Legs Feel Like Lead When Running- It’s Normal and Not

After blogging for over five years, the most viewed post on my website is about Legs Feeling Like Lead When Running.  Check out the link if you want to read some of my older content.  Then continue on for some updated information.

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I still remember the inspiration for that initial post.  It was our first winter in Chicago and I was determined to not let the weather get the best of my running.  I spent a few days trapped inside during our first Polar Vortex.  After one snow storm, I headed out for a nice long run.  I had to run through snow hills and many sidewalks that hadn’t been shoveled (shame on you non-shovelers!).  It was miserable.  After a few days of this my legs just felt so heavy.  The extra effort it took to get over hills or through slushy paths, reminded me of marathon training.

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At the same time, I had several runners training for various spring half and full marathons and they were asking me if it was normal for their legs to feel tired.

The answer is Yes.  And No.

The marathon, by nature, is meant to build you up and break you down.  You take your body to places you haven’t been before.  You run more miles than you normally would.  You often do training runs that push paces beyond what you are used to.  All of this will cause your legs to be tired.

Your legs will feel tired and heavy. That is normal at times.  But there are also ways to help combat that constant heavy feeling:

Run your slow runs slowly.  If your training plan calls for slow training runs, do these as planned.  They allow you to run faster and longer on your other training days.

By running faster on your planned slow days, you are not making yourself faster or stronger.  You are delaying recovery and defeating the purpose of your run.  Slow runs train you to become more aerobically efficient and allow your body to recover.  If you ignore these paces, you risk injury.

If you run too fast on your slow days, you also make it harder to run fast on the days when your training requires these paces.  By running slow on required slow pace days, you will be able to run faster on the days where workouts push the pace.

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Treat your body well.  Recovery is essential to training.  Fuel with carbohydrates 30 minutes after a training run.  If your body is aching, pull out the foam roller.  Take a soak with epsom salts.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

What do you do to combat those heavy legs?

Minutes Vs. Mileage In Training

To become better endurance runners, we need to utilize different types of runs.  One of the most important workouts is the long, slow run.  Obviously, if you are going to do a longer race like a half or full marathon, this is important for building up mileage.

However, we often neglect the most important factors of these long runs, that occur at the molecular level within our bodies.  The long run is where our bodies learn to utilize glycogen more efficiently.  We are only capable of holding small amounts of glycogen within our muscles and liver, but through long runs, we teach our bodies how to empty these reserves more efficiently.

The long run trains our bodies to use fat as fuel, which delays the need to use carbohydrates.  This allows you to run longer with less fuel.

Long runs break down muscle fibers and our bodies learn to rebuild, creating stronger and healthier muscles.  This is necessary for the demands of longer endurance races.

Running longer also trains our bodies to become more aerobically efficient.  As we create a greater demand for oxygen to be pumped through our bodies, our hearts become stronger.  Blood begins pumping harder and in larger quantities throughout our body.  Oxygen rich blood reaches our muscles and allows us to run longer, and faster.

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Our bodies comprehend time.  They do not comprehend miles.  Your body knows that you have been running for 60 minutes but it doesn’t recognize that you just ran 5 miles.  This important to understand, because your body needs that 60+ minute run to achieve all of the benefits of aerobic endurance training.  However, 5 miles is quite arbitrary.  Some runners can complete a 5 mile run in 40 minutes, while this might take over an hour for other runners.

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The point here is that it is important not to get caught up in the number of miles or your pace when you are working to become a more efficient endurance runner.  Your body needs time more than miles.  This is why you need to go slowly on your long runs.  When you run slowly, you allow your body to get through those longer miles.  When we try running too fast, we begin asking too much of our muscles and aerobic system, making it more difficult to complete your necessary miles/time.  If the number of miles seems daunting to you, aim for a time goal.  This is what your body is relying on anyway.

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The pace is not what creates these molecular changes.  Time is what creates change.  Allow yourself to slow down so that you can complete your longer runs and reap all the benefits.

