The Year Our School Closed In March-We Survived!

By now, most schools have shuttered their doors for a few weeks.  Many others have already closed for the rest of the year.  Such a strange time we are living in.  Kids are stuck at home, parents are trying to work amidst this chaos.  No one is really sure what they are doing.

In many ways, I’ve been experiencing this with a bit of deja vu.  Minus the virus, my entire hometown survived watching our school doors close and lockdown in March of 1993, not to open again until the fall.  We made national news.  There were tears.  Events were missed.  Graduations weren’t the same.  My 6th grade year came to a halt without the usual end of the school year fanfare.

After years of failed votes to approve raising taxes for operational costs of the school system, they were essentially broke.  It was a terrible scenario.  Teachers lost their jobs until the following September.  My own parents who were educators, were suddenly unemployed.

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Credit NYTimes.com

Today, we are left with the uncertainty of when things will go back to normal.  Hopefully sooner than later.  Back in 1993, we knew that there wouldn’t be any school for six months, and mom and dad were no longer employed.  It was a reality that they protected us from, as much as they possibly could.  I remember sitting in the parking lot of the unemployment office, as each of them took their turns going inside.  It was boring, but I recall excitedly waving to our teachers as we waited.

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Credit: Interlochen Public Radio

Homeschooling was a nightmare.  Despite the fact that my parents were teachers, they weren’t prepared to deal with 6th grade math lessons, annoyed reading sessions, and the anxiousness to get outside with our friends.  Let me tell you, homeschooling is never easy, even when parents are teachers.

One reminder of my 6th grade year after school closed was our family working to carefully live on a budget.  There was the shift to generic products.  There was the reliance on staples like canned goods and pasta.  Meat became less of an essential and there was definitely a time when we realized our stomachs were upset because mom tried to feed us on way too many tubes of ground generic turkey.

We learned to be savvy and resourceful.  Those leftover snacks when the girls go to bed?  I don’t just toss them.  They get set aside for tomorrow.  Knowing that we are doing our job by staying home as much as possible, we are focusing on wasting as little as possible.  Less grocery runs help slow that curve!

In the end, we made it out okay.  I went ahead into 7th grade doing just fine.  Some of my classmates didn’t have the luxury of having parents who could homeschool them.  My 10th grade Earth Science teacher recently pointed out that the following fall, our school had their highest standardized test scores and it was likely not due to homeschooling.

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Mary and I recently worked on a recipe together to share on the blog.

The other night, Mary expressed her sadness that school would be closing early and she wouldn’t get to finish preschool.  Her disappointment was understood but I pointed out that this was something very rare that hasn’t happened in over 100 years.  The last time this happened her grandparents weren’t even born.  In fact, their parents lived during a pandemic. They social distanced, and they lived to tell about it.

It was sad to leave my 6th grade year behind. It wasn’t delightful having my parents homeschool us.  Living on a tight budget wasn’t easy but we learned from it.  In fact, those lessons I learned have been helpful in our current situation.

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What I told Mary was that in the end, my favorite memories were the extra family time.  We did our best.  We embraced our love for each other.  It was such a celebration to come back to our friends in the end.  I don’t recall missing moments at school.  What I remember most is that extra long summer when I got to play outside more and have my family with me.

I don’t recall any of my friends reminiscing about the missed days of school in a sad way.  In fact, most of them are posting about how their families made the best of these extra days.  This is going to be the longest summer break ever and we are going to make it great.

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When Quesadilla Meets Pizza

Happy Tuesday!  It’s a little chilly here.  I actually ran in a light snow yesterday.  Not my favorite, but it was a nice reminder that if you push forward, a run can feel great in just about any weather.  On the plus side, temps are trending to get a bit warmer.  Easter is just around the corner, and despite my 4 year old asking if the bunny would still come with the virus, we’ve managed to plan a decent holiday thanks to online ordering.

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Some flakes flying when I started.

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We also had a beaver visit our backyard!

I mentioned the other day that we have been trying to get creative with our meals.  I’ve been trying to be smart with my grocery purchases and be more resourceful with what we have.  The other day I discovered that several jars and cans in my pantry had expired (but were still good for consumption).  I decided to make it a priority to use these jars and cans first.

Years ago, I loved going to T.G.I. Friday’s and ordering their Pizzadilla.  It was the perfect meeting of a quesadilla and pizza.  A tortilla filled with sauce and cheese with a side of pizza sauce to dip.  Was I ever sad when it disappeared off of their menu.  Now that we don’t live near a Friday’s, it had been forgotten, until now!

