Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Marathon Prep for Beginners

So I mentioned briefly in my last post that I am training for an October marathon.  Frankly, that idea was not in my plans for the year at all.  In fact, I really wasn't 100% sure that I ever wanted to run marathon, period.  But the desire crept up on me, and I was thinking that New Orleans in February (you know, seven months away...) would be a good idea.  But my girlfriend Lindsey (who is running the Cowbell) convinced me that long run training during the winter in the snow would be no fun.  I looked at the dates and messed with a few training plans, and decided to try it.  My mileage base was not at all where it should be to run a marathon in 8 weeks, but with a few tweaks, I made a plan that seems do-able.  I have just enough time left to get in all my long runs including 20 miles, have two dropback weeks, and still taper.  My long run was 14 last week, and I am still feeling strong.  Not ideal by any means, but hopefully do-able.  (And I am a slooowww runner anyway, so finishing would have been my number one goal for a first marathon, no matter how long I had to train!)

All that being true, here are some things I am doing to try to keep myself healthy and strong during the abbreviated training cycle:

1.  Follow a Training Plan

Being very Type-A, it never even occurred to me that some people wing marathon training.  I am all about plans and checklists.  While I do have an abbreviated timeline for training, I make sure to stick to a well-tested plan.  I don't skip runs, and I don't add mileage to runs.  I am trying to slowly increase my weekly mileage in order to get myself to the starting line healthy!

2.  Increase my calcium

During my last training cycle (for a half), I had plenty of time, but the quick increase in mileage still led to a stress fracture.  I was lucky to catch it early and it was resolved with a few weeks of rest, but I don't have time to take 4 weeks off this time around.  Gotta make sure those bones are strong!

3.  Increase my magnesium

A huge majority of the general population is deficient in magnesium, and athletes are even more deficient.  Magnesium helps improve strength, stabilize blood pressure, balance hormones, aids sleep, decreases anxiety, and speeds up recovery.  I use a magnesium oil spray twice a day-magnesium can be absorbed through the skin very quickly and doesn't cause the stomach irritation that oral supplements can.

4.  Increase my collagen intake

(Can you see a theme here?) Collagen improves muscle recovery and joint health, both of which are essential when you increase your weekly mileage.  Studies even show it can increase energy and strength.  (And total disclosure time: I am totally hoping for amazing hair and nails too!)

5.  Fuel carefully

Proper fueling means very different things to different people.  I follow a very clean eating lifestyle, but when I started strongly increasing my weekly mileage, I found that I needed to take further steps to make sure I have the energy and fuel to make it through my long runs.  Because of my hypoglycemia, I usually don't eat any sugar at all, and I keep my diet very low carb.  Well, neither of those things work with marathon training.  Most athletic fuel like Gu, Shotbloks, Gatorade, and many other products are pretty much straight sugar (as they should be!  Your body needs the glucose as you burn through it).  And of course, complex carbohydrates are important to sustain your energy on longer runs.  I tried a few weeks of not fueling at all and keeping my diet at it's current very low carbohydrate level....and I was bonking out pretty hard.  As soon as I added in Preworkout, Complete Hydration, and After Workout, and made sure to get in some quality carbohydrates the day before my long runs, I started feeling 100% better (and my pace on long runs improved by 3 minutes/ one week.  Hmm).  The best part for me is....all Arbonne Phytosport athletic nutrition are low-sugar, so it doesn't knock me into dangerous sugar spikes and dips.

6.  On the Wagon

Speaking of clean eating, I made the decision to give up alcohol until after the marathon too.  While I know that many people do long runs solely to be able to indulge in a few cocktails immediately afterwards, it seemed prudent for me to skip it for the time being.  I am asking my poor old body to do enough without gambling that it can process all that alcohol too :)  (And seriously, I feel great!  I can *almost* see giving it up for good.  Almost).

7.  New Gear

I may do an entire post on this soon, but when I increased my mileage so much, I also picked up a few new favorites.  A friend mentioned that compression socks were hugely helpful for her, so I have been using those on/after long runs (and I think she is right!).  The trail I often run on doesn't have any water, and I had been carrying my water bottle.  It felt like it was messing with my form, so I picked up a Camelback Dart - best purchase ever!  I can barely tell I am wearing it, and it allows me to hydrate on my own schedule.  I would call this an essential for summer training if you are in a similar situation.  Also grabbed another pair of Yurbuds (my favorite earbuds for running), two new pairs of running shoes to work into my rotation, a Flipbelt for my phone (I only use this when I am not wearing the Camelback) and yes, even more Lululemon.  (Sorry not sorry Seth!)  I wear more running gear than real clothes these days, so we're gonna call that a necessary purchase.  :)

Considering that they say only 1% of the population has completed a marathon, I seem to know an unusually high number of people who have, and they have been SO kind to give me excellent tips and advice.

