All posts by ruralrunningredhead

So Many Thursday Things

Hi friends! And strangers who creepily read my blog without commenting. I have so many things to tell you, but none of them are related, so this is a pretty random blog post. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Thing #1: My Scary Running Experience

This morning, as I was running, I passed an old couple in motorized wheelchairs. We said good morning, and that was that. Until I headed back. As I turned a corner, I saw the old woman standing up, clearly fighting with something on her wheelchair. I thought, “I’ll be there in a few seconds; if she’s still struggling, I’ll see if I can help.” But then, she fell face-first onto the sidewalk. I said a naughty word and kicked it into a sprint.

When I got to her, she had managed to turn over and was sitting up. The wheelchair had rolled forward, pinning her foot against the curb. I pushed the wheelchair gently off her foot; it had twisted her shoe, but her shoe and sock were both thick, so her foot didn’t seem badly hurt. I asked if she needed me to call someone (with the cell phone that I left at home…), and that’s when I learned she didn’t speak English. Her husband did, though, and insisted that they could make it home. I helped her get back into the wheelchair and put her shoe back on, then asked the man how close they lived. He told me, and I said, “I’m running that way anyway. I’ll follow you.” (I was running that way, but would’ve followed anyway, of course). So I did follow them, and they at least made it home, where I knew he would have access to a phone if she was hurt worse than she seemed.

So that was my scary experience this morning. I’m just glad she was okay! And it reminded me that I should carry my phone. My new iPhone is too big to fit in any of the water bottle pockets that my old phone fit in. I bought an armband for it, but in order for the phone to fit, I’d have to take it out of the Otterbox. And putting it back in the Otterbox is a pain, so I don’t want to do that every day.

So, my fellow iPhoners, how do you carry your phone when you run?

Thing #2: Fun Times at the County Fairs

I mentioned earlier in the week that we would be hopping between two local county fairs to watch our niece and our students. Tuesday, we headed up to Fair #1 and watched the bull riding. Bull riding scares me, even though I’m not the one on the bull. Illogical? Probably. But I don’t like to see people get hurt (see Thing #1). But I like it when the cowboy makes the whole ride.

Wednesday morning, our niece showed her sheep. She did well, and we got in some QT with the family.

reece and charlieOur niece, Reece, post-show, savoring her last few days with her favorite lamb, Charlie.

j and coltj jace and coltJ soaking up some nephew time.

After that fair, we headed to our county’s. A couple of weeks ago, we heard that they needed some help serving a dinner at the fair. Since every now and then we like to do something nice, we volunteered. I didn’t take any pictures, because it was basically just us standing behind a table of food, saying “Would you like steak or a hamburger?” several hundred times. I know that’s really exciting stuff and you would have loved a picture, but tough luck.

We got to see a few of our students at the dinner, and saw a bunch of their exhibits and livestock with their awards. Our kids did really well. Good job, kids. (Not sarcastic. Why does everything I write seem sarcastic? Oh, maybe because 90% of the time I am sarcastic. Probably should work on that.)

Thing #3: Proofreading Is Important.

I got my journalism students’ press passes today from the Colorado High School Athletic Association. This was part of the letter that came with them:

I didn’t know that press credentials could be disturbed, and I’m pretty sure my students don’t need to be encouraged to disturb anything. Nice work, CHSAA.

Thing #4: Adios, Summer

Although I’ve been in to work many times this summer, tomorrow is the first day that I have to be there. So, summer is over. Bye, friend. I’ll miss you.

And those are all my things. For now.

Since you’ve probably forgotten this question by now: iPhoners, where do you carry your phone when you run?

What’s the scariest thing you’ve seen while running/walking/cycling/ whateveryoudo?

Do you like bull riding?



Target Practicing on Tuesday

This post was supposed to go up yesterday, but then my Garmin died and my posting plans changed. So it’s here today instead.

Target Practice is a weekly goal-setting idea that I stole from Fit. Fun. Femme. because they have better blogging ideas than I do. Ha. Here are my goals for the week:

Target Practice


Life: Soak up the last few days before work officially starts again on Friday. The next few days are busy, but I want to try to savor them as much as possible. On Friday, my goal will be to be positive and excited to be back!

