Finding Progress with Reflection: Reevaluating Training Plans

Pause and reflect.   The last week of May (about 4 months ago), I jumped on board with what  I thought would be my “perfect” training plan.   Filled with renewed excitement and energy to follow a plan, carve out goals and train hard-I mapped out the first 6 weeks of training.  This was around the time that school was winding down and my Redhead’s high school track season was also coming to a close for the season.  April and May had been less than what I had initially planned in terms of my own running, but that was okay because I really hadn’t been training for anything in particular.  I was more focused on cheering on my Redhead and spending my Saturdays as “track mom”!

Ready to Take on a New Training Plan.  The end of May came and summer was around the corner, but I was ready to set some plans in motion for a fall half marathon.  (New Hampshire Sea Coast Half Marathon)  The half marathon is that distance that makes me feel challenged, yet capable of taking on the miles to reach my goals with that distance.  I”m still chasing that sub 1:50 mark.  After some googling and other searching around through social media, including some well known and very informative running blogs, I decided to map out my training based on five to six  days a week of running.  My goals were to solidify a base that I already, pretty much had in place and focus on track/speed workouts and increasing weekly mileage.  I had the first six weeks of this training plan -written out in my Believe Training Journal.  I had even accounted for travel in mid June and getting settled in Maine for the summer.  Each week I was supposed to run five to six days a week, two days of tempo or interval work and a long (double digit) run and the other days -filling up the bank with miles.  

Knowing when to stop, reflect and change course-  By the fourth week of training, I found myself already feeling burned out, left with no energy to get in my long run on the weekend and feeling a bit dejected about the way my training was going, well actually not going anywhere.  It was around the last week of June, home in Maine, that I could feel the “wheels” of this training plan coming loose!  My paces were off,  I wasn’t hitting the numbers and I was starting to cut back on miles with each workout.  I knew I was getting enough rest, hydrating and eating well, but my body still couldn’t keep up.  By the end of week six, I knew it was time to stop and reflect and make changes.  There was plenty of time-November 12th-the New Hampshire SeaCoast Half-was still about five months away.  I crossed out the next two weeks of training that I had already written and my journal and decided to reevaluate my goals for this training cycle and journey to Seacoast Half. 

A new approach to training and quality over quantity-  I was able to look back over the last six weeks written in my journal, notice what was working and what wasn’t and fill in the gaps that were leaving me feeling inadequate as a runner.  Lessons learned-every plan doesn’t fit every runner and I had to build a plan that would meet my needs as a runner and fit my life schedule.  Taking the time to reflect allowed me to refocus and see that progress could still be made, that I was actually still capable of reaching my goals.  I didn’t see this as a step backwards, more of a step forward-growth comes from reflection and finding opportunities to improve.  

Balance and quality – As I looked back on my training, the missing pieces were more time for core and strength training, and still building in one complete rest day.  As I am  getting older,  I am seeing the benefits of classes like barre that focus on core and strength with resistance bands and light weights, as well time for yoga, foam rolling and stretching.  As I mapped out a new training plan,  I made sure to include two key running workouts-tempo runs or hill repeats, along with a long run (10-12 miles) and then two other days of easy running.  

Growth comes from reflection and finding opportunities to improve #training Click To Tweet

Seven Day Week-

  • rest day
  • tempo run/or hill repeats
  • easy miles
  • speed intervals
  • long, double digit run
  • core and strength training
  • Yoga, stretching and foam rolling 

Seeing progress- These changes brought a renewed sense of accomplishment and energy to my weekly training.  I once again, felt capable of getting the workouts done each week and I was seeing my paces strong and in the range I was shooting for based on the workout.  I also felt really good about carving out more time for the core and strength training.  This was a plan that fit my needs as a runner and fit my day-to-life.  Progress comes from knowing when to pause, stop and reflect.  Take the time to acknowledge what is working, but at the same time-be okay with moving on from what is not working.  

Have you ever had to ditch and training plan and start over?  What have you learned from less than great training cycles? 

 

Running and Teaching Intersect

Runner and Teacher

Over the years, I constantly find myself using running as a metaphor for life, in my classroom.  I have been an elementary teacher for 19 years now.  So many of my students have shared in my daily and weekly musings of my running and training for races.  So often, a conversation in the classroom about goals and struggles, leads to me sharing a story about a recent run or race.  

