Monday, December 28, 2009

The holidays are almost over!

Christmas is my all-time favorite holiday. I love the decorations, the food, the gifts (I love buying presents!!) the get-togethers, all of it! Woohoo!

Anyhoo, Rex bought me a running accessory I've been drooling over for more than a year but have been too cheap to buy. The Garmin Forerunner 305 Heart Rate Monitor with GPS. He found it on for less than the price shown at the link above, and snatched it up! I haven't gone for a run yet, but I am planning on using it this weekend. I also need to install the software that came with it on my computer. I get to track my workouts and runs on the computer! Yay!

Now that the New Year is upon us, I think it's a good time to think about fitness goals for next year. I don't recommend resolutions, because we inevitably break them. Think about it...when was the last time you kept a New Year's resolution? Yeah, I never did either. But we can make goals! I like broad goals like "complete the Warrior Dash". I won't put pressure on myself and say "Complete Warrior Dash in 30 minutes". Honestly I am so slow that a goal like that is setting myself up for disappointment. But I can improve my endurance!!

If you're looking for a good way to start the new year, since we have a blank slate, try finding a race happening on New Year's Day. will have some good ideas for your area.

2010 here we come!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm broken

First, I realize that I have more than likely developed lactose intolerance. Then my tummy starts to hurt really bad last night....the muscle around my belly button was so tender I could hardly stand up. Now I have heartburn. It's official. My guts have rebelled. They're trying to escape any way possible. Belly button, throat, whatever.

It's more than likely stress (although not the lactose intolerance....damned Asian genes finally taking over my European genes). My in-laws are in town and I just finished school stuff for the time being. I love my in-laws, but having people over causes stress, no matter who they are.

I want to run so badly!! GAH! No time! At all!! *sigh* /whine.

On a more productive note, we're still excited about the Warrior Dash. I just need to find time to work out. We'll see......

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An observation...

I get bored sometimes and click on "Next Blog" at the top of the screen to see what other bloggers on blogspot are talking about. What I've noticed is there are a lot of cancer patients out there writing about their journeys online. I also found one about a mother's experiences with her cerebral palsy child, a deaf college student, and a bisexual. But mostly cancer. A lot of cancer. Makes me sad really.

But take hope! While many cancers are unavoidable, research shows that trying to stay at a healthy weight and eating right with exercise thrown in the mix can reduce some cancers. Sometimes it takes seeing other people struggle in life to make you realize that your life isn't so bad. In fact, I think I have it pretty good. :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What have you done to cut back on calories?

I'm hypoglycemic. I'm also trying to cut some useless and empty calories from my diet. The best way for me to do that is by cutting sugar, because I take care of two birds with one stone. Since my blood sugars can be fickle, simply cutting out sugar in my diet helps significantly.

On that note, I've been drinking coffee. For those that know me this is really new. I got hooked on Starbuck's Caramel Brulee Lattes. *drool* Unfortunately I think all that extra milk (lattes are mostly milk with a shot of espresso and flavored syrup) wreaked havoc on my poor tummy. Because I rarely drink milk anymore and cheese and yogurt are very limited in my diet, I think my body is becoming lactose intolerant. I became so bloated I couldn't fit into my pants comfortably! Uggghhhhh! Sure enough, cutting out the lattes and milk caused my body to revert back to a more normal state (a more comfortable state).

I had a coffee this morning and decided to try using Splenda instead of sugar. I also used coffeemate creamer, which is non-dairy according to their website. Splenda is NASTY! OMG! I can't get the taste out of my mouth! AAHHHHH!!! Not even Coke Zero will wash it away.

Here's my dilemma - I want to continue drinking coffee, but regular sugar is really not an option (but it tastes so much better). Splenda is nasty. Equal and Sweet-n-Low are both worse than Splenda. What's a gal to do?? Coffee is actually good for you, and the coffeemate is something I can live with to avoid the milk bloat. What is a good alternative to artificial sweeteners and refined sugar? What will have little to no impact on my blood sugar? I will try Truvia next time and let you all know how that goes. If that doesn't work I don't know what will.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My latest training plan

Remember how I'm not really doing a good job of running? Well, my goal is to be ready for the Warrior Dash by May 22nd. Because I have to be able to run 3.2 miles and handle the obstacle course, I'm bound and determined to at least complete it without getting injured. I also have lots of friends participating, include Red and my hubby Rex. Red has been great about maintaining her training, so she'll do great. Rex and friends all need to build a good foundation, and I need to rebuild mine.

With that being said, I've found a great training plan for a 5k by Jeff Galloway. I've been developing more and more respect for the guy lately because I think his philosophy is great for runners of all levels, but especially people like me. People who sometimes have a hard time staying motivated, don't have a lot of endurance, and don't want to focus on speed. The plan takes about 4 months to complete, and so if you include some extra cross training we'll be doing it's really the perfect time to start come January.

I'm actually really excited that I'll be meeting with friends on the weekends to run. I just hope I can maintain some semblance of a training program during the week while I have school. I have literally 8 months of school left....7 classes total. I'm about half way finished with this graduate degree, and then I can hopefully start on my chosen career of project management. That, however is for another blog LOL!

Jingle Jog 5k

Despite not training since the last race, I ran in Uncle Julio's Jingle Jog on Saturday. This was mainly a toy drive for the Salvation Army (I brought a Barbie). Not having read much about this race I wasn't aware how large it would be. My guess is they had over 1000 people participating in the race itself. It got so crowded those of us who didn't finish quickly enough for them (I finished in 47 minutes, mostly walking) didn't even get to fill out time cards to see where we placed. Yes, those of us towards the back know we're not winning the race (duh!), but that doesn't mean we don't want to see how we ranked. We also didn't get any bells for our shoes per the advertisement for the race. So no jingling while we jogged! I believe they ran out before we got there.

I had a couple friends new to running join me. One friend ran the Pumpkin race with me along with another race in November called Rebecca's Run, while the other was running his first 5k ever. We ended up finishing together, and we're definitely signing up for a race in January.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We're killing ourselves!

We've all heard that we're too sedentary and that our inactive lifestyles are increasing our likelihood to be obese, develop type 2 diabetes and develop heart disease. But did you know that the very act of sitting for too long dramatically increases those risks, despite how fit we are? That's what this article I came across on states.

I've often thought of this fact when I'm wondering about my own health and weight. Prior to the invention of computers and tv and cars, people led more active lifestyles by the very nature of their environment. Need to go somewhere? Walk or ride a horse (yes buggies and carriages existed but most people were more active than that). Need to eat something? Go hunt or farm for that food. Want to get a new dress? Make it yourself. Floors dirty? Sweep it with a broom. All those activities during the day equals more calories burned. No wonder why "gym rats" often still struggle with their weight and resort to drastic measures like eating the blandest, low-fat, high protein food imaginable. Ew. I'd rather be fat.

So what's the point? Besides wanting to eat what I find tasty and nomalicious and not torturing myself at the gym, I need to be more active in all my actions. You do too. Try little things like walking to your co-worker's desk instead of sending an e-mail or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. I struggle with these things too, especially since it's a little embarrassing to take the stairs and finally emerge onto the 5th floor of my office huffing and puffing like a pathetic wimp. The key is to try.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stress sucks!

School has gotten the better of me. I have two projects due this week (tomorrow and Thursday) and then two finals next week. On top of that I have family coming over and need to clean house. So what does my body do? Gets sick. Again. For the second time in less than two months. *sigh* Oh well. Would running help? Probably. I haven't had a chance to run since I took Rex out for his first run. I would have run last weekend but it snowed! It didn't stick, which is normal, but if it's cold enough to snow this gal doesn't want to be out.

On another note Rex obtained a copy of the P90X workout routine. I haven't seen it yet, but a friend of ours thinks it would help him a lot. Once I've had a chance to try some of the workouts I'll let everyone know.

In light of the winter weather and upcoming holidays, here are some ideal gift ideas for winter running gear:

Running tights
Long sleeved technical tees
Trail shoes (if you're running in snow and slush)
Technical socks
Running gloves (like those made by Under Armor)
Skull caps/balaclavas

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My breakfast dilemma

Breakfast is a hard meal to plan for. Why? Because most quick and easy breakfast solutions are nasty. Instant oatmeal, which tastes pretty good, gets old after a while. Breakfast bars just don't have the same punch as real food. Shakes are evil. I got desperate and tried instant grits. While okay (I know, as a Southerner I just blasphemed), I got tired of them quickly. The cheese ones are a strange neon orange that reminds you what you're eating is not natural.

Lately I've been craving real food for breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, that sort of stuff. It's kind of hard to make that kind of food every morning though since I have a hard enough time getting up in the morning. What I decided to do was make a breakfast sandwich. Last night I scrambled one egg, put it on a 100 calorie multi-grain english muffin, placed a slice of cheese on it, and then put it in a container to bring this morning. After nuking it in the microwave for 30 seconds it was ready for consumption. The verdict? Awesome! Because the eggs were scrambled they reheated much better than a fried egg would. Melted cheese is a bonus. The english muffin was okay, but much healthier than a bagel or croissant. I may toast it before storing next time. My issues with the english muffin were mostly texture, not taste.

