How do you Bust Out of a Running Rut?

As runners, we all have good days and bad days.  Days where you feel like you could run forever, and days when you’re struggling to make it through what should be an easy, short run.  Lately I’ve been having a lot more of the hard days.  I know a huge part of this is due to the weather, and all the indoor treadmill runs I’ve been logging.  And also that a lot of my struggle is a mental battle: choosing between the treadmill and negative temps and wind chills is just depressing.  But I’ve got to find a way to break out of my funk, because I do have a race coming up, and I’ve got a definite time goal in mind!  So here are a few ideas that I have to try and rediscover my love of running:

1) Vary the pace, and do it often.  When I’m running inside, I tend to set my treadmill on to a certain pace, and stay there.  If I’m doing speed work, with prescribed paces, it’s a little different, but I am going to try to change up my speed pretty regularly (every half mile to mile) just to provide a tiny bit of variety even in my easy or recovery runs.  I think I do this naturally when I’m outside, as my energy and interest levels rise and fall, but it’s easy to get stuck when I’m on that treadmill.

2) Work on a different goal.  If you’ve been running long a lot to chase down a distance goal, do a short, speedy workout.  Or if you’ve been running by time (i.e. 45 minute run) try looking at mile markers instead.  Switching up the way you approach a run, even a little bit, can make a big difference, I think.

3) Bring a buddy.  I’m often a solo runner, but when my motivation is lacking, I’m more likely grab a friend for a social run.  I often find that I am more refreshed after these runs, and have more fun too.

4) Ditch the Garmin.  I admit it, I don’t run without my Garmin often enough.  I get an immense satisfaction from the immediate feedback that hitting a mile split provides me.  But it’s good to unplug every now and again, and when I run without my Garmin, and even (gasp!) my headphones, I can often remember what’s awesome about running, and why I love it so much.

Have you ever been in a running funk?  How did you break out of it?

Advertisements

Workout Recaps + Random Things I’m Loving (Volume 8)

Hey everyone!  Another Monday already?!  Time keeps flying by, and I keep thinking that finally, this will be the week that I get to run outside.  That I’ll get it together and have an awesome week of training for my 25k (15.5 mile) race in early May.  But, it’s just not happening yet.  My motivation to log miles on the treadmill is at an all-time low.  Any tips to keep me happy running inside?  I’d love to hear ’em!

But, despite the frigid temps, here’s what I managed this past week:

M – 60 minute strength training class

T – OFF

W – 8 miles total ( 4 x 800 in the middle, 3:20, 3:15, 3:15, 3:20)

Th – 60 minute kickboxing class

F – 5.5 miles (with 2.5 at tempo pace of 7:45ish)

S – 60 minute strength training class + 60 minutes kickboxing

Su – OFF

See what happened this weekend?!  I could not make myself miss my favorite classes this weekend to run inside on the treadmill, so I told myself I’d push it to Sunday.  But then my body was feeling the hard workouts from the previous day, and we had some other stuff we wanted to get accomplished, and it just didn’t happen.  Ugh!  So tomorrow is the day, 10 miles will be happening in some way, shape, or form. 🙂

On a happier note, here are some things I’ve been loving lately:

  • Adding highlights to my hair.  I’ve never, ever had highlights in my hair before and I don’t know why I decided that this was the time to try them (my sister kindly suggested maybe I’m going through a mid-life crises – Ha! – I hope not).  But I like the way they turned out, and I match my blondie daughters just a bit better now.

wpid-20150219_210143.jpg

  • The clearance section at Nordstrom Rack!  My youngest came to me complaining about her toes hurting, and she had big blisters on both of her big toes.  I couldn’t believe she outgrew her shoes AGAIN!  So we went off in search of tennis shoes and something a little fancier for church, etc.  We struck at Kohls, Shoe Carnival (who wanted to charge me $60(!!!) for a pair of preschool sized Nike’s – no thanks!) and finally struck gold at Nordstrom Rack.  Not only did we find great shoes for my younger daughter, but also these adorable Uggs that I’m hoping will fit my older daughter next winter on super duper clearance!

