Happily Running in a Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex 13 (I’ve lost count…) has settled into the Chicago area. In the middle of summer. I could very easily complain about the cold weather (like I literally just had to get up and close the windows so my hands wouldn’t be too cold to type) but it’s made for  some PERFECT running weather! After my awful 10 miler on Saturday, I was a little anxious about my next couple runs. Well, I worried for no reason at all. They were wonderful! Yesterday, I had an easy 3 mile run on the training schedule. I started off faster than I meant to but I was able to not just keep my pace up, but get faster! And I lied about the weather a little. Today was perfect running weather, yesterday was 71 degrees and 91% humidity. Not ideal. but check out these splits!

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This morning, in 55 degrees and 65% humidity, I ran a 5 miler with (at least for me) even better times!

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An 8 minute, 25 second pace for an entire mile!? Yes! I promise, I’m not sharing these to brag, I just would’ve never thought I could accomplish something that “athletic”. I’m amazed that my body is capable of running a mile in less than 8 1/2 minutes after already running 4. 10 year old Megan would have been a very different person if she knew she could someday do that!

Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s the weather, or if I’m finally getting back in shape, but I’m feeling strong. And I like it. I did go to yoga last night for the first time in a couple months. I know it helped loosen me up. More stretching will be in order in the future. It’s probably just the endorphins but I’m so excited that all the hard work is finally beginning to pay off!

Any other runners taking advantage of this cool weather streak?

Monday Meal Plan 7/14

Can you believe it’s already the middle of July?? This summer is flying by! I sat my butt (which is getting more and more toned every day, hooray!) on the couch most of the weekend and happily wasted it… At least it was raining and cloudy all day Saturday. I got a few good naps in too, and planned out all of our meals for the week. Here’s what’s on the menu:

Breakfasts:

Avocado, Chopped Hardboiled Egg and Mozzerella on Toast, with a Banana

On Rest Days – Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake

(Sorry, I don’t have recipes for either of these, I’m kinda just throwing some things together and hoping for the best. I’ll add recipes later this week if they turn out well and I remember!)

 

Lunches:

Dinner leftovers and…

Avocado and Apple Chicken Salad over Spring Mix Greens (I never made this last week…)

 

Dinners:

Polenta with Roasted Red Peppers and Fontina (and I’m adding crumbled Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage to the skillet mix)

 

Biggest Loser’s Sexy Joe’s on a Whole Wheat Bun with Cauli-Tots (I’m making 6 servings out of the Sexy Joe Filling)

Avocado Chicken Parmigiana with Steamed Green Beans and Carrots

 

All of these meals are about 330 calories each. 3 meals a day at 330 calories each = 990 calories, plus a 240 calorie afternoon snack, and a 200 calorie dessert each day, brings me my goal total of 1430 calories per day. Just like last week, I also planned my carbs around my runs. I’m excited to give this diet plan a real chance this week since it’s a more “normal” week for me.

What’s on your meal plan this week?

Life is busy, training is good.

It’s been an insanely busy week! Wednesday we went to the Taste of Chicago to see AWOLNATION after work, Thursday I worked all evening, Friday I work a full day, then went to see Red Wanting Blue at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. Yesterday, Saturday, I ran, then spent a good portion of my day driving my husband and his car around in an attempt to get a passing emissions test before his plates expire. (Not successful, btw). In the midst of this, I got my act together and did a lot of things really well, and a few things not so well. Let’s start with the good.

At the Taste!

At the Taste!

Wednesday morning, I got up early and went to the gym for a weight lifting session. I spent about 45 minutes there and felt like I got in a really good workout. The best part was being able to increase the weight on two of the leg machines I use. I can really see the progress of my weight lifting, just once a week, and I suddenly have defined muscle in my shoulders, legs, and my stomach is flat for the first time since I was 15! I should take some pics to share. If you’re trying to lose weight, you really need to be lifting weights. The times that I do are the times I see myself getting fit and toned.

Thursday, I was physically just tired. I decided to listen to my body and get more sleep and take it easy that morning. I skipped my 3 mile “hard” run. I felt a little bad about it, but I was really careful all week to stick to my meal plan all week (I even packed salads to bring to the concert!) so I knew that skipping one workout wasn’t going to mean gaining 2 lbs this week, nor would it throw off my marathon training completely.  It’s didn’t. What really could have thrown off my marathon training was what I did Friday, and what happened Saturday…

Friday, all day, I was craving my favorite candy, Jr. Mints. So I skipped my afternoon snack and had a box of them instead. Not great, but I didn’t give up my entire “diet” either. I had my normal dinner later that evening and a healthy breakfast the next morning. Back to Friday night. The short story is that I went to a concert, had 3 drinks (and the first one was very strong), didn’t get to bed until 2am.

