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?

That’s What Races Are All About

Hello, friends!  Please excuse my absence.  I’ve been doing a lot of coaching during this summer/fall marathon season.  I also spent the latter portion of the summer studying for and getting my real estate license.  I hadn’t planned on taking such a long break from blogging, but I also hadn’t planned on delving into two really fun businesses at once this fall!

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See More @SarahDudek-Realtor on Facebook!

Running in the fall is a pretty fun experience, especially after spending a few months slogging in the summer heat and humidity.  There are also so many fun marathons to choose from.  I’ve literally had runners racing in a marathon every weekend of the month of October into November.  My phone has been actively tracking everyone!

We are once again in New York City, teaching at Wollman Rink in Central Park.  If you are here, please stop by and say hello!

Being in New York this past week has been incredible.  We saw the Marathon Route flags going up along First Avenue, Fifth Avenue, and the Central Park Drive.  We watched the finish line being set up and we saw the masses of runners flocking to the park as the week came to a close.

The subway system in NYC is far too difficult to navigate with a double running stroller, so I make the 3 mile trek to and from work each day with the girls across the city.  Over the past few weekends, we’ve come to work along First Avenue where runners were getting in their last few long runs.  We also go across the park where runners from around the world come to log miles.  As we made these adventures over the past few weeks, we talked about long runs and marathon training.  We discussed how running a marathon is never easy, regardless of how many you have under your belt.

I love these little talks with my girls.  Mary is 4 and she takes in every detail and asks so many questions.  Lucy is now 2 and she simply repeats whatever we have to say.  The biggest take away from these talks is that we should cheer on the runners.  Unprompted, Mary started shouting, “Good job, runners!” to anyone we passed.  This was then followed by, “Good job, wawa!” from Lucy.

The girls helped make signs for our friends who would be running the marathon.  They asked about each runner and where they were coming from and practiced cheering for each of them.

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On Sunday, we stepped out of the apartment to the Mile 19 marker and found a perfect place to track our friends and cheer on everyone.  The perfectly rehearsed, “Good job, runners!” and, “Good job, wawa!” were met with oohs and ahhs.

We chatted about how we were waiting for our friends at one of the hardest places in the race.  Somewhere between mile 18 and mile 23, the excitement of the race ends and the panic starts to hit.  Fuel supplies run low, and the reality of the amount of time you have been on your feet, and the amount of time you have left, starts to settle in.  Being able to be on the flip side, and cheer for someone who might be struggling, is pretty magical.

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After we had found the last of our runners, we headed home for naps.  I asked the girls if they had fun cheering and Mary said, “Yes, mom.  That’s what we do for people at races.  That is what races are all about.”

The final part of that comment made me smile, inside and out.  That is what races are all about.  They aren’t about winning or losing.  They are about achievements and accomplishments.  Races are about disappointments and setbacks.  They are injuries and comebacks.  At the end of the day, they are about running with thousands of other people, sharing in the same great moment, together.  We do it, cheering each other along, because that is what races are all about.

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The bench in Central Park honoring running great, Ryan Shay.

What do races mean to you?

 

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?

Incorporating Running Into Vacations & Work Trips

One of the biggest hurdles many of the runners I work with, is getting training runs in during vacations and travel.  Whether you are away on a trip, out of town for work, or at a wedding, there are usually ways to get your runs in.  Research is almost always your best bet to make this process easier.

Plan ahead:  The internet is your friend.  Get on Google and Google Maps and take a look at what the area will be like.  Is it safe to run?  Are there sidewalks or running paths?  Many area websites offer advice on great places to run.  I research hotels and resorts based on their gyms.  When we took a trip to Punta Cana, I made sure there was a good indoor space to run, knowing that outside wouldn’t be a safe option.

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Super pregnant me, made sure our hotel at Grandma’s Marathon had room for me to run!

Get on the phone:  Call your hotel concierge and ask about their gym and recommendations for places to run.  Make sure you tell them how far you are looking to go!  Did you know that some Westin’s offer Running Concierges?

Contact the local running stores.  Many offer weekly and weekend group runs.  Fleet Feet in Chicago has a fantastic Chick’s Night and a variety of group runs throughout the week.  These are great ways to meet people and learn about other fun places to run, eat, or drink in the city you are visiting.

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This was recommended by the concierge during my visit to Cleveland for a wedding.

Find a local gym:  If you know that the place you are visiting won’t be great for outdoor running or the weather is looking questionable, call local gyms and find out what type of day passes they offer.  Some will give you one day for free.  I recently got a day pass at a beautiful new L.A. Fitness for $15.  When I went to pay, they reminded me to keep my receipt because it was valid for 24 hours!