wpid-img_20150221_182822.jpg

  • My crock-pot.  We have a couple of nights each week where the kids and I are out doing activities until dinnertime, and when we get home everyone is falling apart and hungry.  I’ve enjoyed getting reacquainted with my crock-pot recently to alleviate this problem, plus the house smells amazing.  Here are some of the meals I’ve made:

Chicken Salsa

Spaghetti Squash Thai Noodle Bowls

Beef Stew

That’s all for now!  Enjoy the rest of your Monday. 🙂


Why I Run

One of my favorite bloggers over at Happy Fit Mama recently wrote a post about why she runs.  I absolutely love reading stories about why other runner’s run.  Sometimes their reasons are the same as mine, sometimes they are different.  But I can always relate, on some level, to the feelings they talk about when they’re running; to their “whys”.

And it got me thinking.  Why do I run?

I started running in high school.  I was a slightly chubby, decently talented soccer player who wanted to be better.  I ran as part of conditioning workouts, and once I got past the point of hating the runs (i.e. they finally got easier) I realized how fun it was to feel like you’re flying.  From there I joined my high school track team and competed throughout high school in the distance events (1600m, 3200m, and 4 x 800m relay team).  I did pretty well, and even competed at our conference championships my junior year.  My mile PR, which I will never come close to again, was 5:39!  Running gave me confidence.  Running gave me an identity, and a way to categorize myself, which was actually pretty important.

Sarah_HS_Running

(I have no idea why anyone thought this uniform was a good idea.  My favorite touch is the “scrunchy” in my hair).

I debated trying out for the cross country team in college. I went to a DIII school, so theoretically, it should have been possible.  But it turns out that my college happens to have a girls cross country team that wins National Championships just about every year.  I was more than a little intimidated, and did not try out for the team.  Still, I ran in college.  Not as often as I should have, but I ran.  Running helped me keep my sanity, to de-stress from all the papers and exams.  Running helped me maintain my weight, and not gain all of the freshman fifteen.  Running helped me meet a few friends, and I learned how quickly miles can fly with good company.

After college, I kept running  pretty consistently.  I started entering local 5K and 10K races.  I started to get faster, and I found myself craving times to run.  I would get up before work to run and I am not a morning runner.  But when it was a choice between that or not running, I made it happen.  I became more consistent, and I fell even more in love with the sport.  Running gave me the satisfaction of watching myself improve, of overcoming barriers and achieving new goals.  I ran my first marathon in 2006.  Running gave me an appreciation for what my body could really do.

IMG_0081

(After the Detroit Marathon in 2006.  All I remember is we finished on the 50 yard line of Ford Field and then had to climb several flights of stairs to get the heck out of there.  Fail!)

When I was pregnant with my daughters, running gave me a healthy way to exercise.  Running allowed me to keep moving and time to embrace the solitude while pondering what the coming months and years were going to look like.  I stopped running (waddling?) eight months into my first pregnancy, and I ran again for the first time at four weeks post-partum.  It was not pretty.  I was slow and every movement felt hard and labored, not carefree and natural.  But I remember almost every minute of that euphoric two mile (treadmill!) run.  I was so happy I cried!  To be fair, I was four weeks post-partum and cried about a lot of things.  Running gave me an emotional outlet, a way to let it all go.

IMG_1489

(After the completion of my first half marathon post-kid.  My oldest was eight months here).

And now?

I run because I can leave a hot mess and return a calm and happy mama.

I run because I love a challenge.

I run because it’s a healthy way to compete, to push myself to improve.

I run because sometimes it’s the only hour of my day that I get to do exactly what I want.

I run because it feels amazing.

I run because I can hear myself think better.

I run because of the feeling of accomplishment that comes after a challenging speed session or long run.

I run because there is no better feeling in the world than running on a “good day” where you feel like you could go forever.

I run because I want my girls to see that women can be strong and confident – and that these are good things.

I run because I am so thankful to God for my body, and I want to use it to His glory.

I run because I love it, because it still defines me, makes me happy, and de-stresses me.

I run because I am – and will always be – a runner.

What about you?  Why do you run?