Writing– Many stories that I write in front of my students as a model for good writing, are about running or races.  A narrative of a recent run in the rain and how the drops soaked my shirt and left my shoes soggy.  Or a piece of writing in which I wrote about struggling through the heat on a warm and humid evening, after school.  These stories help my students as writers, but also give them a glimpse into my life as a runner.  I am more than just their teacher, I am runner.  

I am more than just their teacher, I am a runner. Click To Tweet

Brain Breaks-  When your teacher is a runner. be prepared for “brain breaks” to consist of stretching, foam rolling and yoga! 

teacher life/runner life

Not only do I love that I can get students up and out of their seats, but it gives me a chance to squeeze in some yoga, stretching and foam rolling throughout the day.  Yoga happens daily and weekly in the classroom,  the students love to engage in various stretches and yoga poses.  I brought my foam roller in for my students to use as stress relief.  They love to roll out their calves and lower back muscles. 

This past month, class participated in International Kids Yoga Day.  We loved gathering in a circle on the carpet and challenging ourselves with various poses.  I have been so impressed with the willingness and dedication of my fourth grade students to participate in yoga!  Our favorite poses are pigeon pose and warrior.  My boys love warrior because it sounds strong!  

Recess–  When your teacher is a runner, everyone runs at some point during recess.  Students know that if they ask me to run laps with them at recess, I always say yes!  Usually one or two students start off running with me and then gradually more and more students join in on the laps around the playground and soccer field.  Another “sneaky” way for me to get in some light jogging! 

Running Inspires Teachable Moments-  As a teacher who runs, I am constantly weaving health and fitness routines into the day.  My students definitely enjoy being active throughout the day, instead of being stationary at a desk all day long.  Of course, when your teacher is a runner, morning meetings and motivational speeches to get the day started, inevitably intersect with running. I find myself sharing the same motivational mantras and quotes that I use on long runs and in tough races.  

The Journey (Training and Finish Lines) – The school year is much like a training cycle.  This is my greatest opportunity to coach and get my students to the finish line.  The finish line happens to be the end of the school year.  The journey to the finish line is filled with days, weeks and months of training-coaching each student to reach his or her full potential.  I’ve told my students many times that there are obstacles and challenges along the miles.  Miles are filled with learning and growing, challenging ourselves.  As the school year nears its end, so does this journey.  My fourth graders have 35 days of school left in this “training cycle”.  My words to them as they prepare to cross the finish line of 4th grade are:

“Finish Strong.  Push through towards the finish line” 

Motivation and Inspiration- A Marine amputee, carrying the American Flag for 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon.

When your teacher is a runner-she shares these images -that inspire and motivate.  A reminder, that when things get tough, remember that anything is possible.  

My Teacher is a Runner- 

I asked my students, “What is it like to have a teacher who is a runner?”  Some of my students wrote me notes on post-its.  I love what they had to say. . .

Click To Tweet
Student Post-Its –
  • ” My teacher makes you strong and brave and makes sure that you make the finish line.”
  • “She helps me move to finish strong”
  • “Having a teacher that runs, inspires us to stay on course and pushes us to reach the finish line.
  • “My teacher will make sure you make your mark in life and she is sure to make her’s too.” 
  • “Having a teacher that runs feels good because sometimes they do yoga with you to keep you feeling good and to take a break from the subject.” 

Just a few thoughts on what it is like when-“Your teacher is a runner.”

 

How does running impact other parts of your life?  

Running and Life: Weekly Reflections

So. . . honestly, I should rename this post Monthly Reflections.  Some how, the days and weeks of March just simply ran away from me.  I had every intention of keeping up with my weekly blog posts.  Running and life, lately, have been a mix of highs and lows and a bit in-between.  

Reflect: Live, Run and Celebrate

Running Lately-   I was in high training mode through January and February, seeking a PR in a late March half marathon.  There were some bumps in the road with consistent training through those months-life happens and the flu knocked me out for almost two weeks total!  My weekly mileage was shaky and I was getting a lot of quality workouts, the long runs were only ten or eleven miles each week.  Reflecting back now, on those weeks of training leading up the March 25th, half marathon, I realize now that despite having a good base of running fitness, I was lacking in the benefits that tempo runs and speed work can provide for half marathon PRs.  

March 25th, 2017 Old Orchard Beach Half Marathon-Not the Race I Intended:

The struggle to finish. . .