Health: Keep the eating clean since we’ll be surrounded by fair food for a couple of days. I’m pretty fortunate in that I legitimately don’t like most fried foods, but there might be some other temptations. Also, get enough sleep. I don’t want to start the school year tired and grumpy!

Fitness: As always, keep with my training schedule. For the last few weeks, I’ve made a goal to strength train three times, and honestly, I just don’t think that’s realistic this week. So instead, I’m shooting for two strength days and one yoga day. I got a couple of yoga apps on my new phone that I’m excited to try out, so hopefully that one won’t be too hard!

I’ll post on Sunday and let you know how I did with my goals. Chew me out if I mess up, okay?

What’s one goal you have this week?

Do you like fair food? What’s your favorite fair-type indulgence?

Farewell, Old Friend

I was there the night that Garmin Forerunner 305 passed away. It was such an ordinary Sunday evening: we’d gone for a bike ride, and I was just getting ready to program Monday’s workout into 305. Suddenly, his screen went blank, and he became entirely unresponsive. Oh, I tried to save him. I plugged him into the wall. I plugged him into the computer. I tried soft resets and hard resets, according to the owner’s manual, time and time again. I cried. I begged. But still no response.

The next morning, I called the Garmin support center, and though they too tried valiantly to save him, it soon became clear that 305 was gone.

We had a good almost-five years together, 305. I remember the day I got you. It was a few days after Christmas. Jordan and I had gone to his parents’ first, and we had just arrived at my parents’ house. I told my dad that I had received some gift cards for Christmas, and that I wanted to spend them on “this really cool watch. It tracks your pace, distance, calories, heart rate — everything!” Of course, I was talking about you. As soon as my mom walked into the room, Dad insisted that we open gifts immediately. And that’s when I met you, elegantly wrapped in glittery paper and ribbon. From that moment on, we were inseparable.


stock-photo-3279131-young-couple-in-love-jumping-on-meadow (1)

You were there with me through training for my first marathon, and you helped to pace me through the race. You’ve been through bitter cold and sweltering hot runs, from the Olympic peninsula to a Mexican beach to Boston. You were there for me through good runs and bad, shouting at me to speed up or slow down as needed. I will miss you, 305.

(Not my picture. He died without being immortalized in photo).

But even in death, 305 is still giving. As we speak, he is in transit to Garmin headquarters in Kansas, where he will be refurbished. By donating his body this way, 305 provided me with a $70 credit toward his replacement, Garmin Forerunner 210, who should be arriving by the end of the week.


Garmin Forerunner 305 was dearly beloved and will be dearly  missed. Farewell, old friend.

Week in Review

Like that post title? It makes me feel like I’m a news site. Breaking News: I’m not. Anyway, Sunday night is a good time to look back on the week and check in on the goals I set on Target Practice Monday. 

Life: I made two specific goals for work this week: figure out what to use to host my school newspaper, and go back over my curriculum (which I’d worked on this summer) to make sure I had all the standards covered. I got both of those done, plus some other school-related work. Check!

Health: My goal wasn’t very specific; it was just to clean up my diet again after a sugar-heavy weekend. I’ll call this a success, too.

Fitness: Goal #1 was to follow my training schedule. Here’s what my training looked like:

Monday: 10-mile progression run
Tuesday: Easy 8.7
Wednesday: Easy 8.1
Thursday: 14 x 400-meter repeats. With warm-up and cool down: 9.1 miles
Friday: Easy 7.2
Saturday: 18.1 miles
Weekly total: 61. Boom.

Goal #2 was to strength train three times. I made it twice. Near miss.
And goal #3 was to stretch and foam roll twice. I did that once and yoga once…we’ll call it 2/3 successful.

Check back tomorrow night for next week’s Target Practice post!

