Week 2

Week 1 Recap:

Last week went pretty well, considering I hadn’t been doing much running before training started.

I kept pretty consistent with my speed work paces even though I did them on snow and ice. I reasoned that the Monon Trail would have been clear of winter weather since I knew the Cultural Trail looked like it was mid-summer. Fail. If it wasn’t snow, it was black ice every 4th stride. Not a fun way to do 400’s. The required pace was 1:44 for each and I averaged around 1:50 for all 12. Not bad, I’d say. 7.3 miles/1:04:48

The tempo run was harder. I started out with a stomach ache that I thought would go away after the first easy mile. That didn’t happen, so I started in on my 3 mile tempo early. Goal was 7:44 per mile and I went 7:50, 7:55 and 8:02. Kinda died, but I think I did okay for the first week. 5 miles/41:23

The long run was actually pretty fun. I started at 7:30am in 20 degree weather, testing out a new ear headband from Mizuno. It came recommended from the guy at the running store, but it still wasn’t super tight around my ears which bugged me by mile 4. Goal pace for the 8 miles was 8:36, and I managed an 8:35 pace with only a few stops in between, mostly stoplights. The only thing that worries me so far is that it did feel hard. I know it’s week 1 and I’ll get stronger, but I still catch myself thinking, “And HOW am I supposed to do 13 miles at 8:16??” 8 miles/1:08:35

Week 2:

Week 2 already starts with a wrench in the gears. I’m having my wisdom teeth removed on Thursday afternoon. So an executive decision has been made to move around the runs for this week.

Monday: Pure Cardio and Cardio AbsTuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 10-20 WU. 400, 600, 800, 1200, 800, 600, 400 (400 Rest Intervals). 10 CD
Thursday: Rest
Friday: If I’m able: 5 miles at mid-tempo (7:59)
Saturday: Bike 16 miles
Sunday: 9 miles at 8:36

If Friday’s run can’t happen, it’s moving to Saturday, and the bike ride gets nixed in favor of the long run on Sunday, done much slower than 8:36, haha. I don’t mind having to go slower; I just want to get it in. Hopefully I don’t have a lot of post-surgery pain and I can still fit in the two runs.

So far I’m not seeing a whole lot of runners out there. I think a lot of them stick to the treadmills in this weather, but I find it so much easier to breathe when it’s cold out. Once you get through that initial half mile, you’re warm and happy and ready to work! I did manage to catch a big running group on the Canal on my way back home on Saturday, though. Might have been a Mini training group. I should look into one of those to find people who run at my pace. Those long runs are much more fun with friends!


Goals: Need Only Diet and a 1:43 Half Marathon

This year’s training for the annual Mini Marathon started today with a training plan I am super excited about. I’m using the Run Less, Run Faster training plan of 3 key runs per week with cross training sessions in between. I’m using the Insanity workouts as my cross training. I might also throw in a bike session or two because Y got me a stationary bike trainer for Christmas! Now I can ride 30 miles and watch a movie at the same time!

Pretty neat – it has 7 levels of magnetic resistance gears

My goal for this half marathon is a 1:43. My current PR for a half is 1:54, so I’m hoping for a good steady race since I’ve been feeling much stronger lately. I’ve just recently set my new 5K PR at 23:06, and that’s what I based all my speed and tempo paces at for training. A 1:43 half is an 8:16 pace, and I’m pretty sure I can hold onto that.

Here’s how the first week looks:

Monday: Plyo Cardio Circuit
Tuesday: 10 min WU, 12×400 (90 sec. RI), 10 CD. Goal for each split: 1:44
Wednesday: Cardio Power
Thursday: 2 miles easy, 3 miles @ 7:44, 1 mile easy
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 8 miles @ 8:36
Sunday: Max Cardio Recovery

If interested, you can google any of those Insanity workouts to find out the routines. For all the reviews I read that Insanity is hard on the knees, I found it to be very low impact. It’s only forceful if you make it that way. The basic goal for any cross training workout is for it to be low intensity, but enough to raise your heart rate for a good 30 minutes. I’m also using the optional cross training day from the RL, RF program for the Recovery dvd from Insanity. It’s great for strengthening and stretching.