The kids loved having two of their favorite meals combined, and the dipping sauce was a hit.  The entire family family enjoyed this meal and I was glad I made a few extra, because everyone asked for seconds.

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This is a super fast meal to whip up and you can easily add your favorite pizza toppings to your pizzadilla.

Ingredients:

Tortillas

Pizza Sauce

Shredded Cheese (We used a combo of Mozzarella and Parmesan)

Cooking Spray

Optional:  Your favorite toppings

Directions:

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Place a spoonful of pizza sauce on a tortilla and spread around.  Add a little more if you like your pizza extra saucy.  Sprinkle with cheese and top with another tortilla.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium.  Place pizzadilla on skillet and warm until bottom tortilla is slightly browned and crispy. Flip over and repeat.  Use a pizza cutter to slice into triangles or halves.

I put the extra pizza sauce in individual ramekins and heated in microwave for 30 seconds.

How are you getting creative while at home?  Anyone else think Mary resembles Mimi from the Drew Carey Show?

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Social Distancing-The Benefits

Hello from Northern Michigan!  Almost two weeks ago we decided it was best to get out of Florida and back to our home to hunker down.  I was certainly sad to leave sunny weather, but I have never been so happy to be home!

While I was in Florida, I was training for the Traverse City Bayshore Marathon.  I had some good runs and some pretty awful ones too.  The weather in Florida was the best I can recall in years.  Fun for the beach, but rough for adjusting to the heat.  I made it through my 18 mile run, but the following week’s 15 miles was miserable.  I stopped at mile 11 and bought two water bottles and quickly downed the first.  I hate carrying anything in my hands when I run but decided to ration the last bottle for my final 4 miles.  I made it a half a mile before I finished that bottle and then ran/walked the rest.

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I made it!

During those final miles, I decided my heart was no longer into training for a marathon.  I was worried about the uncertainty of everything that is going on right now and my fears for my family.  I wanted to get us home to Michigan and just throw in the towel.  I’m a perfectionist and never want to quit, but I just didn’t feel now was the time to be training for an endurance race.  You can imagine my relief when I received my e-mail that the race has been cancelled.  Even better, I could choose to defer my bib to next year.  Kudos to the race director for allowing this generous option!

Now that I am home and we have been inside for the majority of the past week, I’m trying to sort out my feelings about our current situation.  I have moments where I enjoy the quite times and moments where I feel anxious and scared with all of the uncertainty.  I’m happy to be with my family, but sad to see what is going on.  I decided on my run yesterday to compile a list of all of the benefits to social distancing.

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Benefits Of Social Distancing:

Sleep-ish:  When you have two young children and school/work schedules, sleep is never certain.  Our schedules are now wide open and somedays, the kids allow a little extra rest.

Extra Family Time:  I read that most families only get 30-60 minutes of one-on-one family time each day.  Right now, we are able to spend unlimited moments together.  Sure, it isn’t always perfect.  When we try to make the most of it, there are fun experiences to be had.

The Road To Yourself:  We live in a rural area, but we definitely have neighbors.  Now that non-essential Michigan residents have been asked to stay home, I basically have the road to myself.  I’m enjoying my cooler runs, now that I am home.

Creative cooking:  We are trying to avoid going to the store as much as we possibly can.  We’ve been working to be creative and resourceful with meals.  Last night we even made this super easy chocolate cake that requires no butter or eggs!

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Time To Relax:  I rarely give myself a chance to just sit down and do nothing.  Now I have nothing but time.  I still get my daily run in and try to spend some time focusing on work, but I also have time to watch TV, read magazines and books, and just be present.

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Try New Workouts: I usually focus my workout time on running with a bit of time set aside for free weights.  Now that I am not training for a marathon and my schedule has opened up a bit, I have shortened my runs and added kettle bell workouts.  It’s so fun to change things up.

Family Workouts:  We are taking advantage of our smart TV and adding in kid’s yoga workouts.  The girls love Cosmic Yoga on YouTube.  We especially like the Trolls, Frozen, and Moana sessions.  Namaste!

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Things are definitely up in the air and very different.  It can be easy to let these changes get to you.  But, I encourage you to look for the positive changes when you can.

