Guest Post: Fitting It All In

I’m excited to have Rachel from Life. Or Something Like It. here today! Rachel is my weight-lifting muse; she inspires me to actually go to the gym and lift heavy things when I don’t want to. She’s also one of the busiest people I know, but she still manages to work out every. single. day. I asked Rachel to write a post about how to fit exercise in, and here’s her most excellent advice. Enjoy! 

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Hello!  I’m Rachel from Life. Or Something Like It.  I was incredibly excited when Cassie asked me to be a guest poster on her blog.  She is one of my favorite bloggers and she has me laughing through every post she writes!  Thank you Cassie for this opportunity!
If you read my blog, you know that I am extremely busy.  For the past year, I have been in a student teaching program working my way toward a credential in special education. On top of school work, I have student teaching, work, two dogs, a social life, and I managed to exercise for 365 days straight (and still haven’t broken that streak).  Being busy, it is easy to put exercise on the back burner, but here is how I have managed to fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, seven days a week and still graduate from the credential program with honors.
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1.  I plan around my workout. It is very easy to put off exercising.  It hurts (in a good way).  It makes you tired. Just about anything in the world is more fun and can be used as an excuse not to do it. So when it comes to exercise, I always plan my day around my workout.  At the beginning of the year, when I knew I would be going all day for twelve hours, I planned to start my day with exercise.  Then, there was no excuse when 8 pm rolled around and I was supposed to work out, but chose to hang out with my lady friends at the bar.  Now, I work until 3:30 or 4:00 and don’t make plans with anyone until after 6:00 pm, so that way, I know I will have a good hour to workout at the gym.
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2.  I make it a priority. I am at the point where if I don’t exercise, I act like a crazy person and nobody wants to be around me.  But I was not always at that point.  I made exercising a priority.  I still made plans with friends, but I told them I needed to workout first.   I studied massive amounts, but when I took a break, I made sure I went to the gym instead of sitting on the computer watching Netflix. IMG_4699
3. I do little things throughout the day. On days when I know I am absolutely not going to be making it to the gym due to an extremely busy day, I add in little spurts of exercise where I can.  If I’m going to the store, I park in the back so that I get an extra walk in.  I take the stairs instead of an elevator.  I put on music and dance around my room while I fold laundry.  I have even been known to do squats in the bathroom and push-ups in the classroom when no children are in there.  The little things add up!
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4. I do exercise that I WANT to do.  It is incredibly hard to motivate yourself to do something you absolutely do not want to do.  I just ran an amazing PR half marathon two weeks ago.  Since then, I have not wanted to do much running.  Coming off of 40 mile weeks, I felt lazy the first week when I did much less than that.  I was beating myself up and dreading tying up my laces because I just simply did not have the drive to run.  So, I changed my mind set.  I don’t want to run, so I have been focusing on lifting.  This is something I enjoy and has been motivating me to get into the gym every day.
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5. I trained for something.  Having a race on the horizon made it pretty impossible to skip workouts.  There were days where I was drowning in work and lacking sleep.  The knowledge that I had a race coming up that I had paid for kept me motivated to train for it.  I didn’t want the money to go to waste and I didn’t want to show up to the race unprepared.  Having a goal in mind makes it much easier to get up and move!
So those are a few of my tips for keeping up with exercise even when you are super busy!  I hope they helped.  Thank you so much for reading.  And again, thank you to Cassie for asking me to guest post!
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Guest Post: Fueling Your Recovery

I’m probably on a beach right now. Not to rub it in or anything. 🙂 While I’m beaching, I’m thrilled to have Tina Muir from Fuel Your Future with Tina here to guest post for me. Tina is an elite runner whose goal is to represent Great Britain in the Olympic marathon. I have no doubt that one day, we’ll be watching her rock that Olympic race.

I asked Tina to write about recovery nutrition, because even though I know it’s important, I’m terrible about it. Looking at these recipes, though, I think it’s going to get a whole lot easier!

Hello! I am so jealous Cassie is on vacation, but I am grateful for the opportunity to write a guest post for her while she is sunning herself! My name is Tina Muir, and I post mostly about my life as an elite athlete; the meals I enjoy to fuel my training, and advice on how you can be the best runner you can be.

To be able to maintain a high level of training, I need to make sure I do “the little things” to make sure I recover quickly to be ready for the next hard day. As I have not yet represented Great Britain (I am English by the way :P), I am not fully funded which would mean running was bringing in enough money to sustain a living. For this reason, I have to work hard to control all the little things I can to be the best I can be. I thought I would write a little post about one of the most critical aspects of recovery.

Priority number one is to eat within 45 minutes of finishing your workout/run.