Long Slow Runs = Fast Races

Post Race Recovery-Avoid Injury And Sedentary Craziness

Many runners just completed some major races this last weekend.  Others are getting ready to complete their final big races for the year.  What do you do after the race?  When do you come back?  How do you properly recover?  Remember that old rule that said you should take a day off for every mile you ran?  That is now a thing of the past and for many runners that is great news.  Can you imagine taking 26 days off after a marathon? Then again, maybe you can!

While there is quite a bit of science to running, there isn’t a set plan for recovery after an event.  There are several important factors to consider with your recovery:

How Long Was Your Race and Training Cycle:

Did you just complete an 18 week training cycle leading up to your marathon?  Were you running 50-60 miles per week during your plan?  You will likely require more rest than a runner who did a 12 week plan for a 10K.  The longer your training plan and the more miles completed might take a harder toll on your body and mind than a shorter race and mileage.

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How About a 5K to Couch Plan!

How Do You Feel?

This is a two part question.  While you need to consider how your legs and muscles are responding, you also need to assess how you are feeling mentally.  If you are experiencing tiredness and a loss of interest in running, go ahead and give yourself some time to fall back in love.  What is the point of hitting the pavement if it is no longer enjoyable?  This can be a normal feeling as you come off of training and the excitement of your event.  All runners go through this.  We need a break at times from all things we love and running is no different.

Some of the mental symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome are feeling sluggish, emotional, overly tried, sad, and just plain down in the dumps.  We all know that running is 90% mental, so it makes sense that we might need a break in this arena as well.

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Are You Dealing With Any Injuries?:

One of the hardest parts of any training cycle is avoiding injuries.  They are almost inevitable.  Most often, we train through these injuries.  Or perhaps you sustained an injury during the race.  It goes without saying that you need to give your body time to fully heal.  Sure, you can push through an injury to some extent to get through training.  But after the race is over, it would be unwise to continue with this approach.  Now is the time to rest and recover before you return.

There are so many different ways to approach injuries and I recommend you find what is most helpful for you and your needs.  Options range from traditional doctors and physical therapists to massage, acupuncture, yoga, and cupping.  Many facilities offer an array of different recovery techniques.  When you find an approach that you feel most comfortable and confident with, you are more likely to stick to a prescribed plan.

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Take Some Time To Reflect:

How do you feel your training went?  Are there things you would change?  What about the race?  Was it enjoyable?  Did the experience ignite a fire or inspire you to do something else?  Do you feel like this was a negative experience?

All of these questions are important to consider for your future.  Maybe you need a revenge race.  If that is the case you need to consider what went wrong and how you will change things moving forward.  Perhaps something went wrong in training.  The actual race might not have been the right one for you.

If you had a great experience and are ready to repeat or up the ante, you need to think about what went right in your training and how you can repeat that or make it even better.  Will you repeat the race or find another one that is similar?

Is is time to put racing to the side and just run for fun?  That is okay.  Some people love running for the sake of running and don’t need races or events to keep them content.  Think of different ways to help keep things exciting and motivating.

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Races and endurance events can be a great experience.  It can also take a mental and physical toll.  Your first goal should be to take care of you.  Rest and recovery are important.  This doesn’t mean you need to become a couch potato.  Active rest can be a perfect way to get back in the game healthy and happy.  Go for a walk, bike ride, swim, or play with the family.  Keep moving and take care of you!

Did you race this past weekend?  How was your experience?

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?

Stick With It

I love training runners for races.  I also love training runners and athletes in general.  It is common for me to get e-mails from people looking to prepare for an upcoming race and I also have several who train year round.

Lately I have been noticing a trend.  Someone gets super excited about an event they registered for and we sit down and create a plan.  They dive in head first, and often times fall in love with the process.  It can be time consuming, but there are ways to make life work around training and vice versa.

Race day comes and the excitement builds.  Some races go well, others don’t, but most often the person finishes the race feeling really good about what they accomplished.  They celebrate with a necessary post race beer (or a few) and indulge in some delicious food.

Then they kick their feet up and rest for a few days.  I would of course recommend this.  Everyone needs to recover after a race and training cycle.

Sometimes though, that rest and relaxation phase feels a little too good.  We tell ourselves we will get back out there tomorrow and then tomorrow becomes next week.  Time goes by and next thing you know, it has been several weeks or months.  Suddenly, you’ve been gone so long you don’t know how you could possibly return.  You want to, but you feel a bit lost.

