injury updates, sugar musings

On the injury front – the knee is improving! Slowly but surely, the pain is starting to go away. I think the combination of PT exercises (most of which I found online) and weights to strengthen the quads, hips, glutes and hamstrings as well as Dr. Levine for ART and stim has been really helpful. Along with not dwelling on the fact that I can’t run at the moment, which hasn’t been too hard since I know it’ll be back at some point. I think my job and patient population (maybe I’ll talk about this more another time) has helped me keep things in perspective and remember that this injury is small potatoes in the grand scheme.

Speaking of potatoes and my job (HA!), I run a weight loss class once a week, and we were talking about the top five highest calorie foods/beverages in the American diet. I had the class guess what the items were, and for the most part they were spot on:

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Cheeseburgers
  • French fries
  • Pizza
  • Baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries)

It’s not really rocket science, right? This stuff, often consumed together and obtained from fast food restaurants, are one of the reasons why two-thirds of the country is overweight or obese. Even so, there’s only one item on the list that I think has no place in the American diet, and that’s soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages (unless you’re training for and competing in an endurance event, but that’s for another post!). Unlike pizza or a burger, which can have some decent nutritional profiles if made in a more “healthy” way (whole wheat crust/bun, lean beef or turkey, low fat cheese, vegetables x100, etc.), these drinks are almost 100% full of junk without any useful nutrients.

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Last month was National Nutrition Month, and one of our events at the hospital was to show how much added sugar goes into some popular beverages. We had our table right outside the cafeteria, and a ton of employees and visitors who passed were shocked at the amount of sugar in their favorite drinks. And with all that sugar comes calories – the liquid kind that don’t help to fill us up or add nutrients but do greatly contribute to weight gain. Sometimes, a good visual does what words can’t!

While I’d always say to opt for water as a first beverage choice, a lot of people get bored with that. Flavored seltzers or water with fresh lemon, lime or cucumber are great too! And while the verdict is still out on long-term effects of some artificial sweeteners in diet beverages, sometimes it’s the lesser of two evils (i.e., regular soda) and I’m ok with it in moderation.

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change of plans

Looking back, I guess it was bound to happen, but I’ve gone almost a year without an injury and have been feeling pretty good this training cycle. It all changed pretty fast after some tightness on my kneecap and just above it turned into searing pain as last week progressed. At first, I didn’t quite know what to do about it so I kept running (“it’ll go away after a few miles!” huh, NO).  Then a week ago Friday I came to my senses, and after 8 painful miles threw in the towel, canceled my trip to Philly for the half I was supposed to run and that was that. I haven’t run a step since then, and am not seeing it happen in the near future as the pain is still there.

Am I pissed, frustrated, sad, etc.? Not really. Don’t get me wrong, I was, but the most powerful thing I felt last weekend after vowing not to run for a while was relief. I needed a break that I would have never taken if this hadn’t happened, mostly because I’m too stubborn. I had been doing so much (for me), and gotten so used to doing so much, I didn’t really stop to think about whether I wanted to do that much running. Looking back, I am likening it to a bull in a china shop, only I’m both the bull and the china, going full steam ahead with guns blazing, not really understanding that I’m breaking myself in the process.

I think my history as a pretty serious gymnast and general persona when it comes to athletics – perfectionism with a side of go hard or go home – can be both a great and horrible thing. With gymnastics, I was good and I won things, and being (OMG so) serious about it helped. Even so, I decided not to make it a college thing (best decision ever) and wonder if it was worth all of the pain, time and energy. Running is so different – I’m never going to win anything or be much more than a front-of-the-middle-of-the-packer. Yeah, I have my own personal goals, which is one thing I like about running. But the thing I like most is that I do it for fun. No one on this Earth cares if I run 70 miles in a week or 7, if I run X marathon in X amount of time, or if I even run at all except me. So I’m taking this time off to figure out exactly how I want running to fit into life in a more balanced and always happy way.