The reason I am posting this is because breakfast is an extremely important meal for everyone, but especially for those who are trying to lose weight. You start the day off right with good fuel, and you're less likely to binge on junk at lunch and dinner. Eggs pack a lot of protein in each serving, and fiber fills you up. I may get adventurous and try some bacon soon.....YUM!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Probiotics for weight loss

We have all heard that yogurt is a good snack and has many health benefits, but now studies are showing that the probiotics in yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, help maintain the proper balance of good bacteria in the gut versus bad bacteria. In fact, this article describes that this imbalance has been shown in 7-yr old overweight kids! Another good thing to be mindful of - probiotics need prebiotics to work at maximum efficiency (found in wheat, bananas, onions and garlic YUM!). I love that the author states this is not an excuse to slack off on exercise LOL!!

So eat up that Greek yogurt! It's best with some honey and sprinkled with walnuts.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Warrior Dash training begins!

I took Rex out Saturday for his first training session, and it was my first run in forever. What we did to ease him into it but still push him to his limits was run for 3 minutes, walk for 2; wash and repeat for 25 minutes (5 sets) with a 5 minute walking cool down. Let me say that I'm very proud of him for giving his all for this run. We ran around our neighborhood, which has some hills that make it harder for beginners. His new running shoes have been working out well too. I'm hoping to get him some more running gear to wear so he can have some variety and more comfort. Here are some things we discovered about his running and fitness levels:

- Exercise-induced asthma! His asthma appears during the run, while mine appears after the run. Either way it sucks, but at least he knows that it's common and is greatly reduced as he gets more active.

- Heartburn sucks! Some runners get heartburn while running, and Rex is no exception. He thinks he ate too much prior to the run, so next time he'll try eating less.

- Walk breaks are a life saver. It was so much easier for him to focus on 3 minute blocks rather than being intimidated by 25 minutes of running. I didn't let him keep track of the time either. I was the coach, so I kept track.

- Stretching is so important. The front of his thighs were super tight and sore the next day, but he was a trooper about it all and knows that he has to run during the week or else his weekends with me will always end in pain.

It was actually a lot of fun helping someone else run rather than focusing so much on myself. I also feel more motivated to keep up with my training so I can keep pushing him. Running at a slower pace than what I'm used to is hard, so keeping up with my training will help me keep up with his. We have so many friends joining us for this race that I want to make sure we kick some butt LOL!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving - here I come!

I love Thanksgiving. I mean really love it. The food, the friends, the family, the start of Christmas shopping. It's all fantastic. That being said I don't give one hoot about what's good for me or how many calories I eat on Thanksgiving. Why worry?? It's a day of fun and festivities! I'd like to participate in a Turkey Trot, but I didn't have time this year. Maybe next year.

Speaking of running though, Rex and I are beginning our Warrior Dash training this Saturday. I've already gotten him good running shoes and the weather is cool enough that he doesn't have to get up early to run. We're beginning with a walk/run routine and will gradually build up to running about 40 minutes straight. The Warrior Dash is at the end of May, so we have time but I'd like to see good fundamentals started now. A friend of ours has a workout program on his computer that's supposed to be awesome, so we'll get that soon and start working on it. My goal for him is the same goal for me - get fit. Since many of the obstacles in Warrior Dash coincide with police agility tests, Rex is training for something fun while taking care of his work requirements too. I'm really looking forward to having my hubby as a training buddy!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Caster Semenya keeps gold

So something decent finally came out of this controversy. Officials have decided to keep test results private citing patient doctor confidentiality and allow Semenya to keep her gold medal and her prize money. Since I spoke so much about this as it was happening, I thought you all might want to know the outcome. Case closed!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Warrior Dash

Thanks to some friends, I think I've finally found the coolest race on the planet. Warrior Dash is an event that takes place all over the US and apparently England, but it's not your typical race. The one in the Southeast is 3.2 miles (barely over 5k) with a wall to climb, a hill to repel down, platforms to leap frog to on water, and more. You even leap over fire! I'm going to begin training for this soon, mainly with running. There may be obstacles, but ultimately this is still a footrace.

Don't be surprised when I post pictures of myself with a viking hat in May ;-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Unexpected absence

Sorry folks! Real life got completely in the way of everything last week, causing me to drop everything (work, school, running) to deal with it. A family member passed away suddenly, and I was definitely confronted with the fact that we just don't have a lot of time on this planet. I've made a promise to myself to enjoy life day to day, take more pictures so I can have something to look back on, and take care of myself and Rex a lot better so we can enjoy each other's company until we're grumpy old farts.

So here are my words of wisdom for all of you....Find some joy in each day, even if it's something small like petting your cat or being thankful that you can still run. It makes a huge difference. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stress eating

Do you eat foods that are bad for you when you're really stressed? I sure have, and evidently this is a huge issue for people, especially women. USA Today ran an interesting article about this phenomenon and how it affects those who are under chronic stress. I can definitely see how chronic stress should be differentiated from random bouts of stress. Do you hate your job, have a stressful marriage, take care of a loved one with a terminal disease, or are wondering how you'll make your rent/mortgage payments each month? That's chronic stress (the kind that gives people ulcers too - ouch!). These types of situations lead women to crave fatty foods, and combined with less exercise and higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), can lead to obesity.

So what can we do to fight this natural urge? Turns out that exercising is a great way to fight depression and anxiety, all of which can happen when we're under any kind of stress. Personally, I found in the last few months that my anxiety levels have increased significantly, and all of this was while I was exercising less or not at all. I've always viewed running as meditative, since I can let all the worries go while it's just me and the road. The natural high you get from exercising really makes a difference.

So while it's hard to justify the time needed for 30 minutes of exercise, whether it's a walk or riding a bike or swimming, try to find some time anyway. It really does help improve your state of mind!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Big Pumpkin Run

This was the first race I've ever participated in twice. I feel like my racing career has begun to mature! Well, maybe mature isn't the right word LOL. I haven't really done any real running in 4 months. But considering how lax my training has been, my time wasn't too bad! I came in at 42:16, a respectable run/walk time I think. I had several friends there with me this year, which made it really enjoyable.

The weather ended up being sort of icky, but it certainly made the day more memorable. The weather forecast couldn't decide if it was supposed to rain, but I brought my hat anyway. Luckily I was correct in wearing it, because it poured! We were soaked through before the race even began, and the rain didn't let up until we were all good and done with the race. At least we didn't get hot LOL!!

The organizers made a smart decision this year. For those who fell into an elite category (those with 5k times of something like 20 minutes or faster) got to move up to the front. My only complaint about this race is the lack of etiquette from fellow participants. Lots of people walked all over the course, making it hard for runners to pass. Many who were running stopped suddenly with no regard to those behind them. Hopefully, since this was sponsored by a church, word will spread about how to make it a more enjoyable race for all. I even heard one woman complain that even though she knew she was slower, she made her way to the front of the pack and didn't care if people behind her had to go around.

Since the race was on Halloween this year, we saw some people dressed up in costumes. The organizers promised a costume contest for next year, which I think is a great idea. Once the race settled in, I ended up running close to a couple dressed as penguins. I tried to beat them, but was barely behind them. There was also a woman dressed up as BatGirl and another dressed as a bride. Of course we had a few pumpkins as well. A friend asked if anyone would be dressed up as the tortoise and the hare, which I wish had been thought up before the race. I could have been the tortoise and Red could have been the hare!

This was the race experience I was looking for. Fun, enjoyable, and lighthearted. I've had it with races that take themselves too seriously!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I might as well call this "Diane's thinking about running" Blog

I really meant to run today. I swear! Then I woke up with a nasty sore throat and sneezing and a runny nose. Seems like the only thing running around here is my nose (okay that's the last bad joke). I've read that you can usually run through a minor cold and be okay, but why? I feel crappy! Crappy enough to skip work. Normally I'm all about missing work, but I am so bored today. At least work provides something resembling a distraction.

Don't say I wasn't productive though. Here are a few links to nourish your minds:

Map my run - Some people love this site because it helps them decide where to run and how long that distance is.

100 Beginner Running Tips - I especially like number 25. - Great place to search for local races. - A great place to find groups of all interests, not just running.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Runner's World Beginner's Blog

For those looking for a blog geared towards beginner runners check this blog out. I've just read a couple posts, but so far it looks very informative. The author takes questions from runners just like us and does her best to answer them.

Runner's World Blog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Walk Breaks

If you're like me, and you have to at least have a sense of humor like I do to read this blog, then you have a tendency to be a little hard on yourself. I didn't run a whole 5k until January of this year, and I had been working towards that goal for nearly a year. My training has been so lax lately that I won't be able to run the 5k completely on Halloween. Is that bad? Actually, it isn't.

I've been realizing that Atlanta running celebrity and Olympic athlete Jeff Galloway has some great advice. It's all about completing the distance. In fact, he encourages his trainees to take walk breaks! Since I've been having some major motivation issues lately (I haven't run in weeks), I think I might use his advice and just start over. With walk breaks. Kind of like fartlek training but instead of run/jog it will be my comfortable jog/walk. I think it will break the monotony of training a bit.

