sick day(s), immune-boosting foods

A couple weeks ago, one of my co-workers was sick and had to stay home most of the week. I caught myself thinking, “man, maybe I could get just a little sick so I could stay home and have an excuse to do nothing and rest.” Well, be careful what you wish for (sidenote: if wishing oneself sick isn’t a sign to slow down, I don’t know what is). This past week was pretty busy, and even though I started feeling not so hot around Wednesday, it didn’t totally debilitate me until Friday night.

Not really great timing for the weekend, let alone grand plans for a good long run. In general, I probably push myself and tough it out too much, but this time I had little desire or ability to leave my apartment let alone do any sort of physical activity other than travel the ten feet between my couch and bed. Embracing the rest won by a landslide. If this was my body’s way of telling me to slow the eff down, then I am patting myself on the back because I listened whole-heartedly.

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good tea and good reading

Even though I’m a big fan of good old-fashioned medicine when needed (in this case, NyQuil and Alka-Seltzer), I also think nutrition plays a role in not only preventing silly but debilitating colds/flus like this one, but treating them. Here are a few things I’ve been trying to include in my daily eats and drinks to help get better:

Tea – a hot cup of tea helps soothe a sore through and break up chest congestion, and is also a potent source of certain immune-boosting antioxidants called catechins. I’ve been alternating between green and white teas and can’t get enough. Added bonus – hydration!

Berries – in this case, blackberries and strawberries because they were on sale at Fairway. Berries are also excellent sources of antioxidants, which help reduce free radicals in the body and may help boost immune function.

Yogurt – one of the best (and tastiest) sources of probiotics, which are key for maintaining a healthy gut with “good” bacteria. The gut and overall immune system are known to be linked, and there is more and more research coming out on the important role this good bacteria may play for overall immunity and the development of white blood cells.

Turmeric – contains curcumin, which is a known anti-inflammatory compound and may also activate immune cells important for fighting infection. I’ve been having it in the form of this recipe, which as an added bonus, is delicious, comforting and full of cruciferous veggies.

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Cruciferous vegetables – I always tell my clients to include cruciferous veggies in their diets every day because of their great fiber content and ability to promote satiety (think cauliflower, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts, for example). But, the breakdown of these veggies in the body may also promote the function of certain immune cells and prevent certain cancers.

Sweet potatoes and bell peppers – sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, and bell peppers contain more vitamin C than an orange. Both vitamins are crucial for immune function, and therefore, staving off and treating that winter cold.

There are a lot more I could probably add to this list, but these are my current favorites and what I’ve typically got in my apartment (read: still haven’t really left).

One benefit of being sick – time for a little blog makeover! Let me know what you think.

2015 check-in {part 2 – running}

I spent a good amount of time after Chicago (three months ago now? Another yikes), being fairly low key with my running. I think I needed some time to not think about workouts, mileage and race times for a while, and it was nice. Actually really nice – I ran however far I felt like whenever I wanted, did some spinning, some yoga and some nothing here and there too.

Towards the end of December, the itch to run with more of a “purpose” finally started getting stronger, so I did some basic workouts like hill repeats and fartleks to help get back into the swing of things. Then I signed up for two goal races this spring – the NYC Half on March 15 and the New Jersey Marathon on April 28. Usually signing up for races is pretty motivational to get things moving with training, and for the most part, it’s working. But I’m going to be honest here and say that my motivation still kind of waxes and wanes. I think it’s partly because my training is getting a little stale. I’ve been doing the same workouts for a while, and since I run mostly alone, think that maybe I don’t push myself as hard as I should or would if I were in a group or with a buddy (Betsy moved to Brooklyn!).

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definitely have the running shoes down, though…

Case in point – my first race of 2015 on Jan. 10 (a 10K). I’m terrible at 10Ks, so that’s always in the back of my mind, and my PR is pretty crap (for me). So I thought a little one could be possible even though I have no idea where my speed or fitness is at. Long story short, I finished in 47:54 (7:43/mile), and didn’t come close to PRing. During the race – especially the first couple of hilly miles – I was pretty content with just running “comfortably” and not pushing it. It wasn’t until the last couple of miles (my fastest) where I picked it up, mostly because I wanted to beat this tall dude dressed in all black who had been flanking me for a while. I beat him by about 2 seconds, but it kind of goes to show that I probably could have run a faster race if I tried a little harder and embraced the discomfort/pain a bit more.