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NJ marathon training catch-up

Busy! That’s how the last couple of weeks have been. Lots of working and lots of running, which has left me just a little too exhausted to do much else, even though I’m trying. I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to run as much as I am, but once out in the park that feeling just takes over and I don’t want to stop. Especially since my beloved bridle path is finally back with all of the snow, ice and mush melted away. I think higher (for me) mileage helped me get through fall marathon-palooza with two decent races, even though they weren’t exactly what I’d hoped for. So I guess we’ll see how it works out this spring. Or to be more specific, in less than five weeks (!!).

Week of 3/9:
Tuesday workout: ~2.5 miles warm-up, 4 x 10-12 minutes at tempo pace with 2 minutes rest in between, ~2 miles cooldown
Long run workout:* 18.5 total miles with: ~2 miles warm-up, 4 x 5 minutes between 7:30-7:45 pace, 65 minutes easy, 4 x 5 minutes between 7:30-7:45 pace, ~3-4 miles cooldown
All other runs were easy paced, between 7.5-10 miles with a super-easy 3 miler on Monday and a few yoga classes throughout the week.
Total: 68.25 miles
*highlight: seeing Meb (in town for the NYC Half) on the bridle path during my cooldown and getting a handshake/hug. He’s the best, and I think this means we’re friends now.

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NYC Half spectating, pro men

Week of 3/17:
Wednesday workout: 12miles total with: ~2 miles warm-up, 8 x 800 with 400m rest in between sets, ~3-4 miles cooldown
Long run workout: 20.5 total miles with: 7 miles warm-up, 5 minutes at 7:45 pace, 2 minutes rest, 10 minutes 7:50 pace, 5 minutes rest, 15 minutes 8:00 pace, 5 minutes rest, 10 minutes 8:00 pace*, 5 minutest rest, 5 minutes 8:00 pace*, ~5 miles cooldown
*paces should have been more like the first two sets, but there was a gnarly headwind coming up the Hudson. And also… tired.
All other runs were 8-11 miles with a rest day on Monday, and fairly easy-paced with the exception of Friday, which was more of a “steady state” kind of run to pick things up a bit. Also did yoga a few times, which I’m trying to do more of on a regular basis for stretching and strength.
Total: 71.75 miles

When I didn’t get into the NYC Half lottery I signed up for the Philly Love Half, which is next weekend. Even though I’m pretty much “training through” the race, I may do a mini-taper of sorts because I really want to give myself a chance to PR. My half marathon goal for this year is to go sub-1:40, so we’ll see what happens!

And since I like thinking ahead, this is happening on October 12.

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national nutrition month, training recap

Even though it doesn’t feel like March, it is and that means it’s also National Nutrition Month. This, and really any excuse to talk more about nutrition than usual (if that’s even possible), warms my little RD-heart. It seems like no coincidence the FDA announced last week that they plan to make some changes to nutrition facts labels on food packages.

I go back and forth about my thoughts on the changes. Let’s take a look:

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source

By just looking at the two and comparing, I wasn’t very impressed. But in reading a bit more on how the labels will look for different foods and the different areas chosen for emphasis, I do think they are an improvement. Most notably, the serving size of different products (listed at the top) is not only going to be displayed a bit differently, but recalculated to be more realistic for certain foods. The example Marion Nestle used in this New York Times article is my favorite – ice cream may not continue as the typical 1/2 cup serving size, because who actually only eats 1/2 cup of ice cream? By painting a clearer picture of calories in relation to portion size, it may help with portion control in the long run.

I’m lukewarm about the added sugars change because I think it can be confusing for some people – total carbohydrates vs sugars vs fiber vs added sugars – unless you’re taught the difference between everything listed. My main concern with nutrition facts labels, both old and new, are that without some guidance and education on how to read them, they may be useless for a lot of the same people that they are being updated for. A huge sum of money was spent to revise the nutrition facts labels, and I can’t help but think what even half of it could have done for nutrition education in both at-risk individuals and the general population. But, any step in the right direction is a good step, right?

brief training recap (week of 2/24)

After the unfortunate ice incident two weeks ago, the knee was feeling tender last week but not terrible. I wasn’t sure how it would feel on the long run because that’s when it started hurting the previous week, but it ended up being totally fine and I got in a good workout. “Crisis” averted, hopefully!