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Years ago I remember Oprah discussing her ups and downs with weight.  She said that sometimes as you gain weight you start to look at yourself and you’ve suddenly gained so much, it feels hopeless.  You don’t even know where to start or how it could possibly make a difference at this point.  Stepping away from exercise can feel a bit like this too.

A few months later I will get a desperate e-mail.  “I want to run a race that is coming up, but I don’t even know where to start.”  So we start the process all over again.

However, this time around things feel extremely frustrating.  Running used to be difficult, and then you built up that aerobic base, you learned how to get through the struggles, and it started to feel easier.  This time, you know what that felt like, but it is hard again.  It stinks to know how great it used to feel and be back in that difficult beginning situation again.  It makes getting started even more difficult, not only physically but also mentally.

Sometimes when we dive into a training plan, it can be exciting.  There is an end point and we are striving to reach that goal.  Once that goal has been met, it can feel great to breathe a sigh of relief and sit back for a few.  It can also seem a bit overwhelming.  Where do you go from here?  What is the next goal?

Keep in mind that there doesn’t always have to be a next goal.  There could be a distant goal such as, “Next year I want to do another half marathon.”  But that doesn’t mean you have to start training for a half marathon right now.

At the same time, keep in mind the progress you have made.  You don’t always have to be in marathon shape, or race shape.  That’s practically impossible.  Trying to do so would likely lead to an overuse injury.  On the other hand, you can stay in shape.  You can keep some of that endurance and forward momentum that you have made at a much smaller scale.  Your goal could just simply be to maintain your aerobic base and enjoy some easy mileage each week.

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Maybe you were doing double digit runs for several weekends leading up to an event.  Now you could do a few three mile runs during the week and enjoy a slow and long five mile Saturday.  There’s no set rules as to how far you need to go or even how fast you must be.

Not only will you maintain that ability to run that you gained from your training, you will be keeping your heart and whole body healthy.  Remember how much time you used to have to devote to training.  Now you only need to devote a fraction of that time.

Sometimes the idea of carving out time for a workout can seem overwhelming.  It’s easy to want to push it to the back burner.  But I also know that once you start doing this for a few weeks and make it a routine, that routine becomes a habit and a running habit is hard to break.  You will notice that it becomes easier and you might even start to crave your miles.  Make the time at first and eventually it will become second nature.

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Then the next time you see an event that is calling your name, you can sit down and figure out a plan, and know that you already are prepared to keep going.

One thing I always try to instill in my clients is that once you are a runner, you are always a runner.  It’s always there for you.  Take it and make it yours!  Even if you do end up taking a break from running, it will always be there when you are ready to return.

A Case For The Treadmill

Excuse my absence.  Apparently having two little kids, coaching, and trying to keep life together is a full-time job.  I don’t know how parents of three kids even get out the door of their house!

Spring running is finally in full effect across the country.  After a late April snow dumped 20 inches on our yard, I was starting to feel like winter was never going to leave.  We had a bizarre winter in Michigan.  It was cold at times, but also warm.  It snowed, but it often melted and there were days in February and March where we had green grass in our yard.  Then April turned into a frigid, snowy mess.

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Mary likes watching the turkeys roam in our yard.

Between the crazy winter weather, and being a mom of a now 2 1/2 year old and 8 month old, it can be difficult to fit runs in.  Lucy was too young to run in the stroller, and the weather was too cold to push Mary.  Quite often, my only option was the treadmill when the girls napped or at night when they went to bed.  Thank goodness for Netflix.

A week ago Saturday, I toed the line for my first true race since having Lucy in September.  I felt pretty out of place at the start.  I had no idea what to expect.  I hadn’t run with a GPS in months.  I didn’t know what my pace would be or how it would feel.  I had nothing to base it on.

Plus, it was freezing and the wind was blowing like crazy.  Thanks, April.  Glad to see you go!

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When the gun went off, I just settled in and started running at what felt like a good, but sustainable pace for me.  Imagine my surprise when I looked down after the first mile and I was running well over a minute per mile faster than I expected.  I was running way too fast!  But when I checked in with myself I was feeling relatively good.  I tried slowing a little bit, but as we came to the halfway turnaround of the 10k, I realized I was nearly at the front of the pack of the race and also the first woman.

