Holding On To Uncomfortable: The Key To My Running

I recently realized why I am able to endure distance running.  It is often said that running requires a unique mindset.  My realization might just add proof to that theory.

The other day I was out for a run in the warm summer heat.  Lately I’ve had a few struggle runs and whenever it gets warmer, I tend to feel nervous about how things will go.  On this particular run, I made it to the halfway point and turned around feeling stronger than I had anticipated.  That is always a good feeling when you are uncertain of the outcome.

Uncomfortable1
I started thinking about upcoming races that I haven’t signed up for.  There are two marathons this fall that had been on my radar, but due to work schedules, they aren’t going to happen.  There are also a few shorter races that I have been considering but the thought of them made me a bit anxious.
I started questioning why shorter distances make me so nervous compared to the half and full marathon.  I’m not ashamed to admit that the 5k is a distance I avoid.  I despise that race.  To me, it is a sprint.  I have a competitive mind when it comes to races (my husband would tell you that is also the case with many things in life).  As much as I try, it is incredibly difficult for me to just “run” a race.  I’ve attempted this during a 5k and the moment I start getting passed by young kids, I can’t help myself.
To race a 5k is in my mind, a mad dash.  It is 3.1 miles of fast running and feeling absolutely awful at the finish.  A 10k has a slightly better pace for me.
The half and full marathons are mentally easier for me because you can slow that pace a bit and settle in.  The key, I realized is that I’ve learned to learn to hold onto uncomfortable at that distance.
Uncomfortable3
Running, in general, is an uncomfortable experience.  As you begin moving, your lungs work harder, you heart has to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles must do more.  Every cell in your body has to push more.  It is a taxing situation and it is uncomfortable.  It is hard!  
 
Learning to deal with the uncomfortable, to hold onto that feeling, and to move your mind away from that feeling is the key to enduring any distance.  You will likely always feel uncomfortable to some extent during running, but it will get easier.  That uncomfortable becomes more manageable.
Uncomfortable2
Our minds are a vital tool in the sport of running.  Finding ways to hold onto that uncomfortable is the key to enduring.
How do you hold onto uncomfortable?

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.

TroutFest8

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!

TroutFest4

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.

TroutFest5

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.

TroutFest7

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.

TroutFest6

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.

TroutFest1

What are your thoughts on the treadmill?

 

Still Rocking The Treadmill & My Favorite Workouts

Well that was a long, but fun week!  Rock was out of town for work and I had the girls to myself.  We had some awesomely fun times and also some incredibly frustrating toddler moments.  I believe I referred to most days as a rollercoaster this past weekend.  There were some highs and some definite lows.

FamilyWeekend3

This awesome gift was waiting on our porch Friday for the girls.  They spent the weekend watching cartoons in it.

I have actually found that being a mom of two has made me love parenting more than ever.  I’m surprisingly more patient than I was in the past.  And that is a good thing, because an infant and a toddler present all sorts of “interesting” challenges.

FamilyWeekend1

It’s a Hard Knock Life being two.  I introduced Mary to “Annie.”

We survived the week and I was able to get in 49 miles too.  The week started off super cold, which made very appreciative to have the treadmill.  On Friday we were at 52 degrees and I would have loved getting a run in outside, but I have been enjoying my Netflix and watching Lucy swing while I hit the mill.  Treadmill workouts have been my jam lately.

FamilyWeekend2

I love running outside, but am slightly freaked out by the idea of pushing 2 kids!

January has been really good to me as far as mileage goes, and I attribute some of that to some changes I have made in my eating.  I will touch upon that a bit more later this week.  But regardless of those changes, I have been loving my running and upping my mileage.  I’m considering some fall marathon options and am excited to be representing the Simple Hydration Running Team again this year!

I know a lot of people absolutely despise the treadmill.  It can be boring, and let’s be honest, running long distances isn’t exactly exciting to begin with.  However, there are a few things you can do to make the mill a bit more exciting, namely by implementing treadmill workouts.

Sometimes I like the treadmill because you can just zone out.  This isn’t always easy or wise when you are running outdoors.  You really should be constantly aware of your surroundings when you are outside.  On the mill, you can blast music or binge watch Netflix and not have to worry too much about what is going on around you.  Sometimes this can be a nice change.  Please note, this does not mean you have the freedom to be obnoxious at the gym!