I hope to be updating at the end of each week, making sure I stay accountable to my pace goals for each run.

In non-running-related news: my New Year’s Resolution is a Need Only Diet. I guess it kinda pertains to the running because half of this is food related. Blame it on the holidays, but I’ve been giving into my sweet tooth way more often. That ends tomorrow, (haha). No more eating what I know my body doesn’t need. That mostly just includes baked goods, the occasional fried item, and high carb stuff.

The other half is money. I don’t go on spending sprees buying clothes and things, but I certainly don’t say no when it comes to food. (Notice a trend here?….) It’s time to tighten that belt: no more eating out, going to the movie theatre, and all that extra stuff that takes $10 here and $20 there. My goal is to reduce my debt by half by the end of 2013.

Whoo hoo for resolutions and goals!! It’s time to make one of your own! Surprise yourself this year by doing something you previously thought impossible.

Insanity and a PR

Well, 2 weeks of Insanity are complete, and so is the Monumental Marathon 5k race! I have to say that I’m pretty surprised on both accounts.

Let’s start with Insanity.

It’s hard, yes, but oh man, I love it. I must be some sort of masochist, even though I previously mentioned I’ve never been one to seek out pain. The workouts push you, but Shaun T is every bit the motivator people said he was. Each workout is designed to be interesting enough to keep you moving through the entirety of the disc without you screaming, “When will this be over?!”.

So far my favorite is the Pure Cardio, mostly because you never stop moving, but you’re not doing the same routine over and over. You are handed a list of moves and get one minute to do as many as possible for about 20 minutes, after a warmup of course. I’m doing my best to keep track of how I’m feeling during each move, and trying to remember how I felt the last time I did the same workout a week previous. So far I feel like I’m improving.

Week 3 started today with the same Fit Test that you do on Day One. I didn’t have a pen and paper handy the first time, but I made sure to bring them for this test. I noticed a huge improvement in my endurance for each move and put down some pretty good numbers. I’m curious to see what my Fit Test will look like on Day 60!

As far as the other workouts go, I keep up with the dvd’s pretty well. I’ve never had to pause the disc to catch my breath, and I can pretty much do every move in sync with the people in the video. I’ve noticed a big difference already in my endurance, and I’m starting to gain back some muscle definition that I lost while not running about a month ago.

And on to the running…

This past Saturday was the Monumental Marathon, where they also held a 5k race. I signed up for the 5k with my younger sister, but she gave me the go-ahead to run my own race rather than with her. I’m glad she did because I was quite curious how I’d do without having run for almost a month, and only doing the Insanity workouts for 2 weeks.

Let’s just say I was pretty surprised! I PR’d by about 8 seconds on a course that had 2 long inclines and a hairpin turn with a steep climb right after. My PR had been set over a year ago, and I’ve been having trouble catching it ever since.

I finished in 24:04, being 2nd in my age group, the 21st woman, and 86th in a field of 1,235.

The beginning of the race I felt very strong, which tends to happen in short races. The only hiccup was in the first 10th of a mile the course went under a bridge that threw off my Garmin. I thought I was speeding right along, but I look down to my watch and it said I had an 8:35 pace. So I sped up thinking “Well, I guess I haven’t been running in a while, so this feels fast!” Turns out that was wrong; my watch reset and I was holding onto a 7:35 pace for most of the first mile.

That’s a bit fast for me, and I didn’t want to die later so the first mile was 7:42. Second mile clocked in at 7:53, third at 8:01. Yeah, kinda took a nose-dive there. I know what to work on, which is overall endurance in that last mile, but I’ll probably start mixing in some running with the Insanity workouts now.

Ready, Set, Start Over!

It seems like this happens to me more and more, and I’m not sure exactly what to do about it, but start over. After what I can realistically call a good effort on my part at the Chicago Marathon, I got halfway through. Exactly halfway in 1:58:something. I’m not upset that I couldn’t finish; I’m more proud that I got that far that fast with a left IT band injury and weirdness happening in my right foot.