Challenging Long Runs And A New Favorite Smoothie

Hello from Sunny Florida!  It feels so great to be here after a few months of gloomy winter.  I absolutely love that feeling of being in the car for hours and stepping out into warmer air.  It reminds me of childhood Spring Breaks.

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It’s so nice seeing the sunset again!

This year, I am even more excited to be here right now because I’m currently in week 6 of marathon training.  Michigan has had a relatively mild winter, but that still hasn’t helped my long run game.  It has either been too cold or too snowy to get long workouts in outside.  We live in a rural area, and the roads don’t always get plowed in the timeliest manner.  To be quite honest, I don’t love winter running and I find that snowy conditions mess with my gait, putting me at risk for injury.

The treadmill has been my friend this winter.  So far I have done my weekly 8 mile speed workouts, 10 mile moderate pace runs and long, slow distances ranging from 12-16 miles on the treadmill.  I was really looking forward to taking these outside in Florida.

That isn’t to say that I don’t realize the challenges of running in warm weather immediately after leaving Northern Michigan.  My body always takes awhile to adjust to the warmer weather and that often messes with my head.  This time around, I was mentally prepared to slow the paces down and just fit in whatever I can.

First, I needed a trip to the Asics store to get some new shoes because I’ve logged upwards of 500 miles in my last pair.  On Wednesday, I was so excited to lace up my new Kayano 25’s and do a slow 10 miles to St. Augustine Beach.  Things didn’t go quite as I had planned.  Around mile 4, the ball of my foot began to feel like it was chafing.  I soon had to stop every mile and let me foot stop stinging.  I was so frustrated and in a lot of pain.

To say that I was nervous about Friday’s 18 mile run, would be a major understatement.  My stomach was sick with fear.  How should I approach the run?  Do I run 4 out and 4 back with the option of switching into my old shoes?   The idea of 18 miles suddenly seemed enormous with this fear about my shoes.  I headed out into the wind and just kept going.  I took deep breaths and reminded myself that every mile is different.  First you have to calm your mind or you will never make it through the entire run.

It wasn’t until I stopped for water at mile 14 that my feet started to ache again.   At that point I was pretty sweaty and a bit dehydrated.  I gave myself the option to stop every mile or so for the last 4 miles, and to be honest, I was totally okay with that.  I made it through a big mental and physical challenge and that is a huge takeaway in endurance training.

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Then I headed back home for a shower and some recovery time, which includes both rest and fuel.  I have a new favorite dairy-free smoothie that my girls and I can’t get enough of.  Every time I make one after a run, the girls insist that they get one too.  Some evenings at snack time, they even request this.  It is super easy and full of antioxidants.

We generally limit our dairy, so we usually get our calcium from orange juice and almond milk,  We always have Tropicana Trop 50 No Pulp on hand,  along with Minute Maid Sugar Free Lemonade to mix with sparkling water or even dilute with water.  Both of these are the key to a really great smoothie!

Dairy Free Cherry Mango Recovery Smoothie!

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup Tropicana Trop 50 Orange Juice (or any citrus juice)

1/2 cup Minute Maid Sugar Free Lemonade

I cup frozen cherries

1 cup frozen mango

Directions:

Pour everything into a blender and blend well.  Serve and enjoy.  It doesn’t get any easier than that!

What do you like putting in your smoothies?

Spring Race Training=Delicious Recovery Smoothie

Happy New Year!  I hope this year brings you plenty of happy mileage and health.

Despite the fact that we are just now getting deep into winter, we are also entering Spring Race Training Season.  I’ve been keeping quiet, but I definitely caught the spring racing bug and signed up for a race.  I will be running the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020

To be quite honest, I am pretty nervous.  This will be my sixth marathon, and up until my last one, I had nothing but great experiences with the 26.2 mile distance.  I qualified twice for the Boston Marathon and spent two other times running well over 26 miles as a running coach for a charity at the Chicago Marathon.  Nine months after I had our first daughter, I ran a marathon PR at the Run for the Red Poconos Marathon.  Four weeks later, I ran Grandma’s Marathon and had the worst experience of my life.  I went from an absolute high to an absolute low.  That left me completely deflated.

To be honest, I was so relieved to be 15 weeks pregnant the following spring and have an excuse not to run Boston.  I just wasn’t mentally ready to do another and that was okay!

I’ve definitely had some time to clear my head.   I would also like to think that I have grown as a runner and know that not every race has to be a PR.  This race for me, is a way to look 26.2 miles in the eye, and go back after it.  It also helps that it is basically in my backyard.