So where does that leave me? I’m not sure. The only way to attain different results is to change what you’re doing to get there. This advice can relate to many aspects of life (dating, travel, happiness, work, etc.) and is one of my new favorite mantras. Running-wise, I’d like to break 1:40 in the half and BQ (DAMMIT) in the marathon. That means changing up the workouts, trying to run with (faster) people more often and maybe getting some advice/guidance from some kind of coach.

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totally got homemade brunch down too – two egg omelet with veggies, baked sweet potato “fries”

Last week I did pretty well workout-wise and hit just shy of 60 miles for the first time in a good while, so I guess that’s a good start!

Monday: always an XT/rest day – I either do a spin class, yoga class, both or nothing

Tuesday: 9.5 miles, lifting at the gym. still felt kind of tired from Saturdays race, so took it nice and easy on the run. One of my goals this year is to do strength work at the gym at least 1-2 times per week to help get/stay strong.

Wednesday: 10 miles with 8x800m repeats, 400m rest in between. Did this workout on the Central Park roads and actually had no idea how quick each one was until I checked my Garmin at home. Ended up being all between 3:28-3:33, which if you listen to Bart Yasso, is right on target for a 3:30-ish marathon. I’ll take it! These felt great.

Thursday: 9 miles easy, core work

Friday: 13 mile long run, 8:35 average pace. Had to work on Saturday morning and it was supposed to be 20 degrees warmer on Friday, so got up a bit early and knocked out somewhat of a long run. Had no workout plan but ended up picking up the pace for about 3-4 marathon pace miles (8:05-8:10) and felt great.

Saturday: 8.5 miles easy, core and arm work

Sunday: 9 miles easy, wanted to hit 10 for a 60 mile week, but the roads turned into an icy mess about halfway through my run and I’m just happy I made it home in one piece. Did an afternoon yoga class with my favorite instructor that was pure bliss.

Total: 59 miles

calories {good vs bad, what 2,000 looks like}

The other day one of my clients asked me a question about foods that have “bad” calories and what they should be eating instead of those foods. I automatically flinched – one of the things I really try to get people away from is using the word “bad” in relation to food. It conveys a negative association with food (good vs. bad) and can set you up to feel like a failure if you eat something perceived as “bad.” It can also set impossibly high standards to always eat “good” foods.

Now, it’s true that some calories are less beneficial than others – those full of sugar and trans fat, for example, may not provide as much nutrition as fiber, protein and vitamin/mineral-rich calories. But, most of them can have a place in a healthy, varied diet.

The New York Times recently published an info graphic on what 2,000 calories looks like, which is the estimated number of calories the average American eats (or should be eating) daily. I don’t really like broad generalizations like this because calorie needs are so individual, but let’s go with it.

option 1: double shack burger, fries and a milkshake (2,000 calories)

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sorry, Shake Shack lovers (photo via the NYT)

option 2: home-cooked meals of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and a few cookies (2,000 calories)

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(photo via the NYT)

When you look at these images (and there are more great ones in the graphic), it’s kind of obvious how you can get the most bang for your buck when it comes what you eat on a daily basis. Not only is there way more food in the second photo, but tons of nutrients that are lacking in the first photo.

The key takeaway here is that the more you can cook and prepare meals at home, the healthier they are likely to be because you can control what goes into them. I could not agree more, and this is what I talk at length about with my clients and patients all the time. It’s almost always possible with a little planning and effort, no matter how busy you are. I’m not saying a healthy diet doesn’t consist of the occasional Shack Burger and fries every once in a while, but in general, cooking more at home is an awesome first step towards eating a healthier diet.

I’m currently loving this nutritious, easy and delicious recipe – try it!