What went wrong that day. . . First, lesson learned- never underestimate a “flat course”.   Despite inconsistent training the last few weeks,  I figured I could still nail my goal time.  I envisioned a flat course that would allow me to “breeze” through the miles.  That did not happen. Instead after the first six miles, my leg started to feel “tired and heavy”.  I struggled to maintain my pace and by the last three miles,  had no fast, “leg turnover”.  Interestingly, I found this article online –Disadvantages of Running on a Flat Course  

Lessons Learned:  I had some cracks in my “foundation” and I should I have done more research on training to run a completely flat course.  Be sure to understand and do training runs that mimic the type of course you’ll be racing. Understand the demands that a particularly course will place on your muscles.

Reflections: Lessons Learned from Disappointment Click To Tweet

I was disappointed and feeling a little dejected, once again, by this distance.  Looking back, two weeks prior to this half marathon, I raced stronger and faster at a hilly, Run Rock and Roll DC Half.

Cold, Windy Run Rock and Roll DC Half with Colleen!

 For me, I think a course with rolling hills, suits me better.  My PR is also from the hilly Annapolis Classic Half marathon last November.  It’s interesting how our bodies react to various types of courses.  

Any race, where you can look back and find an opportunity to see what went right, what went wrong and come out feeling like you have at least learned where to go from here- is an opportunity.  Setbacks, Can Be Stepping Stones.

Running: Setbacks Can Be Stepping Stones Click To Tweet

Running and Training- What’s Next (Goals):

  • Get back into my consistent, five days of running
  • Continue to focus on increasing muscle strength
  • Be consistent with a core set of strength exercises -squats, monster walks with resistance band, kettle bell exercises and balance/mobility exercises
  • Build up my base mileage again and really be better about incorporating tempo runs and shorter speed work into my weekly routine
Rolling out and stretching with my favorite tools!

Favorite Tool for Rolling Out My Calves– this Acuball .  I bring this ball everywhere with me-school, travel and at home!  The Acuball really gives a good, deep pressure to the calf area and I love how relaxed and refreshed my calves feel after a good roll. 

April Race Calendar- Well, April is half way done, but I do have another half marathon on tap.  The very last Sunday in April.  Goals for that race?? Up in the air right now. . . the race is the day after my 42nd birthday.  My race calendar after April is pretty wide open,  however, I do have some ideas in the works! 

Healthy Choices- 

Over the last year and a half, I have had blood work done with Inside Tracker twice.  The results have shaped my choices in nutritional needs and more specifically, choosing the right supplements and vitamins for my body.  I feel good about choosing what I know my body needs,  based on in-depth blood work analysis.  My most recent blood work with Inside Tracker, recommended an increase in Vitamin D,  B Vitamins, and Iron.  Having this information from my latest blood work helps me to make informed decisions and I am not purchasing unnecessary vitamins and supplements.  

Vitamins and Supplements

I have also included, Omega 3s and BCAAs in my supplement routine. I decided to incorporate the BCAAs to aid in muscle recovery and improve performance- BCAAs provide energy to my muscles during a workout.  I am proud to say that I have been remembering to actually take my supplements and vitamins each morning!! 

 

Aww. . . Life Lately- The last few weeks of March and then sailing right into April have flown by.  I am bogged down in grades, summative evaluations and weekly track meets for my Redhead.  Between teaching during the day and tutoring three times a week, life has been hectic lately.  I am not always able to fit it all in,  but that’s okay.  Sometimes,  not everything fits into place neatly.  

Running Makes Me Feel Good– It reminds me to stop and reflect as I run the miles, celebrate the things around me and aspire to reach new goals.  

Celebrate- Being asked back as a Zooma Run Ambassador -this opportunity means so much to me.  This women’s race series has lead me to lifelong friendships through running, racing and social media.  I love that Zooma has always been about encouraging and empowering all levels of women runners from diverse backgrounds.  More details to come as ZoomaRun celebrates its tenth anniversary this year!! 

What’s going on in your life and running lately.  What has made you stop and reflect, celebrate or dig for new goals? 

 

 

 

Weekly Reflections: Life and Running

Reflect: Live, Run and Celebrate

Our weeks are full of so many activities.  Activities that include running, training and all things life.  My week runs from Sunday to Sunday.  Yup, I work best on a seven day cycle of trying to balance, manage and fit most things in to a sometimes, crazy hectic week!  By the time Sunday rolls around, I have had a full week!  Sundays are my day to rest, relax, clear my head, but at the same time, reflect on the week.  