Though what’s frustrating now (2 weeks later) is that my IT band doesn’t hurt at all and most of my pain is now in the outside of my left foot towards the heel. I’m pretty sure it’s not a stress fracture; maybe more of a bone bruise. The “weirdness” in my right foot is still persisting, and I am afraid that’s a stress fracture in my 3rd or 4th metatarsal. It can be kind of sensitive and sometimes swollen. I’ve been resting for almost 2 weeks, no running and only biking, and it no longer hurts so much in the morning, so that’s positive.

So, here’s where we start over. And this time, I mean business. Insane business, if you get my drift. The Insanity workout has always held my curiosity. I’m not exactly a glutton for punishment, and sometimes it’s really hard for me to tackle that “Beast“. But something about this workout intrigues me. I’ve always been up for any kind of workout: spinning, aerobics, swimming, pilates, you name it. Everything sounds fun to me. Running has always been the go-to since I changed my life and become an active person, but I’m not one to discount the benefits of other types of cardio.

I’ve read about runners who have done the program. They’ve said it made them feel stronger and have more endurance than only running. On Monday, it begins. (Hopefully the DVD’s get here in time, ha.)

I’ve already enlisted at least one friend at work who is in for the long haul of 2 months full of pain, and we opened up our sessions for anyone else who’d like to join. Accountability is always a motivator. I mean, how do you face a person you see almost daily and say, “I quit”? Makes it pretty hard.

Anyways, I know that if I feel pain I should stop, and I will; I don’t want to make injuries any worse. But I’m actually finally looking forward to some workouts now. For a long time, the pain of injuries got me pretty depressed. Now that I’m feeling better, I’m ready to try something new.

In actual running news, I’ve signed up for the 5k at the Monumental Marathon here in Indy on November 3rd, and wouldn’t you know it, I got my younger sister to do it too! She’s doing great so far in her training, and I totally believe she’ll get it done in around 30 minutes. Come out and support the runners on November 3rd! Hopefully I won’t be a sore, insane mess for this race!

Sunday is Coming…

…whether I’m ready or not. I say this because running and training has been taking a reluctant backseat to possible stress fracture pains and the pains of being ridiculously busy.

So the possible stress fracture pain has been in my lower right inside shin for a good month now. I was babying it for a while, biking more than running, but since getting smothered by my second job, all training has pretty much ground to a halt. I keep telling myself it’s good rest, but in the back of my mind I’m nervous that I’ll go out there and die trying to run a marathon because I haven’t trained well.

I know I’ll finish because I won’t let myself quit, but I’m worried it won’t be up to what I know I can do. I know there will be more marathons; my goal is to do at least one a year, if not two. And I know there will be some good PR’s to come, but everyone remembers their first one. I just don’t want it to be a complete nightmare.

Ok, enough with the worries! Time to start thinking positive. I will have fun in Chicago, and I will enjoy the lovely tour of it’s architecture and citizens. Not to mention the food, haha. Love me some vegan Chicago eateries!

To anyone else out there running it, I wish good luck and no injuries! May it also not rain. Cold I can handle; rain, no thank you.


Ok, wow, it’s September. Teaching picked back up, the second class I’m teaching is about to start this week, and I’ve moved apartments. Time to get back on the blog train.

I’m sure I had mentioned at some point a while back that I’ve been training for the Chicago Marathon on October 7th. That’s still happening but a lot has changed. I started on the Hal Higdon training plan which has a person running 5-6 days a week, only specifying paces for one tempo run a week, and just making sure to “get in” the long run in any way possible. It was working at first until the mileage started piling up and small pains weren’t subsiding. Almost immediately after my first long run of 15 miles, my left IT band was feeling very tight and I had a small pain on my lower inside right shin. Feeling like it was a little late in the game for shin splints, I took a week off running and hopped back on the bike.

Then came long run #2: 17 miles in Oakland City, IN of all places. Circumstances had brought me to southern Indiana for my grandfather’s funeral, and training plans are training plans so 17 miles were run along Highway 67, all the way to Fransico and back. The back part was murder. My IT band was killing me, and the only thing that helped was to stop every mile and a half for a deep massage before I started back up again. After stopping for some water with 2 miles to get home, the pain was so bad I actually cursed out loud. I knew I couldn’t keep doing this and expect to run a marathon in 6 weeks.

