root of the problem, and making this all stop.  I am confident that 2013 means I will finally feel better.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Still going!


Now that the dust has settled from the race, I am relatively caught up on sleep, my overzealous appetite has calmed down a bit, and my leg is feeling much better, I am officially ready to start running again.  

My leg feels great. It occasionally gets fatigued when I am on my feet a lot (especially in heels), but it's a tiny bit of soreness instead of a debilitating pain.  I had both an xray and an ultrasound, and there were no signs of fracture of muscle damage. There was only inflammation along the tibia bone, which I already knew, so I was told to continue resting, icing, etc.  It has been a month since the race and I feel like I have sufficiently taken enough time off from running and am ready to get back in the game.  I keep seeing runners everywhere and I am so jealous of them when I drive by.  It's such a great stress release and a wonderful way to clear my mind.  Plus, the weather is amazing right now - I want to take advantage of this!  The positive side of this is that if my leg is sore, I can afford to take the time off, as opposed to being stuck in the middle of a strict training schedule that did not allow for such things.  

I haven't been taking time off completely.   I took about a week off after the race, and then have been going to the gym to work on my cardio/endurance and overall strength.  I'm up to 4-5 days/week.  It feels amazing to see the changes in my body over the past 6 months, and I am inspired by it and excited to see how much change can occur in the next year prior to the next training cycle. By next year, I should have a lot more muscle and therefore be less likely to injure myself.

What I've learned:
  • If I don't think about it, I don't succeed at it.  This means I need to plan my workouts for the week, and my food.  
  • Motivation is key. I've "liked" a bunch of fitness groups on Facebook so that their motivational pictures and quotes are there in my news feeds.  This is a great thing to see over and over, especially right before I pass the cookie tray at work.
  • Only you are responsible for yourself.  I was so lucky to have such an amazing and reliable training partner getting ready for the Half Marathon.  Since the race, we've both gone back to our normal lives since everything pretty much went on hold for 16 weeks.  With the holidays and cold/flu season, our schedules haven't been the same on a weekly basis.  Only I can be responsible for myself, my health, and the end result.  Just because my training partner takes a day off doesn't mean that I automatically get to.  This train of thought has really helped me, even when I'm tired and would rather lounge on the couch.  
  • Recovery.  Massages, ice/heat packs, hot tubs, and epson salt baths are not just for pampering.  These are equally as important as hydrating and eating before/after the workout, and make a huge difference on my overall health during strict workout weeks.  I HAVE to cut to down on my dependency on ibuprofen - I fear that this was part of the reason my stomach was so flared up on the days leading up to the Half Marathon.  I also need to get back to taking a multi-vitamin, as these nutrients will also aid in recovery as well.  
  • Races!  Getting dates on the calendar already are helping me keep motivated and helping me get geared up for 2013.
So! Going to start with 1-2 runs/week to get back into the swing of things, just to make sure my leg is ready.  We are going to schedule one longer run (maybe 5-6 miles) before Christmas so we are getting in at least one long run per month.  I think this is perfectly reasonable and will help keep us going.  We're also running the BJALCF Your Next Step is the Cure: Santa Hustle 5k on the 15th! Should be fun and we get Santa hats :)
http://www.getsetusa.com/arizona/event-detail.php?item=403482

We're also doing the Resolution Run 5k in January and I'm super excited! It's the race that began it all, and I am hoping to get some other people to join us:
http://www.active.com/running/phoenix-az/29th-annual-resolution-run-5k-run-walk-2013













*Picture courtesy of: 
http://media-cache0.pinterest.com/upload/176977460326788597_Ez6UVOec_c.jpg



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Goal Accomplished!

My race bib and timing chip for Shun the Sun

This is a very bittersweet moment for me.  In some ways, I am SO happy that this race is done, but in other ways I am sort of mourning it.  This has been one of the most difficult, exhausting, amazing, inspiring, and painful experiences of my life! And it has consumed pretty much my entire year, especially the second half of it.  While I happy to say that I am officially done training, I am a little sad that all of it is over.

The past couple of weeks leading up to the race, things were going well.  My leg stopped hurting and finally felt like it was "healing." It didn't hurt to the touch and I was taking very good care of it, even though I was still running on it.  The week of the race, I got a lot of sleep.  I was calm, I was excited, I was nervous.  I had my running "outfit" washed and folded on top of my dresser all week, so I wasn't frantically washing anything the night before. I had my entire week's worth of food purchased, including the pre-race dinner (which of course I forgot to thaw, so we ate Chipotle instead).  The weather was cool and beautiful, so all our weeks of training in the heat were going to be rewarded.  I knew that everything I had done had led me up to this moment and there was nothing more I could do to prepare. I was ready.

A few things were bothering me, the main thing being my stomach. I don't know what I did to anger it so much, but I was starting to feel a little nervous that my body had gotten this far, my leg had gotten this far, and perhaps my vice would be my stomach.  Luckily, it behaved itself during the race. :)  My gastroenterologist put me back on gluten (the equivalent of 2 pieces of bread a day) for the next month, and then she wants to do an Endoscopy to test for celiac, ulcer, gastritis, and h pylori bacteria.  It makes sense to test for everything at once, and the only way to truly tell if gluten is upsetting me is to have it in my system.  She also said I could just have IBS that is set off my stress and some foods.  So we'll see.

But, back to the race...

I decided to carb load as much as possible.  As thrilling of the idea of stuffing my face for two days straight is, it is crazy hard! Especially since some of the yummy carb things I would love to go for weren't on the list of foods my body was handling well. Even nuts or nut butters.  According to the carb loading articles I have read, you are supposed to consume 4g of carbs per pound of body weight for 2-3 days prior to the race, and then the morning of, consume 1g of carb per lb.  To put this in perspective, my daily "recommended" amount of carbs (per MyFitnessPal anyway) on a 1200 calorie diet with no exercise that day is 165.  Carb loading would mean 548g of carbs. This is seriously impossible.  I tried a valiant effort and only got to about 200g of carbs each day, and 81g the morning of.  I was so full from the day before, and it was 4am the morning of. I could only eat so much.

In the end, my body needed the missing fuel from the morning. I got tired during the race, and actually got hungry at about mile 10.  Note to self for next time: Plan to run with a snack or force myself to eat more 3 hours prior.

