Hiatus

hiatus: (noun | hi·a·tus | hī-ˈā-təs )

a period of time when something (such as an activity or program) is stopped. 

I guess I’ve been on a bit of a blogging and running hiatus over the past two weeks. I didn’t plan it. It just kind of happened…

Because I didn’t plan it, I don’t have an actual re-entry plan. I’m just going to have to go for it. Just jump back in like I’m getting into the deep end of a frigid pool.

This is uncomfortable. I’m looking at my training plan and it’s telling me to cross train for an hour today. It’s a reasonable assignment, but I haven’t run anywhere or actually elevated my heart rate for an extended period of time in two weeks. I’ve been walking. But not all that aggressively.

Here’s the thing:

putting things off makes it worse.

Everyone knows that, right? But I am a procrastinator by nature, and I sometimes have to remind myself. It may be hard to get myself back on track after a hiatus, but it will be harder tomorrow than it is today.

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Everyone needs a break sometimes, even from the thing they love the most.

Concrete goals help guide you back to the path – even keep you from straying too far in the first place. This is another reason I like to schedule races for myself throughout the year. Just knowing that the next race is out there helps me choose a side salad instead of fries, and pushes me out the door when motivation wanes.

That’s me. What about you?

Are you on hiatus from anything? 

Do you have a future race on the calendar?

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There is No Such Thing as an “Easy” Run + a Runcoach Review

Don’t let anybody – or any training plan – tell you otherwise. Running is many things but easy isn’t one of them.

The first time I ran a marathon, I used one of Hal Higdon’s free training plans. The plan was great, and it prepared me well enough to finish a marathon. However, the plan didn’t ever define “easy” pace for me in a way that I could really apply. I didn’t know enough yet to estimate my training paces based on my race goal pace. I think I really only had one basic pace: go.

Basically, “easy pace” means you can carry a conversation. It can be a challenge to stick to a very easy pace for over an hour when you feel like you have things to run through. Sometimes faster just feels better, or sometimes you want to get your miles in but you’ve also got things to do and places to be.

Patience

Learning to control my pace has made me a better runner overall. It allows me to vary my running workouts to achieve specific goals.   It takes patience and self-control. It can be difficult to reign in the urge to prove (to myself) that I’m in better shape than the random runner ahead of me! Controlling that urge in order to stick to an easy pace is  part of the mental game of running.

And you do what you can to strengthen that mental muscle..

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Training Plans

As I mentioned, I used a Hal Higdon training plan for my first marathon. The plan itself was good, with workouts and mileage progression appropriate for my running level. For me though, there wasn’t enough hand-holding or accountability. I printed the plan and then tried to follow it, without understanding it.

For the past year or so, I’ve been using a training plan generated by Runcoach™.

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One of the things I really like about Runcoach™ is that it feels (and is) so personalized. You choose a goal race and enter previous race data, then Runcoach™ uses the algorithm they’ve developed to create a plan personalized to your fitness level and training goal.


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In addition to the plan being customized, you have access to the coaches (real people!) through email or live chat whenever you have a question or a concern.

I started using Runcoach™ to train for the 2014 Marines Corps Marathon, and it was a good plan but I didn’t stick to it closely enough. I skipped a lot of cross-training and only sort of paid attention to the assigned paces.

To prepare for the Boston Marathon® this year, I continued with Runcoach™, this time taking it a bit more seriously and literally. I skipped far fewer cross-training sessions. I arrived at the start line more prepared and more confidant than I had at the Marine Corps Marathon start line, without a doubt.

I’m off to do my squats now! How are you doing with the Squat Challenge?

Bi-Weekly Mileage Report

Here’s a progress update on my quest for 2,015 miles in 2015:

5/26: 4.22 mi
5/27: 7.11 mi
5/28: 7.37 mi
5/29: 5.93 mi
5/30: 1.81 mi
5/31: 7.49 mi
6/1: 4.61 mi

Total Weekly Running Mileage: 10.26 mi

6/2: 4.5 mi
6/3: 7.99 mi
6/4: 5.38 mi
6/5: 9.58 mi
6/6: 3.61 mi
6/7: 10.88 mi
6/8: 7.15 mi

Total Weekly Running Mileage: 12.52 mi
Monthly Total Running Mileage: 12.52 mi
2,015 Miles in 2015 Progress: 880.91

Squat Challenge

Squats. We love to hate them.

There’s a great bike path near my office where I’ve been walking recently with co-workers at lunchtime. This week, as we walked along, one of the women walking with me drew my attention to the runner coming down the path toward us. She was obviously in good shape – awesome muscle definition in her shoulders and biceps and, most enviably, in her thighs. You could see the lines separating the muscles in her thighs and when she ran by we both turned to check out her muscles some more. Her hamstrings were equally impressive. These were not the legs of someone whose only activity is running. I resolved (yet again) to add some strength training to my routine.