So, what about you-what are your best marathon training tips for beginners?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What I'm Into, July 2016 Edition

We are just coming back from such a fun trip and my brain is stretched to its max with laundry, kids' camp, fall schedules, Arbonne trainings, and all the other minutiae of running a life.  So let's ease back into the blog with chatting about what we were into, in July, shall we?  (Was that already two weeks ago?  Indeed).

1.  Instant Pot

I have never had a pressure cooker, and no real interest in acquiring one, but SO many of my friends were raving about their Instant Pot.  When it came up for a great price on Amazon Prime Day, I threw it in the cart.  Well.  This thing is life-changing.  I have gone from frozen chicken breasts to shredded ready to eat chicken in less than an hour.  I have made dozens of hard boiled eggs where the shell slips right off, instead of the hellish amount of time it normally takes.  I am back to making my own yogurt again because it is all in one pot, instead of all the pots and bowls it was taking me before with the crockpot method.  And last night I made a huge roast and rice to go with it all in one pot, in less than an hour.  Basically, it is saving my kitchen life.

2.  Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Even though I was camping in the woods with no cellular service at Yellowstone, I managed to get three separate NSale orders in as soon as the sale was open.  It is THAT good.  I am no fashion blogger, so this is not going to be a big mess of affiliate links, but the special thing about the Anniversary Sale is that it is all NEW fall line products, not older stuff on clearance.  It is also a great time to pick up certain pricey items for way less.  Here is what I usually look out for and stock up on:

  • Patagonia Down Jackets for kids
  • Patagonia Better Sweaters for adults
  • Bog chore boots
  • Frye boots (last year, riding boots.  This year, booties)
  • Hue leggings
  • Zella workout wear
  • Hanky Pankies
  • Natori bras
  • Paige Jeans
  • Splendid PJs
  • Barefoot Dreams cardigans
  • Any investment bags or shoes that make the sale
  • Thorlo running socks
  • Little Giraffe blankets for baby gifts
  • Any other designer tops or dresses that have caught my eye (but I didn't fall in love with anything)
  • Kendra Scott jewelry (but I didn't love this year's choices)
  • Any beauty tools I may need (Beauty Blender, curling irons, etc)

3.  Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Lake McConaughy

Oh my gosh, we saw so many beautiful places on this trip.  I want to go back to them all.  We only spent one night in Jackson Hole, and we are already planning a couples' trip back in the winter.  If you have not done the typical grand tour out west, I highly suggest it.  (Full post about Yellowstone and first-time RVing later).

4.  Supper Club

At the end of last year, we started a supper club-basically, a book club with no books, just food.  We asked about ten other couples to join us once a month for a themed dinner.  And it has been SO MUCH FUN.  We concentrated on people who own a business in our area, and while we don't ever talk about anything formally, it has been inspiring to support each other and have great conversations about how to help our community thrive.  If you feel like your life is full of too much "must do" and not enough "get to do", I highly suggest starting something like it.  We are pretty much guaranteed at least one fun date night per month now, and I am loving it!

5. Marathon Prep

If you follow me on FB or IG, you might have seen that I (suddenly) registered for my first marathon, in October.  I had been tossing around the idea of doing the New Orleans in February when my friend asked me to try for October with her instead.  The reminder that I would have to train in the snow or on treadmill for a winter race was enough to convince me to make the leap.  I am less than 8 weeks out and training is pretty much taking over my life.  It's all I think about.  It dictates how I eat.  I even gave up cocktails for the duration.  Obviously, this is getting serious (Why does blogger not have emojis?!  Am I missing something?) More on how I am preparing for a too-close-in-dates marathon, in another post, soon.

6.  NYC

Seth and I will be there for a super quick getaway next month.  Both of us have been there before, and neither one of us want to do any of the usual touristy stops.  We want to eat excellent food, stroll around and enjoy the city, and relax.  We might do a self-guided food tour of alllll the delicious food that we can't get here.  We already have lunch reservations at Del Posto, and dinner at Gramercy Tavern.  What would you make sure to do?  Highline?  Restaurants?  Give me all your favs.  We are excited to get away for a few days alone!

(Yogurt update: my kids ate the entire gallon in less than 12 hours.  Not sure this is a sustainable proposition.)

So tell me, what are you into right now?