  • Monday: 1.25 miles, 50 minutes yoga (stopped easy run early due to knee pain
  • Tuesday: REST due to knee pain
  • Wednesday: 8.5 miles easy, strength (arms, abs) – knee felt so much better!
  • Thursday: 10.5 miles, strength (abs, legs)
  • Friday: 10 miles easy, strength (abs, legs)
  • Saturday: 8.25 miles easy, strength (arms, legs)
  • Sunday: 18 miles with 2 x 20 minutes at ~MP (8:06 pace) in the middle of the run

Total: 56.5 miles

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breakfast highlight of the week: sprouted grain cinnamon raisin toast, peanut butter/banana, Greek yogurt/berries

This week of training is going well too, and I have my first 20 miler planned for this weekend. Guess I should probably actually register for the marathon that is less than 8 weeks away?

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(late) weekly training recap, ice mishaps

Even though the park is still filled with snow, NYC got a taste of spring last weekend and it was glorious running weather. After a mishap on some ice on Wednesday, I’m just glad I was able to run at all, let alone with only one layer and some exposed skin. It was a technically a short week for me with the holiday on Monday and a vacation day on Tuesday, but for some reason it still felt pretty long. Not necessarily in a bad way, though! The details:

Monday: REST
Was in Pennsylvania visiting my friend Meghan and her almost two-year-old Amelia, so unless you count 1.5 hours of babysitting as a workout (arguable, that child has a lot of energy), I did a lot of sitting and it was nice. Also am slowly turning Amelia into almost as big a Boo fan as myself, which is adorable on many levels.

Tuesday: 10 miles easy, strength (abs, arms)
Wanted to do a workout (as per usual Tuesday), but another snowstorm and unplowed roads meant an easy run was pretty much the only thing possible. Took it easy and tried to enjoy the snow whilst telling myself it would be the last snowstorm of the season…

Wednesday: 11.3 miles total: 2 miles w/u, 2 x 20 minutes at tempo pace w/ 3 minutes rest, then 1 x 10  minutes at tempo pace, 2 miles c/d
A wacky but good workout. Met Betsy after the first tempo set and felt pretty good – goals for the tempo miles were between 7:30 and 7:45 and we hit all of them on the low end. This was the longest tempo workout in this training cycle thus far, and a pretty big confidence boost towards my goal for the Philly LOVE Half at the end of March.

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Wasn’t able to think about it too much at the time, though, because on the cooldown home after Betsy and I parted ways I did an awkward turn and BOOM. Slipped on some ice and slammed my left knee into the ice patch as hard as humanly possible. Like, I saw stars, didn’t stop my Garmin (haha) and almost vomited kind of pain. After some momentary delirium passed, I saw my spring marathon goals flying away – I was that sure something was seriously wrong. Some nice older man helped me get up and walked with me for a little bit to make sure I was ok (thank you! and sorry for all the swearing…). After a few minutes the shock wore off and I was able to jog slowly home.

Tried to ice the knee during the day (plus to working in a hospital – was able to fashion an ice pack no problem) and it was pretty sore and stiff the rest of the day but not terrible.

Thursday: 9.5 miles easy, strength (arms, abs)
Told myself I’d stop running if the knee hurt, but it felt surprisingly good and loosened up nicely a few miles into the run. It was warmer out and I felt great, so I went with it. Crisis averted?

Friday: 10 miles with 5 x 30 second strides at the end of the run, strength (legs, abs)

Saturday: 8.25 miles easy, strength (legs, abs)
Planned long run for Sunday due to my first day working at a clinic run through the hospital’s medical school for uninsured patients in Harlem. Ever since I started “the journey” towards being an RD I’ve wanted to work with low income patients because there is so much need for nutrition intervention and education, so jumped at the chance to provide nutrition counseling to patients a few times a month at the clinic. The first day went well and I’m really excited for the weeks and months to come.