Try something different:  When we took a weekend trip to Boston, I had read about a local running tour that visitors often use.  We booked our tour and added on the Harpoon Brewery tour option.  City Running tours made our visit to Boston one of the best memories of our vacation.  Our guide was fun and knowledgeable.  We were able to visit far more places than most tourists get to do on foot in one day, let alone in two hours.  Plus, we got to visit a brewery and enjoy unlimited sips for awhile.

Find an event:  Whenever we visit a place for more than a few days, I go on Running In The USA to see if the area we are staying in has any events going on.  It doesn’t always work, but we’ve been lucky enough to find a few races during our stays.  We once found a really fun 10k at a golf resort near where we were staying in Florida.  It was such a great way to start a Saturday morning of vacation.

If you are staying somewhere safe, go explore:  When we went on our honeymoon to Aruba, we chose our vacation because the island is incredibly safe.  It is also conveniently small and basically experiences the same weather every day, year round.  Knowing that it was okay to run around the island, allowed us to log 70 miles over the course of a week.  We took time to stop in shops and wandered through neighborhoods and touristy areas.  We left feeling like we really got a great understanding of what Aruba was like.

It might take a little research to find a place to run.  But if you take some time to plan ahead, running during a vacation or other events, can really be a great way to enjoy your time in a new place.

How do you like to get a run in when you are out of town?

Stop Questioning, You Are A Runner

A few weeks ago I had a chance to run with a client I have worked with for several years.  She started from scratch with me and has completed several marathons, half marathons, and other distances.  She’s worked hard and the improvements I have watched her make are nothing short of impressive.

She took a hiatus for awhile and is making a fierce comeback.  We all know how hard this can be.  When we discussed how to approach getting back into running, she said something that I totally understood but also had me shaking my head.  She said, “I feel like a fraud.”

I asked how she could possibly feel like a fraud and she said that she didn’t grow up a runner, or even an athlete.  There’s been obstacles in life that should have sidelined her.  Everything in life, leading up to adulthood said she shouldn’t be a runner.

Let me be the first to say,  she is a runner.  She ran not one but two full marathons.  She started from the very beginning and pushed herself through every difficult moment along the way.  Running is hard!  She didn’t let that stop her.

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Here’s the deal:  Sure you look at your television and see tiny and toned elite runners sprinting to the finish of the Boston Marathon.  You come across any running path and see people cruising by, breathing effortlessly.  They are no more a runner than anyone who chooses to step outside and log any number of miles.

Every “real” runner, anyone who truly works to get through miles, appreciates anyone  who attempts to run.  There’s no rulebook about how to become a runner, how far you must run, or what you must weigh.  There is no start date, or expiration for becoming a runner.  You could be 90 and choose to lace up your shoes!  Being a runner isn’t about a certain pace, age, or look.  Running is about putting one foot in front of the other and pushing yourself to new limits.

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Let me emphasize that we celebrate all kinds of runners for their accomplishments.  How can she be a fraud if we cry tears as we watch an injured athlete cross the finish line, or the 80 year old who completed their first endurance event?  Is her ability to overcome obstacles and push her body any less admirable?  These examples are certainly remarkable for many reasons.  However, they also show that a real runner isn’t always someone who is born with the gift of natural athletic ability.  Real running is tying up your shoes, pushing on, and moving forward when your mind and body tell you to stop.

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If you choose to run, you are a runner.  Don’t apologize for your pace or the number of miles you run.  This is your journey.  You own this experience.  Be proud of your accomplishments.  Know that what you are doing is nothing short of remarkable.

You are a runner and you are real.  No doubt about it!

Learning To Go Long-Tackling Your Long Runs

Years ago, I traveled from NYC to Chicago to cheer on a friend in the marathon.  I had been getting back into running and everything about that day and the event had me so inspired.  My husband and I later discussed how it gave us all of the feels, but that we would never be so crazy as to run a full marathon.  You either had to be insane to endure 26.2 miles, a super athlete, or both!

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Carrying balloons so I could be spotted on the sidelines!

I tracked their training over the summer.  My husband rode his bike on a 20 mile run, handing over water bottles and making an emergency run for Vaseline (side note: who wants to voluntarily chafe?!).

Let’s be honest, while the 26.2 miles seems daunting, the entire concept of marathon training and those long training runs sounds downright frightening.  So how is it that I went from scared of the distance to becoming a marathon coach and Boston Qualifier myself?  The answer: I learned to get inside my head.