Here are some other highlights of the week:

  • Thursday was my birthday.  I went to work. But Wednesday, we went to Fort Collins, and that was fun. I had a gyno appointment in the morning (happy birthday to me!), but then we went to Verizon to get our phones upgraded. I’m now the proud owner of an iPhone. I’m so trendy. It only takes me five years to get the cool technology. But I’m loving the iPhone. Be prepared to see lots of iPhone pictures here.
  • Yesterday’s long run was super humid. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not usually humid here in Colorado, so that was weird. Turns out, that humidity was a precursor to this:
    Photo: Switched from a tornado warning to flash flood warning. I can see why.
    That’s our backyard. It’s under water. We had some wicked thunderstorms, a tornado warning (first time I’d heard the tornado sirens for anything but a test. Not cool.), and a flash flood warning. Craziness. We had a frantic little adventure when we discovered that the rain was pouring in next to the window air conditioner in the bedroom. It was a bit of a mess, and J ended up just taking the thing down. But at least we didn’t get tornadoed!
  • Tonight, the hubs and I went for a nice little bike ride to try to get the most out of our last summer Sunday. It was glorious.

    (See, iPhone photos are happening already.)

This week should be a pretty fun one before the school year starts. I’ll go in to work a couple of times, but it’s also county fair time. Our nieces are in one county and our students are in another, so we’ll be bouncing back and forth trying to catch as many of them in action as possible. And then, we’re officially back to work on Friday. Adios, summer!

What was the best part of your weekend?

What are you most looking forward to this week?

Thirty Before Thirty

Good news: Today is my birthday!

(That’s not me. But obviously I was a ginger baby).

I’m 28. That feels kinda old. But as my dad says, “Getting older is better than the alternative!” Ha. Anyway, a few weeks ago, I saw this post at Healthy and Happy Hour, and I decided to do it, too. I only have two years before I turn thirty. This is a list thirty things I want to do in the meantime. Some of them are big achievements and some are small, but they’re all things I’d like to accomplish.

This was surprisingly difficult to write and took me a few weeks. I kept wanting to write things like “become a better teacher” or “be a better friend,” but those aren’t really a cross-off-the-list-able goals (because when do you know you’ve accomplished them?).

Here are my 30 goals. Hold me to them!

Thirty Before Thirty

  1. Learn to can and freeze fruits and veggies. My mom and grandma preserved fresh produce every summer when I was young, and I never paid attention to how they did it. Now that I have a house with a big enough pantry and a deep freeze, I want to put up my own stuff – cheaper and healthier than store-bought.
  2. Attempt to get published in an education journal.  I submitted an article a couple of years ago, at a grad school professor’s request. It got rejected, and then I was scared to try again. Time to get over it keep trying.
  3. Run a 3-hour marathon. That’s besting my PR by 13 minutes. Ambitious? Yes. But isn’t that the point of making a goal?
  4. Visit the ocean at least twice. Once a year for the next two years. Husband, please start saving money. 🙂 Speaking of that…
  5. Save money and get better at sticking to a budget.
  6. PR in the half-marathon.
  7. Put in a beautiful backyard. We bought this house last May, and the backyard was completely bare except for a big tree. We’re planning to get sprinklers and sod in this fall, then work on flowerbeds, etc. It’s more like a five-year (or more) project, but In two years’ time, I’d love to have an inviting backyard that’s great for entertaining, playing, and relaxing.
  8. Visit my grandparents more. Like my parents, my grandparents live on the other side of the state, 6+ hours away. Unlike my parents, my grandparents don’t travel, so I only see them 2-3 times a year (the school year and those pesky Rocky Mountains make travel hard from August-May). I need to make the trip a little more often and spend time with them while I still can.
  9. Make more local friends. My college roommates are still my best friends in the world, but we aren’t physically close anymore. Meeting new people is not easy for me, as I’m naturally introverted, and it took me a long time to make friends here. I’d like to keep meeting people and expanding that friend circle.
  10. And continue growing the friendships that I have. It gets hard to see even local friends with everyone’s busy schedules. I need to be better about making it a priority.
  11. Hang out with our neighbors. I lived in the country growing up, so I had this idea that in town, everyone on the block would know each other, come over for barbeques, chat while getting the mail, etc. That hasn’t really happened here. I’d like to get to know our neighbors better over the next couple of years.
  12. Volunteer.  Every year in about April, I say I’m going to volunteer somewhere for the summer. And every year, it’s suddenly the end of July and I haven’t done it. All the while, I exhort my students to volunteer as much as possible. Hypocrite much?
  13. Run the stairs at Red Rocks. This is a quintessential Colorado thing to do, but since I live almost two hours from Red Rocks, I’ve never done it. But I will sometime when I stay with Denver friends or family.