As an ACE Certified Health Coach, I also have a new approach to my training.  I still love all food and any dessert.  But I also know the power food has to work as both fuel and a recovery system.  I’m using this tool to take me into training and keep me healthy.

I recently added a delicious new smoothie to my post workout regimen.  I am loving it and so are my kids!  It can also work as a great breakfast to take to work or school as you run out the door in the morning (hint, you can also blend some oatmeal or granola into this!).

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Mary Approved!

The key is blueberries.  Rich in fiber, Vitamins K and C, and antioxidants, it is the perfect potion to refuel your muscles and help repair damage done during a workout.  Your muscles are only as good as you treat them.  Long runs require plenty of repair and antioxidants are key to this recovery.

Blueberries also contain 85% water.  Hydration is essential to sustaining a training session, and is also vital for getting your muscles back into working order.  If you don’t rehydrate after a workout, your body isn’t going to function at it’s best.

This smoothie only requires 4 simple ingredients and can be whipped up in a flash before or after a workout.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup Greek or vanilla Light and Fit yogurt

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tbsp honey

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Directions:

Simply place all ingredients in a blender and pulse on smoothie mode.  Pour into a glass and enjoy.

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The great thing about frozen blueberries is that you can get them year round at an affordable price.  The freezing process also maintains the fruit at it’s freshest point so you don’t miss out on any of the vital nutrients.

Happy Running!

No Boring Salads Here & Kid’s Deconstructed Salad

You might think this is boring, but I love salads in the summer.  Sure I am a Health Coach, and you would assume that I love all things healthy.  However, my family would tell you I have a deep love for Cool Ranch Doritos and Crunchy Cheetos.  In fact, a few days ago, Mary and I took a date day and went out to the lake to enjoy these treats on the dock.  It was a special moment for this mom!

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Back to the salads.  As soon as the warm weather arrives, I crave a fresh pile of greens and toppings.  Over the years, I have learned there are so many ways to spice up a simple salad and save a ton of time in the kitchen, leaving you more time to play outside with your family.  Even better, most of the simple ingredients you use, can be plated for kids (or salad hating adults) to enjoy as their meal.

Grab a few ingredients, and you can easily switch things up throughout the week for a different dinner every night.  You can also throw leftovers together for lunch the next day.

It’s all about the base.  These days, there are so many types of pre-washed greens.  You can buy these by the bag or container.  You can also buy salad kits.  I discovered last year that my 2 year old loved Caesar Salad kits and now she loves the kale and Brussels sprout with poppyseed dressing.  The cool thing about kits is that you can use the fixings, or skip their dressing and add your own favorites.  I personally love the kale kit, but usually just use the greens and then make my own creation.

Veggies are great, but think beyond the produce section.  Sure, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, and carrots are great.  But don’t forget about canned and frozen veggies.  Canned black beans, corn, and chickpeas can easily be rinsed and thrown into the mix.  They are also budget friendly!

Frozen veggies are picked at their ripest and flash frozen.  You can often find them in steam packets that go directly into the microwave.  Warm them up and then pop some onto your plate.

It’s okay to add a touch of carbs to the mix.  One of my favorite meals is the Caesar salad from a place called The Noodle.  As you might guess, they are known for their homemade fresh pasta and even the salad comes topped with noodles.  It is a delicious addition.

Orzo is easy to make and let cool off in a colander.  Rice packets are another great addition.  Toast some day old bread and break into croutons.  

You can always add dairy.  Add this for some extra flavor and protein.  There are so many delicious options from shredded cheddar and parmesan, to bleu cheese, feta, and crumbled goat cheese.

Maybe you protein.  Maybe you don’t.  I do love meat, but I have been making a conscious effort to eat more plant based meals.  By adding a bunch of other flavors and textures to my plate, I don’t always need meat.  But when I do, I sometimes think beyond the traditional chicken, steak, or salmon.  You can find tuna packets, which are a lower calorie protein with high Omega 3 healthy fats.

Morning Star farms offers traditional black bean and Mediterranean chickpea burgers.  I also really like their veggie “chicken” patties.  Boca Burgers have a surprisingly great texture and taste pretty darn similar to a regular burger.

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Meat free “chicken” patties with BBQ and ranch.  So good!

 

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The girls had a taco.

