Sometimes I Wonder

Sometimes I wonder why I signed up for a marathon. I ran a half marathon a few weeks ago and nearly threw up on the finish line. I'm not kidding. Why do I want to run twice that distance when that was already hard enough? The following week I was particularly struggling with the motivation because it was the week after the Unplugged Half Marathon and my brain was like "hey, I already ran the race. It's time to relax." But no, that wasn't THE race that this training is all about! It was also a cut back week and I struggle so much with cut back weeks...

Sometimes I wonder why I signed up for a marathon my last semester of graduate school. This week I am supposed to be building up my mileage and I am actually almost at my peak training. While that's exciting on some level, it's also a bit daunting because this is also peak job application and peak assignment time (there is only 1 week of school left!). My schedule has never been so busy! The next two weeks are crazy. But the past few weeks have been too.

Some days I wonder if my body can do it. I went into training naive and stupid. I rarely stretched. Now I probably have IT band issues so I'm icing and rolling whenever I can. My quads are super sore. My claves while they are rock solid are so so so tight. It hurts to roll and I'm hoping they start to feel better soon.

I constantly have to remind myself that running is about so much more than just checking the boxes for marathon training. Sure I want to do the training because I love the feeling of crossing the finishing line with utter pride! I love setting goals for myself and crushing them. I also want to be my sister's prodigal trainee. But whenever I tell her this she says I am going to PR. Well, duh, Julie. That's because I have never ran a marathon before!

I need to constantly remind myself that

  • Running relieves stress
  • Running improves concentration
  • Running is social
  • Running is fun (now that the weather has improved!)

Running has also improved my confidence and helped me to see my potential. I never thought I could run tempos or speed workouts. And now it's just another workout. I never thought I could run a sub 1:45 half marathon. But I did it! I never imagined myself running 5-6 days a week and not hating every minute of it (especially after my poor exercise habits during my internship).

Every run is a new opportunity to see new potential or to push myself just a little bit more. And I see this confidence spreading to other areas of my life as well.

I worry about cutting back to listen to my body and prevent further injury. I want to be perfect and get all of my training in. Last week was hard because it was my biggest loss of miles yet (5 miles). And then I missed another 5 this week. I'm working through the mental challenges.

So in that sense, yes I am very busy and marathon training makes it a wee bit more stressful than it has to be. BUT on the other hand, marathon training has given me so much confidence and pride in myself that I feel better equipped to tackle my schoolwork, professional work, applications, interview, you name it. It's teaching me about balance and listening to your body and the flow of your life.  Bring it on.

Dealing with Change

Graduation is in less than a month. I move in a little over a month (don't ask me where. If you ask my parents they would probably say, "hopefully not home.") This equates to goodbyes and endings. But it also means there are new beginnings to look forward to. Last Thursday and Friday I drove down to Boston and back. Then I worked the whole weekend. Then Monday after an all day conference I drove down to Portsmouth. Tuesday I drove to Portland and back. Wednesday I drove back to Vermont.

All of the money that I have (and then some) has gone towards gas, tolls (holy toll charges!), coffee, more coffee, food, and wine. Right now in my refrigerator there is a yogurt, 1/2 a can of pinto beans, half a bag of baby carrots (my hands are orange) and some shredded cheese...I'm pretty sure the milk is bad. Luckily I have seven jars of nut butter...three of which are open....but no bread...

My eating schedule has been so off. And although I've tried to be in tune with my body, some days are harder than others for any number of reasons.

I am exhausted. This makes it more challenging to tune into my hunger and fullness cues. I'm also more likely to choose foods for comfort or emotional reasons (wine and chocolate anyone?!)

I am living at other peoples' homes. This equates to eating out a lot or eating what is available. Sometimes you have to eat foods you would not normally eat or eat when you aren't hungry because you have to eat. I always bring breakfast and snacks with me so that helps.

I am constantly driving. I don't know about you but I get bored while I'm driving. I like driving in the morning because I can bring my coffee on the road. In the afternoon or evening I am a snack monster. Especially after driving the same boring route four times in six days.