I also like to do speed and HIIT \ workouts when I am on the treadmill.  Many people don’t realize that the treadmill can actually be a great tool for interval training, especially if you have difficulty finding or holding a goal pace for these workouts.  This can also help create a little variety and avoid numbing the brain.

mirror5

If you find that you are constantly watching the time on the monitor, these might be a great way for you to mix things up a bit.  My guess is that you will start to notice that you are so busy following your plan that you forget you are on the treadmill or how long you have been running.

These are also great ways to learn to mentally hold those faster paces.  You might hit your hardest pace and fear that you won’t make it, only to find that when the pace switches again, you recover well and really are capable of sustaining faster speeds.  This is great mental training for races or doing longer distances.

Mill3

The Pyramid Run:  This is one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  Start out with a short warm up at an easy pace.  After a few minutes start bumping up the pace every minute until you reach your hard pace.  You shouldn’t be running at 100% but should be to a point where it would be difficult to hold a conversation (about 75%).  Once you reach this point, hold that pace for one minute and then start bumping it back one minute at a time until you reach your starting pace.  Continue this pattern of building and falling back until you have reached your time or distance goal.

The Fall Back Run:  This is a great variation of the Pyramid Run.  Begin with a short warm up (around 5 minutes).  Then start building up as you would for your pyramid run.  Once you hit that difficult speed, fall right back to your starting pace.  I love this workout for anyone who is new to speed or HIIT workouts.  While it can be scary to push yourself at these harder speeds, it can feel less daunting knowing that once you hit that hard pace, you get to start back at the easy level.  Once again, continue these build up and fall backs until you reach your time or distance goal.

What are your favorite ways to make the treadmill more exciting?

Toning- It’s The Pits…And A Healthy Recipe for Peanut Butter Pie

ArmPitFlab

This past summer I was getting in shape in anticipation of my wedding and I must have griped to my poor friend Tatiana about a million times that I was so frustrated trying to get rid of that little flabby area around my armpits.  Seriously, I ate well, worked out, lifted weights, did my pushups and that little spot would not go away.

I dedicate this post to my good friend Tat for patiently listening (and rolling her eyes a bit).  I have finally found the workout that is toning up that underarm excess!

These two exercises take less than 10 minutes to do, so they absolutely fit into my rule that anyone can get a good workout in at some point during their day.  If you don’t have free weights pull out some cans of soup.  They will do the trick.

These exercises also work your biceps, triceps and shoulders.  The perfect combination for beautifully toned arms.

Exercise 1:

Stand with your feet hip width apart and bring the weights up in front of your sternum approximately a foot away from your chest with your elbows bent.  Lift your right arm with the weight above the other arm.  Repeat with the left arm, raising it on top of the right weight.  As you continue doing this keep those arms bent in front of the sternum so as you repeat lifting the weights you continue lowering the other arm back down so that you aren’t creeping upwards as you go.  It will look like you are doing an imaginary stacking game that stays in place.  Begin by doing this at 20 reps for 4 sets.  I have now built up to doing 30 reps for 8 sets.

IMG_4985IMG_4986IMG_4987

Exercise 2:

Hold those weights in your hands in the same position in front of your sternum with your elbows bent.  Press the weights into each other and then start pushing them together (almost a pulsing motion).  If you have a mirror you will see your arm pits actually engaging.  This also engages your pectorals so I recommend not doing this one out in the open at the gym as you might get a bit of attention from others.  Begin with 40 reps for 4 sets.  Learn to love that burn!

IMG_4985IMG_4989

Finally, I posted the other day that I had been eating the most delicious peanut butter pie.  I had several requests for the recipe.  The pie came from First Slice in Chicago.  Check them out at www.firstslice.org.

chocolate_peanutbutter_pie__large_-100x70

I don’t have the recipe for their awesome pie.  But I do have a recipe for a peanut butter pie that my husband absolutely loves.  It comes from Jessica Seinfeld’s “Double Delicious” cookbook.  She adds healthy twists to her recipes and they are always pretty awesome.

Keep in mind that Jessica calls for pureed vegetables in most of her recipes.  I am lazy so I substitute baby food for pureed vegetables.  Before you turn your nose, give it a try, my husband did and this recipe is always on his request list.  Also, prune baby food makes a fantastic alternative for oil in many baking recipes.  Try it in brownies for a tasty lighter version.

You would never guess this is the lighter version!

You would never guess this is the lighter version!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups reduced fat honey graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons margarine

2 cups nonfat milk

1/4 cup corn starch

1/3 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons

1/4 tsp. salt

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 table spoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup yellow squash puree (or squash or carrot baby food)

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º.  Combine graham cracker crumbs and margarine and press into bottom 9 inch pie plate and up the sides.  Bake for 5 minutes and then let cool.