2015 check-in {part 1}

It’s been a while! I can’t believe it’s 2015 (and that I graduated high school in 2000… yikes!). Like most people, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on the past 12 months and wondering where I go from here. Career-wise (and I guess, life-wise), 2014 was kind of a transition year – getting settled into my new career as an RD, finding fulfilling side projects in addition to my full-time clinical work and figuring out how to make ends meet with the onslaught of student loan payback time. It took a while, but I think I finally found my groove.

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started 2015 with a run followed by my favorite breakfast {sprouted grain English muffin with PB, banana, Greek yogurt, berries and chia seeds plus coffee}

I think it takes time to build confidence and knowledge when starting any new career, but especially one in the healthcare field. Nothing can really compare to getting some experience under your belt. When I first started working at the hospital, I think my outlook was kind of, “wait, I actually get to do this for real now? And you TRUST me??” Totally normal, but not exactly exuding confidence. But the good thing about my job is that you never really stop learning, and nothing helps more than just getting in there and doing it. Now with my patients, clients and colleagues, it’s more like, “here’s what you need to do, here’s how you do it. Let’s get to work.” The more I work and learn, the bigger difference I feel I’m making – that’s a great feeling. There’s nothing better than seeing real-life results from the people I work with, whether it be a client reaching their goal weight or a patient learning how to eat with their new ostomy or diabetes diagnosis (or whatever it may be). I have a lot of career-related goals for 2015, but in a field that’s ever evolving I think in general it’s just to not stop growing.

I also really want to get back into regular posting here about my favorite nutrition and running-related stuff. Even though I’ve been radio silent for a while, I have been writing lots about nutrition on other channels (links below if you’re interested!). Can’t wait to do more here soon!

Mount Sinai Blog:

Rise Blog:

In addition to my clinical work, I’m also still seeing private clients (always! more information here), and am an online nutrition coach with an awesome start-up company poised to do great things in 2015 (check it out here!).

Up next is a running update!

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First race of 2015 – check {NYRR Joe Kleinerman 10K in 16 degree weather, no less}

running lately & san fran adventures

Yikes, it’s been a while! Since Chicago, I’ve wanted to blog a bunch of times, but for whatever reason (usually busy, work-related stuff or just fun stuff) it hasn’t happened. I wanted to talk about my running and how motivated I’ve been feeling after the initial post-marathon recovery phase, and even though I was consciously vowing to run shorter distances during the race, I really can’t wait to run another one now. Funny how that works.

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New Jersey Marathon? San Francisco Marathon? NYC Marathon? All of the above?

Part of my itch to plan and start training for the next one is definitely from watching the NYC Marathon from the sidelines. Even though the wind was kind of gnarly, I totally wanted to be out there. I haven’t not trekked over to Staten Island in the pre-dawn hours on the first Sunday in November (aside from the disaster that was 2012) since 2009, and it was weird to see everything happen on TV and in person on First Avenue. Even so, it will still super inspiring to watch pros, friends and strangers tough it out that day. I tried to be a part of race week as much as possible, and volunteered at the Expo T-shirt pick-up on Friday and ran the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5K on Saturday. My sister and I were supposed to run it together (her second 5K and first NYRR/NYC racing experience!), but she broke her foot. So it was just me, a lot of foreigners taking selfies mid-race, rain and some wind. This wasn’t really a good race to “race,” because of the crowds and weird corral system, not to mention the fact that I did just run a marathon, so it ended up being a nice tempo effort and I finished in about 22:48.

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beating waldo, thank god

This week, I’m trying to get back into some light wokouts slowly and planning ahead for my next races. I just came back from an awesome trip to San Francisco and am pretty sure I want to sign up for the San Francisco Marathon on July 26. Despite the hills, the city is far too awesome and I’d love the chance to run 26.2 there (and an excuse to go back!).

When I was in San Fran, I ran three out of four mornings and about 8-9 miles each time. That’s pretty much my sweet spot lately – a decent distance but not too much (for me), and I take it as slow or as quick as I feel like. I’ve always thought NYC is one of the best running cities there is, but oh goodness does SF give it a run for its money. Not only were the runs I took down to Crissy Field and the Golden Gate bridge amazing, but my friend Jo and I took an awesome hike on some trails in the Tennessee Valley. The possibilities or where to go and run were pretty much endless, with gorgeous views wherever we went.