Sunday: 17.1 miles: 4 miles warmup, 8 miles at MP, ~5.1 miles cooldown
Nothing funky about this workout, just 8 straight miles at marathon pace in the middle of the run. Was pretty tired starting out, and the MP miles felt a little harder than maybe they should have, but eventually fell into a nice grove and got it done.

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Total: 66.15 miles

Towards the end of the long run, the knee started to feel a little funny, but I didn’t think much of it as I finished up. Did some icing when I got home and thought it would be fine the next day, but it was super stiff and sore on Monday and I couldn’t run at all. Took Tuesday off as well for some extra rest, and am now trying to get back into the usual routine. The knee still doesn’t feel totally normal, but it’s improving. Hopefully there was just some extreme bruising and a little inflammation going on that’ll heal with lots of icing and reduced mileage this week.

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post long run breakfast: Greek yogurt, strawberries, ginger snap granola

I keep replaying the fall in my head and wishing I had taken just a few different steps or another route home. It’s funny how quick everything can change, and how little control we have sometimes. If that episode weren’t enough to make me completely over winter, the expected -12 degree windchills tomorrow morning will just about do it. I can’t wait for spring and to finally see (and run on) the bridle path dirt, as opposed to the snow/ice/slush mix it has been buried under for weeks!

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some misconceptions {nutrition}

There’s a lot of nutrition information out there – the internet, books, even word of mouth – and one of the most challenging things about my job is separating the myths from the facts for my patients. Almost every day, a patient will say, “well, I heard this from [insert friend, family member, Dr. Oz]” and assume it is 100% correct information. While it drives me a little bonkers, it’s good to hear about some common misconceptions out there because it’s the best way to debunk them and steer people in the right direction. Here are a few of late:

1. Sea salt and kosher salt are “healthier” than table salt. In short, NO! Sea salt is different from table salt – it’s less processed, more coarse, has a stronger flavor – but has similar sodium content as compared table salt. Kosher salt is in the same boat – it may be processed differently, but at the end of the day the sodium content comparable. One teaspoon of salt has about 2300 miligrams of sodium, or about how much sodium you should be consuming in one whole day.

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nutella cookies with sea salt sprinkles – a little goes a long way!

Sometimes sea salt and kosher salt come in larger grains than table salt, and in these cases may contain less sodium by volume. For example, if the grains are bigger, than not as many may fit onto a teaspoon as with table salt that has a finer grain. This may reduce sodium content slightly if you’re cooking or sprinkling larger grains onto food, but it’s important to look at the labels for sodium content per teaspoon (or 1/2 teaspoon, tablespoon, etc.) as the difference may only be a few hundred milligrams.

2. Cleanses are necessary to clear toxins from the body. I shared my thoughts on juice cleanses a while back, and still feel just as strongly against them and any other gimmick promoted as being detoxifying or “cleansing” (whatever that really means) for a healthy person. Our bodies are designed to remove toxins via the liver and kidneys, and these highly specialized organs do an excellent job. There is no research showing any of these cleanses or detoxes enhance the work our body already does. You may pee a lot when you do these cleanses, but it’s not because you’re “detoxing”, it’s likely because you are only drinking liquids and/or losing some water weight.

3. Organic foods are more nutritious than conventional foods. Last year, a study from Stanford University got a lot of press for finding that organic produce did not contain more vitamins and/or minerals than conventional versions, and therefore was not more “nutritious.” These findings weren’t very surprising to me, but the way they were publicized opened my eyes to the common belief that the reason to buy organic was nutritional superiority. Organic products (like produce and meats) are different in the way that they are grown, fed and processed, but the products themselves are virtually interchangeable in terms of nutrition profiles.