Workout Recaps + Meal Planning

Happy Monday everyone!  This past week was crazy busy in our home.  My husband and I have been very intentional about taking steps to live more simply recently, and we definitely took a huge leap this past week.  But that leap involved lots of work that I had not planned on, so I apologize for being a slacker on blogging lately.  Like much of the country, we are still dealing with lots of snow and chilly temperatures, so I didn’t get to do any running outside this past week.  And the forecast for the coming week is similarly cold.  Blah!  I promise you I will not be complaining about hot and humid temperatures this summer!

But here’s a look at what I did do:

wpid-20150212_095818.jpg

M – 60 minutes strength training

T – 4 easy miles

W – Group session with our personal trainer

Th – Total Conditioning class + chest presses and pullups

F – Off

S – 60 minutes strength training + 60 minutes kickboxing

Su – 6 mile run with 2.5 miles @ tempo pace

As you can see, I just haven’t been feeling the treadmill miles recently, but I know I need to get over it and just do it!  I’ve still got plenty of time before my 25k race in May, but I need to be more consistent with my mileage, and my long runs.  Oops!

As far as meal plans for this week, here’s what I’m thinking:

M – chili in the crock pot + GF corn bread muffins (Mondays are almost always a crock pot meal because my girls have gymnastics until almost 6:00 and then EVERYONE comes home starving!)

T – veggie burgers + sweet potato fries

W – steak burrito bowls

Th – homemade pizza

F – leftovers

S – take out

Su – honey glazed salmon + roasted veggies

wpid-20150208_174318.jpg


Workout Recaps + Blueberry Scones

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope you had a great weekend.  My husband worked this weekend, which means we didn’t really enjoy a lot of down time around here, but it was still a nice change of pace.  My older daughter had a basketball game on Saturday morning (side note: if you’ve never watched six and seven year old girls play basektball, you really should, it’s hysterical and fun).  And I managed to get in a long run on Sunday despite the continued chilly temps and hail!  Yes, hail.  I don’t remember running through a hail storm before, but I had little red spots all over my face when I was done.  Come on, sunshine!

Here’s what my workouts looked like this week:

M – 60 minute strength training class

T – 6 miles total (5k in the middle for the #5bythe5th challenge, 22:52)

W – 1st session with a personal trainer (more on that later, but ouch!)

Th – 6 easy miles

F – REST

S – 60 minutes strength + 60 minutes kickboxing

S – 10 easy miles

I’m pretty tired this morning, and looking back over my workouts, I think I see why.  Time to scale it back a little this week, I think.

On another note, I made an awesome batch of paleo friendly, gluten free bluberry scones this weekend.  These were just about perfect, but maybe could have been just a touch sweeter.  If you’re not watching your sugar too much, or feel like indulging, I’d add a touch more.  But other than that, perfect texture and taste.  We’ll be making these again soon as my whole family gobbled these ones up!

20150208_090207

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup Coconut Flour
  • 1 ½ cups Almond Flour (or Almond Meal)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 5 tablespoons of Sugar
  • ⅓ cup Coconut Milk (may need more if mixture is dry)
  • 2.5 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • ¾ cup Blueberries (I took mine straight from the freezer)
  • ¼ cup butter for the top (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine coconut flour and almond flour, baking powder and salt
  3. In another bowl combine eggs, sugar, coconut milk and coconut oil
  4. Now, combine wet and dry ingredients, mixture should be slightly crumbly (may need more milk here)
  5. Next, add blueberries
  6. Form into your favorite scone shape with your hands and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with melted butter (again, optional).
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until slightly browned on top
  8. Enjoy!

Quality Over Quanity (Or, How I BQed without every hitting 30 miles in a single week)

When it comes to running, we tend to wear miles like badges.  At my RRCA coaching conference, for example, we all went around the room sharing how many miles per week we averaged, and also the highest total mileage week that we ever logged.  Those in attendance, myself included, gave impressive claps and whistles at the people who averaged 40, 50 even 60 miles each week.  I knew when I shared my own totals that they would be lower than many, but I didn’t expect the disapproving glances or disbelief that came my way.  One person who knew I’d run a fall marathon even asked me, “Were you able to finish your marathon?”