I know many people are not hungry immediately following a workout, but your body is most responsive absorb carbohydrates and proteins to allow recovery during that magic 45 minute window. Your muscles begin to break down, and their ability to repair themselves (so you can become faster and stronger) is significantly reduced. That pretty much means your workout was a waste if you wait too long!

Priority number two is making sure you are eating the right foods to allow recovery.

Absolute minimum is a protein bar with at least 12 grams of protein, and 20 grams of carbohydrates. Another option for smaller meal is a chocolate milk or banana and 2 tbsp peanut butter. However, you need to make sure you consume a meal within two hours if you do this.

The meal should be a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats….yes, I did say fats! Good fats though….the kind found in olive oil, nuts, salmon, or avocados.

I mostly run in the mornings, so breakfast food is usually the meal of choice. My go-to meal post workout is my hearty Greek yogurt pancakes. Here is the original recipe, but they can be easily adapted to suit your favorite flavors and tastes. I also made them into carrot cake pancakes recently, which you can find here.

If you work out in the evening, it should be easier to eat a good meal afterwards. One of my favorite post workout meals is my salmon, spinach, and broccoli risotto.

Priority number three is trying to add in some anti-inflammatory foods

To be a better runner, you have to push your body beyond its previous limits. With this comes lots of muscle soreness. I think we have all experienced that moment where you take a step out of bed, and proceed to walk around like an old lady due to soreness. Many foods naturally help reduce inflammation; promoting faster recovery, and soothing soreness in your muscles that you should try to include in your recovery meal. Rather than pumping your body full of ibuprofen, why not try some of these:

  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Tart Cherries
  • Olive oil
  • Salmon/Mackeral/Tuna (Omega-3 fatty fish)
  • Almonds and Walnuts
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Spinach/Kale/Broccoli (dark leafy greens)
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Tumeric

I have learned what works for me, what upsets my stomach, and what doesn’t. Play around with what works for you, as long as your body is given enough fuel to begin the recovery process, you will notice you feel much better after workout days, and will become stronger, faster, sooner!

Hearty Carrot Cake Protein Pancakes

Makes 3 big pancakes
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

¾ cup (80g) rolled oats

¼ cup (75g) whole wheat flour

¼ cup (75g) buckwheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ cup crushed pineapple

½ cup Greek Yogurt

¼ cup brown sugar

1 egg

½ cup (30ml) almond milk

½ cup carrots, grated

 

Cream Cheese Glaze

¼ cup Greek Yogurt

2oz cream cheese, room temperature

2 tbsp powdered sugar

Instructions

Mix the wet ingredients into a large bowl, leaving the carrots aside. Stir until well combined.

Stir the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Slowly stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until well combined. The batter will be very thick. Stir in the carrots.

Grease a pancake pan/sauté pan/frying pan with spray or butter as it heats up over a medium heat. Spoon the mixture onto the pan and spread it out a little with the spoon (they will still be thicker pancakes). Leave to cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the underside is brown. Flip the pancake over and allow the other side to cook.

Whisk the cream cheese ingredients together in a separate bowl. Spoon into a ziplock bag, and cut off one corner to make a pipe. Squeeze the cream cheese glaze over the pancakes, and serve with syrup if desired.

Nutritional Information

Serving size: 1 pancake (with cream cheese glaze)

346 calories, 6g fat, 149mg sodium, 45g Carbohydrates, 7g Fiber, 15g Protein

Without glaze

260 calories, 6g fat, 79mg sodium, 41g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 12g protein

 

Salmon, Spinach, and Broccoli Risotto

Serves 2
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio rice

1 tbsp oil, split

2 ½ cups vegetable broth, boiled

½ red onion, diced

½ lb salmon, in 1 inch chunks

2 cups spinach

1 ½ cups broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces/florets

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup Parmesan

1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

Heat ½ tbsp oil in a sauté pan over a medium high heat. Add the onion, cook for a few minutes, until browned. Remove the onion from the pan, and add the other ½ tbsp oil. Stir in the Arborio rice and cook for 1 minute.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the vegetable broth to the pan, ½ cup at a time, only adding more liquid once the previous liquid has been absorbed. Continue to cook, stirring continuously until all the liquid has been absorbed, and the rice is slightly chewy (around 15-20 minutes).

Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in boiling water until almost tender. Drain, set aside.

Stir the spinach into the rice, and mix until wilted. Add the salt, pepper, parmesan, red onion, and lemon juice.

Add the salmon and broccoli. Gently stir, being careful not to break up the salmon. Cover, and cook for another 5 minutes, mixing occasionally to ensure the salmon is cooking.

Enjoy!

705 calories, 19g fat, 1932mg sodium, 91g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 37g protein

 

Thanks so much for the guest post, Tina!