Everything combined leads to a bit more emotional eating than I care to admit and a few extra glasses of wine on the more challenging days. But I made those decisions being aware of why I was making them. I ate overnight oatmeal and Cadbury eggs for dinner when I drove to Portsmouth.

I spent a lot simply to get some delicious vegetables, whole grains and tofu from Whole Foods. Was craving vegetables hard!

I didn't get a donut from the Holy Donut because I felt all donut-ed out.

I made two dinners. One was my peannutty noodle bowl for Julie and Greg. I really wanted pizza but they had pizza a few nights ago so I made pizza for me and the former for them.

I ate half my pizza for dinner and the other half for lunch. I had been craving it for a while. My body wanted it.

I took Tuesday off from running even though I had 5 miles planned. My knee wasn't bothering me too much, but I was truly drained.

I had toast with almond cashew butter and jam for breakfast even though I didn't want toast. But it's what I brought for breakfast.

After cleaning my apartment I fell asleep...I was so tired. I guess my long run wasn't going to happen. I ended up doing 5 slow miles instead. It worries me that this injury thing is happening during my peak training weeks. Julie told me to listen to my body and cut back when I need to because it takes longer than I think to lose fitness. I don't want to get more injured but I also want to be able to finish the race. So intuitive exercise it is. Well, semi-intuitive. I still have a training plan to follow, I just rearrange the days. I'm going to try for a long run. It was supposed to be a tempo but I'm cutting back the speed.

I had yogurt with cereal and peanut butter with a side of grapes for dinner. Later on I had an apple for a snack. Holy fruit!

Change throws everything for a loop. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and realize that things are not going as planned. I am working on this now and let me tell you it's not easy. Julie just had a great post about listening to your body when training (head on over to her blog!). It's hard, but for now you can catch me watching Netflix while I bike at the gym (and semi enjoying it) and trying to survive the last few weeks of the semester!

Long Runs and Pantry Meals

This morning I woke up at 6am to eat something before my long run. Today was the longest training run of my plan and I was nervous and excited. I enjoy long runs, but usually because I am running with other people. Today I was going solo (well I ran with Rebecca for the first 6 miles and then was solo). Luckily it happened to be the only sunny day of the week and that helped immensely. I met Rebecca at her house promptly at 7:20am (it probably wasn't prompt, but wishful thinking...I am always on time except for running). We hit the pavement and started with an uphill climb...after a while we were chatting away and I barely even noticed we were running. I have so missed our runs together! It's been a few weeks and I feel deprived. She is honestly one of my favorite people. So down to earth and funny. I literally can talk to her about anything.

After 6 miles I stopped at her house to use the restroom (yay for three hours of running...) and grab her extra water belt. Did I mention she is extremely generous and lends me everything that I need?! I was worried about wearing it since I haven't run with one before and my stomach was bothering me, but it turned out to be great. I ate some fruit snacks, blew my nose, and hit the road. I started out slow because I was a bit apprehensive about running alone. I had a podcast going, but I couldn't help but think of all of the homework and assignments that I had waiting for me at home. After a while these thoughts dissipated and I just ran. I stopped twice to take pictures because I am trying to enjoy all of Burlington in the next month and a half. I need to take it all in while I can.

I ended up eating all of my fruit snacks because my stomach actually started to growl and feel hungry. That's a first. I was probably around mile 12 when that started. I truly wondered what time it was since I started running at 7:30. The legs were hurting around this time as well. Not necessarily my muscles, but my knees! Last week was a cut back week so maybe that had to do with it.

There was a little bit of wind during the first 7 miles out and a little less on the 6 miles back. So some of my later splits were faster. I knew Julie would be proud. I ended up running back on a few streets instead of the bike path to switch things up a bit. This required I go a little bit farther past Rebecca's street and then back in order to avoid this large and grueling hill right by her house. I finished and walked up the hill :) That, Rebecca would be proud of.