Got to bed at 9pm the night before, and slept very well until 3.  Napped on an off until 3:45 and then got up to make breakfast. Forced 2 eggs, 2 corn tortillas, and half of a coconut milk/protein shake down my system and taped up my leg.  Christi picked me up about 6:00 and we headed over to Hohokam Stadium.  It was freezing from the storm the night before, but the air was so clean and crisp and it was a gorgeous morning.  We got into the herd of people at the starting line, gave each other a hug, put one of our headphones in, and started with the horn.

Our first reaction was how fast the people were in the race! They took OFF! We started quickly to keep up with them, but soon realized that if we were going to complete all 13 miles, we'd have to pull back a little bit. We kept a 10:50 pace for the first 6 miles, and then slowed down a little bit for the second half (not intentionally).  The track led us down the canal, which was actually really pretty and full of ducks. The only downsides were the occasional glare from the sun, and some of the dirt parts were flooded and muddy from the storm the night before.  One part was particularly rocky as well, which I wasn't a huge fan of, because you had to concentrate hard on not tripping or landing directly on one of the rocks that were loosely sitting there.

I got pretty tired at about mile 8, but got a new surge of energy at mile 11. Perhaps that was because I knew the end was near.  My leg did really awesome! It started to get sore at around 8 miles, but nothing I couldn't run through.  My shoulders were tight as we neared the end, so they were starting to bother me. The trickiest part of long distance is keeping your form as your body tires, and keeping your arms moving.  If your moves stay in place, your pace slows, and you neck and shoulders start to hurt.  My sports bra wasn't helping these muscles, either.

As we turned towards the stadium on the final mile, I got hit with a surge of emotion. I couldn't believe we had run this far.  The final 1.1 miles felt like the longest miles ever (the track sort of looped into the stadium which made it impossible to see the "FINISH" banner until we were right there, but I was ecstatic when we crossed the finish line).

Finish time: 2 hours, 33 min, 47 seconds.

The happiest moment? Finishing this race and achieving this accomplishment with one of my best friends, and then turning to receive a congratulatory hug from the love of my life.  It was a great moment.

Pictures to follow!

Monday, November 5, 2012

5 days!!!!

So I about flipped when I opened my email on Friday to be greeted by this email:

How did it get to be the week of the race already??

I swear that I have been preparing myself for this event for what feels like an eternity, and then BAM! Time to pick up my bib and t-shirt and prepare myself for the big day! Suddenly it came so fast!

I am as ready as I can possibly be.  My goal this week is to watch what I eat, drink lots of water, get SLEEP (I forget), and keep my leg healthy and happy.  

Speaking of my leg, it's been doing great.  The flares seem to come and go, so I'm trying to keep it moving this week without pushing it too hard.  We're tapering down so tonight we will run about 5 miles, Wed probably 2-3, maybe a little elliptical on Thursday and then eat, eat, eat! That's luckily my favorite activity right now, so I'm looking forward to it. :) 

My stomach has not been happy, so I am being overly cautious this week on calm foods, and nothing that I don't ordinarily eat, just to be safe.  Last thing I want is to deal with stomach issues the morning of the race. 

Now I just need to:
  • Pick up my bib (Thursday after work)
  • Figure out directions and my game plan for the morning of
  • Plan my meals for Thursday - Saturday

I'm not sure why I am so nervous but the butterflies are active in my tummy!  13.1 miles, here we come! :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

2.5 weeks out!

The 13.1 mile course has been posted! This will be our Half Marathon in 2.5 weeks!

We are 2.5 weeks out from the race, and I have had more mood swings about this event than I can even count.  I have gone back and forth between excitement, motivation, frustration, sadness, pain, and determination.  

Each week in our training schedule, we have been adding another mile each week.  It's amazing, because 10 weeks ago I would NEVER have thought 3 miles or 5 miles was "easy." When compared to 8+, it is!  
  • We ran 6 miles and I thought that 7 sounded so hard.
  • We ran 7 miles and I thought 8 would be too hard.
  • Then we ran 8 miles and I couldn't believe we were about to run 9!


The amazing part is that I think once you go over the hump (which we are thinking is about 6mi), adding another mile or so isn't hard.  Is it the runner's high they always talk about? I'm not sure. But what I do know is that I get tired at about the same end point of my run, whether it was 6 miles or 8.  I've convinced my mind and my lungs that I am capable, it's just convincing my sad, injured leg that it is invincible. I think that might be the hardest part about this: I can do this, but my leg just physically doesn't want to, and fights me every step of the way.

The muscle strain above my left ankle and along my inner calf has been sore since August. It seems to be going through waves.  It would have healed if I gave it more time off, but I was too stubborn and pushed through.  Then, last week, the tendon in the same foot all of a sudden started hurting.  Nothing happened, I didn't twist anything or step funny, it just got angry about 6 miles into the 8 mile journey! I feel that the two points of pain are related as they seem to run in a straight line.  If you are standing flat footed, and flex your right toe, the pain runs right along that tendon to the inner part of my foot.  

This Sunday we were slated to run 9 miles and I wasn't sure I could even put pressure on my right foot to run.  The part of your foot that takes the pressure and is used to "push off" the ground is kind of an essential part of running. So I loaded myself with ibuprofen, and taped it with my fancy Argyle Rock Tape.  My foot did surprisingly well! I felt it each step but had no problem running through it.  Everything I have read said that if you can run through the pain, it's ok to keep going.  Ok, great. But then my brilliant self was so focused on my foot that I completely forgot to tape my calf. I made it 7 miles before the throbbing in my calf was so strong I couldn't run another step.  We cut the run short at 7.35mi. I felt good about the run, but couldn't help but be pissed at myself for such a stupid mistake.
*I should also mention that Tempe Town Lake, our running location for the weekend, was hosting a Half Ironman.  This made us change our course to avoid being trampled by runners / bikers, so that was another reason for our lack of mileage. The change in course dropped a mile off of our route, which we were going to add to the end but I couldn't go on.

However, despite the fact that we ended short, I still felt invigorated that I ran through it.  The adrenaline in my veins told me that I could do this.  That the mind is an amazing thing and that adrenaline would have my back.  But it didn't take long for me to change my tune - within three hours later I was nearly crippled when everything had cooled down.  It didn't matter how much ice or biofreeze I applied, or how much ibuprofen I took - it has been throbbing since.  Hence the mood swings - I can't decide which I'm more excited for: entering the race in 2.5 weeks, or it all being over.  At this point, I'm tired of being unable to walk. I'm tired of hurting and being confined to flats. I'm tired of smelling like Biofreeze!  I'm tired of complaining. My only option is to stop, and it's not going to happen. I've come too far.  