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could this ever get old? I think not

We also had some delicious foods! Like I always tell my weight loss clients, it’s all about balance. We ate at great vegetable-heavy, organic restaurants and had our fair share of beer, wine and sweet treats too. A few of my favorites:

Gracias Madre – vegan Mexican food. Need I say more? I love me a good vegan restaurant, and with a Mexican twist it was awesome. We shared fresh corn tortillas with guacamole, a kale salad and a bunch of tacos with fresh veggies (kale, butternut squash, mushrooms), cashew cheese and black beans. Plus margaritas, of course.

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Smitten Ice Cream – ice cream churned in front of your eyes – definitely the most rich and flavorful ice cream I’ve every had.

Plant Café – veggies until your hearts content, fresh ingredients and really inventive twists on typical foods. I had a “plant burger,” which is a veggie patty made in-house with lentils, beets, mushrooms, cashews and bulgur wheat on whole wheat sourdough bread with roasted potatoes and a green salad. Perfect refueling after our 5.5 mile hike!

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Roam Artisan Burgers – awesome fresh and all natural burgers. Jo and I both had the Farmers Market Salad with mini burger trio (turkey!) added on top and a side of sweet potato fries. It was perfection.

Suppenkuche – German beer hall with traditional German fare, and it was out of this world. My friend Jo and I split some potato pancakes, a salad with beets, carrots, potatoes and pickled cabbage, roasted trout, sauteed venison and spaetzle. And of course, some delicious Hefeweizen. I did not know what spaetzle was before this trip – basically soft egg noodles – but now I think I’ll be wanting it on a regular basis. #carbs

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The Grove – great little breakfast (and lunch and dinner) spot in Pacific Heights with a big menu and perfect thick slices of sourdough avocado toast and poached egg.

Rams Gate Winery – Sonoma winery that’s only about a 30 minute drive from SF with great wine and beautiful scenery. Super relaxing way to spend an afternoon, if you ask me.

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I’ve only been to San Francisco once before, but both times I can’t help but wonder if it would be as awesome a place to live as it is to visit. I mean, I love New York, but…

 

2014 Chicago Marathon Recap

I meant to blog again before the race, but… oops. Sometimes taper seems to last forever, but this time it flew by and before I knew it I was meeting Betsy at the airport for our flight to Chicago. We flew in the morning before the race, which looking back, may not have been the best way to spend the day as it involved some stress (bumpy flight), plowing through the expo with our heavy bags to get bibs, checking out the merchandise and embarrassing myself in front of Nick Symmonds (maybe we’ll save that for another post), going to Whole Foods for pre and post-race essentials (bananas, chocolate milk, water, popcorn, pretzels and carrot cake), relaxing at the hotel for what seemed like 3 minutes before heading out to dinner. Yikes! It was an exhausting day but we were still excited to be there and pretty much ready to run.

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flat Kelly

Race Day
4:45 a.m. Woke up, coffee’d, ate some breakfast (for me: 1 slice sprouted grain bread with almond butter, 1 banana) and got ourselves ready. We were both feeling pretty calm, and the weather was perfect – 50s and clear.

5:45 a.m. Left the hotel and immediately found a cab, as well as a nice gentleman who asked to share the cab in exchange for paying for it. Done.

5:55 a.m. Cab dropped us off right at our entrance gate, which was a relief to me as I was stressing a bit about the logistics of getting to the start village. Turns out, it was extremely well-organized, huge and actually very pretty as we were in Grant Park.

6:15 a.m. We parked ourselves at Buckingham Fountain to chill out for a bit and I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle, another banana and some candy corn pumpkins (quick energy!). The sun was rising over the lake and it was such a pretty morning. The atmosphere in the start village was like it always is – excitement, nervousness and dashes to the porto-potties.

7:15 a.m. Made our way to the starting corrals, which was easy and again, really well-organized. Betsy and I were in corral B, so we were pretty close to the starting line. Before we knew it, they were singing the national anthem, announcing the elites and telling us to GO at 7:30 a.m.