In large sauce pan on medium heat whisk together milk, cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, and eggs.  Stir occasionally and as it starts to thicken begin to stir constantly so no lumps form.  Turn off the heat once it begins to boil and form a pudding consistency.

Add vanilla extract and veggie puree.  Pour half of the mixture into a bowl and add the 3 tbsp. sugar and peanut butter to this bowl and stir.  Add the chocolate powder to the other half of the mixture and stir.

Pour the chocolate mixture onto the pie crust and top with the peanut butter layer.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  You can garnish with shaved chocolate or peanuts.

I put this in the freezer and we eat it straight from there.  It almost tastes like a peanut butter ice cream pie!

What is Cardio?

Mill3

A few years ago I was in the gym locker room and some girls were discussing their New Years Resolutions to go to the gym more and lose weight.  A trainer overheard them and mentioned that she could train them as a group.  She told them it would be more fun that way as they could do their cardio on treadmills next to each other.

“I love cardio but I don’t do treadmills,” one girl responded.  The trainer said that wasn’t a problem and asked her what her preferred form of cardio was.  “Free weights,” was the answer.  The trainer told her that wasn’t a problem, they could do just that.

I had such a hard time keeping my big nosy mouth shut.  I wanted to scream, “That’s not cardio!  You’re going to get ripped off.”

I started to realize, there are a people out there who really want to get fit but just might not know where to start.  Cardio involves your cardiovascular system; your heart, arteries, blood vessels, and the transporting of oxygen throughout your body.  Your heart is the largest muscle in your body.  If you aren’t working out your largest muscle, you aren’t giving your whole body a workout.

The truth is, cardio isn’t easy.  It takes some effort and some discomfort (often confused for as pain).  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good free weight workout and I believe that should be part of your total exercise regiment.  However, free weights can be done at a nice leisurely pace.  Your heart, no matter how you do it, isn’t going to get the workout it needs.

In order to lose weight, or for those who are looking to simply maintain weight and live a healthy lifestyle, you really need to aim for 30-45 minutes of cardiovascular activity 4-6 times per week.  I prefer to aim on the higher end of that plan.

It is okay if you don’t like to run.  There are plenty of other options including: swimming, cycling, the elliptical machine, the stair mill, jumping rope, an aerobics class, spinning, rowing, crossfit, and a kettle bell workout.  With all of these options there is something that you can find enjoyable and even better you can mix your workouts up during the week.  To some extent  you can use free weights in a circuit training workout to incorporate lifting and cardio, but it will likely not be to the intensity that your body needs.

A few examples of cardio equipment.

A few examples of cardio equipment.

Look at the array of cardio equipment.  Take a look around your gym or ask someone for help.

Look at the array of cardio equipment. Take a look around your gym or ask someone for help.

If you prefer to walk this is also an option and is especially great for people who are older, injured, overweight, or are just starting to workout.  Keep in mind that you should aim for a bit longer of a walk, closer to an hour at a time and keep the pace brisk.  Strolling at the mall is not going to work your heart, just your pocketbook.

If you are pressed for time you can break these workouts up.  Do 20 minutes in the morning before you leave for work and finish with 20 minutes later in the evening or during lunch.

Cardiovascular activities are not meant to be easy.  You are going to feel your lungs burning, your heart pumping, and you are going to break a sweat.  But you owe this to yourself and your health.  Be honest with yourself and remember that it is only 30 minutes out of your entire day.  Bring a magazine.  When I first started running I ran on the treadmill reading US Weekly and other similar magazines (I knew all the best gossip for a few years).  Put some headphones on and listen to some good music or a favorite podcast.  If your gym has TV’s on each machine you can simply get your cardio done as you watch a 30 minute show.

Once you get started doing this for yourself, over time you will find that these kind of workouts can feel enjoyable.  You will start to feel better about yourself and leave workouts pumped full of endorphins and energy.

Don't let the equipment intimidate you.  I am so uncoordinated that when I get on the elliptical if takes me a few minutes to get my arms and legs in sync.  I bet it's amusing for those behind me!

Don’t let the equipment intimidate you. I am so uncoordinated that when I get on the elliptical if takes me a few minutes to get my arms and legs in sync. I bet it’s amusing for those behind me!

A special shout out to everyone running Disney this weekend and a special congrats to my friend Jill who completed her first 10k yesterday while running +1!

 

Finding My Inner Ballerina, and More Cake!