So, I have come to terms with the fact that the race is going to hurt, and I am really going to hurt after. But then I can take some much needed time off of running.  I don't want to risk a chronic issue.  I only need to last 2.5 more weeks. Just 2.5 more weeks.

* * *

We've been talking a lot about "what happens after." I am about to complete 13.1 miles.. while it has been a grueling process, I am not the only one! I have read so many stories of runners who took several attempts to even get this far.  I am determined and not a quitter. But, this epic adventure cannot be my only story.  I know that the next race will be easier, and the one after that.  I will look back on this day and laugh about my silly beginner's story... right? ha!

2013 is going to be dedicated to smaller races.  Keep up the gym time and work on strength and muscle tone.  Small races throughout the year to work on improving pace.  And then another half. I am thinking that the PF Changs 1/2 Marathon in January 2014 might be a good goal. That's plenty of time to register early to avoid the expensive fees, avoids training throughout the summer, and gives me a year before I have to jump into another extensive training program. I think my body, mind, and family/friends will all appreciate the time off. :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

The gluten free / dairy experiment


One month ago, I started a new experiment with my diet.  I dropped all gluten/wheat from my diet, as well as all dairy. The only exception was eggs, but I kinda classify that as its own food group. It's actually been a lot easier than I thought, and an interesting learning experience.
A note about the eggs: Eggs are an AMAZING source of protein, and one I have become quite dependent on.  Additionally, they are so mellow on my stomach, I can literally eat and egg and then run 5 miles with no problems.  Not all foods are so forgiving. Since I have had no issues after eating them, I decided not to include them in this experiment.

I decided to give myself a couple more weeks on the gluten experiment, as I think I may have gotten a little wheat when we were in San Diego (I had vegan sausage and I didn't realize that most of them contain wheat). So, to be safe, I decided on 6 weeks just in case (since it can take a month to get it out of your system entirely). So, two more to go.

Over the past 5 years, I have dramatically changed my diet and gotten progressively pickier about where I shop, what I buy, and what I eat.  Just ask Jay, after I drag him to three grocery stores seeking "all natural" or "wild caught" products rather than buying what is on sale or available in the freezer section.  I feel empowered by knowing what is in my food, and I truly believe I feel better by fueling myself with better ingredients, even if they are more expensive.  I also believe that we vote every time we grocery shop, and I will vote to keep these items available and accessible to the public.

When I stopped eating meat, I stopped eating fish and dairy. Everything was removed from my diet initially because of cruelty issues, and then remained that way for health reasons.  I never craved meat, so I never felt the need to put it back in.  In fact, I felt better without it.  I did eventually start to crave the fish again, but that took 3 years to resurface (and is still on occasion).  The dairy was tough for me, so I brought it back in pretty quickly. I've had a love affair with dairy my entire life, and it always seemed to bring me back to the same result: my body doesn't like it.  My stomach especially doesn't like it, especially when I have a lot.  It gets bad, I drop it back, I feel better, I bring it back, I feel crappy. And repeat.  You see, I appear to be an "all or nothing" girl when it comes to dairy, cheese especially. I can't just eat it once a month. So apparently, it's time to say good bye, or I will just keep battling the stomach pain, occasional nausea, bloating, etc.

Over the past couple of years, I've slowly been working it out. Rice milk instead of half and half in my coffee. Almond milk instead of yogurt in my smoothies.  Sorbet or soy ice cream instead of ice cream.  Cheese was my downfall, as I was opposed to the idea of "soy cheese." And then I started this ingredient and gave it a shot: made enchiladas and it was delicious!

So why gluten/wheat?

I know I am not "allergic" to anything. I've had blood work done to confirm it.
I know I am not "lactose intolerant." I don't have the same symptom every single time.
What I believe is I have a food intolerance to dairy, and the wheat symptoms are incredibly similar.

Here are some of the gluten intolerance symptoms:

  • weight gain
  • gastrointestinal problems (bloating, gas, pain, constipation, etc)
  • aching joints
  • exhaustion
  • head aches
Here are some of the wheat intolerance symptoms:
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • frequent headaches
  • inflammation (joints and muscles), allergies
  • chronic fatigue
  • skin rash
Here are some of the dairy intolerance symptoms:
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • weight gain
  • sinus pain and headache
  • fatigue
  • skin rash

Anyone who knows me knows I have always suffered headaches, I have really bad inflammation in my muscles (major knots from head to toe), I randomly get hives, I'm tired a lot. Gastrointestinal, check.  It all seems to add up.

Gluten intolerance is harder to pin point, unlike celiac disease. It can take days to feel the affects of it in your body.  That makes it really tough to diagnose.  It's also something that has consistently been in my diet since I was a child.  It may not be a huge problem, but I certainly eat too much of it. I started noticing all of the above symptoms, and it occurred to me that I hadn't had dairy in days. What I had eaten consistently was wheat.  The final straw was the week/weekend that we were moving and I felt nauseous after I ate any type of bread or dairy. My stomach was bloated, I felt very gassy, and I just felt terrible. And it was happening more often than not.

Since I started this experiment, I have been feeling so much better. I will be interested to see what happens when I start reintroducing food, but I am very undecided if I am going to reintroduce dairy at all. It might just be time to cut the cord. My family might kill me when it comes to the holidays this year, ha!

Not exactly sure how to classify myself now. I am a vegetarian that doesn't eat dairy or meat, but I eat eggs, and I have been craving fish a lot so I've been eating that pretty regularly (couple times a month) over the past year or two.

I guess I'm just Abby. :)




Thursday, September 27, 2012

New plan of attack.

Yeah, buddy! That's an action shot. If it weren't for the soft sand, I would run with that back drop every day if I could! So pretty. :)

I've been getting really discouraged and angered easily by my frequent injuries, and I don't like how I feel when it happens.  This past week, a few things occurred to me:

  • Fact: I feel better after I run. I actually feel better when I run.
  • For the first time in my life, I was looking at runners on the side of the street (even in the middle of the afternoon when it is 110 degrees) and I actually miss running. I think this officially makes me a runner (I've always joked that I "run," that I'm not a "runner." Just like I'm "graceful." ha! )
  • The only way for my leg to completely stop hurting, is to stop. And let me just tell you that this is not going to happen.
  • The only way to not injure myself again is to strengthen my leg muscles. This again means not stopping, and more time in the gym working on strengthening exercises.
Suddenly I'm not as scared of running. It's a huge weight off my shoulders. 