Deconstruct your salad and please even the pickiest eaters.  Before I go further, I urge you not to underestimate your kids.  I never thought my oldest would love Caesar salads at 2 years old.  I didn’t know my one year old would beg for bites of cabbage.  Try adding a small salad to a plate.  Don’t make a big deal about it.  Don’t refer to it as “healthy.”  Just make it part of the meal.  If they decide they don’t like it, no big deal.

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Whatever “tools” you use to build your salad, plate them out on your kids’ dishes.  For example, if you decide to make a Mexican salad, add cheese, beans, meat, and peppers to your little ones’ plates.  Add some dip or salsa and a tortilla.  Let them roll theirs into a taco or burrito.

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I can’t pass on some Annie’s mac and cheese shells!

What I love about this approach is that you are never eating a salad while the rest of your family eats something different.  This isn’t about healthy vs. unhealthy or one person eating healthy while others are eating a different dinner.  You are eating together as a family.  When you put together ingredients for the week, you can easily whip up a meal in minutes for everyone.

What is your favorite way to eat a salad?

Slowcooker Cheesy Ranch Chicken

I’ve been going through a salad phase lately and was recently looking to make a big batch of protein to top my salads.  At the same time, I wanted to find a family friendly recipe that could be used in versatile ways.  My three year old loves salads and my one and a half year old has yet to meet a food she doesn’t like.  I started looking at chicken with ranch recipes, hoping to appease our Midwestern tastebuds.

I found a few recipes that I liked and decided to switch things around and make one that I thought my family would enjoy most.  The result was that we ate one batch for three days straight and then made another double batch by request of everyone in our house.  The picture below doesn’t do it justice.  It’s not the prettiest shredded chicken.  Let me promise you, this is a crowd pleaser!

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My husband commented that the chicken tasted really decadent, and while it does have a lovely combo of cheese going on, it isn’t as decadent as it tastes.  It is delicious topped on salads, in wraps or burritos, or simply for dinner with some veggies and rice on the side.

This recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prep and then does it’s thing in the slow cooker while you are doing your own thing.

I threw down a bed of romaine and added diced tomatoes, red onion, a variety of beans, and corn.  When I make salads I chop up a variety of veggies and keep them in the fridge so I have quick options for dinners or lunches during the week.  You can also grab a microwaveable pack of rice and add a bit to your salads or wraps too.

The fun thing about salads is that you can change the fixings and feel like you are having a different meal every night.

Slowcooker Creamy Ranch Chicken:

Ingredients:

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth (or water)

2 packets ranch dressing mix

1- 8 ounce package cream cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)

Directions:

Spray the inside of your slow cooker and then place chicken breasts in the bottom.  Pour broth or water on top of chicken and sprinkle one packet of ranch on top.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Remove lid and discard most of the liquid, leaving a few tablespoons inside.  Shred the chicken and then add cream cheese and another packet of ranch to the slow cooker.  Let cook for 30 minutes and then remove lid and stir ingredients.  Add the cheese and stir again.  Put lid back on and keep on warm until everything is well mixed and you are ready to eat.

Note:  I added the second packet of ranch because when you discard the juices, much of the mix is also removed.  Since most of the liquid is removed before the rest of the ingredients are added, it might not be necessary to use broth, as it doesn’t add a lot of flavor.  The liquid simply keeps the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  If you are concerned about sodium intake, it might be helpful for you to skip the broth.

We also served this at a party as a dip.  Try it with crackers, pieces of tortilla, bread, or veggies.  A few people even made mini quesadillas.

Colds & Flu- To Run Or Not To Run

Many runners ask me if they should continue running when they have a cold.  The answer isn’t always easy, but it certainly is if you have the flu.

I’ve touched upon this subject in the past, but I wanted to take a look at this topic again, because we were visited by both in the past few weeks.  Firsthand knowledge is always helpful.  Or at least, that is the positive spin I am trying to put on this situation.

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The whole family got hit with a bug!

Several years ago I attended a fantastic presentation given by Matt Fitzgerald, one of the leading experts in the sport of running.  One of the attendees asked Mr. Fitzgerald his opinion on running with a cold.  He firmly replied that if you have a cold and are not running a fever, it is fine to run.  In fact, some research shows that running might help shorten your cold and ease some of the symptoms.

Running releases adrenaline, which not only boosts your mood after a workout, but it can also work as a decongestant.  This can help break up some of that stuffiness you might be feeling.