Check out this article and anything else you can find that Jeff Galloway has written about training.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finding love at mile 26

This is a story of a sweet and thoughtful, if slightly awkward to pull off, proposal. What a way to enjoy life with your new partner, both in running and in life. I celebrate my four year anniversary with Rex tomorrow, and we certainly look forward to celebrating many more in the future.

Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe...they're so perky, I love that.

-The Princess Bride

Thursday, October 8, 2009

At-home gym equipment

I found a good article listing which popular home workout tools we should keep or toss and why. While many runners focus solely on running, it's proven that good cross-training helps improve overall health and can help a runner be faster, less injury-prone, and handle longer distances. I say this knowing that I'm probably the worst example of cross-training.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New FTC regulations on blogging

FYI for those folks who blog in the US and read my blog - make sure if you receive any kind of compensation for a good or service that you fully disclose said freebie/compensation prior to review. Unfortunately this is a really vague new regulation, so I'm not really sure how it applies to those of us who just like to talk about stuff they like/dislike.

Here's a link to an article describing some the changes and issues.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Man I love this fall weather!

You never realize how hard it is to run in the summer until it begins to finally cool off in the fall. Take today as an example. It was in the 60s, cloudy, a little humidity. Kind of a dreary day until you start to run. Then you realize that compared to temps in the 90s, high humidity, blaring sun, and pollen to boot, this is amazing weather. I ran my goal today of 15 minutes, 10 for cool down. 15 minutes isn't a long time, but I've been so bad about getting back into the routine after the Peachtree in July that I'm trying to take it easy. I'm adding quickly to the minimums though since the weather is great. Next time I'll shoot for 20 minutes, and hopefully by the time Halloween comes along I can hit 40 minutes.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Running Schmunning

Yeah that enthusiasm I had Thursday for running? It disappeared today. I was oh so close to finishing a great book I've been nursing for over a week now, and quite frankly just not feeling up to leaving the house. So what happened? I'm sure you've guessed by now. I stayed in all day, read my book, barely took care of a couple household chores, and vegged. Mentally I think I deserved a day like today.

Tuesday Rex and I are going to sign up for a gym that we've been eying for some time now. Well, at least we're going to try it out. Then we'll really make the decision to join or not.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Boy it feels good to be active

I finally went for a run yesterday. It went pretty well considering I haven't run consistently since July. My legs have that nice feeling of having been used for vigorous activity. The weather right now is perfect for running. The humidity is low, the breeze is nice, and the mornings and evenings are cooling off. Woohoo!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's the deal with French women and the perception that they're better than American women?

Seriously. What's the deal? Is it that half of France smokes? For those that don't know, smoking acts as an appetite suppressant. Is it all the rich buttery food they eat? I don't know why this annoys me, but it does.

Here's the article that inspired me to write something about the ridiculous "French women are better" movement. Yes, exercise throughout the day is good for you and can burn extra calories with little additional effort, but to look down on those of us who do try to exercise regularly (and those like me who fall off the wagon occasionally), I think, is wrong. To just tell people to eat less shows a clear lack of understanding of how the human body works.

Anyway, that's the end of my ranting for tonight. I have a 5k coming up on Halloween, and I have promised myself to start running regularly again to make sure I'm ready for it. School is gearing up so this will be hard, combined with shorter daylight and cooler weather. I can do it! I did it last year, sans school, so I should be able to do it this year.

On another note, is there a specific topic anyone would like me to research and write about? Let me know and I'll see what I can do. I know that there are readers out there who lurk (the vast majority of responses I get are friends on my facebook page). Let me know!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sticker shock

So remember how I was wanting to buy more organic meat to make sure I was eating more Omega-3? Since the roast I wanted to get today was more than double the conventional meat was ($16 vs $7.50), I got the conventional. Here's something else I discovered though. Just because the meat is organic doesn't mean the animal was fed grass only. The label said "vegetarian fed". Corn is vegetarian. I don't feel bad about skipping the organic now, but I will have to forgo the organic meat option for now and just try to eat more leafy greens.

On another note that is money related, I may have to break down and just get a gym membership. With the weather cramping my running style (I haven't run in over two weeks), and Winter and its daylight saving garbage, I won't reliably be able to run outdoors. Unfortunately the gym costs money, while running outside is free. This will have to be mulled over for a bit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Have we sabotaged ourselves?

If you haven't been getting enough Omega-3s in your diet, this article may convince you to change your diet. It's kind of long, but stick with it.

Here's what I gained from the findings in this article:

- The reason we've been seeing an increase in heart disease is, in part, due to the kinds of fats we're getting from our diets.

- The Omega-3 deficiency we're experiencing can be blamed on so-called heart-healthy oils like sunflower oil.

- Eating more fish can't fix this problem because 1. there isn't enough fish for everyone and 2. most farmed fish is fed corn and soy, increasing the Omega-6 levels

- Eat more leafy greens!

What I find most groundbreaking for me personally is that adding more leafy greens and buying more organic meat is relatively easy for me. Organic meat is expensive, but by cutting my intake of conventionally raised meat even a little and increasing my intake of leafy greens significantly can help me (and Rex by default since I make his meals) be healthier. I've been more and more concerned about my heart health because heart disease runs rampant on my father's side of the family. Type 2 diabetes also takes a heavy toll, which doesn't help the heart either.

The best part of making these changes in my diet? I am only changing the way my meat is raised and adding more greens. I still get to enjoy bread (sans trans-fats), butter, and pasta. Nom!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Flood pictures

Just in case anyone was wondering what kind of flooding this horrible rain has caused Atlanta, this blog posted some aerial shots.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Will it ever stop raining?

It's been raining nearly non-stop for over a week now. I think it's been closer to two weeks straight, and the weather report doesn't predict a stop until Thursday. Thursday!! What's a girl to do? I'm cheap, so I don't have a gym membership. This puts me in a pickle as far as working out is concerned. What do I do?? Seriously, I can't figure it out.

Does any one have suggestions on how to keep up my cardio routine indoors, sans equipment? I know I can do some circuit training, but frankly the reason I don't do that now is because I hate it. Whoops...did I just admit that I don't like all forms of exercise? Yup!

Image found at Atlanta EcoLocalizer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Where did all of my excitement go?

Apparently it evaporated in the hot July heat while I was training for the Peachtree Road Race. With the hardcore training schedule and the training-induced sciatica, the Peachtree ended up being very anti-climactic for me. I haven't been in a race since, and running has honestly been quite frustrating for me. I realized that what I had lost was that spark. That excitement I would get knowing another race was around the corner. Performance be damned, I just needed something to get excited about!

So I've decided which races I will run in October, November, and December! The October race is a race I ran last year, so now I'm super excited about it. I've never run a race more than once. The longest distance will be 4.5 miles, which is very doable. Now if only this incessant rain would end...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Caster Semenya part 2

I ought to be in bed right now, but I couldn't help but make another post about this woman based on the article I just came across. It turns out that experts agree with me on this one...splashing her test results and declaring her a hermaphrodite is psychologically damaging her. For all intents and purposes she's a woman with a birth defect.

Thanks goes to a good friend of mine who had a good discussion with me about this.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Caster Semenya

I just have to say that I feel bad for this girl. The whole world now knows that she is a hermaphrodite. Unfortunately this kind of genetic testing is part of women's running, but it doesn't mean we can't feel a little pity for her. It turns out that her condition may have medical complications as she ages as well. I don't think I'd have such a problem if she knew this before hand and was dealing with it just fine. Her condition was announced to her and the world at pretty much the same time. Do I have a solution to any of this? No. I just feel bad for her.

Did you know....

That your weight is largely determined by genetics? I find the publication of this article to be ironic because my friend Atalanta and I were just talking about this very subject over the holiday weekend. We can't all be lithe and modelesque. It's simply not possible. My mother has a tendency to harp on me about my weight. It appears that I have a typical Asian relationship with my mom in that no matter my weight, I am overweight in her eyes. This from the woman who feeds me more than I could possibly eat in one sitting. Luckily for me I developed a love for good food, not an eating disorder.

Anyway, the reason Atalanta and I were talking about this was because we were remarking on the genetics of our respective families and how there was a shock felt in the fashion world recently about how a plus-sized model posed nearly nude....with her belly not as perfect as it "should" have been. She was sitting with her legs crossed, bending forward and her belly touched the top of her thighs. The picture is found here. I personally think she looks gorgeous, and that she has a body most women in America envy.

The reason my mom has a hard time understanding my weight and why it's different from her weight at my age is this: my dad. He is a little overweight, but he does come from old British-isles stock. He's short, muscular, and built like a log. Consequently I'm a little stockier than my mom. That's okay. I'm fit and healthy and that's what matters.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I actually ran on vacation!

Not just once. Twice!! I lucked out on my vacation this weekend and stayed at a really nice Hilton in downtown Atlanta. They had a fitness center that was open 24 hours, had headphones for the tvs on each treadmill, and all the towels and ice cold water I could handle. All this with a view of the pool!