Reflect: Take the time to look back on the week.  Focus on what went right, things to love and what’s next!  

Weekly Reflections: Life and Running Click To Tweet

Running 

This week of running ended on a strong note after a two week hiatus from running due to the nasty flu.  The flu had me down for the count for almost a week, then it took me a few days to build up my strength again and get back into running.  It’s important to listen to your body and take it easy as you return to training after a sickness like the flu.  

Saturday, February 25th- The weather was warm and humid, so this probably wasn’t the best day to return to running after the flu.  I just did an easy 4 mile run.  I felt sluggish, but it felt good to get in those few miles after days and days in bed! 

Easy miles with my little four-legged running buddy!

Sunday February 26th- Okay, so lately the weather has been wicked moody!  This 6 mile run felt so much better in the much cooler temps from the previous day.  As I eased back into running, I just focused on running familiar routes.  I didn’t focus on watching the pace on my watch.  

6 happy miles in cooler temps

Tuesday February 28th- Wow, where did the month of February go??  I was able to squeeze in a great speed workout, before heading out to tutor a student that evening after teaching!  

Track Tuesday-On the Road: 1 mile warm up, followed up with four 400s on the road.  I jogged 400s in between and then did a .5 mile cool down jog home. 

Total mileage: 3.5 miles

Wednesday and Thursday- Wednesdays are busy with teaching, track practice pick up and tutoring two students.  This is my midweek rest day.  Thursday is usually a scheduled run day, but that didn’t happen this week due to a later than normal evening of track practice pick up and supper! 

  • 30 minute strength and core session on Thursday- side planks with clamshells, monster walks with resistance band, stability ball pikes, squats and push ups

Friday March 3rd- Winter temps returned!  I was able to get out the door after work for a 5.5 mile run.  I took this run easy because I knew I would be doing my double digit long run on Saturday! Ending my work week with any miles is a great way to unwind after a busy week!

Back to Winter Running

Saturday March 4th- I dropped off my daughter at the local high school for her two hour track practice.  Outdoor track season has started!! I knew while she was at practice that I would get my long run done!  

After a breakfast that morning of oatmeal and almond butter toast- I was ready to pull on the layers and head out for my run.  I planned on ten hilly miles through town.  I just wanted to maintain a solid pace of 9:00 to 9:30 miles.  

Cold and Hilly Ten Miler

Warm and Cozy in my Spandits Thermal Tights and Beanie I love these tights and beanie!  

 

Celebrated 29 miles total for a 7 day training cycle.  These are the kind of weeks that make me excited and motivated!  Those weeks where training clicks and you feel accomplished! Yes!  It is not easy every week to fit everything in to schedules, but when everything comes together- It. Just. Feels. Good!

Things to Love and What’s Next! 

The weather on Saturday’s long run was cold and windy!  I was happy to recover and relax that afternoon in my RunFar Embrace the Hill warm and coy sweatshirt and Skins Compression Leggings

Relax and Recover!

Weekends were made for long runs and warm banana bread! Yummy! 

This recipe from Stonyfield for banana bread did not disappoint!  It was easy to whip up with quality ingredients from great companies!  I love using products from companies that “Make a Difference” in communities and have a positive impact on the environment!  Stonyfield, King Arthur Flour, Pete and Gerry’s Eggs are part of the B Corps – These are products that always staples in my kitchen! 

“Individually, B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.” –Why B Corps Matter

B Corps - Companies Making a Difference: Quality Products Click To Tweet

Amazon Fresh – Taking one thing out of my busy schedule helps me fit in more time at home to run and get other things done!  Who has time to go the grocery store every week?  I have always loved planning and shopping ahead for weeks at a time!  I have been loving ordering from Amazon Fresh (About) 

  • one click ordering
  • fresh, frozen and refrigerated items
  • my favorite organic brands
  • free delivery to my house 
  • save time and money-prices are similar or better to Target and other supermarkets! 
  • I can shop and order groceries in 10 minutes!

What’s Next-the Week Ahead!  

On my mind this week is continuing the momentum with training.  My mileage is creeping up again into the 30 miles a week range. Those miles work for me, I feel strong, confident and capable!  

  • Oh yeah!  I am running the Run Rock and Roll DC Half marathon this coming Saturday, March 11th!  My good friend, Colleen from Live Free and Run
  • Any more snow in the forecast?  We Shall See! 