Many runners ask me what they should do when they have a cold and are training for races and I always recommend that you listen to your body.  If you are feeling achy or really under the weather, skip a workout and enjoy the rest.  However, if you are experiencing a runny nose and nagging cough, a slow and easy run might give you that boost to feel better for the rest of the day and get rid of some of that stuffiness that is making you feel so miserable.  Just plan on bringing along tissues or turning into a snotty mess.

A few weeks ago, I started the weekend out with some annoying stuffiness and chest congestion.  I used my runs as a way to get things moving along and generally felt better.  By Monday morning, I woke up feeling like my stomach was on fire.  I chalked it up to eating a lot of crappy food that I normally don’t consume over the weekend.

Two days later, my stomach was still feeling awful.  I was lethargic and my muscles felt wiped out.  I tried going for a run, hoping a good sweat would help, but ended up doing run/walk intervals to get me through.  It was then that I realized, I wasn’t just dealing with a cold.  Something had hit me and I needed to graciously bow out of the running game.

Later in the week, we got a call from school.  Our 3 year old came home with a sick tummy.  After several days of fevers, she was on the mend.  Her good friend Daniel Tiger gave the best advice she needed, “When you are sick, rest is best.  Rest is best.”  Thank you tiger friend for giving our wild 3 year old the understanding that sometimes we just need to slow down.

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Rest really is best. Two days later!

When it comes to the flu, or times when you have a fever, muscle aches, or lethargy, it is time to rest.  Skip the run and spend some time on the couch or back in bed.  We runners know all about recovery when it comes to our training plans.  Sometimes our health has other plans.  If you have the flu or other symptoms that sideline you, push the training plan aside and opt for rest.

Don’t fret that it will hurt your training.  In fact, if you try to push through with a plan while you are truly sick, you are going to delay your recovery.  A few days or even a week off, if carefully planned, will not sideline you.  Take a look at your plan or chat with your coach and find a way to adjust.  You can almost always find a way to make things work.

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Listen to the expert.

If you have a cold, ease up on your runs.  It might be a good idea to skip speed work.  Slow your runs down and focus on quality aerobic workouts.  These are your base, the foundation, of your training.  In the long run, you aren’t going to get faster by pushing the pace when you are run down.  Instead, focus on building that base of your training by slowing down and just getting in some miles.

Never underestimate the power of a healthy eating plan and hydration.  Drink plenty of fluids when you are feeling under the weather and avoid dairy, which might worsen your congestion.

What do you prefer to do when you aren’t feeling well?  Do you find that you feel better after a run when you have a cold?

The Plan Is, There Doesn’t Always Have To Be A Plan

Many people often mention to me that they are interested in getting started with running but don’t know where to start and aren’t quite ready to hire a coach.  This is totally understandable.  There is an abundance of information available on the internet about how to get started, such as Couch to 5k Plans.  While these can be very useful, it is often difficult to read through everything and know what is actually helpful and what might not be such great advice.

The truth is, running doesn’t always have to be a science.  Sure, if you are looking to improve your speed or increase your distance for a longer endurance race, having a set plan or a coach to guide you can make the process much easier.  However, if you are simply looking to begin running, you can make it just that: running simple.

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As I have mentioned in other posts, running isn’t always easy.  It gets easier, but there will always be an element of challenge in nearly every run.  This is what makes you feel so invigorated and accomplished when you finish!

To make the process easier, it is often helpful to start with shorter distances and use run/walk intervals.  Set a goal of doing 10 minutes your first time.  Try running for a minute and walking for two.  You can gradually increase the duration over time, as your body begins to adjust.  If you prefer, the run/walk intervals can also lengthen out.  However, I have many clients and friends who use the run/walk method exclusively for all distances from 5k’s through the marathon.

A helpful tool to decrease your risk of injury is to follow the 10% rule.  When you feel that you have comfortably accomplished a certain amount of time or distance, increase that amount by 10%.  You should also start your run intervals at a shorter amount than your walking intervals.  Follow a 1:3 or 1:2 run/walk at first and lengthen or decrease as necessary.

Remember any amount of running is running.  There is no rule that states how fast, how far, or how often you need to run to be a runner.  If you run, you are a runner!

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Running is your own personal journey.  This is about you feeling good about you and the experience.  Remember that it will be challenging.  It will take time for your body to adjust and become more comfortable.  Give yourself the freedom to make it work for you.

With some time and patience, you might find that you are ready to start looking for an appropriate plan for you or to hire a coach.  Until then, just run as you wish.