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mostly non-organic but delicious, local brunch at Foragers City Table

That said, organic products contain less pesticides, hormones and antibiotics and are not genetically modified, which are all good reasons to choose organic over conventional if any of these things are important to you. They may also (arguably) taste better, and are almost always more expensive. You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you decide to go organic by choosing the following foods that typically contain the highest levels of pesticide residues:

The Dirty Dozen:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Peppers (bell, jalapeno)
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries and blueberries
  • Kale and collard greens
  • Summer squash

Most grocery stores contain organic sections these days and sell organic versions of many favorite foods and snacks like cookies, crackers and chips. It’s important to keep in mind that an organic cookie is still a cookie, and probably has a similar amount of calories and fat as its conventional counterpart.

Always curious to hear thoughts on these or any other questionable information out there!

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workouts lately {marathon training}

Training is going. Even though it has been harder to get out the door in the past two weeks than it has in a long time – kind of like groundhog day with these snowstorms, sub-zero temps, black ice – I’ve done it pretty much every day. Not all runs have gone completely as planned, but for the most part I’ve just tried to be flexible and careful when the conditions are rough.

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looking forward to hot coffee helps during cold runs!

Luckily the weather hasn’t really affected my workouts much, and I’ve been doing two each week – one on Tuesdays and one during my long run on the weekend. Some are standard workouts (400s, 800s) and some are from Coach John and/or the Jack Daniels book (marathon training plan A). The workouts from the book are a little wacky, but I think that’s why I like them. They’ve been really helpful in mixing up long runs and pushing the pace in different ways. I’ve also been loving creating the workouts on My Garmin Connect and uploading them to my 220 – it’s so much easier to just run and not worry about when intervals are up and whatnot. Oh, technology.

Last week’s long run: ~5.5 mile warm-up; 4 x 12 minutes at ~MP with two minutes rest in between; ~5 mile cool-down

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Had to do this on Sunday due to work on Saturday and not wanting to get up at 4 a.m. beforehand. It was COLD, about 20 degrees, and I stubbornly did not take a water bottle with me because I was out of hand warmers and didn’t want my hands to freeze trying to hold it. The repeats went well and made the run go by semi-fast, but I also didn’t take any fuel in and about halfway into the cooldown I felt so pooped. I ate and drank when I got home, but I felt exhausted the rest of the day and think it was because I failed hardcore at fueling and hydrating during the run. Definitely need to practice what I preach more…

This past Tuesday’s speedwork: ~2.5 miles warm-up; 12 x 400m with equal recovery in between; ~2 miles cool-down

Haven’t actually seen the dirt track on the reservoir in weeks due to snow and ice, so did these on the 102nd street transverse in the park and it worked perfectly because it is almost exactly 400 meters long. After my third repeat Betsy joined and we did the rest together, which helped immensely with monotony as we got some good chats in during the recovery. Broke the workout up into three sets of four in my head to make it more manageable and kept most of the repeats around 6:45 pace. Even though the last set was definitely tough, I liked this workout a lot and don’t think I have done enough short, quick stuff in the past.

Saturday’s long run: ~5.5 miles warm-up; 4 x 1 mile at 10-15 seconds quicker than MP with 1 minute easy in between; 5 minutes easy; 3 x 1 mile at 10-15 seconds quicker than MP with 1 minute easy in between; ~4.5 mile cool-down.

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I was a little worried about ice since it had snowed so much this week, but Central Park was clear and the West Side Highway was decent (below 58th street – above was a mess), which is where I like to do the workout parts of my long runs. The repeats were challenging but doable and I got into a nice rhythm. Took a small handheld water bottle and one peanut butter Gu (around mile 9 or 10) and it helped keep me going for the final repeats and cooldown.

Mileage has hovered around 62-65 miles the past two weeks, and if I’m still feeling good it’ll probably jump a bit more in the next month. My goal race is in less than 10 weeks now, which doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time. But, after last year’s marathon of marathons and marathon training, I feel a lot more relaxed towards this one and that’s probably a good thing.