Readers: Which of these are you most excited to try?

What’s your go-to recovery meal?

Guest Post: Trail Running 101

The other day, while we were at work, Jordan sent me a screenshot of the song he was listening to. It was called “Whiskey and Sunshine.” I hope that right now, we’re enjoying one or both of these things. 

In the meantime, the awesome Logan from Mountains and Miles agreed to guest post for me! I love reading Logan’s blog and living vicariously through all her awesome trail runs, races, hikes, and trips. If you don’t already follow her, you should. I asked Logan to write a post for newbie trail runners like me, and her advice here is golden. Be warned, though: it will make you want to stop what you’re doing and find a trail RIGHT NOW. 

Trail Running 101

 Hi! I’m Logan and I blog over at Mountains and Miles where I talk about running, hiking, my dogs and training for trail ultramarathons. I’m a Colorado native who found herself in hustle and bustle of DC.  While I love living in a city, I’m a mountain girl at heart, and need my nature fix to stay sane. Trail running is one of my absolute favorite activities to reset my mind and get in a great workout all at once. Since I recently convinced Cassie to do an overnight trail race with me, I thought I would share a Trail Running 101 guide with her and all of you!

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So first things first – why should you run trails?

1. Better for your body

Trails are softer than concrete, and easier on your knees and legs. Additionally, since trails come with all kinds of obstacles, including rocks, roots, and hills, they help build core strength, agility and balance.

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2. Training benefits

Even though you’re likely to run much slower on trails than on pavement, trails can do wonders for your road race training. Trails have more frequent and steeper hills than roads, which gives you all the benefits of hill repeats, strengthening your legs to go faster on the flats. Plus, all those rocks and roots you have to navigate around help work different muscles, making you a stronger runner overall.

3. Mental recharge

Trails have a different feeling to them. When surrounded by trees, rivers, or mountains, running becomes less about running and more about freedom. On trails, you often have the whole thing to yourself and you leave the roads, people, and all your problems behind. More than just the feeling you get from a hard workout, I always find that running trails recharges my spirits as well.

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4. Adventure

Sometimes our lives can become the same old routine day after day. The same breakfast, the same work, the same running routes. When I feel like I am stuck in a rut, I find a new trail I’ve never run before and lace up! There’s nothing like exploring a new trail for the first time – every turn and hill become an exciting new mystery, as you never know what you’re going to find next!

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So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you on why you should run trails, let’s talk about how to run trails!

1. Find a great trail

The options for finding new trails are endless. Usually I start on Google maps and look for the big green spots.  National and state parks, forests, and recreation areas usually all have hiking/running trails and high quality maps as well. Other ways to find new trails are to get in touch with a local trail running group, where you can get suggestions or join a group run for your first time on the trail, or search local hiking forums like www.alltrails.com.

2. Plan ahead

Trails take a bit more planning than regular road running. Some trails can leave you miles away from the closest or person if something goes wrong. When running a new trail, I usually bring a friend along (ideally one that knows the route), and I carry my phone along on every trail run I do in case I need to call for help. If you’re running in an area that doesn’t get cell service, make sure you let someone know what route you are planning on running and approximately when you should be back. It’s also good to keep in mind that trails hold the extra factor of wildlife – make sure you know what animals are in your area and how to react if you come across any. Also remember that plants can cause just as much trouble as animals – cacti and poison ivy can ruin any perfectly good run.

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3. Go slow (and don’t be afraid to hike)

Trails will slow you down significantly. Plan on going anywhere from 1-4 minutes per mile slower than your road pace, depending on trail conditions. In fact, when getting into trail running, it might be best to run based on time rather than mileage until you have a better idea of your trail pace. Also, since trails generally have much steeper hills than road runners are used to, don’t be afraid to hike.  In fact, it’s often more energy efficient to hike up steep hills and doesn’t burn as much time as you think!

4. Lift your feet, pay attention, and learn to tuck and roll

Remember all those obstacles that are going to make you a stronger runner?  Well, they can also make you fall flat on your face if you don’t pay attention and pick up your feet.  When I started trail running, I fell on almost every single run I did. Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at foot placement. And when I do make a mistake? Well, I’ve mastered the tuck and roll approach to falling. Plus, cuts, blood and bruises just make you look tougher!

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5. Bring water and fuel

Since trail running will likely take you much longer than the same distance on roads, and the extra hills and agility work will use up more of your energy stores, be sure to bring fuel extra fuel with you. Also, since you won’t be running by shops and water fountains, make sure to bring all the water you need with you as well. I use a hydration pack, but handheld water bottles and belts also work great.

