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Monday, August 15, 2011

40 miles, huh?

Yep, 40 miles. One at a time until there are no more.  That is the goal. Cross the finish line in an upright position. Not racing it, just running it.... to finish it.  Why 40? Well, why not?

It is so amazing to me what the human body and MIND are capable of doing.  I remember the first time I watched people coming across the finish line at a marathon.  I was simply amazed at the accomplishment..people running 26.2 miles..a body in motion for 3, or 4 or 5 hours, or more!  It is so great, and simply amazing all at the same time.  All you do is 'tap' and start the body in motion and it just keeps going until you tell it to stop.
Do you think YOU are capable of continuous motion- running or running/walking for 3, or 4 or 5 hours or more? I didn't. Thank you AGAIN Katie Wade, for helping me to see that I was indeed capable of doing just that.  Still, it amazes me every time. The gun goes off, I put one foot forward and just go..and go, and go and go until I reach the finish line.  Five miles, 10 miles, 20 or even 30, it doesn't matter, I just keep moving.
The body, while soo amazing, pales in comparison to the awe-inspiring capabilities of the mind.  What do you think keeps the body moving?? Yep, the mind. Together they ARE the race.  While there is no denying that there is a physical aspect to running/racing and I would never recommend entering a race without proper physical preparations, I do think we forget how important the mind is.  The gun sounds and the brain tells the body to move forward.  It continues moving until the BRAIN tells it to stop (barring a physical injury or impairment).  The feel of the race is also dictated by the mind.
Ever have a run where you just didn't feel great? Maybe your legs felt heavy or you just had a ton of things on your mind. What is different between that run and a run when you felt great or you felt unstoppable? Sure there may have been a small physical difference, but more often than not, I find the biggest difference is mindset.  Here are 2 examples: First, a marathon in which I was angered at the lack of organization and supplies - basically every aspect of the race upset me-right down to the wind and the sun.  All I could focus on was how bad the situation was. Guess what i got more of? Yep, negative feelings.  That race was horrible..or was it? My mindset was horrible.  It was so bad, in fact that I was nervous to run another race and have the same experience.  I knew my training had been great yet my performance was less than stellar. Second scenario - a 50k trail race. The race was actually 26 laps-YES, 26 laps of a 1.2 mile course.    Previous to this I had sworn up and down that I would never run a loop course.  I had run track for years and the thought of running in circles for hours (literally) was not something I wanted to do.  Regardless I entered the race as a few of Team Hot Legs were going anyway.  What the heck I thought, let's see if I can run 31 miles. My outlook going in was one of having fun.  A relaxed 31 mile run with friends.  After who-knows-how-many laps my left knee began to hurt.  I had sprained my left ankle not too long before and this was just another link in the chain that was being affected. It hurt quite a bit and I found myself focusing on it more and more..and guess hurt more and I started to second guess myself.  Thankfully at that moment another thought came racing through my head.  A positive thought. The thoughts about the relaxed fun run I was having with my friends.  I began to focus in on that more and more and before I knew it I was smiling and back to having a happy run.
Looking back on those races is interesting to me..I only remember the bad pieces of the marathon and only remember the good pieces of the trail run.  I KNOW I had positive moments (in the beginning) of the marathon and I KNOW I had negative moments in the trail race..but those were overshadowed by my dominant thoughts and mindset.  What does all of this mean?  Focus on having a great, fun, relaxing experience and you can..regardless of your circumstances.  That is one of the many awe-inspiring capabilities of the mind...
Our mind can be our biggest cheerleader or our biggest enemy..remember, YOU choose which it is.  Tell yourself a positive, powerful story and you will be amazed at what you can achieve. Tell yourself a sad, painful, maimed story and you will never know what you are capable of achieving. The choice is yours.
My choice? 40 miles...see you at the finish

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It is OFFICIAL ...

Yes, it is official...I have registered for my first ever 40 mile race.  Triple Lakes Trail Race
Although very supportive, my husband thinks I'm nuts (I'm sure he isn't the only one..) but that doesn't bother me.  He doesn't understand why I can't just run half-marathons or marathons.  Well, I CAN run those, but I want to run this too!  Just once..just to do see what it is like.  Who knows, if I like it I may just do it again.  Just don't tell HIM I said that...

Part of me does find it slightly humorous only because when I started back into running (Nov 2008) I said I had no desire or intention of ever running a full marathon, I just wanted to run a half. Ha! As a woman I am fully capable of changing my mind at any moment- without notice.  And change my mind I did! Ok, getting me to register for my first full marathon (Marine Corps Marathon 2009) did take a bit of cajoling -thank goodness Katie Wade wasn't going to take 'No' for an answer- but before we even arrived in D.C. I had decided I wanted to run another full marathon.  I wanted to train harder and see what I was capable of doing...