Saturday, we ran 5 miles. This was the farthest I had run since we did our 10k in March. It felt amazing! I came home ecstatic and rejuvenated, and extremely proud.  Took us 55 minutes, but we ran the entire thing. (We got stopped quickly at 2 lights, but did not walk any). Living in the Central Corridor, we were able to run down Central along the light rail.  We rewarded ourselves with coffee and food and then took the light rail back up North, which is a 10 minute walk to my door. Running in a straight line was better for our psyche, too. There was no winding or looping; the end result was to run straight to the hot, delicious coffee (we are easily bribed and coerced by food and coffee).  

However, I still had a little trepidation about this run: How would I feel after?

Sore. Everywhere! My body wasn't sure how to handle the beating of running on the pavement again. But the good news was that my muscle strain hurt less than the muscle pain across my body. Progress! I'll take it.  I rewarded myself with a hot epson salt bath, was diligent about icing my leg and taking ibuprofen.  

My long run is the most important run of the week, so if this means I have to cross train during the week until my leg is ready, then so be it. But I am realizing that every bit counts, every bit of muscle strengthening helps, and getting my long runs in are the most essential parts of this training schedule.  

6 weeks in, 6 weeks to go!

Oh yeah, in case I'm missing, I'm probably at my second home:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Scheduling.

With my recent re-injury, I was starting to get a little overwhelmed by our training schedule.  The last training run I was able to do (non-elliptical) was 4 miles.  This weekend we were slated to run 7 miles.  That's a 3 mile jump, and my leg isn't exactly healed. I started finding that all I could think about was how far behind I was getting, how many miles I wasn't running, and how I was holding us back as a team.  This was getting really frustrating and it was starting to make me angry.

We tried water running on Wednesday morning - super low impact, a great cross-training option as an alternative to running, especially with an injury. At the time it didn't seem hard, but when we finished I could feel it everywhere. The only downside is that I had hoped to have done it in deep water so my leg had literally no ground impact.  At 4:30am, Lifetime only has the indoor pools open, and then only go 4 ft.  So, my leg was unhappy later that day, therefore Abby was unhappy later in the day. However, my anger fueled good weight lifting that afternoon, so at least that was successful. By last night, I had calmed down, relaxed a bit, and realized I needed to regroup. Again.

I've seen a lot of articles about modifying training schedules, but for some reason, this was a hard concept for me to grasp. I was determined to keep our training schedule set in stone.  However, it's been a busy couple of weeks, we've been tired and/or sick, so we were already starting to modify things.  Despite my hesitation to pull the training mileage back, yesterday at the gym, I realized I had no option but to adjust it.  In talking with Christi, it turned out to be a good solution for both of us.  The entire point of having this long training schedule is so we can modify it to meet our needs each week. It's not set in stone; there is no harm in making adjustments.  We luckily were about to do several weeks at 8 miles, so we decided to build up one mile per week for 5, 6, 7, and 8 miles, and then be back on track and back on schedule.

My main goal is to focus on running the long run. If my leg is hurting, then my short run and interval run of the week will be cross training with lots of resistance, and extra focus on strengthening the surrounding muscles.   I'm not going to be out of shape just because my leg isn't cooperating.  I will run this race and at least be in the best shape I can possibly be.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fear of running?

The sunlight created a bit of a glare, but this is us coming down the giant sand hill at the end of the race.  Glad I've been training with resistance and hills. :)

This week I experienced something new: the fear of running.

We had been planning on this SandPit 5k for a couple of months. In my mind it was this fun thing we were going to do with a beautiful backdrop for a morning run.  However, when I strained the muscle above my ankle, I suddenly realized what running in the sand actually meant for me.

For the first time, I wasn't worried about the distance. 3.1 miles, no problem. I wasn't worried about the obstacles either. I suddenly became petrified at the idea of running on the sand.  What if I injured myself more? Was 2 weeks on the elliptical machine enough to give me the strength I needed? Would I be able to run the whole thing? Would I completely regret it the next day?

I was absolutely scared.  Butterflies in my stomach, trouble sleeping, mind racing. Seriously? It's a 5k. Snap out of it!  I realized that I had done everything I could possibly do to prepare, the only thing I could do was run!

Friday night, we got to bed later than I had planned on, midnight. We were sleeping on an air mattress on the floor, in a new place. It was warm, the train kept going by, and my mind was racing.  I woke up, semi-refreshed, and decided to put on my shoes and give it a test run.  I ran down the street and back. I knew it would hurt a little since I hadn't run in 2 weeks, but it still freaked me out. Should I compete?

I decided that I didn't drive all the way to California to be defeated without even trying. If I start the run, and I'm miserable, I would pull off. I would walk. But I wouldn't quit before putting my number on my back.

The race itself was hilarious.  My foot did pretty well. By the end, the wear and tear of my feet jerking around on the sand started to get to me, so I walked a little bit. Christi would not leave me behind.  In the end, we finished the race, 37 minutes.

The obstacles? The first half was on packed sand and through the water - running along the shore, running out into the waves (the water literally came to my chin), crawling through sand. The second half was all soft sand.  That was hard enough!! But then came tunnels, jumping walls, going through hoops, running up sand hills (tall ones), and rolling into a water pit. We finished laughing, because that was all we could do.

In the end, I'm happy I did it. I would have been sad to have not even tried.  We weren't fast, but we weren't that slow either. The finish times ranged from 19 minutes to 55. Right in the middle. And while my leg has been sore (really sore on Saturday and Sunday), it's already doing better.  I have realized this just may be something I am going to have to deal with until the Half is over. So I will keep stocking up on ice packs, ibuprofen, biofreeze, and arnica, and keep scheduling massages.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Forging ahead!

Week 5 of the training plan, and I am forging ahead!

Except, I've run into a small snag. After running 3 days a week for 2 months with no problem, the minute we amped up the training and added in our cross training and weight days, I injured myself.  Again!! After lots of research, I've given myself a self-diagnosis: muscle strain located on my inner left leg above my ankle, next to my shinbone.  It felt like a bruise to the touch, without there being a bruise.