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cold weather hydration {nutrition]

The other day I was doing a phone interview about fueling during winter running, and one of the things I emphasized is the importance of hydration on cold days.* When it’s freezing outside, we may not think we’re sweating as much as those 80 degree, 90% humidity days, but the reality is that sometimes we are. And even if we don’t arrive home looking like we jumped into a lake or got caught in a downpour after a wintry long run, chances are a significant amount of fluids have been lost through sweat. Just think about all of the layers you wear when it’s cold out, and how sweaty they are when you get home and peel them off.

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*I don’t do media interviews all the time, but it has become an exciting “extra” of my job. And as a former PR person who used to try to get media for clients, it’s way more fun to be on the other side as the interviewee!

For me, and probably a lot of runners, I don’t feel thirsty when I’m running in the cold. In fact, on my long run this past Saturday I ran 16.5 miles without any fluids. That was dumb. Not only was I not practicing what I preached, but I felt really off for the rest of the weekend and had to play “catch up” with my hydration. Here’s what I’m going to do moving forward, and I’d recommend the same for any client or fellow runner:

1. Drink before thirst: make sure to hydrate throughout the day, and if possible, start hydrating for a run or race several hours beforehand. Don’t go crazy, but just make sure you’re drinking and your pee is a pale yellow color. For runs lasting more than 45-60 minutes or so, think about drinking during the run. The amount you should drink depends on a few things – weather conditions, body weight, etc. – and the easiest way to figure it out is the sweat test.

  • Weigh yourself naked before running
  • Weigh yourself naked after a run
  • Estimate how much fluid you took in during the run, if any

Now, subtract the post-run weight from the pre-run weight. For every pound lost, you should be drinking about 16 ounces during the run. Add that 16 ounces to any fluids you consumed while running to get your total fluid needs. Divide this number by the duration of your run to help give you an estimate of how much you need per hour on a run in similar conditions, effort and duration. Results will likely differ for different times of the year and intensity of the run, but you can always re-do your sweat test as much as you need to.

2. Plan ahead: part of the reason why I didn’t drink during my long run was that I didn’t want my hand to get cold holding a water bottle that may or may not freeze a little. My hands get really cold, but still, this shouldn’t be an excuse. To make matters trickier, all of the water fountains are shut off in Central Park and the West Side Highway in winter (much like everywhere else, I’m sure). So to drink on the run requires a little planning, but it’s definitely possible. I’ve used hand warmers between my hand and the bottle to help keep warm, or suggest bringing a few dollars for a pit-stop at a drug store or bodega for some water or Gatorade. A lot of runners also carry a bottle to the park and stash is somewhere for easy drinking later.

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3. Post-run hydration: this is probably the easiest one, as now we are back in our warm homes with fluids readily available. Even so, it’s less enticing to drink a big glass of cold water when your lips are frozen. Here’s where hot beverages can come in handy, because they count as fluids too! Coffee and tea are great, but if you want to get more bang for your buck, I usually suggest a flavored latte or hot chocolate made with low fat, skim or soy milk for that optimal carb:protein ratio (4:1) to replenish glycogen stores and rebuild broken down muscles while getting you nice and toasty.

My running!
Training is going well. I was a little tired after last week’s half marathon and most of my miles were easy paced, but by the end of the week felt pretty much like my old self and got in a great long run workout on Saturday (minus the hydration fail). A brief recap:

  • Monday: 4 miles easy, yoga
  • Tuesday: 10 miles at a steady pace (not easy, not hard?), strength (abs, arms)
  • Wednesday: 8.75 easy miles with Betsy, strength (abs, legs)
  • Thursday: 9.25 miles easy, strength (abs, arms)
  • Friday: 8.25 miles easy, yoga for runners
  • Saturday: 16.5 miles: 5.5 miles w/u, alternating 90 seconds at 10K pace, 6:00 minutes at marathon pace x 7, 4/5 miles c/d. I have no idea where I heard of this workout, but I’ve had it written down for a while and was eager to try something a little different. It was tough, but the 90 second pick-ups actually made the marathon pace minutes feel easier and I loved the variety.