Saturday, I woke up at 6 so I could run at 6:30. It was supposed to thunderstorm, but hadn’t started raining yet so my running group still met for our 10 mile run as planned. As soon as we started it began to rain. It got harder, then lighter, then harder, but never stopped. I ran 10 miles in the (sometimes pouring) rain, on 4 hours of sleep, hungover. It was miserable. At one point (mile 8) I could’ve walked faster than I was “running”. But I never did stop, my times were terrible, the rain messed up my phone (hence the two pictures below – did you know water can “press” buttons on your phone and stop your Run Keeper? Neither did I.), but I kept going. I’d read in Runner’s World magazine just Friday night that it’s good to train tired, hungry, in the rain, the heat, etc. because it forces your body to adapt to non-ideal conditions. I’m curious to see how my runs this week go now.

First half of my 10 miler

First half of my 10 miler

Second half of my 10 miler

Second half of my 10 miler

You can see how, although slow as molasses, I did alright the first 6 miles. I was at least consistent. Miles 7 and 8 were my worst. I think at mile 9 I saw lightening and got my pace back up out of fear fo my life. Technically, my only goals yesterday were to finish, and not get struck by lightening. Check, and check. I win!

Anyone else get a long run in this weekend? In the rain? (Are you sick of the rain as much as I am!?)

Terrible Two

No, I don’t mean my seriously adorable, BFF and niece. Although she is two, she is far from terrible.

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Definitely NOT terrible! What has been terrible is my last two runs. After a perfect 8 miler Saturday, it’s bee so frustrating to have bad runs.

Monday:

I had an easy 3 miler on my training schedule. I started off maybe a little faster than I should have, but nowhere near my 5k pace. Basically I didn’t sprint out. And I slowed down after a half mile. And walked after on mile. And after 2 miles. and 2 1/2 miles. I’d taken my two inhaler puffs before the run, and my allergy medicine the night before, but the humidity was thick and it was already 70 degrees out at 6:30am. My lungs rebelled. I was gasping for air the whole way through. But, albeit slow, I finished.

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A little rough…

Monday afternoon I babysat my niece and made most of our meals for the week. I was going to go to yoga, but there was a substitute teacher and I love the instructor that normally teaches. So I stayed in. I was exhausted too from all the niece watching and cooking.

Tuesday:

Today’s run was so bad I almost don’t even want to talk about it. My calves and ankles were really tight, I presume from standing in the kitchen for hours yesterday. My starting pace was 11 minutes per mile. I got about a mile and a half in, and it began to thunder, lightening, and there was a torrential down pour. I stood under a tree and tried to wait it out but it was still monsooning one Pandora song later. So I sprinted the half mile home and called it quits. Which was lucky because the rain came down even harder right after I walked in the door and I was already soaked. I was supposed to run 5 this morning, and got 2 (super slow) miles in.

Miserable, wet and miserable.

Miserable, wet and miserable.

I had to to go to the dentist this morning so I a dry running outfit intending on going for a run when I finished, either on a treadmill at the gym or outside it if wasn’t too hot. Well, since I was about falling asleep driving, I did neither. I came home and took a 3 hour nap! Once a month (know what I mean?) I get run-over-by-a-truck tired. It lasts for just 2-3 days and then I’m fine again. Today is one of those days. Even now, I have absolutely no energy. I should be doing dishes, folding laundry, and finishing 3 more miles of my run. We’ll see what actually gets done….

 

**UPDATE!**

I ran 3 wonderfully fast miles this evening! And my legs didn’t hurt after my massive nap. Win! (I also did the dishes. Laundry will have to wait. Ha!)

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Tomorrow is weights. At least it’s a little break from running. How is your week of running going? Any other Chicagoans get stuck in the downpour this morning?

Monday Meal Plan

Mondays are my easy run days. I think the longest run I have on a Monday during my marathon training is just 5 miles. Just 5 miles. Who would’ve ever thought I’d be saying 5 miles was just 5 miles!? Anyways, I digress. I figured since I had easy runs on Mondays, and a pretty predictable day of watching my niece and maybe going to yoga at night, I’d dedicate my Monday posts to my weekly meal plans. I’m always looking for new good recipes, maybe some of you are too? If I’m going through this much work to put together my recipes for the week, I may as well share! So….