I believe the problem was my shoes... my running shoes have been great for running, but that's what they are supposed to do. What they are not supposed to do is cross-train, and I believe that's where it happened. I think I tweaked my leg in Zumba the first week, then aggravated it over the next 2 weeks, and here I am.  A running coach at work explained that some people just have pickier bodies.  I would maybe have the same result if I tried to hike Camelback in Converse, or go for a really long walk in flip flops.  They aren't the proper shoes for that activity.  Running shoes are also heel supported, while cross training shoes are toe supported.  The only thing to truly cure a muscle strain is rest, and that wasn't really an option, with training needing to continue and the fact that I had to pack up and move to a new home.  Not exactly restful!

So. Ibuprofen, ice, biofreeze... and new cross training shoes:

These are very comfortable, and I think they will work just fine. But, the damage was already done. I about lost my mind, because I couldn't run without my leg throbbing and I began to panic that I was out of the race again. Just when I needed to increase mileage, I was shoved a couple of steps back.  But then I composed myself, ordered my shoes, and declared myself elliptical bound for a couple weeks, which is what I've done.  I've kept up with the mileage, but hiked up the resistance.

My next fear was the 5k SandPit Race we had planned for this Saturday in San Diego: http://www.kozevents.com/Running_Events/Sand_Pit_5K.htm We had planned this awhile ago thinking that a fun race in much cooler weather would be just what we needed at this point in training! But as we got closer, and I was fighting an injury, I started to worry: Would my leg hold up? Would I injure myself more so that I am struggling even more with the next portion of training? What if I tweak my foot and I injure myself in another way? I never run in sand, so do I run in my shoes or run barefoot? I decided on shoes. I am used to running in them, and I am sticking with that, even if it means I need to buy new shoes afterwards.

So, onward! If my leg can't handle it, I will rest on the beach and cheer the runners on. But I am forging ahead and will not be defeated!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Let the training begin!

Week One of training!

I didn't think I added that much more this week, especially since our scheduled runs weren't any longer than the previous week. But by Thursday night, I was positively exhausted!

Sunday night:
I tried really hard to be prepared for the week. I spent a couple hours in the kitchen juicing fruits and vegetables, making smoothies for the next two days' breakfasts, packing my lunch for Monday, and getting all my workout clothes washed. I was in bed by 9:00.  Of course, I couldn't sleep. I had the worst sleep ever and woke up pretty much every hour between 9 and 5. Not the best start...Sleep is the key to training!! As someone who has spent pretty much my entire adult life being sleep deprived (or maybe I've always been this way? I didn't like to sleep as a kid either), I am worthless at running without sleep! It is the very best nutrient you can give your body and I am reminded of the fact every time I don't get enough.

Monday:
We had a 3 mile run scheduled Monday evening. Christi was exhausted as well.  We pushed forward.  It was the hottest it had ever been in the evening when we ran: 111 degrees. There was absolutely no moving air, the air was thick and stale, and there was a storm over the mountains mocking us. I would have paid every dollar in my bank account for the storm to move over and the rain to rescue us. Or a sprinkler to go off? Throw me a bone, here! Nonetheless, we got almost the entire way without stopping: 2.9 miles.  I'll take it. We walked the rest.

Tuesday:
Zumba class at Lifetime! In case you didn't notice this, I am white. Very white. Not just my paleness, but my rhythm. I have an ethnic booty but boy did I get my ass kicked in this class! However, I had an absolute blast. I think I laughed the entire time.  And I was sweaty and exhausted when done, so it was a well earned 500 calories I burned off.  The entire point is to have fun, so this was achieved. I will go back next week.

Wednesday:
4:30 am run, 4 miles.  Usually, we have Tuesdays off, so we weren't expecting to be so tired on Wednesday.  However, we were.  I basically got home from class about 9 and then went to bed. Immediately got up and went running. Every part of my body felt heavy and I had a hard time with the first mile.  Even my shoulders felt heavy, which made it hard to swing my arms and keep up my pace.  We ended up walking part way in between, but honestly that's because it was also so hard to breathe in the heat.  I just wish the air would thin out already! Would be so much easier! There are lots of articles that talk about how beneficial it is to train in the heat, because then when race day arrives, you are that much faster! But they made a very valid point: "It will always be difficult, and that is normal." We are not failing. I've learned to realize that if I have to walk for a second, I am not a "failure" as a runner.
....
After work, we hit the gym to do a 30 minute core/weight workout.  This was the perfect amount of time, and despite our short workout, it was beneficial and I was sore afterwards! The hardest part for me is that I have very weak chest muscles post-surgery, so it's going to take some extra time to build up the muscle and get used to the feeling of using them again.  We tried out the Push/Pull workout I had posted about previously: http://abbyduval.blogspot.com/2012/06/push-pull-workout.html. Some of the exercises on the ball were so difficult! (and I'm sure we looked so ridiculous doing them in the middle of the gym..) I'm not sure that I like this one as a repeat workout.  Next week, we're going to try Cross-Fit: http://www.active.com/running/Articles/Improve-Running-Performance-With-Crossfit.htm. BOOM! Talk about an ass-kicking!

Thursday:
No rest for the weary! Sore and exhausted, we trudged over to the gym at lunch to do a treadmill speed workout.  20 minutes was the perfect amount of time, but we are realizing now we need to pick up the pace on the speed workouts.  No matter how fast 7.5 felt, we probably need to get up to 8.5 or so for our sprint minutes. (We are doing a slow pace 1 minute, followed by a fast pace 1 minute, and then alternating, gradually speeding up our fast minutes).

Friday:
REST! So thankful.  I was starting to feel terrible. Feel better now. :)

Saturday:
Tomorrow we are going to a Barbell Strength class at Lifetime. I'm nervous for this, but excited. It's supposed to be very hard. We needed a good strength day, and this seemed like the best way to do it.  8:15am. :)

Sunday:
More REST! Hooray!

I've noticed that this week I have been absolutely ravenous. I'm listening to it, and eating when necessary, but want to be cognizant of it so that I don't continually put on weight when I am trying to get into shape for the race.  I just read an article that brought up some great points about why runners actually gain weight when they train, and it's not just muscle mass.  A great point was the "I deserve this cookie" post run scenario (guilty), or the fact that we are eating more carbs, which leads to water retention.  Good to know! If you are interested in reading it, here's the link: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-304--14055-0,00.html?cm_mmc=NL-Nutrition-_-1009824-_-08162012-_-Adding-Pounds-as-You-Add-Miles%3F

Special shout out to everyone who has been so supportive throughout this process.  I am fortunate to have an amazing boyfriend who tells me he is proud of me and urges me to go on when I am exhausted. I'm thankful to have an awesome training partner who also has a supportive husband as well. It is a team effort after all...