    (Like this. Source)
  14. Go white-water rafting. I keep seeing all these blog posts about it, and every time we drive I-70 in the summer, there are a ton of people out on the river. It looks fun, and I want to do it, too.
  15. Get a new computer. Sweet goodness, I hope this happens in the next two years. This baby is seven years old, which is 87 million in computer years, and it’s slow as my husband molasses.
  16. Go on a girls’ trip. My three college roommates and I try to get together a couple of times a year, but it’s getting harder and harder with jobs, marriages, babies, etc., and it’s been too long since all four of us have gotten together. Let’s do it, ladies!
  17. Go to California. We have a lot of reasons to go out there –friends, family, wine, the ocean (see #4).
  18. Buy a china cabinet. When we moved into this house, our wedding china finally got to move out of my in-laws basement and into our house. I’ve even used it once, when we hosted Thanksgiving. But it’s living in a closet and isn’t very easy to get to; I’d love to get a real china cabinet to keep it in.
  19. Run a race with my brother. And his girlfriend if she wants to. We’ve done a couple of races together – we don’t run together, but we hang out at the start and finish and cheer each other on– and it’s fun. We haven’t done one for a couple of years, and I think it’s time for another.

    (Me, my brother, and his girlfriend after the last race we did together — Colorado Colfax in 2011. It was rainy, hence my drowned-rat look.)
  20. Get a massage. I’ve only had one in my life and the whole naked-rubbing-by-a-stranger thing creeped me out. I should try again because everyone else loves them and they’re good for runners.
  21. Restain our deck. Because it needs it. Badly.
  22.  Eat at Fruition. Fruition is a Denver restaurant that is said to be amazing. I’ve wanted to go there for a couple of years and can never get a reservation.
  23. Find or invent a tofu recipe that my husband will eat.
  24. Visit the wildlife sanctuary in Hudson. About an hour away from us is a wildlife rescue with tigers, lions, etc. Everyone says it’s worth going to, but we have never gone.
  25. Hike into the Roubideau Canyon with my family. This is the canyon I talked about here. Dad and I hiked it when I was eight; it’s one of my fondest memories. I’d love to go back down there and see if there are still lots of little fishes in the stream at the bottom.
  26. Take our nieces on a mini-vacation. J and I have three nieces. The two oldest are starting seventh grade and the youngest is starting second. As they get older and busier, it’s getting harder and harder to spend quality time with them. I’d love to take them on a weekend aunt-uncle-kids getaway.
  27. Go rock climbing either outdoors or on a wall. My friend from college keeps a really cool blog, and she’s always posting about rock climbing. It looks uber fun. I want to try.
  28. Go for a trail run. Because they’re the best, and happen far too little for me.
  29. Stand up on waterskis. I’ve only tried waterskiing once – last summer with my in-laws. I swallowed a lot of lake water and didn’t actually ski. But I will do it eventually!

    (If a squirrel can do it, surely I can)
  30. Go to Pawnee ButtesAnother local spot that we’ve never ventured out to.

So those are my goals for the next two years. I know that was lengthy; if you made it this far, thanks!

Any advice to help me meet these goals?

What are some of your upcoming goals? If you do a post like this, link to it in the comments — I’d love to read it!

Sneaky Squash

One of the best parts of living in rural America is the ability to have a decent-sized garden…or to get free goodness from your friends’ and neighbors’ decent-sized gardens. And if you, your neighbors, or your coworkers have a squash plant, chances are that your kitchen counter (or work break room) will soon look like this:


If you’ve got an overabundance of summer squash, I have good news for you: Summer squash is ridiculously good for you. Here are some squash stats:

  • Per cup, summer squash has 36 calories, less than one gram of fat, and 2.5 grams of fiber (source)
  • Summer squash is also a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and folate (source)
  • Summer squash has no cholesterol! A diet low in cholesterol is a diet high in heart health
  • It’s high in beta-carotene and other antioxidants that help fight cancer (source and source)
  • That same beta-carotene that’s good for your heart is good for your eyes, too!