How is your week of training going?

Does the company and its impact on the community and environment matter to you when purchasing products? 

Have you used or considered using “Grocery Delivery” services? 

Running Lately and Build Up to Spring Races

Lately, life is has been hectic, busy and time consuming.  In the midst of all things-motherhood with a teenager and teaching 4th grade, running is what keeps me together and sane! 

A rare Monday morning run on the last day of January! School was delayed two-hours. This was the last time it snowed in southern Maryland-sad face:(

I will admit, my weekly running and fitness routines have not been as consistent as I would have liked everything to be at this point in the training season.  However, most weeks I am still managing to hit 26-28 miles weekly.  Out of a 7 day cycle, I am running 4 or 5 days.  Squeezing in a 10-11 mile long run on Saturdays.  During the week, managing 5-6 mile runs.  These last several months and weeks have been good, solid base building for aerobic training.  I am steadily building a solid base and will work in more speed and high intensity training as I head into early March.  

Six Weeks till Old Orchard Beach Maine Half Marathon

I have been gearing up for this first spring race of the season! And according to the calendar, spring equinox is March 20th!!  Of course, with all the snow that New England has been receiving as of late, there could still be snow on the ground!  This race is a very flat course that runs along the coast of Old Orchard Beach, Maine!  

Weekly Running and Fitness Routines-

Creating a Schedule and Routine that Fits Your Life! #runchat #running Click To Tweet

Mondays– I typically use this as a rest day.  Coming off a weekend of running, getting ready for a week of teaching 4th grade and my evening tutoring session-it works for me to use this first day of the week as a rest day!  I have found with running and fitness, you have to create a schedule and routine that fits your life! 

Tuesdays- After picking my Redhead from track practice at 5pm, (she runs indoor and outdoor high school track) I am able to get home and run 5-6 miles!!  Thankfully, the sunsets are getting later, but I still head out with my reflective gear to be safe as the sun sets! 

My favorite Reflective Vest along with my wicked awesome and comfortable headlamp  and super warm, thermal moisture wicking Tumbledown Hat made in Maine!

Wednesdays- This is my morning of the week dedicated to core and strength building fitness! I am loving my resistance band routines-such as Monster Walks, Side Clamshells and Bridges!  Check out these resistance band routines!  My other favorite routine is with the Stability or Swiss Ball  Wednesday mornings are busy, but I fit it in because I tutor two students after school on Wednesdays! 

Thursdays- Yes!!  Back to running, after track practice pick up!!  This is usually my speedy 6 mile run in the evening!  I use this night of running to build in a bit of speed through miles 3, 4, and 5. These miles are somewhere from 8:30-8:20 pace.  It’s a solid night of running, then home to eat supper and hit the sheets!  

Friday-TGIF!!  After 5pm track pick up, I am able to get home, prep supper and then head out the door again for an easy 4-5 miles at conversation pace. This evening run is a great way to unwind from a busy, hectic week!  I don’t run hard because lately I have been participating in trail runs on Saturday mornings with my local run club! 

Saturday Trail Running!! – I would rather be running through snow with snowshoes like my New England friends, but alas, there is no snow in southern Maryland right now.  Being born and raised in Maine, I am so missing the snowy wintahs!  So, I took up trail running on Saturdays with my local run club!  Trail running has given me new scenery and terrain to motivate my Saturday long runs!  I was recently researching the benefits of trail running! 

-“, . . .running on an uneven surface can make you stronger overall. “You’re going to be recruiting more of the smaller, more stabilizing muscles that we rely on for proprioception and balance, especially around the ankles,” Dr. Levin” says. 

-“. . .Technical Trails engage different muscles than roads do, which builds balanced strength that may protect you from injury, says Jason Glowney, M.D., of the Colorado University Sports Medicine and Performance Center.” 

Trail Running-The Benefits! #running Click To Tweet

I have built up over the last three Saturdays, to my longest trail run of 10.5 miles!!  I have had to spend more time foam rolling and using my Zensah Calf Compression Sleeves for recovery!  Running on the trails has also helped me to focus on effort as opposed to paces on my Garmin watch! 

“Easy Like Sunday Mornings”- The day after Saturday trail runs, my quads and calves are so sore, but gradually this has been improving as my body adapts to more trail running!  Sundays are usually 4-5 easy paced miles and some core work with the stability ball. This past Sunday was so warm!!  I did some easy recovery and core work outside after my 5 mile run! 