So that is where I am now..looking back over the full and half marathons I have done..looking forward to those I have scheduled for this year..but training for my first ever 40 mile race. Exciting and scary all at the same time.  Ok, maybe scary isn't the right word..just 'unknown'.. Only change is, now all of YOU know I'm doing it too!  I figure that in between all of my other ranting and such I can keep you updated on my training and nutrition and all...and who knows, it may just inspire one of you.  No, you don't need to run a 40 mile race..well, unless that is your goal.  Just get out there and run : )

Sunday, August 7, 2011

THANK GOODNESS!!! Whew, I was soooo excited to learn- while watching tv with my husband last night- that Fiber One has come out with a 90 calorie brownie!! Wow, now all of our problems are solved! Dieters don't have to miss out (as the commercial says), now they can eat brownies too!  Because THAT was the problem the whole time-- can't eat brownies while you are dieting...Sheesh, where would we have been if for ONE MORE DAY we had to go without eating brownies??? Thank you Fiber One and General Mills for saving us! Wonder if there is anything they can do about the national debt?

Just for kicks and giggles I decided to check out the ingredients of these magical dieter's brownies. Here's what I found on their website:
Ingredients: Wheat flour bleached, Chicory root extract, sugar, chocolate flavored chips (sugar, palm kernel oil, cocoa processed with alkali,  soy lecithin, milk, salt, natural flavor) vegetable oil (canola, palm, palm kernel), fructose, cocoa processed with alkali, sugarcane fiber, vegetable glycerine, water, egg whites, cocoa, leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate), natural flavor, corn starch, salt, soy lecithin, milk, xantham gum, locust bean gum.

Huh, ok, bleached flour as the first ingredient, sugar in the top 3 and then all kinds of oils...hmmmm, call me crazy but I don't find any of this helpful to anyone--especially dieters. Ok, I take that would be very helpful if you would like to gain weight (read : fat), become less healthy or just throw some money away. If that is what you are looking for then go for it.  Otherwise as Public Enemy says "don't believe the hype".

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You don't LOOK like a runner..

So running AND weight training, huh? How do we make all of this work together?

Well, first off you need to know your ultimate goal- to run a specific race (5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, ultra..) or to use running as part of your weight training and physique development.  Since this is my blog we'll look at what I'm doing..and I'm assuming if you are reading it, you are interested so here we go..

Yep, background in physique competition meant lots of weight training and not too much running for me for years. Quite sad as running was my first love.  Thank goodness I have become older and wiser (did I just say I was thankful I was older??? Oh well..)  Can't be too upset about it as physique development and competition is what lead me to discover my passion for nutrition, sports nutrition and supplementation. Don't even want to think where I would be without that.
As my competitive career on stage slowed, my drive to get back into running increased 10 fold.  I began slowly increasing my running mileage and working toward my first race.  My training changed a little as I had to juggle time between training and running.  Dedicating 3 days to running meant I only had 3 days to weight train. (I don't like to do both on the same day-more on that later).  My nutrition didn't change too much- still eating every 2.5-3 hours. My physique changed a bit, a little less muscular, but heck, I wasn't training to be muscular, I wanted to be able to perform well.

My body was following the plan I had laid out.  It is sort of like a science experiment..combine X and Y and get Z.  If Z is what you want then you did the right thing.  If you want to get something else out, then put something else in.  Easy as that.  If you put the correct things together there is NO WAY that you CANNOT get what you want. Period.

After 2 months of training, and a month ahead of my original plan, I entered my first half marathon.. (thanks Katie).  As they say the rest is history... ran my first 15k the following weekend and my next half marathon 2 weeks after that.  Add in a relay race across the state of Florida and 2 more half marathons and I was well on my way to training for my first full marathon-something I said I was not interested in doing (thanks again Katie).  Marine Corps Marathon 2009 was my first full marathon, and what a great experience.  I already had plans to run another full before we even arrived in D.C. I wanted to train harder.