Love to you all!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kale. Juicing. One week. I'm a cripple.

This summer is absolutely flying by.  How did it become August already? In addition, this marks my 4th year here in Arizona... where has time gone?? It's amazing!  I can also tell that it is August because I am suddenly very OVER the heat. I do well throughout June and July, but by August I am tired of it being hot at 4am, missing eating outside at lunchtime, and wishing the evenings were cool enough to go for a walk or sit outside.  That being said, forging on!
Next week begins training for the half marathon!!
We had set this day several months ago and at the time, it seemed so far away. And suddenly, it's game on.

With our (hopefully) impending move in a month, and the beginning of training season happening, it was time to get set up with an official gym membership.  One reason being that soon I will not have free gym access. The other being that Christi and I need to be able to work out together more during the week, and having a gym we can access at lunchtime or classes directly after work will make that much easier.  Despite it's price, I went back to Lifetime Fitness. It's an amazing gym, it's huge, right next to work, and has a huge dressing room/shower area for when we work out before work or at lunch.  

A reminder of our weekly schedule:
  • One long run, spanning between 4 miles and 10 miles, trying to get to the ultimate goal of 13.1
  • One short, pace run, 25-75% of the long run distance for that week
  • Speedwork day: 10-30 min of interval training (sprints, stairs, running backwards, hills)
  • Cross-training (2-3 times/week): weight lifting, resistance training, fitness classes, elliptical, yoga, hiking, etc.
Oh yeah, and rest.

We've been pretty good until now with the exception of the weight training, and several cross training days together. I have gotten some hikes and yoga in, but nothing dedicated each week.  

Which brings me to my latest dilemma, I'm a cripple.  I'm not kidding, I haven't been able to walk since Saturday.  We were going to do hill training on the treadmills at my gym, but there are only 2 available in the gym, and 1 was taken. We decided to run stairs on the fitness steps for 18 minutes, followed by 3 circuits of sqauts, leg press, and hamstring curls, followed by a half mile loop. We were tired, but had no clue how sore we would be. Cripple. It's awful. My poor calves didn't know what hit them. It literallly took me 5 minutes to get out of bed the next day.
Lesson learned: NEVER do this the week before or of the race!!

Miranda gave me her old juicer. I'm in love!! <3  It's taken my breakfast smoothies to a whole new level! Tomorrow's smoothie: almond milk, protein powder, banana, strawberries, peach, maca powder, flax seed, a bunch of kale, and carrots.  Yes, kind of looks like ass... but it's going to be delicious. :)

Lastly, this year I have become obsessed with kale.  Not only is it an antioxidant that is chock full of vitamins, but it is delicious! I buy it at the grocery store, and then it's been in season a lot, so it's arriving in my produce as well. As a result, I have a ton of it.  And while Jay likes it, and has been a good sport about my new obsession, when I'm not home he's not likely to nom on a bunch of kale just for the fun of it. :)  So, I've had to get a little creative with what to do with it.  I'll throw it on pizzas, in quesadillas, in pasta, smoothies.  This week, I tried it in hummus...

I found this recipe on TakePart's Meatless Mondays series* and followed it exactly just to try it out. I found the garlic powder an interesting choice when generally hummus calls for fresh garlic (but the flavor was great). I also did dried herbs (that's what I had, and the recipe didn't specify), but I think fresh would be awesome:

Green Monster Hummus
1 can chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
2 cloves of garlic
2T lemon juice
1T soy sauce (I use gluten free)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1t salt
1t dried oregano (or 1T fresh)
1t dried basil (or 1T fresh)
2 cups kale (or spinach)
Pour all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well combined.  Refrigerate for best results. Serve with pita chips, pita bread, or veggies. Enjoy!






Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

So... it's always at least 105 at this time of the year. More often than not it's closer to 110. By default, Arizonians are thirsty people.

Add to that running three days a week, and the Bikram yoga trial I have been doing 2-3 times per week.... I'm thirsty, very thirsty! They say that when you are running and you feel thirst, you are already past the point of being dehydrated.  You have to hydrate in advance.

Considering I already had a concern about my potassium levels, I was highly encouraged to make sure that I am watching my vitamins and supplements, and making sure to be drinking a LOT of electrolytes.  I always shrugged off electrolytes because it used to be that you would have to drink Gatorade to get them, and I can't drink the stuff. Too much sugar!

On the days that I have been doing Bikram and running on the same day (which I'm not sure how much longer I will do that honestly, it's pretty draining), I have had to get creative about hydrating and fueling the next course. When I get out of Bikram at 6pm, I have been drinking a protein shake to fuel me for my 7:45pm run, and then I can have a snack or light dinner when I get home.  I have been experimenting with some pre-run and post-run standards and have noticed how much better I feel!

  • Coconut Water - VitaCoco w/pineapple - I have tried several brands of coconut water and have decided that I just don't like the taste of plain coconut water. It's bland and has a weird taste to me.  However, I really love the one with a bit of pineapple juice in it.  It's only 80 calories and doesn't have too much sugar, and a great source of potassium. *Must drink it cold*
  • Coconut Milk - So Delicious Chocolate Coconut Milk - Um, yum!! Delicious. I have been doing 1 cup of coconut milk, 1 scoop of Gold Standard Vanilla Whey protein, and then top it off with cold water. A delicious recovery drink, a nice way to kill a sweet tooth, and again, lots of potassium (and protein). I have also experimented with adding maca powder to this, and will add spirulina as soon as the bulk source has more stock. 
  • Emergen-C - Lemon lime - I have been drinking a small glass with one of these packets in it every morning. When I feel like my coffee isn't kicking in, the Emergen-C gives me an immediate boost of energy. I can literally feel the vitamins hit my system and just feel overall better! I've noticed that I am less achy aferwards as well.
  • Nuun Energy Tab - Lemon lime - Gatorade without the sugar! And great to travel with. Just throw a tab into water and dissolve.
I am going to make a concentrated effort to buy hydrating foods, like in the picture above. Nature is amazing - these foods just naturally hydrate you.. who needs supplements when you have good food??



Friday, July 6, 2012

Bikram Yoga

Words I never thought I would utter: "I'm going to a bikram yoga class."

1. I hate sweating. Especially, when it's on my face.
2. Up until this point, I have always said I hate yoga.
3. It's 108 outside, do I really need to pay money to stretch in a room that is heated to 108?

