Thinking Out Loud Thursday

I haven’t linked up to Amanda’s Thinking Out Loud link-up in quite a while. Now that school’s back in full swing, though, random is the name of my thinking game by the time evening rolls around. So, here are my random thoughts of the night:

1. Two things have recently made me feel very old:  #1: I now have students who were born in the year 2000. 2000. As in, the year I remember everyone freaking out about Y2K. #2: J and I went to a concert a few weeks ago. We left before it ended because it was too loud and everyone around us  was smoking and I was tired. Sooo old.

2. These animals live atop my computer at work:
photo 1 (2)One of my students is obsessed with this meme:

So she named the penguin Pthnowflake and the turtle Pthwimmer. She couldn’t think of a name for the tiger. Phtripes wasn’t clever enough.

3. This bumper sticker made my day.
photo 2 (2)

4. I take waaay too many pictures like this:
photo 3Apparently I have very twitchy post-run fingers.

5. Great news: I found out today that I’m now a Sweat Pink Ambassador! I’m stoked. But… I can’t figure out how to get the badge in the sidebar of my blog.
sweat pink ambassador badge
Can any fellow WordPress users help me out? Can you even add images in the sidebar when you’re using the free WordPress site?

The best part of random posts is not having to come up with a conclusion. Have a great night!

Tell me something random!

What’s the best bumper sticker you’ve ever seen?

What should my students name my tiger?

Advertisements

Five Foods I’m Always Eating

It’s been a couple of weeks since I continued Kristen’s Ten Day You Challenge, so it’s time to get back on that bandwagon!
10-day-you-challenge
Today’s prompt is Five Foods. At first, I thought I’d write about the five best foods I’ve ever eaten… and then I couldn’t think of five. That’s lame, because I’ve eaten a lot of tasty business, but I’m lazy tired, so we’re going with five foods I eat almost every day. This is probably the most exciting post I’ve ever written. 

1. Baby spinach. I eat spinach at least once a day. I put it in smoothies, eat salads, mix it in pasta, whatever. It tastes good, goes with anything, and is super nutritious. I’m practically Popeye. 

2. Cereal. I think I have an addiction. At least I usually stick to healthier varieties instead of sugar cereal (although sugar cereal is delicious). In honor of my cereal-fueled running, let’s flash back to Chase the Moon and Team Cereal Killers. 
photo 4

 

3. Peanut butter. My other addiction. I should seek treatment. Putting peanut butter IN my cereal is even better. 

4. Bananas. Prerun. Postrun. In my cereal. In my smoothies. With peanut butter. Clearly, there’s never a bad time for bananas. 

5. Almonds. Healthy, satisfying, delicious, portable: my four favorite qualities in a food. Almonds fit that bill!

What your your five must-have foods?

Fall Classic Marathon Training: Week 12

Well, that was a week. Whose idea was it to schedule a marathon so my last peak week would coincide with the first week of school? Some idiot, obviously. It’s still too hot for this sally to run in the evenings, and it’s getting too dark for comfort when I start running in the mornings, so all of this week’s runs started on the treadmill, and then I joyously headed outside as soon as a little light peeked out. It’s not ideal, but you gotta do what you gotta do. And here’s what I did:

Monday: 
AM: 12 miles at easy pace.. Our hot water heater crapped out on us Sunday night, which was a bummer, but it made getting in and out of the shower post-run extra speedy, and that was good since I still made it to work early. 

PM: Full-body strength at home once the plumbers were done fixing our hot water heater. I started watching Bachelor in Paradise for my trashy-TV-while-exercising fix. It is truly terrible, but I can’t stop watching. 

Tuesday:
AM: 9 miles easy. Here’s a picture of the river I run over almost every day. I don’t think I took this on Tuesday, but this seemed like a good place for a picture. I am so good at blogging. 
photo 1 (1)
PM: 30 minutes yoga. Actually, I can’t remember if I did yoga Tuesday or Wednesday, but it doesn’t really matter.

Wednesday: 
AM: 11 miles with 7 at tempo. This was the opposite of easy.

PM: Either the yoga I claimed I did Tuesday or 30 minutes of core and stretching/foam rolling.

Thursday:
AM: 9 miles easy

PM: 45 minutes of strength. I did mostly upper body because my legs were feeling extra tired. I was hoping that just doing a little bodyweight work on them would mean they’d be fresher for Saturday’s long run. Spoiler alert: They weren’t. 

Friday: 
AM: 8 easy miles

PM: I used all my strength to hold the coach down.  