6. Embrace the dirt

At almost every trail race I do, there are individuals who have never done a trail run before. When they get to the first creek crossing or muddy patch, they tiptoe around the edges or gingerly cross the water, making sure their shoes stay pristine. Those of us who have been around before know that no matter how hard you try, you’re going to get dirty and muddy and wet – so embrace it!

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7. Enjoy the views

The best part of trail running is all of the incredible views, so don’t forget to look up from time to time and enjoy them =).

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Do you ever run trails?  If so, what tips can you add?  If not, what’s holding you back?

My Body Is Rockin’

I recently discovered the blog SmartFitChicks, and through that, discovered this video of blogger Chrissy speaking about the need to stop Photoshop.

This video could not have come to me at a better time, because the mentality Chrissy is talking about starts appearing in my head every year around this time. We’re all bombarded with the message “Get your summer body ready!” “Get a bikini body in five weeks!” and so on and so forth, all accompanied by images of what we’re “supposed” to look like. And those old, familiar insecurities start rearing their nasty heads, even though I know those pictures are photoshopped and unrealistic and blah blah blah. I know better. Yet it still happens.

With this beach vacation (that starts tonight!) approaching, those nasty, negative thoughts have been even more prevalent. And I’m sick of it, so like Chrissy said, I’m going to stop “shoulding” on myself and focus on recognizing that my body is fantastic just the way it is. In fact, my body is rockin’. Here’s why:

My body is healthy. It doesn’t have any debilitating diseases, disabilities, or injuries. It rarely even gets the sniffles.  It can walk, run, jump, lift, dance (badly), and basically do whatever I ask of it. So many people are not that lucky, and yet I take my body’s health for granted every day.

My body is resilient. For the past several weeks, I’ve asked a lot of my body. I’ve pushed ever-increasing mileage on it without taking a cutback week. I’ve made it do two workouts a day most days. I haven’t taken a rest day in over two weeks. I’ve cheated it out of sleep, made it stay on its feet all day every day,  and buffeted it with stress. And yet, it’s still healthy. It’s not injured or sick or even exhausted. That’s pretty amazing, body. (P.S. Don’t worry, body, you’ll get some much-deserved rest this week).

My body is fit. No, it doesn’t have defined abs. Yes, it has cellulite. But it can and has run 26.2 miles (fast enough, once, to win). It has a resting heart rate in the low 50s, Doctors often have to take my blood pressure twice because it’s so low they think they misread it, and at my annual physical, my doctor always says, “Oh, those are some good lungs.” And my body keeps pushing through long, hard workouts and two-a-days to keep getting fitter and fitter.

My body looks just fine. It does not and will never look like the bikini-clad models on… everything. But it’s not like people are turning away in horror every time I walk out the door. The only one who cares at all what I look like on the beach is… me. And I know of one man who is pretty fond of my body’s appearance, and his opinion is the only other one that really matters (I mean my husband, just to be clear).

(source)

And so, at this time tomorrow, when I’m headed to the beach, I will wear a bikini, and when I cover up, it will be for sun protection, not because of shame. I have nothing to be ashamed of. My body is rockin’.

Tell me, why is your body rockin’?

Weekly Recap: Marathon Training Week 1 (Sorta)

I usually post my training recaps on Sundays, but last Sunday was graduation, and between getting ready for it, sitting through it, and racing around from party to party, I was exhausted by the time we got home Sunday night. So you get a delayed recap.

In case you hadn’t gathered from my Twitter, Instagram, and recent blog posts, last week was the students’ last this year. Along with the usual last week of school craziness, our server crashed, adding an extra amount of stress. The good news is, though, that I got in a solid week of training.

Even though I won’t “officially” start training until after vacation, I followed Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning 18/70 plan for the week, since it was 18 weeks out from the race. My “real” training plan is a hybrid of this one and one from Greg McMillan’s You, Only Faster, but I wanted a more focused plan for last week.

The best part about the week was that it contained zero treadmill runs. I love my treadmill and all, but not as much as outdoor runs! I’m excited to take a little break from the ‘mill for the next few months.

I also finished the four-week Nike program I’d been doing. I liked it, and it was really convenient to do strength work in my basement during these super-busy last few weeks. … But I’m actually ready to get back into the gym to lift.  I know. I can’t believe it either. Rachel would be so proud.

Anyway, now that I’ve rambled on and on, here’s the recap:

Monday: Rest from running; 30-minute Nike Training Club full body workout plus some extra core work

Tuesday: AM: 45-minute NTC yoga workout
PM: 9.1 miles with 4 at tempo. I hadn’t done a tempo run since October. Holy cow am I out of tempo shape. This run hurt.