Breakfasts:

Ham and egg English muffins (homemade – cross your fingers!), with fresh pineapple

Whole Wheat English Muffins

On rest days – hardboiled eggs with fruit (banana, strawberries, cherries)

Lunch :

Dinner leftovers and…

Avocado and Apple Chicken Salad

Avocado and Apple Chicken Salad

Dinners:

Baja Style Turkey Tacos on homemade Corn Tortillas

Baja Turkey Tacos

Homemade Corn Tortillas

 

Thai Chicken Curry with steamed broccoli and brown rice/or steamed carrots and cauliflower for lunch leftovers

Thai Chicken Curry

 

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato and green beans

BBQ Bacon Burger

Meat stir fry with veggies – This is my “just it case” meal and will be whatever’s left in the fridge at the end of the week!

 

There are also snacks and desserts in there too. We have standard inexpensive snacks that we keep in the house and a Kitchen Safe full of fun sized chocolates for desserts. But that’s all another story for another day. What’s on your menu this week?

The Dreaded “Diet”

As I’m sitting here this morning meal planning for my week, I thinking how I could still make it to yoga even though I don’t think the class is challenging enough I’ve strayed so far from the diet that originally got me the results I wanted/needed. It’s so easy to slip back into old habits. Even habits as bad as having chips and dip for dinner and candy for breakfast. Sneaking food past your husband because he’ll be mad if you eat all the chocolate chips. I read a post by another blogger last night, Katie from Runs For Cookies, that described her struggle with the exact same thing. The one thing she pointed out that I’d never realized was that my healthy foods, the ones I make all the time – my fall back recipes, just didn’t taste as good as when I first started eating healthy. And I think it’s because I’ve welcomed processed foods and eating out back into my diet. Now the healthy stuff doesn’t taste as good and I crave the junk. I felt pretty convicted after reading Katie’s post and it reinforced that it’s time for me to buckle down and really get this under control. I am capable of fulfilling my nutritional needs. And especially while training for a marathon. Why would I think I could be a diet slacker while running 20-40 miles a week??

Getting back to the basics. When I first lost weight, what actually worked for me was The Biggest Loser diet. 4 servings of fruit and veggies, 3 servings of lean protein, 2 servings whole grain, and 1 “extra” (200 calories). 1200 calories per day and exercise. When I meal plan, I’m not too far off from that plan. I just have something like 5-10 servings of “extras” instead of one. I realized this weekend, though, that I’m not eating enough around my workouts so I’m starving by the afternoon. Which means I’m more likely to eat junk instead of my planned out meals. My new daily plan needs to look something like this:

(Please keep in mind that I’m not a nutritionist, this is just a tweak on what’s worked for me and what I think will work for me in the future. Please see a professional dietitian or doctor before jumping on any diet bandwagon!)

Diet Plan

My Running Diet Plan

That’s right. I got all fancy on ya. I bet you didn’t expect that! Anyway, I’m basically sticking to The Biggest Loser diet standards, just putting my carbs right before and after I run. Here are a few more adjustments I’m making to the diet:

  • Dividing my “extra” calories between dessert (gotta have a little chocolate before bed!) and my afternoon snack. The afternoon snack one may move to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, depending on what I’m making.
  • Eating more than 1200 calories. There’s just no way to eat that little when I’m running so much. But I am going to try for 330 calorie meals, and 200 calorie snacks and desserts. That’s a little under 1400 calories. On days that I have long runs, I’ll probably add in an extra 200 calorie morning snack.
  • Eating more than 1 serving of fruits an veggies at meals. According to the USDA, one serving of a fruit or veggie is just a half cup. There’s no way I’m going to have just 4 oz (one serving) of lean protein and a half cup of veggies for a meal. It’s not enough food. So I may have 2 servings. Or even 3! Veggies especially have so little calories that I have some wiggle room to eat more of those.

Did you notice that dairy isn’t included anywhere in the plan? It’s a little hidden. Yogurt, eggs can count as a lean protein and milk and cheese would be considered “extras”. Butter and oil are obviously “extras” too. I usually use an olive oil mister when cooking. The calories are so minimal, maybe just 10-20 to coat a pan, that I don’t typically count it toward any category. I do count the calories though!