When I got back to my car I found a chocolate bunny! My only bunny of the season. Such a truly wonderful friend :) I somehow got into my car and drove home before waddling up to my apartment. I ate a banana and hopped in the shower. Unfortunately my chocolate milk smelled a bit off so I didn't want to risk it.

Never did I think that running a marathon would require so much body glide. Even after lathering myself up this morning (the sensitive spots that is) I still yelped once I got in the shower. It's a successful long run when I get in the shower after and nothing stings...but that rarely happens.

While making a random bowl of leftovers for lunch I snacked on some pineapple. This bowl didn't tide me over for long and I was soon snacking on the same thing as the day before (mini bag of popcorn with cocoa roasted almonds and salted almonds). A few hours later I had more pineapple and made some tea to bring to class.

After class I decided to whip up my favorite meal: mock fried rice! This meal can be made with any grain and any vegetables. It's so versatile! I used barley, kale and mushrooms this time and it was perfect. I love pantry meals, aka meals that can be made with anything that you likely have on hand in your pantry. Pantry meals should also be super simple and quick to whip up. This takes maybe ten minutes tops (not counting cooking the grain) and requires one pan (again, not including the pot for cooking the grain).

Mock Fried "Rice"

Ingredients

  • 1/2 - 1 cup grain of choice (I usually go with closer to 1 cup) - cooked ahead of time
  • Any vegetables you like:
    • carrots
    • onions
    • kale
    • mushrooms (great!)
    • frozen vegetables
  • sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • peanuts
  • soy sauce

Method

  1. Saute the vegetables in the sesame oil. If using onion start with that to brown. Saute until soft.
  2. Mix in the grain (it should already be cooked). Stir in the soy sauce.
  3. Once all heated and mixed together, push to the outside of the pan so there is a spot in the middle. Crack the eggs into the middle and break the yolk to scramble.
  4. Scramble the eggs into the whole mixture. Add more soy sauce if desired.
  5. Top with peanuts.

 

After dinner I curled up on the couch with a handful of mini cadbury eggs and Gilmore Girls. I can't resist mini cadbury eggs... and only having a few is not an option. I love them! I used to put them in the freezer in snack bags so that I wouldn't have more than a serving. They taste so much better not frozen so now I keep them in my pantry (aka cabinet) and I just pour a bunch onto a napkin. No more counting out eggs for me! A handful works just fine, sometimes multiple!

BIG Goals!

Today after sleeping in after my 6am alarm to go running because I am sick and then working 8 hours I had to bribe myself to go to the gym. I really didn't want to go but Julie's evil voice was in my head saying, "Every mile counts." I told myself to run one mile, but to aim for two miles. I knew three wasn't in the cards. Mentally I wasn't there. And physically. Especially with a ten mile tempo tomorrow. I listened to the 20 minutes that I had left of the latest Ali on the Run podcast (I started it yesterday). It's the best podcast. I wish there were more episodes because I'm all caught up. She asks great questions and is always laughing. Today she asked her guest about her goals in life, in work, and in running. It made me think. What are my goals? 

  • To graduate. Graduation is May 20th. Today is April 15th. You do the math. It's so close and it feels so surreal. I have my cap and gown in my closet just staring back at me.

  • To get a job that I love. I have finally accepted that I may not have a job lined up before graduation. While I don't want to move home because I feel like that is a step back, maybe I will move to my family's summer house in Maine to study for the RD exam. Sun and studying?! I can do that. To love my job it needs to be challenging and stimulating. I want to learn every day. I want to interact with people every day.
  • To run a sub-4 hour marathon. This is one running goal because I am not obsessed with running. Julie is the one obsessed with running. Check out her most recent post. I prefer to sleep in and I have trouble waking up and running because I feel zapped of energy without food. The only time I can get up at 6am and run right away is at Julie's because I know that is the only time I can run with her. I just want to have fun running the marathon with Julie, but also make her proud. I will cry when I cross the finish line because I'll be proud, but also because it's my last weekend in Vermont...