But here’s the thing: I not only finished my marathon with my lower totals, I pretty much killed it (keep in mind killing it for me may mean something very different than for you)!  I finished my marathon in 3:35:15 which was not only a PR for me by over 30 minutes, it was also a Boston qualifying time by almost a full five minutes.  And my totals?  Well, my marathon training peaked at 29 miles for my highest week.  (Not intentionally, mind you, but still).

So, how did I run a marathon logging so few miles?  Any why didn’t I run more?

Well, the easy way to answer that is to say I didn’t run more because I’ve learned, over time, that my body isn’t super happy with me when I run more.  I have suffered my fair share of running injuries over the years.  My injuries are usually the annoying, lingering kind that never seem to quite go away, are almost always on my right side (knee, hip, ankle) and they start when I up my mileage too much.  I’ve definitely identified some weaknesses and imbalances that cause the injuries, and I’ve learned how to correct many of them, meaning that I think I could get away with a 40 mile week or two right now.  But in the end, I still think I run better when I run less.  And it’s not just me (at least, I don’t *think* it’s just me) that buys into this theory.  My primary guide when training for my fall marathon was in fact titled “Run Less, Run Faster“.  The book advocates for three very targeted runs each week (a speed workout, a tempo run, and a long run) combined with running specific cross training.

I was pretty liberal with my running specific cross training.  The authors of “Run Less, Run Faster” espoused workouts like biking, rowing, or swimming.  I did more kickboxing and strength training.  But I know these activities made me a better runner, and I also know that without those additions to my repertoire, a 29 mile peak week most definitely would NOT have been enough to get me across that finish line.  I have no idea why running would occasionally cause my IT band to flare up in anger, but doing tons of roundhouse kicks were somehow absolutely fine.  But I tried to go with it…

So what’s my point?  I guess that sometimes less is more.  That I advocate quality runs over vast quantities of miles.  And that I think you should listen to your body: YOU are the best person to know how many miles you can handle.  Oh, and also maybe that cross training can be more helpful than you realize.  I know everyone is different, and even I would have preferred to get in more miles during my most recent marathon training cycle.  But with careful attention to the types of miles you are putting in, and some good, beneficial cross training, you can run a successful race with fewer miles than you might think.

What do you think?  Do some people run too many miles?  Do I run too few?  How do you find the right number?


Workout Recaps + Menu Ideas

Whew!  We’re in the middle of yet another snow storm today here in west Michigan.  Part of me wishes that this weather would have happened last week while we were in Florida, but the rest of me is glad our travel wasn’t affected or delayed and we could be here to deal with the snow as it came down.  Anyway, is it spring yet?  I miss running on the beach!

20150127_084745Here’s what my workouts looked like this week:

M – 60 minute beach walk

T – 5 beach miles (no garmin)

W – OFF (travel day)

Th – 60 minute kickboxing

F – 6 miles total (3 mile repeats: 6:45, 6:40, 6:31)

S – 60 minute strength + 60 minute kickboxing

Su – 4 easy miles

I am signed up for a 25k (15.5 mile) race in early May, so I am realizing that I need to get myself in race training mode again soon.  Unfortunately, given our weather, this means a lot more miles logged on the treadmill.  I am praying for a MUCH milder winter next year when I have to train for an April marathon.  Not that I’m complaining.  I’d gladly train in sub-zero weather all season for the chance to run Boston!

Here’s what I’m thinking for meals this week:

M – Homemade pizza

T – Fish tacos

W – GF pasta with homemade pasta sauce and roasted veggies

Th – Chicken Broccoli Quinoa casserole (recipe coming soon!)

F – leftovers

S – Chipotle (our favorite take out food)

Su – sweet potato chicken chili and GF corn bread

I hope your week is off to a great start!  My Monday included a snow day (again!) followed by a trip to the gym.  I planned to do a strength class and then run, but I had cleared off my driveway right before leaving and completely forgot I was wearing snow boots when I jumped in the car.  So I did the class in a combination of boots and bare feet and tried not to let on that I felt completely ridiculous.  And I skipped the run!