During the second “break” of my marathon training, I happened to be in Half Priced Books’ sports section looking at, what else, running books. Y handed me a book titled “Run Less, Run Faster” and gave a little laugh. (He is one of those runners who, by God’s blessing, runs every day, runs a lot, and is ridiculously fast.) Even so, I thumbed through the book as he moved on. The book was full of charts, numbers, paces, plans, and goals. Then the testimonials caught my eye. People shaving 5, 10, 20, even 30 minutes off their goal times for all sorts of distance races. I made up my mind, said “Don’t judge me for buying this book” to Y, and changed my marathon training plan.

The FIRST training plan accounts for 3 targeted runs per week with 2 days of cross training, and an optional 3rd cross training day if you feel like you’re up for it. What I like about the plan is there are no “junk miles” involved. I think that’s what ruined me most during my early training. I was running every day, even if it was 5 or 6 miles, at no set pace and with no clear goals. It was just to help build up some endurance. In the FIRST plan, those ‘building up endurance days’ are spent either biking, spinning, swimming or rowing. You can work your lungs, legs and body in non-impactive ways and still perform well during your 3 running days. In fact, you might over-perform for those runs and surprise yourself.

The charts in the book were a bit weird to understand at first, but once I got a handle on them, it was a breeze to make out my new plan. Running day 1 is speed. One whole chart in the book is dedicated to what paces you should be running for a 400m, 800m, 1K, 2K or 1600m depending on what the plan calls for. Everything is based off your 5k time, and it’s best to go by your PR time, I think, because that gives you a healthy goal. It might not seem attainable at first, but that’s what goals are for! Shoot for something that is certainly within your grasp.

Running workout 2 is a tempo. But what’s great about how they write the plan, is that sometimes it’s your Marathon Goal Pace (MP) and sometimes it’s MP +10 or so seconds. You aren’t always wearing your self down trying to hit that goal pace every week, especially if it’s the first big jump in mileage.

Running workout 3 is the long run, and it follows a typical build for 2, then back off for 1. Meaning a three week period might look something like 10, 13, and 8. Then 12, 15, 9. A constant build up with no accounting for small recovery periods is almost certain to wear even the best of us down. These runs are also scheduled something like MP +20 or MP+10 or +5 as the plan gets closer to race day.

I also like how the week starts off with a cross training (XT) day, and they get pretty specific with those workouts, too. So the week looks like XT1, Run 1, XT2, Run 2, Rest, Run 3, Rest or XT3.

So far I’m liking the pattern. Chicago is 3 weeks away and I’m trying not to freak out, but I’ll just be happy with a time under 4 hours. I’m still experiencing some IT pain, and a few other things I might make you giggle with later, but for now, updates on training will be more frequent! I know you missed me.


Vegan Athletes

Lately veganism is in the news, but not just in health-related ways on PBS or MSNBC. It’s on ESPN. And it’s being mocked and ridiculed by people either too ignorant to do the research or too lazy to spew anything other than deep-rooted, biased opinions.

This isn’t a hateful blog, it’s a running blog. It’s a sometimes biking and swimming blog, and more lately, a vegan athlete blog. It’s for the things I’m interested in and passionate about, and right now I’m a little fired up about how vegan athletes are treated.

The vegan stigma is that we’re ashen, frail, wasting-away-before-your-very-eyes human beings. But this could not be further from the truth in every situation I’ve encountered when meeting other vegans. Granted, that doesn’t happen very often here in Indiana, but I digress.

Therefore, when the main-stream world stumbles across a vegan athlete, they are perplexed. It goes against everything they’ve been brainwashed to believe: That only protein from meat will sustain. That essential amino acids can only be found in meat. That animal-free DHA and EPA for our brain functions don’t exist. That the calcium from dairy strengthens our bones.

All of those previous statements are lies. And the information on these topics exist in countless forms! Books, scientific research studies, medical journals, documentaries of all kinds, just to name a few. Not even to mention thousands upon thousands of real-life vegan athletes who can attest to feeling stronger, healthier, faster and more positive energy than ever before.