Miles 1-2: 16:20; miles 2-6: 8:01, 8:07, 8:10, 8:08
Put my Garmin on manual lap and missed the first mile marker… oops! I felt ok during the first few miles but was also trying to warm up and find my grove. Betsy moved ahead of me pretty early on, and I wouldn’t see her again for a while. The first miles in a marathon are ones I typically do not like – I’m so impatient for the race to get started already and also pretty bad about holding back. I was right around goal pace for the most part and felt not ok (but not great). Took my first gel about 45 minutes in, which was a bit earlier than previous races but I really wanted to avoid any sort of bonk.

Miles 7-13: 8:13, 8:15, 8:16, 8:12, 8:13, 8:18, 8:10
My pace was steady, but something was feeling off. My legs didn’t have the freshness and pop that I was expecting after taper, and I started to wonder if maybe we should have come in two days before the race to rest up more. Or maybe I should have tapered “harder.” Tried to shut my brain off from the negative thoughts, but remember thinking, why don’t I just train for half marathons? DAMMIT I SHOULD JUST DO HALF MARATHONS. Or 5Ks. 5ks sound awesome. My mental game was definitely a bit off, but the crowds in Chicago were awesome and the combination of people cheering and loud music was a great distraction. I also tried to think about the people tracking me (mostly my sister) every time I crossed a timing mat and hoped they were cheering from afar. Every mile that ticked off, I thought, ok, one less mile than you can fuck this up. Keep going. Took my second gel around 90 minutes in.

Miles 14-19: 8:20, 8:15, 8:22, 8:30, 8:36; miles 20-21: 17:26
Pace was slowing slightly, and I knew I wouldn’t have enough to get in there for the BQ. I’ve been in this position before, though, and knew I still had a great chance at a decent PR. I started feeling more positive and tried to soak up what was happening around me – I was running the freaking Chicago Marathon! People were cheering for me! It doesn’t really get much better than that. I also thought of one of my favorite quotes from the Boston Bombing Memorial Exhibit that I went to last year: Lace up your shoes and run for those who can’t. This quote has always resonated with me, even more so recently. I took my third gel around 2:15 in and then started stopping at water stations to drink but picked it right back up, which I think helped me mentally. Around mile 20 (missed it for the split above) I saw Betsy, who had been running a great race but started struggling. I remember saying to her, you got it, dude! as I passed. And then I thought, hmm, ok I wonder if Betsy realizes I just quoted Michelle Tanner. It’s amazing the thoughts that go through one’s mind over 26.2 miles…

Miles 22-26.2: 8:31, 8:37, 8:45, 8:34, 8:53, 8:26
From this point on, it was all about counting down and focusing on the PR. Every mile that ticked by, it was ok, just a loop around the park. And then, 30 more minutes of running, that’s it! And then 20, and so on. I didn’t feel terrible physically, but was a bit too nauseous to take my fourth gel so instead focused on Gatorade at the aid stations and continued to walk through them quickly to make sure I got it down. I kept doing the math in my head to make sure I was on pace to break 3:40, a huge goal of mine. As we neared the final (and mercilessly uphill) turn, I knew I could do it and told myself there would be no slowing until I crossed that damn finish line.

Official time: 3:39:17, 8:22/mile (PR by 3 minutes, 31 seconds)

I think I said some expletives as I crossed the line – both from the joy of breaking 3:40 and of being able to finally stop running. The volunteers were great, and my only regret is feeling too nauseas and in pain to enjoy the free beer that was offered about 5 minutes after crossing the finish line. I hobbled over to get my checked bag and waited for Betsy, who ended up with a great PR. Chicago has an AMAZING post-race party in Grant Park with live music, more beer and other fun stuff, so we hung out there for a while as it was a gorgeous day and all we wanted to do was lay on the ground.

After showering and more laying in the hotel beds eating homemade banana bread from Betsy’s mom (clutch), we headed over to meet Dani and some CPTC ladies for celebratory beers and race rehashing.

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<3 <3

So, ok. I didn’t BQ yet again. And yet again, I really, really wanted to. But, I’m not too bummed. My “B” goal was to finally see 3:3X on the clock when I finished, and I did that. I worked through some negativity and some not-so-fresh feeling legs and didn’t stop running even though I wanted to more than a little bit. Every time I run a marathon I learn so much about the distance, myself and what it takes to get through such a unique challenge. And each time, I think I’m more prepared for the next one. That’s what’s so great about running – there is always a next one.