Squats are so good for runners. They help build the muscles around your knees so that you can avoid injuries; they build muscle power to help you run faster; and they allow you to practice body awareness as you perfect your form.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to find a squat challenge online. I’m going to start this one on Monday. Who’s with me?

  

  

Weekends: Made for eating doughnuts, reading, and running long

Happy National Doughnut Day. Because Americans need free doughnuts.

   

I made some baked doughnuts for the kids that were a big hit using this recipe.

This weekend’s weather is supposed to be nice, so I’m planning on a leisurely 8-miler and some reading by the pool – in between soccer games, softball games, laundry, grocery shopping, and general momming of course.

If you’re looking for some good reads this weekend, here’s some of what I found interesting this week – enjoy!

After a recent Frontline piece, Foster Farms has announced that it will no longer give human antibiotics to chickens.

This is the kind of thing that makes food marketing so obnoxious: the meaning behind “farm-to-table” has been obliterated. 

Food is obviously part of the problem with health – it seems obvious that it should be part of the solution too.

Are you ready to start getting your protein from bugs?

Here is a great idea for dealing with the demand for inexpensive nutrition – I hope it will be successful enough to spread.

Big ideas: urban farming

National Running Day

I hope you’re planning to run today. Even just a little bit. Even if you’re not a regular runner. Because it’s National Running Day! Let’s celebrate!

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Obviously, I’m expecting to be showered in cards when the mailman arrives; bouquets of Hoka One Ones will probably be delivered at some point this morning….right?

Ok, I know it’s just another one of those arbitrary “National ___ Days”, but I still like it – why not have some extra celebration in our otherwise mundane lives?

So, in honor of National Running Day, I’m planning a 5-mile run to benefit Girls on the Run using Charity Miles. Enjoy your day – run!

What I’m Eating

My kids – actually, my whole family – really like to snack. I don’t think we’re unique there. I’ve tried all kinds of “healthier” options for snacks so that they get some nutrition rather than just filling up on chemicals and empty calories. It can be a challenge though, for a number of reasons. I walk through the aisles of every, single supermarket, trying to find something new and different that will appeal to my desire for healthier foods for my kids as well as their desire for nothing but delicious, delicious, snacks.  I generally don’t find much, and so I end up compromising somewhere between what they want and what I want them to have.

I’ve tried making my own healthier snacks, and I do keep some of them around the house, but they are never the most popular item in the snack cabinet. And I work full-time outside of my home (also not unique), which doesn’t leave a lot of time for experimenting in the kitchen.

Recently I discovered graze, a healthy snack delivery company. According to their website, the company “was started by seven friends sick of chips and candy, who wanted a better way to snack.”

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That sounded right up my alley, so I ordered a 4-snack variety box to see what they had to offer.

Verdict: Great stuff!

The kids were really excited when the box arrived. We opened it right away and ate everything inside. We were controlled and scientific though – we finished each individual snack before we opened the next, to be sure we were getting the full effect of each one.

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The snacks in our 4-snack variety box were:

  • Summer Berry Flapjack (rustic rolled oat flapjack with berry-infused cranberries)
    this was our favorite. it’s a cross between an oatmeal cookie and a granola bar.
  • Punchy Protein Nuts (chili and lime cashews, raw and blanched almonds and raw pistachio kernels)
    we loved this one too. just enough spice to give it a kick without requiring a sprint to the faucet for a drink.
  • Herby Bread Basket (mini basil breadsticks, oregano rice crackers and garlic crostini)
    yummy cracker snack mix that is great alternative to popular cereal mix snacks.
  • Garden of England (soft apple pieces, strawberries and blackcurrants)
    dried fruit. the strawberries were like little nuggets of delicious strawberry jam, and it was a delicious snack.

The website has a lot of options to customize your snack delivery, including nutritionist-approved boxes, sweet boxes, savory boxes, and boxes with larger quantities for sharing. You can customize your subscription preference too, receiving snacks as it suits your needs (e.g. weekly, every other week, monthly).

Each box you receive should be better than the last, as you rate the snacks you’ve received (like it, love it, want to try it). Subsequent boxes take your ratings into consideration, improving the chances that you’ll love all of the snacks you receive.

Try a box. It’s only $6.99 (and delivery is free), so there’s really nothing to lose.

Bi-Weekly Mileage Report

Here’s a recap of how my 2,015-mile journey has gone over the past two weeks:

5/12: 6.09 mi
5/13: 4.72 mi
5/14: 4.32 mi
5/15: 7.33
5/16: 2.26
5/17: 6.83
5/18: 3.38

Total Weekly Running Mileage: 11.6 mi

5/19: 4.37 mi
5/20: 8.8 mi
5/21: 4.9 mi
5/22: 6.3 mi
5/23: 3.14 mi
5/24: 8.11 mi
5/25: .79 mi

Total Weekly Running Mileage: 10.97 mi
Monthly Total Running Mileage:31.8 mi
2,015 in 2015 Progress: 793.28 mi (1,221.72 mi to go)