Tuesday, January 16, 2018

TRX Tuesday

In case you didn't already know, TRX is my all-time favorite workout.  It can be used to work out your entire body, you can take it with you just about anywhere, and it is highly adaptable to your fitness level.

When I was first introduced to TRX, it was being taught at 5:30 in the morning at my gym.  And I went to that class twice a week, without fail.  There were some days when I drove through snow to get there and got the snow day call in the middle of the workout.  That class was where I met Jim Moore, who became my running buddy and went to both my first half marathon and my first marathon with me.  We may or may not have been running together for a full month or more before admitting that we didn't know each other's names... introverts unite!  

Eventually I pushed myself too hard and ended up quitting TRX due to back pain, but I missed it, and it was years before I was able to find my way back.  I ended up making my own straps out of odds and ends at some point, and then a few years later I bought some real ones.  I don't get to an actual class very often, but I do try to do a workout on my own every week or two.  It is great strength training for runners! 

Here are two core-strength combos I like to do when I am feeling too busy or lazy to fit in a full workout.  I do about 3 sets of each, to failure.  

Knees to Chest Combo
(knees to center, right, center, left, repeat)

-adjust foot cradles so the bottom of the cradle is about mid-shin height
-lay on stomach and place toes through cradles
-raise yourself up on your hands so that arms are straight and hands are positioned under shoulders
-while in this plank position, feet should be directly under or slightly in front of the anchor point

Atomic Pike
(alternate push-up with pike)

-start in the same position as for the knees to chest combo
-do a pushup
-as you come out of the push-up, raise your butt into the air, keeping legs and back straight
-raise as high as you can, then straighten back into plank position as you lower into the next push-up

You can tell that push-ups are not my strength...especially not as my arms fatigue.  
I really need to work on that...


What's your go-to workout when you are in a hurry?
Let me know in the comments!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Meal Prep Monday : 1/15/18

This week it's pork-beef burgers, mashed sweet potatoes, and a veggie mix.  Since I mixed a full pound each of pork and beef, I got enough burgers for 2 weeks worth of school lunches.  I'll be putting half of them in the freezer for a future week. 

The burgers : Mix together 1 lb ground pork, 1 lb ground beef, 1 egg, and a generous shake of garlic powder.  Shape into patties.  I made mine on the small side, and got 11 patties.  You can cook your burgers using your preferred method.  I don't have a grill, and my oven is broken, so my only choice was a skillet on the stove.  Cook 10-15 minutes each side on medium heat.  Cook an additional 10-15 minutes, flipping occasionally.  It's helpful to cut one open to check for done-ness. 
(yielded 11 burgers)

The sweet potatoes : 3 medium-large sweet potatoes, cut into quarters, boiled until soft enough to mash.  Mashed with a bit of milk and some garlic powder.
(yielded 7-8 portions)

The veggies : 1/4 onion, 6 carrots, 3/4 cabbage.  Chop all veggies.  Cook onion and carrot on medium heat until almost done, then add cabbage. Cook, stirring as needed, til done. 
(yielded 9 portions)

As you can see, I did have extra of everything this week.  The burgers will go in the freezer, and the mash & veggies will probably be eaten over the weekend. 


Questions?  Did you try it?  Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sandman Extreme 1/2 Marathon 1/13/2018

I was on the fence for awhile about doing this race because of budgeting my money and because of it's timing at the beginning of my marathon training.  But, it's hard to pass up a half marathon that's less than an hour away, and even harder to pass up a half marathon with a giant mountain climb in it! 

I questioned my decision again when I woke up this morning to find out that the snow that was supposed to have stopped early in the morning had not stopped.  And then all of my car doors were frozen shut and I had to dump out half of one of my water bottles to get a door open.  But, I had already paid for the race so I wasn't going to let snow or frozen doors stop me.  Thankfully the drive was almost entirely on interstate, the snow was not sticking, and I did not hit any icy patches on the drive. 

When I planned out my long run schedule from now til the marathon on May 6, I scheduled a 16 miler for today, even knowing that I would probably do this race.  I've never liked the idea of needing to keep going after a finish line, but it's how the timing worked out in my schedule.  Last week my planned 12 mile long run became a 15 mile run, so I decided that if I really wasn't feeling it, I could skip the 16 miler today.  But I like to stick to my schedule (unless I'm doing extra...), so I ended up just making sure I had energy left at the end of the race. 