Saturday:
Are you getting tired of hearing about terrible long runs? Because I’m getting really tired of having them. My schedule said 22 with 12 at goal pace. Once again, goal pace didn’t happen. My legs felt leaden and my mind was wimpy. I ended up with 21.2 miles with 11 at not goal pace. At least I had some cool clouds to look at for a while.
photo 2 (1)
I think it’s time to admit that a 3:10 marathon might not be in the cards for me. Whomp whomp. I can make a lot of excuses for this run: I got up at 4:20 every morning this week and ran 8-12 miles. It rained all night Friday so was extra humid Saturday morning. The first week of school is always extra stressful and exhausting, and I’m out of gels and the ones I ordered haven’t come, so I was running on empty. But excuses aside, I’ve had  a slew of shoddy race-pace runs, and I need to accept that I might be aiming too high. I’m not writing it off entirely yet, but I think that in order to hit it, I’m going to have to have a perfect taper and absolutely ideal race conditions.

Sunday: 
Rest. I think I needed it mentally as much as physically.

Totals: 70.2 miles, some strength/yoga/etc.

And thus ends my final peak week. This coming week my mileage will be 50something, and then I’ll start tapering in earnest. This might be the first time ever that I’m actually looking forward to tapering. Remind me of that when taper madness sets in, okay?

Have a great week, friends!

How is your training going?

Ever had bad training sessions result in a good race? Give me some hope!

Have you watched Bachelor in Paradise? What do you think?

Product Review: Skoop Superfoods

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from a company called Skoop. The e-mail explained that Skoop is a small company out of Boulder that makes protein and supplement powders, and it asked if I’d like to try their products. I checked out their website, and I started to like the company before I even tried their products. I like companies with personality, and Skoop’s “Simple Care and Feeding for Human Beings” instruction manual and fun charts and graphics made it a likable company from the start. I agreed to try the product because I wanted to know if the product could match that personality.

Spoiler alert: it did.

Disclaimer: Skoop sent me their products to try in exchange for a review. I wasn’t compensated in any other way, and the opinions here are my own. I wouldn’t lie to you just to get some free protein powder. 

Skoop sent me a bag of their B-Strong protein powder, as well as some samples of their A-Game superfood supplement and B-Lovely supplement for skin. All of Skoop’s products are gluten-free and non-GMO (neither of which are important to me, but they might be for you), and all consist only of natural, plant-based foods.

B-Strong is one of the tastiest plant protein powders I’ve tried. Most are chalky and have a distinct aftertaste, even when mixed in a smoothie. B-Strong doesn’t have that aftertaste or that off-putting chalky texture. It’s even not too bad mixed with only water (usually powder-and-water blends make me want to gag. This one’s not exactly delicious on its own, but it’s better than most. And it’s tasty with almond milk). Filled with vitamins and minerals, 16 grams of protein, Omegas, and antioxidants, and without weird chemical ingredients, B-Strong makes a good post-workout drink or addition to a more-substantial smoothie. I’ve been using it in overnight oats lately, and it’s mighty tasty that way, too.

A-Game is a powder made with 41 “superfoods,” from veggies and fruits to probiotics  to herbs and extracts. For 50 calories, A-Game supplies five grams of fiber and a ton of nutrients. I tried the Sweetgreens flavor, and while it was a bit… interesting … on its own (even Skoop describes it as an “acquired taste), I couldn’t even taste it when it was mixed in smoothies or oatmeal.  I consumed a packet of A-Game on a couple of days that I knew my veggie intake would be less than ideal; starting the day with A-Game ensured that I was at least closer to getting the nutrients I needed than I would be otherwise.

B-Lovely is a powder that’s formulated to “protect, support, and nourish” your skin. Like the other two powders, B-Lovely is a blend of plants and extracts. I was sent only three packets of this one, so while I can attest to its decent fruity taste, I can’t really give information on its effectiveness on my skin.

Overall, I’m impressed with Skoop. Its only drawback is the price. B-Strong runs $67 for a 30-serving bag; A-Game, $65; and B-Lovely, $47. High-quality protein/supplement powders are expensive. I get it. But that’s simply not in my budget.

If it fits in your budget, though, Skoop is a great product, and I definitely recommend it.

Have you ever or would you ever try Skoop?

Fall Classic Marathon Training: Week 11

Wow, it’s hard to believe I’m just four weeks out from race day! One more hard week, one more medium week, and two taper weeks…then the race! Here’s how this week looked:

Monday:

AM: 8.3 miles of fartleks. I love that workout. 

PM: 45 minutes or so of strength training at home.