So, this is my weekly running and training routine.  I have found a schedule and rhythm that works for me!  How’s your training going lately?  What works for you? 

Do you run technical trails? 

Finding Ambition on the Run

Fiery Sunset Run

Ambition-the desire and determination that fills the miles of every run.  Every run, short or long, has within each mile,  the very essence of what defines ambition.  Some days, ambition may seem elusive in the first mile or sprint on the track, but if we hold on through the rough start, then ambition emerges. 

Ambition on the run is found: 

-Those early morning runs, before the sun rises and the air is cold, sometimes freezing.  Running those cold, dark miles even when the idea of staying under those warm bed covers seemed more inviting

-Or perhaps, ambition is found while out on the run, after a long day and all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a good book, glass of wine or cold beer. The miles run as the sun is setting and your losing daylight.  Out there putting in the miles whether the sun is rising or setting

Ambition is that resolve and zeal to conquer the workout or go after the tough, uncomfortable runs

-Ambition is letting go of the fear of failure and chasing after the impossible and catching the big possibilities.  Testing yourself and going beyond what you  thought wasn’t possible.  The resolve and fortitude to train hard.

-Through setting goals and training with purpose and intention, runners find ambition.  It’s found in the ability to be flexible, adjust and balance life, while creating time for the training which leads runners to the finish line.  

-Ambition is found on the run on the crest of each hill.  On tired legs and fiery lungs, ambition is found.

Ambition on the Run-Runners Possess the Strong Desire to Achieve- MaineGirl2Runs

Where do you find your ambition on the run?

5 Healthy Tips for the New Year

mainegirl2runs2017-1

Fit and Healthy- These are the two goals I am striving to maintain this year.  Fit and healthy will lead to stronger and sustainable running.  Ultimately, running is something that I want to continue doing well into my 50s and beyond!  Prioritizing what works for my health will help me reach my goals as a runner.

5 Fit and Healthy Tips

  1.  Yoga is a great way to improve balance, flexibility and strength!  Run. Run, Run,-Why can’t I just run and run?!  Over the years, I have come to realize, through minor injuries and set backs, that I must incorporate various fitness activities into my running routine.  Yoga is something that I can do at home or at a studio.
  • I recently had a chance to take a Yin Yoga Class  at the Freeport Yoga Company I learned that this type of yoga promotes stimulation of the connective tissues or fascia in our bodies.  As we age, it is important to maintain flexibility of the connective tissue by practicing deep stretches and staying hydrating!

2. Eat More Fish!  This is a great  protein to support health and recovery of muscles! Fish is a great source of Omega3s, vital to the health of runners!  I recently read this article on the many benefits of eating more fish, which include improved joint health and anti-inflammatory properties!

  • I have incorporated more fish into my weekly, monthly diet by taking advantage of this great seafood delivery service for more than two years now!  Salmon, cod, and haddock are three of my faves!  This company delivers conveniently, individually frozen fish to your door!  In less than 30 minute I am able to prepare a meal with Omega3 rich fish!  Try out SizzleFish today!!

3.  Food Prep- Okay, this may seem simple and basic and it really is, but taking the time to prepare food from scratch can have huge benefits on your health!  Cut out the prepackaged, processed junk and focus on just eating real food!

Tips for Food Prep!  Freezer bags are your friend!!

  • soak, cook and freeze various types of beans!
  • Prepare, bake and freeze healthy muffins!
  • Rice and quinoa also freeze well!
  • Stock up on recipes for Overnight Oats for breakfast and Hearty Soups for lunch and supper!
  • Capitalize on seasonal produce and roast fall veggies to toss in the fridge!
  • One of my older posts on Meal Prep/Planning Found Here

4. Invest In Your Health-Get your Blood Work Analyzed! Twice this year, I gotten a thorough blood work analysis through Inside Tracker a company that helps athletes dig deeper into their health through analyzing a number of key biomarkers in their blood!  The tests offer a more in-depth look at what our bodies need, as oppose to the basic, sometimes vague blood work done at a general practitioner’s office.  I wrote about my previous blood work analysis here

  • Optimizing nutritional needs based on results
  • Adjusting workouts and training to better meet the needs of our bodies
  • Takes the guess work out of what foods to eat and which supplements are necessary for our body’s best performance!
  • The Inside Tracker Dashboard can guide you in setting goals for your health and training!