  • To visit Olivia in Scotland. I haven't been on a plane in forever...almost two years to be exact. The last trip was to Martinique and then I had mono for two months... I would go back to Turks and Caicos in a heartbeat, but Olivia is in Scotland and that's on my bucket list.

  • To visit Sophie and Walker in San Francisco and go to Napa. Julie should come too so the triplets can be united again. And so I don't have to fly alone.

  • To get a CSA again. I MISS my CSA so much! It fostered my creativity and increased my fiber intake (not that that is struggling at all!) I also love supporting local farms. I truly hope wherever I move to has a strong local farming community.
  • To get back into doing yoga. No words are needed, just watch me try to touch my toes...
  • To spend more time with my parents. For five years I've lived over four hours away. If you know me, you know I love my family to pieces. When Julie moved back to the coast and she got to see them more I was very jealous. Now is my chance.

  • To be truly happy.

Goals are dynamic, ever changing. And these are just my long term goals. I have short term goals to accomplish these and if I don't I need to make some...because I want to reach these goals.

Mental Challenges of Running

Running is so mental for me. I have had some great runs lately and yet sometimes it is so hard for me to just put on running clothes and get out the door. Last night, for example. I had four miles planned. Why was it so challenging to run just four miles when Julie managed to run a marathon that morning in 3:20! She is a beast and I admire her. There is nobody who looks up to Julie more than I do. Just try me. I've basically tried to be her since I was little. Why do you think I took an Econ class in college? Anyways, when running is more mental than physical I've realized it's important to plan ahead. And yesterday I didn't.

  • I didn't pack gym clothes. Usually I can force myself to run after work by changing before I leave and driving straight to the gym.
  • I didn't have a running buddy. Running with someone else makes me look forward to a run so much more.
  • It was cold. I was cold all day at work and the wind chill last night was 10 degrees. Sure it was better than the -20 the day before but still...that's cold.
  • It was dark. I like running in the sun because it energizes me.

Four miles felt impossible to me. After work I went to Trader Joes because I needed chia seeds and peanut butter (hello staple foods!). I also ended up buying an acorn squash (random), brussels sprouts (why is there an "s" on the end of brussels), and a box of wine (it was a better deal than a bottle...and I am my mother's daughter). I convinced myself that I could have the wine only if I ran at least part of my run. I decided 2 miles felt feasible. Three miles did not. And thank goodness I only did two because my phone died (either from the cold or the battery) and I thought I had frostbite for the entire run. As Julie puts it "every little bit counts" and after her killer race I knew I had to give it a try.

This view made the cold and the immense effort totally worth it.

One of the reasons that I love running with other people is the motivation to get out the door and the motivation to keep going. I, personally, don't want to let the other person down who may be counting on me for their run or their workout. I also thrive on interpersonal interactions and look forward to any time I can spend with friends. I also am such a chatterbox while running, but it's a great opportunity to get to know a new friend or discuss deep, personal issues with your best friends. It can be a great distraction.

When I really don't want to run I need external help from a friend. I find that I am "in my head" too much and going for a run alone and even listening to music or a podcast is not enough of a distraction from my thoughts or my to-do list. This is why I have found running in the morning to be beneficial for me since I can get the run in before the stress of the day begins or the to-do list lengthens. To each his own though! The strategies that work for me to overcome the mental battle of running may not work for you. Just like most strategies in life, this is individualized. Try a few different things and see what works.

And on days when you are sick or really in need of a mental health day, take it. Do not force your body to do something that it doesn't want to do. Respect your body and all that it does for you. Your body is pretty amazing and accomplishes a lot on a day to day basis. Missing one workout will not make you a failure. Exercise because it feels good and you enjoy the movement. Find what you enjoy to do for movement and do that when your body wants to and it feels right. 

Friday Favorites

It's been a weird week. Anyone else feeling that way? Monday was a holiday so that threw me completely off and today was 50 degrees in February...so wrong. I just watched this week's episode of This Is Us and after sobbing uncontrollably for the last ten minutes (attractive right?!) I thought I needed to think about positive things. So what did I enjoy this week? Sunshine!