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  • Sunday: 7.5 miles super easy, strength (abs, legs)

Total: 64.25 miles. Planning on taking the day off today and then getting in a good new-to-me workout (400s, yikes!) on Tuesday if it’s not too slippery out there. Is winter over yet?

Thoughts on hydrating in the winter? How do you do it (or don’t you?)?

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Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Race Recap

I had been dreading this race basically since I signed up last November – peer pressure from some of my co-workers who were running – because 2+ loops of Central Park is never that fun. Especially if you’re trying to go somewhat fast and it’s cold out. But, I started warming to the idea (see what I did there) in the last week or so thinking the race would be a good way to get in some type of workout. It’s been freeeezing in NYC all week, and despite Tuesday’s snowstorm and a little snow on Saturday, NYRR decided the course was safe enough to keep it a scored race instead of making it a “fun run.” Thank goodness – running and racing is plenty fun, but there’s something about a “fun run” that I just don’t like.

Anyways! Woke up on race morning and did the usual stuff – toast with peanut butter, banana, 1 cup of decaf coffee, stretching and stuff. It was about 18 degrees out, so I tried to leave my apartment at the last possible minute to allow for a ~2.5 mile warm-up and get me into the corrals before they closed.

I didn’t really have a plan for this race other than to not freeze and stay fairly relaxed. During my warm-up, I started to think that sub-1:45 would be a good number to shoot for, or maybe sub-8 minute miles. But in the end, I kind of just did whatever.

Miles 1-4: 7:51, 7:51, 7:38, 7:44
These miles felt pretty easy after getting up Cat hill, and I held myself back from going anywhere near uncomfortably fast knowing there were a whole lot of hills ahead. I started to realize how much better running multiple loops of Central Park is in a race setting, and NYRR did a good job to get people excited. I remember thinking, “And this is why I do it” during those first miles (also known as: cheesy running moment). After a few miles it didn’t even feel that cold anymore. Getting up Harlem hill was definitely rough, but not having a specific pace or goal in mind was really helpful as I just told myself to get up the damn thing as best I could, no pressure.

Miles 5-9: 7:54, 7:38, 7:48, 7:55, 7:40
These miles went by in kind of a blur. I didn’t drink anything during the whole race because I thought the fluids would be slushy and/or frozen and didn’t really feel thirsty. I did take a Hammer Gel around mile 7.5-8 to help keep the energy going. I still felt pretty good going along East Drive for the last time, and knew getting up and over Harlem hill again would be the hardest (it was). After that I started counting down the remaining hills to the finish, and kept thinking about how generally good I still felt.

Miles 10-13.1: 7:49, 7:58, 7:37, 7:38, 7:25 (0.1+)
Crossing 72nd street for the last and final southern loop to the finish on the other side of 72nd street, I still felt really good. It was weird. This guy pulled up next to me and said, “I’m dying here!” I’m not sure if he was trying to start a conversation or what, I mean, who does that at mile 10 of a half marathon?? I grunted at him, thought “well I’m not!” and left him in my dust. Around mile 11 I started thinking that maybe I could even PR, which was definitely not something I had anticipated. Just don’t lose it now, I told myself. I refused to look at my Garmin so pace/time would freak me out and instead just pushed it to the finish line keeping the same steady, mostly comfortable pace.

Official: 1:42:54, 7:52/mile.

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I’m not sure if the mile markers were off, the satellites were wacky or what (maybe both?), but my Garmin was a pretty far off. After grabbing some frozen Gatorade and an apple (for later), I turned around and ran the ~1.5 miles from the finish back to my apartment before I had a chance to get too cold.

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This is only about 30 seconds slower than my current half PR, so I’m pretty happy with it given the course and mileage I put in this week (~61). I think the whole not having a plan and just running worked really well for me and I felt much more relaxed than in other recent races. Not paying too much attention to the Garmin also really helped, although looking back I wonder if I could have actually PR’d if I had pushed a little more here or there. But regardless, it’s a great confidence booster for one of my big goals this spring, which is a sub-1:40 half.