Mile after mile, I was running paces that were faster than I had ever run.  I felt pretty good until mile 4 when the Pop-Tart that I ate before the race started to make me feel pretty sick.  Who would have thought?!

I was beyond thrilled when I crossed the finish with a 10k PR.  I ended up 6th across the line and in first place overall for the women.  It was a much needed boost for this running mom.

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This was a special race for me, as it was also where I ran my first 5k, 27 years ago in honor of our neighbor who lost his battle with leukemia.  A few years later, his dad passed away and the race now is done in both of their memories.  They were also avid runners.  At my first race, I won 2nd in my age group by default as there were only two of us.

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From my first 5k

It was also the weekend of our town’s yearly festival.  Despite being super chilly, and super windy, the entire family had a great time.  I also need to add a huge congrats to Rock and Lucy who placed third in his age group on Lucy’s first ride in the BOB!  Stroller running is no easy feat.

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Running on the treadmill can be a bit tricky.  It will never truly replicate running outside.  Every treadmill varies.  They all feel and work in different ways that make them unique.  You may have noticed this when some models feel easier or more difficult to use.  There is also no added effect from wind or changes in terrain that challenge our muscles and endurance.

Pace is also a tricky factor with treadmills.  It is virtually impossible to run at your normal speed on the mill.  I always encourage runners to find the pace that feels right on the treadmill.  Don’t let the numbers dictate how fast you must go or frustrate you.  Just know that what feels right for you, is exactly what you need.

While a lot of people will say that the treadmill has little to no place in a training plan, that isn’t always an option.  Personally, I feel that you need to do what works best for you.  That can mean giving yourself permission to get your runs in on the treadmill.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this for 100% of your runs.  But again, you do what is right for you.

I’m finally enjoying warmer weather runs with my girls, and that presents its own set of challenges.  However, I certainly have the treadmill to thank for keeping me sane and fit this winter.  You might even say it made me a better runner.

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What are your thoughts on the treadmill?

 

Waiting For The Wall

Happy Monday!  Excuse my lack of presence. We were away for the past week on a family vacation in somewhat sunny Florida.  The weather was chilly most of the week.  However, yesterday when the time sprung forward one hour, all the kiddos who we were sharing a room with, decided to finally sleep in their own beds through the night.  It felt so good, I stayed in bed until the littlest one finally decided to get up.

Rock took Mary in the jogging stroller for an 8 mile ride to grab donuts (I love the way he thinks) and I met them there with the car to trade off.  As I started my run, it was almost 11:00am and the sun was beating pretty hard. It was only 73º, which would be a pleasant run in the summer.  But I haven’t been running in that heat for a long while and the last half of my run was straight into the sun on an unshaded path.  Curses for sleeping in!

Right from the start, I began preparing myself for this being a harder run compared to my others this past week. Despite some breezy days, the cool weather worked in my favor and I was running sub 8:00min/miles for eight miles a few days before.  However, I also know that you need to keep your pace on the slower side for most runs.  While my pace has been slowly getting faster and those sub 8:00’s felt relatively moderate, even those need to be slowed down from time to time.

I started Sunday’s run out and got it in my head that I would keep the pace at what felt “easy.”  I would ignore my GPS’s pace function and I would just do what I could.  I knew it was going to get hard at some point and I was going to aim for getting to six miles before I opted to walk for a bit.

I broke the run into half mile segments and checked each one off as I went and also checked in to see how I was feeling.  I used my music to push me through and I kept a calm conversation in my head.

Those last few miles were harder but as I approached each one, I was surprised that I was still feeling okay.  They weren’t quite as hard as I made them out to be and I used that as fuel to keep me going.

Isn’t it the worst when you head out for a run and haven’t mentally prepared yourself?  Have you ever started out feeling so great and having the best of intentions, only to get to the halfway point and you begin to struggle?  It is so hard to keep going when you are taken off guard.  It can mentally take the wind out of your sails.