Tuesday: 
AM: 6 recovery miles

PM: 30ish minutes of core work and stretching

Wednesday: 
Downhill 800s. I warmed up and cooled down outside and did the workout on the incline trainer. There were only four other people in the gym, so I broke the 30-minute rule.
photo 2
As it turned out, one of those four people was waiting for this machine. She glared at me when I got off. Oops.

I only did the one workout today, because it was back-to-school night, and by the time I got home, I just wanted to eat and sleep. So that’s what I did.

Thursday: 
AM: 8 miles easy

PM: 30 minutes of full-body strength. This was the first day of school, and I was exhausted, so  I was satisfied with 30. 

Friday: 
5 easy miles and some core work

Saturday:
Another fast-finish long run: 10 miles easy, then 8 gradually faster. It was hard and I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t as miserable and hopeless-feeling as my last fast-finish. On runs like this, I wish I had a coach or at least a running buddy to yell at me and tell me to quit being a baby. Sometimes I don’t have enough of my own mental strength. Need to work on that, I guess. At least the sunrise was pretty. 
photo 1

Sunday:
Rest, which included some time at the laundromat because our dryer decided it wanted to join the “Everybody Break!” party. 

And that’s that. This coming week is the first full week of school and my last week at peak mileage. That should be interesting — in a good way, because I like both these things. 

I hope you have a great week!

How was your weekend? 

 

 

Six Places

The next prompt of Kristin’s Ten Day You Challenge makes me happy. I love to travel, though I haven’t done enough of it in my lifetime. These are six (of the many) places I would love to go — the sooner the better!
10-day-you-challenge

1. Ireland.  Because… Ireland.

Need I say more? (image source)

2. England. I’m an English teacher. Of course I want to go to England and see where Shakespeare and Dickens and some of the other greatest writers lived.

(image source)

3. Italy. Food, history, boats, wine, sights. I like all these things.

(image source)

4. Costa Rica. Beaches and lots of adventures? Sign me up.

(image source)

5. Pretty much anywhere in the Caribbean. I don’t care where. You recommend an island for me, okay?
Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI
St. John looks nice. (image source)

6. Maine. Because I needed on U.S. place on the list and there are many places in the States I still need to see. I’ve never been to the northeast corner of the country, and it looks like there are lots of fun things to see and do in Maine.

(image source)

It’s hard to stop at six! I want to go to ALL THE PLACES.

What’s near the top of your “Places I Must Go” list?

Have you been to any of these six places? Tell me about them!

Fall Classic Marathon Training: Week 10

Well, the school year has definitely started, bringing the busyness that is the first few weeks of school. My blogging might get a little sporadic over the next few weeks, as evidenced by my not getting this post written last night. I also might slack on commenting on your blogs for a bit. I’ll still read them — but it will likely be on my phone while I’m making copies or brushing my teeth. Please still be my Internet friend.

Last week was probably my toughest week of this training cycle. I’m not tapering just yet, and I still have some high mileage and hard runs to get done, but no week looks as challenging as this one was. Here’s how it went:

Monday:
AM: 3 x 3 miles at goal marathon pace, 13 miles total. This was an encouraging run, after the terrible fast-finish long run I talked about here. I ran the first set right at 3:10 pace (7:15), the second set just a little quicker, and the third set at just under 7:10/mile — exactly how I’d like to run the marathon. Let’s hope that’s a good sign!

PM: About an hour of strength work. My body was pretty tired, so I decided to stay home and do more bodyweight/dumbbell stuff instead of going heavier in the gym.

Tuesday:
8-mile recovery run. I’ve been watching these baby turkeys grow  up all summer, and they finally held still long enough for me to get a picture… but not long enough for a good picture.
photo (8)I didn’t get in an afternoon workout of any kind. I had a doctor’s appointment in Fort Collins, and then we went school shopping, so we didn’t get home until evening. By then, I was lazy.

Wednesday:
AM: Tempo intervals for a total of 12.1 miles. I warmed up outside, ran the intervals on the incline trainer to practice downhilling, and cooled down outside, too.

PM: Core work, stretching, and foam rolling my ridiculously tight self.

Thursday:
AM: 9 miles easy, pausing for my usual sunrise picture.
photo 4 (3)PM: Another at-home strength workout for an hourish.

Friday:
7 easy miles followed by some core work.

Saturday:
An early 22-miler. We stayed at my in-laws’ Friday night, as we were going to the county fair Saturday to see our nieces’ animals and projects, and we wanted to catch the parade Saturday morning. So I ran a little earlier than usual, but that’s okay because it was a beautiful morning.
photo (4)

Sunday:
Rest, with a little bit of yoga thrown in since my legs and hips were uber tight.

