Fitness Friday: Is it Over Yet?

April 18th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (9 Comments)

Workout Wrap UpApril 18

My miles have started to go down and my pace is starting to slow – I love taper! After the back-to-back 5k and half marathon this weekend my legs were exhausted. The last thing I want to do is to go into my marathon with tired legs so I’m trying to be careful about not going to far or to fast, even if I feel like I want to. I woke up with a major case of the blahs on Monday so I had to think of a way to entice me out of the house and into the fresh air. I grabbed some chalk and went out for a walk.

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I immediately felt 10x better. Thinking of how medicinal fresh air can be reminds me that I need to finish the book Nurture Shock that I started …. last year. Hey, I’ve got book ADD and like to start 7 at one time and never finish any of them.

Like most of the country we had this bizarro cold front move in on Tuesday so I waited until that afternoon to do my run. It was a gorgeous day!

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That night I went over to my friends house to have my first taste of miso soup. He add’s veggies to his which is not like traditional miso but it was delicious! I even got tasked with going out to his garden and grabbing a few things to add to it. It’s unfortunate how disconnected most people (myself included) are from the whole process of growing food. Being able to literally pull something out of the ground, clean it up, and make it into a delicious meal is surreal. It’s sad that it’s surreal.

2014-04-15 18.34.24In somewhat related news I had this awesome tea tag this week. I’m glad to see Yogi finally added some new mantras to their repertoire.
2014-04-16 10.06.03-3In less fun news my old blender busted and I had to find an affordable replacement. I went with this Ninja after hearing great things about it but after using it a few times I’m not in love. I add ice to my smoothies and protein ice cream and it doesn’t blend the ice very well. It leaves little chunks of it – anyone know a trick to fix that? 
2014-04-15 14.09.16Even with the chunks I’ve been downing my perfect runners drink like a boss.
2014-04-16 11.42.39This week was the last week I’m teaching in-person for the term. My online class still has a few weeks but my in-person classes stop meeting early as they will be turning in final papers electronically to me on Monday. It was a stressful week. Like, this was basically how I felt every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 2014-04-14 17.18.00One thing that kept me going was thinking of the amazing girls trip I have planned to New Orleans this weekend! I haven’t been since last February and I’m so excited to be going back to explore the city some more and make some new memories. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or Instagram as I’ll be sharing a ridiculous amount of pictures while I’m there.

If you had one weekend to spend in New Orleans what would you do?
When was your last girls only vacation?

A few days ago I realized my second marathon is next weekend and I had a mini meltdown. Am I ready? Will I survive the infamous Nashville hills? Why hasn’t John Stamos replied to any of my tweets?

Now that I’m entering into the period of training where I will taper my miles I’m now trying to be extra vigilant about my diet. My goal is to show up on race day as hydrated and well fueled as possible. I came up with the idea to have a smoothie (and I really hesitate calling it that because it’s more like a juice consistency) every day until I leave town and cramming it full of the best hydrating and anti-inflammatory foods possible. After weeks of running 25-45 miles a week my body is almost permanently inflamed in one area or another. After work on Monday I stopped by the store to pick up some ingredients that I often read were some of the ‘top’ foods for runners.

Runners Drink

 

  • Coconut Water: Eleven ounces contain 14 grams of sugar and 670 milligrams of potassium. Potassium works with sodium to maintain water balance and helps trigger muscles to contract and relax.
  • Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe Vera contains over 200 active components including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, polysaccharide, and fatty acids. It hasn’t been studied extensively and most research has been mixed so if you wanted to save $$ and skip something definitely pass on this. Try subbing beet root juice instead!
  • Spinach: very high in iron which is lost in sweat and is consumed during muscle contraction.
  • Ginger: contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that help reduce the tissue inflammation that causes stiff, aching muscles and joints. One study found that adults who took 2 grams of ginger as a daily oral supplement reduced exercise-related muscle pain by 23-25%.
  • 100% Tart Cherry Juice: packed with unique anthocyanins and other compounds that naturally mediate the inflammatory process. One study found that runners who drank tart cherry juice experienced a substantially smaller pain increase after the race. For best results it’s recommended that you start drinking tart cherry juice a few days before your race.
  • Bananas: High in potassium and during exercise such as running, potassium is released from skeletal muscles and is lost through sweat. Also high in B6 which will help maintain energy, support muscle activity during running and keep the immune system healthy.
  • Blueberries: also contain Anthocyanins which assist with post-run recovery and muscle repair.