The truth is, I took my first two classes this week... and I kind of loved it.

Angie and Miranda have always been large proponents of bikram yoga, and I promised Angie that the next time a groupon came along for an unlimited yoga class, I would try it.  And it did: $30 for 30 days of unlimited yoga, at a highly recommended studio.  Why not?

Let me preface this by saying that I have never liked yoga until this point.  When I was in college, I thought it would be "fun" to take a 1 unit yoga class on Friday mornings.  It wasn't fun, it was hard, and my teacher, sometimes known as the "Yoga Nazi," lived up to her name.  She would actually scold you and get frustrated with you if you couldn't do the pose right. Um, I'm sorry, I'm not that limber and this is a really difficult pose! Needless to say, this did not start my yoga experience off on the right foot.

Fast forward to tribal bellydance workshops - yoga and tribal bellydance became very intertwined as dancers with strong core muscles also tend to be amazing dancers.  So, as a result, a lot of workshops began with yoga.  The meditation exercises I found relaxing, but often the workshops were so yoga-centric (and advanced yoga, for that matter) that it would just frustrate me.  Not fun!

With all my headaches and neck aches, I was often told that yoga would be beneficial for me. In fact, it would probably make my mother happy to know I am finally doing yoga.  It wasn't that I didn't believe these statements, but my previous efforts at the practice hindered me from branching out and trying it again. And let's face it, massage can only do so much.

Now that I've been running, I've been doing a lot of research on training and practicing in the summertime.  There are a lot of articles that mention that yoga can be a runner's best friend.  Again, good, strong core muscles mean for a good, strong runner that is less likely to suffer injury.  It was starting to appear that I just couldn't hide from it - yoga was going to find me one way or another.  So, here I am...

Last Monday, I tried bikram for the first time. I've heard that you either love bikram, or you hate it. For those that have never taken it, the class has a set series of postures and breathing exercises in a very hot room. They heat the room to 108 and it is HOT!  The main goal for the first class is to stay in the room. I see now why they say that.  I was laying on my mat 5 minutes before class started, to "acclimate." (Note: I think running in the heat has helped me acclimate to this, if you can ever truly acclimate to heat like that).  As I was laying there, staring up at the running ceiling fans, I thought, "this isn't too bad." Then, the instructor entered the room, turned the fans off, and began class.  Oh no. Different story.

I did better at the yoga than I thought. I have never been incredibly flexible, but by the end of class my muscles were so warmed up that I had a lot more range. I did pretty well at the balancing poses as well (I was shocked,  I'm clumsy!). There were only two poses that I couldn't do at all, even in a clumsy, awkward version of the actual pose.  This was promising!  The heat was a different story.  You are just soaked. Good thing I had a hand towel, I put it to good use. I just made sure to drink lots of water during, and wipe myself down at any opportune moment.  Looking around, other people didn't seem to mind it. Maybe you get used to it? I tried not to be horrified at the man in front of me, literally dripping like a faucet.  I looked the other way...

I ran Monday after class, which was rough, but doable.
Class again on Tuesday, which took me awhile to get focused, but class flowed faster because I knew what was coming next.

I always wondered why people willingly did such an activity. It is gruesome! There is no preparing yourself for that. But I love how I felt afterwards! (Well, at least I did after my shower).

We shall see how I feel at the end of the month. :)

**Interested in trying? Check out Bikram Yoga Tempe: http://bikramyogatempe.com/

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Push / Pull workout?

It's time for me to start integrating weight training into my weekly schedule, preferably 3x/week.  There are a lot of different takes on how to accomplish this, so I'm interested to see what other people do?

Ideally, I think this is the way to do it:
Day 1: Chest-Triceps
Day 2: Back-Biceps
Day 3: Legs-Shoulders

I've also seen something referenced as a Push/Pull workout, to integrate a full body routine as well. I think I might use this to start to get my body back in action.  One of the Push/Pull workouts I have seen is recommended to do 10-16 reps of each exercise, and and sets each week until comfortable.  

Push Workout:
Dumbbell Squat (quads, glutes)
squatani3.jpg (18700 bytes)

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells over the shoulders or at your sides.  Bend knees and lower into a squat as far as you can (butt no lower than knees), making sure your knees do not go over your toes.  Push through the heels and butt to stand and repeat.
Reverse Lunge (quads, hamstrings, glutes)
lunge3.jpg (18250 bytes)
Stand with feet together, weights in hand.  Step back about 3 feet with the right foot and bend knees into a lunge, keeping both knees at 90 degree angles and the front knee behind the toe.  Push through the heels to lift back up, bringing foot back to start.  Repeat for number of reps and switch legs. 
Leg Extension (quads)
 Lie with the ball supporting the head and shoulders, hips lifted in a bridge position.  Extend the right leg out until the knee is straight (keep it level with the left knee), lower and repeat for all reps before switching sides.  For an easier version sit on a ball or chair.
Outer Thigh Lift
Lie sideways on the ball with the torso supported and the bottom leg bent on the floor.  Hold a light weight on the outer thigh of the top leg (optional) and lift the leg a few inches, keeping the hip, knee and ankle aligned and facing forward.  
Pushups (chest)
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Get in pushup position (on knees or toes) and keep the abs in as you bend the elbows and lower towards the floor with the back flat.  Push back up and repeat.
Chest Press (chest)
chestpress3.jpg (11499 bytes)
Lie on a ball or bench with the head and neck supported.  Begin with the weights straight up over chest.  Bend the elbows and lower arms no lower than shoulders, wrists straight. Lift back to start and repeat.
Overhead Press (shoulders)
ssoverheadpress1.jpg (11641 bytes)
Sit on a ball or stand and begin by bringing the weights up next to ears, palms face out.  Contract the shoulders to push the weights straight up and slightly forward (you should see them out of the corner of your eye).  Lower back down to shoulder level and repeat.
Front Raises (shoulders)
Hold the weights in front of the thighs and lift the arms straight up to shoulder level, elbows slightly bent.  Lower and repeat.
Tricep Kickbacks (triceps
kickback1.jpg (15023 bytes)
 kickback3.jpg (15769 bytes)Stand with fit hip-width apart and tip forward from the hips, back flat and abs in until your torso is parallel to the floor (or higher if it hurts your back or your hamstrings are tight).  Begin with elbows bent and pulled up to ribcage.  Tighten the triceps and straighten the elbow, bringing weights up behind you.  Lower back down and repeat. 
One-Arm Tricep Pushups (triceps)
traveltripushup.jpg (9813 bytes)  traveltripushup2.jpg (10060 bytes)
Lie down on left side, hips and knees stacked. Wrap the left arm around torso so that left hand is resting on the right waist. Place the right hand on the floor in front of you, palm parallel to the body. Squeeze the triceps and push your body up. Lower and repeat before switching sides. 