Wednesday: AM: 1-hour NTC full-body strength workout
PM: 5-mile recovery run. Nice and slow after Tuesday’s tempo.

Thursday: AM: 45-minute NTC full-body strength
PM: 11 miles easy

Friday: 7-mile fartlek run. It was finally light enough to get in my whole run outside before school. It was also the last day of school.Hello, sunrise runs. I've missed you.

Hello, sunrise runs. I’ve missed you.

Saturday: AM: 5-mile recovery run
PM: 45-minute NTC workout

Sunday: 17-mile pre-graduation long run. When I told J that I was exhausted at 8:30 that night, he pointed out that I had been going nonstop since 5:30 a.m. Oh. Good point, husband.

Totals: 54.1 miles run, 3ish hours strength/yoga

In other news, teachers had to go back to school yesterday and today, but now my desk looks like this:
photo 2 (6)which means I am done until August 8. Let’s ignore the fact that I brought home two boxes and two totes full of stuff to do over the summer. And the fact that I’m teaching a summer class at the community college. The important thing is that I’m done with school and leaving for vacation in TWO DAYS!

I’ll try to get a post up on Thursday, but if that doesn’t happen, rest assured that I have awesome guest posts scheduled for while I’m away. I’m super excited about them, so make sure you check back next week!

What was your week/weekend like? I’ve missed a lot of blog posts lately!

Thinking Out Loud: (Almost) Last Day of School Edition

Whew, what a week it has been… and it’s only Thursday. In addition to the usual craziness that is the last week of school, our district server (you know, the one that hosts our Internet service and our entire network) has been down the past two days. My sophomores’ final projects are multimedia presentations, and our yearbook (which needs to be done in three days) and grade book are both online.

Needless to say, things have been a little stressful. My brain is barely working. So naturally, I’m going to link up with Amanda at Running with Spoons and think out loud. You’re welcome.

Thinking-Out-Loud

  • On my run tonight, I heard a woman call her dog  “Unagi.” And now that is my favorite dog ever.
  • Now that I’m ramping my mileage back up, the infamous “runger” is also ramping up. It was super awkward today when my kids were (silently) taking their final, and my stomach was growling like a depressed Yeti.
  • This image keeps popping up on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram….
    and it’s driving me insane. Public Service Announcement from the former pig farmer’s daughter: Pigs don’t really sweat. That’s why they have to wallow in mud to cool themselves. So when you tell me to “sweat like a pig,” you’re telling me to roll around in mud. So no thanks.
  • This face. I have made it so many times this week:
    Like when my freshmen asked if they could turn in their books the day before the final. You know, instead of using them to study. Or when a student said, “The rubric said we have to cite our music. I got my music off my phone. Can I just cite my phone?” …. At least she was reading the rubric, I guess. Oh, kids and their inability to think before speaking in springtime. 🙂
  • Although the students are currently driving me bats, I am actually sad that the year is over. I get the freshmen again next year, but the sophomores are moving on from me. I’m sad, because I’ve had this group since they were in eighth grade, and we are pals. (Don’t tell them I said that. If they ask, we are NOT pals.)
  • In one week, I’ll be here:
    (source) Try not to be too jealous. Okay, be jealous. It’s awesome.

How are things in your world?

Have you been to South Carolina? Any must-sees that we have to know about?

Another Week in the Books: 5/5- 5/11

I swear every week goes faster than the last. Seriously, this school year flew. My seniors were done on Friday, and everyone else finishes this Friday. People keep asking me if I’m super glad the year is almost over, and honestly, I’m not. It doesn’t seem like it should be over yet.

But alas, it is, and last week was another busy one, but not a bad one training-wise.

Monday: No running, since I ran long Sunday. I did a 30-minute Nike workout and tacked on some quality time with my 8-minute abs friend and the gang. I also did a lot of walking, as I took the National Honor Society to the Food Bank of the Rockies and the Denver Zoo. Fitbit said I got all 10,000 steps by 2:00.

Does this happy elephant not make you happy, too?
Does this happy elephant not make you happy, too?

It was such a fun day — that’s the easiest group of kids to take on a field trip, and we had gorgeous weather. I was also amused at the food bank when the guy giving us instructions told my kids that boxed mashed potatoes went in the “Grains/Cereals” bin. Convincing a bunch of farm kids that potatoes are grains was harder than he anticipated.

Tuesday: 7 miles fartleks. Maybe I will introduce more formal speedwork this week, but right now, I really like fartleks…especially on early morning treadmill runs, because they keep me entertained.
Nike Training Club told me to do a yoga workout, too, but between history teacher interviews and academic awards night, there was no time. By the time I got home at 8:00, dinner trumped yoga on my priorities list.