It was a little brighter this week (thank goodness) and I feel like a different person. This is also a good thing because I recently ran out of Vitamin D pills.

Coffee/lunch dates

This week I met with a few of my references for the job hunt. I so enjoyed the opportunity to sit down (or walk downtown) with them and just get to know them better. Not only did we talk about my prospective future and my goals, but we also just had a truly great time. It feels so wonderful stepping out of the student-teacher roles and becoming closer with the people whom I truly admire and look up to.

Basketball games

As an undergrad I went to one basketball game...ONE! It was the year that Julie graduated (year 4 of 5 for me) and she was like I have to go to the game because otherwise I won't before graduation. So we went and it was fun. This year I have gone to a few more for various reasons, but I realize I enjoy basketball. Not as much as hockey, but we are getting there. It helps when your school is pretty gosh darn amazing at basketball these days.

Running with people

Rebecca is taking it easy this week due to a potential injury. Without someone to force me up early to run I have found myself dreading my workouts. My tempo was insanely hard this week and then yesterday I ran a 6 mile speed workout on the indoor track. Going around in a circle 48 times was a bit brutal. That's why I really look forward to runs with friends. I am a chatterbox and even at 6am will talk throughout the whole run. Being with another person energizes me and sets the whole day up for success!

Running on a track

Despite hating the fact that 8ish laps is a mile, I actually enjoyed running on the elevated track the other day. It bugged me that we were running in the wrong direction (although I may have played a part in that by not reading the directions...), but there were hardly anyone running so I could go about my workout in peace. I realized while doing my speeds that part of me misses track. Training for the marathon is a bit similar to track practice when you are told what to run. But then running on the track I get invigorated passing people and leaning into the corners...

Delicious meals

YUM! This week was delicious. There was that peanut noodle bowl that I can't get enough of.

Roasted veggie bowls with rice and sausage.

Mushroom fried rice (a quick dinner, but a keeper!)

Bratwurst with Kimchi at Zero Gravity... and a ton of their popcorn.

 

Looking forward to meals out this week and making some chili :) Also cannot wait to sleep in on Sunday...hopefully later than 7am...

My First Speed Workout

Today was my first speed workout and I was nervous all day. I worked 8:30-5 and brought my workout clothes to change into after my shift. When I have to run on weekends and I know I'll be mentally tired I change at work and drive straight to the gym. That way I am more likely to get the workout in. The hardest part is changing into my gym clothes. Or it was before this workout... Today called for 5 miles. With 800s thrown in. I warmed up for 2 miles at 10 minutes/mile (I was tired) and then did four 800s at 7:30 minutes/mile with a 400 recovery at 10 minutes/mile. Each 800 was harder than the previous one. The first speed I was genuinely nervous that I would shoot off the back of the treadmill because I wasn't sure how fast 7:30 would be. It turns out it's level 8. Mentally I couldn't go above 8...and I am glad I didn't because that was certainly fast enough. I kept thinking that Julie was insane for giving me this pace because my legs are so short.

After two speeds I thought about texting Julie (my twin, but also my running coach) and asking if I could do 3 speeds instead of 4. I wasn't going to make it. Everytime I thought that I told myself that I had to do all 4 because I already slowed my speed from 7:25 to 7:30. Once I finished the 3rd speed I told myself to just go for one lap and see how that felt and then I thought well if I give up now then that is just lame. In the midst of the speeds I wanted to yell at Julie, but oh man it felt great afterwards. I felt so accomplished. And if I did shoot off the back there weren't many people at the gym on a Sunday evening to notice. Maybe Sunday will become my speed day. I stretched for like two minutes because I am terrible at stretching and then drove home. On the ride home I was reminiscing about high school track and how much I love being fast. The 800 was my favorite race. Actually right about now I can't remember if I liked the 800 or the 1,000 better...those races were my jam. I didn't think I would miss them. I may have to run speeds on the track once it warms up to bring all the memories back.