I used the first mile of the race as my warmup, then picked up the pace when I hit the bottom of the 4 mile climb around mile 1.3.  I had been about 10 ft behind the 1st place female until that point, when I gained on her and passed her.  She kicked it up a gear and passed me again not too long afterwards.  I held my pace and waited for her to slow down and it wasn't too long before I was in the lead again.  I ran strong all the way up the mountain, at race effort or slightly below.  Once I turned around to go back down the hill, I backed off to an easy effort.  I knew the downhill was going to hurt my hips since I have neglected to do yoga for about a month or so, and I also remembered that last year after pushing the downhill I found myself unable to push the remaining uphills. Today I wanted to see if taking it easier on the downhills would enable me to do better on the uphills. 

I lost my 1st place about halfway down the mountain, but I had expected to lose it sooner, and I had promised myself I wouldn't listen to my competitive side and try to hold on to it.  I never traded places with anyone else for the entire race.  My strategy of taking it easier on the downhills did pay off when I hit the remaining uphills, as I was able to take them all at race effort and not feel like I was dying, as I did last year.  Strava tells me I ran every single uphill just a few seconds slower than I did last year, but I felt so much better, so I'll take feeling stronger over being faster!  I crossed the finish line around 1:40:45 (2nd female, 4th overall), and had no trouble continuing on to run the 16 miler I had planned.  I started getting hungry around mile 14 or 15, but other than that I felt fine. 

I never ended up using my inhaler other than before I started.  I don't know how much it was due to not pushing the entire race, and how much it was due to maybe my lungs being a little bit stronger, but either way, it was nice not to need it!  I did end up coughing a bit after the run, so I know my lungs did work a little too hard for the cold air.  I don't think I wore them out too hard, but I'll try to be careful the next few days to make sure they are alright before I push them again.  Don't want to set myself back!

I was invited to go out for pizza with some of the other runners, but declined because eating out isn't in the budget right now.  (Thanks to having ceiling heat and no downstairs neighbor, my heating bills are atrocious right now).  After I started driving home I realized the more important reason not to stay for lunch was that if I did, I would not make it home before the post long run crash happened.  Driving is no bueno when I'm crashing from a long run, so I'm glad I drove straight home!  I started to crash about 15 miles from home, but I was close enough that I made it home before I got too tired to drive. 

I'm hoping to be able to actually race this course next year, and see if I can beat my course PR of 1:34 from 2014.  January has been an awkward time of year for me to race a half marathon, as December tends to be a recovery month, but I'm currently not planning a November half marathon, so maybe my training will be different and I will be in a place to run a strong race next January. 

I saw several people taking photos during the race, I'm hoping they get posted so I can see them!  If I find them I'll post them here.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Track Tuesday : 3 x 1600

Sometimes I plan my track workouts weeks in advance, and I am really strict about sticking to the plan.  Other times, I don't decide what I'm doing until I show up to the track.  And then there are the days like today, when I make a last-minute plan, and then change it again after I start.  

Track workouts for me are not always about a specific training plan or goal.  I am fairly certain that most of my workouts would be more beneficial for 5k training than for half marathon or marathon training, but I'm ok with that.  I have no desire to run long-distance repeats in the endless circles on the track.  I suspect my short repeats really aren't going to do much for my marathon time, but I still think they are beneficial in their own way.  It's good to train your legs to do different things.  And I definitely saw the benefit of the track workouts when I ran the 2 mile hill challenge over the summer.  

I stayed after school today to watch the basketball game at 6:00, so I did my track workout on the school's old asphalt track. I was going to do 4 x 800, but about halfway through the first one I decided I was doing 1600s instead. As I was able to easily maintain my starting pace, it clearly wasn't the right pace for 800s anyway.  I ended up with 3 pick-up 1600s. My watch was convinced that a mile was 3.5 laps in lane 1, but I kept track of the actual 1600 splits. They ended up at 6:40, 6:38, and 6:29. (I did push a bit harder in the last 200m of the last one)

I felt really good about these repeats.  I wasn't trying to push them too hard, or to do as many repeats as possible.  It was meant as a chance to let me legs move a little faster without overdoing it, and I feel like that is 100% what I accomplished. 


I did my first workout on this track last fall, and it was brutal!  Night and day from today's workout.  That day was hot, and there was someone mowing the grass inside the track, which aggravated my allergies and made breathing harder than normal.  It was my first track workout in a very long time, and I had always struggled with getting through the track workouts.  I managed to slog through the ladder I had planned, but it was low quality due to my allergies and overall dislike of the track. 