My first run was really good. I ran for 40 minutes, and I felt like I could keep going but since I hadn't run in a while like that I decided to stop. It was nice being able to walk comfortably the rest of the day. LOL!!

The second run was not so good. I got calves so tight that I thought about stopping after about 10 minutes of running. Needless to say this run didn't last very long. I'm glad I went, but the treadmill really changes how I run for the worse.

At least I was able to enjoy my eating all weekend without feeling guilty about missing a run. Conversely I am skipping this week's runs until Saturday, but we all need a break right? =)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I'm taking a teensy vacation this holiday weekend, and we'll have to see if my intentions of running on Saturday morning pan out. I won't be able to post to the blog, since I won't really have any relevant info to share, but I will let you know if I am successful. Running while on vacation is very hard for the average person, since you want to spend so much time enjoying the vacation itself. It's also a diet pitfall with the kind of food that tends to be consumed. I will eat my fair share of fast food and fattening restaurant food. To hold me over, I did purchase Luna bars, fruit, veggies, cheese, hummus, and other easy and tasty snacks.

Enjoy your holiday, and be safe!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Working out to cable fitness shows

It rained today. Again. We've had a really wet summer this year, and it feels especially bad after the drought we had last year. Since I couldn't go for a run this afternoon, I decided to work out to one of the fitness shows on Fitv. It was centered around learning a hip hop dance routine and then incorporating some ab work at the end. While I didn't get the kind of workout I would have gotten running, it was a really nice change of pace and actually a lot of fun. My cats thought I was nuts. The level of workout you get probably depends on the show you tune into, but they seem pretty cool. It sure beats paying to go to a class!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hi everyone! I'm just testing my mobile blogging feature. I had a decent run this afternoon and am definitely looking forward to the cooler weather :)
Hi everyone! I'm just testing my mobile blogging feature. I had a decent run this afternoon and am definitely looking forward to the cooler weather :)

How much sugar do you consume?

Apparently more than you realize! According to an article I read on Yahoo!, Americans are ingesting 22 teaspoons of the stuff each day. That equates to 355 calories each day of empty calories. No wonder Americans are overweight! It turns out that we drink most of that sugar in the form of soda, but we are also not aware of the added sugar in most foods. Keep in mind that these numbers do not include natural sugars found in foods like fruit.

I guess this just points out the need to eat less processed foods, which is virtually impossible in today's world. Who has time to make everything from scratch? Plus it's easy to see why the poor inner city and rural kids have such issues with weight because this is all they eat. Those kids and their families simply don't have access to the resources those of us in the 'burbs do. Something definitely needs to change here.

In the end, we're either going to have to change our palates or start exercising more, but probably a combination of both (and start providing better choices to kids everywhere, not just the well-off ones). Phew!

Monday, August 24, 2009


For those that don't know, cankles is slang for calves that seem to merge into a person's ankles with no definition. I've always thought of this affliction as something that happens to the elderly due to medical conditions, but apparently this seems to "afflict" people of all ages. People have even begun to have liposuction on their ankles! I know I was lamenting my "larger" waist in my last post, but I seriously think we're being too harsh on ourselves here. Not everyone has Barbie legs. One of the nice aspects of the human race is how we can all be so different in appearance and personality. We are allowed to be unique.

Anyhoo, check this article out at Enjoy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Can you be fit and fat?

Is it even possible to be fit and fat (maybe this depends on how you define fat)? How about skinny and unhealthy? As it turns out, the answers are yes, but there are some important facts to consider when judging how healthy we are. This article discusses why it's still very important to be fit and maintain a healthy waist size. Notice there's no weight range to fall in or BMI to achieve. I've been reading more and more that those numbers aren't accurate and that we should focus on waist size. *sigh* As much as I like the information becoming clearer, I also realize that my waist size isn't as close to the 32.5 inches experts say it ought to be. I don't have a tape measure with me here at work, so I don't know how far off I am. I think the last time I measured it was either 34 or 35 inches.

I almost feel like this is working against my general goal of just being fit. I enjoy being active and the weight seems to come off slowly on its own time as I'm working towards my fitness goals. I have lost a lot of weight on my belly as past pictures I found the other day prove. Sometimes I really understand the temptation of taking a drug for its weight loss properties like Adderall, which is not that hard to come by if you're willing to doctor shop (highly unethical and could kill you!!). Then I remember that while I may not fit neatly into an expert's strict standards I should focus on just being happy with myself, flaws and all. So what if I don't meet the 32.5 inches? I'm relatively healthy, active, and enjoy life. It's all good :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Running and dogs

Image found at

I finally went for a run this morning! Since I haven't had much of a chance to explore my neighborhood, I decided to just run around the (kinda hilly) neighborhood. It was nice to see all the different houses, the other morning people running or walking their dogs, and just enjoying a nice moment to myself.

Until I came across some dogs.

Let me state up front that I love dogs.....I should be clearer. I love well-behaved dogs. The dogs that I came across this morning, through no fault of their own because their people allow them to run around lawlessly, were unleashed, unsupervised, and generally running amok. I had to stop my running completely because one of the dogs stopped in my path and began barking while coming closer to me. Since I don't know these dogs, I yelled at him to go away. Luckily he did, but another runner was next to me and asked if I was okay. My comment - "Next time I'll remember to bring my pepper spray".

I attended an HOA meeting after my run and let the board know that there were some stray dogs running around and that next time I will not hesitate to carry my pepper spray and use it if threatened by those dogs again. Some neighbors recognized the description of the dogs and said they are harmless, however a board member did concede that since I don't know the dogs that I am well within my rights to defend myself. My point? Nice dogs or not, they should not be out and they can turn at any time if they feel threatened. Who's to say they won't turn on me?

Unfortunately this is a common occurance for many runners, so be careful. I've seen many walkers carry walking sticks just for this purpose, and many dogs have been sprayed with pepper spray due to negligent owners. Just don't let some bad pet owners ruin your running experience.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

100 posts!!!

I've been waiting to decide what I was going to write for this epic milestone (yeah I know, there are way more important things than me talking about running for 100 posts). I was hoping to write about my latest run, but I'm learning that August is the worst month in Georgia to run. It's too darn hot! I promise I'll run again soon. I'm actually extremely serious about running this Saturday morning. It won't be pretty, but it'll feel great. I'm beginning to feel bloated from not running ugh...

So keeping in spirit with this blog, let me tell you how writing this has kept me motivated!

I can't believe people actually follow me on the blog itself and in Google Reader. I'm up to around 20 people! Because I know you're reading this, I feel compelled to at least try to keep up with my training and relay new facts. That has to be hardest part about exercising in general - we often only feel accountable to ourselves and therefore find it too easy to talk ourselves out of exercising. Case in point - it's too hot to run in August! /whine

Having a vehicle to post pictures from races inspires me to participate in more races to take more pictures! I can see the improvement in my body and it feels great (except when I take several weeks off and get bloated). I never thought I'd be the kind of person who would pay an organization to run in the street, but I am! Racing is addictive! I can also use this as a way to track my progress in races, and I hope you all learn from my mistakes.

Most of all I'm just glad that you all either care enough about me to read this or enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of an amateur runner. Thank you all for helping make this an amazing adventure so far, and I hope the next 100 posts are just as successful as the first!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

High cholesterol means dementia or Alzhiemer's later in life?

I found this very interesting article on about how high cholesterol and borderline high cholesterol seems to have a significant correlation with Alzhiemer's and dementia. Remember that a correlation means these two seem to occur together, but we don't know why or if there's a real relationship there. We may find out later that these findings are coincidental, however I think it's worth looking at. Runners may be at an advantage here since regular exercise encourages good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol.

Who knew we crazy runners were really protecting our brains?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I think I eat too much

Why do I think this? Well, there is my extreme fondness for food (nom nom nom). But let me get to the real reason I think this.

I haven't gained any weight since I stopped running a month ago.

Now you're all thinking I'm crazy, but hear me out. Since I knew I wouldn't be burning extra calories with running, I haven't been eating like a pig like I usually do. In fact, I've been eating a lot less on many occasions. This leads me to believe all those articles I've read that many beginner runners gain weight because they think running burns more calories than it actually does. I have definitely had the thoughts "I'm running later so I can eat (insert crap food here)" and "I had a really hard training run this morning so I can eat (insert comfort food here)".

I will definitely begin eating more once training ramps back up (hopefully later this week yay!!), but I will keep this unscientific experiment with myself in mind when planning meals.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

MSG - can it cause weight gain?

We've all heard how MSG is bad for you. It gives people headaches, Chinese restaurants talk about how they avoid it, and no one knows what it is. Monosodium Glutamate, MSG for short, is pretty much in all processed foods. Just read the labels. Now according to a recent study it seems as though MSG has a positive correlation to weight gain. That doesn't mean scientists know why the two are related, but it seems as if they are. More research needs to be conducted to know what the relationship is and why it exists, but for now this falls under the general category of "eat less processed foods".

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm back! Sort of....