I realized yesterday that I am still a bit traumatized from my last marathon.  There, I admit it.  I really want to run another marathon.  Nine months after I had Mary, I ran the Run For The Red Pocono’s Marathon.  I PR’ed by over 8 minutes and qualified for Boston with a 14 minute buffer.  I felt amazing!

A month later I ran Grandma’s Marathon.  It was supposed to be flat and fast; a welcome change from the final hills of the Poconos.  But the weather had other things in mind as the temps climbed into the 80ºs and black flags lined the course.  My body gave out.  But my mind gave out long before my legs did.

It was a very difficult experience.  It took all of those happy emotions from a month before and dug them in a deep, dark hole.  I knew and I still do know that I am capable of a great race.  But man, that was one painful experience on both a physical and mental level.  The marathon is a beast and when you have been beaten down, it can be hard to get back up.

I’m eyeing races and trying to find the one that is just right for me.  I will be back soon.  It is a great reminder that running is far more than just putting in the miles.  We have to train our brains to handle the highs and the lows.  Preparing for those difficult days is important.

Sure, you don’t want to be a Debby Downer before each run.  I am not recommending that you always prepare for the worst.  But it helps to know what obstacles might be in your way.  Think of how you might handle them.  When difficulties arise, use them as training tools for how you might approach them on race day.

It also never hurts to have donuts waiting for you when you arrive back home!

I didn’t hit the wall yesterday.  It was a pleasant surprise.  But it was also a great reminder that no two runs are alike and sometimes they can really throw you for a loop.

How do you prepare for these tough runs?

Which One? Healthy Eating Or Exercise?

The other day I was watching “The Doctors” and someone asked which was better: exercising or eating well?  Despite being an avid exerciser, I immediately shouted, “Eating well!”  As a certified health coach, personal trainer, and running coach, it has become increasingly clear over the years that what we put into our bodies is far more important than exercise.  Don’t get me wrong, exercise is essential to a healthy life.  But you can’t out exercise a poor diet, and you can’t outrun unhealthy eating.

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Sure, we have all put in an extra hour at the gym before, or run a few extra miles after a less than stellar day of eating.  And while that is a great way to bump things up when we fall behind, you certainly can’t rely on doing that every day.

Truth is, we need to eat well most of the time and exercise too.  There should also be some time for rest and relaxation, along with enjoying some indulgence as well.  I prefer the 80%/20% rule with this.  Keep it healthy 80% of the time and enjoy and indulge the other 20%.

When it comes to diet and exercise, what you put in is what you will get out.  If you eat poorly, you will get poor miles or poor results.  You can’t outrun a bad diet.

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This has been weighing on my mind a lot lately.  While I have been busy Netflixing, I spent a few hours watching documentaries.  Last year I had a client who told me she watched “Food Choices” and it changed her life.  She was focused on a plant based diet.  I watched the documentary and it hit me hard.  But it didn’t completely change my mind.

Earlier this fall I caught a bit of a segment on NPR where a doctor was discussing how Americans eat far too much meat.  He said that if you eat meat every day, you should work to go one day without meat each week.  If you eat meat once a week, you should aim for once a month….and so on.  Basically, he discussed how it causes inflammation in our bodies and Americans consume much more meat than most other countries.  I was intrigued, but still didn’t do much about this.

I don’t recall why, but I ended up watching “Forks Over Knives” on Netflix a few weeks ago.  This documentary emphasized again how we eat too much meat and showed a correlation between weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many other issues.  As a health coach, I also know that if any diet can be recommended to clients, the Mediterranean Diet is the heart healthiest.

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DoctorOz.com

This information continues to show up and it was starting to make me consider what might happen if I adopted not a vegetarian lifestyle, but more of a plant based emphasis each day.  So while Rock was out of town for work last week, I set about finding recipes.

Here is what I found:  My grocery bill was so cheap!  I thought it would be much more expensive to just buy fresh fruits and veggies.  But the reality was, between produce and some canned and dried options, I was leaving the grocery store with a lot more money in my pockets.

While this wasn’t my main goal, I ended up dropping a few pounds almost immediately.  It was  a pleasant surprise.  One day I was walking by a mirror and noticed that my face looked a bit more thinned out and my muscles looked more noticeable.