Wednesday: AM: 45-minute NTC full-body workout
PM: 7 miles easy.

Thursday: AM: 10 miles easy. I intended to do the last half outside, as it’s finally get light earlier, but it was raining (weird), and I didn’t want to get off the treadmill and change clothes since I was already pressed for time. So 10 treadmill miles it was.
PM: Because I hate the environment, I drove home, did a 30-minute NTC shoulder and leg workout plus an extra 15 minutes of core, then drove back to work for an evening meeting. Sorry, ozone.

Friday: 8 miles of fartleks plus a 10-minute core workout.

Saturday: 5 easy miles followed by a 45-minute NTC full body workout. Yesterday was beautiful, and I should have done my long run then. But instead, I went vacation shopping. Swimsuit shopping is traumatic.

I tried on about 5 billion suits. Jordan tried on three, then bought one because “it’s red.” Men suck. 🙂 BUT I found one, too, so now vacation can commence… in almost two weeks. Also, I think I am not a girl at all. We finished clothes shopping, and I turned to J and said, “Now we can go to Barnes and Noble and shop for fun stuff!” I am a nerd.

Sunday: 14 miserable, cold miles. True to its usual form, Colorado went from warm and sunny yesterday morning to cold, windy, and rainy/snowy this morning. Some runners love to run in the rain. I am not one of them — especially since I don’t own rain gear (it almost never rains for long periods of time here. This week was unique). This was definitely a “suck it up and get it done” run… and actually I had planned to run 16, but I promised myself that if I hit 13 and was miserable, I could stop. So I was okay with 14.

Totals: 51 miles running, 2.5ish hours cross training

I don’t know yet what this week will look like mileage-wise, but I want to get in a solid long run next weekend, at least. I should also probably get a training plan made up, since I’ll start a 15-week plan the week after vacation.

Have a great week, friends! Summer is coming!

How was your week/weekend?

Favorite/least favorite things to shop for?

Do you like running in the rain? Any advice for me for those times that I have to do it?

 

How to Nail the Teaching Job Interview

I recently served on the interview committee for a new social studies teacher at my school. It was a rather eye-opening experience, as I’ve never been on that side of an interview, and I found myself making mental notes about what to do and what not to do the next time I’m back on the other side of the table. Since I know I have at least a few readers who are or plan to be teachers, I decided to share my interview tips – and most of these are good tips for any job interview, not just a teaching one. Some of these seem like pretty basic, common-sense tips, but all stemmed from actual events in the interviews, so maybe those things are not as common-sense as I thought.

Days before the interview:

  • Carefully proofread your resume, cover letter, and application. And for heaven’s sake, it’s 2014: type the application. Grammatical errors – especially spelling errors – and a handwritten application say, “I don’t really care that much about this job” – or, worse, “I’m not very smart” — and that’s not the impression you want to give for any job, and especially not for one in education.
  • Do some basic research. We offered one candidate the job, only to have him turn it down because the commute was too long. Fifteen seconds on Google Maps before the interview could have told him how long the daily drive would take, but he wasted his time and ours by interviewing for a job he didn’t really want.
  • Prepare answers to some of the questions you’re likely to be asked. Ask some of the teachers and administers you know to tell you what they ask in interviews, especially for your content. Every teaching interview asks some of the same questions – What is the basis for your interest in working with (insert population) students? How do you decide what to teach and when to teach it? If I walk into your classroom on an average day, what will I see?There will be some content-specific questions, too. When you get the call to schedule the interview, ask a little about the position – what grade(s), what’s covered in those courses (i.e. early American history? World history? Civics?) – and brush up on that information so you don’t draw a blank and look like a fool in the interview.

Right before the interview

  • Dress up! I thought this one was common sense, but I was amazed at how many men (we interviewed only one woman) wore a sleeves-rolled-up button-down shirt and tie, with no jacket. Maybe suits are old-fashioned, but chances are, so are the people interviewing you… even if they’re relatively young. The oldest person on our interview committee is 36, yet all of us agreed that it was inappropriate to not wear a suit to an interview. Borrow a suit or buy one from the thrift store if you don’t have one, but dress like you are taking this interview seriously.
  • Arrive early. Another “duh” one, I’d think. But when you’re being interviewed be a group of teachers at the end of the day at the end of the school year, know that your interviewers are tired, frazzled, and really want to go home. Your showing up even five minutes late is SUPER irritating, and again – not the impression you want to make.
  • Act like everyone is interviewing you. Smile and say hello to the security officer, the secretary, anyone you see in the halls. No one wants to work with a jerk, so don’t be one. You never know who’s watching (and whom they’ll talk to).
  • Focus on the school’s positive attributes, and don’t point out the negative – even if the negative is pretty minor. One applicant arrived early (smart) and made small talk with a few of us while we waited for the rest of the committee to arrive. One of the first things he did was mention that he had read our online school newspaper … and found a typo. Now, dude had no idea that I am the newspaper adviser or that I started this newspaper a few years ago because some kids begged me to, and I didn’t want to turn them down regardless of my lack of newspaper knowledge. Sure, it was a stupid typo, and my editor and I should have caught it. But pointing it out embarrassed me and definitely did not give me a good impression of the applicant – and the interview hadn’t even started.