So I've finally had a chance to breath, but I'm not completely unscathed. I'm still not running yet (not surprising), and I am going to have to drop the accounting class I'm taking right now. It's a hard class on its own, but with all the stress of moving and buying the house I've fallen behind. With the accelerated level I'm on with grad school missing a week of work is a disaster. Plus I'm just not understanding many of the principles, so I will take this class as soon as I can next time. I have the book and the syllabus for the class so I can study before class starts. I'd rather lose the partial tuition now than to fail the class, cause my GPA to drop, and waste the full tuition on the failed class only to take it again.

So on to running...

I found this article on Yahoo! that discusses how important it is to swing your arms as you walk. I liked it because the faster you pump your arms while running the faster you run. Have you ever noticed that? One of the things I learned in the training sessions getting ready for the Peachtree is to avoid wasting energy with extraneous arm movements, but done right it is very beneficial. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

There just isn't enough time...

So between buying the house, packing, remodeling, school, work, and anything else life can throw my way I haven't been able to find time to run since the Peachtree. That was about three weeks ago. My running is going to suffer considerably for this break, but that's okay. I think I was getting a little burnt out with the intensity of training. Red made a very good point today. When we would go on our group runs with the training group, we were supposed to be running at an easier training pace. We actually ended up running race pace which burned us out and caused us to peak too early. *sigh* Oh well.

Hopefully once life calms down a bit I'll be able to discover some new running routes around the house and get back to sharing my adventures in running. For now, I'm going to have to experience life's other adventures for a bit. Fear not! I'll still update the blog, but it won't be about my personal running for a couple weeks.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Everything Running Book, 2nd Edition

This was the first book I had ever bought and read that dealt solely with running. I bought it because I was particularly new to running and felt a little lost. I mean, running seems to be intuitive but I felt like I really could educate myself better on the finer points. This book claims to be able to help you at any running stage - "From circling the block to completing a marathon, training and techniques to make you a better runner". At the time I was barely past the "circling the block" phase.

What's good:

This book does a great job of breaking things down. Being a part of the "Everything" series, it can be extremely simple in its explanations. It runs the gamut from what kind of shoes you should buy to the clothing you should wear to how to prepare for races of all types (5ks to marathons and beyond). My favorite part of the book is the beginner's mileage build up chart. It starts with 6 weeks of walking for various amounts of time, then slowly begins incorporating some running. This is how I first started building my endurance to be able to run 3 miles straight.

What's bad:

I think that if you already know something about running that this book is too elementary. I also feel that it doesn't cover as many areas of running as it could, however the audience they're trying to reach is not one I am a part of anymore.

I definitely recommend this book if you're new to running and want to know how to get started. It was a great investment and really helped me start off on the right foot.

The book can be purchased for dirt cheap at Image found at

Monday, July 13, 2009

I see runners!

As a personal update, Rex and I just bought a house in a northern suburb of Atlanta - Cumming. Since the area is recently developed, I was concerned that there wouldn't be a big running culture up there. I think I've been proven wrong so far. Each time I've driven up there I've seen runners. I saw one in my neighborhood when I was looking at the houses for sale, and I see them along many of the larger roads as well. Next on my list once we get moved in and settled is to check out the local parks to see how those trails are. I still have access to the awesome parks and trails in Alpharetta after work, but I know I'll want something a little closer to home on the weekends.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pool hygiene

This doesn't have anything to do with running, but since it's now summer time and many runners use the pool for cross training purposes, I thought this article might be of some use to everyone. It contains information about what we need to do to protect ourselves from everyone else's germs and general ickiness. It really makes me glad I haven't been using my apartment pool lately, as it doesn't seem to be cleaned very often and kids live in it all summer long.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Peachtree Picture!

Here is a picture taken before the race - i.e. before I looked like a hot mess. Enjoy!

Is the BMI a hoax?

I just came across this article on that gives 10 reasons why using the BMI formula is wrong. I've always known that those who are really athletic end up with skewed BMIs, but it gives compelling reasons why we need to abandon the system completely and look at other things like waist size. I don't think I count as really athletic, but I've often wondered if at 5'3" and between 135-140 lbs if I'm really borderline overweight. Could I lose a few more pounds? Probably. Am I truly overweight? I don't know. Perspective tells me no, since so many people around me are much larger than I am. I want to say that most Americans are overweight, but now that we're questioning the BMI that assumption is invalid.

Can we truly measure ourselves against one another by some mathematical formula? I don't think so. In the end I think we should focus on being in shape and healthy, not trying to hit some magical number based on height and weight.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

One common migraine trigger: low blood sugar

So yeah...let me explain some more about my big mistake at the Peachtree. See, low blood sugar can cause migraines. Exercise lowers your blood sugar. When you're hypoglycemic, you have a problem keeping your sugars high enough to begin with. Starting a 10k with a growling tummy equals disaster. I didn't have too many issues, except the inability to keep running at a decent pace, until the race had finished. I started developing a headache at the finish line, and I figured it was just some tension in my shoulders.

Unfortunately I misdiagnosed my own headache. It grew worse until I was nodding off on the drive home. Migraines make me want to crawl into a hole and sleep for days until the pain goes away. I got home, cleaned up, took three Advil, and took a nap. When I awoke, the migraine was worse. I finally took some prescription strength migraine medicine and began feeling better after I had eaten my second meal post-race. It took two full meals, including one peach milkshake from Chick-fil-A, to get my sugars back to the right levels.

I keep making stupid mistakes, so hopefully you can all learn from them. I'm not making them on purpose....I promise!! Make sure you're eating properly before the race to avoid what I went through.

The Peachtree Road Race

I finished!!! Woooohooooo!!!! I'd tell you how long it took me to finish, but I forgot to start my watch so I'm guessing it was around 1:25. I ended up with a run/walk, and was totally distracted by everything going on. I can really see why people sign up for this year after year and why people wake up at the crack of dawn just to watch it. Here's how my day went:

I woke up super early to get to the start early. I was in time group 9, so I didn't start the race until just before 9 am, but I wanted to make sure I had parking and what not. Unfortunately this is where I made my biggest mistakes. 1. I didn't bring a banana to the start which meant I started the race hungry. 2. I parked too far away from the MARTA (Atlanta's mass transit) station which necessitated a long walk back from the finish.

The race was packed! I mean, it's one thing to know there's 55,000 people there, and another to experience it. Luckily the Atlanta Track Club, who puts on the event annually, knows how to handle this and we didn't have many problems with crowds. There were people there from all walks of life. Walkers, runners, and attention grabbers. I saw a guy in a purple body suit- a full body suit! - a bride with a veil, a group of guys as chip and dales, and guys in all pink raising funds for breast cancer research. I'm sure there were many more that I missed, but it was a lot of fun looking for those people. The spectators were hilarious too.

I will post pictures as soon as I have more. I have a couple pre-race pictures but want to see how the post-race pictures look. I'll have to order those.

All in all, this was an awesome experience. If you ever consider running the Peachtree, I'd recommend adopting the mindset of being a participant in a spectacle of fun, not racing. I think if you take yourself too seriously with the run you risk missing out on all the crazy shenanigans that make the Peachtree so unique.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Can exercise kill you?

I'm not jumping on the Michael Jackson bandwagon, but I want to take the opportunity to go over something that's been in the media since he's died. Did exercise kill Michael Jackson? I don't know. I'm not a medical professional, and even if I were I wasn't there when he died. I came across this article on that speaks about how individuals over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of death when suddenly engaging in exercise. While this shows that the older we get the more careful we need to be with our bodies, I think it also shows that we need to be exercising regularly starting when we're young enough to handle the stress. Then our bodies can get stronger and handle more strenuous activities as we age.

Where's the conflict here? A lot of doctors will tell you that if running has caused an injury of some kind that you should stop. What?? Stop running??? But I thought I had to lower my cholesterol/lose weight/reduce my blood pressure! Doesn't running do all three of those things? So what's a person to do? Ultimately that is your choice, but I think by gradually introducing exercise and incorporating rest days can help us avoid these problems. Don't let a freak unexplained death scare you from running or working out in general.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Final group training run!

Yesterday morning was the final training run with my In Training for Peachtree folks, and boy am I glad it's done. I actually feel like I've learned a lot about running in general, not just getting ready for the Peachtree. Next Saturday will be an event to participate in, not a race that I can try to determine my 10k pace. As a recap, here's what I think I've learned over the past 10 weeks or so:

- The right shoes make a world of difference. Go to a running store and get fitted.

- Being tense in the shoulders and arms is fairly common and can lead to things like headaches and decreased performance. I didn't realize I was so tense until I began working on lowering my arms and shaking them out occasionally.

- Don't push off with your toes to go faster. This will create more shin problems and affect the distance you're able to run. Try striking with more of your foot and pushing off with your upper legs/glutes.

- It's pretty common to have hip/back soreness and problems when increasing your mileage. If you feel you need to cut back for a couple days, then do so. You know your body better than anyone else.

- Stretch!!! I don't recommend stretching before the run unless you've warmed up a bit, but stretching post-run is an absolute must.

- G2 is so awesome after a run, particularly when it's been really hot and you've been sweating like a pig.

- Bananas are still my go-to pre-run fuel.