5. Mental Health– Just as important as physical health!  This coming year, I am taking a “step back” each day/night from all the stresses of the day.  It is important to incorporate ways to relax and de-stress! Remember to find time for quiet peace, clarity and reflection.

  • Turn off the tv, cell phones and social media for some time each day
  • Keep a written journal and write to unwind and reflect
  • Celebrate the little things each day that bring you joy!  Remember to just breathe and exhale!

Cheers to a Fit and Healthy New Year!!  Find Ways to be your best self! -MaineGirl2RUNS

What are your fit and healthy tips?  Would love to hear your tips!

Running and Life: New Year, New Chapter

running-and-life-2017

This year I choose to . . . 

  • Reflect– If we are willing to stop, analyze and reflect on where we have been, then we can use those moments to gain perspective and move forward.  Reflect on what went right, but also be open to opportunities to adjust or change things that didn’t work.  Our ability to reflect allows for an innate awareness of ourselves that will lead to personal growth in running and life. Each day, week, and month, setting aside time to reflect and learn from ourselves.

“A journey, I reflected, is of no merit unless it has tested you.”
Tahir Shah, In Search of King Solomon’s Mines

  • Celebrate–  Be good to yourself.  Stop and celebrate the small achievements, instead of waiting for what you think might be the biggest achievement.  Celebrate the tiny steps that we take each day to change and improve in running and life.  These moments are far too often overlooked because they mean seem small or insignificant.  It’s refreshing to celebrate each step in the direction we take to train hard, race strong, and live life well.  Encourage and celebrate the achievements and success of others.  There is unmistakable power and strength when we celebrate not only ourselves, but others around us.

 

  • Aspire- Each new year is another chapter in this book of life.  The pages are blank, waiting to be filled with new hopes, dreams and adventures.  We have this great big opportunity to set new goals, goals that will make us stronger, more capable and confident.  Our goals don’t have to be huge, lofty out of reach goals, just focus on the series of steps that will bring us closer to empowerment and success in running and life.  Our goals should give us pride and accomplishment upon achieving that goal.

Discover a purpose that gives you passion. Develop a plan that makes you persistent. Design a preparation and motivates you to optimize your potentials. Do it because you love it!”
Israelmore Ayivor, Dream Big!: See Your Bigger Picture!

  • Endure- Strength is born from enduring the tough moments. Being persistent is following our heart, our dreams and goals.  From endurance comes fortitude and resilience.  As we endure the hard training, early or late evening runs and all those tough moments in between of “fitting it all in” , we are rewarded with that feeling of accomplishment that is so freeing and empowering.  Endure the hard days, those times when we must find the strength to push ourselves when faced with challenges that test our will.  Believe in yourself and your ability to find strengths hidden deep within the uncomfortable moments of our lives.

“Craving for the top of the mountain is a feeling to yearn for, an endurance we learn from.”
Goitsemang Mvula

Happy New Year!  What will be next for you in  this new chapter!

I’m excited to continue to connecting and sharing in this journey of running and life!- MaineGirl2Runs 

Inside Tracker-Taking Charge of My Health

Excited to have a needle stuck in my vein and blood drawn?!  Of course, my mom and husband would have thought I was crazy to want to have my blood drawn.  I absolutely hated anything to do with needles growing up.  I guess that is why always avoided any procedures at the doctors office involving needles,  if it wasn’t absolutely necessary!

Well, with age comes wisdom and insight.  You grow up a bit and realize that some things are necessary in life to continue to do the things you love to do.  One of those things in life is running.  Running is something I want to be able to continue doing late into my life. as long as possible.  Running has taught me to be more attune with my body’s needs mentally and physically.  My desire to perform, as an athlete,  at my healthiest, strongest and most capable level is what lead me to seek more information and insight into my health.

Back in June of 2016, I decided to try out InsideTracker for the first time. I was so excited when ,Jonathan Levitt  a team member at Inside Tracker,  reached out to me!   With a discount, I was given the opportunity to have the Ultimate Blood Analysis Test, plus Inner Age  performed.  Inside Tracker is a company that will work with you to  “optimize your body’s performance through Sophisticated, science-based blood analytics.”  It did require that I get several vials of blood drawn!  Yikes!  I was nervous about the blood draw! The nurse technicians at Quest Diagnostic Lab in Annapolis, MD were awesome!  I never felt a thing!  Having my blood drawn and this test performed was one of the greatest things I have done for my health!  The results were available within a week!  You can read about my first round of results Here and Here

Changes in Training and Nutrition lead me to one of my most tough, but rewarding training seasons!  