During the interview:

  • If your interview includes teaching a lesson to actual students, make it a good one. We know that some days, teaching means lecturing, or having kids read and take notes, or even assigning a worksheet (with decent content). But that’s not what we want to see. Show us your best. Do something creative, engaging, and unique. If I hear the kids still talking about your lesson when they get to my class later, you’ve probably gotten the job. One of our candidates lectured, but he did so while having the kids play Bingo and take notes on the Bingo grid. It kept them interested and rapidly taking notes, and it provided them with a nice little graphic organizer to study from later. And he will be our new teacher this fall.
  • Sit up straight. Sliding down in your chair makes you look like one of our naughty students and, again, like you don’t really care. Act like a professional if you want to be one.
  • Be yourself. I know it’s hard. You’re so nervous, and you just want to make a good impression. But try to let your personality show. If you usually crack a lot of jokes, make some in the interview. If you’re boisterous, be boisterous in the interview. If you’re laid-back, be relaxed. If you’re sarcastic, be sarcastic (a little bit … don’t be offensive). Let the interviewers see who you are so they know if you’ll be a good fit in their school.
  • Be engaging. If you bore your interviewers, they’ll assume that you’ll bore your students, too…and you will not get hired. Tell stories. Use examples. Be animated – talk with your hands and with inflection in your tone.
  • Don’t drop a billion buzzwords or acronyms. We went to education school, too. We read all the same books and journals you do. We know all the trendy terms like “backwards design,” “standards alignment,””21st-century learners,” and “differentiation.” And those aren’t bad things … but say something else, too. Tell us how you use them, with specific examples. Tell us about the breakthroughs you’ve had or the kid you differentiated for and saw succeed. And for goodness’ sake, ease up on the acronyms – UBD, KWL, CWD, DBQ. You’re not interviewing via Twitter. Use your words.
  • It’s okay to admit you don’t know some things – but at least try. Several candidates we interviewed came from placements in districts with very little freedom – they were given a curriculum and basically told, “Be on this page on this date or else.” We don’t do that – our teachers have a lot of freedom. So when those candidates were asked how they would decide what and when to teach, they didn’t have solid answers because they had zero experience with that. The best candidates explained their situation – but also told us where they thought they would begin. The not-so-great candidates just said that they weren’t sure.
  • Ask questions, but again, focus on the positives. One candidate told us he’d looked at our standardized test scores and wondered what the problem was in one (non-social studies) area. Not okay, dude.

After the interview

  • Shake hands. Smile. Say thanks. Ask if we need anything else. And then leave. Don’t stand around awkwardly while we all gather our things. We want to talk about you and go home.
  • As with any job interview, send a thank-you note. One candidate sent a thank-you e-mail and attached his electronic portfolio, which I thought was a nice touch. It showed us some of his stronger assets that we didn’t get to talk about in the interview.

I hope these tips help you as you get ready for your job interviews. Good luck out there!

Which of these do you think is most important? What tips would you add?

Currently…

I’ve seen these “Currently…” posts on so many blogs lately, and I always enjoy reading them, so I decided to join the party. Here are my current things….

Books: I just finished Jodi Piccoult’s Handle With Care, which was very good. Now I’m reading The English Patient, but I can’t really get into it. It’s never a good sign when I take a book home over the weekend and don’t even open it. I also need to download some books onto my nook for vacation … recommendations?

Food: Now that it’s warming up a bit, I’ve been craving salads like crazy. I’ve also been loving the in-season strawberries (not in season here, of course, but still more delicious than any other time of year).

Drinks: Green tea — hot, usually, because even when it’s 70 degrees out, it’s approximately -25 in my classroom. I also made some iced green tea with lemon and mint this weekend…mmmm.

Music: I’m loving the vacation-eqsue tunes right now, for obvious reasons. Aside from the obvious Jimmy Buffet, I’m playing this one on repeat:
TV: I don’t really watch much TV, but since I’ve had a lot of early-morning treadmill runs lately, I’ve been catching up on the final season of Psych. I will miss this show.