Totals: 71.1 miles, 2.5ish hours strength training, 20 minutes yoga

And that’s a wrap!

How was your week/weekend? Any adventures?

When was the last time you went to a county fair? What’s your favorite part of fairs?

How to Run a Lot Without Getting Injured

When people find out how much I run, their first question is usually, “WHY?” I understand why they ask that — I do a run a lot for a recreational runner, and it might not make much sense to log so many miles when I’ll never be an elite.  But the answer is simple: I love it. It makes me happy. It’s a major part of who I am. I'd love to credit the source for this picture, but I have no idea where I got it. I saw it  and saved it to my phone. Oops. I’d love to credit the source for this picture, but I have no idea where I got it. I saw it quite some time ago  and saved it to my phone. Oops.

The next question people ask when they find out how much I run is, “How do you run so much without getting injured?” The answer to that one is more complicated, but there is a method to my madness.

The term “high mileage” is subjective, of course. What is high for me may not be high for you, and vice-versa. These tips, though, are applicable to most runners, whether you’re building to 30 miles or 130 miles per week.

(I probably don’t need to explain this, but I’m just an English teacher who runs a lot; I’m not a running expert. These are methods that I’ve researched and that have worked for me, but you should always take the advice of professionals over the advice of some gal on the Internet).  

mileage

1. Build slowly. I’ve been running a long time. I did not go from running 20 miles a week to running 70 miles a week in a couple of months. It takes years. The general rule of thumb is to increase mileage by no more than 10% each week. Every 3-4 weeks, plan a cutback week, where you reduce your mileage by 20-30%. That allows your body to adapt to the demands you’re placing on it. After a big training cycle, taking a few weeks or months of reduced mileage is also a good idea. Let your body recover completely before you start building again.

2. Keep easy runs easy. I was a slow learner on this one. For a long time, I was convinced that running some runs slowly would make me slow always. How wrong I was. Easy runs have specific purposes: they help you recover from hard days, and they build endurance without overtaxing your body. If you push too hard on your easy days, you negate the whole purpose of the run. Nowadays, my pace on easy runs is at least a minute slower than marathon pace, and usually slower.
UntitledThis was Tuesday’s run. I had hard workouts Monday and Wednesday, so a slow and easy pace Tuesday helped me recover from Monday and hit all my paces on Wednesday.

Don’t blow off the easy runs. Keep them easy, and you’ll be faster for it.

3. Strength train. I don’t love strength training, but it keeps me healthy. I don’t do anything fancy, especially not during peak training. A twice weekly, simple routine of various squats, lunges, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, etc., plus core work nearly every day, keeps my muscles strong, prevents imbalances, and helps me keep good form when I’m fatigued — all of which reduce the risk of injury and allow me to run more.

4. Foam roll. I know, it’s not fun. But that little foam beast is a miracle worker. It loosens tight spots and helps with recovery, and a few minutes of discomfort is worth it for a lot of minutes of injury-free, high mileage running. Hurts so badly. Does so much good. Hurts so badly. Does so much good.

5. Eat well, and eat enough. You don’t put dirty, sketchy gasoline in your car and expect it to run well, do you? And you don’t expect to drive 300 miles on two gallons of gas. Why expect the same out of your body? Your diet doesn’t have to be perfect, of course (because what is a “perfect” diet, anyway?), but eating nutrient-dense whole foods (and enough of them!) and limiting junk provides your body with everything it needs to support and maintain high mileage. Did I eat half of this food and a giant salad? Why yes, yes I did. Did I eat half of this food and a giant salad? Why yes, yes I did.

None of this is profoundly insightful, of course, but sometimes I think we make running more difficult than it should be. As you build your mileage, just take it slow and take care of yourself, and you’ll be just fine!

What other tips do you have for building mileage?

What’s the most weekly mileage you’ve done?

Seven Wants

I took a  break from the Ten Day You Challenge last week, since I wanted to write a post for my dad’s birthday and then check in on my 30-before-30 goals.  Today, I’m jumping back in with my seven wants. As usual, thanks to Kristin for creating this series!

10-day-you-challenge

At first, I was going to simply list things I want — trail running shoes, warm running gloves for this winter, etc. — but that was kinda boring. Then I was going to list bigger, societal things I wanted, but that felt superficial.

If you don’t know which movie that gif came from, we probably can’t be friends.