Post workout I chugged some chocolate milk straight from the carton because I am classy like that. I don't know what I have been doing without chocolate milk in my life. I drink 4-8 ounces after a speed, tempo, or long run to get some quick carbohydrates and protein within a half hour after the run because I don't always immediately eat. Tonight I was hungry, but really needed to shower before having dinner. I took the longest shower and enjoyed the stress relief Kiss My Face shower gel that I got as a Christmas gift. It's so relaxing and smells like pine! Dinner consisted of couscous, turkey sausage, roasted root vegetables, and Cabot sharp cheddar cheese. Then I finished off the cinnamon bun Ben and Jerry's that I bought a few days back. Perfect way to end the day. Boy am I tired. It's been a long weekend, but I feel rejuvenated. I owe it all to a great night in with a friend, the most inspirational podcast (Food Psych), and appreciating all that my body can do!

Now I just wish I could see Jules in person and cuddle her puppy when I'm this tired...

Exercising For Fun

I used to hate running. Like actually despise it. Growing up running was my sister's thing. It was something my dad was good at and my sister was good at. It was something I did because I felt I should. color-run

(Color Run after studying - and eating - abroad for 4 months)

Running for me started freshman year of high school. My sister was recruited by the running coach and I decided to join as well. For the next four years I never let my track coach live down the fact that he recruited Julie and not me. I ran the long distance races because that is what Julie ran and being twins we had to do the same thing, right? Wrong.

first-half

(Before running our first half marathon together)

I forget when I transitioned to the medium-length races, but it was definitely for the better. I started training because I wanted to be better, I wanted to compete. Even still, I dreaded running. I loved talking with my friends while running and I loved being good. The 800 and the 1,000 meters were my races and Julie could have the mile and the 2 mile all to herself. But even still the actual act of running was still not enjoyable.

Looking back on this I can say that I didn't enjoy running because I did it for all the wrong reasons. I ran because my sister did. I ran because I was unhappy with my body shape and wanted to lose weight. I ran because I thought I should.

tired-at-the-trot

(Turkey Trot)

In college I kept running for the same reason. I felt like I had to run to either get in shape or stay in shape. I ran because I was dissatisfied with my body. Every run was a mental struggle to keep going. I felt like I had to reach a certain mileage or the run didn't count. And I hated every mile...every tenth of a mile.

turkey-trot

I should say that I did enjoy running with my dad and my sister. I enjoy running with other people because it's a social event. So I didn't hate that. I thoroughly look forward to times when I am home and can run with my dad.

dad-running

(Sorry for the blurry picture, but I love the reflectors)

My approach to running changed drastically this past year. My dietetic internship gave me so much more than I had expected. I learned how to ask for help, how to manage multiple commitments and how to accept things as they are. Multitasking became the norm. Nothing was as good as I wanted it to be, but with a lack of time it was simply as good as it was going to get. I rarely had time for exercise. While in my clinical rotations I counted my walk to the site as my exercise for the day because every other moment was spent doing work.

running-with-friends

(Running along the beach with friends)

When rotations ended I craved movement. And not because I felt like I had to get back in shape or because I disliked my body. Actually the past year of not having time to exercise and not being able to eat as well as I wanted to or felt I should transformed my mentality. I appreciate my body for surviving and succeeding in the past year. I feel accomplished and mature. I honestly feel like I can handle anything that comes my way.

That being said, I want to exercise now. More specifically I find myself wanting to run. I don't feel like I have to run every day to be a success because any day that I move my body is more than I could do this past year. I run because it feels good. I run because I value having the time to do so. I run because my body is healthy and strong and I can.

I am so grateful for my dietetic internship for giving me profound experiences and increasing my knowledge. I am also thankful for the life lessons and the change in perspective it provided.

I enjoy running now, but I didn't used to. Some days yoga sounds much better to me than running and that's okay. I'm never going to be the runner that my sister is, but I enjoy sharing her passion of the sport at my own level of commitment and desire. I enjoy cheering her on. For the first time in my life I am content with my body and I value all that I have been through. I will continue running as long as it feels good. For now, I look forward to my training runs and seeing what this marathon holds for me.