How do you like to approach your running?

Training Doesn’t Always Have To Be Perfect + Riding The Wave

This summer has already been a whirlwind for us.  The first half of June was spent preparing for our 2 year old’s first dance recital.  That was a crazy foretaste of what our lives will like be in a few years as our kids grow, and sports and other activities take over.  Rock was in NYC until the end of June and that meant the majority of my runs were on the treadmill while children took naps.

Every summer for the past few years Rock and I have participated in Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival of Races.  I realized this year that of all the races we have done, this is the only one we make a point to sign up for.  The Cherry Festival is a really fun event for all ages and their races are beautiful and well organized.  Despite the fact that Rock had been logging 30,000-40,000 steps each day in NYC but not always having a chance to get in a run and my lack of hitting the pavement, we decided we would do the half marathon again.

We also convinced my brother-in-law to come join us.  He had done his first half marathon in May and finished just under 2 hours.  Shortly after, we discussed his goal of aiming for a 1:50 half and decided that with some smart training, it could be a potential A goal for this particular race.  I created a plan for him and we worked out some game plans to get him through race day.

The week before the race, Rock and I decided that regardless of how little actual training we had done, we needed to get at least 10 miles in before race day.  I had been logging daily 7 mile runs, but hadn’t set foot in the hot summer conditions yet.  Obviously, we picked a day when the temps were to hit the mid 90’s.  By the time we dropped the girls off at daycare and started, the air was already soupy.  I knew it was only a matter of time before things fell apart.

Fell apart they did.  At mile 5 we stopped for a water break and by mile 6, I was down to taking a break every half mile.  I was dehydrated and felt ill.  I made it home, but was left feeling pretty defeated.

Then we left for our annual week in Northern Wisconsin where just about everything I ate was fried and every run was done pushing our double stroller up and down hills in the hot summer heat.  Things were not looking good!

Friday night we arrived home with our bellies full of the only fast food we could find along the interstate, leaving me up at 3:30am with heartburn.  Not exactly the ideal pre-race dinner!

An hour later we were up and fueling again, ready to hit the high school where buses were waiting to ship us out to the Old Mission Peninsula where the race would start at a winery.

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I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous.  I was beyond nervous.  I knew that my body could handle 13 miles.  I love double digit runs.  However, that 10 miler the week before was really playing hard in the back of my mind and race day was going to be relatively warm.  While it was 50 degrees when we started, I knew it was going to climb by 20 degrees over the next two hours.

The first two and a half miles wove up and down through dirt paths of local cherry orchards, before spitting us out on the road that runs along West Grand Traverse Bay.  From here we followed the bay for the next several miles.  The view is beautiful and the homes along the water are quite spectacular.

I felt good, but noticed that the heat was getting to me and I was waiting to see when my body would fall apart like before.  I had a mile where I started to feel like I was fading and feared the end was near.  Then I began to feel a renewed strength in my legs and my pace slowly increased.

I kept assessing how I was feeling, but at times I was reading into it too much.  I was trying to find the negativity.  Once I realized this, I worked to clear my head.  I turned my music up and just let my body settle in.  I had done this distance many times.  In the past, I was in better shape or more prepared, but my body and mind knew how to do this.

I forgot that every mile can be so different.  Some miles will feel great.  Other miles, your body will struggle.  There will be miles where your mind tries to fool you into giving up.  And there will be miles where you are ready to tackle just about anything.  The key is, you can’t let any particular mile take over your race.  You have to remember that things will change.  The good will come with bad.  The bad will eventually wash away.

When I remembered this, my mind gave my body renewed strength.  I had no idea where I was in the pack of runners, but I knew I would be okay and I decided to stop worrying about everyone else around me, and just run the rest of that race.

I crossed the finish line surprisingly better than I had expected.  When the results were posted I was walking to the car and happened to look on my phone.  I was shocked to see that I had finished 26th for the women and 3rd in my age group.  What a pleasant surprise!

You never know what might come of your training.  There might be injuries or other setbacks.  Life can get in the way.  The key is to do the best with what you have.  Make it work and then go forward on race day and trust your body.  Let your mind trust you.  Training will rarely be ideal.  That doesn’t mean that your race can’t have great results.  Roll with the wave and you never know where you will come out at the end.

 

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I also have to give a huge congrats to my brother-in-law who finished with a 12 minute PR in his second half marathon ever.  He’s seriously a rockstar!