So now I’m off to make my meal plan according to this new/old plan. Wish me luck!

Been a while…

It’s been a while… I’ve missed writing. Work got crazy, eating got outta control, running was miserable, exhaustion set in, then we built a fence and had a big ol’ 30th (birthday party. I still have “extra” projects I’m working on and I can’t quite seem to get into the groove of a new schedule. So that’s why I haven’t written. Why on earth would anyone want to hear my whining and groaning about life circumstances? Well no one would. So I kept my mouth shut. You’re welcome.

Somewhere between my discovery of a medicinal concoction that solves my can’t-breathe-when-I-run-faster-than-10-and-a-half-minutes-per-mile dilemma, the acceptance that working will always suck no matter where I do it, my husband’s new commitment to try to stress less at work, and a random surge of new “fighter” attitude, I’ve become my normal self again. Maybe I was just subconsciously freaking out about turning 30 too? I wasn’t, but everyone acts like you should, so maybe deep down I did? Who knows.

Anyway, my marathon training has been going so, so well. I’ve really set my mind on just what I need to do each day in training and taking one decision at a time. I know next week I have to run 3, 5, 3, and 10 miles on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but I’m not thinking about that yet. I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight and when I need to wake up for yoga in the morning. If I start dreading my 5 mile run Tuesday morning, I’ll get overwhelmed. I’ll think about that Monday and simply do it. Just do it. Nike knows what’s up.

My actual runs having been challenging but good. I’ve found that if I take 5mg generic Zyrtec before I go to bed at night (I cut a 10mg pill in half) and have two puffs from my inhaler about 15 minutes before I run, my lungs are happy and I can enjoy my run. I tried the whole 10mg of Zyrtec at first, but I was too groggy the next day. All day. I could hardly stay awake at work. 5mg is just enough. I also have a sinus irrigator that I’ll sometimes use in the afternoon if I’m starting to get a sinus headache later in the day. Within 30 minutes, head aches is essentially gone and I’m not taking ibuprofin non stop.

Today I ran 8 miles at the butt crack of dawn. Literally. Okay, not exactly literally – dawn doesn’t have a butt crack. But you get what I mean. It was insanely early. I had to work at 8 so I woke up at 4:30am and left the house a little before 5 to run my normal Saturday trail at 5:15. Honestly, I loved it. I love waking up early in the summer. “The sky’s awake. So I’m awake!”

The first few miles were rough. They always are. By the time I got to about 3 1/2 miles, I started to feel pretty good. I got stuck by a train for 4-5 minutes at mile 5, but I got right back into my groove when I started back up again. I finished in 1 hour, 16 minutes to the cheering and applause of my 40-person running group that was just huddling up to begin their run. Embarrassing and fun. My splits were fantastic and I finished a lot stronger than I thought I would. It probably helped that I stopped for a few minutes. And that the weather was perfect. 60 and sunny! Still, I feel way more confident coming off a good longer run.

 

Lovely negative splits.

Lovely negative splits.

 

In addition to running, I’ve also been doing yoga once a week and weights once a week. The strength, balance, and core strengthening has really helped my running too! Someday, I’ll have to post on just my cross training. I actually bought my husband and myself tennis rackets. Hopefully my cross training will include tennis pretty soon too! Currently, I’m trying to figure out when I can fit in one more day of weight training into my week. I have a few clothes that don’t fit right now because I’m not as lean as I was this winter. I know I can get there, I just have to do it!

Eating… I go through phases. I’ll be good for a couple days, then eat a couple handfuls of dark chocolate chips. Better than my ultimate vice, Jr Mints, but still not great. I’m learning that since I run/workout in the morning, I really need to have more protein in my breakfast (cereal is not an option!), a morning snack on days I run more than 5 miles, and a large lunch with lots of veggies. My afternoon snack just needs to hold me over til my early (5 – 5:30) dinner, which is the best meal to have carbs for my workout the next morning, and then if I need to nibble at night, I should have a little chocolate, and a lot of fruit. I know these things, but do I implement them? Course not. But each decision, every day, every week, I get closer.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m going to try and stay more on top of writing throughout the rest of my marathon training at least. I know that several people have commented on how motivating my blog is. That is such a massive compliment. I really never thought of myself as an encourager or motivator. I’m very flattered. And I’m trying. Thanks for sticking around.