- Not only does technical clothing help keep you cool, but you have to have the right kind of technical clothing. The hotter it is, the less clothing you wear period. If you're concerned about spectators judging you, just remember that you're out there running and working on improving yourself while they're being couch potatoes. Other runners will not judge because we're just like you - busting our butts outside to meet fitness and weight goals.

This has been a very interesting experience, and I whole heartily encourage everyone to try to get a coach. Even if it's temporary and in a group setting like my situation was, it was well worth it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

And I Ran....

I ran so far away....

Okay, enough with the Flock of Seagulls. Is it stuck in your head? It's stuck in mine.

Anyway, onto better running! So I met Red tonight for a late evening run to try and avoid the heat. I was really apprehensive about the whole thing since I had dealt with so much pain the past few weeks but was ready to give it a shot. So off we go....and we went faster, and faster, and then had to take a break at around 1.6 miles because we were going too fast! Ah! I guess all that resting had really built up my energy stores. Unfortunately about 10 minutes per mile is a bit fast for me - closer to my 5k race pace actually - so it's hard to maintain. I guess I used up all my energy because the rest of the run was hard. I kept my watch going on all the breaks, so according to my watch the total walk/run was over 45 minutes. Red's watch said just over 40 minutes since she stopped it at the breaks. Either way I think it was really good. I was just really excited that I wasn't in pain.

It was around 90 degrees when we were out, which was freakin' blazing hot. I think the heat did me in more than anything else. I started to stop sweating part of the way in, which kind of scared me. That's a sure sign of trouble. Next time I'll carry something to drink to avoid dehydration and heat sickness. On that note I'm not really looking forward to the Peachtree Road Race, but I'm going to reserve judgment until I'm finished with the race. I'm just not looking forward to all those people and the heat. I found out that not only are there 55,000 participants, but there are well more than 100,000 spectators as well. That's a lot of people!! This little introvert can't usually handle all that people exposure...

Anyway, this Saturday is our final training run. I'm going to run with the novice group at 50 minutes instead of 60 with the intermmediate. I just feel safer doing that. Tapering starts the following day, so I'm just starting a day earlier. My book review is coming, just as soon as I get a few more minutes to plan out what I'm going to highlight.

All in all thanks everyone for listening and reading my stories, as pathetic as I'm sure they get. If anyone out there has a blog let me know and I'll make sure to subscribe on my Google Reader.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


(Image found here)

So I finally found the mystical quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) at my local Trader Joe's. It's supposed to be this wonderful super food that helps keep you healthy and trim. I picked up a box and decided to try a vegetarian quinoa stir-fry recipe I dug up online. The recipe was okay (it will require future tweaking by yours truly to make it better), but the quinoa was really interesting. I'd have to describe it as a cross between cous cous and brown rice. It had the fluffiness and quick cook time of cous cous with some of the nuttiness and chewiness of brown rice. I actually don't really like brown rice, but the quinoa was only a teensy bit chewy. In fact, I'd say it gave the grain a nice texture instead of feeling like you're a cow chewing on its cud. It complimented the stir fry pretty nicely too.

All in all, pretty good! It seems as versatile as cous cous and rice. You can use it as the main dish or as a side or in a salad. It's all up to you. Is it a super food? I think so. It certainly filled me up pretty quickly. In fact, I think I ate too much. I piled on what I thought was the equivalent of rice, but I think less is more with quinoa. Recipes are kind of sketchy online, so for now I'd say substitute it where you would normally find cous cous or rice. This will definitely become a new staple for my pantry!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today I went for a walk

I was supposed to run for 25 minutes, but I thought I'd take it easy by just walking. It went pretty well, and I think Thursday I will run. Yay!! After all the pain I felt for the past month and then being forced to take a break last week, walking without pain or limping was really nice.

In the spirit of the heat and humidity, check this article out about staying hydrated on your runs. I've read conflicting information about the whole "weigh your water loss post-run" thing, but it certainly can't hurt to drink as much water as it suggests. Just remember to drink some sports drinks too if your run is super long.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Skipping the dry run...

A huge part of this "In Training for Peachtree" program is a dry run of the course a couple weeks before the race. With the problems in my hip and back, plus the general crappiness of the directions from last week's run, I have decided to just sleep. See, last week no one was checking to see if anyone was lost or left behind while running through the city. If you weren't familiar with the area, then the directions we were given sucked. How was I supposed to know there was a pool house at Piedmont Park? I've only actually been to the park once, and that was years ago for the Pride Festival. Anyway, luckily when I had to turn back I was familiar with the streets enough to walk it. I'd hate to walk through the city and not even know where I was. I did that once - it sucked!

I hope to write a review of a running book I finished recently. It's taken me literally months to read it in between classes and work, but it's been awesome and I'd like to share why I think it's awesome with everyone.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More awesome stretches...

After some additional research, I've discovered exactly what (in my lay opinion) is wrong with my back and hip. The piriformis muscle is a tiny little muscle in the hip that helps turn your hip outward. It happens to run next to the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body running from the spine to your feet. Some doctors theorize that when the piriformis is too tight it can pinch the sciatic nerve (aka piriformis syndrome). I happen to agree with that theory. Once I found this stretch and spent all day stretching, the pain went away! Unfortunately a lot of the other muscles around the top of my thigh still hurt, but I think it's because I've been using other muscles to compensate for the bum hip. Try these stretches out and see if they work for you.

Since I've been able to alliviate a lot of the pain I was in, I'm no longer freaked out. I will still make an appointment to see the chiropractor just to be on the safe side, but I think the Peachtree will be okay. I may have to walk some of it, but that's okay. The rest of this week will be rest and recovery, which means I won't know what to do with myself on running days LOL.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Training Session #8 - What a disapointment!

Okay - I finally admit it. I am injured. Not in the stress fracture or strained muscle kind of injured. I think the tight muscles in my left hip have some how caused a pinched a nerve. I've been struggling putting any kind of major weight on my left leg due to the pain in my left hip/lower back region, and while it's gotten better at times, I have noticed a significant decrease in my performance while running. I thought it was a part of the muscle pain I was experiencing in the rest of my hips, but that's gotten a lot better, even through the additional running. Nope - this is a nerve problem.

I showed up at the Ansley Mall location for Phiddipides for their 6 mile run this morning. Now, I have yet to run a full 6 miles, but I've come close. I think without the hip problem I would have done fine. Although I started out a little fast since we had a large group of people running, I ended up experiencing such sharp pain with every step my left leg took that I had to take a break at each mile. Once I came to the water stop at mile 3, I knew I was done for. The pain was bad, but the disappointment was worse. That hurt more than anything. I've never had to stop and turn back until today. I took a short cut back to the store which shaved about 2 miles from the rest of the run. I thought I could run the way back, but I took 5 steps and had to stop.

This Friday I have the day off from work, so I will have to make a trip to Rex's chiropractor (I guess he's mine now too). I will probably have to skip the dry run of the Peachtree course next Saturday too. Hindsite might tell me that I should have seen this coming, but how? The rest of the hip pain went away with time. I figured this was a muscle issue that needed a little more time than usual. I think I'll be okay to run the big race, but I felt like I had given up this morning. I couldn't let Red or our friend Todd keep waiting for me. They really needed to keep going, but they were kind enough never to say anything.

I think I've finally experienced what most runners do at some point in their lives. When they can't run, they get depressed. Hopefully Friday's visit will begin the healing process that I so desperately need.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We have a winner!!

After a couple nominations and some serious deliberation, we finally have an awesome nickname for my running buddy Jennifer. She will now be known as (drum roll please)...................

Red Hot Lightening!

I'll probably call her Red for short. I think this suits her pretty well.

This was probably the highlight of your day, so I'll let you go back to whatever else it is you do while not reading this most awesome blog ;-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Running through the pain...

My hips have been so tight it's crazy. I've been walking like a zombie (to quote Rex) because my left hip is too tight to really put much weight on it. Luckily it's better than last week, and I was able to run all 25 minutes tonight without walking. It wasn't very fast, and it took me more than a mile to really warm up, but I did it. I know it might sound kind of cavalier for me to run through the pain, but I was careful. Sunday's pain wouldn't have let me run, so I didn't even bother. Last week and the week before, Tuesday night runs quickly degraded to a walk due to the pain. This is all from tight muscles, which I do stretch, but be careful folks. You know your body better than anyone else. If you suspect you're injured and not just sore or tired, then please rest! If you think it's really bad, go see a doctor.

To treat soreness or anything else really, try the R.I.C.E. method.

R - Rest
I - Ice
C - Compression
E - Elevation

It really does work, especially if you use it consistently. For instance, I get pain in my shins a lot so icing after every run helps tremendously. Just invest a decent ice pack that you can wrap in a towel and you're good to go. I didn't believe in ice until I tried it myself.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Training session #7

Today was another 60 minute run. That's the longest the runs are from now until the Peachtree, so it's just a matter of getting used to the intensity for that duration of time. I ran about 5.25 miles, which is a mile short of the full 10k, so I'm in good shape. We have a month to go, and that's plenty of time to get used to the distance.