Here’s a quick list of the books and movies I’ve read and watched in the past year (if I can remember them all):
The China Study (book)
Forks Over Knives (movie)
Food, Inc. (movie)
Skinny Bitch (book)
Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health (book)
Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life (book)
Food Matters (movie)
Eat & Run (book)

Pick up and read or watch any one of these and it will supply you with a wealth of information about the Standard American Diet versus a vegan one, and who generally ends up on top.

What I find the most sad though, is how vegan athletes are not allowed to fail in their chosen profession. If we fail, it’s because of our diet. If an omnivore athlete fails, it’s because of a myriad of other factors, least of all nutrition.

Most recently in the news is Arian Foster, a professional running back in the NFL who is now vegan. If Mr. Foster doesn’t catch the ball, can’t outrun his opponent, or misses a crucial tackle in a play, it’s his diet that will be to blame. His diet has supposedly affected his performance, has practically drained him of his talent. When a professional athlete goes vegan, and decides to tell the world about it, they are setting themselves up for all kinds of scrutiny. I applaud him for his desire to speak out. He could have kept it to himself. He could have quietly gone about his “food life” without subjecting himself to the scathing comments from his peers and critics. Instead he is choosing to share his personal beliefs about nutrition and health with the world, most likely in hopes of improving the lives of others.

For the commentators on ESPN who decided to viciously opine rather than conduct an iota of research, I hope for their sakes their email accounts are being flooded with tons of scientific research from other passionate vegans, athletes, and doctors. Lord knows they could afford to do some light reading.

Sometimes We Just Do Things

I hate admitting injuries, even to myself. So telling everyone here is a big step, but I’m cheating a little. It’s kinda after the fact. At least I hope it is.

About 2 weeks ago now I had a small pain on the inside top of my left foot. It started out faint, so I didn’t mind it too much. I had just done some speed work on the track, so I figured it was from that. It really just felt like a strained muscle. But I had a tempo run, then a long run, a couple 5 milers after that, then a 1 mile race and it was getting puffy. So I put the running on hold trying to be good.

It’s been 5 days since I last ran, and it feels much better. The swelling has gone down. I felt like I could still fit in my long run for the weekend, but since it’s early in the marathon training, I’m playing on the cautious side. So this weekend I put in a 1 mile swim and two long rides, 45 miles total.

Last Sunday I had fun riding with a group who mostly train for triathlons, and that’s what they were competing in this weekend. So I was on my own for both my long rides. I don’t mind it, though. It’s peaceful being up really early by yourself.

This morning’s ride was kinda tough. I was only 5 miles out and wanted go home. My legs felt tired and I was having trouble generating even 3:40 miles, when I like to be around 3:20 or lower. But I thought of the chapter I just finished in the book I’m reading at the moment, Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run. The second chapter is titled “Sometimes You Just Do Things.”

I knew his book was going to be inspiring. How could it not? An ultramarathoner and vegan? He’s certainly a person I can look up to. I had known a little about his life from previous interviews he’s given, and a couple excerpts from his book that I’d found. He has overcome situations that I might never be put in, so thinking of him and what he’s accomplished when I don’t even want to complete a 25 mile bike ride makes me feel a bit foolish for whining.

Sometimes we “just do things” because we have to, and sometimes because we want to. So that’s what I told myself when I wanted to cut the ride short. Do I want to do well in this half marathon coming up? Yes. Do I want to complete my first marathon and be proud of my time? Yes. So just do it.

Here’s where it’s hard. Here’s where we push through that pain to make tomorrow easier. Here’s where we focus on something other than the lazy part of ourselves and become more than we thought we could be. A big part of my training and eating life is a constant focus on my “future self”. How do I want to feel in an hour? This evening? Tomorrow? Next month? If I want to feel good, I stay away from foods that make me feel crappy; I put in that hour and a half of cardio; I do the core and weights workout.

I have a feeling that once I finish the book I might never be able to get it out of my head. Which isn’t really a bad thing; it will always be there in the back of my mind to push me when I want to say, “This is hard. I want to go home.” I’m only 2 chapters in and I already highly recommend it. I’m sure I’ll write a better review of it once I’m finished, which might be today since it’s blazing hot and I have nothing better to do!

No Free Passes

Veganism isn’t a free pass to skinny.