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(but first, recovery!)

catching up & Chicago {updates}

So here we are, less than two weeks out from the Chicago Marathon. I haven’t been great at tracking my training here (or anything else!) – my job, other side projects and life in general has taken precedence the past couple of months and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Part of the reason why I started this blog was to talk about my “journey” towards becoming an RD and all things I loved about nutrition. Now that I’ve been a dietitian for a while, I don’t feel as much of a pull towards writing about it here. Partly because I talk and write so much about food and nutrition all day, sometimes it’s the last thing I want to do once I get home. Plus, there’s usually something work-related I could be doing. Since I’ve started this career a little “late” in life I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do experience-wise to see exactly where I fit in the nutrition and dietetics world and to get there with a great knowledge base and reputation. I just got promoted to a “senior dietitian” at the hospital, and in addition to my full time gig there, have about 3-4 side jobs going which mostly involve nutrition counseling and a little writing.

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kale break at my once-monthly Saturday counseling sessions for uninsured Harlem residents

Needless to say, things have been busy around here. Still, maybe could have written about my training more. But to be honest, I’ve kind of liked keeping it to myself and not feeling like I had to document every long run, workout and weekly mileage total along with my thoughts. I just did it, and it’s been feeling pretty good.

Even so, I do like having something to look back on when it comes to training and race recaps, and still feel the urge to write about nutrition-related things here from time to time. Right now, all I can think of is how much I can’t stand this whole “bullet proof coffee” nonsense. But that tangent is definitely for another day, so instead here’s the low-down on Chicago training lately.

Peak week (9/15-9/21)
I planned a traditional three-week taper this time around. Before the Buffalo Marathon in May I did a 20 miler two weeks before the race, which I don’t think gave me a sufficient enough recovery time before race day. So, this was peak week and here are the highlights:

  • Long run: 21.5 miles – 8 mile warm-up, 10 miles at marathon pace range (8:00-8:10), 3.5 miles cooldown with a few pick-ups. This run was exactly what I needed confidence-wise, as I felt a little tired but still strong enough to hit my goals. Bring on the taper!
  • Total mileage: 71.5  I’ve been trying not to stress too much about mileage this cycle, but will always be a believer that more is better as long as it’s done in a logical, non-injury provoking way. And I won’t lie, double digit pre-dawn weekday runs are my jam.

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Taper week 1 (9/21-9/28)
Cut my peak mileage by about 20 percent and hit around 58 miles for the week. Didn’t really feel like much of a step back, which I think is a good taper strategy as too much of a cut in mileage can leave you feeling sluggish. Highlights:

  • Workout: 2 mile warm-up, 5 miles at tempo pace of 7:30-7:40, 2.5 miles cooldown. This run felt good, and the tempo miles completely manageable.
  • Long run: 16 miles with 6 at marathon pace. Due to an unplanned trip to Boston, most of this was done pre-dawn on Saturday morning when more people were walk-of-shaming than running. Legs were a bit fatigued, but still had no problem holding marathon pace, which was a good test for those last 10 miles on October 12.

This week the plan is to cut peak mileage by about 40 percent, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m also making an extra effort to get good sleep, minimize the alcohol intake (won’t be hard…) and continue my usual (mostly) good nutrition plan with adequate vegetables, fruits, carbs and proteins.

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go-to breakfast, always

training update {brief}

Not going to lie, I’ve been a bit nervous about Chicago for the last couple of weeks because of some IT band and hamstring soreness. Haven’t done any workouts and kind of felt like my training was at a standstill while trying to rehab the leg (via Dr. Levine) and run as much as I could without aggravating it. When Betsy and I were running together the other day, my response to her, “I feel gooood [about the race],” was pretty much “that’s great! I, um, err, don’t?”

I hate that feeling of not really knowing if things are going to head downhill injury-wise and if a goal race is going to have to be postponed (like I had to do last spring), especially when the race has been planned for so long with my bud. But, I do think I’ve wised up over the years and know that no one race is the be all that ends all, and whatever happens, it’s going to be fine. Still, I was relieved to finally have a great, pain-free long run on Saturday to help kick off this last stretch of training before taper time.