Through all of these first experimental races I kept my nutrition plan pretty much the same..basically a hybrid of the nutrition of a physique athlete and an endurance athlete.  Physique athletes are notorious for taking in few carbohydrates while endurance athletes suffer from protein intakes that are far too low.  Combining these gave me a plan that seemed to be getting me what I wanted.  Improved endurance and muscle maintenance.
 I do get the "are you crazy??" looks from people when I say that I eat protein and carbohydrates in every meal..and most people would assume when I say that that I am eating copious amounts of bagels, pasta, bread..I mean, after all I AM a runner, right? This is where the sports nutritionist in me comes in handy.  Nope, no need to think like an old school runner.  There are plenty of other great carbohydrate sources that will help to fuel me without causing excess weight (read:fat) gain or impairing my performance.  Most people would also assume that the inclusion of carbohydrates in each of my meals means that my overall % of calories coming from carbs each day is high (or at the very least equal to that of the typical American-55-60%).  Sorry, have to squash that idea as well.  The low glycemic index/glycemic load carbohydrate sources included in my day usually land me somewhere around 30-32% of my total caloric intake, keep my energy levels and blood sugar stable and help to keep me lean.  Protein in each of my meals means that my body has plenty of amino acids to use for fuel, for repair and for any other process necessary.  There is no need for muscle tissue breakdown to get those amino acids that are so desperately needed.  Not only does my protein intake keep me from breaking down tissue to get amino acids, it also helps to build and repair the muscle tissue faster! All of that means I can train more effectively and perform better..and be faster!  Who wouldn't want that??  So when I hear "You don't look like a runner. You look too muscular." I know I must be doing something right.


So I was at Starbucks yesterday and a seemingly innocent comment started me thinking...

A woman looks at me and says:"Do you run or lift weights?" which she followed with a very complimentary observation.
I smiled and said "Uh, thanks I do both."

...and that was it..didn't think any more about it for at least a minute or so and then could help but focus in on her question.  Did I run OR lift weights.  Weird, I thought..I didn't realize that there was an OR option.  I giggled to myself as I hurriedly texted this conversation to all of Team Hot Legs, surely they would find this just as humorous as I did. As we giggled more about the absurdity of this paradigm, I couldn't help but think that maybe this is part of the problem.  There IS an OR mentality with weight training and running. Like they have to be mutually exclusive.  One cannot not exist in the same space the other does.  Runners are afraid of lifting weights thinking they will gain muscle and it will slow them down and people that lift weights are afraid of running thinking that it will cause them to lose muscle leaving them small and weak.  Well, what if there was a way to do both?? GASP! How dare I suggest such blasphemy?! Ok, I won't suggest it.  I will state it with confidence.   

Just like you need to mix all of the proper amounts of each ingredient at the proper time to make your grandmother's famous cornbread recipe, you need to combine a well thought out training plan with proper nutrition and supplementation to maximize your efforts.  Not willing to do that? Then it looks like you will be living in an OR situation for the rest of your life. Willing to think outside the box?? Read on..

Years ago, I was a subscriber of the OR  mentality.  Let's clarify that-- someone told me that it couldn't be done and I blindly accepted that as fact.  I'm guessing that the problem may lie somewhere in a person's concept or definition of what running is. Generally running is thought of as long, slow distance running -what runners refer to as LSD. Long slow distance is one aspect of running training.  Just as there are many different ways to weight train, there are many different ways to run.  There are tempo runs, speed work, fartleks (from the Swedish 'speed play'), repeats, sprints and recovery runs.    Running can fit into any fitness program but first you must establish the goal of your training.  Looking to be a marathon runner? You'll need to incorporate all types of runs.  But don't eschew weight training.  You'll definitely need to include training for your core (hips, glutes, abdominals, back) as well as for the lower leg. The focus need not be to gain muscle mass, but for strength and stabilization.  Leave this important training piece out and you will find yourself laid up with injuries.  Proper weight training will also improve power output as well as help increase glycogen storage-two things that will only improve running performance. Looking to be muscular? Focus more on sprint, interval, fartlek and short repeat training in conjunction with your weight training.  

Your goal will also dictate how many times a week you perform each type of training and in which order.  Marathon runner- weight train 2-3x week while running 3 days/week.  More muscular physique- run 2-3x week in conjunction with your weight training split-4-5x week.  When or if running and training occur on the same day, realize that one will not be performed maximally.  Meaning that undoubtedly one will 'suffer' slightly because of the other. Running first will reduce force production/power output for the weight training session.  However weight training first may result in heavy, tired legs and a reduction in speed and running performance.  Weight training and running would best be performed on different days, however if that is not feasible it is best to keep your main focus in mind and perform that activity FIRST.  

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to program planning.  Nutrition and supplementation must be geared toward successful completion of and recovery from the specific training protocol. Without this you are dead in the water no matter what your training plan is. Plan properly and there isn't any reason to live an OR lifestyle.