There are still temptations, even for vegans. Soda is vegan. Plenty of beer is vegan. Flours, unnecessary carbs, potato chips, unrefined sugars, oreos, vegan ice creams, veggies fried in certain oils, pizza. All these things are “safe” for a vegan to eat. (And the list can go on.)

A person can go vegan for two reasons:

1. Animal rights. This doesn’t mean a person who is vegan for heightened awareness of animal cruelty isn’t also concerned for their health, they just oppose the killing of animals for food more. I’m also not saying that they will indulge in vegan junk food more than one who is vegan for health purposes. It just might not be the top priority.

2. Health reasons. I’m one of these, who chooses to abstain from meat and dairy out of concern for my health. We (most of the time) prefer to eat clean, unprocessed, organic fresh foods.

I think there’s a huge stigma around vegans in general. (I’ll get to that more later when I talk about support.) Overweight vegans aren’t the norm, but it can happen. We all fall into ruts of not eating the healthiest or surviving off processed foods instead of cooking fresh meals.

So, if you’re considering being a vegan to shed weight and be more healthy, please please do! It’s why I did! Or if watching a movie like Food, Inc. or Earthlings motivates you to care for animal rights, then go for it! There’s no right or wrong reason to be a vegan. There just might be a right or wrong way to be a vegan. The more you incorporate fresh, whole foods into your vegan diet, the healthier, stronger and yes, lighter, you will be.

What I Learned #2

Progression comes naturally.

When people learn that I’m vegan, they can kind of understand. Then when I say I don’t drink soda, don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat fast food and for the most part am a whole-foods vegan (no processed food), I get a big blank stare. That’s usually followed by, “Whoa. I could never do that.”

But here’s the thing: it didn’t start this way. The way I eat now would certainly seem like an impossibility for someone just starting out. As you progress through “levels of veganism” by gaining knowledge and trying new foods, you’ll want to eat less processed items and want to be more aware of how food works in your body.

My best advice is to start slow. Don’t set yourself up for failure by starting an all-raw vegan diet tomorrow morning. Not gonna work.

For example, I’ve gone over 2 years now without a drop of soda. How did I even start? The addiction was pretty strong, so I went slow. I only had soda on Sundays, and I could have however much I wanted. Generally it was around 3 cans. Then I limited myself to only one soda on Sundays. Then it was one soda every other Sunday. Then it was only one Sunday per month. Then it was nothing. It took about 5 months, but now I don’t even crave it; I don’t even remember what it tastes like.

I did the same thing with meat. By the time I realized I could do without it, I was only eating meat maybe once or twice a week. And I had previously cut out dairy due to it not agreeing with my body and running.

The no alcohol thing is actually pretty easy for me. Alcohol has never really agreed with my system. I never got the happy feeling that most people get when they have a couple drinks. I just always felt sick, no matter what it was. So for me it was an easy decision without having to look back.

My food regimen now is fairly routine:

I take an organic kelp pill, a vegan iron pill, a serving of Total Omega Vegan Swirl supplement, and a tablespoon of wheat grass powder daily. Breakfast is a banana, oatmeal with cinnamon and flaxseed meal, and one cup of coffee a day. Lunch is a large raw salad and some fruit. I have a large orange every afternoon an hour before my run/workout. I always end my workout with a protein shake by Vega. It’s the perfect amount of recovery proteins and essentials without a huge calorie load. I agree with the notion of regaining your burned calories with actual food, not a protein shake. Dinner is generally either tofu or tempeh with a variation of roasted veggies, quinoa, wild rice or some whole wheat pasta. I don’t do a whole lot of pasta, though. Maybe once a week. Also throughout the day I drink about 3 liters of water.

Dinner is my playtime when it comes to cooking. I try at least once a week to make something new, but with as busy as I can be with a full-time job, training for a marathon and teaching at the community college, I can fall into a rut. Generally the weekend rolls around and if I haven’t gotten into the kitchen yet that week, I’m itching to cook. I love recipes that take an hour. It’s my meditation time.

I never thought I’d see the day when roasted brussel sprouts are my favorite vegetable and I actually get excited about making them. Start out slow and try something new each week. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to naturally phase out harmful foods!