Here's what sucks. My hips, particularly the muscles that are around the joint where my femur meets my hips, really really hurt. I told my coaches today about it, and they said others were obviously affected by the same condition. Some people had mentioned it, and others just looked like they were hobbling. Simply put the muscles are too tight from all the running we've been doing. Michele (coach #1) has been getting over a really bad case of super tight hip muscles for a few weeks now. We got some new stretches that really helped, so instead of limping like my leg was broken last week, I'm walking fine after a few steps. The first stretch on this page was a good one that Jim (coach #2) showed me. It was awesome!

All in all, my foot strike has been improving a lot (Jim noticed it right away!), my calves have not tightened up too badly, and my body is slowly getting used to this kind of running. If there's anything I've learned from these training sessions, it's STRETCH!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How much exercise is needed to burn off that quarter pounder with cheese?

Apparently a lot!! Check out this article I found on Yahoo! that notes how long you'd have to work out to burn off popular fast food items. If you want a simple formula to follow, try this:

The average person burns about 100 calories per mile run. If I run a 10 minute mile, then it would take me 20 minutes to burn off a Krispy Kreme glazed donut (200 calories).

I haven't allowed this kind of stuff to guilt myself out of foodie pleasures, but it does make me rethink choices like soda and other junk. I mean, I do run so I can eat!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm still sore...

I had skipped Sunday's run thinking that maybe all I needed was a little bit of rest before Tuesday's run. Well, I went out back to Will's Park (aka hill central) for my 25 minute run. I hurt the whole time. I didn't even finish running the whole thing (finished the first mile running). I had this odd sharp pain in my left leg that just said "you better stop". My hips still hurt, and I can't think of a stretch that's supposed to help. Hopefully this is just a bit of growing pains while my body gets used to the longer distances.

Want to learn from my mistakes? I'd help you do that if I knew what I did wrong. *sigh*

On another note, White Lightening was suggested as a name for my running buddy. I kinda like it, but it doesn't have that ring to it I was looking for. I think inspiration will hit me when I'm far away from a computer.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Training session #6

60 minutes of running. That's almost 6 miles at the pace I usually run. That's what I accomplished yesterday morning. Am I sore? Holy cow am I!! Was I hungry post-run? Famished was a better way to describe it. Was it a good run? Absolutely!

This has been the longest distance/time I've run ever. Let me just say that this training program has been so worth every penny. I know I've said similar statements previously, but yesterday made it really sink in. I hadn't realized that it was almost 6 miles until one of the coaches pointed it out to us. Woohoo! And our favorite coach, Michele, was back! She said she definitely noticed that we're running faster and better. Everyone said my running buddy and I were going to kick butt at Peachtree. Yay!!

We also had a good session with a nutritionist post-run. We learned a lot about carbs, sports drinks, and other cool stuff that I will make a separate post about later. The short version is I need to eat a much better breakfast with more protein. Now I just need to figure out how to make that happen.

Btw, I think I need a cool nickname for my awesome running buddy. Her determination and positive attitude have kept me going when all I wanted to do was quit. I hope I've been able to do the same for her. Any suggestions?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How to run underwater

That should have been the lesson for tonight's run since it was so humid. The whole thing about your heart working harder because it's hot outside is so true. The 45 minute run tonight was okay, but I really had to keep that motivating speech going in my head. It's so easy to let our minds declare defeat when you know your body can handle more. I haven't had to let my heart rest like that in a long time (had to take a break halfway).

A couple things that I think I've learned though...

1. By focusing on lifting from my knees and powering with my glutes, I have taken the strain off my calves and I think my endurance and pacing is better for it. Yay!!

2. By focusing on lifting from my knees and powering with my glutes, my butt now gets sore. Doh!

3. Longer runs are so much better with a buddy. You keep pushing each other when you want to give up, and you have so much more motivation to just show up to run in the first place.

Am I over the exhaustion? Sort of. I think ultimately I need to quit beating myself up for not being able to give 100% all the time. I'm only human, and it's okay to have an off day, week, but it lasts longer than a week something's wrong.

Too much soda??

Apparently according to some Greek researchers too much soda can cause a medical condition called hypokalemia. At first I was really concerned, because I love Coke Zero. I drink about a can, maybe two, a day. Then I read that the people studied drank at least 2 liters a day. 2 liters a day?! Holy cow! Those folks need some water as of yesterday. Sheesh! It just goes to show - everything in moderation!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Remember that part about being exhausted?

Yeah, so I decided to rest up this morning instead of going for my training run (decided last night, not when the alarm went off). I ended up sleeping for more than 9 hours! Do I regret skipping the run this morning? No. Am I wondering how I'm going to fit in a run today? Yes. If I can't, will I be upset? No.

See folks, there's something we all tend to forget about in our hectic lives packed with work, school, running, family, friends, pets, and anything else that might try to claim our time. Sometimes it's okay to just rest. After the attempt at running on Thursday, I still had to go to work on Friday. It was a half-day, meaning I got to leave at lunch, but boy was it hectic! I should have been named honorary firefighter because that's all I did - I put out fires (in the business sense, not for real). Then I had an appointment with a realtor to discuss buying a house. While buying a house is exciting, it's also stressful and eats up a lot of time. Normally I would say a run would be the perfect stress reliever, but with the energy levels at an all time low that was not an option.

Am I letting running decline as a priority? Not really. I just need to let my body recuperate. I have a feeling that the next time I write about a run I will be so excited because it went so well. So listen to your bodies and if you're exhausted like I am this week, rest!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And the exhaustion has finally taken its toll...

After 3 months of grad school and adjusting to a new and better role in my company, I have finally begun to truly feel the effects of exhaustion. All this week I've barely been able to get out bed, only to have drunk so much caffeine or gotten my mental state so worked up that I can't sleep. Today was the last straw. I got home and promptly fell asleep on the couch instead of running. Upon waking, I realized that I had to get the run in or not run until Saturday, which is a long run. I drag my poor tired body to the Greenway, and sure enough didn't have the energy to continue running past a mile. It was a good 11:40 mile, but my energy was gone. I did try to run some more after taking a couple walking breaks, but after about 25 minutes I gave up and just walked. Some good things came from it though...

I saw 6 deer! Holy cow that was cool! And they were really close too. The sad part is that they must be so desensitized to humans to have come so close to me, but they were beautiful. I also saw a cute little squirrel about two feet from me. Again, sad that he let me get so close, but he was cute!! I realized how awesome it is to run outdoors today. You don't wish you had brought your camera running inside a sterile gym.

I think I have discovered the cause to my post-long run headaches. I don't know if I've mentioned them yet, but after my long runs on Saturdays I have been getting killer headaches. They're not dehydration (as long as I'm mindful of my water intake) and they're not migraines (I get an aura before migraines start). Turns out they're tension headaches. I figured that out last week. Now I think I know why I'm so tense. Not only do I have a tendency to be stiff with my upper body when running (thanks to Coach Jim for pointing this out), but I think I'm lifting my head too high in an effort to not look down. I've had it in my head so much to stop looking at the ground that I think I'm overcompensating. I guess it was good that I was able to walk today and have some time to figure this out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New shoes reviewed

I've said this a million times, but if you haven't gone to a running store yet and you're serious about running, go now!!! I had no idea that these shoes would as awesome as they are. I mean, they felt great at the store and around the apartment, but running with them was a totally different experience. These shoes have given me more motivation to continue running. Keep in mind that my old shoes weren't bad. They just didn't give as much arch support as I needed (they were neutral shoes).

So let me tell you about the run today. I was supposed to run 25 minutes, and it was supposed to be challenging. Since I went back to the Greenway, which is nice and flat, I decided to try to run really fast. I ran the first 12 minutes covering about 1.5 miles. You wanna talk about hard! I don't think I've ever run that fast! That's an 8 minute mile! Needless to say the next 13 minutes were a bit slower. Overall I think I covered about 2.5 miles in 25 minutes, maybe a tad more. It's better than my race pace in 5ks, although I don't know if I could have kept it up for another .7 miles (maybe I could have, but I don't need to know right now). Because I pushed myself so hard my exercise-induced asthma kicked in post-run, but it was worth it. I now know that I have improved with speed (although that's not my focus) while I've been working on endurance. It takes longer I think to work on distance, however it's truly worth it. The rewards are greater in the long run. Speaking of long runs, I think I've come to really appreciate them. You really get some good training during those runs, and you can really focus on things like form and pace.

So lessons learned? Go get real running shoes that have been fitted by professionals and while speed was fun, it really sapped my energy fast.

Inflated portion sizes

We've all heard that portions are bigger now than they were a generation ago, but actually seeing the pictures is mind-boggling. No wonder obesity is a problem now! We're just so desensitized to portion sizes these days that we think we're bring ripped off if we don't have more than is humanly possible to eat on our plates. The key to eating, and even to life, is moderation. Enjoy yourself! Have dessert occasionally. Enjoy that mac 'n cheese. Just don't overdo it.

If you don't believe me, check this article out. Wow!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Awesome training run and new shoes!!