Of course I got all of my ingredients together, took photos to show off on Instagram, turned my blender on and ….. silence. My old POS cheap blender from Target finally bit the dust. I must have looked so pitiful standing in my kitchen pouting and trying to decide how to salvage the expensive ingredients I just put into my blender while the dreams of this perfect drink shattered. I put out an SOS on twitter and asked for recommendations on a new blender that didn’t cost as much as one week of my pay (seriously Vitamix?) I heard overwhelmingly positive reviews for the Ninja, so I ran out and bought the Ninja Professional Blender. I’ve only used it a few times but so far it’s getting the job done!

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The Perfect Runners Drink (put ingredients into blender in the order they are listed)

1 cup spinach

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1 T. tart cherry juice

1/2 T. fresh minced ginger

1 cup coconut water

1 cup aloe vera juice (or plain water, beet juice, almond milk,…)

Stevia, to taste

I usually throw in a few ice cubes to bulk it up a bit and add about 3 packets of Stevia. I’ll be honest – it’s not the greatest tasting drink in the world. The way I make it comes in at about 250 calories. That’s including 1/4 avocado I throw in to add some healthy fats to give it some ‘staying power’. I get a nice little green energy buzz after drinking it and it may just be a total placebo effect but I’ll take whatever I can get this close to marathon day!

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Sources:

Best Food for Runners by Runners World

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Tart Cherry by Life Extension Magazine

Natural Sports Drinks by Runners World

Top 12 Benefits of Aloe Vera

What are your favorite ‘superfoods’? 

I am Not Special

April 15th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (36 Comments)

Last week a friend texted me after finishing up a run with a run club downtown. She said she was running with a girl who randomly brought my name up in conversation. The girl told her that she enjoyed reading my blog because I was easier to relate to then some of the other running bloggers she had come across. This was shortly after I posted the ‘Are All Bloggers Liars‘ post where I shared a photo of myself beaming after hitting my first 5k goal of 37 minutes.

That was less than two years ago and this past weekend I set a new 5k PR of 25:28. That is still laughable for most ‘serious runners’, but at an average pace of 8:12 it was genuinely unthinkable for me even just last year. As friends and readers have congratulated me on setting a new PR I’ve been reflecting more on what it took to get me here. I don’t want new readers to stumble upon my blog, see the miles I put in every week or my pace time, and feel like that is unattainable to them.

Because, in the end, I’m really not special.

A few years ago I looked like this. {You can read about my weight ups and downs here}

Before

Fatty

I was also a chain smoker, fake food eater, and often binge drinker. Now, I’m a (predominantly) clean-eating vegetarian, personal trainer, and marathoner. I couldn’t be more different than the person I was then, but at the same time I’m exactly the same. Nothing magically happened one day to give me the willpower needed to quit smoking or eating crap. I didn’t wake up one morning and just start running with ease. Just two years ago I celebrated being able to run one full mile without stopping!

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I want you to know that whatever changes you want to make in your life, whatever goals you have, they are all possible. The only thing that sets me apart from those who have tried to lose weight and failed is perseverance.

Every single day I make the choice to be healthy. Actually, I make that choice multiple times a day. When I decide to workout instead of sleep in. When I decide to spend a few hours on Sunday prepping healthy meals for the week. When I suggest to friends that we catch up over a walk around downtown instead of drinks. All relatively small decisions that lead to huge results.

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Is it always easy? Hell no. Is it always worth it? Absolutely.

How many times have I regretted a workout? NONE.

How many times have I regretted skipping one? Almost every time.

When you are starting from ground zero big goals can seem insurmountable. It took me years of trying to lose weight and quit smoking before things finally started to ‘click’ for me. I let go of focusing so much on the future and tried to do the best I could, with what I had, and where I was. It took two years for me to lose 50 pounds, but I did it. It took one year of running 3-5x’s a week for me to go from 5k to a marathon, but I did it.

IMG_7515As far as I’ve come I know that there is always further I could go.

And that is what makes me special.