IMG_4922IMG_4924

Today was another freezing day in the Midwest and I spent it inside again.  I was feeling a bit restless and wasn’t in the mood for another yoga class so I decided to do some research and try some new online classes.

The cuter side of Hercules.

The cuter side of Hercules.

My husband and I are going to Aruba in less than 3 weeks and I would like to do some post holiday reining in of the diet and tone up for some beach time.  I have been reading a lot about all of the different barre classes that are offered and figured why not take advantage of my extra free time and turn the kitchen counter into my ballet studio.  Note: you can also use a chair or a dresser as your barre.  I spent some time reading reviews of free online classes that are offered and chose 4 that were highly recommended.  Below are some highlights of the 4 classes I took today.

Barre3 Online Workout Video: Standing Slim:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_IUHHdm7-Q

This was a nice 30 minute workout lead by Sadie Lincoln.  My legs were burning just a few minutes into this video.  She uses a combination of ballet and yoga, although it seems a bit heavier on the yoga than other videos.  To do this class you will want a set of free weights and a small exercise ball (I didn’t have one and it was just fine).

Barre3 will work both your legs and arms equally.  I found this class to be engaging and fun.  I would try it again but I was looking for something a bit more focused on legs.

This video is taped with just the instructor so it feels a bit more one-on-one.  She does a great job of explaining each step and how to properly execute each move.

Barre Concept- Ultimate 20 Minute Barre Exercise Workout:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xzgc-h5ObhA

This class was 20 minutes long and more leg focused than the above video.  Barre Concept is much more ballet heavy leaving my legs burning which is just what I wanted.  Some arm strengthening was involved but not as much as the Barre3.

This video had my heart pumping which was nice to feel like I was incorporating some cardio into this strengthening class.

Barre Concept is taped at a studio in the U.K. and I definitely enjoyed the energetic British teacher who lead this class.  This video is taped with the instructor and 4 other women doing the class.  It worked well, allowing her to show proper technique with the other students as well as modifications for making moves easier or harder.

Ballet Beautiful Lean Legs and Buns:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfP1OG7rs_o

This video was 16 minutes long and done entirely on the floor as a bridge class.  Word of warning, the instructor is truly a ballerina.  When Mary Helen Bowers tells you to stretch, you feel silly because she can pull her legs into the craziest of positions with complete ease.  At the beginning of the video she recommends coming into a simple stretch (pigeon pose) but there is nothing simple how she goes about it.  Don’t be put off by her extreme flexibility and gorgeous ballerina legs…just imagine that’s what you will get after her 16 minute workout!

Ballet Beautiful is heavy on the stretching but I noted that this would be an excellent workout to use as a start to your day.  The light piano music in the background was very peaceful and despite being on your back the entire workout my legs were really feeling it.

This class is filmed with just the instructor.  I thought she seemed very sweet and had great explanations and modifications.

Barre Body- Get a Dancer’s Body:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG2h8G8p5Wc

This 12 minute workout was good but I noted that it was just ok compared to the others.  What I did like was the instructor mentioned that all classes are based on an interval method to help boost your metabolism.  Barre Body uses a combination of ballet, yoga and pilates which is probably why I enjoyed it the least.  I was mostly looking to find a leg toning ballet concept class but that is not to say that you wouldn’t enjoy this class.

The instructor however, was very engaging and gave great explanations for each step.  I personally just never felt any cardio during the class, nor were my legs getting the burn I was hoping to find.

Cake:

It was so good that is what is left from the cake the night before last.

It was so good! That is what is left from the cake the night before last.

This was not a video, otherwise it would have been marked my favorite.  Yesterday I mentioned that I made Bethenny Frankel’s How Is This So Moist Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze.  A few people asked me about this so I am adding this recipe.  It contains no eggs or butter and calls for oat flour (although I used regular flour because that is what I had) making them gluten free and an option for vegans.

IMG_4917

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups oat flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup warm water

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º.  Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and stir to combine.  Pour batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake 40-50 minutes until done.  Once cool cover with glaze.

Glaze ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp. canola oil (I used vegetable but I bet coconut oil would rock this)

2 tbsp. soy milk (I used almond)

2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine and stir, pour on cake and eat!

Side Note:

I still have moments where I am amazed and in love with being in the Midwest.  This is the latest.

IMG_4914

That my friends, is the Chicago style of valet parking.  Apparently when you dig yourself out in the morning you put out a chair or something else to mark your spot and people respect it enough to leave it for you to return.  This amazes me because in New York someone might steal a cab from an elderly woman if she didn’t sprint to hop in.  You gotta love this place!