Let me just say that a change in scenery and the right running buddy make all the difference. We went to the Greenway this morning, which is a flat, shady, and beautiful trail that follows a creek in Alpharetta GA. Anyway, our mission this morning was to run 50 minutes, and we did! What made it so great was that the weather was good, if a little humid (this is Georgia, it's always humid), we ran a consistent pace, and because we didn't have hills to contend with our energy levels stayed consistent. In fact, we ended up running the last part of the run faster than the beginning! What a great way to start the weekend :)

Since I had some time and I've been meaning to get new shoes for a long time, I finally made it to the running store. After having my stride analyzed (I roll my feet in a bit as I run), it was determined that I needed some more core stability. I tried on three pairs of shoes, and I decided on a pair of Asics. I'm wearing them around the apartment to get a better feel for them, but I think I'm sold. The arch support is great, they are light and flexible, and they're blue! I would have bought them in any color, but the fact that they're blue is really cool. I love blue, can you tell?

So today has been a great day as far as running is concerned. The only downside? Homework! GAH!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Coming to terms with training

You know, even though I say things like you should take training easy and it takes time to improve, I find myself sometimes pushing myself really hard because I feel like I should be doing more or faster or longer. Here's what prompted this post....

I've been running at my local park for some time now, and I've been using the trails as my main running path for a while. There are a lot of hills on this trail. Now that I'm building up my mileage with my training program, those hills have become really obscene. I think that's why I'm also seeing more problems with my shin splints. I am trying to push myself up those hills because I don't want to lose speed (even though we all know speed is not the game right now), so I push off with my toes a lot. This causes my calves to be tight, which causes shin splints. Poo!!

I had to miss my training run last night because I needed to finish up some stuff at work, but tomorrow morning I will be meeting my running buddy for a run at the Greenway. It's a really flat trail with lots of trees. I'm looking forward to it. Tomorrow is the only Saturday that the training group is not meeting, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in until 7:00. I usually get up at 6, so the extra hour makes a difference.

Anyhoo, all of this was to say please learn from my mistakes! I pushed and pushed and pushed and now I'm afraid I'm close to burn out. I've got to be careful so I can avoid injuries more severe than the shin splints I have now, and I need to keep my motivation high. I'll fill everyone in tomorrow about the training run!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Training Session #3

What a difference your surroundings make! The intermediate group coach (the fast coach from last week....I think my regular coach is injured :/) gathered us up and asked if another run at 9 min per mile was okay. Jennifer and I quickly spoke up and said "NO!". Getting additional help though was a great thing for us. Because of the size of our overall group, even more people were enlisted to help with the training run. We ended up running with a guy named Ron, who works at Phidippedes. He kept the same pace we did, was nice and friendly, and just wanted to have fun. He wasn't too serious, wasn't concerned about running fast, and because the faster group headed out first we were our own unit. I know that at races we have to know how to pace ourselves so we don't run too fast, but I can't have every Saturday be race-like. That's a sure fire way to get burned out.

Because the pressure was off, the run was awesome. I ran the whole thing, with the exception of a quick stretch break for my calves (more on that later). All 45 minutes! Woohooo!! The only problem I encountered were related to my shin splints. I've gotten them before, but it's been a while. Here's what happened...

Thursday I must have been pushing off with my toes a bunch, because I felt my left calf tighten up so much my foot became a little numb. This happened a lot when I first started out, but I think because I'm increasing my mileage through this training I'm running into a couple problems from my beginner days. Yesterday (Friday), my left shin hurt so bad that I wasn't sure how the long run on Saturday would go. I broke down and finally iced my shin before going to bed. That helped a lot with the pain, but I still had a lot of trouble going down the stairs to my car. About 3/4 of the way through the run this morning my calves tightened up again, mostly with my left one. I tried to stretch them out for a minute, but realized quickly that they weren't going to get better until I could finish running and dedicate some serious time for stretches. I kept going with a decent finish and then really focused on stretches. My heels just wanted to stay off the ground because the muscles were so tight.

A couple suggestions for what to do when this happens to you are in this link. In my experience with this problem, I prefer stretch #1. The podiatrist that came to speak to us today also suggested turning your foot in a bit to increase the stretch shown in stretch #1. Try to use your instincts on this...overstretching can be dangerous too. It may seem like no big deal that my calf muscles are so tight, but I'm at a crucial point in my training. The last thing I need is to tear my Achille's tendon because I pushed myself too hard. Learn from my mistakes!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting used to the heat

I love summer. I love the heat. It takes a lot to make me hot. Unfortunately running and heat just don't mix well until you finally get acclimated. Also unfortunatly....I'm not acclimated yet! I seem to do better in the mornings when it's cooler, but the afternoon runs (which 3 out of 4 runs a week are) become so draining. I can't even use my apartment gym anymore because they started charging for access. Whoever heard of an apartment charging to use the equipment?! This economy is really changing things. Anyhoooo.....

I went through this a bit last year, and I'm sure I'll be going through it every year. What I've learned so far:

There's not much you can do to get used to the heat except just get outside. Be careful during the cooler parts of the day like early morning, wear technical clothes, put on sunscreen, and (one of my favorites) wear a visor. Hats are cool too except you want something that will breathe. You don't want something trapping heat on your head. Visors give you the best of both worlds.

Hydrate!!!! I can't stress this one enough. After 25 minutes of intense cardio start drinking sports drinks. Drink enough water before the run too so you don't start running dehydrated.

If you are feeling woozy or dizzy or anything like that, stop running and start cooling down. Get in the shade, drink water, poor water on yourself, whatever it takes to cool off. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very real threats in the South, but it's possible to encounter them in cooler parts of the world too.

All in all, take advantage of the races during this time. Racing season is really kicking off, and they're great ways to meet new people and stay motivated.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

When it rains...

It apparently pours here! This has been a very wet spring this year. I got ready to go to the apartment gym even though I didn't feel like running since the weather looked like it was about to dump buckets of rain, and when I get there the access had been changed from punching a code to using a card that I am in possession of. So I come back home, decide to google my name (about half of the 6 hits were from race results LOL, the rest were from facebook or high school reunion stuff), and I hear this roar behind me. I look out the window and it's like a tropical storm has parked itself over my apartment. *blink* Well, I guess we're all allowed a day of extra rest LOL!!

In case any of you wonder what you should do about running in the rain, here are a couple pointers I learned along the way:

1. Cotton is rotton! This applies to any facet of running, but you wouldn't believe how much dry-wick material makes a difference until you're in the elements. This goes for your socks too. I finally decided after running the 5k in March (in steady and cold rain) that cotton socks stink because my feet just never got dry. Wet feet also cause blisters. I avoided blisters, but I was lucky.

2. Watch out for debris. With winds going, you may find yourself stepping over more branches. Puddles also hide holes, and the last thing you want to do is twist your ankle because you accidentally stepped in a hole.

3. If there is a severe weather alert out like we have in the Atlanta area right now, don't go out. Your safety is priority number one.

4. If you do go out, try to wear reflective clothing and tell someone what route you're taking and when you should be back.

I avoided the park because I usually carry at least one electronic device with me (my phone). I keep having this image of being electrocuted because of my desire to stay in touch with emergency personnel when I'm on my own.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Training session #2

Holy cow some people run fast! Last week I mentioned that there were some people in my group who ran significantly faster than I did. I guess my coach decided to enlist some extra help to cover the wide variance in speed so a couple extra coaches showed up this morning. The one who came to help with my group obviously became the "fast" coach when she announced that she would be taking the 9 minute mile group. Gah!! I don't think I've ever run a 9 minute mile! My running buddy Jennifer and I were a little floored. Luckily our coach Michele was awesome enough to stick around for us at the back of the group. Jennifer still ran faster than I did (which is normal), but by the end I think we had both blown our wads so to speak by starting at the same time as the faster group. I just could not keep up at all with them. My 12 minute mile pace, which has gotten really consistent lately, just wasn't cutting it.

The good news is that I wasn't struggling as much as I did last week, for which I can thank the running during the week. I stayed fairly steady not counting the early speeding. Michele kept reiterating that this is about endurance. Speed will come later. I really like that attitude, and the more I train the more I am looking forward to the Peachtree.

After the run we had bagels from Einstein Brothers (yum!!!) and a quick seminar on running shoes. I didn't stick around after wards because I had to run an errand, but I will be getting some new running shoes from the folks at Phidippides soon. I need to hurry on that if I want to wear them for the big race. Here's a couple things that were covered in the seminar that every runner should know:

1. Find the right shoe. Go to a specialty running store and have them analyze your running style. They need to see how your feet work to get you into the shoes that will support you the best. This will prevent injuries and take away any unnecessary hardship from running. Running is hard enough on its own, don't make it harder by wearing the wrong shoes (or clothes, or socks, or whatever).

2. Do not use your running shoes for anything but running. It seems simple and logical, but many of us just see sneakers as casual wear, not as a tool for working out. Simply put, if you wear out the cushion in your running shoes by walking in them all day, you've dramatically cut down the lifespan of those shoes. If you're going to be spending all that money on good shoes, make them last longer by treating them properly.

I think next week's run will be 50 minutes. I'm getting into some new territory here, so I'll be curious to see how I do. By increasing the time incrementally though it shouldn't be too bad.