A few days in, I was cruising along on the treadmill and found myself bumping the pace up because it felt good!  I was hesitant to run at this pace because I figured I would hit a wall.  However, I suddenly noticed that I was maintaining this pace and I wasn’t tired.  I really did just feel good.

It didn’t end there either.  I was watching the new season of “Grace and Frankie” and I was having such a fun time that I didn’t want to stop running.  My mileage soared and I felt so good, I didn’t even realize that I forgot to take a day off.  I ran eight days in a row and averaged 8-10 miles each day.  I didn’t have a super long run in there, but there was some really great mileage and my muscles weren’t complaining.  In fact, I made a mistake in an earlier post this week.  I actually ran 58 miles last week!

The Verdict:  I still love meat.  I’m still going to eat meat.  But we as a family have agreed that we are going to focus more on plant based meals.  My body felt good and I enjoyed what I was eating.  I made a delicious Indian curry that warmed my body and had some awesome anti-inflammatory spices added in.  The whole house smelled amazing!

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Chickpeas, Onions, Tomatoes, Spinach, and spices over rice.  So fast and so good!

Everyone needs to do what is best for their own lifestyles.  But there is a lot of evidence that adding more fruits and veggies and enjoying even a little bit less meat can make a big difference in your health.  I highly recommend checking out “Forks Over Knives” and “Food Choices” if you are curious about this.

Do you love a good burger like me?  Any thoughts on eating a little bit less meat?

Running Makes Me A Better Mom- Momming Makes Me A Better Runner

The other day I was finishing up a pretty awesome run on the treadmill and I looked over to see little Lucy hanging out in her swing and smiling at me.  I love that she likes to hang out there.  In fact, these days she giggles and smiles the moment I put her in.  I catch her watching my Netflix options and it kind of cracks me up.

I love that I am finding a way to balance my healthy habits and the greatest job I have ever been lucky enough to have.   Everything about being a mom centers around balance.  And quite frankly, a heck of a lot of running centers around balance too.  Being a mom has made me a better runner, and running has made me a better mom.

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Mary 2 years ago!

Patience: I cringe as I type this, but I started out not being the most patient mom.  I’m still not always great at this.  But I have had to learn to step back and take a look at difficult moments with a toddler and first decide if it is really worth getting upset about, and then how to deal with the situation without losing my cool.  I’ve noticed that the calmer I keep my voice when we are in a tense moment, my little one is less likely to become more difficult.

When I first started to train and run more races, I increased my mileage and started running most days of the week.  I had a “more is better” attitude and that of course lead to many, many injuries.  I assumed that running fast every time would make me a faster runner, so I pushed every run like it was a race to another PR.  I had a lot of nagging injuries.

Like parenting, I have learned that the easier I keep my pace most days, keeps me both healthier and happier.  I have to be patient with not only my pace, but also with my body and my mind.  Things happen and you can either roll with the punches or freak out and make things worse.  Just like in parenting, not every day is a PR!

If I freak out when a rough mile comes up, things can fall apart quite quickly.  But if I stay calm and collected and assess the situation, it is easier to realize that it’s just one rough mile and the next one can be better, even in a marathon (and isn’t every day of parenting a marathon?!).

Acceptance:  Our children are so similar and yet so different.  I adore them for their uniqueness.  I appreciate my toddler’s tenacity and strong will and it also drives me crazy.  I love how active and fun she is and also adore the fact that our infant has a much more chill, “roll with the punches” kind of attitude.

Every day with children is different and so are our runs.  Some days we feel like we could keep going forever, and others just don’t feel right at all.  Just like being a mom, I have to accept these different days for what they are.  I can’t change them.  I can accept the hand I have been dealt and appreciate them for what they are.  Sometimes they just need a different approach.

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Love:  The love a parent feels for a child is profound.  It rocks your world.  It changes you in every single way.

I used to sit around hating different parts of my body.  I ran to burn calories and hopefully change myself.  I spent hours lifting weights to tone areas that didn’t look perfect to me.

I see myself in such a different way now.  I’m a mom and I am a role model for two beautiful little girls.  My body isn’t some imperfect thing that needs to be changed now.  It is a powerhouse that gave birth to two amazing human beings.