Pull Workout:
Deadlift (Hamstrings/Back)
Deadlift Dumbbells 
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding weights in front of you.  Keeping knees slightly bent (or straight) tip from the hips with back straight, shoulders back and abs in.  Lower the torso towards the floor, keeping weight close to legs.  Squeeze through the butt and hamstrings to come back up and repeat.
Step Ups with Band
 
Wrap band under one side of step and hold on to the handles to create tension.  Place right foot on the step and press into the heel as you step up.  Lower down, touching left toe to the floor and repeat.
One-Leg Hip Raises (Hamstrings/Glutes)   
Place one foot on a step or ball (harder), knee bent, and raise left leg straight up.  Keeping abs tight, squeeze butt and hamstring to lift butt off the floor, pushing left leg straight up towards the ceiling.  Lower back until butt barely touches the floor.   Alternate on each leg for 2-3 sets of 16 reps.
Hip Extension on the Ball
 Lie with hips on the ball and forearms on the floor.  Bend the knees so shins are parallel to the floor and squeeze the glutes to lift the feet towards the ceiling.
DB Row (lats)
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 bilateralrow3.jpg (15015 bytes) 
Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend at the waist until torso is parallel to the floor (or higher, if it hurts your back).  Keep abs contracted to protect the back and bend arms, pulling elbow up to the rib cage while contracting the lat muscles.  Lower and repeat.  Do this one arm at a time if you find this too hard on your back.
DB Pullover (Lats/Triceps)
sspullover1.jpg (15867 bytes)

Lie face up on a step, bench or ball, holding the dumbbell straight up overhead.  Keeping your back against the bench and using control, slowly lower the weight behind your head, arms slightly bent, until you're level with the bench.  Squeeze your back to pull the weight back up to start
Reverse Fly

Sit on a ball or bench and bend forward, holding the weights under the legs with palms facing each other.  Contract the shoulder blades and lift the arms up to shoulder level, elbows slightly bent.  Lower and repeat.
Barbell Bicep Curls (Biceps)bicepbar1.jpg (20416 bytes) 
Hold weights  in hands, palms facing out, elbow slightly bent.  Keeping abs tight, bend the elbows and bring the weights towards the shoulders (don't touch the shoulders), keeping elbows from moving back and forth.  Slowly lower back down, but don't straighten the arm entirely--keep tension on the muscle throughout the movement.  If you find you're swinging the weights to get them up, lower the weight and slow down.
Concentration Curls
bicepconc1.jpg (17119 bytes)
 bicepconc2.jpg (19746 bytes)Kneel on floor or sit on a bench and grasp a dumbbell.  Place the back of the upper arm on the inner thigh and lean into the leg to raise the elbow a bit.  Raise dumbbell to front of shoulder and then lower until arm is almost fully extended. 

I think I might give this a shot for a couple weeks to get into the swing of things, and then split up the concentration by body area.  

The trick is going to be successfully integrating this in.  We have the running schedule set, and I've been good about adding in a cross training day.  (My cross training day is going to increase in July when I use an unlimited bikram yoga purchase I bought from Groupon).

My goal is to tone all of my muscle groups and increase my strength so that I am less likely to injure myself.  Also, I think that when I am pushing this much cardio, it's going to be twice as effective if I strengthen my core and muscles. And, I am hopefully going to see the results I am looking for.  Here's hoping!

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My friend Kerri shared this with me this week, and it was very fitting, and very inspirational:




Push/Pull workout courtesy of About.com: http://exercise.about.com/cs/weightlifting/a/strengthroutine.htm

Monday, June 18, 2012

A New Recipe... and a new race!

Over the past several years, in my hunt for delicious vegetarian recipes, I have always read about "tempeh."  Tempeh is advertised as being an amazing vegan protein source made from fermented soy and grains.  One package has 40g of protein.  It seemed harmless, but for some reason, I was weary to try it.  That is, until last week.  I decided to make Tempeh Tacos for dinner, and was very, very happy with the result! It seems to soak up more flavor than even tofu.  Here's what I cooked up:
Tempeh Tacos
  • 8oz package of tempeh (I purchased mine from Trader Joe's)
  • 4T olive oil
  • 2T soy sauce
  • 3T lime juice
  • 1T paprika
  • 1/8t cayenne pepper
  • 1t oregano
  • 1/2 t sea salt
I don't cook a lot with paprika, so I wasn't sure how I was going to like it. But the flavor was so unique!
Chop up the tempeh into small cubes, and throw in a pan with the olive oil for about 5 minutes. I then combined the soy sauce, lime juice, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt, and added the mixture to the pan, cooking for about another 5 minutes (until all the sauce has soaked up into the tempeh).  Removed from the heat, and added the oregano.  I threw this into an organic tortilla with lettuce, roasted salsa, avocado, cilantro, and a little bit of sour cream (I was craving it). Delicious, and easy! I can also see myself using plain old taco seasoning as well, to change it up a bit.  
* Special shout out to the Sinful Vegetarian for the recipe: http://www.sinfulvegetarian.com/showrecipe.php?recipename=Taco%20Style%20Tempeh

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On another note, we picked a race!!

Saturday, November 10th, 2012
Shun the Sun Skin Cancer Run 2012 - Half Marathon

The proceeds go towards awareness about the dangers of skin cancer.  Extra fitting since I can't seem to go outside without burning, and it's a great cause.  Race is paid for in full, now to train!

This means our 12 week training schedule begins August 13th, so we have until then to get back up to speed with our base run of 4 miles, and prepare our bodies for the work.  We have successfully been completing 1 long run, 1 short run, and 1 interval training day, each week.  On top of that, I have been adding in a cross training day (i.e. hiking, soon to be yoga or spin), and working to add weight training into my weekly schedule.  My goal is to push through the extreme heat of the summer, so it isn't a shock for our system in August.  And, work on core strength and muscle strength so that when I am in training mode, my body hopefully suffers less aches and pains, and hopefully decreases my chances of injury.  

I am very excited!!! (and scared...)