So summer squash is good for you. It’s budget friendly (even if you don’t have a generous neighbor, summer squash is really cheap right now). And it’s easy to eat! My favorite way to eat it is simply to saute it in a little bit of olive oil and a lot of pepper, but like zucchini, it’s also really easy to sneak into recipes. Much to my hubby’s dismay, I’ve recently sneaked (snuck is not a word. Did you know that?) it into pasta sauce and turkey meatloaf. He didn’t even know it was there, but still reaped all the health benefits. Muah ha ha. (That’s my evil healthy laugh).

Here’s the “recipe” for the turkey loaves (of course there’s no picture. Did you think I was a decent blogger or something?):

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 medium summer squash, grated
Small handful (1/4 cup-ish) oatmeal
Several shakes Mrs. Dash

Mush it all together. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, then divide the turkey mixture into the muffin tin. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Eat with a lot of ketchup.

Do you like summer squash or zucchini? Favorite way to eat it?

Target Practice Monday

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? We spent Friday through Sunday at my in-laws’ doing birthday celebrations and a family reunion. It was a good weekend, but guess what I didn’t do? That’s right: take pictures. Because, again, I am the worst blogger ever. My in-laws even had a new calf born over the weekend, and I didn’t get a picture of it. Fail.  Here, I found you a similar-looking calf on the Internet:


It’s Monday, which means it’s time for Target Practice. Remember, I stole this idea from Fit. Fun, Femme. and use it to set little goals for myself each week. Before we get to this week’s, though, let’s see how I did with last week’s goals.

Last week’s life goal was to get a solid start on on setting up my classroom. I’m pretty much there, which is good. One thing I did last week was clean out my file cabinet. I hadn’t done it since my first year (I’m about to start year seven), and I had a LOT of stuff I didn’t need anymore — dated materials, bad ideas that seemed good as a first-year teacher, etc.

picture 007

Look at all the good ideas I didn’t have! This all came from one drawer. Time to recycle.

My health goal last week was to focus on post-run recovery nutrition. As it turns out, drinking chocolate milk after most runs is not really difficult. 🙂

And my fitness goal last week was to complete all my scheduled training runs and strength train three times. Done, to the tune of 56 miles run and three hours of strength work. Boom.

Now for this week’s goals:

Target Practice

Life: Two main work-related goals this week. I found out last week that the (free) web host we’ve always used for the school newspaper is no longer hosting, so I need to figure out what to use now. Second, I need to carefully go back over my curriculum, double-checking standards alignment, so that I’m ready to get syllabi done by the end of the week.

Health: I ate a lot of sugar this weekend. It’s back to the veggie-heavy, sugar-light diet this week!

Fitness: Adding on to last week’s goals … I’m continuing the goals to follow my training schedule and strength train three times, and adding at least two days of stretching and foam rolling. Things are getting tight over here.

What was the best part of your weekend?

What’s one goal you want to accomplish this week?

Larabar Lovin’

Remember the other day, when I was super excited because I bought Larabars, and I’d never seen them here before? Katie over at Healthy and Happy Hour (great blog; check it out) read that post. Know where Katie works? That’s right: at the company that makes Larabars. She forwarded my info to her colleague, and they totally hooked me up! I came home yesterday and found this on my doorstep:

picture 009Blurry picture, but…best mail day ever. I thought about doing a giveaway because that’s what the good bloggers do, but then I realized that a giveaway would mean sharing my Larabars. Maybe some other time.

They also included a request form for my local grocer. You’d better believe that the Wal-Mart manager is getting that sucker ASAP.