When I put on my shorts and tank top and my two year old asks if I am going running, I say “yes” with pride because she sees her mom as an active example.  When she gets down on the floor and shows me a “daddy push-up” or Happy Baby pose, she is mimicking her parents who find a healthy balance in their lives.

I can’t help but grin when my 4 month old smiles at me as I run on the treadmill.  She’s going to grow up seeing her parents enjoying exercise because it makes them healthy and happy.  They don’t do it as punishment, but instead because we as a family enjoy doing active things together.

I love that my children can teach me new lessons each day and that I as a parent can also have an impact on their attitude towards sports and activities.  While we parents have a lot to share with our children, they constantly make us grow in so many ways too.

How have your children or other people helped make you a better runner/keep you active?

Year In Review

Happy New Year!  It’s been a bit over a week since I last posted.  I attribute that to a whole lot of fun activities going on over the holidays and to an early Christmas present from Mary in the form of the Norovirus.  The latter wiped me out for nearly a week.  What can I say?  We do encourage her to share as much as possible!

2017 was a really fun year for our family and also for my running.  It didn’t involve many races or racing goals, but there was plenty of mileage to be had anyway.  Here’s my quick recap and mileage.

January:  132 miles

I started this month out by jumping into training for the Boston Marathon.  We got hit almost daily with several inches of snow and I quickly realized that winter marathon training in Northern Michigan can be quite miserable.

February: 171 miles

I continued training for Boston, until we found out that we were expecting in October.  At this point, I decided that I would rather not train for a marathon while being pregnant and hope to qualify again another year.

March: 197 miles

Being pregnant certainly wasn’t going to stop me from running.  When we got to Florida, I spent 10 days running on the beach with Rock and enjoying some warm, snowless, weather.

April1.4

April: 159 miles

We headed out east to New York City for 2 months of work.  Mary got to skate at Wollman Rink in Central Park, where we used to work, and where Rock and I first met.  I got to enjoy running in the park, along the East River, and on Randall’s Island.  We also got some running together as a family up in Fishkill, NY.

May: 84 miles

May was a learning month for me.  When you are pregnant, your body requires far more electrolytes than it normally does.  I ran through what felt like a terrible calf cramp that ended up being a muscle tear.  This lead to some down time for healing.  When I finally got back out to run, I tripped over a brick and messed up my pelvis (thanks pregnancy hormones!).  It was June before I could even walk properly again.

June: 161 miles

This was a recovery month for me.  As I eased back in to running, I wasn’t certain if I would be able to do the only race I had planned for the year.  Fortunately, I played it smart and took my time.  Many days I broke my runs into two parts and this seemed to really help.

10miler1

July: 158 miles

I spent a week pushing Mary in the running stroller in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and the following week I was feeling well enough to do the Cherry Festival Half Marathon in Traverse City.  At 27 weeks pregnant, I was careful not to push myself too hard and was pleased by both the beautiful course, and my 1:53 finish.

August: 143 miles

I could tell my outdoor running was coming to an end as we enjoyed a week of family vacation up in Glen Arbor, MI.  However, as I took my runs inside and was feeling great, I was surprised when some early labor lead to modified bed rest.  Our fabulous doctors and nurses kept me and the baby healthy enough to just hang out at home.

September: 27 miles

Lucy Carroll Dudek arrived 4 1/2 weeks early and stole our hearts.  I was so scared about sharing my time between Mary and another sibling and couldn’t imagine how I would possibly love another child as much as my first.  The truth is though, that I love being a mom more than ever before.  These two girls bring so much love into our lives.

October: 160 miles

I took 18 days off after Lucy was born and then eased back in on the treadmill.  This was both easier on my body and also for a mom who now has a toddler and a newborn to take care of.

November: 192 miles

This month marked my first outdoor and double digit runs.  We tried the Winnetka Turkey Trot in Winnetka, IL and had a blast.  This was also Mary’s first time riding with me during a race and also her first kids race.  It was all a success!

December:  193 miles

Despite ending the year with a GI bug, the whole month marked some really great mileage and runs.  We had a fabulous Christmas and start to our New Year.  We are so blessed as a family and I thank you for following my adventures.

Total mileage: 1777 miles

What was a highlight of your running this year?