It started slowly.  Seriously.  I started out running 3 mile several days a week one summer.  As I got more comfortable, I started testing the waters with 5 miles.  Then one day that turned into 7, and then 10 miles.  One day I set out to do 10 miles, but at some point I started to wonder if I could complete a half marathon.  And so it began.

As my mileage started to increase, I began noticing a few things:

You’ve must be incredibly kind to yourself.  In order to complete long training runs, you have to be your best friend.  Long runs are hard.  If you start the negative self-talk, your mind is going to give up way before your body does.  On the flip-side, if you coach yourself and begin saying all of the incredible things you see yourself doing, you will notice an amazing change.  You are going to see these changes, and you are going to like yourself….a lot.  When things get tough, it’s essential that you guide yourself through those difficult times.

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Before our first marathon

You need to know that every mile is different.  Long runs are a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions.  There are ups and downs.  Some miles will feel fantastic, while others are going to be very difficult.  It is during those difficult miles that you must remind yourself that if you keep going, the good miles are yet to come.  Just as in life, when times get hard, you can’t give up.  You have to find a way to move forward.

You need to slow it all down.  Long runs are not about pace.  They are not a dress rehearsal for race day.  Your splits are not indicative of race day performance.  Long runs are about time on your feet, preparing your body for a long event.  It is about learning to fuel properly and mentally endure hours of running.  When you slow down and stop worrying about pace, it is much easier to complete these longer runs.

Find motivation in a variety of places.  Never underestimate the power of a good playlist.  Look everywhere for musical inspiration.  My playlist is a plethora of random songs that have a great beat.

The power of thirst and hunger are also excellent motivators.  Near the end of a long run, my husband starts dreaming up what feast he will enjoy for dinner.  We once even planned a 22 mile run to finish at a brewery, because a nice IPA is a great way to quench your thirst!

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Mix it up.  When we lived in NYC, we tried doing long runs all over Manhattan.  Although you will find millions of people on that busy island, you will also notice that it really isn’t that large.  Routes were quickly getting boring and we were tired of weaving in and out of crowds.  We researched rail trails in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  We then spent an awesome spring trying out different trails and finding new places we grew to love.  I will never forget a sweaty run along the Saddle Brook River in New Jersey where we saw fly fishing, camping, and the worst allergy attack I’ve ever had.  It was a blast!

The long run can be mentally challenging, but it can also be a wonderful time exploring and learning how strong you are.  Slow it down, mix it up, and always be kind to yourself.  When you learn to incorporate these techniques, you will find that it might possibly be the most enjoyable portion of your training!

How do you survive long distances?

The 5 Minute Rule

We all know the 5 second rule, but in our house well follow the 5 minute rule.  As a mom of two, this even goes for food on the floor!

Do you love running but have those guilty days where you just dread your workout?  Then the cycle begins where you feel even more guilty because you love running or feel like you should love running.  The fact is, you’re just not feeling your run that day or at that moment.

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This happens to me a lot on the weekends.   During the week, most of us are bound to a schedule.  If you are like me, your alarm goes off and the coffee pot immediately turns on.  The rest of the day is played out like every other day during the week.  Whether you have kids or not, being an adult is busy times and that means you have to plan everything out.  You probably have to schedule in time to work out.  If you don’t go during your lunch break, first thing in the morning, or right after work, you don’t get the opportunity to get in your run.  Like clockwork, your workouts and everything else during the week, gets a slot in your schedule.

Weekends often play out a little differently.  If you are lucky, you get to sleep in a bit later.  You can linger over that cup of coffee and the news or a good book.  The day unfolds slowly and your sense of urgency to get a run in is lessened.  While this feels nice, it can also make the idea of running, feel a little less enjoyable.

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My idea of a weekend!

We all have those days where we just don’t want to run.  At the same time, we do want to go for a run and we feel that guilt.  This is a frustrating predicament.

On these days, I encourage myself and other runners to use the 5 minute rule.  When you find yourself making excuses or questioning your workout, throw on some running clothes and tell yourself to just go for 5 minutes. Go nice and slow and don’t think about anything past those 5 minutes.

If you hit that 5 minute mark and you are still feeling miserable, stop.  Throw in the towel and acknowledge that today was just not meant to be.

However, after 5 minutes, you will most likely find that endorphins are pumping through you and that great sweaty feel of a run is starting to feel like it’s old self.  If this is the case, just roll with it.  Let yourself keep going and enjoy the run.

I have found that some of my best running has occurred on the days when I least felt like running.  It is a magical surprise.  Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a kick in the pants to get up and get moving.

What do you do on the days when you just can’t get yourself going?

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.