Why I’m so Larabar-obsessed? Let’s look at the carrot cake flavor, because that’s the one that I’m currently shoving down my gullet. (I didn’t know there was a carrot cake flavor until yesterday. Spoiler alert: It’s delicious). Here are its ingredients: Dates, almonds, walnuts, raisins, pineapple, unsweetened coconut, carrots, cinnamon, extra virgin coconut oil. Anything on that list you don’t recognize? Nope, I didn’t think so.

For comparison, here are the ingredient lists of a few other popular granola bars:

Nature Valley Trail Mix Fruit & Nut Bars: whole grain oats, high maltose corn syrup, raisins, almonds, roasted peanuts, sugar, rice flour, chicory root extract, fructose, cranberries, canola oil, maltodextrin, vegetable glycerin, soy lecithin, salt, barley malt extract, baking soda, natural flavor, mixed tocopherols (source)

Quaker Chewy Granola Bars (Chocolate Chip): granola (whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, crisp rice [rice flour, sugar, salt, malted barley extract], whole grain rolled wheat, soybean oil, dried coconut, whole wheat flour, sodium bicarbonate, soy lecithin, caramel color, nonfat dry milk), semisweet chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor,  cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), corn syrup, brown rice crisp (whole grain brown rice,  sugar, malted barley flour, salt), invert sugar, sugar, corn syrup solids, glycerin, soybean oil. Contains 2% or less of sorbitol, calcium carbonate, salt, water, soy lecithin, molasses, natural and artificial flavor, BHT (preservative), citric acid (source)

Fiber One 90 Calorie Chewy Bars (Chocolate): chicory root extract, rice flour, whole grain oats, sugar, corn syrup, semi-sweet chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor processed with alkali, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavor), honey, puffed wheat, glycerin, palm kernel oil, cocoa processed with alkali, canola oil, maltodextrin, soy lecithin, salt, natural flavor, malt extract, fructose, cellulose gum, milk, baking soda, caramel color, mixed tocopherols added to retain freshness (source)

And just for fairness, since I used two other chocolate examples, here are the ingredients from Larabar’s Chocolate Chip Brownie flavor: dates, Fair-Trade Certified chocolate chips (unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla), almonds, walnuts, cocoa powder, sea salt.

Which list of ingredients would you rather put in your body? I choose the pronounceable ones that don’t take up half a page and that I actually have in my own pantry.

Since they’re made of all-natural, real ingredients, the nutrition profile of Larabars looks pretty dang good, too. Back to the carrot cake flavor:

Calories: 190 Fat: 8 g (2 g saturated, 0 g trans) Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 15 mg Potassium: 140 mg Carbs: 32 g (great addition to my plan to eat more carbs) Fiber: 4 g Protein: 3g

I don’t think anyone can complain about those stats!

Other Sweet Facts About Larabar: 

  • It’s a Colorado company. The founder came up with the idea for Larabars on a hike.
  • The wrappers are recyclable!
    (image from
  • They are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, non-GMO, vegan, and kosher. Basically, unless you have a nut allergy, you can eat these.
  • Just in case you haven’t figured this out…THEY’RE FLIPPIN’ DELICIOUS. And filling. Definitely a staple while I’m marathon training and constantly ravenous.

And that is the end of my Larabar online lovefest. And of my carrot cake Larabar.

lara(It never stood a chance).

Do you like Larabars? If not, we probably can’t be friends anymore.

Local folks: If Wal-Mart keeps stocking them, would you buy Larabars? Please say yes. To me and to the Wal-Mart people.

What’s your favorite non-Lara bar?

Katie and her colleague at Larabar sent me these out of the goodness of their hearts. They didn’t ask me to do a blog post, but I wanted to share the Larabar love. 

Book Review: The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition

finally am posting my review of Matt Fitzgerald’s newest book, The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition. It’s long. I really did try to cut it down; this was as short as I could get it. And it’s a little academic-sounding (why, yes, those citations are in MLA format; thanks for noticing). I think I spent too many years in grad school writing literature reviews to write a book review that doesn’t sound academic. At least Ryan Gosling will like it. And I hope you do, too.

(I saw this on Google images…turns out, it’s from a blog on my alma mater’s website. Oh, Colorado State.)

