Thursday, May 28, 2015

Inbetween Days: A few of my favorite things (part one)

As I am currently inbetween training seasons, I thought it would be a good time to share a few of my favorite things.

I'll start with FOOD. 

Homemade Acai Bowls

Acai bowls are a fairly recent discovery for me. I ate my very first one in January of this year at a cute surfer/breakfast joint in Encinitas after a Oiselle Flock fun group run. A new post-run meal was discovered! No, not to worry, acai bowls will not replace my burritos.
With no local options (Juice It Up does not count) available, I've started to make my own. Initially I followed recipes, but now I make them with different ingredients depending on my mood or what I have on hand. My favorite ones are ones made with nut (peanut, almond, cashew--doesn't matter, I'm equal opportunity lover) butter. A bowl starts with frozen acai pulp and from there the choices are limitless… banana, frozen fruit such as berries or mango, nut butter, cocoa powder, almond or cashew milk, chia seeds, spinach/kale. All the ingredients are blended together and then topped with granola, shredded coconut, fresh fruit, more nut butter, honey. Again the choices are endless. 

Stater Bros Whole Wheat Bagels & King Arthur Flour Everything Bagel Topping

My go-to breakfast food is a toasted whole wheat bagel topped with nut butter (any, see above) & sliced fruit (apple/banana/pear/persimmon) or topped with avocado and Everything Bagel Topping from King Arthur Flour. I prefer the Stater Bros store brand of whole-wheat bagels. I've tried other store-bought brands and they don't compare in taste, texture and quality. Topping my avocado toast with Everything Bagel Topping is a new thing for me and it makes an already delicious breakfast even better. Another go-to breakfast is oatmeal with nut butter and fruit OR a more savory option of oatmeal stirred with Everything Bagel Topping and topped with avocado and/or an egg. If you haven't tried savory oatmeal, you're missing out! I eat either a bagel or oatmeal (nut butter/banana combo) before all runs longer than 12 miles. 

Picky Bars 

Slow to realize but quick to adapt, I'm now on the Importance of Post-Workout Nutrition for Improved Recovery and Performance Bandwagon. Although anything that has some carbs and bit of protein is good immediately after a hard or long workout, bars make it easy and convenient for me. I've tried a bunch of bars specifically designed for recovery. My favorite brand is Picky Bars (I also like Vega Sport Protein Bars (chocolate peanut butter).  Picky Bars are made with real food and ingredients that I can pronounce and buy at the store to make homemade (if I wanted to). For example, HERE are the ingredients for Cookie Doughpness (my fave flavor; tastes like an oatmeal raisin cookie-->see me about to enjoy it, above right). I'm a member of the Picky Club "monthly convenience to fuel your daily radness". It's a subscription service delivery of my selection of Picky Bar flavors. 

What fuels you?? Tell me I'm interested. 

Next up: GEAR (Look for it soon!)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fully Baked

Running professionals state that it's better to toe the race line slightly undercooked than overbaked, meaning it's better to be undertrained than to show up overtrained. Cookies and brownies taste better slightly underbaked. Of course, it's best to time training, recovery, life to make it to the start at peak condition (Optimal Training)--to be perfectly baked like cakes. As I reflect on my just completed spring racing/training season I realize I have a lot to learn about skating running this fine line. 

I didn't perform as well as I expected during my final race of the season (OC 1/2 Marathon). I'm certainly stronger and faster now than I was at the start of the season. The last few weeks of training, I felt exhausted and on the edge of getting sick. Did I get to Race Day with a less than full tank?

My race strategy was to run the first 6 or so miles slightly faster than my goal 1/2 marathon race pace (8:00/mile) because the first part is fast and downhill. I spoke to the 1:40 pace leader and this was his strategy too. Bank some time for the later hills at 6 1/2 and 11 miles. Soon after I started the race, I felt that my nutrition was off. That maybe I didn't eat enough of the right foods the day before. I patted myself on my back for not quitting even though I felt like it after 4 miles. 

I pride myself on having great perseverance. I don't quit. That night, I talked to Paul about my race experience and how I'm always able to dig in and finish. I didn't push myself as hard as I am capable and still had a decent finish time (3rd fastest 1/2 marathon time & course record for me. Not official because my timing chip didn't work. grr.)

And this is what he said {and it's a perfect example about why I love this man. I love the way he thinks and lets me see things from a different perspective and sometimes is should be blatantly obvious but somehow I'm blind to} : Well, if you stop pushing yourself during a race--isn't that like quitting and giving up? 

OMG. Lightbulb moment. 

I finish. I have no problem finishing. That's not an issue with me. I realized that my body is able but I haven't trained my mind to keep up with it. I start feeling uncomfortable, I start feeling like quitting--but instead of digging deeper to continue, I pull back. My physical training was evident by my finish time~1:49:19* 8:13/mile. Still speedy, even though I didn't try 100%.
Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body ~ Lynn Jennings, Three-time world cross-country champion
This was the first time I've defined a training season and followed a training plan. My spring racing season training started on December 15, 2014 when I started following the Runner's World Break 1:45 Half-Marathon Training Plan. This was my entry into real speed, tempo, track etc workouts in addition to my long slow distance runs. Each time I went on a run, I ran with a purpose. 

I knew the importance of mental training before my race. Now I know in my heart, mind, body and soul.I'm carrying the lesson with me when I start my new training season in 4 weeks. 

Spring Racing Season by the Numbers:

  • Length: 20 Weeks (December 15, 2014 - May 3, 2015)
  • Miles Run: 825.7 miles (Avg 41.3 miles/week; 5.9 miles/day)
  • Dog miles: 52.4 miles (This is an underestimation. Only counting runs with Nani or #dogmiles in title of run. I started the #dogmiles tag towards the end of my season. I now tag all runs with Nani with it.)
  • Races: 2 5-Ks, 2 half-marathons, 1 marathon

*My D-Tag/Timing Chip was defective. I've submitted a results correction to the organizers and as of today have not received an official decision on my time.