Needs/Wants: None of these are really needs… it’s not like I’ll die without them … but they’re things I want before vacation. The biggest need is a bathing suit. I’ve had all of mine since before J and I were married, and a few too many lake dips have them lake-water-colored, and they’re kinda falling apart. I also need sandals, shorts… and a LOT of SPF 50 (that one really is a need).

Guilty pleasure:
Walking around the zoo yesterday with a group of kids instead of going to work and teaching all day.

This is a clouded leopard cub... a.k.a. the cutest creature ever.
This is a clouded leopard cub… a.k.a. the cutest creature ever.
Bane of my existence: Seniors. Particularly the ones whose final paper (20% of their final grade) is due Friday… and who haven’t started said paper.
Indulgence: I’m trying to carefully avoid many indulgences until vacation (because I plan to indulge a lot while there), but dark chocolate is still my go-to treat.
Blessing: So many! I’ll pick this one: Last week, I got an e-mail from a former student thanking me for teaching her in high school. Little things like that make me feel so blessed.
Slang: “Spendy” has been making a frequent appearance…maybe because I’m looking at all those vacation needs/wants and they do not fit within my miniature budget.
Excitement: Oh, you haven’t caught on yet? We’re going on vacation.
Mood: A little stressed, but pretty happy, because all those stressors are pretty good things. The end of the year is so busy, but it’s so fun to see students growing up, improving, and moving on to great things.
Link:  This article about how top-tier schools don’t make for happier or more successful lives. Good food for thought as I watch a new group of kids graduate and other move up into that senior slot and start thinking about their futures.
What are some of your current things?

Recap of Another Busy Week: 4/28-5/4

Oh, hey blog. Guess I haven’t been around here since this time last week, have I? Whoops. And it’s looking like this might be par for the course for the next couple of weeks, but I’ll try really hard to make it back more often so that I still have readers to read the guest posts I’ve got scheduled for while we’re on vacation.

I’m sure run-on sentences like that one will really help the reader situation, too.

Anyway, this was another busy week, as most are during the last month of school. And the word of the week was “windy” — we had four straight days of 50 mph winds. It was not my favorite. But I finally hit 50 miles and got in all my scheduled Nike Training Club workouts, so the week wasn’t a total bust.

Here’s how it went:

Monday: AM: 30 minute NTC total-body workout
PM: I had grand plans to run outside… but then this happened:
photo 3
Yeah, no. Treadmill it was for 7 miles of intervals/fartleks/whatever you want to call it (isn’t it fartleks if you go by minutes instead of miles for the fast part?)

Tuesday: AM: 8 miles easy
PM: 45 minutes NTC yoga after another round of unsuccessful interviews.

Wednesday: AM: 5 miles of intervals/fartleks/whatevers plus 45 minute NTC full body workout. We had an evening event, so I had to get up extra-early and squish the workouts together.

Thursday: AM: 30 minutes NTC leg and core workout
PM: The weather gods had finally spent their wrath, apparently, and we were back to our normal-for-springtime 20-30 mph winds AND we had no evening commitments, so I ran 8.2 lovely outdoor miles.

Friday: 7.1 easy miles outside, then some core work. I took my sweet time about it, since J was supervising a middle school dance (poor soul) and I didn’t have any reason to rush.

Saturday: Normally, I run long on Saturdays and take Sundays off, but for the next few weeks, I think Sunday’s going to have to be the LR day. I just did a 45-minute NTC total-body workout, and then spent the rest of the day doing this:
photo 2 (2)I love flowers. I spend way too much money on them every year, and buy way too many and end up buying more pots and/or cramming them too full, but I love it.

Sunday: 15-mile long run. It feels good to run first thing in the morning in a skirt and t-shirt. It also feels good to be getting my long runs built back up. And I saw some baby geese, but I had my phone in a ziplock (to protect it from my nasty sweat) in my pocket and didn’t want to dig it out. They basically looked like this:
(source)

Totals: 50 miles, 3.25ish hours strength/XT, 7ish hours flower planting

And that’s a wrap. I’m hoping to hold mileage between 50-55 for the next couple of weeks, then officially start marathon training after vacation. I mean, I’ll run on vacation (because who goes on a beach vacation and doesn’t run on the beach?) but I don’t want to be tethered to a training schedule there.

And in case you were wondering, here’s why I need a vacation:

photo 1 (1)

Ok, good night, friends.

What’s going on in your world? My blog reading and commenting has been just slightly more frequent than my posting, so let me know if I’ve missed something!

Do you follow  a training schedule on vacation, or just go with the flow?

And one more question… I’m thinking about writing a “what not to do in the teaching job interview” post, because I’ve learned a lot from being on this side of things. I know I’ve got several readers who are teachers… would you be interested in such a post, even though it doesn’t really fit the “genre” of this blog?