I love Matt Fitzgerald. I always read his articles in Competitor, and I’ve read and enjoyed two of his other books, Racing Weight and Brain Training for Runners. I bought this book with high hopes, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, The New Rules is my favorite of Fitzgerald’s books. It’s engaging, well-organized, and supported by solid science. I highly recommend it to any distance runner who wants to improve his or her nutrition.

The book is divided into three parts. Part I, “The Two-Rule Diet,” discusses day-to-day eating. This was my favorite part of the book (probably because it’s the part I’ll use the most). The two rules of Fitzgerald’s “Two-Rule Diet” are: Make sure you’re getting enough carbs, and eat a high-quality diet. Easy, right?

No, it’s not hard. But a few things surprised me. I thought I’d have rule number one, meet your carbohydrate needs, easily under control. Wrong. Fitzgerald includes a handy chart for determining your carb needs, based on your level of activity. This week, I’ll be training approximately 10 hours (running and strength training), so according to the chart, I’ll need 372-434 grams of carbs each day. I eat a ton of fruit and veggies, so I thought I had the carbs covered. Once I started tracking my carb intake, though, I realized that I’m averaging carb grams in the low-to-mid 200s. So I’ve put a focus on eating more whole grains, sweet potatoes, and carby fruits like bananas. I’m still experimenting, because eating too many grains in one day upsets my stomach, but I’m getting closer.

The second rule of the two-rule diet is to eat high-quality foods. Fitzgerald explains that runners who are training for a long race can’t follow traditional dieting advice (i.e., drastically cut calories) to cut excess body fat. If we do, we’ll risk being undernourished and injured, or at the very least, be “intolerably hungry. In other words, you need to focus more on the quality than on the quantity of the foods you eat” (60).

Fitzgerald’s method of ensuring that your diet is high-quality is the most logical approach I have ever read — for runners or non-runners. He ranks food on a continuum. Veggies (including beans/legumes) are at the top, followed by fruit, nuts and seeds, fish and lean meats, whole grains, dairy products, refined grains, fatty meats, sweets, and fried foods (in that order). Fitzgerald explains it like this: “You must eat ten servings of vegetables, nine servings of fruit, eight servings of nuts and seeds, seven servings of lean meats and fish, six servings of whole grains, and five servings of dairy for every one serving of fried food, two servings of sweets, three servings of fatty meats, or four servings of refined grains you eat. This [is the] minimum requirement to achieve diet quality . . .” (86). Fitzgerald explains that nothing is off-limits or lumped under an “Eat sparingly” heading. “Refined grains, fatty meats, sweets, and fried foods are not poisonous,” he says. “They are foods that just happen to be less wholesome than other foods” (88).  This just seems so logical to me. No “never” foods. No calorie counting. No measuring. Just focusing on quality.

I started tracking my diet using a food log like Fitzgerald suggests. Overall, I eat a lot of high-quality foods already. I was surprised, though, when I discovered that I could stand to cut back my sweets intake. I rarely eat the foods that pop into our heads when we hear “sweets” (cookies, pie, ice cream, etc.), but natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup) and my favorite dark chocolate are still sweets, and it wouldn’t hurt my diet – and thus my training – to cut back a smidge.

Fitzgerald also includes several recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that will help you get your carbs in and your diet quality up. I haven’t tried any yet, but I’ve got some ahi waiting for me to make the Grilled Tuna Steak, Amaranth, and Kale recipe.

Part II discusses nutrition while training (immediately before, during, and after the run) and during the taper period. Taking in nutrition before and during a run is such an individual thing that most people just have to fool with it until they find what works. Fitzgerald acknowledges this and gives quite a number of fueling options and strategies. He also discusses recovery, and this discussion really made me realize that I need to make sure to remember my post-run nutrition. You’re supposed to take in a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio within 30 minutes of finishing a workout. My routine is usually this: drink water, water my flowers, talk to the husband, take a looong shower, then make and eat breakfast. The eating is about an hour after I finish the running. So I bought some chocolate milk, per Fitzgerald’s recommendation, and have begun drinking a glass after every hour-or-longer run.