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#sorrynotsorry for the Garmin shot

Set out for the run without a set plan, but felt good and ran a good chunk of the miles a little slower than goal marathon pace (so, 8:15-8:25). Really conscious of my fueling disaster a few weeks ago and took two gels (Clif Shot at about 70 minutes in and Honey Stinger about 2 hours, 15 minutes in) and a handheld filled with Nuun (which had to be refilled twice, so sweaty!). This kind of made up for the fact that I stayed out a bit too late the night before drinking beer and am way too in love with early morning runs to sleep in. Even so, I felt 100% better after the run compared to the one without fuel. Besides the usual post-long run exhaustion (and a tiny hangover), felt like I could pretty much go about my day as usual.

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favorite post-run homemade “brunch” – two egg omelet with veggies and salsa, baked sweet potato fries

I haven’t really followed a training plan this whole summer, and plan on taking it week by week with some workouts and (hopefully) two more 20 milers until about a 3 week taper. A kind of controlled “winging it,” if you will. As fall marathon season gets closer, hopefully it’ll feel more like fall soon too…

fueling fumbles {a bit on glycogen depletion}

Not really sure how it’s been more than a month since I last posted, but here we are! This summer (which is now almost over??) has been pretty busy with work and life things, but mostly good so I’m not complaining.

Running is going well but with a small “hiccup” of some IT band pain I’m trying to manage. Well, Dr. Levine is managing, I’m just submitting my left leg to his torture devices. Usually if I have IT band trouble – hasn’t happened in a few years so I guess I was due – I can’t run at all. This time, it feels ok to run but not normal, if that makes any sense. So, I’m still running but with a bit more caution, somewhat lower mileage and not so much speed work for right now. You know what they say about the best laid plans…

Anyways, I thought I’d share something stupid I did last weekend running and nutrition-wise, because why not? Even though I know better, I still make questionable decisions sometimes.

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like starting to drink caffeine again?

So, I had signed up for a 10 mile race with Betsy but decided not to run it because even the thought of racing for more than an hour on a hilly course made my IT band hurt. Instead, I decided to “just run” nice and easy without a plan. Since the band felt ok on easy runs, I did want to get in a longer effort but wasn’t sure how long. Sometimes long run prep stresses me out, so I really didn’t want to deal with it and brought NOTHING with me. “Just running” sounded so freeing, you know? Plus I know where all the water fountains are in Central Park (including the only cold one – across the road from Tavern on the Green, holla!) and the West Side Highway, so it would be fine. The IT band loosened up after a few miles and I felt good, so decided to do my typical long run route along the WSH and see what happened. I stopped at water fountains a few times but had no nutrition – no gels, Gus, whatever – which didn’t really bother me during the run. I felt fine! And got in a good long run, woohoo!

But then I got home, stretched, took a shower and finally ate something. For the rest of the day, I alternated between being too tired to eat and too hungry to sleep, and it was a chore to go outside to the drugstore. What I had done here is completely deplete my body of its glycogen stores by not fueling during the run, and dehydrated myself on top of that. It takes about 2-3 hours (give or take) for our bodies to use up all available glycogen stores, and since I run first thing in the morning didn’t really have much else to start with (1/2 banana, maybe). Needless to say, my tank was empty when I got home and my entire body was super pissed – this felt something like a hangover but maybe worse. So this is what it feels like after those “depletion” runs some people do, I thought to myself. Maybe you know what I’m talking about – purposefully abstaining from fuel on a long run to train your body to be more efficient with burning fat and prolong the complete depletion of glycogen stores, all in an effort to feel stronger for longer and avoid the “bonk.”