Through the summer and fall, I made changes to my nutrition and training needs.  One of the great benefits of using Inside Tracker, is the instant results, feedback and recommendations that are specific to your blood work analysis! I felt stronger, healthier and mentally fit!  I knew that I was taking charge of my health and in the process optimizing my training and overall health!

Improvement from June to November!  As I finished up with a long training cycle, including four half marathons between July and mid November, I knew that I wanted to retest with Inside tracker to see which Bio Markers had improved and which ones still needed work. Six months after my first test, I retested again-using the Ultimate Blood Analysis Plan  I love the Inside Tracker website because you get reports, graphs and detailed analysis of your blood work!   

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Improvements were made and in big part, by following the nutrition recommendations and guidelines that are provided with the blood work results!  

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On the Inside Tracker website, you can customize and tailor your goals for nutrition and training.  I love that I can create goals and be alerted on a weekly, monthly basis.

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Choose Your Goals! 

Focusing on just a few key goals has helped me improve my health and performance.  The guess work that comes with trying to figure out what and how much of a supplement or food my body needs was no longer and issue!  With Inside Tracker, I am able zero in on exactly what my body needs!  My biggest goal is boosting my energy  by improving my glucose and ferritin levels. 

Choosing foods that help me reach my nutrition goals, as outlined in my Inside Tracker Results, will lead to a stronger, healthier body that can reach its full potential as a runner and bring better overall health!

Breakfast- each morning I start with a hearty bowl of steelcut oats, arugula and organic eggs-my favorite company and brand Pete and Gerry’s Eggs as well as the Carol’s Eggs Brand from New Hampshire!  My friend Sandra’s family owned company!

Supper- Two years ago, I began ordering Omega3 filled fish and seafood, online, from sizzlefish a company that offers superior quality fish delivered right to your door on dry ice!  This is a must try company!  I love having my freezer stocked with fish!  At supper, I also include Kamut-ancient grain to increase my iron levels.

Supplements- Since reviewing my blood work analysis results, I was able to pinpoint which supplements I truly need to add to my nutrition routine.  I will focus on taking a vitamin D supplement, along with berberine and plant sterols to improve my ferritin, iron and vitamin D levels. I customize and order vitamins from Vita Five

Updated Blood Work Results- Having these updated blood work results will allow me to focus on what my body needs in regards to training and nutrition.  I feel in control and proactive with my health, not only as a runner, but just a woman in her early forties just trying to maximize her overall health and wellness.  The results from Inside Tracker give me valuable information to use a part of my conversation about my health with my physician.  As I gear up for a new training cycle for early spring half marathons, I feel excited that I have taken charge of my health!  Digging deeper into my health through blood work analysis is so beneficial! 

What are you doing to optimize your health and performance?  Have you tried Blood Work Analysis testing with Inside Tracker? 

Five Favorite Stability Ball Workouts

As much as I love to just run, I know my aging body needs a balance of running and core strength work.  Right now, I am enjoying some easy miles a few times a week and adding in more core and strength workouts before I start rebuilding my base mileage for early spring 10ks and half marathons. Honestly, it is a mental challenge at times to commit to consistent, daily and weekly workouts that strengthen my core, improve my balance and my flexibility.  However, I know how important all those pieces are to my continued running success.

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Stability Ball-Perfect for Balance and Strength

Lately, the stability ball has kept me focused, engaged and motivated to incorporate core strength workouts into my weekly running schedule.  I have a few “Go-to” Stability Ball Exercises that I rounded up from this SITE

  1. Wall Squat-Great for strengthening back and quads- 5 Reps, 1 minute each
  2. Bridge-Focus on the Hips- 5 Reps, 1 minute each
  3. Pike-Love this SITE for proper form and technique
  4. Ball Leg Lifts- Great video HERE
  5. Reverse Lunge- Check out this VIDEO  for proper form and technique

Finally, this is a good set of exercises with the Stability Ball that I have kept me engaged and motivated to be more consistent with core and strength training!

How do you fit in core strength to your weekly running routine?  What is your “must have” piece of equipment for core and strength training?  

-MaineGirl2Runs-