Fitzgerald also goes into great detail about taper nutrition. He suggests “fat-loading” for several days before the traditional carb load. I’d only vaguely heard of this concept, and Fitzgerald admits that it’s a little weird and not for everyone, but he says it can be quite effective. I’m not sure if I’ll try it or not…with my sensitive stomach, it could be a disaster. (Of course, Fitzgerald advocates trying a fat-load/carb-load cycle in training before you try it for a race). He also discusses proper fueling in the last 24 hours before a race and fueling during the race itself; there was nothing new to me in that section, but lots of good reminders.

The final section of the book is entitled “Nutrition-Training Synergy,” and it’s just what it sounds like. Fitzgerald tells you how to put everything you’ve learned about nutrition into practice with your training. He includes several half- and full-marathon training plans that include not only the running workouts but the corresponding nutrition. I think that’s smart; I’ve never seen such a plan. Since I was already several weeks into my current training plan when I read this book, I’m not using one of his plans, but they are a good reference.

As I said, I think this is the best of Matt Fitzgerald’s training books. Everything he discusses is backed up by lots of research, but it’s still accessible to those of us who teach English :). I would buy it in print, though, if I were doing it again. I bought the Nook book, and it would be really handy to be able to run copies of the logs and to more easily flip back and forth.

If you’re looking for some good nutrition info, definitely pick this one up. It’s well worth it.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately (running-related or not)?

No one compensated me for this review. I think you have to have more than three readers to be compensated for something. But if Matt Fitzgerald magically read this and wanted to give me something free, I wouldn’t complain.

Death By Speedwork

This morning, I did a workout that I thought would be the end of me: 6 x 1-mile with 800 m recovery jogs. The repeats were supposed to be at about 10k pace. That didn’t happen. It was unusually humid this morning (75%, according to I realize that 70 degrees and humid is considerably more comfortable than the hot temps and 90+ percent humidity that many of you southern and eastern folks are dealing with. But Colorado is so rarely humid that when it is, it really kicks my tush.

  –> me.

I ran a little over a mile to warm up (in retrospect, I should have done a longer warm-up…my legs were not ready for speed), and then did the first repeat. I ran it 20 seconds slower than I “should” have and was already dripping sweat (thanks, humidity).

And then, I nearly gave up. I told myself to just do an easy run, to try the speedwork again tomorrow, when the humidity would likely be lower.

And then, I said, “Suck it up, Petunia. You might not run as fast as you think you should today, but if you don’t push through it, you’ll never get faster.” (Petunia is Porky Pig’s girlfriend. Just wanted to make sure you got the reference.)

 –> not me today!


So I pushed through all six repeats. They ended up being closer to half-marathon pace than 10k pace, but I’m okay with it. I’m not in peak shape yet. I don’t need to be until October, and by pushing myself through these unpleasant workouts (unpleasant = near-death), I’ll get there.

Also, humidity and I are not friends. Not only did it reduce my pace, but it made me sweat even more than usual. By the time I started my cool-down, I was regularly pulling up my shorts because they were so sweat-logged that they were falling down. Gross. I thought about taking a picture of my sweaty self when I got home but decided to spare you. You’re welcome.

I came home, chugged a glass of chocolate milk (sticking to my goal of proper recovery nutrition), peeled off my nasty, sweaty clothes and took a looong shower. The shower was the best part of the workout, no joke.

And now, I’m off to read some of your blogs and eventually go get my driver’s license renewed. I’m not going in to school today because I’m guessing the DMV will take up a pretty solid chunk of the day.

Do you do speedwork on a track? I didn’t this morning, because: A. The track near where I live is locked up like Alcatraz and I’m too lazy to drive out to use the one at work, and B. This workout was nine miles without the warm-up and cool-down. Nine miles = 36 laps. Too many circles.

How do you pep-talk yourself into completing a workout that you just want to quit?

What’s the longest wait you’ve ever had at the DMV?

P.S. I know I said I’d post a review of Matt Fitzgerald’s new book today, but I’m a narcissist and wanted to talk about my workout instead. Plus the review I’ve written is much too long right now. I’ll edit it down and post it tomorrow. I promise.