Fast forward to today, the experience was so much different!  I have been doing track workouts more or less consistently since last February, and having the group to do them with has made them so much less torturous.  Now I actually don't mind doing the workouts alone when I need to! 


Do you do track workouts?  Alone or with a group?  Do you have a favorite distance for your track repeats?  Do you like track workouts or hate them with a fiery passion? 
Let me know in the comments!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Meal Prep Monday : 1/8/2018

This week it's ground turkey & black beans, brown rice, and a veggie mix.  It was super easy to make, and divided up nicely into 6 lunches.

The turkey : I put 1 lb of ground turkey in a skillet on medium heat, and stirred it occasionally to help it cook evenly.  When it was about halfway done, I added 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce and a generous amount of garlic powder for extra flavor.

The beans : I cooked a big batch of black beans last week (black beans, covered with about 1 inch of water, cooked til soft).  I added 1 cup of the beans to the turkey after it was done cooking, to add some extra protein to my meal.

The rice : 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water, and a dash of salt.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until all the water is absorbed. The package said 50ish minutes, but I think it was done in 30 or less.

The veggies : Chop 1/4 onion, 5 carrots, 2 zucchini, 2 yellow squash, and 8 mushrooms.  Put the onions in a large skillet with some olive oil.  When they are translucent, add the carrots.  When the carrots are getting soft, add the zucchini and squash, then the mushrooms.  Cook until the mushrooms are done. 


Any questions?  Leave them in the comments!  
Did you try it out?  Leave me a comment and let me know how it was!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Channels Natural Area Preserve : 1/7/2018

I bought myself some hiking boots for Christmas and today I got to try them out!  I am happy to say that they fit perfectly with my thick wool socks and kept my feet dry and toasty warm on a cold hike through a bit of snow.

It was a cold and windy afternoon up at the Channels today, but at least the temperature wasn't in the single digits like it has been for the last week!  The hike up was a good 3 mile uphill which helped me stay warm, but once we got into the rock channels and up in the open on top, the wind was brutally cold, which resulted in me not lingering long to take photos!  It will be a great place to go back to on a warmer day though.

The hike wasn't on difficult terrain, as it was all on forest road like this.  There were only a few icy spots, but they were easy to walk around on the edge of the road.  There was a stretch that was steep enough to make my calf muscles start burning, but other than that it was an easy walk. 

I love walking through rhododendron tunnels!
I also enjoy having someone else along to take photos of me so I don't have to do so much back and forth with the tripod...

It's too bad the old fire tower is in bad disrepair and much too dangerous to climb...

The Channels rock formations.  
 Lots of different pathways through them, 
it would be easy to get lost if you don't have a good sense of direction!

Since jumping photos are now a standard part of my adventures, it stands to reason
 that anyone who hikes with me must also take part.  
I'm pretty proud of us for getting the timing perfect on the first try! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Friday Five : Snack Attack Edition

Sometime around May, my metabolism went into overdrive presumably as a result of all this crazy running I do.  I'm not sure why it took so long for all the miles to catch up to me, but now that they have I sometimes find it hard to maintain my weight.  And believe me, I love food, and I never skip meals.  However, a few years of a high-stress job did a number on my stomach so I can't overeat or the heartburn gets really bad. So, snacking is becoming my best friend. 

Here are my current favorite hunger-stoppers. 

1)  The healthy : 
Avocados are my favorite food!  I will eat them plain, I will spread them on my sandwich like a condiment, I will put them on top of just about any meal you can think of.  Yum!

2) The filling :
 Peanut-butter filled pretzels have been saving me at work for the past month or so.  When I'm sitting at my desk in between classes and the hunger strikes, they are quick and easy to munch on.  

3) The sweet craving :
 I am addicted to dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.  I could easily go through a "sharing size" bag by myself, in one short evening.  Plus, dark chocolate is "good" for you.  And peanuts are protein.  Right?

4) The salty craving :
 Kroger kettle chips are almost as addictive as the M&Ms.  The perfect amount of saltiness and crunch.  They can be found next to every sandwich I eat (unless I make french fries...)  and I have also been known to grab a few chips as I walk through the kitchen on random occasions.  

5) The on-the-go :
 I was looking for snacks on Amazon Subscribe & Save one day and stumbled across these delicious blueberry fig bars.  I now keep them in my bag for when I'm hungry on the go and need something quick and easy to quiet the food cravings.


What are your favorite snacks for satisfying those between-meal cravings?  Let me know in the comments!