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smoked salmon, ricotta cheese, egg, onion, bread from Maison Kayser

Total runner’s high engulfed me for the rest of the day, and met up with some of my RD buddies (one of whom also raced in the morning) for a delicious brunch before becoming immobile on the couch for the rest of the day. Since I had been working Sundays at the running store for so long, I haven’t been able to do stuff like this for a long time. How come no one told me (full) weekends could be so fun? :)

Favorite post-race meal? How often do you look at your Garmin/watch during races?

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running, changes, nutrition services {weekly recap}

Last week brought a lot of running, some changes and other pretty good happenings. After almost two years (!!), I left my Sunday job at the running store (i.e., Jack Rabbit). In addition to my full-time job at the hospital, I’ve been lucky enough to have some part-time nutrition counseling opportunities present themselves, so I jumped at them. I’m also trying to see more private clients, so if you’re interested in more information about that, visit my new Nutrition Services page :)

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this was how I took advantage of my running store discount for the last time…

In running news, I think I’m mostly decided on running the New Jersey Marathon on April 27, so training is pretty much in full force as the race is only 14 weeks away (!!). One of the goals this training cycle is to do more quick stuff in workouts (400s – yikes) and more races. First up following last week’s 10K is the Fred Lebow/Manhattan Half next weekend, so workouts this week were tailored to that with the help of Coach John.

Monday: 4 miles easy, 50 minutes yoga

Tuesday: 9.25 miles with 5 x 800m repeats, 400m rest in between at goal pace of ~7:12, strength (abs, arms)
John told me to do this workout at 10K pace, and this was definitely quicker but completely doable. It felt really good to move my legs at a speedy (for me) pace. Hopefully this means I have a 10K PR to look forward to at some point soon! The second-last repeat was extra quick because this guy was trying to pass me on the reservoir track and I was not having it. Competitive much?

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Had the day off due to working on Saturday, so went to Dr. Levine for some much-needed ART. I was really sore when I went in, but Dr. L worked his magic and I left his office feeling 100% better. Love when that happens!

*Dr. Levine will be at Jack Rabbit Upper East Side tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7:00 p.m. if you want to meet him and see what ART and Graston are all about!

Wednesday: 8.5 miles with Betsy, strength (abs, legs)
Nothing exciting about this run except for the presence of Betsy – we hadn’t run together in weeks and I barely remember the running due to our chatter.

Thursday: 9.25 miles, strength (abs, arms)

Friday: 8 miles easy, strength (abs, legs)

Saturday: 7.5 miles, 15 minutes yoga for runners
Had to work at the hospital so moved the long run to Sunday. I love doing even a little bit of yoga after running – it’s a great way to cool down and get in a good stretch.

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favorite pre-long run fuel: homemade pizza, small glass of wine

Sunday: 15.25 miles, 5, 10, 10, 5 workout, strength (abs)
Even though I’m focusing primarily on marathon training, this workout is a good half marathon prep for next weekend. I warmed up for 5.5 miles in the park and then started the workout along the West Side Highway – 5 minutes between 10K-HM pace, 3:30 easy, 10 minutes HM pace, 5:00 easy, back down to 10 at HM pace, 4:00 easy, back down to 5  between 10K-HM pace and finish the  run. I programmed the workout on the Garmin Connect website and transferred it to my new Garmin 220 – life-changing. The watch vibrates and beeps if you aren’t in your set pace range, which is super helpful to stay on track (and also a little annoying because it won’t stop until you are at goal). It was so nice to not have to remember to hit splits or watch out for when my repeats would end. My legs were kind of toast after the workout, but it felt awesome to get in a solid long run.

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Total: 61.75 miles. Really looking forward to this training cycle and the year ahead.

Question: If you had a shopping spree at a running store, what would you buy first?

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