Depletion runs have been shown to be beneficial in the long run (ha!) for some pro athletes and by becoming more efficient fat burners, help them shave off precious seconds or maybe minutes. But! The act of training for something like a marathon and consistently running longer distances itself makes us more efficient fat burners, even if we fuel during our long runs. Maybe we can speed up these adaptations by doing depletion runs, but with the consequences of feeling like ass for the rest of the day. For me, a maybe front-of-the-middle-of-the-packer who will never win a race, this isn’t really worth it. You’re putting your body through a lot when this happens, and the benefits do not really outweigh the risks. I would rather fuel properly and be a functional person on a beautiful weekend day. To each his own, though, because I also wouldn’t blame a pro runner or triathlete for purposefully making these types of runs part of their training. After all, minutes and seconds can mean a whole lot more when running is putting food on the table.

And with that, I will leave you with a delicious recipe I got (and adapted slightly) from a recent issue of Runner’s World that is perfect pre or post-run fuel.

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes, Tofu, Veggies and Avocado Sauce (adapted slightly from this recipe to add more protein and veggies)
Servings: ~4

Ingredients
12 ounces whole-wheat fusilli
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup broccoli florets
2 cups kale, chopped
1 1/2 cups firm tofu, cubed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 avocados, halved and pitted
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for about five minutes (before tender) and add in broccoli and kale. Continue cooking until pasta and greens are tender. Remove from heat and reserve 1 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and veggies, cover, and set aside. In a bowl, add tomatoes and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add oil and basil. Toss to coat. Set aside. Scoop avocado into empty pasta pot. Mash with a potato masher. Add garlic and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Whisk pasta water in, creating a light sauce. Stir in pasta and tomato mixture to coat.

 Enjoy!

catching up {work/nutrition things, long runs}

Blogging is definitely the first thing to go when things get busy around here! I have no idea how we’re already almost halfway through July. Yikes! One of the (many) things I’ve been keeping busy with is my job at a clinic run by medical students at the hospital for patients in Harlem without health insurance. I counsel patients one Saturday per month on nutrition – lots of diabetes diet education – and have recently taken on a bigger role that will focus on teaching the med students what exactly nutritionists do in general, what I discuss with the clinic patients and what warrants a nutrition referral/consult – both in acute care and in the clinic.

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I do talk about vegetables a lot

The timing of this new role is pretty perfect, because a recent analysis highlighted what many of us nutrition professionals already know – most physicians do not receive adequate enough training or education on nutrition to talk with their patients about it. Part of me thinks, duh, that’s why registered dietitians exist. But a lot of times, they don’t know when or why to refer a patient to an RD. And sometimes, they are the only healthcare professional a patient will see. Aside from nutrition education, the other main goal of my new role at the clinic are to see how we (and other important disciplines like social work) can work together more as one cohesive unit, rather than many separate ones, for the ultimate benefit of the patient. I wrote a post about why dietitians are so important for another one of my side jobs here, if you want to check it out!

the running
After this Sunday’s long run (ok, during Sunday’s long run), I was absolutely wishing for fall. It was everything I hate about summer running – warm, humid and oh so sweaty. I tried to do a workout in the middle of the run, but a malfunctioning Garmin was all I needed to throw in the towel and just try to power through the run at a somewhat steady pace. Trying not to get too down on myself about it – shitty long runs happen – and focus on the good ones I’ve had the past few weeks. 

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July 6 long run workout: 3.25 miles easy warm-up, 4 x 6 minutes at between 10K and half marathon pace, with 1 minute rest, 40 minutes easy, 16 minutes at marathon pace, ~2 miles cooldown. Goals for the 6 minute sets were about 7:30 pace, and even though the splits were all over the place, the pace felt steady and pretty good. The main goal for this workout was to get more used to pushing the pace towards the end of the run on tired legs, and it definitely did that! By the time the MP minutes came around, I was fairly pooped but able to push through.

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June 27 long run workout: ~40 minutes warm-up, 3 x 10 minutes at a little quicker than marathon pace with 2 minutes rest, long 50 minute cooldown. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for this run, but this kind of workout is a pretty good one in general and helped me get back into feeling what marathon pace is like.

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Mid-week workouts have been lots of hill repeats and short intervals, and I’ve hit 58-60 miles the past few weeks. Feeling kind of tired, so am trying to be really good about taking one rest day per week (so far, so good!). I’ll probably do more short intervals for tomorrow’s workout, but want to really focus on having a good long run workout before going away for a long weekend.