I finally decided to list seven things I want that either don’t exist or are impossible for me to get. So here are seven things I would have in my ideal world:

  1. A device that I could point at the people I love, and it would make all the things that hurt them just… stop hurting them.
  2. A service that delivers fresh fruits and veggies whenever I want them. And I don’t mean a CSA, though those seem nice. The service I want would bring me freshly picked asparagus at 7:45 p.m. on a Tuesday in January. That would be awesome.
  3. This ranch:
    photo 2Or one like it.
  4. A job whose requirements are as follows: a. Travel to the most beautiful places on Earth b. Run all over said beautiful places  c. Bring your husband and friends on these trips whenever you want.
  5. A chocolate cheesecake that is filled with all the nutrients the body needs and none of the stuff that is bad for us … but it tastes exactly like regular chocolate cheesecake.

    (image from thecheesecakefactory.com. J and I saw a slice of this today, and I said it looked like divine obesity.)
  6. A transporter, old-school Star Trek style, that would “beam me up” and instantly place me wherever I want to be.
  7. A world where alarm clocks are not necessary, and everyone could always get at least 8 hours of quality sleep each night.

On that note… I’m off to get as close to that eight hours as I can, since I live in a world where alarm clocks are necessary. Have a great night, friends!

What would you have in your ideal world?

Fall Classic Marathon Training: Week 9

It’s hard to believe I’m just six weeks out from my seventh marathon. It’s time to get serious about my training, focus, and crack down. Of course, this “get serious” time coincides with the start of school (our first required day back is this Friday; kids come next Thursday), which might make it tough. I’ll make it work, though! Or at least give it my best shot.Good question, Philosoraptor. On that note, I’ll enjoy my last week of after-5:00 wake-ups.

Here’s how this week’s training looked:

Monday:
AM: 8.2 miles with 30 minutes of fartleks in the middle. Fartleks are my favorite because they’re fun to do and to say.

PM: About an hour of strength training at the gym. I went to work Monday, which meant I was back at the gym at normal-people time… I didn’t like it. I miss the empty gym already.

Tuesday:
AM: 9 miles easy.

PM: 30ish minutes of core work, stretching, and foam rolling

Wednesday:
AM: 9 miles with 5 at tempo. Tempo runs are definitely my weakness, and I have a bunch of them coming up in these final weeks. That’s good for me, though, because tempos teach mental toughness, which I feel I’ve been lacking lately.It rained pretty much all night Tuesday and all day Wednesday, but stopped long enough for me to run. The rain made my usual park look pretty.

It rained pretty much all night Tuesday and all day Wednesday, but stopped long enough for me to run. The rain made my usual park look pretty.

PM: Ditto to Tuesday

Thursday:
AM: 8 easy miles with a nice little sunrise.
photo 2 (3)PM: An hour of strength with the gym crowd again.

Friday:
AM: 7.2 easy miles

PM: 30ish minutes of core/stretching

Saturday:
16.5 miles. I did not like this run. I was supposed to run 10 miles easy, then gradually pick it up in the last six miles so the last couple of miles were very fast. I did the first ten out to my favorite hills, planning to use one of the long downhills to my advantage as I started to speed up.
photo (4)I. could. not. run. fast. I should’ve  been hitting somewhere around 6:30 pace for the last couple of miles. I couldn’t even get below 7, and soon even 7:30s were killing me. I even stopped running a couple of times to drink some water, take a few deep breaths, and give myself a pep talk. No dice. I just didn’t have the speed.
photo (3)These fast-finish long runs are a staple of McMillan plans, and Greg McMillan himself describes them as “grueling,” so they’re supposed to be hard. But I finished discouraged, because they should be hard, not impossible. I started seriously questioning my ability to PR in this race, blah blah blah.

A little later, though, I read this post of Tina’s, and it made me feel better. Maybe if this incredible elite athlete also has gutter days, I’m not completely abnormal. So thanks, Tina, for being willing to share your story!

Wow, sorry for the giant one-run pity party.

Sunday: 
Rest. No formal workout, just  a bunch of yard work. But that makes me happy, because doing yard work means we’ll have a yard soon!

Totals: 57.9 miles run, 3.5ish hours strength and stretch. I hate it when I end weeks with a “.9.” Makes me want to go run a tenth of a mile.

This coming week will probably be my toughest of this training cycle. It has a tempo run, a marathon-pace run, and a 22-miler (though just a regular long run, not a fast-finish). Tempos and pace runs are the hardest for me mentally, so hopefully I’ll do some brain strengthening this week, too. And then I’ll be SO STRONG.

Have a good week, friends!

How’s your training going?

How do you deal with a crummy run/workout?